How does everyone write their reviews?

This topic contains 12 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Fudge Golem 1 week, 6 days ago.

  • POSTED BY mastermetal777 on Dec 03, 2016

    As the first post for this new thread, I’m curious as to how everyone prepares and writes their game reviews.

     

    I usually start by making a pros and cons list. Once I’m ready to write the review, I go in the following order: story (plot, writing, characters), visuals (graphics, art, animation), gameplay (various dynamic and static mechanics, multiplayer if applicable), sound (mixing, soundtrack), negatives (glitches and anything else I failed to cover). That’s usually how I structure my reviews overall.

     

    How about the rest of you? Any particular writing quirks you apply to your reviews?

    POSTED BY elheber on Dec 22, 2016

    At first, I kept a notebook next to me and wrote down things that stood out to me as I played. Later, I found this part to be completely unnecessary for my writing style. It made me write too wordy and include too many things which, in the long run, weren’t all that important to the overall experience.

     

    As I play the game, I try to figure out who this game is trying to be for. What type of person would like this game and why? I want to find the real underlying reason someone would like the game. These are called the “core engagements,” (or as Extra Credits calls it, the “core aesthetics of play“) and they’re super important.

    Once I sit down to write (whether it be a news article, game review, or short story), the first thing I try to do is find a hook. A first sentence or paragraph that will entice you to keep reading.

    After that, I need an expository paragraph(s) to make sure all the readers are on the same page. An example is me explaining what Uncharted games are. We all know what they are, but there might be someone that doesn’t. I try to keep this as short as possible because it could be boring for people who are already informed.

    Once that’s done, I go back to the core engagements of the game. For Superhot, the core engagement was creative problem solving. The game fulfills the same engagements that Portal did: Expression (doing things “your way”) and Challenge. Plus there was a hint of story mystery as well for Narrative. So I wrote about all the things that may seem attractive to people who like those things in games.

    Most of the industry has moved away from the categorized sections of STORY, GRAPHICS, SOUND, etc. and I agree with this change. I’ve avoided it as much as humanely possible. I just focus on the things that would make you want to buy a game, and the things that would make you want to stop playing the game. By focusing on the big picture, I can avoid spoiling the game while keeping my review short.

    "A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

    "A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

    POSTED BY mastermetal777 on Dec 22, 2016

    I always try to avoid spoilers too. Though I try to do the experiential side, its easier for me to do step by step. Maybe if I do videos next year it’ll be different

    POSTED BY xsuicidesn0wmanx on Dec 23, 2016

    I don’t think I necessarily get this right all the time, but the most important thing I want to do is give a general idea of how much fun I had with a game. While also sprinkling in a few details here and there.

    This is really hard though. I’m still trying to figure out my writing style. I don’t feel like my personality comes through in my writing. You look at how I talk on gamespot and there’s a lot more snark and wit behind my comments. On here it’s very sterile. Mostly informative and trying too hard to act like a professional.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    POSTED BY elheber on Dec 23, 2016

    If I had written a review for No Man’s Sky, I’m 95% sure I would have gotten it wrong. Although I was enjoying my time with the game, I was completely unaware of the false expectations that had surrounded it. So even though giving a general idea of how much fun I had with the game would be honest, it wouldn’t necessarily be true for many readers.

    That’s the eternal question: Should you be objective or subjective? Fact or opinion? Generalize to a lot of people or be accurate to a few people?

    Each is great in their own way. I like to think I’m mostly objective.

    Back to the original question: When I’m done writing my review (or anything, for that matter), I go over it a couple times more with pruning shears. You have to trim the fat. The best writing is concise writing IMHO. It’s counter-intuitive, but the longer you spend on a piece of writing, the shorter it should get.

    "A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

    "A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

    POSTED BY xsuicidesn0wmanx on Dec 23, 2016

    I like to edit mine several times as well. Some of my reviews take me 3-5 hours and have up to 6 edits.

    In relation to the NMS comment, I think once you completed a game, just describe how you feel about the game at that time. We can always post an update later if something changes.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    POSTED BY mastermetal777 on Dec 23, 2016

    Well, reviews at the end of the day are just the opinion of one person regarding one game. If a review becomes a critique, it has to be placed under the microscope a bit more, like seeing where it fits into the grand scheme of the greater world of media. In short, reviews are both opinion and buyers guides for the most part. Critique is examining the significance of the piece (and its individual parts) in regards to society and culture.

    POSTED BY Fudge Golem on Oct 04, 2017

    Hey all, doing a little thread necromancy here. I’ve read through this discussion and others on how you all write reviews.

    I just posted a review of an older game, Flotilla,  as a test to familiarize myself a bit more with your site and how to post etc. (I’m not sure why my headings and sub-headings aren’t showing up  :( ).

     

    I tried to kinda follow the concepts you all had discussed before, and mix in some of the ideas from Reviews I have read over the years and enjoyed.

    >Minimized spoilers of course

    >After a brief into/summary, stuck to a structure that hits the different parts of a game I find important (Story, Gameplay, Experience) rather than the traditional story, sound, graphics, etc.

    >wrapped it up with a conclusion

    >tried to keep up my unique Fudgey flavor of phrasing and wording

     

    I tried to lean very slightly in the direction of a critique, with some take-aways future games in similar veins could benefit from. But I’m definitely in review territory, so I’ll have to work on that aspect a bit.

     

    Anyways. just wanted to say that these older threads of your discussions are helpful, so thanks!

    POSTED BY Fudge Golem on Oct 04, 2017

    Lol, I found that if you set text to a Heading format and bold and/or italicize it, then it shows up! Yay workaround!

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  Fudge Golem.

    POSTED BY xsuicidesn0wmanx on Oct 05, 2017

    Hey Fudge, I corrected the heading on your Flotilla review. The bold heading atop the pages are the Post Summary which is the first box underneath the content editor. You can see where I made this change when you edit the page. This is basically one of the reasons why I’ve been trying to figure out an acceptable and working gui for users to post reviews and news. The confusion with how this displays has been one of the main complaints I have received so far, more so the complexity of the backend, too much crap to sort through just to post a review.

    As for your review, I haven’t had a chance to sit back and read through it w/no distractions, but I did notice that you’re using the format to break things into a category(Story, Gameplay, Experience). I agree with elheber’s comment earlier in the thread that this has become less desirable in modern reviews. I think the review works just as well without those 3 headers, maybe some slight adjustments but nothing major. I do like the Final Thoughts section though, I have those on my reviews and I think a lot of people will probably scroll to the end of the page and read that one single paragraph. Content is king, but most people don’t have more than 5-10 seconds to dedicate to a page any more.

    In all honesty, though I plan on going back to read the article, I did that same thing on Rex’s Octopath article, read the last paragraph only.

     

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    POSTED BY Fudge Golem on Oct 10, 2017

    Thanks for the pointers sn0w, I will go back and take a look at editing more now that I have had some time away from it, and I will consider cutting out the headers.

    POSTED BY xsuicidesn0wmanx on Oct 10, 2017

    One thing I do that may help you out, every article/review I write I go back and read it in my own voice in my head. Any time I trip up while reading my own work I stop and take a look to see if I can word that sentence or paragraph better. I catch a lot of grammatical and spelling errors this way, but also notice bad habits of mine as well. I notice I tend to use certain words more than once in the same sentence, or I’ll find ways I can rearrange what I’ve written to make more sense/flow better. This is probably why my articles take 5-6 hours to write, I end up writing them 3 or 4 times over to make sure they’re as close to perfect as possible.

    I’m sure my process doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s an idea that could lead to your own version that helps you best.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    POSTED BY Fudge Golem on Oct 10, 2017

    When I first started writing at work, I used to read all my projects out loud in a room by myself for those very same reasons. I’ve been writing for a while now, so I’ve gotten out of the habit.

    But now that I am writing something new, I should start again. You know what you meant to write, so your brain automatically corrects as you read. Reading aloud or in your head make you experience the writing different and you catch the errors. Great advice!

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