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?

Online Review Summary List

I thought I might as well have a list somewhere of all the reviews I’ve done; I’ll update this when new stuff appears online.

PC Format
Hidden & Dangerous 2
Day of Defeat
Evil Genius
EverQuest II
Empire Earth II
Fate
Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich
Freelancer
Galactic Civilisations
Guild Wars
Ground Control 2
Homeworld 2
Hidden & Dangerous 2 Sabre Squadron
Hidden & Dangerous 2
Heroes of the Pacific
Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile
Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Knights of Honor
May Payne 2
Medieval Lords
Neverwinter Nights: Premium Modules
Praetorians
Planetside
Rome: Total War – Alexander
Rome: Total War – Barbarian Invasion

Rome: Total War
Silent Hunter III
The Lord of The Rings: The Battle For Middle Earth
The Sims 2
UFO: Aftermath
World of Warcraft
Worms 4: Mayhem

Official Xbox 360
Def Jam: Icon
Brian Lara Cricket
Superman Returns
Battlestations: Midway
Shivering Isles
Call of Duty 3
Import Tuner Challenge
F.E.A.R.
Open Season
The Godfather
Ninety Nine Nights
Lego Star Wars II
The Battle For Middle Earth II
Table Tennis
Top Spin 2
Far Cry Instinct Predator
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

PC Zone
Battlestations Midway
Neverwinter Nights 2
Heroes of Annihilated Empires