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Are We Too Positive?

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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby Lazzah » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:50 am

David Whyld wrote:Considering the small size of the community, 5 testers is pretty good going though. That's probably 1/4 of the active forum members.

Who are these guys?! I will be needing playtesters in the near future.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby P/o Prune » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:01 pm

You can do two things Lazzah.
Either follow this link and ask for testers. (that's how I got mine)
http://if.game-testing.org/
Or see if you can find the thread I started a long time ago where volunteer testers could sign up to test games. Maybe some of them are still active.

One of the problems with forums (not just this one) is that poeple doesn't feel like they belong there (in lack of a better expression) so lots of them couldn't be bothered letting other know if they, for one reason or another, don't wish to test games anymore.
I also tried to continue Davids brilliant idea about a WiP thread, but for some reason people just don't care.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby David Whyld » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:38 pm

I think the biggest problem with the WiP thread was that it highlighted just how eager people are to announce games, and then how unlikely they are to actually finish them. They then run the risk of having a thread forever pinned to the top of the forum detailing games they know will never be finished, which can be a little disheartening. I know when I did the original thread, only a handful of the dozens of games announced ever got finished.

Ta for thinking it was a brilliant idea though :)
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby Lumin » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:28 pm

That's pretty much why I don't post in those kinds of threads anymore. It's theoretically a good idea, but I have writing ADD and something like eight million ideas for every one I actually finish, so at some point I decided to just keep quiet about projects until they're ready to upload.

At least one of them will be. Eventually. Some day. Really. :(
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby P/o Prune » Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:31 pm

It was a brilliant idea, David. :wink:
I thought it would be a indicator of what was moving within the Adrift community. I don't know if it would help any if the WiP was updated throughout the year. But the problem is getting people to tell when they abandon a game and not just leave without a trace.
But I think that's wishful thinking.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby dannychabino » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:55 pm

I'm going to write to the original post and purpose of this thread.

I've been away for quite some time (a couple of years maybe... at least). One of the reasons I was so turned off was because of the sorts of topics discussed in the general IF community.To me the community is both snobbish and boorish. I would say that better than two thirds of reviews written by the general community are written for the purpose of the author of the review to try and sound smart and well read in game design, rather than just giving a review on whether they really enjoyed the game. The reviews remind of movie reviews. I can never go by what professional movie critics think, because they are so focused on trying to be smart and critical that they are not useful for me in determining whether I will actually enjoy the movie.

It boils down to whether the community really wants more people to join and be active (i.e. they actually want more players, beta testers, etc. as they claim that they do), or if they want to continually shrink to a small core of people who do nothing but criticize each others' work and debate about mimesis. You have to look at it from the perspective of someone who may be coming across the idea of IF for the first time. What would you think of the community if seeing it for the first time? Why would you want to make any attempt at learning the process if everyone groans when you try? It starts with a curiosity in writing one's own work. If there is no drive to do this, then there is no drive to want to play other games. Want more beta testers? Then encourage more authors, no matter how bad the games.

The IF community takes itself way too seriously. These activities are supposed to be fun. People should remember IF is no longer a viable commercial gaming platform and hasn't been for several decades. All of this should be for enjoyment - not to impress anyone. All the intricate discussions on mimesis and game design, while sometimes useful and interesting, are often times annoying.

I don't mean to sound that we should give nothing but positive feedback and never be critical. I just mean that (and I've seen much more fairness within the Adrift community) there should be a lot more balance, and when critically negative comments are given they should be less harsh. I would say a good rule of thumb would be that if a reviewer wouldn't say something in the same manner in person, it probably shouldn’t be said that way in a review. Also, topics on game design are useful at times, just not overdone with ridiculous amounts of snobbish debate.

You’re probably wondering why, if I hold these views would I bother staying involved with IF. It’s because I enjoy the creative outlet of creating the games, even the ones I never finish. I use the forums for inspiration and ideas based upon what others are trying, and to solve problems I’m having or avoid future technical issues. It’s a shame to have to ignore the forums that are used by the general IF community, but I just don’t find them useful or helpful.
I’m sure I’ll regret this lengthy post later, but that’s my 2 cents. And I’ll shut up.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby P/o Prune » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:44 am

:wink:
First of all. Don't shut up. I find it refreshing that someone, once in a while, shakes up the community and I agree with some of the things you “complain” about.

Although I wouldn't say that the Adrift community is either snobbish or boring, People are always ready to give you a helping hand if you get stuck with a problem, and the tone in the forum is generally friendly (You should have been here in the late 90's early 00's .. pheew!)
But you are right when it comes to reviews of games. Sometimes I feel that we are supposed to be professional writers and not just amateurs having a great time with our hobby.

When I read a review I don't care about the technical stuff. I want to know what the game is about and whether it will entertain me or not.
I write games for fun, and I intend to keep writing games for as long as I find enjoyment in doing so. Criticism for criticism's sake is of no use to me and I usually skip over it. Tell me what I can do to improve my game and I'll listen.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby dannychabino » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:22 pm

Although I wouldn't say that the Adrift community is either snobbish or boring, People are always ready to give you a helping hand if you get stuck with a problem, and the tone in the forum is generally friendly (You should have been here in the late 90's early 00's .. pheew!)


I agree about the Adrift community, and I was here at that time as well. Wrote my first attempt in 2001.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby David Whyld » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:36 pm

I think there's a big difference between pointing out obvious errors in a game during a review and unfairly bashing it. Sure, a few typos and grammatical errors here and there don't make an otherwise brilliant game unplayable, but at the same time it can make them frustrating to play. Just as im sure that fi I dint botha checkin 4 types or grammer errus iN my frum posts, itd make dem soo mutch hurder 2 red. After all, no one wants to play a flawed game over a flawless one.

The times I write really negative reviews are for games where I think the author hasn't put much effort into it. Has, say, just sat down one day, wrote something in 20 minutes and uploaded it straightaway without even testing it. Or where you're running into errors every few moves, errors which must have been obvious to the author from even the most basic play through and yet he didn't bother to fix for one reason or another. In those circumstances, I think it’s fair game to bash them mercilessly, not to say “oh yes, your game has a few flaws but it’s got potential” when the game crashes on the first command or won’t let you leave the first location because the author forgot to include an exit. Too often here we have people doing this sort of thing and it gives a terrible impression of ADRIFT, an impression not helped if we conveniently overlook the flaws in the games so that we don't hurt people’s feelings.

While I can accept dannychabino’s point that IF isn't commercially viable now and hasn't been for a long time – Textfyre aside, and I don't really know if they're doing well financially or not – I don't think that's any reason to let standards slip. If anything, we should be trying to raise standards. If IF ever does become commercially viable again, it won’t be because standards have dropped and we look at it as a fun hobby to pass a bit of time.

Saying that, even if you do look at writing text adventures as nothing more than a hobby, that's still no reason why you shouldn’t do everything you possibly can to make them as good as possible.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby Duncan_B » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:12 pm

@dannychabino: If you're writing to the original quote (which was originally something I said to Juhana Leinonen, as I have mentioned elsewhere if not here), I'll first remind our audience I recognize I'm not totally impartial in the discussion. I do think some folks have been too positive (jealously in some, but not all cases), though I definitely believe we should be encouraging in review, especially to new authors. I know I haven't always, but I take care to be detailed in my reviews because I believe an author's effort deserves to be repaid with close attention.

But play Escape from Camelot and tell me reviews shouldn't offer help on craft and technique. Tell me it isn't annoying seeing authors give themselves 5 stars without merit to match. Tell me it isn't annoying to see authors making the same coding mistakes that fill their games with unnecessary guess the verb problems. I won't-- I can't-- be so quick in devaluing the critical (or, as you seem to call it, stuff that “tries to sound smart”).

"reviews written by the general community are written for the purpose of the author of the review to try and sound smart and well read in game design, rather than just giving a review on whether they really enjoyed the game."


I don't think the IF Community "takes itself way too seriously," nor would I be concerned if it did. You can accuse me of being an academic-- it would be true-- but I object to being called a snob and a boor. I am verifiably not boorish, and I believe a brief survey of my work (a glance, really) galvanizes my defense against charges of snobbishness, as I indulge in shlock, crude parodies, and failure. You will find that there are many, too, in the IF Community who take their work less than completely seriously, but the level of seriousness they attempt does not as a rule cheapen the quality and content of any work, which is then the substance of a review. We can't just say we liked something or not because that gives no context-- we have to say why and support those assertions with data. If we are to be informative, it only makes sense we give attention to these things critically.

In my support, I will point you to a blog post by Victor Gijsbers, “On judgement.” It is the second blog post on this page.

If retaining new community members is the real issue at hand for you (rather than the quality of games produced), I find the major factor in retaining new community members is not through positive or negative reviews, but by appealing to their social nature. Showing interest in people and having fun just getting to know them is the first step to being able encourage their writing. Sadly, it can't always be done.

Statistically speaking, most ADRIFT authors write one game and never show their faces, or else they are David Whyld (the second most prolific source of ADRIFT games). It's hard to encourage new players when they are flat-out unresponsive, but the least we can do is reach out to them with an e-mail or PM on the Forum. If they never respond, it's likely there was never any encouraging one could do for them in the first place.

I always want to encourage writing, just not bad writing.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby dannychabino » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:32 pm

You can accuse me of being an academic-- it would be true-- but I object to being called a snob and a boor. I am verifiably not boorish, and I believe a brief survey of my work (a glance, really) galvanizes my defense against charges of snobbishness, as I indulge in shlock, crude parodies, and failure.


I'm sure you already knew, but I'll say so anyway. I wasn't singling anyone out, particularly not you (Believe me. I'm one of the most boring people you could meet.). I was generalizing.

All points made by you, and by David are valid. I agree with probably all of them. However, I think it's a matter of what the community wants. I don't think they can have nearly all high quality games and have a growing membership. I think that if growth is expected, quality will necessarily go down as people who might have never even heard of IF begin to experiment with it. Immediate howling about how bad their work is won't get them to progress any further, IMHO. There will be a lot of the basic errors that those of us that have been around for a while really find annoying. You may end up with only 20% decent playable games and the rest not worth much, because people are trying to figure things out.

I probably should not have used the terms I used (i.e. snobbish and boorish). But, one could certainly get that impression reading through reviews (not necessarily the ones here) and reading a great many postings on the general IF forums. You learn a little bit differently about people as you read more of what they write, but if your impression is generally bad about the community, you probably won't stick around to find that out. And, I still feel the same way about reviews in general. I don't find them very useful. Maybe jsut a personal preference.

I've already said too much and made a nuisance of myself. I know the IF community is what it is. I'm not going to change it, and I'm not really trying. Didn't mean to offend anyone. I was hesitant to say anything in the first place and probably should not have.

I think I've said all I can say about the subject, and there are very valid opposing thoughts. I'll leave it all at that.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby Duncan_B » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:00 pm

You should be more specific about what or whose reviews you don't find helpful rather than generalizing them to the whole community. You're creating a damaging stereotype, and one I don't think is deserved. Given the amount and diversity of reviewing that gets done in the IF world (especially in IFComp season), it should be an easy prejudice to overcome. You'll just have to find something suited to your taste.

That being said, I hope you won't leave your involvement in the ADRIFT community "at that." We like having people around, be it as writers, players, or just regular ol' forumites. I think I speak for us all when I say we hope you can be all three, but understand if not. But, please: stay vocal, stay visible.
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby David Whyld » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:04 pm

Duncan_B wrote:Statistically speaking, most ADRIFT authors write one game and never show their faces, or else they are David Whyld (the second most prolific source of ADRIFT games).


Second most prolific? :?
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby Duncan_B » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:11 pm

The most prolific source of ADRIFT games (that is, as a set) are first-time, one-game-only authors. As individuals, nobody has yet matched your copious output. I'm not even sure any ADRIFT authors have written half as many games as you!
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Re: Are We Too Positive?

Postby Lumin » Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:25 am

Wow danny, looks like you sparked a nice discussion here. We need more of these, so hope you stick around. :)

I'm not going to get into responding to individual posts, but on the subject in general, when I read a review there are certain things I'm looking for. Genre, style, size, puzzle fairness, etc., but mainly the big question, Will I enjoy this game?

So when I write a review, I try to cover those same areas. 'Enjoyability' is of course a hugely subjective category, but issues like bugs and major spelling and grammar problems obviously do factor into that. I think I tend to be more lenient than most when it comes to technical flaws as long as the plot or writing style has something compelling to offer, but there comes a certain point where those things are no longer possible to overlook...and even if I'm not completely damning a game because of them, they still ought to be mentioned.

Some people to take it to an extreme though. I know I've read reviews where (even factoring in how poorly sarcasm and hyperbole can translate over the Internet sometimes) the author seems ridiculously condescending or even genuinely angry at having played a bad game, and others that sound like they're giving an ultra-serious critique of a professional art piece in a museum, putting a spotlight on every tiny flaw and searching for some deep meaning that was probably never intended to be there in the first place.

On one hand, writing a game is a lot of work.* It can be great having someone take your effort seriously, paying attention to the details and putting effort of their own into a thorough critique...but on the other hand, sometimes I read a review and I just want to tell the person who wrote it to lighten up and get over themselves. And I get a mental image of them sitting at their computer sucking on a lemon as they play. :roll:

And yet, the biggest problem we currently have facing the community is lack of feedback altogether. So, as long as it contains some pretense of being constructive (ie: informing me of a broken puzzle or a GTV issue in between suggestions of ways to kill myself) I still say negative feedback is better than no feedback at all.

*exceptions of course being those 20 minute, 2k wonders David mentioned that the ADRIFT community above all others has always just been so blessed with...IMHO a lot of the standard 'rules' go out the window when you're faced with the prospect of spending more time writing a review than the author spent on the game in the first place, but I feel like that's almost an entirely different topic.
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