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Reviews on others work

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Reviews on others work

Postby Lucid Prose » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:26 pm

As I'm new to Adrift I tend to spend 80% of my time reading the forums and manuals to get an idea of how to put my own idea's into motion. So on a break at work today I decided to look at the reviews that some of the more advanced uses have been kind enough to supply.

:? Was the first reaction I had, followed quickly by :( and now I feel more inclined to :peep:

I was hoping to see a lot of constructive criticism and guidance to help the new guys out, but that seems not to be the case for some. Even something poorly written or a defective adventure, deserves some plaudits for taking the time to firstly learn to use the environment, and then having done so, to put your work out for all to see. If you want the popularity of Adrift to grow and attract more users, then those reviews may not put the community in the best light.

I have tried Quest and Inform7 when looking to find a system I feel comfortable with, Adrift ticks all of the boxes for me and I have many ideas running around I want to put down and have people play. I'm now extremely concerned that my first faltering attempts may be given the same short shrift I've seen others receive. I'm grateful for the help I have received so far when asking questions, its what I hoped the community would be. I just hope that it can transfer to some of the review posts in the future.

I will attempt to play and review as many of the new entries I can over the coming few days and give a none expert view on what I see.
"The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
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Re: Reviews on others work

Postby David Whyld » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:19 pm

This is a subject that crops up quite often on the forum: do we provide constructive criticism and do everything we can to encourage people to become better writers, or do we simply just bash them 'cos, y'know, bashing is a lot less effort?

I guess it's true to say I've done both. Sometimes I've gone the whole way and pretty much lambasted some poor sod's efforts, but I like to think that’s reserved for special cases when someone has uploaded a game they’ve clearly written in the space of an hour, haven't tested it, haven't played it to make sure it can be finished, haven't even read it through to get rid of the dozen or so typos in the introduction (and yes, I've played games where the very first sentence has typos in it) - in those circumstances, I think I've been perfectly justified in bashing someone's game as far as I can. They haven't made any effort in writing it, so why should I make an effort in reviewing it and providing constructive criticism? My reviews of such games aren't really intended for the author's benefit, but more to warn off other people who might end up wasting their time playing the game. And probably for my own selfish amusement, too, if I'm being perfectly honest here.

If someone makes a genuine effort to write a decent game, though, I'd like to think I at least make a genuine effort to write a fair review of their game. I'm not going to go into length in a review of every single aspect of the game and offer 101 suggestions as to how I think they can improve it, but I'll try and offer some constructive criticism.
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Re: Reviews on others work

Postby Lucid Prose » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:12 pm

Thank you for your open and honest reply David.

I can understand and empathise with some of your concerns. I feel your frustration, when faced with a game that's been knocked up in less than an hour, with no due care or consideration for the person playing it. There are too many examples, both on these forums and on the main IF boards to refute that fact. Where as I would not offer 101 suggestions on improvements, I would lean towards at least offering 1.

As I'm new to this, I don't have your well honed eye of experience to guide me on my journey yet. Maybe in time, I will gain that veteran quality and acquire a more robust attitude towards my fellow writers. Until then, I'll try and give any review the simple eye of the new guy, as that's exactly what I am.

Maybe as time has passed, you have become accustomed to this style of adventure writing being placed before us. Maybe you long for more effort being put into peoples work before they publish. Maybe, like me, you really do believe in Adrift and want to see it flourish, and these pitiful attempts by others somehow lessen what Adrift should be.

All of that is pure speculation on my part, I can't possibly know, that which you seek. What I do know is, when I put my first adventure up for public review, I'll know exactly where I stand with you.

Kind Regards

LP
"The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
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Re: Reviews on others work

Postby saabie » Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:41 am

The main thing to remember is to get a few people to play through the game to fully test it before uploading it to the main site.
Nobody wants to play a game riddled with obvious bugs, but if it looks like you put some effort into testing it then you should get reasonable reviews.
There are some good tips on the wiki at http://wiki.adrift.co/FAQ_-_Frequently_Asked_Questions#How_do_I_get_my_game_beta_tested.3F
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Re: Reviews on others work

Postby David Whyld » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:27 am

In the interests of providing constructive criticism, I decided to pick a game by a newcomer – namely My School Social Studies Project by the ever prolific Anonymous – and give it a bash. In a purely constructive manner, of course.

First off... well, the title. My School Social Studies Project doesn't fill me with enthusiasm. It tells me nothing about the game itself. Is it a comedy? A horror? A fantasy? The blurb for the game on the main site reads "6th Grade Social Studies Challenge Activity - Ancient Greece", which isn't a lot better but at least now I know it involves ancient Greece. (It's a bad point that the game is credited to Anonymous as this shows the author hasn't even bothered to register an account on the site he's uploaded his game to. It's also an issue because if I wanted to send an e-mail to the author with my opinions on the game, I've no way of doing so.)

But enough with the title and the lack of an author name, what about the game itself?

The introduction doesn't really grip me: "You are the hero known as Nolanus, your mission is to find your way through this odd maze of horrors." At the very least, you should make an effort with the first thing a player is going to see. Flesh it out. Why are you in the maze? Who is Nolanus? What is the maze and why is it odd and what are the horrors?

The first location description is also pretty lacking, and pretty buggy. A torch and rope are both listed twice in the description, and even after you take them they're still listed. I'm guessing that whoever wrote this didn't bother finding out even the very basics of ADRIFT before embarking on their first game, and it shows.

Moving into the second location, I again see something listed twice in the description, this time a statue of Zeus. Unfortunately, I can only refer to this as "statue" and not as "Zeus". Examining the statue informs me I can open it to receive a gift, but I'm still informed of this even after I've opened it and retrieved the item from inside. A simple change to the item description, or a line in the ALR, would have fixed this.

Into the third location I go, which, like the previous two, is little more than a line or two long in description. Here there's a statue of Hermes (which again can't be referred to as "Hermes" but only as "statue"), complete with a couple of typos in its description ("mithology" and "theives"). I'm beginning to spot a pattern here: minimal descriptions, every item has precisely one use, no attention to detail, no checking for typos or general game errors. If the author spent more than half an hour writing this, I'd be quite surprised.

Obvious commands (well, obvious to me anyway) don't work. If I'm a hero, shouldn't I be able to fight the creatures in the maze? At the bare minimum, I should be given the choice of fighting them, even if it ends in my death or defeat.

And... that's where I gave up. Sorry, but there was nothing about this game I could find to recommend. It suffers from most of the mistakes written by newcomers – minimal descriptions, typos, no depth, a marked lack of testing, no proper title (or author name!), not to mention no hints or any proper background information. At the very least, make descriptions longer. Flesh the text out. Explain why I'm in a maze. Give me a purpose in making my way through it instead of simply telling me I need to.

One final point: can a long corridor really be considered a maze?
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Re: Reviews on others work

Postby Lucid Prose » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:28 pm

Thanks David, after reading your review I would not have been to keen to pick up the game and try it, that's the power any reviewer has. If you have a well respected background within a community to go along with that, then a bad review can sink a game. Conversely a good review will do the opposite.

I do take heart from the last paragraph you wrote, in that, there are some well constructed critiques and advice for Anonymous to help him/her produce better games in the future. :welldone: I'll try and get a move on with my first work and release the intro for you to have a look at.

Any advice, hints or tips will be very welcome.

LP
"The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
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Re: Reviews on others work

Postby Tyson » Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:02 pm

I've written a few harsh reviews in my lifetime. Looking back, I can't believe some of the things I wrote. I ask myself: why was I so harsh? Why so begrudging and critical?

Today, I think I know why.

Interactive fiction players are a generally dedicated bunch. They have played plenty of games, and thus, they are utterly familiar with basic IF design mistakes. These mistakes are obvious to the seasoned player, but are opaque to the newcomer. Sometimes veterans express their frustration through scathing reviews. This probably has the effect of driving authors away from the IF community.

If it is of any consolation: this harsh criticism stems from a place of love. Think of the tough critic as administering tough love.

Additionally, you must consider that some reviewers are just harsher (or seem harsher) than others. A good review from a generally harsh critic is different from a good review from a generally pleasant critic.

Also, I think the ADRIFT community is actually friendlier to newcomers than the wider IF community. However, we are less active and there are fewer of us.

To summarize: yes, we should probably do better, but, at the same time, one should develop a thick skin.
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Re: Reviews on others work

Postby Lumin » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:43 pm

Wait, you mean there are still people who write reviews? That just seems so last decade.
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Re: Reviews on others work

Postby Lumin » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:02 pm

I went ahead and wrote a quick review on the My School Social Studies Project too. That's three reviews that one has now. So I guess the key to getting feedback around here is to write short, flawed games with potential for improvement?
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