Hiatus over – here’s what’s changing

Hey everyone, it’s been a while (7 months actually). I haven’t abandoned the blog, even though it may look like it. I’ve taken some time to think about what I want to do with it now that the initial goal has been met – 52 weeks of random games from my shelves was an interesting experiment for me. Here are the changes I’m doing or at least considering:

 

  1. Rename the blog – this should be pretty obvious, but “52 Week Backlog Challenge” was a hasty name I put in to get me rolling, and I never changed it. I’m still not certain what the new name will be (I’ve got some ideas), but I will be renaming it sometime soon.
  2. Label content better – I’ve been using tags, but really I should be noting the type of content in the title as well. Here are the preliminary types:
    1. Review – self explanatory, game or hardware reviews. I don’t feel that I need to finish a game to review it, but at this time I don’t see me reviewing something that isn’t done yet. I only did one review last year and it took me a while to write it, so don’t expect a ton of these.
    2. Quick Play – this was the bread and butter of the blog last year – a few hours of something and some first impressions. I’ll still be doing these from time to time but they are no longer the focus of the blog.
    3. Long Play – a new feature which I will go into below.
  3. Long Plays – I’ve had this idea kicking around for some time. Inspired by the ‘Together Retro’ feature on Racket Boy I will select a game randomly from a list and play it for a month or two. Because of my real life responsibilities I will probably only be able to play a few hours a week, but most of the games I’ve selected should be able to be finished in that time. I’m setting up just a few rules for myself… if I’m hating the game I can stop, if I’m loving it and I’m out of time (2 months are up) I can keep going, anything from the PS2/GC/Xbox era and older is up for grabs, and I should do my level best to finish the game before time is up. If I finish a game early, I will immediately pick another to play. I’ve created a list mainly using items from last year’s backlog challenge so I know before hand that I’ll like most of the games that can be selected. Before I start, I will write about my history with the game up to this point and my preconceived notions before I start. After I’m done, I’ll write about the game (not necessarily a review, but possible) and my experience with it – how does it hold up, was I right or wrong with my thoughts before hand, etc.

What all this means is that this blog will be updated less frequently, but with longer, meatier entries that are hopefully better composed than last year.

Thanks for reading the wall of text and hope to see you around!

On Reviews

Since I’m about to publish my first review, I think now is a good time to discuss the scale and format I’ll be using and how I approach reviews.

Reviews are a contentious topic on the internet. There are lots of people out there that think that not only are reviews either right or wrong (hint: they don’t need to be either), but that reviews don’t matter since it is just an opinion after all. While true, they are one person’s opinion, reviews help potential buyers or players evaluate if a game is worth their time and/or money. Here is the sticky part though: you can’t take a review to heart if you don’t identify with the source. For instance, there are several reviewers out there that I don’t take their scores at face value. Sure, they may raise valid points in their review about why they love or hate a certain aspect of the game, but these reviewers do not value what I personally care about in games. Put simply, what matters to them doesn’t matter to me. Other reviewers I trust completely – if they love a game it’s a no-brainer for me to pick it up. Which puts anyone reading this in a strange position – you have never read one of my reviews so you have no baseline to see if I line up with your tastes. You’ll just need to read some of the reviews I put up and figure it out for yourself. I hope at least they will be somewhat entertaining.

Format and Rating

Each review I write will have a basic style – I will give an overview of the game to the best of my ability, including mechanics, game play, story, graphics, sound and all the rest. I will give a brief recap of my feelings in an overall sense in the final paragraph (you can use this as a tl;dr if you’d like) followed by a pros and cons section. Finally, I’ll rate the game on a scale of 0 – 5 stars.

Star ratings

0 stars is a rating I hope to never give – this means the game not only was terrible, but was so bug ridden that it should have never been sold. 5 stars means that a game is worth anyone’s time or money that plays games – there is not only broad appeal, but this is something everyone who enjoys the medium should experience. These games are rare, and I expect few if any to ever appear here. I will also give half stars where appropriate – I find that the 5 star scale with half star increments is a great way to express the game’s quality without going deep into the weeds with a sheer percentage rating. Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann did a great piece on this system that is well worth a read.

One last thing I will say about the star ratings, I find that many modern reviews are very top heavy in their rankings. An average or mediocre game is often given a 7 out of 10. I will not be doing this. If a game is a 2.5 star rating, it’s completely average and is only recommended for fans of the genre or studio, or those who are really interested in it after reading the review.

I know this entry was a bit long winded, but hopefully I’ve explained not only the format but how I will review going forward. Expect my first review sometime this weekend.