I am amateur game developer, and even more amateur reviewer, currently in and out of college.

I am currently developing a game called Eternity: The Black Star along with Solitayre, which is nearing its first release.

I have extremely high standards, so please don't be offended if you believe that I have reviewed your game unfairly. My focus is on improving the body of a work primarily by pointing out what I think are its flaws, but feel free to ignore me if I am wrong (and I will be).



Mediaprofiles would be rad as hell

I am in favor of this.

Culture of crass, apathy and cynicism

As someone who's only been around for 6 months or so (maybe less? I'm bad at keeping track of time), I'm not convinced things are as bad you see them to be. Although I've certainly seen everything you describe at one point or another, I just as frequently see eager new hopefuls and people willing to take a few minutes to help them out.

Still, it's certainly not a bad idea to try and improve things. Some people who ask 'stupid' questions may get a bad reaction from someone and leave the site entirely. It's important to remember how confusing everything was the first time you opened the program (especially if you have no prior programming knowledge).

Also, as someone who has written a decent number of reviews I can say that most people are quite receptive to feedback, even horribly negative feedback. A few people might take a review the wrong way and become quite vocal about it but when it comes down to it most people are very interested in having their games played and hearing about how they can improve.

How To Be A Reviewer

Whoops, added an extra 0 there, I meant to say "nearly 70 games on this site have a 4 star rating or higher."

Since the site has about 500-600 reviews (many of which are targeting the same games, there still remain a huge set of games lacking even one review) and many of them opt not to give a star score that should give a more accurate statistic.

Once again I curse the lack of an edit button on comments.

How To Be A Reviewer

Seems like in most people's opinion, average games are worth playing. As I see it, there are over 1800 games in RMN, and knowing that some of them may take me quite a few hours to finish, I'm kinda picky when chosing one to start playing. I mean... a 3 star review is not very appealing. If I'm looking for a game to play based only on reviews and stars (using the search engine, for instance), I usually look for something with at least 4 stars. So, unless the game has some specific element that catches my attention, 3-stars and 1-star have the same effect on me. I'm just saying this so people are really careful when writing reviews and rating the games.

Think about what you're saying here. You are ignoring games in this star range because you perceive them to be average or lower. Now if you search through the game listing and see that nearly all of the 1800 games now have a 4 star rating, what are you going to do? You're going to see that as the new average range and start looking for games above 4 stars. I really shouldn't have to explain that saying nearly every game is above average by default is a hilariously bad idea.

Calunio the reason I particularly stressed that 3-Star games and even 2-Star games SHOULD be worth playing is because I AM aware that a lot of people are setting their standards on games-worth-checking out at games with four stars and above. That is why the whole issue of the review system is such a huge deal to me. Because I think right now, basically 90% of games get a 3 or lower (which is pretty skewed I think) and I think 90% of users are only playing games with 4 or more stars. So unless one component of this situation changes, we have a situation where 90% of our users AREN'T playing 90% of the games on the site. Which seems...bad.

I'm not really sure where you're pulling this magical 90% statistic from, but from my personal experience with the user base on this site I wouldn't say the percentage of people who rely on star ratings alone is even remotely close to that. Additionally, most reviews are not 3 stars or lower, and in fact nearly 700 games on this site have a 4 star rating or higher. As for people not playing 90% of the games on the site, that one I'm inclined to agree with but for an entirely different reason. Namely that you'd probably be here for a decade if you attempted to play everything, not even including the fact that this is primarily a developer centric website where most people are more interested in making their own games rather than playing the projects of others.

How To Be A Reviewer

The thumbs up/thumbs down system was used here, but it didn't pan out - the userbase is too small which leads to widely skewed results, making it a rather useless indicator. That combined with the penchant of the community to praise most things make a thumbs up/down unworkable.

I suppose I wasn't entirely clear here. What I mean is that I prefer a thumbs up/thumbs down system for reviews. Not some kind of vote process that wouldn't account for much other than popularity. The reviewer writes out an entire review and then states whether they liked the game or not. Since there's no focus on a precise scoring system the content of the review itself is what is important.

How To Be A Reviewer

Also I think it is probably ludicrous for anyone to review a complete game with the same standards as a demo. When you are harsh in reviewing a demo, the author can take your feedback into account and alter the game in production. In fact the point of reviewing a demo is to give the author feedback. Reviewing a complete game, on the other hand, the point seems to be to evaluate the author's accomplishment and act as a "reviewer" giving the community-as-audience an idea of the game's entertainment value. I think that perhaps if complete games- which generally can't be improved based on feedback anyway- were given a little bit more delicacy and respect from reviewers, we would have more of them.

There's nothing saying an author can't go back and improve a complete project (in fact, I've seen many people do this exact thing after receiving a scathing review). These games are not published and sold, they can be altered at any time as long as the author is willing to go back to them. If not, then they need to be given blunt and honest feedback so that they may improve future projects instead. In the case that the creator is uninterested in the review it's just as important that players know exactly what they're getting into when they download a game. The last thing I want to come across when I'm reading a review for something I'm interested in playing is a sentence like "This game might possibly be fun if you're in a good mood when you play it and you consider that the author tried really hard to make something playable."

In summary, trying to sugarcoat a review or giving a developer an A for effort is insulting to everyone involved. All a reviewer can do is give honest and detailed feedback of their own experience with a game.

As for the topic at hand, I personally think trying to standardize the review scale is a waste of time. Even if you somehow managed to get everyone to adhere to that specific scale you'd still end up with wildly different scores due to personal taste and experience. Someone who's only played 10 RPGs is going to have a completely different idea of what makes an 'average' game than someone who's been playing them for a decade. Not to mention anyone who's just passing through the site and browsing the game listings is going to see the star ratings and apply their own standard without looking any deeper.

Personally I would prefer a simple thumbs up/thumbs down system. The content and tone of a review should tell the reader everything they need to know without even looking at the score.