Indie Haven June Developer Roundtable – Comments From Devs to Reviewers Laura Kate June 26, 2013 Features We at Indie Haven like to get you as close as possible to the games you love, and the people making them. That’s why every month we aim to bring together a wide selection of of Indie Developers from all walks of life, from BAFTA winners to teenage and student devs, to discuss the hottest issues affecting games, development, coverage and the Indie community. These chats will be broken up into chunks and released across the month, before we start all over again with new developers and new questions. This month we welcome a brand new group of developers to the Roundtable. We’ve got Anna Marsh (Developer at Lady Shotgun games, developers of Buddha Finger), Simon Roth (Developer of the huge Kickstarter success Maia), Ashley Ross (lead developer at OmNomCom and creator of the upcoming game Girl With a Laser Cannon), Gordon Midwood (Creative force behind the brilliant Derrick the Deathfin) and Andrew Roper (Recent University graduate working on the game Lazarus). Holly Keenan (Half of the husband and wife team behind A Virus Named Tom) also joins us toward the end of the Roundtable. If you’re an Indie Dev of any size that would like to take part in a future roundtable, please email Laurak@IndieHaven.com and let us know a little about yourself. The more the merrier. “What’s the one piece of advice or feedback you’d love to give to people reviewing your games?” Ashley Ross: I couldn’t say anything to someone reviewing my game. It could induce bias (whether negative or positive). My games are what other people make of them, not what I make of them. I would never say anything to influence how they play it, as difficult as that is to do. Holly Keenan: Please play the game for more than a couple of levels. We had reviews in which it was prety clear that the reviewer had not played long enough to get a good sense of the game. Anna Marsh: @Holly Yeah that happens in all kinds of games, even in triple A. Andrew Roper: Remove the reviewer hat while playing it. Enjoy the gameplay and treat it as if you’ve just bought it at the store or online. Knowing you’re purposefully about to review something could alter your view on the game. Well, at least that’s how I see it. Also, I agree with Holly and Ashley. Gordon Midwood: I don’t really have any advice for anybody. Anna Marsh: If I review something I tend to get hyper critical, not that I do it for a living, and I can forget to mention the good stuff. So I guess, just to mention the good stuff as well as the bad. Simon Roth: I think reviewers should probably consider whether they are doing it as a consumer or whether they are judging a piece of art. Anna Marsh: @Simon That is an interesting split, because you do get some reviewers who are reviewing it as something for the punters and some who review in an intellectual critique kind of way and both I think are useful. Simon Roth: And maybe keep consistent in that regard. I often see people reviewers getting confused by trashy fun or complaining that a brilliant game was only 4 hours long at £30. Laura Kate: As the reviewer in the room, my take is always just to be transparent about where I’m coming from. Some games are important as art and I’ll go into detail that way. Some are more for fun and entertainment ect and I’ll look at those from a more consumer focused mindset. Either way, I try to make that clear in my writing on a game by game basis. Simon Roth: I’d also like to see more reviewers talking about their emotional response to the game. It’s always strange to read through lists of mechanics or other very technical critique that doesn’t tell someone whether it is worth playing. Anna Marsh: Emotions are very personal though aren’t they – What I find really powerful might bore you rigid. At least if the punter knows what kind of gameplay there is they can judge if they are going to like it. Maybe. Laura Kate: I’ve not done many reviews on IndieHaven yet (ED- This Roundtable took place around five weeks ago and I’ve since done more reviews for IH), I’m more on the developer stuff at the moment. I did review Thomas Was alone and make an effort to put into context how I felt emotionally about the game, but balance that with the fact that people who don’t connect emotionally will struggle with the game in technical aspects ect. Ashley Ross: There’s too many factors in a review to control. I’d say leave the reviewer to put their own thoughts and views into the game. They will fairly quickly gain a reputation with the review’s consumers as to that reviewers process compared to their own. Anna Marsh: I think we could do with better reviews in more mainstream places actually. When I worked in big companies, ALLEGEDLY sometimes the PR people just take the mainstream press folks out for a slap up lunch and a decent review is guaranteed. Allegedly, of course. And there’s the advertising money of course, but mainstream press is where the bulk of potential punters are and they’re getting a rough deal. Gordon Midwood: Reciprocation like that should work, not that I’ve ever had the money to try it out. Anna Marsh: We should all chip in and take some mainstream press folks out for a pint of cider and a bag of chips, see if we get anywhere… Andrew Roper: Would have to be outside of London though, London prices are mentally high. Gordon Midwood: Half a pint in Shetland it is then. Anna Marsh: I have met very nice mainstream press people though so now I feel guilty – I’m not tarring them all with the same brush. Simon Roth: I’m actually quite thankful that RPS and other smaller sites have kept themselves quite accessible… So we can take them to the pub. Laura Kate: I’ll be honest, I’ve met people who openly gave good reviews to publishers who provided a good meal and drinks, those people do exist sorry to say. Andrew Roper: I can cook a mean lasagne, wonder if that’ll count for anything. Anna Marsh: @Laura That’s what’s sad for punters who make a judgement on those reviews – a 69p iOS game is one thing but £40 for a big console title is quite another. Gordon Midwood: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/six-principles-influence.html … Lets go for a really big cider And with that we end another segment of Indie Dev Roundtable here at Indie Haven. Next time we ask if the Indie Dev community has an obligation to tackle issues through their games?. What do you think about this weeks topic? Would you like to see reviewers focus more on an aspect of reviewing? Would you give a game a better score in exchange for a nice meal? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @Indie_Haven.