Sunday, April 23, 2017

My RPG Review Ratings

So as I'm doing more reviews (not the Indie Game Friday), I've been refining my system more and more, but all the while I've been trying to avoid giving any proper number ratings in my various reviews. I don't intend to start now, but I have noticed that my reviews' conclusions generally fall into five categories, so I suppose they can generally be broken down into numeric values if someone absolutely has to have that sort of ranking. I personally don't find this too useful, as my categories tend to focus a lot on personal taste and target audience, but I figure I'd post these categories below for reference.

  • Failure - The lowest category includes works with no, or almost no redeeming factors. These are games that are poorly put together, and even when the content can be made out, it is objectionable, nonsensical, or just plain bad. If it's a video game, it might barely run or not run at all. If it's a tabletop game it may be a total hack job, poorly edited, and barely coherent. You won't see me reviewing many of these at all, because at this level, it's entirely possible that the game in question may be too bad to even be funny.
  • Not Recommended - These sorts of games are similar to Failures, but at least they may be considered proper games. Some may have a redeeming factor. The game may be poorly put together, but at least it is playable, or understandable. Some amount of concerted effort was put into a game like this, and sometimes games at this level may be amusing, even if only unintentionally. This is the first level where I may do some sort of review, likely played for laughs.
  • Mediocre - At this level, a game is playable, and likely has little major technically wrong with it, but may just not be fun. If it's a tabletop system, it may be complex enough, or just boring enough to put off the flow of a game. If it's an adventure, it may be somewhat bland, and so forth. Again, these are likely not unintentionally amusing, but at the very least they can pass some time, although I wouldn't go out of my way to play them or acquire them. Sometimes I may say a mediocre game is worth checking out if the price is right. Some free games, for instance, are adequate time killers and worth taking a look at. Some may have done one particular thing quite well, and merit examination for at least that one thing.
  • Limited Recommendation - This is a game that is well put together. It may have flaws, and it may appeal to a limited audience, but for that audience, I do recommend it. I will tend to put a caveat in place. For instance, 'this game is excellent for those fans of oldschool dungeon crawlers' or 'this game is worth picking up, but only if it is on sale'. Because people's tastes vary, this qualification applies to a lot of things that I review, and a number of excellent games may fall into this if I believe that they'll appeal mostly to one genre. If I believe a genre specific game is excellent enough to appeal even to those who aren't particularly interested in that genre, or might just convert people to seeing the good in it, then I'll probably bump it up to...
  • Recommended - These are games that are either works of art in and of themselves, have cross genre appeal, are classics in the general 'rpg' industry, or have other serious merit. There may still be people who aren't going to enjoy them, but these products will likely be memorable some years, or even decades after release. That is not to say that these works are beyond critique, but their merits make it so even their flaws are easily overlooked.
I do hope that this helps for those who want to see the general categories I set things in. I should note that even if I do find flaws in a product, they can very well get into the Limited Recommendation or Recommended categories, if they are a fun or otherwise excellent experience. As I continue to refine my review process, I will try to be more clear about which categories things fall into.