I’m writing this as a gamer not as a game developer. I spent this year too much money on games and I spent too much time on the steam forums. What I noticed recently is the negative influence of some few people who call themselves “game reviewers”. Some of them are pros others are volunteers and review for free for some indy sites. Now how much influence these people have is incredible. Here is the story:
Today the game Hard Reset was released on Steam. The developer Flying Wild Hog released a demo some weeks before so everyone could play a first level. The game was announced with following key features:
- A haunting cyberpunk / dark sci-fi setting
- Fast-paced, old-school shooter gameplay
- Hordes of enemies to destroy
- Epic boss fights
- A deep, experience-based weapon upgrade system
- High-fidelity graphics with full dynamic lighting
- Extensive use of physics and dynamic environments
I downloaded the demo and found the game great, awesome and totally cool. Short before the release the developers announced at the forums:
Ok let me make some things clear.
You can finish Quake in 11 minutes.
You can finish Super Mario in less than 10 minutes.
You can finish Doom in less than 30 minutes.
They are still good games.
You can’t finish Call Of Duty in less time than the developers wanted because it’s heavily scripted, with all the cutscenes, NPC preventing you from going somewhere etc.
Hard Reset was designed to be an oldschool game.
As far as I think – reviewers played the game on Easy, just to finish it as soon as possible.
If you will play Hard Reset on ‘Easy’ and will run all the time, just to complete objectives, it’s possible to finish the game in 4 hours. But no one has finished the game on difficulty level normal while playing it for the first time in less than 7 hours.
And trust me, we checked it at least on 40 people.
I think that reviewers shouldn’t be speedrunning the game – but it’s their chocie.
End of announcement
In the same sticky the war began. A so called “game reviewer” started by saying he finished the game on normal in under 4 hours. People began to argue if this is good or bad or how did this guy play (speedrun or not) etc. As usually temperature was rising since people started to offend each others. Temperature reached the max when the reviewer called the developer a liar. This was totally unnecessary since the developer didn’t participate in this stupid discussion but the side effect was that new players maybe thought “why should a pay 28€ for an indie game wich lasts only 4 hours?”. I’m 35 years old and only an average player. I’m not and never will be a hardcore gamer and I played triple A titles which cost 50€ and lasted nearly the same.
Finally a single guy made my day with following post:
I think people are simply walking into this title with the wrong mindset
Please note, I’ve only played the demo and seen GP myself, haven’t actually taken a dive into the full title, but I’m really excited to, and here’s why.
I’m 18, and I was growing up on NES and Sega while “Old School” PC gaming was exploding. CRPG’s, Old FPS’s, etc. I’ve never been able to really dive into an old school experience because, like some have said, development…..objectives have simply changed.
So let’s say I buy this title, ram though it in four hours or so, I’ll humor ya’ll and say on Hard difficulty.
Would I feel robbed? No, simply because, by the looks of game screens, that most people don’t have all the achievements and secrets found/unlocked.
Yes, I went there.
This is simply one of those times where “getting 100%” is going to have to be a target.
I’d love to find all the secrets, and eventually do speed runs or point challenges with friends, just for fun.
Do I want multiplayer? No. Would I play it if it was there? Sure.
I hope the game does have leader boards of some sort, to “race” other players on levels, and full game time.
This might be the exact opposite of what the devs want to hear, “Oh lord, they’re trying to see how FAST they can finish it?”, but that’s what I want. I want to race you. I want to beat your time. Be better than you against the same exact challenge.
That’s my two cents, anyway.
Flying Wild Hog made a solid title, and I’m not gonna say “Great job for an indie studio”, because that leaves an odd tinge to the sentence. “Great job given your limits!”
Just, great job.
In my opinion this was the worst thing which could happen to a newcomer like Flying Wild Hog. The problem is not a bad game review. The problem is people won’t buy the game because of stupid discussions of some idiots who think they are game reviewers. Games like this are most probably playable within 4 hours. But you wouldn’t find all the secrets, you wouldn’t explore all the world etc.
You can find the complete discussion here: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2112493
This was only one example of those hobby idiots. I understand that a reviewer has to complete the game and other games are waiting to be played and the companies are pushing them to write their reviews so those guys are under pressure. Totally agree. But that is no reason to destroy a game. “This was not his intention” you could argue now. Oh sure it was. Psychologically it was damn smart to mention the game length, to prove it with screens and to write that stuff into the “game length thread”, and after first people tried to proof him wrong he joined the dance.
The problem is not this single idiot but all those “game reviewers” out there. Games like PAM were destroyed this way. People don’t trust game reviewers. As long as demos are released play the game for yourself and decide. PAM for instance got 44% on metascore and is the game I played nearly 60 hours on this game (for a 10€ game). It’s the most fun online you can get with a racing game.