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zippdementia I'm best known for my extensive work in the fields of this and that. I tend to be better at that, though I have more fun with this.

I'm an odd jobber with an even personality who isn't afraid to roll with the punches but prefers to dodge them when able.

Title: How do you review: my answer
Posted: November 24, 2008 (10:49 AM)
Someone on the blogs was asking, and my simple reply turned into an autobiography. So I figured I'd make it a post in it's own right.

For me, it depends on whether the game is new or old. If it's old, I already have a general impression based on Nostalgia and my first experience playing it. Depending on just HOW old the game is, I might go back for a quick crash course or read other reviews to tighten up my thoughts. With an older review, I focus more on capturing whether the game was fun to play than on the technicalities. My style becomes much more freeform, as well.

With a new game, I'm a lot more meticulous. I take notes the whole time I'm playing. When anything particularly strong hits me, I'll write it down. A lot of the phrases and metaphors I use in my reviews come to me during intense moments of gameplay (whether intensely bad or awesome).

Generally, by the time I'm half way through a game, I've got a good enough impression of it to write a review. But I like to finish a game before reviewing it (especially after Kingdom Hearts, which had an ending that completely changed my appreciation of the title). If it looks like I'm simply not going to be finishing the game in time to write my review, I'll either hold off until the game becomes old and I can write a review as stated above, or I'll go ahead and write it without finishing it (this works well for shooters and things like that... I'll never do this for an RPG).

When I sit down at the computer, I type out the major points of each paragraph, creating an outline. I really try to limit the things I talk about in a game to those which really stand out and make the experience distinctly better (or worse). I also believe that each genre has its salient points, its standard approaches to gameplay. In my opinion, a game will do one of the following with this approach:
1) completely fail to utilize it (and thus fail at the genre)
2) use it, but do nothing new
3) stick to it, but improve (basically, polish it up)
4) redefine the way the gameplay is used

I'm fine with the last two. The first two, not so much. Usually this more than anything decides whether I view a game in the positive or the negative.

The next thing I tend to think about is what the developers were trying to do. This is judged on two levels:
1) Was it a good idea?
2) Did they succeed?

This can tip the scale towards the good or the bad... sort've like the plus and minus on a grade.

I try to make sure when critiquing something that I have an idea of how things could've been better. Not that I think of myself as the ultimate developer, it more comes from my idea that if you are able to present a viable solution to a problem, then it shows you understand the problem. I don't always present these solutions, I'm not that arrogant. It's more a mental thing I like to keep in mind to test myself and see if I'm really getting to the heart of things.

If the above focuses didn't take up all the space, I'll get into mentioning things that in my mind are superfluous. For instance, some games just don't require good graphics. So I'll barely touch on them. Other games seem to beg for graphics, but the story is needless. Even control isn't as important in some games as others. It all depends on the style.

Above all, I like to keep in mind that the point of any game should be to entertain. Developers often forget that these days, ESPECIALLY in RPGS (at one point, RPG was my favourite genre... no longer).

Once everything is typed up, I let it sit for a moment while I have someone else read it and tell me what they think. While they're doing that, I'll be off talking with a friend about the game, running my thoughts past them to see if there are any adjustments to be made.

All in all, the process takes about 3 hours.

wolfqueen001User: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 24, 2008 (11:08 AM)
Wow.. You guys (except EmP and jerec) have way too complicated a process for me. Anyway, feel free to post this essay in Zig's blog. I'm sure he won't mind, especially since you're new and he may not notice your blog straight away.

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