Why I review and future content.
This is the first blog post on this site, with this article I will share an abridged history of my reviews and other content, why I like to create this content and some of my future plans for the website and changes to the way I write, the format of content and why I am making these changes. This is a very long post so you may wish to take notes. I have split the post up into three sections, this may make it a bit easier to keep track of where you are.
A History of my content on the web.
Reviews and informative assessments of media have always been the dominant form of media I consume online. I like to know what people think, I respect their willingness to share their opinion and their right to do so. Platforms for doing this vary from websites, newspapers and magazines, the latter two I don’t bother with. Most reviews these days are written with the intention of being published on the internet using services such as Amazon, the product’s official store page or blogging platforms like Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress. In the past I have tried all of these platforms for different purposes, those purposes aren’t very relevant to reviews however so I won’t go into too much detail. First I will go into what got me started with creating reviews and how I advanced from that point.
When I was younger and consumed media without caring much for the ethical actions of its creators and publishers, I played a lot of video games. One of these video games was Halo 3. The game was great, I played it every day and night with my friends and had a great time doing so, however sharing clips and stories of these experiences was limited to the social media platforms I used (anyone remember Bebo? That was really big here!). At that time my skills with computers were limited in comparison to what I am capable of now, as a result I posted most of this content on social media and left it at that. A friend of mine had a website at the time and it was filled with lots of content and the way he spoke about it and his projects was passionate and inspirational. I decided to try it for myself, I was however very inpatient with learning things like HTML and CSS so I decided to just use a pre-made platform, the platform I chose was Blogger. On this platform all I had to do to share content was write or paste the content into a text box and click submit, it was a great little sharing tool. However, over time I got bored with the platform as I was limited to the built in features and decided to go back to posting on social media (at this point Facebook had kicked off and was much better for this kind of content).
At this time I had grown bored of posting clips of gameplay online and became more interested in game mechanics and design. I wrote some reviews (I wish I still had some of these to show in this post) but never really published them anywhere as Facebook’s timelime system made it an inconvenience for people to scroll past my rambling, I didn’t want them to have to scroll past my content, I would rather share it with them if they were interested. Most of my reviews ended up saved to a directory on my hard drive and remained there.
This continued for a while until I started college, where I learned a lot about writing HTML, CSS and other web based languages that I could use to make my own little platform. However, hosting was an issue, so I turned to Tumblr, I had heard a lot of mixed things about the platform, in general most of the positive things were true whereas a lot of the negatives I never experienced but have since become aware of. On Tumblr my content was posted whenever I felt I had written something worth reading or I just felt like setting my opinion free and waiting for a response. Reviews were for the most part the only things I posted on there (some of these reviews are available on this website) and as far as I am aware only family and close friends ever read them. This was around the time where I really got into game design and development, not so much from a creator’s point of view but as the consumer. Poor ports, bad design and unfriendly business practices became something that I was experiencing more and more with games and this is where looking into games and their design, development and business practices became a passion. Some fantastic games have come out since I got into reviews as a hobby and I never reviewed them or I never thought what I had written was good enough and in some ways I feel like by not sharing how good these games were I was doing myself and the people who may have been unaware of these games a disservice.
By the time I had finished my second year of college I started to experiment with the WordPress platform, a platform I kept hearing was the best for what I was doing and what I wanted to do. I started a WordPress account and posted all of my content from Tumblr to it, just to see what I could do with the content on this platform. The options available were fantastic, I had a full blown editor with more features than I understood, the ability to create pages and upload uncompressed images was liberating. Learning about all of these features and how to use them took a while though as at this point I had a lot of things going on that got in the way of both my review writing and learning WordPress. As a result most of my reviews and other content ended up on Tumblr. After finishing college and starting University I found myself with some free time and started learning a bit more about WordPress, hosting and PHP. A decision was made to purchase some web hosting and create a website I could be proud of, using WordPress as my platform and going crazy with CSS edits I made a nice little corner on the internet to put all my things for people to see. I switched from the default theme quickly however as I wanted to focus my work with the website on the content I post to it and not the administration of the website.
Why I review.
Why I write reviews and critical content is a very hard subject to tackle, there isn’t one overall reason as to why I do it, it is a result of the sum of my passion for great games. Reading reviews have been a passion of mine for a long time but I never really considered doing it myself until the “YouTube revolution” started. Finding content creators that were willing to share their opinions and critiques of video games and movies was inspiring and made me want to do it myself. A passion of mine is game design, looking at the mechanics of a game and seeing how it all comes together to contextualise a virtual world filled with things to do, people to meet, dragons to slay and dungeons to crawl makes me feel great, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it and I like to write about it. Having a platform to share how I feel about a game and how it comes together is liberating, regardless of page hits. Game reviews however aren’t just about the game and its design, sometimes someone has to put their foot down and tell the developers that what they are doing is dishonest or malicious. Information about business models, performance and whether or not a game is riddled with bugs and glitches is the most important part of a modern review, as any of those afflictions can turn a great idea into a terrible result. For example, the terrible performance of Ubisoft games on PC is infamous in gaming communities, this doesn’t mean that it should be expected from the developer because there have been some surprising recent releases from them that had minimal issues at launch.
If I were to write a review for a game that was awful and I focussed the review on everything that is wrong with the game, I wouldn’t be doing so out of hatred for the game or out of spite for those that like it but out of hope that by sharing this opinion better games will be made as a result. The idea of defending a product or a company for any harmful actions regardless of intention or result is a ridiculous notion that I hope to see eliminated from the review culture on the internet and that belief is another variable in the sum of why I review.
A great game is only great if there is a community of players that can have a discussion about said game and discuss what they like, dislike, love and hate about the game. Liking the overall result of all the parts of a game does not excuse certain parts from being broken or poor in design. This reason also contributes to my reason for wanting to write reviews and be critical of the games I buy. A great example of a game I love and would recommend that has some issues that need resolved is Fallout 4.
Without going into this too much as this may be the subject of a future article here is what I like and dislike about this game. The shooting in the game feels great compared to previous titles, the town building and management minigame is innovative and a lot of fun, it is the part of the game I have spent most of my time with and the world is great to explore. There is no depth to the game itself, the main questline for example is way too short and too easy to rush through, the amount of tedious running back and forth when doing the quests available in a location ruins immersion and makes the game feel more like a chore and the amount of overlooked content that could have been made into something really cool is shocking. A lot of players want to give the game a pass on it’s negatives for some reason and the usual excuse of “mods will fix it” does not excuse poor design, if anything it shows that people with spare time on their hands are more capable of fixing these issues than the people that worked on the game for years. Even with this opinion of the game I still feel that it is a great game and I would recommend to anyone looking for an open world shooter with fun side content. Although if they are looking for an RPG I would recommend Fallout: New Vegas. (A comparison between these two games may also be future content)
Time to answer the question then, Why do I review? I am passionate about the games I play, how they are made and I want to share my experiences with others.
Recently I made the decision to include content on this blog that relates to subjects other than Video Games so be on the lookout for posts relating to Model Making, Movies, Toys and more! Future reviews will most likely be a lot longer than older ones, I plan on going more in depth with my analysis of mechanics, aesthetic and graphical fidelity. Comparisons to similar games and previous titles in the series are now going to feature as well, as these kinds of comparisons are a great way to give the reader a point of reference which makes it easier to explain my point in a more accurate and relevant way. So far my reviews have lacked screenshots, this is changing. Screenshots with an explanation are a great way to visualise a point instead of a massive explanation for what could be a very minor point. If anything from the above could apply to other content categories, then please assume that it does.
As well as new content and more in-depth video game reviews you may find some references to other content creators works as well, links will be given on first reference if possible. Examples of this may be a link to another review that illustrates a point I am trying to make in a different way or in a more creative way. For content relating to model making and wargaming any photograph reference I have used for painting or terrain work will be linked at the bottom of the post. Toy reviews are likely to feature photographs I have taken myself however if I am unable to take high quality photographs at the time of the review I may use references to photographs from elsewhere, again there will always be links to sources for these. Reviews of board games may feature a video link or embed somewhere to an example of the game being played.
Although unlikely, any content that is unusual for the blog such as a guide on performing a task or an army list for a miniatures game may be hidden from the post timeline on the main page. They will still be listed in categories and the recent posts section however.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this massive post, I really appreciate it. As always, comment and critique is more than welcome, please comment below and let me know what you think or contact me on twitter @Mojomancer.
Please find below some examples of my older reviews and platforms, my writing style has changed a lot since these were written and I haven’t written any video game reviews since then that I have felt have been at a standard that is acceptable for publishing.