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Quo Vadis?

Posted at 13:05 on October 13th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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As our twentieth website anniversary is approaching, you may have noticed things have slowed down significantly. One reason is, of course, the reduced amount of free time I have.

Though, also of course, it is not the only thing. As I keep telling others, it is finally always a question of priorities. If I don't sink my time into this website, it often simply means I subjectively feel other hobbies have more priority.

Why is this? Identity crisis.

What I've started here twenty years ago seems to have less and less relevance. For some aspects, I still believe I'm "right", but being right is irrelevant if one is alone with one's views. Concerning other points, my own views have actually gradually changed.

To really explain this, let me take you 20 years back, to the times when I first considered starting this.

It was a time when the IBM PC had crushed all competition on the computer market. In the games console world, there was basically nothing but the Playstation. Very few game genres dominated the market: 3D shooters and "real-time strategy" on the PC and action-racing games on the consoles. EA sports had established total hegemony over the sports games market with their yearly, bland, full-price upgrades.

At that time, I really felt something had gotten lost. A large something, a big chunk of game culture. I wanted to remind people of all those things which got lost, and explain why that lost art was still relevant.

There were hardly any websites doing this. Certainly no other media were even slightly interested. Finding any information about those games on the Internet was really, really hard. I felt I was filling a gap. Maybe I did.

The thing is: back then, I was thinking and talking of games which, in some cases, were just five years old – and nevertheless already unavailable and forgotten. Which seemed ludicrous (it was!).

Based on this, my subconscious choice (never officially put into policy) was: write about games from a current perspective. As if they were still new.

Now, those same games are 25 years old (and those which were a little more aged back then already account for 40 years or so by now).

Today, the commercial games market is again much, much more diverse. A huge indie and free games culture has emerged again. Delivering many things which had just been lost those 20 years back. Old genres have re-emerged. New genres have been invented. Not every game has to look the same and not every game has to target the same audience or market. Without a doubt, very positive developments!

Going along with this, at least a small part of "old" games have actually found a niche market again. Personally, I strongly dislike the way this has happened: stores like GOG, those virtual console online stored or those recent "mini consoles", in my view, limit accessibility of the games needlessly by artificially inflating system requirements, binding them to non-accessible platforms etc. But this is one of the cases where "being right" just doesn't cut it. The vast majority of people seems happy with these sorts of offers. I'm just one guy. One guy with a large collection of games in their original format, but without the influence, power or initiative to make a difference. I thought leading by example could do something, but that was apparently naive.

Even beyond those most common games actively marketed again, offering game downloads seems fairly superfluous these days. Semi-official channels, such as Archive.org, have started making a large amount of games in various formats available. Excellent news for everyone! Sure, they are not particularly well indexed and therefore discoverability is far from perfect. Nevertheless, I'm asking myself more and more often: why take the (real) legal risk still?

Around us, a huge amount of information covering the same broad subject has emerged in various forms. Old magazine scans are everywhere. Gameplay videos can be found all over. So-called podcasts discuss games. Etc.

On the writing side, things have become increasingly messy as well. I have basically maintained my unspoken, unwritten initial commitment: writing about games as if they were new. Yet, at the same time, we have a large number of contributions in the database which go a completely different route: writing from a nostalgic point of view. Telling primarily what the game meant when it was actually new.

Looking beyond this website, this seems to be the much stronger appeal for people these days. Re-visiting memories. Again, I may have something to say about this or even have something against this, since I do believe this is a rather narrow view. Nevertheless, it can't be denied it is a valid one and that it is the point of view most of the target audience is interested in.

These different approaches lead to a database of game reviews which is incredibly inconsistent. On the one hand, you have my write-ups which are increasingly grumpy and critical. Lukewarm praise here and there. But globally, most games receive bad ratings. Simply because I'm not particularly forgiving with game aspects which haven't aged well. On the other hand, you have all those occasional contributors who decide to cover their two or three favourite games from yesteryear and give perfect marks, of course. But then, these people stop and go away again.

Who is "right"? Both are. It's just the unspoken, different viewpoints.

I'm fighting on my own here. There are no other regular contributors left apart from me, with the exception of people interested in floppy images. However, those caring for floppy images obviously don't care about the game reviews and vice versa.

The mount of daily visitors has been on a downhill slope for a long time. Google has buried us years ago (they don't even index the most relevant pages at all). Probably too many copyright complaints, probably other reasons. It's not transparent why.

Lack of any marketing for the site doesn't help (I don't even have accounts on Twitter, Facebook etc.; I don't understand how they work. Nobody else volunteers.)

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A few years ago, I actually toyed with the idea of starting a different site; several ones in fact. They had one thing in common: from conceptual point of view, those had a much narrower focus. TGOD is (again, unspoken) the attempt to cover "all gaming history". It's too much to pull off, I felt.

Just to give an example, one concept I seriously considered was a website only covering games dedicated to trains. I've always adored model trains and I love playing any games which centre around trains. But then, it's a tiny, tiny niche audience who would be interested, isn't it?

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What would I do if I were to start this website again today, from scratch:

For each game, assemble relevant information from third-party sources and add something original. Specifically, more formally distinguish the appreciation of each game in categories like "past appeal" (how good was it when it came out), "historical significance" (should you have played it?) and "today's qualities" (should you play it today?).

The first part can be pretty well assembled through review quotes from those times, with few original additions. A lot of material is available on the Internet.

The second part could, for example, be about showing what other games this one influenced etc.

The third part would remain mostly original, but also show other current opinions where available.

Then, show the game "live" as well as possible in different formats: pictures, videos… those help for different people in different situations.

What I wouldn't do anymore:
  • Game downloads, manuals etc. – covered "well enough" elsewhere
  • Bilinguality – this is breaking my back and all my (quite proactive) attempts to put this load on more shoulders have only ever worked for a very limited amount of time
  • Self-sufficiency/autarchy – third party sources which are reliable enough (i.e. will not likely disappear any time soon) now exist
  • Broad contribution scheme – probably fine to accept contents from others, but only if dedicated to and convinced of the same (written) mission, with more courage to simply reject for purely subjective reasons

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Now, the thing is (if anyone has read this far at all): I just see no path to transform TGOD into that place.

Even if I simply started doing things the way described now, writing and assembling information per game in that way, this new stuff would be dwarfed by large amounts of legacy contents. Even worse, those games which 90% of our visitors are looking for/at (10% of the games get 90% of attention) would still be covered the "old" way. I.e. the effort to do something smart, great for today's world, would go widely unnoticed.

Another reason leading to the same effect is the one described above: Google. We'll never get on their good side again. Whether we like it or not, this is relevant for 99.9% of Internet users.

So should I just leave this website behind and start a new one? Go through all the pains to establish it newly again? Knowing that I still wouldn't have good "recent" promotional channels available? Throw twenty years of work away more or less? "Re-do" all those games already covered previously? Knowing that I took major responsibility as well by accepting contents made by others, whom I implicitly promised to keep it available?

Or should I continue fighting a battle which has been lost ten years ago (at least) and which I'm not even 100% convinced of myself anymore? Watching the downwards curves week by week?

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Any thoughts appreciated! Seriously.

Lack of feedback, always playing to a silent audience (although by visitor stats, this audience is still there), is also one of the major reasons for this identity crisis.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 19:45 on October 13th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Oof… well this is something I saw a long time coming, and somehow I am glad that you finally bring this up for discussion instead of silently waiting and watching the decline. Actually I thought several times of writing something similar myself, but somehow I could not bring myself to do so and honestly: I was not even sure how or even if someone would react to it (including you).

So, were should I begin with? I think you are dead on right at the start of your post: The site has an identity crisis. Though it might also be something of a midlife crisis, as far as this is possible for a website.

How can it stay relevant in times where social media are massing information in a way you would never have imagined possible back in the millennium? Why offer downloads when software companies are getting more and more aggressive about their intellectual property and sites like GOG offering "legal" ways to get those old games? Times are a-changing, yet somehow The Good Old Days stood still.

Which on the other hand does have a certain charm, you know always having the possibility to go back and take a look at all those reviews and relive a bit of the glory days of yore. There are several reviews I like to re-read on a regular basis (strangely enough the first one coming to my mind is the one for Bermuda Syndrome, which I must have read dozens of times by now ;) ). And even if I can get a lot of the downloads somewhere else by now, there are more than enough games I could only get here.

So whatever you plan to do: Please try to at least keep up the game database. It might be a wild bunch of reviews, inconsistent information and the quality might be all over the place, but somehow this semi-professionalism is what I really like about the site. It is a project by hobbyists for hobbyists, and this is getting kind of rare these days.

One of the bigger faults I see (and which you kind of mention yourself) is how isolated the site is. How should anybody stumble upon this site if there is next to none "marketing"? You know, for the last couple of reviews I tried to contact the authors of the games and it was kind of refreshing to give and get some instant feedback and somehow it gave me the feeling that this might have drawn some kind of attention to the site.

Btw: A couple of years ago you posted a lot of trial offers and review keys for current games. Somehow I regret never picking up on them, because nowadays I think this would have been a really great opportunity to open up some new doors.

Another fault might be that the mission of the site got kinda blurred. Is it for the downloads? The reviews? Disk images?

So much for nagging and nostalgia. The real question should be: What can and should be done?

Like I said I would keep the database, or at least the reviews. As inconsistent as they might be, there are too few sites left who offer such a diverse view without cashing in on it in some way. And yes that means letting it open for everyone to contribute.

What I would do away with is the point system coupled with the disk image download quota. In my opinion this is far too much hassle and there is this ever repeating discussion how to handle trashy reviews which scream "just give me those stupid 50 points already".

And speaking of disk images: I think they should be a project of their own, maybe even with their own web presence? And by the way: Have you ever thought of offering them to some kind of museum or archive.org?

One thing that seems rather important to me is creating or gathering exclusive content. Whether it is downloads, manuals or reviews.

In the German forum you suggest a focus on games from Germany, and I think this would be an interesting idea. Not the German theme per se, but thinking about niches in gaming which are not covered enough (even if it only seems to us this way :P ).

Or another thing that has been going through my mind is digging out those handwritten walkthroughs and manuals from the days of old and scanning and commenting them. At least to me stumbling upon those hidden treasures on this site is kind of cool. And there are several of them, but they are buried under lots of standard downloads and are rather hard to find.

I am afraid I am going off on a tangent…

The most important things coming to my mind right now are:
-) Find a mission statement, things to do which are interesting to authors and/or readers. What is it you really want to do?
-) Try to contact contributers more directly (like you did with me, though I guess you already did with some of the others ;) ) and ask them what they want to do.
-) Keep as much of the current content as possible. Even if you put it in some kind of archive or make it a "side" project. It would be a shame if it would get lost. Or to simply answer one of your questions: Do not throw away twenty years of work.
-) Try to do some networking, get in contact with people in order to increase awareness. I do not think that this really needs twitter and co. Like you said there is a retro-scene out there and it is not only on the social media.
-) As cheesy as this might sound: Stay optimistic. As soon as you stop believing there is no way this can be turned around, there will be yet another zombie site on the net.

I have to admit though, that all of this is easier said than done, and it might take a lot of work. So if the motivation is rather slim, leaving things just the way they are might not be the worst option.

Personally I would vote for creating "new" and (I am starting to repeat myself) unique content, as dwarfed as it might be.
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Dear Sir, I object strongly with the last thread, and the next post.
Posted at 09:08 on October 15th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Just two small points for today, as I'd like to wait and see of anyone else reacts as well.

Mission statement: I think I've given it in the initial post.

Where to go: sorry, but it seems quite a bit that your overall feeling/recommendation is just to carry on as we are (with tiny policy adaptions), although you also state we shouldn't watch the slow decline. Carrying on will be exactly that. Maybe I'm misunderstanding.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 09:10 on October 15th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Ok, let me start off by saying that you're not alone and soon enough I will be back. I promise. I guess one person doesn't mean a whole lot, but still.

I do support the idea of removing game, manual and other downloads from our contribution agenda. BUT, I would still want us to be able to add our own files. Yes, a lot of sites provide that, but files are different everywhere and I've personally taken my time to upload only clean and unmodified files apart from cracked loaders, which is ok for non-imaged content.

As for the points-to-download, personally I would rather keep it because with this certain few people at least can have a taste of their own creativity. Meaning, they may be reluctant at first, but if compelled they might begin to like it, which, I presume, was exactly Mr Creosote's intent. Much as I hate to admit it, it worked with me. Surely, not everyone is like that, but personal experience dictates your own opinion.

Quote:
What I would do away with is the point system coupled with the disk image download quota. In my opinion this is far too much hassle and there is this ever repeating discussion how to handle trashy reviews which scream "just give me those stupid 50 points already".


...I have to agree with this as I too have had my share of people nagging and complaining about it. However, point system serves more than one purpose if you remember. It kind of solves copyright issues by hiding the download links from random visitors, some of which are potential copyright hounds. So, there goes another star to contribution points unless you come up with a better way of concealing downloads.

As for the rest, frankly, I don't see what the problem is. Mr Creosote, no offense, I don't mean to tick you off with the following parallel, but you do remind me a bit of Hitler in The Downfall (Der Untergang) movie, where he searched high and low for reasons why he's losing the war, blamed people around him, tried out different tactics and desperate manoeuvres, while it had become clear he just couldn't win.

What I'm trying to communicate here is that it got nothing to do with you or anybody else. It's just the time we live in. Frankly, no one gives a shit about anything anymore, and making this place more attractive and responsive (speaking of mobile version) won't change the situation. It's not just this site, it's internet in general. Chats, forums and even social networks these days are pretty much stale and abandoned.

I understand you want people to read your reviews, discuss, share opinions, etc., but nowadays they are much too distracted to focus on this particular subject and most of them would rather play Battlefield, World of Tanks, watch youtube or porn than talk about vintage games with you. It's this very subject of retro gaming which can't be too urgent I'm afraid, unless you obliterate every other entertainment and distraction that exist in the world today.

Quote:
Google has buried us years ago (they don't even index the most relevant pages at all)


I do find the TGOD forum pages in Google from time to time and they often appear among the top few results. At least the part where we discuss floppy images is always there. I suspect it could be a regional filter setting on your side, for all I know, search results can be different depending on your location.

Anyway, my opinion is that we should keep the status quo (with the exception of the few things I noted above), keep doing what we've been doing so far because it's fun more or less. I personally see this place as a kind of a private blogging space where a small group of people can express themselves with or without audience or new participants for that matter.

Also, I urge you to look at the bright side of things. Your life has obviously changed dramatically, you don't have as much time for this site anymore. Are you SURE you want it to get crowded and hyperactive? Imagine people sending in 5 reviews a day, don't you think it would exhaust you a little too soon?

Quote:
And speaking of disk images: I think they should be a project of their own, maybe even with their own web presence? And by the way: Have you ever thought of offering them to some kind of museum or archive.org?


Sorry, I'm against that kind of a split. On the contrary, I would like it to be even more integrated with the main site. One of the reasons, as I have already stated above, is making people contribute. Yes, it means more mediocre material, but that's just life. If you remove images from here this place will definitely collapse as a public resource and we will be on our own. Images is one of the few things that make us different.

Yes, I concur with Herr M., you shouldn't throw away 20 years of work and start over, that's just insane if you ask me. This place is like a diary reflecting your personal growth from A to Z. Anyway, if you have any specific questions without too much lyrics (sorry), do ask. Something in the following format "what do we do with..." or "how do we go about...", because it's not always easy for me to get to the main point, especially if it's something deeply personal.
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Cheer up! Remember the less you have, the more there is to get.

I am on irc.freenode.org: #TGOD
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Edited by Moebius at 09:47 on October 15th, 2019
Posted at 18:33 on October 15th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 19:45 on October 13th, 2019:

Try to contact contributers more directly (like you did with me, though I guess you already did with some of the others ;) ) and ask them what they want to do.


Mr Creosote did this very well as you can see on my example :D

Originally posted by Herr M. at 19:45 on October 13th, 2019:

Keep as much of the current content as possible. Even if you put it in some kind of archive or make it a "side" project. It would be a shame if it would get lost. Or to simply answer one of your questions: Do not throw away twenty years of work.


Originally posted by Moebius at 09:10 on October 15th, 2019:
Yes, I concur with Herr M., you shouldn't throw away 20 years of work and start over, that's just insane if you ask me.



Mr Creosote has just created some years ago an offline version (or name it archive) of TGODs:
http://m.goodolddays.net/forum/topic.php?id=3584


Originally posted by Herr M. at 19:45 on October 13th, 2019:
Personally I would vote for creating "new" and (I am starting to repeat myself) unique content, as dwarfed as it might be.


That's right: it is important to publish new content on regular base, to keep the site alive not only for archive purposes.


Originally posted by Moebius at 09:10 on October 15th, 2019:
What I'm trying to communicate here is that it got nothing to do with you or anybody else. It's just the time we live in. Frankly, no one gives a shit about anything anymore, and making this place more attractive and responsive (speaking of mobile version) won't change the situation. It's not just this site, it's internet in general. Chats, forums and even social networks these days are pretty much stale and abandoned.


Totally agree. And the typical silent visitor of TGODs obviously don't have a high communication desire.
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Posted at 18:41 on October 15th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Quote:
Where to go: sorry, but it seems quite a bit that your overall feeling/recommendation is just to carry on as we are (with tiny policy adaptions), although you also state we shouldn't watch the slow decline. Carrying on will be exactly that. Maybe I'm misunderstanding.

Well, it was just some stream of conciousness, but I will try to make the most important points of my post a bit more clear: On the one hand I do not think that simply keeping things the way they are can be the solution, on the other hand throwing everything away and starting from scratch will not help either. The most important question to me is what we can do, what we can change to get our motivation up again in order to increase activity and how to make this activity visible.



Originally posted by Moebius at 09:10 on October 15th, 2019:
Quote:
What I would do away with is the point system coupled with the disk image download quota. In my opinion this is far too much hassle and there is this ever repeating discussion how to handle trashy reviews which scream "just give me those stupid 50 points already".


...I have to agree with this as I too have had my share of people nagging and complaining about it. However, point system serves more than one purpose if you remember. It kind of solves copyright issues by hiding the download links from random visitors, some of which are potential copyright hounds. So, there goes another star to contribution points unless you come up with a better way of concealing downloads.

At the very least I would simplify the procedure, like writing one decent review or adding 10 (verified) disk images.


Originally posted by Moebius at 09:10 on October 15th, 2019:
What I'm trying to communicate here is that it got nothing to do with you or anybody else. It's just the time we live in. Frankly, no one gives a shit about anything anymore, and making this place more attractive and responsive (speaking of mobile version) won't change the situation. It's not just this site, it's internet in general. Chats, forums and even social networks these days are pretty much stale and abandoned.

Very dark point of view, which admittetly is somewhat true, yet I still think that we should try a couple of changes that might increase either our or our reader's hapiness. ;) And no, I simply do not believe in that there is nothing that can be done.

And as for the status quo: Just a simple reminder that there has not been an update for 1 1/2 month and except for LostInSpace there have not been any updates from us regulars for quite a while.

Still: Just take a look at all those responses! If this is not a sign that we care about the site no matter what and that there is still some live around here, I do not know what is.
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Dear Sir, I object strongly with the last thread, and the next post.
Posted at 08:36 on October 16th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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It seems my overall point got blurred in my long initial post. Sorry about that.

Let me try again. I will actually address what you all wrote, but thematically. So please don't think just because there are no quotes, I don't care.

I am convinced that today, we are doing the wrong thing.

The key point being relevance. Not user interaction etc. Those are just means or secondary effects.

My strong belief is that we lack focus, a stronger framework enforcing it.

I have some levers in my own hands, but not some others. I will go through them in the following posts, but I'm writing this during short breaks. So please stand by for more later.

(Feel free to add more to the discussion any time, don't just wait.)
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 08:37 on October 16th, 2019
Posted at 10:01 on October 16th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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What I have in hand and can realistically influence.

My own future content contributions

This, I can shape any way I want, starting tomorrow. If I were to adopt a different format of write-ups, shift focus or perspective, nobody would challenge me.

You don't know it yet, but I actually have six game reviews ready. I just haven't posted them. I read them again yesterday. They are good. But I'm keeping them, because I'm questioning whether they follow the right approach. The risk of posting being that I make the overall relevance problem worse.

Contributions of others

I could, at any time, start enforcing a stricter (or less strict) policy on third party contributions. I could reject anything not fitting subjective criteria, not fitting global goals.

What are the issues with enforcing new policy tomorrow?

Bear in mind (addressing one question of Moebius) that there is a conflicting point with contributions.

Bad contributions, what to do? Invest a lot of time, effort and nerves to get them on a level which finally will just be "barely acceptable" anyway?

Good contributions, ironically, trigger a lot of work on my side. Remember: one current goal is to have everything bilingual. It's in my hands to ensure that. Long, well written review: huge translation task. I've already given up in one direction.

The contributions which cause least work are those which are mediocre. Which is a fundamental issue with the whole scheme.

Hence, my two thoughts:
1. Limit contributions, demand more, if in doubt, just reject
2. Pull our (my) neck out of the biliguality trap

Concerning my own contributions, the issue is this. What's the most I can do? 50 game reviews a year would be huge already. Let's assume that.

What do I cover these days? Games few people have heard of, and most of those have forgotten about them already. So nobody searches for them. Remember all those past discussions about who uses the site in what ways? Where most of you guys were always so super keen on keyword searches, because you know why you're looking for? And where my strong interest in making unknown games discoverable (similar games, automated picks etc.) were frankly mostly disregarded? This is what it's about. What it has been about the whole time.

10% of the games receive 90% of the attention. Those 10% are mostly those covered in the early days of the site. Those old contents will continue to define the site's public image, like it or not.

It's easy to say "don't throw away the old contents". But whatever we do in the future, those old contents have the risk to hurt us, badly.

So what to do?

Replace old "key" contents? Even that could take years, effectively bringing the site to a standstill (as far as truly new stuff is concerned) for this amount of time. Not even considering that a lot of necessary expertise with many games has been lost with key people leaving.

To be continued
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 10:03 on October 16th, 2019
Posted at 16:52 on October 16th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Re: Relevance

Like I said: If you want to stay relevant you need something unique. Like the disk image collection. So how about a "Feelies" collection where we put all those unique walkthroughs, maps and so on? Or a ancient homebrew collection featuring all those programming sins of yore?

What is missing on similar sites? Or from bigger shark's like GOG, archive.org and so on?

Re: Focus

I agree, focus is important. But what should it be? Reliving our gaming glory days? Introducing people to things they might have missed? Software-archeology?

Re: Exposure

The only ways I can think of right now is introducing featured reviews, staff picks or a weighted randomizer.
Well, maybe also something like the Home of the Underdogs had, that 3U category, that is an own category for exotic games.

Re: Contribution

Stupid idea: How about simply writing a halfway decent comment for a game opening up this games disk images? I would take a one sentence comment over a 300 word copypasta any day.

At least make the rules more simple. Like one high quality review opening up the downloads. Or two translations. Or 10 disk images… Argh, it is getting complicated again already! :P
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Dear Sir, I object strongly with the last thread, and the next post.
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Edited by Herr M. at 16:58 on October 16th, 2019
Posted at 18:33 on October 16th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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A measure for quality of this site could be diversity: Different People have different opinions. So a greater variety of opinions will attract more reader. Imagine that a great part of the readers like those short'n'silly copy-paste-reviews more than a long detailed comlicated-to-read comment to a game. Maybe it's also easier for the public to make a statement to a short-written review because the risk of appearing unqualified is lower.
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Posted at 04:36 on October 17th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Quote:
Imagine that a great part of the readers like those short'n'silly copy-paste-reviews more than a long detailed comlicated-to-read comment to a game. Maybe it's also easier for the public to make a statement to a short-written review because the risk of appearing unqualified is lower.


That's a surprising, but on consideration probably quite accurate observation!
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 04:44 on October 17th, 2019
Posted at 08:58 on October 17th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 16:52 on October 16th, 2019:
Re: Focus

I agree, focus is important. But what should it be? Reliving our gaming glory days? Introducing people to things they might have missed? Software-archeology?


This:
Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 13:05 on October 13th, 2019:
What would I do if I were to start this website again today, from scratch:

For each game, assemble relevant information from third-party sources and add something original. Specifically, more formally distinguish the appreciation of each game in categories like "past appeal" (how good was it when it came out), "historical significance" (should you have played it?) and "today's qualities" (should you play it today?).

The first part can be pretty well assembled through review quotes from those times, with few original additions. A lot of material is available on the Internet.

The second part could, for example, be about showing what other games this one influenced etc.

The third part would remain mostly original, but also show other current opinions where available.

Then, show the game "live" as well as possible in different formats: pictures, videos – those help for different people in different situations.
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Posted at 09:16 on October 17th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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What is totally out of my control?

Mainly the external side of exposure, i.e. "marketing".

Two sub-categories exist. First, Google. Sorry, guys, you totally underestimate this problem. You may not act this way, but 99% of Internet users never enter a URI into their browsers, but search on Google. Even for websites they already know. My own wife, to go to Google Maps, types "google maps" into Google!

Searching for
Code:
site:goodolddays.net/game
produces ~700 results. Meaning about half of the pages which I consider the main contents are not in their index at all.

Finding the other half is also virtually impossible. I'll tell you why.

Unlike you, most people don't enter super specific search terms and they also don't use qualifiers, like quotation marks, +- etc. What's globally relevant is to be on the first page of search results for just the game name.

Sorry, it's close to irrelevant if this website is found looking for "teledisk floppy disk images hashes hoyle book of games", because nobody searches for that. People search for "leisure suit larry" (without the quotation marks). Being listed somewhere on page 10 is almost as useless as not being indexed at all.

Totally irrationally, it often happens that a list page (site:goodolddays.net/list) appear before the /game/ page in the results!

No amount of sitemaps, indexing hints etc., as proposed by Google itself, will change that.

This website is burned with regards to Google exposure. Speculating about the reasons for it is futile. It is as it is.

Second sub-category is promition through other, similarly themed websites. This is possible in theory, but impossible for me. So called "social media"? Zero understand of how they function on my side. Best I could do is set up some automated export of our RSS news feed to those channels, which, I've been told, doesn't work very well, either. Other websites? Sorry, I can't even keep up with my personal mail correspondence these days. Adding any further activities to my schedule is important. Unless I give up producing contents. Which, then, would make promotion pointless.

It will never happen that I'll do this sort of thing again in a significant manner. Any further direction of this site has to be built around this fact. Easy to say "it has to be done".
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Posted at 14:00 on October 17th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Quote:
Mr Creosote has just created some years ago an offline version (or name it archive) of TGODs:
http://m.goodolddays.net/forum/topic.php?id=3584


Yeah, well, how many people would actually bother to download and explore it? Offline version sounds like a dead horse to me. Or do you think Mr Creosote would read his old reviews when he's bored? Personally I do it when I know other people can also read it, I pretend I'm them, basically. I'm pretty sure, Mr Creosote and others do it too, I'm not a special snowflake.

Quote:
Personally I would vote for creating "new" and (I am starting to repeat myself) unique content, as dwarfed as it might be.


How about we monetize the site a bit? Maybe we should sell our own manufactured disks with TGOD brand or something? Perhaps some of the best reviews could be integrated in the disks' menu/installer. I know this will probably be met with a frown, but I've been having this at the back of my mind for a while, so there, for what it's worth. Alternatively, we could make annual contests for the best reviews or something and send people disks for free. Yes, investment, but it could possibly pay off.

Quote:
Totally agree. And the typical silent visitor of TGODs obviously don't have a high communication desire.


Unless we have what they need, which is probably unrelated to gaming. Maybe we could find a way to combine their everyday interests with our site. Maybe we should expand TGOD activity beyond gaming alone and start reviewing old movies, music, etc? Good old days is not only about games, is it? I know this is probably irrelevant, but I'm doing my best to provide something original instead of going in circles about games.

Maybe we should talk about game development for a change? Matter of fact, I do have a few projects like that on my mind and I've been practicing drawing sprites for some years. Maybe we could make games and sell them right here. We could also publish other people's games and use TGOD as a retro-themed game market. I know this all sounds far-fetched, but it could potentially increase our popularity. We can't just suck on oldies and write reviews forever, we need to make real investment, and reviews is just not it.

Quote:
At the very least I would simplify the procedure, like writing one decent review or adding 10 (verified) disk images.


The second thing is a bad idea. I've already suggested something similar a while ago, but I changed my mind later. You see, "verified" images like everything else can be easily faked and we don't want to tempt people to insult our intelligence like that. In my opinion, even one game would be enough to grant them access to the floppy archive, but how the hell do we know if it's not self-made? With present policy we can be certain that all people will contribute images for contribution sake alone and not for points. We can trust them at all times. Changing it would be next to opening Pandora's box.

What else can we do to simplify the routine? Nothing. I support the idea that things like that should be earned, at least for the price of a few reviews. It's not really too much to ask for. If you find it too much then you should perhaps check out betaarchive. Alternatively, we could charge people for immediate access, which, I'm sure could work out pretty well. But, again, I'm afraid, no one here will appreciate this idea. Besides, it's not clear who is to collect the money in this case and that's where we face the "Stop" sign.

Quote:
And as for the status quo: Just a simple reminder that there has not been an update for 1 1/2 month and except for LostInSpace there have not been any updates from us regulars for quite a while.


Well, we all have our lives and are not bound to contribute every day, it's not like it's our job. We have our moments and we can take some time off, it happens. It doesn't mean we've lost interest. Hell, I haven't, I just can't get myself to do it right now, but I definitely will a little later as I promised. The thing with creativity, you can't always be in the mood for it, I'm afraid. And changing things around will have no effect on it either.

Quote:
I am convinced that today, we are doing the wrong thing.

The key point being relevance. Not user interaction etc. Those are just means or secondary effects.


If user interaction is secondary then how do you know something is wrong? I mean, this may sound a little stupid, but... why do you care if it's wrong? And how exactly doing the "right" thing is going to change anything? Does it have to change TGOD or something in YOU? I guess, that's the part none of us can understand clearly as you're still being a little enigmatic I'm afraid. Sorry for another possibly inappropriate parallel, but it looks as though you got your hands dirty in something and now you want to wash it off by re-doing, re-thinking and re-aligning everything. It also reminds me of myself, when I'm going through a little emotional breakdown I tend to clean my contact list from useless people. Happens now and then. Is it something similar? Just trying to relate to it.

Quote:
I have some levers in my own hands, but not some others.


What kind of help do you need?

Quote:
I could, at any time, start enforcing a stricter (or less strict) policy on third party contributions. I could reject anything not fitting subjective criteria, not fitting global goals.


How about we organize a censorship committee? Three of us could do it, you, me and Herr M. The rules are simple, if 2 of us like the review it will be published. That means we will always have to read it, which is probably how you want to ensure it. We may also have to talk it over elsewhere. You want us to participate. Ok. But how we go about our own reviews, we may be needing 1 spare person for that and I'm not sure anyone else would want to do the job. Also, I don't think I could really judge your or Herr M's work. Maybe none of this is relevant, but I have no other choice but to guess what is that you really want.

By the way, it's not necessary to start everything all over just because in the past we didn't apply censorship. I know you don't want people to nag about it and you feel like cleaning all the "dirt" to keep only the best content. But I'd urge you not to do it. This is history and it should remain as is. Also, we've wasted our time and efforts on it, remember? So, let it be.

Quote:
Good contributions, ironically, trigger a lot of work on my side. Remember: one current goal is to have everything bilingual. It's in my hands to ensure that. Long, well written review: huge translation task. I've already given up in one direction.


I guess you'd like to replace yourself. Well, I'm afraid not too many people would be willing to do it... unfortunately, I don't speak German. Perhaps, Herr M. could fill in for you? Or retrobunny, his English is pretty good. But again, it's a serious work that most people would expect payment for. There can't be too many enthusiasts like yourself who would be doing this for pure fun. So, perhaps you really should consider resignation from this particular task.

Speaking of German... LostInSpace, can I ask why you write your reviews in German whereas it seems your English is more than acceptable to do it yourself? At least in my humble opinion.

Quote:
What do I cover these days? Games few people have heard of, and most of those have forgotten about them already. So nobody searches for them. Remember all those past discussions about who uses the site in what ways? Where most of you guys were always so super keen on keyword searches, because you know why you're looking for? And where my strong interest in making unknown games discoverable (similar games, automated picks etc.) were frankly mostly disregarded? This is what it's about. What it has been about the whole time.


Honestly, I think "similar games" is more than enough. I don't understand your obsession with tons of references to other games. Yes, I get it that you want people to read your other stuff, but you can't really do it by shoving it in their faces. It's just making it spammy at best and most people are allergic to it. Pretty counterproductive if you ask me. For some reason you often expect people to think and act like YOU. I'm not sure where you derive that certainty from, but I think you're a little mistaken... personally I think if people needed that they would request it themselves sooner or later and you try to act as though you know better what they need. No offense, it's just an observation.

Quote:
A measure for quality of this site could be diversity: Different People have different opinions. So a greater variety of opinions will attract more reader. Imagine that a great part of the readers like those short'n'silly copy-paste-reviews more than a long detailed comlicated-to-read comment to a game. Maybe it's also easier for the public to make a statement to a short-written review because the risk of appearing unqualified is lower.


Good point, indeed.

Quote:
Sorry, it's close to irrelevant if this website is found looking for "teledisk floppy disk images hashes hoyle book of games", because nobody searches for that.


Really? And what if I tell you that's exactly how I found this website 5 years ago? Yeah, I know, you will probably say that I'm one out of million, which is like a compliment, but I beg to differ.

Sorry if any of this comes off blunt or saucy, I'm just speaking my mind really. I think it will help us get to the bottom of things faster.
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Cheer up! Remember the less you have, the more there is to get.

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Posted at 10:27 on October 18th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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You're thinking out of the box. I like that :D

All, please don't misunderstand. It never crossed my mind to "remove" old contents. I think my track record of keeping legacy available, in one form or the other, speaks for itself.

However, I do notice that my concrete proposals are not being taken up for discussion so far, and neither are the issue statements.
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Posted at 17:15 on October 18th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Ok, I will try again, but this time addressing your direct questions.

Quote:
Bad contributions, what to do? Invest a lot of time, effort and nerves to get them on a level which finally will just be "barely acceptable" anyway?


Just rejecting sounds good. But then expect people to hail you with temper tantrums and give us a bad name elsewhere. We really need an alternative for accessing the archive, something anyone can do. But I really can't think of anything better than a small entry fee. And making it completely free may deprive us of, perhaps, only a few but potentially GOOD reviewers. We need options.

Maybe Herr Ms suggestion to limit reviews to just one is a good idea, after all, but I would further supplement it with an obligation to submit only NEW games, not already existing, which would include filling out general info and making screenshots. Sounds fair to me.

Quote:
Two sub-categories exist. First, Google. Sorry, guys, you totally underestimate this problem. You may not act this way, but 99% of Internet users never enter a URI into their browsers, but search on Google. Even for websites they already know.


Do you really think we should care about people like that? Honestly, I never thought of our site as being noob- or lazy-oriented. I have TGOD on my bookmark panel, I don't ever type it anywhere. People who really care about this place should do the same. See, this is where we are different. You are trying to interest or even entertain people who don't really deserve much time. I wouldn't bother.

Quote:
What's globally relevant is to be on the first page of search results for just the game name.


I'm afraid there are too many other sites, which are much better promoted to get in the first top 7 results, among others wikipedia, mobygames, gog, steam, youtube and amazon, let alone company dedicated websites. I don't think we can compete with them. You can also see retrogames.cz among them, but they offer a pretty unique feature - playing games online. Makes sense.

How do we promote this place using social networking? Honestly, I don't know. I myself haven't dealt much with tweeter or facebook. I don't really use any of that. Yes, I do have a facebook account, but I only ever use it to log in to other services, and personally I wouldn't look there for audience and contributors. If you would like me to do anything specific just say it, I will do what I can. The least thing I could definitely do is create a TGOD group on vk.com if you believe that would make any difference. It's the only social network I use on a regular basis.

Another thing about reviews. These days people prefer to watch them rather than read. Reading in itself has become a rare phenomenon, you have to take this into account. We can't really wrestle with youtube and video reviews such as those from LGR (Lazy Game Reviews speaks for itself, by the way), even if we did the same thing, I'm afraid. So, with what we do per se we CAN'T be too popular anyway, even if we provide best quality content.

Quote:
Second sub-category is promition through other, similarly themed websites.


I've already tried that if you recall (winworldpc.com), but my proposal was met with utter scorn and disrespect. I don't think I want to ever do it again. Personally, I'm ok with our website being somewhat underground. It's not really the kind of place, which should swarm with people. I'm still not sure if I understand you correctly, but it seems to me that you simply want more life around. Well, again, it's not anyone's fault that it is what it is today, because with what we do we can't be too popular by definition. We are nerds, and pretty old-fashioned ones, too. You can't have too many people like that, especially these days when they prefer to keep to their own little tribes.
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Cheer up! Remember the less you have, the more there is to get.

I am on irc.freenode.org: #TGOD
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Edited by Moebius at 01:08 on October 19th, 2019
Posted at 17:31 on October 18th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Moebius at 14:00 on October 17th, 2019:

Speaking of German... LostInSpace, can I ask why you write your reviews in German whereas it seems your English is more than acceptable to do it yourself? At least in my humble opinion.


Thanks for asking. Yes, I could imagine to translate my review by myself. But I'm also kind of lazy. So I decided to let Mr Creosote do the job. And honesty, until now I underestimated the importance of this german-based website in the english-speaking area. And I'm not sure if I'm willing to do this additional translation-job every time I write a review. No disresepect, but I do this contributions just for pure fun.
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Posted at 18:10 on October 18th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Moebius at 17:15 on October 18th, 2019:
People who really care about this place should do the same. See, this is where we are different. You are trying to interest or even entertain people who don't really deserve much time. I wouldn't bother.

Fair enough. We have lost 5 out of 6 visitors compared to our best days. Watch as the rest goes away. While, for some "mysterious" reason, the overall topic of old games is more popular than ever.

Originally posted by LostInSpace at 17:31 on October 18th, 2019:
Originally posted by Moebius at 14:00 on October 17th, 2019:

Speaking of German... LostInSpace, can I ask why you write your reviews in German whereas it seems your English is more than acceptable to do it yourself? At least in my humble opinion.


Thanks for asking. Yes, I could imagine to translate my review by myself. But I'm also kind of lazy. So I decided to let Mr Creosote do the job. And honesty, until now I underestimated the importance of this german-based website in the english-speaking area. And I'm not sure if I'm willing to do this additional translation-job every time I write a review. No disresepect, but I do this contributions just for pure fun.

And that's exactly why it will never work. The only ones who could possibly take a task such as translating other people's game reviews are those who are interested in such games. But then, those are the same people who would also write their own reviews. Guess what people will always prefer doing.

It's exactly the same for me. There is a certain process of writing, taking notes, putting them into shape, going through iterations etc. Then I feel I'm done. I'm happy with the text. But then I basically need to re-do it in another language. That sucks!
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Posted at 18:11 on October 18th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by LostInSpace at 17:31 on October 18th, 2019:
Originally posted by Moebius at 14:00 on October 17th, 2019:

Speaking of German... LostInSpace, can I ask why you write your reviews in German whereas it seems your English is more than acceptable to do it yourself? At least in my humble opinion.


Thanks for asking. Yes, I could imagine to translate my review by myself. But I'm also kind of lazy. So I decided to let Mr Creosote do the job. And honesty, until now I underestimated the importance of this german-based website in the english-speaking area. And I'm not sure if I'm willing to do this additional translation-job every time I write a review. No disresepect, but I do this contributions just for pure fun.


Yeah, sorry. The German part of TGOD is so obscure that I have actually completely forgotten about it. You are, of course, entitled to write reviews in your own language as long as the other division officially exists. But I think closing it would be to everyone's benefit. I suppose you could still write reviews just in English, without having to translate it to German?

Quote:
While, for some "mysterious" reason, the overall topic of old games is more popular than ever.


Ok, I did say above that the subject of retro gaming is not urgent. I didn't exactly mean all possible aspects of it, of course. The consumption aspect has definitely got in the spotlight, people download stuff, buy old PCs, floppies etc. Fine. But it has nothing to do with contribution which involves creativity and interest for other people's creativity, which is precisely what you're trying to pursue. Forget about youtube, Steam and GOG, that's another planet. The difference is stark, it's like Disneyland and puppet theatre.
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Cheer up! Remember the less you have, the more there is to get.

I am on irc.freenode.org: #TGOD
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Edited by Moebius at 21:36 on October 18th, 2019
Posted at 20:37 on October 18th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Re: Translation

It might come as a bit of a surprise, but I really like translating from English to German. The other way round can be a bit tiring, but also seems OK to me. I just was not aware that it is that much of a thing (i.e. that it was either killing the site or everyone's motiviation). Usually I translate my own reviews right after finishing them and do not spend that much of a thought on it.

And I like the idea of a (at least partially) German retro site, because simply put: There are not that many of them left. And it also feels kind of weird to me to write about German games in English.

I still do not see that much of problem in not having each and every one of the reviews bilingual, while I think that having the option to read it in either of the two languages more of a plus than a minus.

If you do not feel like translating your own reviews just give me a call. Worst case scenario I say no and it either stays untranslated or you have to do it yourself.

Personally I prefer writing (more complicated) text in German first anyway because I think more fluent in my mother tongue. Would be a shame to drop the text afterwards.

Re: Focus
Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 08:58 on October 17th, 2019:
For each game, assemble relevant information from third-party sources and add something original.

OK sounds good so far…
Quote:
The first part can be pretty well assembled through review quotes from those times, with few original additions. A lot of material is available on the Internet.

How about adding something like in the gaming magazines, those boxes where they either quote a colleage of theirs or add some extra information? Would be a bit more involving than linking to the contemporary reviews but might actually add some interesting information.

Quote:
The second part could, for example, be about showing what other games this one influenced etc.

Sounds like a good candidate for articles, something in the way of "The evolution of Point&Click adventures" or if you want to be supercheap "10 games you would not have thought to have influenced Monkey Island!" ;)

Quote:
The third part would remain mostly original, but also show other current opinions where available.

Is not this what the comments are for? Maybe we should each strive to comment a bit more, this might get people talking?

Or how would you pull this off otherwise? Especially how would you keep it current?

Re: Out of the box
Quote:
How about we monetize the site a bit? Maybe we should sell our own manufactured disks with TGOD brand or something? Perhaps some of the best reviews could be integrated in the disks' menu/installer. I know this will probably be met with a frown, but I've been having this at the back of my mind for a while, so there, for what it's worth. Alternatively, we could make annual contests for the best reviews or something and send people disks for free. Yes, investment, but it could possibly pay off.

While I do not like the idea of monetizing it, I think the idea of bundling the reviews in either some kind of magazine (maybe even with a cover disk image ;) ) or disks would be nice.

Quote:
Maybe we should talk about game development for a change? Matter of fact, I do have a few projects like that on my mind and I've been practicing drawing sprites for some years. Maybe we could make games and sell them right here. We could also publish other people's games and use TGOD as a retro-themed game market. I know this all sounds far-fetched, but it could potentially increase our popularity.

Hmm, yes rather far fetched, yet the idea to offer some place to distribute software could be interesting?

Quote:
Quote:
And as for the status quo: Just a simple reminder that there has not been an update for 1 1/2 month and except for LostInSpace there have not been any updates from us regulars for quite a while.

Well, we all have our lives and are not bound to contribute every day, it's not like it's our job. We have our moments and we can take some time off, it happens. It doesn't mean we've lost interest. Hell, I haven't, I just can't get myself to do it right now, but I definitely will a little later as I promised. The thing with creativity, you can't always be in the mood for it, I'm afraid. And changing things around will have no effect on it either.

OK, I have to admit in hindsight this sounds harsher than I meant it to be. I know that creativity cannot be forced, and I myself am a prime example of someone who has "other things to do". But I do think that making a couple of changes or trying something different can be invigorating and increase creativity.

Re: Social Networking
OK, I am not that much of a public relations person too, yet I do think it is kind of important. Keeping this in mind and trying to post links to a couple of reviews on other sites you frequent, or trying to contact the authors of the games and giving them a hint that there is a review would be a step in the right direction. I do not know about GOG's policy on this but I saw several reviews there which had a link to off-site reviews. Something I would be willing to try too if you think this might help?
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