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Strong review of SE by Tom Chick

 
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Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 2:15:11 AM   
eddyvegas

 

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https://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2020/07/03/seven-reasons-i-keep-trying-to-play-shadow-empire/

Many of you here won't get where he's coming from. Or, even worse, look at the stars and disagree. I have been reading Mr. Chick for a real long time. This is 1000 words on SE that will make you want to play the game. Well written and overall positive review.
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 6:17:08 AM   
eddieballgame

 

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Minus the "torturous interface, the primitive graphics" comment (which I completely disagree with)...a very thoughtful, positive review.

(in reply to eddyvegas)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 8:30:44 AM   
MultiPurposeCanine

 

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I don´t know who Tom Chick is but it was a good read, some points:

Is it really that neccessary to write a review-styled article that early when the game project obviously needs some time to balance game mechanics? I get it they want to get audience when the hype is strong which is often the case right on or after release but this then often leads to information that becomes wrong quickly. For example the often mentioned logistics system which was never an issue for me but which apparently troubles several players including the reviewer while the last beta update is about to make it alot easier for those folks and it was mentioned from the very beginning that this system still needs fine tune. Things are changing but an outdated because too early review with false information might remain.

I hear so often SE is "hardcore" "(overly) complex" "groggy" and has a "super duper learning curve". I am the only one that is thinking that Shadow Empire, Decisive Campaigns, and the Tactics series ranks among the most accessible counter-based wargames? Sure SE ist complex and how you perceive it is subjective and depends on your experience but what are these folks comparing these wargames with? Command and Conquer? War in the Pacific or War in the East, West are really hardcore when it comes to Counter-Based wargames. I exactly play SE + predecessors because they hit the sweet spot. The only thing that is requiring some special attention here are the logistics which will also become way easier to handle with the latest updates. When it comes to all the 4X and RPG aspects I would weven rate SE being definitely on the simpler side.

"torturous interface and primitive graphics" Uhm yeah sure, you already dealed with that, I have nothing to add.

Other than that it was interesting but sounds a bit like those hasty shelled out IGN reviews where somebody with little playtime or genre experience might be behind the desk.


< Message edited by MultiPurposeCanine -- 7/4/2020 9:02:16 AM >

(in reply to eddieballgame)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 8:55:11 AM   
Tomn

 

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The game's been out for, like, a month now. When exactly do you WANT a review written? Two months after release? Three? Six? The whole point of a review is to inform players on whether or not they should buy a game - why shouldn't that be as close to release as possible, when people first see it and go "Hmm, should I grab it or not?"

And I can tell you exactly what this guy is comparing the game to: Victoria II, Distant Worlds, Crusader Kings 2, King of Dragon Pass and Nobunaga's Ambition. I can tell because he directly references those games when discussing Shadow Empire, and having played them all myself by and large the comparison is pretty fair - and compared to all those pretty complex games (with the possible exception of Distant Worlds) Shadow Empire IS pretty complex and it DOES have a harder to parse user interface - and Victoria II, for all that I love about it, wasn't precisely my go-to example for good UI design.

It's a pretty good review for those who are interested in complex strategy games in general, not just grognard games specifically, and on the whole I'd say it's fair. Given that their audience does seem more general and not pure grog, it makes sense to review on those terms. You can't expect every review for every game to be viewed solely and entirely through the narrow lens of its specific subgenre, because people OUTSIDE those subgenres are going to be curious and will want to know if it's for them. And it is important to speak to them because that's how you get new blood in the game, and new customers.

Besides, on the whole it IS a positive review. I guarantee there'll be folks who look at a review like that who've never had an interest in grog games before stroking their chin and thinking "Huh!"

(in reply to MultiPurposeCanine)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 9:55:33 AM   
MultiPurposeCanine

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Tomn

The game's been out for, like, a month now. When exactly do you WANT a review written? Two months after release? Three? Six? The whole point of a review is to inform players on whether or not they should buy a game - why shouldn't that be as close to release as possible, when people first see it and go "Hmm, should I grab it or not?"

And I can tell you exactly what this guy is comparing the game to: Victoria II, Distant Worlds, Crusader Kings 2, King of Dragon Pass and Nobunaga's Ambition. I can tell because he directly references those games when discussing Shadow Empire, and having played them all myself by and large the comparison is pretty fair - and compared to all those pretty complex games (with the possible exception of Distant Worlds) Shadow Empire IS pretty complex and it DOES have a harder to parse user interface - and Victoria II, for all that I love about it, wasn't precisely my go-to example for good UI design.

It's a pretty good review for those who are interested in complex strategy games in general, not just grognard games specifically, and on the whole I'd say it's fair. Given that their audience does seem more general and not pure grog, it makes sense to review on those terms. You can't expect every review for every game to be viewed solely and entirely through the narrow lens of its specific subgenre, because people OUTSIDE those subgenres are going to be curious and will want to know if it's for them. And it is important to speak to them because that's how you get new blood in the game, and new customers.

Besides, on the whole it IS a positive review. I guarantee there'll be folks who look at a review like that who've never had an interest in grog games before stroking their chin and thinking "Huh!"

Are you the author of this review?

If you trade knowledge and proficiency for speeding up the release of a review it also trades credibility away. Yes it is a dilemma but veracity should rank higher here, sadly it often doesn´t. Furthermore Shadow Empire receives patches in a high frequency with fine tuning all over the place and what many players see as major changes to some of the most critical aspects. It was mentioned dozen times by the dev and is the reason why this is not on Steam right now until more polish is done. This is the reason why in my eyes good reviewers make themselves and the audience aware of the project situation. I can´t see any mentioning of this in the article, everything sounds as written in stone. Also trying to find a review video of Shadow Empire on Youtube, there is none. Just videos named first impressions, first look, and ongoing playthroughs. There is a reason for that.

What I see in fact is the confusion it already caused in the comment section where people in majority discussing the most recent changes to the logistics system. A update that was released right when this review was aired and which was announced beforehand. It is almost ironic to read that the supply system is described as impenetrable in the review while exactly in this moment there is a forum argument going on that the supply system has become too efficient and easy in the recent update (no worries, the dev left both systems in the game and players can decide). So one could claim a very important aspect of this review is basically misleading from day one. It is a beta patch but after some fine tuning it will likely be introduced in the next official update.

A slightly strange collection of games to compare to but completely fine as stuff like this is pretty subjective and opinion-based. Just because I don´t like it doesn´t mean its not valid to do so. Nevertheless I stand to my critique. This selection indicates that there is little experience with operational wargames, more with the common Paradox grand/dynasty strategy and space focused 4x titles. Thats fine, but basically getting into a new genre with little experience and evaluating them as hardcore, complex or whatever sounds off at least to me. Alone my opinion - that I rank SE as being rather an accessible smaller-scale operational wargame with compact 4X/RPG aspects, thus almost the opposite of the review - indicates how different a verdict can be if one like me is used to the 4X and operational wargames genre.

Whatever, its completely legit to write these what I call IGN-style reviews. It hits some of my biggest X-marks but other than that it is a good read and it should be clear that other readers might respond entirely different while it can help others to pick it up.

< Message edited by MultiPurposeCanine -- 7/4/2020 10:45:35 AM >

(in reply to Tomn)
Post #: 5
RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 10:34:43 AM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: MultiPurposeCanine
If you trade knowledge and proficiency for speeding up the release of a review it also trades credibility away.

I think it is pretty ridiculous to complain about a review issued a month after a game came out. The point of reviews is to help players understand whether a *new* game is for them. If players want in-depth commentary of all of a game's features as they develop, they can come to a game's forum, or create their own "I'm reviewing a game in depth after two years" format. Good luck with that.

And to be clear, it is not the *reviewer's* fault if there are significant changes to a game after release--it is the dev's responsibility to issue the game when he feels it is ready. It's great that Vic is tweaking the game based on feedback, etc, but it is hardly the reviewer's fault that he is doing so.

(in reply to MultiPurposeCanine)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 10:40:47 AM   
Tomn

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: MultiPurposeCanine
Are you the author of this review?


I am not, no. I'd like to think that if I was I'd be more upfront about it.

While I do agree that it would have been nice for the review to mention the pace of updates, there's a decent chance that he wasn't aware of it. Because why? Because it's 2020, and automatic patching and updates is the industry norm. The Slitherine launcher's "Check for updates" system is kinda clunky and doesn't actually work for me, minus that system working there's no indication in the launcher of available new updates (and certainly not the very fast-moving beta patches) and I honestly can't remember the last time I had to check a website, log in, and download a patch thereby prior to Shadow Empire. Even with the updates, if I hadn't checked on the forums for a tech support issue and happened to notice the beta section I wouldn't have been aware there WAS a beta available - and in any event the beta thread issues dire warnings about how it IS a beta and comes with potential problems and that if you want a stable experience it's better to wait for the much slower pace of official updates.

Sure, you might argue that he should have spent the extra effort to look into things, but I guarantee that someone who wasn't used to grog games and their peculiar quirks would likely have had a similar experience.

But beyond that...well, as far as veracity goes? Everything he talks about - every one of his seven points - is still completely and entirely true, even after patching. Shadow Empire DOES rely heavily on cards. It DOES have a fascinating Fate Point system that rewards you for causing disasters in your own empire. It DOES allow you to generate tremendously unfair hellworlds. It DOES simulate a whole private economy in a way that few other games do. It IS a matter of balancing regime profiles and their perks as you try to create a government that is not only effective but in character for what you want. You DO need to manage the personalities and desires of your leaders alongside their raw effectiveness. Everything IS tightly connected in a chain of interdependent decisions that all tie together to create fascinating unexpected outcomes and emergent narratives.

Even the smaller points are still pretty much true. The logistics system DOES take some work to understand, even if the pull system makes it harder to screw yourself. The interface IS hard to grok and is a massive series of nested interfaces, with vital information tucked away into odd corners of the game. It CAN take quite a bit of legwork to diagnose what's going wrong with your empire. Fine-tuning has happened, but the essentials are still the same, and still mostly good, with largely the same flaws. There's no real falsehood in that article.

As for comparing it to operational wargames, think of it this way: If your audience is mostly hikers and you want to recommend a mountain to climb, it makes sense to talk about how difficult it is and how much work it'll be to prepare to climb that mountain in relation to hiking, as opposed to saying "Oh it's really quite easy compared to the REAL mountains like Mt. Everest," only to watch a bunch of hikers proceed to injure themselves tackling a mountain unprepared. Meanwhile mountaineers reading the same article will recognize it as what it is: An article geared for hikers, and not entirely relevant to them. THEY subscribe to mountaineering magazines and know where to go to get a review that matches their perspective and experience level. It's all about knowing your audience, and not everyone has an audience that is entirely, wholly, and solely grogs.

(in reply to MultiPurposeCanine)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 11:29:30 AM   
MultiPurposeCanine

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm
I think it is pretty ridiculous to complain about a review issued a month after a game came out. The point of reviews is to help players understand whether a *new* game is for them. If players want in-depth commentary of all of a game's features as they develop, they can come to a game's forum, or create their own "I'm reviewing a game in depth after two years" format. Good luck with that.

And to be clear, it is not the *reviewer's* fault if there are significant changes to a game after release--it is the dev's responsibility to issue the game when he feels it is ready. It's great that Vic is tweaking the game based on feedback, etc, but it is hardly the reviewer's fault that he is doing so.

I think many of your posts here are also pretty ridiclous so lets agree on this mutual ridicule. I think also your private definition what a review should be is rather narrow-minded. I don´t see why a dev should have any responsibility in this. Exactly the opposite is the case he did well to make things transparent. You talking something about fault, I talk about providing quality information. Rest was already adressed in previous posts I don´t want to repeat myself.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Tomn
I am not, no. I'd like to think that if I was I'd be more upfront about it.

Sure, you might argue that he should have spent the extra effort to look into things, but I guarantee that someone who wasn't used to grog games and their peculiar quirks would likely have had a similar experience.

But beyond that...well, as far as veracity goes? Everything he talks about - every one of his seven points - is still completely and entirely true, even after patching.

Even the smaller points are still pretty much true. The logistics system DOES take some work to understand, even if the pull system makes it harder to screw yourself. The interface IS hard to grok and is a massive series of nested interfaces, with vital information tucked away into odd corners of the game. It CAN take quite a bit of legwork to diagnose what's going wrong with your empire. Fine-tuning has happened, but the essentials are still the same, and still mostly good, with largely the same flaws. There's no real falsehood in that article.

It's all about knowing your audience, and not everyone has an audience that is entirely, wholly, and solely grogs.

I extracted the essential bits.

It was likely to me that you weren´t the author but your username read also Tom thus the question.

About veracity I was talking more in general terms without aiming directly and solely at the review. However you have a point with the audience. I think in more global terms but I guess this page has a specific following audience which it mainly adresses.

I am am not qualifying as a grog myself here. I just got this "3 sentence bible" an helpful user provided in my logistics thread and follow it and it works. Before the patch, after the patch even better .

Arguing about alot of this is also rather pointless as - contrary to what mm claims - I am pretty sure there is no pinpoint consensus on how a videogame review should looks like but it is rather depending on the requirements and what focus the audience and the reviewer might bring with them. Mine are likely different from yours, likely different from the reviewer and his audience, which is perfectly fine.

And yes I focused most text on being critical but I stated that this review might be helpful for others, as described in my last paragraph, previous post. But nevertheless it can´t hurt that much to be a bit more aware of a game´s situation and try to inform your audience. The comment section there indicates that there was demand for this.

So I think we two reached a good common ground here and can now adress more pressing matters.

< Message edited by MultiPurposeCanine -- 7/5/2020 7:09:41 AM >

(in reply to 76mm)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 11:46:48 AM   
ramnblam

 

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Boys I'm a massive fan of this game and probably have almost 150hrs played, and think the review is pretty fair. There's zero point for being mean to calling each other out or being toxic.

(in reply to MultiPurposeCanine)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 12:22:25 PM   
eddyvegas

 

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You guys. The interface is torturous. It absolutely is. I've played 1000 games, and I know a torturous interface when I see it.

Steam reviews will not be kind as long as that's not addressed, at least in part.

But perhaps that's for 2022. Plenty of time.

(in reply to ramnblam)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 1:28:00 PM   
ramnblam

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: eddyvegas

You guys. The interface is torturous. It absolutely is. I've played 1000 games, and I know a torturous interface when I see it.

Steam reviews will not be kind as long as that's not addressed, at least in part.

But perhaps that's for 2022. Plenty of time.


Eddy, you gave me the red turn button <3 <3 <3

(in reply to eddyvegas)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 2:02:41 PM   
MultiPurposeCanine

 

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There is always room for improvement but I like the interface so far, needs more tooltips and some explanation but other than it is already fine for me and a big improvement from previous titles.

I predict Shadow Empire will score very positive reviews on Steam.

When full modding becomes a thing (maybe allowing UI mods too) popularity will raise more.

< Message edited by MultiPurposeCanine -- 7/4/2020 2:10:09 PM >

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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 2:54:39 PM   
stemak

 

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It reads like a review for a game he is going to be awarding a very high score toward, but then somehow the rating and content don’t seem to match.

(in reply to MultiPurposeCanine)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 8:00:36 PM   
eddieballgame

 

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Two things I would like to, respectfully, point out.
1. '76mm' is/has been a respected member & supporter of both the Slitherine & Matrix forums for many years & he has the posts (both input & feedback) to verify this.
Thus, disrespecting his name is inappropriate.
These two particular forums are a family of sorts & that is what separates 'us' from many other gaming forums.

2. The opinion that the 'UI' is tortuous is but an opinion that is shared by some, but not everyone.
For me, it is extremely easy to navigate.
Maybe I am in the minority, but I have been there before.
I will add, thanks to 'eddyvegas's UI mod, it is more pleasing on the eyes. (& some credit goes to 'Vic' for allowing us to modify it)

< Message edited by eddieballgame -- 7/5/2020 1:11:22 AM >

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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/4/2020 8:11:29 PM   
jwarrenw13

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: eddyvegas

You guys. The interface is torturous. It absolutely is. I've played 1000 games, and I know a torturous interface when I see it.

Steam reviews will not be kind as long as that's not addressed, at least in part.

But perhaps that's for 2022. Plenty of time.


Torturous? I don't see it that way. There is a huge amount of information to present, and it is definitely not presented in a torturous manner.

(in reply to eddyvegas)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/5/2020 12:14:09 AM   
t1it

 

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He doesn't even know how to play the game properly but still gives it 3/5

(in reply to jwarrenw13)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/7/2020 11:40:22 AM   
diamondspider

 

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I do know how to play it and I give it a 5/5. But, then again... no point in arguing over matters of taste, right?

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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/8/2020 3:55:36 PM   
Grotius


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From Tom, three stars is a pretty positive bottom line! He's notoriously stingy with those stars. He gave Civ 5 one star and Civ 6 two stars.

Anyway, what matters most with a Tom Chick review is what he says, not his star rating, and his review here is rightly favorable.

_____________________________


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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/9/2020 10:56:17 PM   
stemak

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Grotius

From Tom, three stars is a pretty positive bottom line! He's notoriously stingy with those stars. He gave Civ 5 one star and Civ 6 two stars.
.


That tells me the guy is a pretty poor reviewer tbh. A reviewer should be acting objectively even if he thinks Civ 4 is better. That score just looks like a man-child having a meltdown :-)

(in reply to Grotius)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/9/2020 11:50:39 PM   
Kolbex

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: stemak
That tells me the guy is a pretty poor reviewer tbh.


That tells me you haven't read his reviews tbh.

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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/10/2020 6:26:33 AM   
eddyvegas

 

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Meanwhile I don't see this review pinned at the top. Despite this being the only review (yes, I've read them all) that could make someone want to buy the game who is not already onboard with all this groggy stuff.

(in reply to Kolbex)
Post #: 21
RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/10/2020 7:31:50 PM   
stemak

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Kolbex


quote:

ORIGINAL: stemak
That tells me the guy is a pretty poor reviewer tbh.


That tells me you haven't read his reviews tbh.


Well If It’s one star out of 5 for CiV 5 i’m not missing any objectivity. That’s laughable considering the typical review 90%/9/10 for that game, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction on steam. So that added to the rating for Shadow Empire means two of my favourite games got a combined 4/10 ....they never even made it to mediocre combined :-)


< Message edited by stemak -- 7/10/2020 7:32:30 PM >

(in reply to Kolbex)
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RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/11/2020 11:40:41 PM   
profanicus

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: stemak

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kolbex


quote:

ORIGINAL: stemak
That tells me the guy is a pretty poor reviewer tbh.


That tells me you haven't read his reviews tbh.


Well If It’s one star out of 5 for CiV 5 i’m not missing any objectivity. That’s laughable considering the typical review 90%/9/10 for that game, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction on steam. So that added to the rating for Shadow Empire means two of my favourite games got a combined 4/10 ....they never even made it to mediocre combined :-)


As a card-carrying member of the Tom Chick fan club, I feel obliged to pipe up and say that he is one of the best reviewers out there! :)

He doesn't do buyer guides where he goes through feature lists deducting points from a perfect score to arrive at some kind of 'objective' ranking. He embraces subjectivity, and articulates his experience playing a game. The stars rating is simple and just shows whether he enjoyed playing something or not. Three stars means he enjoyed it, and that's not meant to be converted to other sites 7-9 systems where '3 stars = 60% = bad'.

His opinion on a game doesn't need to mirror the majorities to have value. Just because a lot of people love the newer Civilizations, that doesn't mean his review needs to be similarly glowing to make him good at what he does. Do you always only want to read stuff that you already agree with? Or do you just care about rankings and points, and not reading about someone's thoughts and experiences? It's fine if you do, we all like different things, I just think it's a bit harsh saying he is a poor reviewer because of it. :)

You can read about the rating system and the review faq here: https://www.quartertothree.com/fp/our-ratings-system/

To quote the man himself,
quote:


"Ratings or scores are the least interesting part of a discussion about an opinion"

Q: Why isn’t your review objective?

A: That’s not how I write. Furthermore, I would argue that’s not how a review works. To me, a review is one person articulating his experience with a movie, a book, an album, a game, or whatever. That person will bring his own voice, context, and even baggage to the review, none of which is “objective”. If you want objective reviews, try IGN. I hear they’re very good at that sort of thing.


< Message edited by profanicus -- 7/11/2020 11:44:13 PM >

(in reply to stemak)
Post #: 23
RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/12/2020 7:39:18 AM   
Tomn

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: stemak
Well If It’s one star out of 5 for CiV 5 i’m not missing any objectivity. That’s laughable considering the typical review 90%/9/10 for that game, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction on steam. So that added to the rating for Shadow Empire means two of my favourite games got a combined 4/10 ....they never even made it to mediocre combined :-)



Your math is kinda off. Given that Tom Chick's reviews work on a 5 star basis, and given that Civ 5 got 1 star and Shadow Empire got 3, added together and converted to a 10 point ranking that'd be 7/10.

Not that it matters because the idea of adding two scores together is kinda silly anyways, and Chick doesn't seem to operate on the usual review system where "70%" means "average-to-mediocre" and "60%" means utter trash and nothing below that exists.

(in reply to stemak)
Post #: 24
RE: Strong review of SE by Tom Chick - 7/12/2020 1:45:43 PM   
stemak

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Tomn


quote:

ORIGINAL: stemak
Well If It’s one star out of 5 for CiV 5 i’m not missing any objectivity. That’s laughable considering the typical review 90%/9/10 for that game, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction on steam. So that added to the rating for Shadow Empire means two of my favourite games got a combined 4/10 ....they never even made it to mediocre combined :-)



Your math is kinda off. Given that Tom Chick's reviews work on a 5 star basis, and given that Civ 5 got 1 star and Shadow Empire got 3, added together and converted to a 10 point ranking that'd be 7/10.

Not that it matters because the idea of adding two scores together is kinda silly anyways, and Chick doesn't seem to operate on the usual review system where "70%" means "average-to-mediocre" and "60%" means utter trash and nothing below that exists.


Yes it was clearly a joke, and nothing to get excited about. However one star in any language for Civ 5 must mean utter trash .... and that is nonsense in my opinion. I will stick with traditional style reviews that give a more accurate prediction of how ‘buyers’ might like it - rather than personal irritations, point making, etc. (PC Gamer - Civ 5 93% I’m looking at you!)

When I want good literature I will get back into my book :-)

< Message edited by stemak -- 7/12/2020 2:00:06 PM >

(in reply to Tomn)
Post #: 25
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