Reviews and level concept

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TimJ
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Reviews and level concept

Post by TimJ » 02 Oct 2015 11:29

In reaction to the recent reviews of my race level, I wanted to ask a question about how the majority of reviewers does their job. I think most of them won't even notice this thread but here it is.

I've got the feeling that the scores I've got don't reflect the level itself but the sole disappointment of the players for a too-short-for-their-taste level. In that case, reviews don't seem to be objective as they don't take into account what the level tries to be. I've tried to make a race level for speed game players (I thought there were some) while still getting a beautiful setting for 'standard' players, but it's not in any case a 'standard' level. If unconventional level are going to be reviewed like any other conventional level, then the point is missed. I know that every player enjoy the game the way they want, but in my opinion reviews should keep some objectivity.
I'd like to know the opinion of others about this subject.

I'd prefer my level not to be reviewed at all (and existing reviews to be deleted or hidden) than getting comments about what my level isn't. :(

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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by manarch2 » 02 Oct 2015 11:41

There have been many levels like yours that simply don't fit in the existing rating categories. It's up to every reviewer what he makes out of it, it's a hard enough job to score these levels...

I, for one, have enjoyed the concept of your level and tried to express that the the text review. From what I've read, most of the other reviewers enjoyed it too, but perhaps the gameplay content of your level isn't enough for some to give it marks in the upper range (also note that each reviewer sets different standards). And in all honesty, judging a level better just because it is a race level is not quite fair - assuming it would be that way, every builder could just insert a timer to get better ratings ...
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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by TimJ » 02 Oct 2015 12:12

A timer doesn't make a race level and I hope nobody could be trapped by such a fallacious move. But there could be other concept levels that could be downrated due to there unconventional nature. A harmless level of pure walk in beautifully crafted environments (like Journey the ps3 game) for example. Or a pure puzzling game with tons of pushables and switches making hard enigmas ? I don't know how are reviewed the 20x20x20 levels that are necessarily short by their constraints. :|

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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by manarch2 » 02 Oct 2015 13:00

A 30 minute level can express more than a 5-hour-game if it is genuinely put together. But not all levels are like that. Some of my criteriums on rating gameplay are (aside of creativity and other things) it should be memorable and immersive, and with only a few things to do many levels don't persuade me in that. Then, slightly longer (not meaning needlessly expanded and time-consuming) and thus a tad slower levels where you have to do more tasks in the various areas are rather to my taste - for example, I really enjoyed your Balloons level because of that (yes, also the difficult parts).

But when a level doesn't really fit in the given categories, the ratings in the relevant categories don't really say much (and they are different as night and day in many occasions, just take a look at other examples).

http://trle.net/sc/reviews.php?lid=2377
http://www.trle.net/sc/reviews.php?lid=1961

After all, you received a rather solid 8.16 rating which is really not bad at all, and three of four categories are not rated below 7 by anyone. This is, despite of a few more negative points in a category which is perhaps the hardest to score in any level let alone those concept ones, quite respectable if you ask me.
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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by DJ Full » 02 Oct 2015 15:12

TimJ,

you cannot avoid being told what the game isn't. A review is basically a reaction view, aimed primarily to help builders and other players. If a writer sees things as missing or improvable:
- he will provide advice on whatever he thinks you should change, and very often suggest ways it could be done
- he will warn players about potential inconveniences, what they can take seriously or dismiss if it doesn't apply to them.

The more universal a level is, the less of the above happens, and your entry is very specific what naturally implies loads of clashing opinions. But it doesn't make it a bad level. I have no doubt every minute spent on making it was worth the effort.

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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by Nina Croft » 02 Oct 2015 17:51

Dear TimJ,

I played your level and don't know how to rate it. That's why I decided to wait a bit, to play the level again, and then to rate it. I have some mixed feeling about it, it's great at some points, at some other points it's less great, and somehow, I have a feeling that something is missing. Maybe a continuation, another level or something? I don't know, that's only my subjective feeling. I do not base my reviews on my subjective feelings and for that reason I'll wait for these feelings to settle down and to play the level again.

Regarding your question/opinion... Positive critique in the reviews is always a good thing, as the builder can feel what the players want. It can help him building a level in the future the players will love and rate high.

However, you are a builder. It means that you don't have to fulfill our wishes, it is not your obligation at all. As a builder, you have an idea or a vision of the level you want to build and you build it following your idea. If your idea was to replace Lara's character with e.g. Kurtis Trent or Jill Valentine or Solid Snake, that is your right. If you want a race game like Crash Bandicoot, do it, it's also your right. You are the builder. Period.

If you are a builder who wants to make a level that'll be liked by everyone, then you should build a level WE will like and understand, based on our reviews and critique and praise. If you are a builder who wants to make a level HE WANTS to build, then you should simply learn to ignore the negative reviews. People don't always react positively when something huge is changed or something new introduced. Most of them will just say that it's not the classic raiding, and lower their reviews for that reason. Also, another big reason for lowering one's reviews is lack of understanding. People don't like what they don't understand, people are also creatures of habit, and if you give them Lara they don't know or raiding they have never seen before, most of them will react negatively. That's how the world works, not only here but everywhere.


Take Tomb Raider Redemption as an example. In my opinion, this is among top 5 levels of all times. However, if you read the reviews for this game, you'll notice two strange comments. One says: secrets are meaningless, what's the point in collecting them? This reviewer wrote this out of ignorance. She did not realize that you can exchange these secrets with a useful weapon, or she did not collect enough of these secrets to make the exchange. The other comment said: There is absolutely no valid reason for making the rooms so huge! That's another mistake. In every big room, you should select an attractive spot for Lara and leave her alone for a minute or so. A secret camera trigger will be activated and you'll see why the room are as big as they are. These two reviewers simply did not discover these two details and did not understand their point. This game is also criticized because of the limited ammo and inability to carry medipacks in the inventory, because this system is something not typical for Tomb Raider. Although definitely one of the best TRLE levels out there, TR Redemption still meets negative reviews because of too many novelties.

Your last level is also non-typical, and consequently, people will review it lower than it actually deserves. Don't get upset because of these things. Just keep building as you want and what you want, and learn to stay totally cold when reading reviews, or don't read them at all. After all, reviews above 8 are still very high, and not low. I sometimes play levels rated below 9 more eagerly than Hall-of-Famers.
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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by JesseG » 03 Oct 2015 16:34

TimJ wrote:In that case, reviews don't seem to be objective as they don't take into account what the level tries to be.
This particular sentence stuck out at me, so I'd like to respond to it, as it is rather the opposite of how I have approached rating levels (and it's the ratings you seem to be most concerned about). I'd also like to offer my neutral perspective since I haven't played the level in question (I swear I'll get back to full-time raiding sometime... :D )

My belief is that keeping the same standards across the board makes ratings more objective, not less. Trying to compensate for the "style" of a level, IMO, makes ratings hold less weight. How exactly would a reviewer adjust the ratings? If it's a demo, should they pad their ratings by 5 points to make it comparable to a full level? Do they know that the full level would indeed achieve that higher score? I know that if I went through that mental exercise, my numbers would just get more and more arbitrary.

Same thing for a "race" level. It's not going to be about whether they like or hate race levels, it's going to be about how the level falls in their grading rubric. This site is built on that consistency, so people like Magnus can keep giving their relatively low scores, or some other reviewer always giving 10's across the board, and neither has to tell the other to change the way they rate levels, because there is no "right" or "wrong" way. :)

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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by TimJ » 03 Oct 2015 23:21

Hi everyone and thank you for your remarks! :)

First of all, I'm sorry if I appeared as a grumpy builder who grunts to the reviews. I wasn't in a good mood last friday. :shame:

Your explanations about how you are rating and reviewing the levels are very informative and it's pleasant to have this constructive feedback to my questioning.

A funny point I noted about Nina's answer is this : "Most of them will just say that it's not the classic raiding, and lower their reviews for that reason." Some will also lower a review because it's too classic. Proof that you cannot please everyone! But your whole message is full of wisdom. :)

I agree it's hard to review, and more so when you are faced with novelties or unusual levels. And we all have the things we'll always see when others won't bother. I've reviewed levels with low scores in objects category just because there was a misplaced texture or animation somewhere. :lol: I'm sure most players won't even see this. :hammer:
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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by Nina Croft » 04 Oct 2015 16:43

Let me give you an example, TimJ...

When my friend Lima built his Dark City Part 1 levelset, there was a woman who rated this Hall-of-Fame levelset low, saying something like this: "I give a lower mark because the builder put some posters of topless women in the public toilet at the Substation, and forgot to say that this levelset is not suitable for people who are under-aged" (this review appears in another community, not here at trle.net).

Could you believe what she wrote? I am also a woman, a serious woman, a mother of three daughters and respected linguist, and still, I did not mind the "topless women poster" in the public toilet at the Substation level. First of all, public toilets do have such posters or graffiti, so it's very realistic to put one in the TRLE game. Second, this poster only shows the naked breasts, and there is nothing pornographic about it. And third, and most important: TR is not for kids, it contains many scenes of killing and violence. So, the killing and violence are okay according to this woman, whereas the naked breasts are EVIL??????????

Honestly, Lima was also upset about this review, he did not want to offend anyone, he just wanted to build a realistic level, and he was devastated because this woman got offended. It took me months to explain to him that it was not his fault. People see what they want to see, and this comment says a lot about this woman and very little about the level itself. There are even people who say that Shakespeare's Hamlet is a piece of crap, because Hamlet does not kill his uncle right away, but instead waits and procrastrinates until the entire scene is full with corpses, including his own. Hamlet did not meet someone's expectations, and for that reason it's a piece of crap???

Just keep building, true players will know how to enjoy and appreciate someone else's hard work.
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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by Phil » 04 Oct 2015 22:23

Nina Croft's illustration emphasizes the fact that any review of anything is by definition subjective. When I argue a case to a jury, the jurors have a sworn duty to apply the facts to the law as charged by the judge, but invariably each juror will bring his or her own experience to bear in deciding what the "facts" are. They don't always agree. That's why from time to time we have hung juries. In a sense, all political squabbles (and maybe all religious squabbles as well) are examples of hung juries, where different people with access to the same information reach different conclusions about its truth or practical application. We may feel as a matter of principle that the ideal custom level review is an objective one, but there's no such thing in real life.

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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by rufierto » 16 Oct 2015 13:14

I feel your pain Tim, as one that has had reviews I have thought to be highly critical when the particular object of the level was a "one room level", and criticized for being short. When I release , I always think they are better than the reviews, and to this day, have not put up a level with a better rating than my first game. In my case, it kills my incentive, I have stopped building, in mid level, and do not know If I will get the incentive to build again. But they have a system here that tears down some builders, and they do not even realize it. People do not care and continue to do what they do here.
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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by DJ Full » 16 Oct 2015 13:59

rufierto wrote:to this day, I have not put up a level with a better rating than my first game.
A matter of time.
But they have a system here that tears down some builders
What better system can you suggest? I've been thinking about alternative ways of rating but whatever I can contrapt just implies the same problems as the current one.
People do not care
This isn't true, I explained it loads of times.

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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by mugs » 16 Oct 2015 19:12

I think you need to ask yourself an important question: are you building for the review or are you building for the fun and pleasure it brings yourself and the majority of the players? if the reviews are bothering you that much STOP reading them. There are very few builders out there who have never received sharp criticism. unless you really feel your games are of the same caliber then you have nothing to complain about. most of us have gotten those less-than-desirable reviews. you gotta' learn to move on. and quit blaming the site. :D
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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by sonnyd83 » 28 Sep 2016 23:04

In response to Jorge22's educated review of my 'EVIL' level. I feel I must explain my reasoning behind it.....

It was an obsession over the 'darker' side of humanity, and my wish to explore it, in an artistic way of course! I was influenced by so many horrific shootings over in the United States, and other violence all over the world. I wanted to attempt to gather up all this negativity, racism, hatred, bigotry, and general silliness, and dump into a box and hide it away, perhaps in the hope it would magically go away. Sadly the media like to over-report such things, and the TV screens in level 2 symbolise this. There is indeed no escape, and it's sad, for those of us who just want a nice quiet life.

In order to fully appreciate the light, you must first probe the darkest depths......

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Re: Reviews and level concept

Post by Jorge22 » 29 Sep 2016 14:28

Thanks a lot for that, Sonny! I'm glad you said it and I'm also glad I didn't downrate your game (I never meant to, anyway).

Thing is (and I now it may look just like a detail) people play your game but what you said doesn't seem to be exactly obvious to anyone, so an explanation in the readme file would have been great - methinks...

I do hope to have more of your levels to play in the future. :)
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