Tag Archives: Both Serious and Not

A Handy Guide to Criticizing Games You Do Not Like

Something from the drafts folder.  I’m not sure what set me to write this back in August, but I fixed it up a bit and set it free today.

You know what it is like, right? All these new games keep getting announced, Kickstarted, early accessized, launched, and ported to this platform or that to the point that you cannot keep track of them anymore. And how can you possibly shit all over some game you’ve barely looked into to keep it on encroaching on the games you love and have sworn to protect?

Well your worries are over as I have put together this helpful list of ways you can badmouth games you hardly even know anything about.

Compare it Unfavorably!

Find the best, most popular game that bears any resemblance to the game you want to put down… it doesn’t need to be an exact competitor, or even that close really…  and dig right in with how this new game isn’t the one you’ve picked out.  I mean Path of Exile, Pillars of Eternity, and Papers Please are all pretty much WoW anyway, right?

I call this the “It’s not WoW” method, because in the MMORPG genre you can put down anything by claiming it isn’t World of Warcraft.  No matter what you’re comparing it to you can always claim that WoW somehow does it better and faster while looking good and being more fun to boot.  It must be a really effective tactic given how much it comes up in general chat in every single MMORPG ever.

It’s been Done!

Is the object of your scorn an entry in an already established genre?  Then you’re all set by declaring it to be derivative, unoriginal crap that has been done better, faster, and cheaper already.  This is basically the flip side of the first entry, because on the MMORPG front you can dismiss just about anything as simply being another WoW.  The best thing about this claim is that the more crowded the genre is, the more likely that you’re actually on the mark with this one.  It is like a double win!

Graphical Style!

If it looks like shit it must be shit, right?  It doesn’t matter if you actually think the game in question looks like shit or not, somebody out there does and if you say this enough times then somebody will agree with you and BAM you’re there!

And even if it doesn’t look like shit you can always go on about how you don’t like retro or pixellated or stylized or realistic or colorful or dark or whatever art style is being used.  You can trash them all with ease.

The One Feature!

Struggling to find something bad to say overall?  Then just pick on one feature!  Does it have PvP?  Toxic!  Non-consensual PvP?  Griefing gankbox! A Cash shop?  Pay to win!  A shooter?  Aimbots and hacks!  An MMO?  WoW clone!  Involves colorful fantasy? WoW clone! Does it have quests? WoW clone! Can you wield a sword? WoW clone!  Is its name three words with “of” being the second? WoW clone! Levels? Grind! Factions? Grind! Crafting?  Grind!  Also, WoW clone for those as well.  Really, is there anything that isn’t a WoW clone these days?

A Missing Feature!

Did somebody make a game and forget to include something that you are sure must be a standard feature for all games in that genre?  Is there a shooter without a single player campaign?  An ARPG without local multiplayer support?  An RPG without modding?  A strategy game without play by mail?  An MMORPG without housing?  Let that obviously lazy developer know what you think!  This is a slap in the face!

Crowdfunding!

Is the game in question a crowdfunded venture?  Well, you’re work has probably been done for you then.  Even if it has shipped it was almost certainly late and did not deliver on all of its promises.  And if it hasn’t shipped it is probably both late and still asking for more money.  Make sure you let people know that “backers” is just another word for “suckers” and that the whole thing is certainly just a scam.

Developer Hate!

Don’t know enough about the game to even go after it?  Then go after the developer!  This is a slam dunk for any EA game, because we know they’ll fuck it up somehow.  But every dev has their weakness.  If the developer is popular, then the game has probably been dumbed down to appeal to non-gamers, which we all know to be a sin, and not worth $59.99 on Steam.  If it is an indie developer, then it is probably buggy as hell and not worth $4.99 on Steam.

If you want to get more specific, figure out any mistake or recurring trait of the studio in question, magnify it one hundred times, then project it on this new game.

For example, does Paradox Interactive have a new game?  Then it is probably an overwrought boring strategic sim with a confusing UI and an erratically bad AI that will force you to marry your adult son off to a six year old cousin just to secure your hold on power.

If the game comes from Blizzard then they have surely just stolen someone’s game idea, put colorful stylized graphics on it, simplified and watered it down so even your grandmother could play it, and put a $59.99 price tag on it.

Or if the game is from Riot then even running the tutorial would turn your sainted mother into a toxic, foul mouthed, misogynist douchebag.  Hah hah, just kidding.  You probably already love League of Legends, the only game Riot has ever made, will ever make, and need ever make.  Right amigo?

Objectively Not Fun!

Here is the big secret to game criticism.  Any game can be made to sound like it is no fun if you pull back and simplify it enough.  For example, with something like Diablo you can say, “So you just click on shit and that’s it?”  With an MMO like WoW you can say, “So you just press buttons and things die?” With a shooter like Call of Duty you ask, “So you just listen to some 13 year old swear at you while he kills you again with an aimbot?  Or with EVE Online you can ask, “So you just sit in your Rorqual watching your excavator drones and hoping not to get hot dropped?”

Then you follow that leading question with the big pronouncement, something like, “Games are supposed to be fun! How is this fun?” and bada-bing, bada-boom, you’ve scored your point even if what you have asked is so off base as to be a complete mis-characterization of the game.  (Except for EVE Online, which has been scientifically proven to be not fun.)

Corrupt Developer!

Hah, just kidding!  That is the sort of outrageous lunacy, sheer tinfoil, unbelievably biased, and unhinged craziness that will do more to sink your complaints than help them.  There is no point going there if it is just going to undo your hard work.

Make Things Up!

Let’s face it, this new game is a threat.  It could take players away from your game, and your value as a human being is directly measured by how popular the games are that you play.  So don’t let reality stand in your way.  Say whatever comes to your mind.  It is probably true to some degree in any case, right?

Special Bonus: Concern Troll!

If you cannot bring yourself to straight up attack a game (why the hell not?), then there is another route you can take.  You can pretend to like the game.  You can even say you like it a lot, but that you’re sure it could be even better.  And then you can start suggesting features and improvements that are pretty much contrary to the theme and focus of the game.  Just take whatever the game does and suggest the opposite.  Is it PvE focused? Then it needs PvP! Or if it is PvP focused, then it really needs a PvE server.  Is it vehicle focused? Demand avatar game play!  And if it doesn’t have vehicles, demand those!  Or pick a random secondary feature like housing and post over and over again how the game needs this.

But be sure to restate that you are a fan of the game in question, but you fear it is dying or incomplete, so you are trying to help the developer by posting your suggestions over and over in any comment thread about the game.  Never fail to bring up your pet suggestion, ever!  Maybe, by sheer volume of words, the developer will eventually waste time and wreck their game by trying to implement your suggestion.

Things to Remember

  • The more often you say something on the internet, the more true it becomes.
  • You’re totally normal, so everybody else who is normal agrees with you, so you should make sure people know you pretty much speak for everyone in your statements.
  • Negativity is all people listen to anyway.  If you want to be heard you need to go negative early and often.
  • Reason and compromise diminish you as a person and taint your family out to four generations.
  • People disagreeing with you have no feelings and are probably bots or being paid to say what they’re saying in any case.
  • You cannot definitively rule out that you are just a brain in a jar and that this is a simulation being run to test you and your ability to defend your game of choice.

This is EVE and EVE is Different

What would we encourage ALL new players to do in their first month to get them to subscribe long term, if we had to give out one set of advice for everyone (which we do if we’re giving general advice)?

The Question for Blog Banter #61

Well, the first thing I would tell a new player is how easy they have it these days with their “warp to zero” and their agent finder and their fancy fitting interface that is all easy to use and informative!  Back in my day the game was actively hostile towards you, ships looked like they were made out of beer cans, and asteroids appeared to be so many potatoes floating in space…

What was that?  Get to the point?  I was getting there!  Kids today, always in such a damn hurry.

Advice?

EVE Online will not meet your expectations.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you’re going to come charging in with some ideas in mind and EVE just isn’t going to line up with them.

Part of this is because of our desire to categorize things.  We stamp “MMO” on the side of the EVE Online box and drop it in the bin with World of Warcraft and EverQuest and Wizard 101 and call it a day.

And yes, if you pull back far enough, all of those games share similar characteristics.  For somebody who doesn’t care about MMOs, “WoW in space” is probably a sufficient characterization for EVE.

But even if you are just a mild MMO fan and do not suffer from the affliction of the connoisseur and bristle when somebody describes Lord of the Rings Online as “WoW in Middle-earth” because you can name fifty significant (to you) differences between the games, EVE Online is still an odd duck.

If you look at blogs from people playing World of WarcraftBelghast, Alt:ernative Chat, Kinless, Ysharros, or whoever… our posts tend to be about similar things.  Right now we’re writing about garrisons and leveling up and equipment and interesting sites in Draenor and items that pretty much cement that we are all playing the same game.

If you look at blogs from people playing EVE OnlineKirith Kodachi, Rixx Javix, Sugar Kyle, Gevlon, EVE Hermit…  things can be quite different.  Sure, some days we are all talking about the same thing, like the latest expansion.  But there are times when we clearly aren’t just playing in different areas of the game, but it seems like we might be playing totally different games.

EVE is an MMO the way a Swiss Army Knife is a knife.  If you really want just a knife… which we’ll define as a WoW-like NPC driven set of goals… it can be used for that, but you wouldn’t want to carve the Thanksgiving turkey with it.

I’ve posted this chart before.  The source site has the chart hooked up so clicking on a box brings you to semi-appropriate, somewhat out of date information on that particular aspect of the game.

What to do in EVE Online - A Chart

What to do in EVE Online – A Chart

That is a guide to a series of possible professions or goals or whatever in the game.  Each is a deep well which you could spend months, if not years, exploring and perfecting.  Or you could lightly explore a few at once, mix and match, or whatever.  And this chart is a few years old, so there are probably a couple more boxes that could be added at this point.

And like the Swiss Army Knife analogy, none of boxes are probably the best  experience possible for a given activity.  Some are crude, silly, or seem tacked on at times just to say that there is such a thing.  But you don’t buy a Swiss Army Knife because you need a single-purpose tool, and you don’t play EVE Online because it offers a single, linear experience.

You play EVE Online because it mixes all of those possible experiences into a single universe.  And it works… sort of… in a Rube Goldberg, this might spin out of control or go horribly wrong at any moment way.  The sum is greater than the whole of its, at times, rather mediocre parts.  It is an interlinked, living, breathing, system made up of a couple hundred thousand people doing their little space jobs and making things, moving things, or blowing things up.  All aspects are equally important in this mix as people go about their lives in space.

And the interaction with other people is a key, maybe THE key.  In no other MMO do I interact with so many different players, be it at the end of a laser, through the market, in my fleet, or just flying by in space.  All those people doing their thing.  You don’t have to join a corp or be in a big group or whatever.  You can play EVE solo, there being no wrong way to play.  But you cannot escape other people, good, bad, and indifferent.  The game is a fine mix of parts, each dependent in its own way on all the others, and people drive that.  Why I remember this one time I was in a system alone, way out in Omist and there was this other pilot… we were out there blowing up stuff that belonged to his alliance… anyway, there we were, both on the gate and he locked me up… and this really illustrates the dichotomy of man, the whole Jungian thing… and then…

What?  I’m rambling?  What was the question again?

What would I tell a new player to do in their first month to keep them subscribed in the long term?

That’s easy.  Go join Brave Newbies, get into null sec, and have a blast blowing stuff up.  The rest of the game is for losers.

Is it time for my nap yet?

Oh, here are some other people who tried to answer the same question.  They might have different opinions, this being EVE Online and all, and probably more useful than what I have had to say.