Double standard for reviews of indie games?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Musenik, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. Musenik

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  2. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    This is a good piece. I especially like the response from LateWhiteRabbit as his thoughts match mine exactly. A lot of indie games are considered shit because they're actually shit. :)
     
    #2 Applewood, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  3. Desktop Gaming

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    The thing he neglects to mention is that these so-called "triple-A games" are seldom reviewed on merit. I used to work for a AAA developer some years ago and it was common knowledge even then that reviewers were sweetened up for favourable reviews. To put the point across bluntly, they write what the developer tells them to write. There might be a lot of bad indie games out there but let's redress the balance - there's a far more significant number of lousy AAA games out there but the difference is they get away with charging £40-£50 for their inferior products whereas an indie developer gets frowned upon if he dares to ask for a fifth of that. The key difference is, you can't take a AAA game back to the store if it turns out to be crap, whereas if it was an indie game you'd just request a chargeback and there's feck all the developer can do about it.

    Being a triple A developer doesn't magically mean your game is better - it just means you can hold on to the money a bit tighter, and don't actually care what anybody thinks of the game after they've bought it.
     
  4. Applewood

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    I think you've not gone far enough. Pretty much all AAA games aren't worthy of the classification anymore. It's very rare for a new one to be better than an old one. Even the success stories like Starcraft 2. I bought that, played through it once then uninstalled. Yet Red Alert 2 from 10 years ago still gets a run out at least once a week on my machine.
     
  5. Jack Norton

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    Haha "Planet Stronghold is not Mass Effect 2". No indeed is better!! :D

    Jokes apart, when there is a difference of 5M of budget and a team of 30+ people vs 1, it would be strange that the indie game was the better one. So I agree on the post completely, they shouldn't even be compared!. For my games I saw so many different reviews also depending on the reviewers. Some thought a game was too hard, so gave it a bad rating - but is that reviewer good enough to play that kind of game? what for him is "hard" for other people could be "perfectly balanced". And so on. They're just reviews anyway, I never gave them too much weight :)

    P.S.
    The best RTS is C&C Generals:Zero Hour anyway ;)
     
  6. Henri Karapuu

    Henri Karapuu New Member

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    If an indie game is not polished then it doesn't get bashed much for the lack of polish, so ok there is double standard.

    But vast majority of the praised and financially successful indie games actually have been really polished, and reviewers and customers really do care about that.

    Instead of the blog's analogy of "praising little brother's efforts above deserved level", i think reality is more like "not bashing little brother's efforts unnecessarily when he fails, even if he fails because of laziness".

    I think more accurate summary of LateWhiteRabbit's point would be: A lot of indie games are considered shit because they look like shit.

    Hey as long as it's not about french translations ... :D
     
  7. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    One and the same thing for me. An indie game is not going to have as much content as a AAA game, but there's no excuse for making that content cheap and crappy. If anything it's more important that what there is is all it can be.

    It was mentioned in the blog but not pushed hard enough. The analogy with indie vs big studio movies was a good one. But consider blair witch et al. It was made on a shoe string budget, but it still had *a* budget. The titles weren't crayoned in by the directors nephew...
     
  8. lightassassin

    lightassassin New Member

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    I tend to agree with Applewood. Games don't need to look awful as a indie game. Dealing with amateur artists who like to rush and get it done asap rather than spend the time, it's hard to explain to them that time to get it right is invaluable. It's what makes it look like polish. The art style is irrelevant to polish, be it 2d sprites or low poly models, that is why a iphone app can look professional while a 10,000 poly per face unreal mod can be extremely amateur.

    At the same time, I can see why people cut corners to get their products out, but it's that polish that can win or lose a customer. As I've been told by some people, you're better off dropping a feature than leaving out the polish.

    It's the same reason everybody drools over a Porche or Lambo but when it comes to a Korean import they just glaze over and don't care.
     
  9. Adrian Lopez

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    It seems to me that making good Indie games is all about understanding the constraints you are operating under and making the best game possible within those constraints. The same may of course be said of AAA games, but AAA games have larger staff and bigger budgets and therefore afford greater flexibility in pinning down their constraints.

    An indie game need not have the graphical complexity of a AAA title, but it should nevertheless look good and polished. Even with low-resolution graphics a game like Knytt Stories has a strong aesthetic and therefore succeeds on the graphics front. Games like Minecraft likewise have simple graphics, but they still look good enough as to not draw attention away from the kinds of gameplay elements that are the focus of the best Indie games.

    Indie games may be held to a different standard than AAA games, but that doesn't mean they are held to the lowest standard. I suspect there's a kind of selection bias at work where game reviewers who review all the latest AAA crap may only review a handful of Indie games such that only those games are reviewed that happen to attract a reviewer's attention. Indie games that truly suck are therefore more often ignored than they are reviewed.
     
  10. papillon

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    ... of half a million dollars.

    Now, how many people posting on this board, no matter HOW dedicated they are to making cool games, can stump up that kind of cash? :)
     
  11. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Well I got flamed for agreeing with another developer that $100,000 is perfectly reasonable, so I don't know why I'm walking into this...

    Games are cheaper to make than films, so if we agree, JUST FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT IN THIS THREAD ONLY that good indie games can be made for $100,000 (including own salary) and not half a mil? Well, plenty tbh. I'm one and I know of several other definites and doubtless a lot more slipping under the radar. If you think you can do it for 10 pence, that's great too but again not really the point.

    The point is, you need to find the budget to do your game well, whatever that is. If that's still a low number then great. If, however, your game needs a higher budget to do well than you're prepared to give it, then its going to epic fail and you will lose the small amount you did spend.
     
    #11 Applewood, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  12. Adrian Lopez

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    My ears are burning! :D Don't worry, though. I'm not going to flame you or otherwise rehash the dreaded topic. Heck, I even agree with your point that "if your game needs a higher budget to do well than you're prepared to give it, then its going to epic fail and you will lose the small amount you did spend."

    If your game is too big to complete with whatever resources you have available then you need to either obtain additional resources or scale down your game. Having constraints need not be a bad thing provided you're aware of your constraints and are willing to work within them.
     
  13. dannthr

    dannthr New Member

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    F**k, is the game fun or not?
     
  14. Bad Sector

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    Which is why i spend $0 on the games i make: whatever the return, wont be a loss :p
     
  15. Adrian Lopez

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    Please no. Not again.
     
  16. vjvj

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    I absolutely agree that there are double standards in reviews. And yet (and this may surprise some), I don't even care... The way I look at it, reviewers are no more rational than consumers are, so a review score is basically just another chaotic element of the free market. And I'm no stranger to poor reviews, LOL :) Besides, reviews are TOTALLY NOT about serving the customer anymore these days, anyway. Now it's just about putting out controversial content to start flamewars and generate traffic (and I don't blame them).

    My favorite part of the article was the observation that the indies leading the anti-graphics crusade are ironically doing so by cribbing off of graphic styles that were considered cutting edge in the 90s. So I guess the key to not being a graphics whore is to be a graphics whore from 20 years ago? Whatever, I just can't wait for this whole anti-production value rebellion to die (I'm giving it five more years, tops) :p

    In a perfect world, my friend... In a perfect world :)
     
  17. Bad Sector

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    I don't think that this is true though since you can pick any game made the last decade and compare it to older games. A game with a graphic style that was mediocre 10 years ago could be cutting edge 15 years ago.

    In my opinion "graphics whores" are those who simply dismiss or praise games based only on their graphics. Some extreme examples (ie. real people are not at these edges): a graphics whore is someone liking Crysis only for it's GPU melting graphics. A non-"graphics whore" is someone liking Crysis for it's open world and/or nanosuit mechanics. A graphics whore is someone disliking Minecraft for it's pixellated low-res textures and models. A non-"graphics whore" is someone disliking Minecraft because it doesn't set any goals for the player. A graphics whore is someone preferring UT3 to UT1 :p
     
  18. Adrian Lopez

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    Not being a graphics whore means not putting rendering techniques and technology ahead of other more important elements such as gameplay and polish. Games don't need to be running on the latest version of CryEngine to offer well-polished graphics and compelling gameplay.

    Aesthetics != cutting-edge graphics technology.
     
  19. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    One point that also never comes up in these is attention to detail aspect. For a single example of which I can think of many: I wouldn't avoid your game if it only had point sampled shadows instead of 16x16 pcf soft shadows. But if there were no shadows at all, that'd just flag to me that it's either made by an amateur or too many corners have been cut. And neither will get my money.
     
  20. Jack Norton

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    I think depends mainly on game genre. GSB is good and sold amazingly because it LOOKS good (beside the innovative gameplay). RoTT is also ultra-polished. Gemini Rue is yet another example. Has pixel art, in a era with full 3d real-time adventures, but has much stronger story, characters, etc which are more important for adventure players than shiny 3d art.
     

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