Solving MMO review problems

To the tune of: Nina Nastasia – Our Discussion

As an MMO reviewer, I’ve felt both privileged (at occupying a niche few are equipped to explore) and also terrified (at a reviewer’s complete inability to perceive the whole game). As Quintin Smith found last week, and Ed Zitron found previously, reviewers, no matter how professional, can’t just hop back into an MMO when it’s been updated and hope to review it. Especially not, as those two found, when the audience they think they’re talking to isn’t the audience that actually reads and responds to the article. Here’s a putative structure for reviewing MMOs that deals with the problems caused by trying to employ time-poor professional reviewers.

Cpl Smith, M.I.A.

Problems

  1. Must experience enough of content in proper way to do review.
  2. Different experience types for player types – solo, casual, hardcore, obsessive.
  3. Need for humour, quality writing.
  4. Cost of review process must be kept down.
  5. Content alters substantially over game’s lifetime.

Many professional reviewers provide 3, can attempt 2 but usually fail, don’t keep playing so can’t do 5, and to provide 1 would be to disregard 4.

Solutions

  1. Multiple reviewers
  2. Multiple reviewers
  3. Mediated by co-ordinator
  4. Co-ordinator is paid writer-editor – incentivised to find free reviewers and collate & polish their opinion.
  5. Reconvene with original panel at regular intervals.

It's all about getting a good team together.

This system as a narrative. Un-paid enthusiasts are given early access and review title in return for thought-access. Primary writer becomes interviewer, co-ordinating impressions from many different groups. Individual, subjective experience is not of primary relevance, but collation of views is. Common problems can be identified, and the game rated on these – whilst problems specific to groups acknowledged, represented. Panel reconvenes to alter score when game has altered substantially from previous score. (This also provides you with an evaluation structure for up-and-coming writers, as you can test their analysis, reliability and writing ability  through these panels.)

Here’s a question I don’t know the answer to – is this process applicable to reviews other than MMOs? Should all reviews be done this way?

Shameless Plug

Which Champion Are You? | Champions Online Official Site

I’m not handling PR for this particular MMO (though I am for its predecessor, City of Heroes), but I’m interested to see how it goes. They’ve got a nice What Hero Are You generator on the website, though it seems to have read me rather too well.

Raised on a steady diet of comic books, you grew up to be an unstable lunatic, whose wacky ambitions are only matched by your delusions of grandeur. You’re too crafty to get caught, otherwise you’d certainly be locked away in the loony bin!

Take the quiz!

Dreamlords, Yawn

Dreamlords: The Reawakening Review – Page 1 // MMO /// Eurogamer – Games Reviews, News and More

Last night, I travelled home angry. I nicked a seat on the tube, I bullied stumblebums out of my way; I was generally a bundle of passive-aggressive geekery. Why? Not because my day had been bad or because I’d messed up in the office. It was because the Chancellor (boss) of my Convergence (guild) had kicked me out, after I’d pressed the “mistrust” button on Dreamlords’ rudimentary web interface.

Another day, another dollar.

Ego-Blogging

The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar Re-review // MMO /// Eurogamer

LOTRO looks absolutely, astoundingly right. Characters look correct, the world is beautifully crafted and enemies match the best drawings that the Tolkien Legendarium has attracted in sixty years. The Shire looks as good as the movies, Bree (though bigger than we expected) is gloriously rickety, like an old medieval English town, and the build of the Elven and Dwarven towns nail ethereal and indomitable respectively.

My re-review of LOTRO is up, at last. If you’ve never been arsed enough to read any of my writing and you count yourself a friend, would you kindly have a gander? It’s not brilliant, but it’s surely solid.