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MajorManiac
11-10-2011, 01:43 PM
Hi all,

I've started doing a little writing for a friend's website. Having read magazines and RPS for many years I'm happy writing short 'my opinion' articles, but realise I have no specific routines for coming up with a level-headed review. The idea of reviewing something big like Skyrim or Battlefield 3 is quite the scary prospect.

So does anyone here have a noob guide to measuring things like a games polish, graphics/sound quality etc..?

I'm asking here as I really like the RPS style and humour. I'd like to post a link to a quick Portal 2 DLC and Crysis Mod review I did for -your- review, but am not sure if this is allowed. Jim, is this sort of thing ok or very naughty?

Thanks.

Tikey
11-10-2011, 02:31 PM
Don't try to make it objective, every single review is subjective. Bear that in mind and you won't have to worry about silly things.
Don't force a writing style. If you aren't very good with humour, trying to write a humorous review will turn up to be a disaster.
Another thing. NEVER make any kind of list. I've received reviews that listed the weapons that were found in the game and I almost killed the person who sent it. There is nothing more boring and useless than lists. In a review you want to tell people why you think they should or shouldn't play a game. Who do you think would like it and who won't. Talk about what you found interesting, well made or the opposite, what was boring or badly made. If something doesn't stand up either way it's not worth mentioning (for example saying that the sound is just ok is useless).
If I remember something else I'll post it.

MajorManiac
11-10-2011, 03:07 PM
Thanks for the advice. Its good to hear I don't have to get too technical. I think I'm better at the humour than measuring overall polish.

I'll make a note of cutting out lists (have you been spying on me?! :) , and not mention things that are of little impact.

The JG Man
11-10-2011, 03:12 PM
Keep it simple. The main point of a game is to have fun with whatever you determine as being fun, varying of course on the genre. At the end of the day, it's only you playing it, so don't try and review for anyone else. Namely, review for you. What did you like? What did you think made the game shine or, perhaps, make it fall flat on its face?

Oh, also, don't do a rating system. They don't mean anything most of the time.

westyfield
11-10-2011, 03:23 PM
Don't use the word 'gameplay'.

Wolfenswan
11-10-2011, 03:25 PM
Play the game, describe how different aspects of the game affect you and try to put it into a coherent structure so you're not all over the place.

You read Kieron's "manifesto" (http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/?page_id=3)?.

MajorManiac
11-10-2011, 05:13 PM
Thanks everyone. Allot of what has been said is the kind of common sense you can only put into words once you've heard someone else say it.

Its reassuring to hear I can write more as myself and for myself. I enjoy being a complete wit, and love the style of everyone who writes here, especially writers like John and Tim.

As far as ratings go; I like the idea of having quick references such as "You'll enjoy this even if the genre is not your favourite as its amazing", "Worth playing if you like this type of game", and finally "Avoid". But I do understand how this is very subjective, and only take note of it when reading a reviewer I've come to know over many articles.

Tikey
11-10-2011, 05:20 PM
The decision to include rating is up to the people you're writing for. If it's up to you I think it's better to include a small recommendation at the end of the review as you say rather than some arbitrary number.

And keep in mind, your first review will probably be awful (everyone's is), just keep writing, in fact, write a lot and you'll start writing great material before you know it.

MajorManiac
11-10-2011, 06:08 PM
Thanks Tikey. I've seen allot of other links so I guess its ok. I'll offer a sacrificial beer to the great three in the hope I do not ire the wrath.

What do you think of my Portal 2 – Free DLC Peer Review, review - http://tiredbutwired.com/2011/10/04/portal-2-free-dlc-peer-review-um-review/
I also did a Crysis Mod - http://tiredbutwired.com/2011/10/09/modded-crysis/

I think these small reviews are not to hard, even though they took me a ridiculous amount of time to write. How do they look for a first timer, any thoughts (not too rude please)?

Wooly Wugga Wugga
11-10-2011, 06:18 PM
The best advice I can give is to find your own style and write the review you'd like to read.

Cunzy1 1
11-10-2011, 08:05 PM
It depends. Are you writing for the Official Nintendo Magazine? In which case here is their style guide:

PARAGRAPH 1(possibly through to 4). Something about Zelda.

PARAGRAPH 2(5). Mention how the controls really work.

Notes- 1)Try writing the review pretending that any other games not released on a Nintendo format never existed.
2) Caption any picture with fire in it with something about last night's curry?

acidtestportfolio
11-10-2011, 10:43 PM
this is good stuff guys, thank you

deano2099
12-10-2011, 12:52 PM
I've been writing for a good while but have only started doing games reviews recently, so take these with a pinch of salt:

1) Find a way in. If you can come up with some overall 'thesis' (for want of a better word) to hang the review off then structuring it gets a lot easier. It doesn't have to be something amazing, just something a simple as the one thing the game does really well would work. For example, recently I based one review on the fact that the game changed and got significantly better in the final third, and another on how the game did all the outer bits and pieces really well but had a really bad core mechanic.

Basically, know what the main thing you want to say is. If someone asked you to state and justify your opinion on the game in a sentence, what would you say? Or if they asked you what the most interesting thing about the game was, again in a sentence. Work everything else around those. They'll often make strong intros or final paras too.

2) Hit the basics. If the game has mechanics that are somewhat different to the usual, then you do need to explain them. That can often be very difficult to do without boring the reader to death, so try not to dwell on it and remember you don't have to include every detail, but unless it's self explanatory (you don't have to explain what an FPS is if you're reviewing CoD) then you need to cover it.

3) Tick-off the checklist. It's a horrible approach but there are things that need to be mentioned in a review: graphics, sound, plot/story. If they're unremarkable (not particularly good or bad) then they probably don't need more than an off-hand mention, but it's information that a buyer might need. Obviously spend longer on the story for story-driven games, make more of the voice acting for games with lots of it... and remember graphics means art style as well as fidelity.

4) Find your own way. Write in a way that you would find interesting to read, and hopefully other people should too. Don't try and copy anyone else, just remember that you're attempting to write something with a dual purpose: to inform and to entertain. As long as you don't hugely prioritise one over the other you'll be fine no matter what you do.

MajorManiac
12-10-2011, 03:05 PM
Thanks guys.

deano2099, that is some great advice. I'm glad you took the time to explain point 1 as I was a little unsure as to how to do this. So coming up with a general 'theme' to wrap the review around, such as amazing game-play with a rushed ending, would add coherency to the whole thing.


Cunzy11, That really made me laugh. Perhaps being given bad examples (of what to avoid) is just as useful as being given good ones.

Tikey
12-10-2011, 03:49 PM
What deano said is important. A review should have a flow to it. It should read itself. If you took a paragraph or a sentence out of it there should be a feeling of something missing. Think of it as a story.
In your peer review review you used mostly short sentences talking about bits and pieces of the game, mostly disconnected from each other. You should tie these ideas into something more tight (to be honest I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say as I'm having trouble finding the correct expressions).
Also, if you say something, say it with intent. Taking toy review as an example again, the bit where you say what your favourite levels are feels out of place. What is the value of that, That I know what your favourite levels are? You just have to connect that information with the thing you're review. As in, you say you like levels with the white goo, well, are many of those in the dlc? are they well made? If you bring that up, bring it to say something about what you're reviewing.

Also the first paragraph in a review is the most important part. You have to make me interested in reading your review, your first paragraph should captivate me and make me want to keep reading. Make it exiting or interesting.

MajorManiac
13-10-2011, 11:33 AM
Thanks for taking the time to read through my writing and give positive criticism, its really appreciated.

Looking back over it, I think you're right about the disconnected feel of each section. I also like your point about adding facts to my favourite type of level bit, such as how much this occurs in the dlc.

Tikey
14-10-2011, 03:01 PM
Bear in mind that the most important thing is that you have fun writing, it will show in the text. Try different things. After a while, when you are more comfortable writing try to avoid using the same structure.
Have fun, be fun. I don't think I can tell you anything else.

Oh, and let us know when you publish something new :)

MajorManiac
14-10-2011, 08:43 PM
Thanks Tikey.

I've posted a good few small articles now. http://tiredbutwired.com/author/majormaniac/

I'm starting to get more confident, thanks in part to the feedback here. I won't bore you with every post I make, but if/when I do a big review in the future I'll post it here for your review.

I know I've said it allot in this post, but thank you very much everyone. I was half expecting a torrent of insults, but am happy to see the forum is even classier than the comments in the main website. :)

killer197
03-03-2015, 12:37 AM
How would I set out a review for a game.

ethanmellor
30-03-2015, 10:34 PM
Hi MajorManiac.
I will give you an excellent guide to writing literate game reviews - http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Review. This guide was created with professional writers of service - assignmentemperor.com (http://assignmentemperor.com), at least you can write to them and pass a free consultation.

peschiNL
31-03-2015, 11:46 AM
be angry, negative, ect is the way to go. just look at the plethora of "angry gamer" youtube vlogs

Tikey
31-03-2015, 02:45 PM
I've been reading a few Steam Reviews and there is something I'd like to add here. I want to read about what you think, what you feel. I DON'T want to read about your history or your credentials. Starting a review with "I've played games for XX years" or "I have a doctorate in RPG mechanics" for example. If you need to ascertain credentials to drive your point home then you're doing something wrong.



be angry, negative, ect is the way to go. just look at the plethora of "angry gamer" youtube vlogs

If you want hits it could be a good approach but it's a cynical outlook on the whole affair. I'm a bit naive, I prefer to do something good rather than something that sells.

Shane
31-03-2015, 04:09 PM
Try not to insert your personal politics into the review.

Tikey
31-03-2015, 04:54 PM
I disagree, we're political creatures, you can't just shun it off. If it's pertinent to the subject at hand then insert whatever you want.

Or to put it in another way. If games have a political stance then why game reviews shouldn't have one or comment on it?

Shane
31-03-2015, 05:11 PM
I disagree, we're political creatures, you can't just shun it off. If it's pertinent to the subject at hand then insert whatever you want.

Or to put it in another way. If games have a political stance then why game reviews shouldn't have one or comment on it?

Because a game's quality can not be determined by what political ideology it appears to espouse. If games have a political stance outside of what is required for atmosphere and plot, then they should be criticized for it. Until games become a medium of scholarly discourse like books, I see no place for a deliberate political stance in either games or in their critique.

alms
31-03-2015, 08:36 PM
Don't let the part where you go about the history of your life or what you did last week get in the way of letting me understand when you're talking about the game and when you're talking about how good the dump you took yesterday felt.

Yes you might have an entire legion of fans fawning over your writings, but honestly, I'm reading these posts because of the games in the first place, so your personal experience is mainly there to drive a point home rather than show off the unconventional and interestingly quirky, surely exceedingly talented, writer you are.

Not that you'll ever read this or your fans will suddenly stop fawning, I just had this thing to take off my chest. Thanks for the attention whoever read this to the bottom.

Tikey
01-04-2015, 12:31 AM
Because a game's quality can not be determined by what political ideology it appears to espouse. If games have a political stance outside of what is required for atmosphere and plot, then they should be criticized for it. Until games become a medium of scholarly discourse like books, I see no place for a deliberate political stance in either games or in their critique.

Why so much aversion to politics? They're a part of our world, it's to be expected that it's a part of our games too. A political stance shouldn't be criticised because it exists, it can make a game better or worse so it certainly should be commented on. And a lot games do espouse a political ideology even if it's not intentional, it's a natural part of the creative process, games don't exist in a vacuum. Denying their political nature or just expecting games to be a sterile thing completely unrelated to its social context is unrealistic.

It doesn't determine the game's quality but it certainly influences it. We should be looking at games as a whole.

Heliocentric
01-04-2015, 01:08 AM
Everything is politics. No, really. Even liking the graphics excellent polish, or wishing the AI didn't have to cheat to be competitive. It's all a social framework though which you are talking about yourself and your ideology.

Show me an example which disproves my supposition and I'll show you where to look harder.