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Site improvements

Posted at 19:31 on November 2nd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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After lots of discussion, how about picking up some of the issues we mentioned so far?

Personally I would prefer starting with smaller things, get things going and use the momentum to do some bigger stuff. Also I would like to see this as some kind of group effort, though I would not ask anybody to join in who does not want to.

Currently there are about 1300 entries into the database and doing all of this on my own seems a bit… overwhelming. Yet if at least 3 people would be doing this, each one would only have to handle about 400, which should be doable?

The things I would suggest on doing right now is the following:
-) Take a close look at the screen shots and replace those which are sub par. Probably even add some if you think the game deserves better (e.g. Main Menu and 4 screen shots of the first screen).
-) Look at the downloads and note special ones, that is things that cannot be found anywhere else (the "uniques" I mentioned in the Quo Vadis?).
-) Maybe rate the reviews? A thumbs up, middle and down should do. It would be interesting to have some kind of information which reviews actually need improvements.
-) With short reviews we could even consider including quotes of contemporary reviews or screen shots and so on right now. Some quick fix so to say.
-) And finally note anything worth mentioning.

Does this sound like a plan?
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Dear Sir, I object strongly with the last thread, and the next post.
Posted at 06:33 on November 3rd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Quote:
-) Take a close look at the screen shots and replace those which are sub par. Probably even add some if you think the game deserves better (e.g. Main Menu and 4 screen shots of the first screen).


While I do support this from pure aesthetical point of view, I don't really think people care that much about it... imagine you're a newcomer and you're looking for this particular game. You saw one screen - yeah, that's the game, cool. Now, what I would change perhaps is the way screenshots are represented. I find it a little tedious to embed them in a review whenever I want to add some caption, so why don't we add it directly on upload like they do it on mobygames? Anyway, this is up to Mr Creosote to decide.

Quote:
-) Look at the downloads and note special ones, that is things that cannot be found anywhere else (the "uniques" I mentioned in the Quo Vadis?).


I'm afraid there are no such things that cannot be found anywhere else unless it doesn't exist altogether or it is provided in a different format, something people invest their personal time and effort in e. g. scans, patched files, etc. Either way, I'm not sure how to address this. All I know is that I no longer want to accept stuff from people if it's something we can easily find ourselves. If those are user made scans - sure, but if they simply got it from another source - no. I want to take care of it myself.

Quote:
-) Maybe rate the reviews? A thumbs up, middle and down should do. It would be interesting to have some kind of information which reviews actually need improvements.


I don't really think this is a good idea... people can rig it out of frustration or sheer boredom. Unless, of course, it will be done by privileged few like ourselves. But frankly, I'd rather no one sends in lower quality material since it's evidently a major problem for Mr Creosote.

Now, to fix this we have to get rid of points-to-download, after all. The access to disk archive could be granted in exchange for, say, 5 forum posts. That's the only good solution to hide the links from rogues as well as a way to chat people up a bit. I believe there are plenty of threads already where they could express themselves. Sure, some of those posts will be silly and random, but it's not like we have to proof-read that.

The only downside here is that certain few people won't get to be creative and never take the initiative unless they are compelled. However, this will ensure only good material (theoretically) from those who are actually willing to contribute off their own accord.

Naturally, on review submission, single good image set or unique files like personal scans people should be given access to the archive automagically, that is, if there is at least 1 contribution point.

That's all I can say for now. Hope this was helpful.
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Edited by Moebius at 07:31 on November 3rd, 2019
Posted at 09:40 on November 3rd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Systematically checking existing contents sounds like a good idea to me in principle. There are however many things to consider. The main question being: what are the criteria?

1. Who checks what review?
Preference for contributors to "rate" their own work? Pro: no hurt feelings.for being down rated by someone else. Con: super subjective.
Forbid checking of one's own reviews?
Pro: four eyes principle.
Con: hurt feelings

2. What is a thumbs up, sideways, down review? What makes a good review? What should it contain, focus on, how (stylistically) should it be written?

3. Screenshots seem easier. Just look for tool.watermarks or artifacts, wrong sizes, colour bleed etc. Those should get "thumbs down". Also variety? If too little "thumb sideways"?

4. Downloads: I have to agree with Moebius here. I feel unable to judge rarity. I know what I've scanned myself, what CDs I've dumped etc., but I also know these files have travelled wide by now (which is a good thing).

5. Screenshot annotations as a general principle, I object to due to the significant workload increase this implies.
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Posted at 10:30 on November 3rd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Quote:
1. Who checks what review?


Obviously, everyone will make their own picks. I can't see how it can be done other than arbitrarily...

Quote:
2. What is a thumbs up, sideways, down review? What makes a good review? What should it contain, focus on, how (stylistically) should it be written?


One word: enthusiastic. It's easy to tell when it's done with dedication or just for goodies. But again, you can only count on it if people are not after points. Otherwise, we definitely risk hurting their feelings one way or the other.

Quote:
4. Downloads: I have to agree with Moebius here. I feel unable to judge rarity. I know what I've scanned myself, what CDs I've dumped etc., but I also know these files have travelled wide by now (which is a good thing).


I hope at least this matter will be finally settled. I don't want to allocate, say, a ton of manuals transferred from another place and credit people for that. If anything, I should be given points for all that work.

Quote:
5. Screenshot annotations as a general principle, I object to due to the significant workload increase this implies.


I forgot to mention that it should be optional. If the caption field is not filled then nothing will be displayed.
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Cheer up! Remember the less you have, the more there is to get.

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Posted at 10:57 on November 3rd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Moebius at 10:30 on November 3rd, 2019:
Quote:
4. Downloads: I have to agree with Moebius here. I feel unable to judge rarity. I know what I've scanned myself, what CDs I've dumped etc., but I also know these files have travelled wide by now (which is a good thing).


I hope at least this matter will be finally settled. I don't want to allocate, say, a ton of manuals transferred from another place and credit people for that. If anything, I should be given points for all that work.

Slightly different topic than the one Herr M. originally brought up, I think, but yes. I completely agree that we should not allow individual file contributions for existing game entries anymore. Too much hassle for too little value. Doesn't answer the original point of whether existing files should be "appraised" in some way, however.

Originally posted by Moebius at 10:30 on November 3rd, 2019:
Quote:
5. Screenshot annotations as a general principle, I object to due to the significant workload increase this implies.


I forgot to mention that it should be optional. If the caption field is not filled then nothing will be displayed.

Unless there is an overwhelming demand for it here from everyone else, I'd not go for it. I'm 99% sure this would turn into another never used feature for which there is a huge technical backend in place for no reason at all. Best we could hope for is annotations such as "the main menu", which is also… worthless? Please raise your support now!
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 13:29 on November 3rd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Nice to get some instant reaction, and yes I think it is helpfull. ;)

OK, as for who checks which reviews: I would suggest taking the "Browse" list (130 pages) and split them every 10 or 20 pages. You simply pick like 0-10, mention it somewhere (like here) and take responsibility of all the reviews in those pages. This way we would not miss out on any of the reviews and make sure that all of them get at least a look at. If you unsure about your own reviews (or for other reasons) simply post them and ask someone else for help.

Looking over the screen shots should not be that much work, replacing them will be a bit harder at times. From back when I tried to improve them it is the harder the less you know about the game and the more complex they are. Plus some are rather hard to get running nowadays. But simply take a look at e.g. Metal Marines (one of the most downloaded games by the way) and do not tell me that they could not be better.

As for the uniques: I am talking about stuff that is really not found somewhere else. You might think this is a fools errand, but I am rather curious how much there is. I remember hacking Chaos Engine sometime and offering my hack for download, but it seems to have been removed. Or was it Xenon 2? Well a couple of examples would be solutions like Pick up the Phone Booth and Die or the Polyhymnia sound track files. And my guess is that there are at least some other downloads too. I do not think that it would take that much effort to take a glance at the documents and downloads?

As for captions of the screen shots: If you include them in the review you can name them any way you like and it would instantly improve the review. Whether it breaks a wall of text or spices up a short comment.

Thumbs up/down: Is purely subjective I have to admit, but I think it might be a good idea to have an overview of the reviews quality? Or at least gather some info on which reviews could do with an overhaul. In case of doubt I would be more lenient. Simply ask yourself the question: Is there room for improvements? Would this review be better if e.g. it included some quotes, images or alternative reviews?
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Dear Sir, I object strongly with the last thread, and the next post.
Posted at 14:21 on November 3rd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Files: sorry, again, i think there is a confusion of terms here. I could help spot files which I have created myself. I.e. those which have originally been published here. That's not the same as being exclusive or unique. The solution you picked, for example, is not exclusively available here: https://solutionarchive.com/file/id%2C1857/.

Captioned screenshots in reviews: one issue is simply that in those typical four paragraph reviews, there is hardly any space to put one or two screenshots inside. One looks rather silly all alone and two are already too crammed often.

Reviews: sorry, I have to insist here. "Enthusiasm" or "subjective" are no good here. I can assure you that, to name a concrete example, my Stronghold review was written with lots of enthusiasm back then. It's awful nevertheless. What about a review which describes how great it felt to try a game for the first time, intensely paints the emotions, but says zero avout actual gameplay? Is that good? We come back in circled to my original question of the other thread: what should we do? Unless this is at least roughly discussed, I'm not wading through hundreds of reviews.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 19:29 on November 3rd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 14:21 on November 3rd, 2019:
Unless this is at least roughly discussed, I'm not wading through hundreds of reviews.

Totally agree on this one, that is why I put up my suggestions up for discussion.

Maybe some of the files are not that super-unique or exclusive, but they are kind of rare. But if you do not want to index them it's OK, it is not that important, like I said I simply was curious about this.

The captioned screen shots do not have to go into each and every review, but I guess it could be kind of optional, while we go through the reviews? Most of the time it will not take that much effort.

Btw: One thing that I also noticed while browsing through the games was the missing "similar games". Might also be an opportunity to finally add some missing links. ;)

As for judging the reviews: Yep, this one is super-hard and I simply cannot think of anything "objective" to rate them in any meaningful way. Word count, orthography and grammar might be the only really objective terms. Maybe an overabundance of quotes or exclamation marks, but this might be treading a fine line already. Do you have any suggestions for how to be more objective about this?

I posted some thoughts on a bit more subjective measures in the Quo Vadis (e.g. does it mention gameplay at all, does it say anything which makes this game stand out, any connections to other games etc.).

But maybe we are looking at this from the wrong angle? Maybe we should try and find those reviews we really like? Reviews which stand out in some way? I guess this would be a bit easier to judge.

Somehow I am still a fan to split the reviews into shorter ones (most of the user submitted material) and full feature reviews (those which fulfill certain criteria like having extra information, a certain length, are creative in some way). I would even consider opening a separate section for the discussion reviews, in a way they are rather special and there is no way to search for them in particular right now.

I also like the ideas you mention right at the start of the Quo Vadis, but I think first we would have to agree on which reviews to treat this way. As optimistic as I am, I do not think that we will be able to do this for each and every one, so we have to categorize and prioritize them.

And yes we are going in circles, which in my opinion is a sign that it is about time to come up with decisions. I do not want to push anything, but if we want to do something we have to get started eventually. ;)
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Dear Sir, I object strongly with the last thread, and the next post.
Posted at 21:01 on November 3rd, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Criteria, I assume you refer to this:

Originally posted by Herr M. at 17:16 on October 22nd, 2019:
More than 50% of the review must be about the actual game, it has to mention at least something about the game play, how it feels to play the game, how the game influenced other games or how it was unique in its way, some outstanding feature or why you should/should not play this game. Less than 50% should be a history lesson or system requirements.


This could be a good start.

* Where's the line between "how the game influenced other games or how it was unique in its way" (belonging to the majority of the review) and "history lesson" (being a minor part of the review)?
* Is "how it feels to play the game" also covered by "how it felt to play the game"?

Quote:
Word count

Word count, by itself, is not very meaningful in my view. What should count is: is the length, level of detail appropriate for this game? Some games are easily covered in a short-ish review which is nevertheless fine. Actually, too many words may hurt. However, if a super complex monster is waved off in 301 words, it may be hardly scratching the surface.

Quote:
orthography and grammar

We should pay attention to it, but put it in a special bucket. Those are easily corrected. The main quality indicator should be on contents (not easily improved).

Quote:
Maybe an overabundance of quotes or exclamation marks

For sure this counts!!!1!!1!1111 All joking aside, yes, writing style is important. However, we enter a very culturally diverse area here. One of the reasons, incidentally, why I'm so sour about review translations these days. There are vastly different traditions in critical appraisal of cultural works between (for example) the German speaking and English speaking worlds. As I failed to convince anyone that this matters, we have to be lenient here. Minor criterion, for sure to be mentioned if certain limits are passed (in a positive or negative way).

Quote:
But maybe we are looking at this from the wrong angle? Maybe we should try and find those reviews we really like? Reviews which stand out in some way? I guess this would be a bit easier to judge.

I think it would be much more beneficial to look for the bottom of the barrel. Once we know where there is work to do and how much it will be, there will still be time to pat each other's backs and tell each other how great we all are.

Quote:
Somehow I am still a fan to split the reviews into shorter ones (most of the user submitted material) and full feature reviews (those which fulfill certain criteria like having extra information, a certain length, are creative in some way). I would even consider opening a separate section for the discussion reviews, in a way they are rather special and there is no way to search for them in particular right now.

Not a fan. This would mainly just decrease discoverability of games, as they would be put into non-transparent (from visitor perspective) drawers. Many other practical implications as well. Who is "editorial staff", who a "user"? What are the criteria (again!)? Etc.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 21:14 on November 3rd, 2019
Posted at 17:59 on November 4th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Funny, I thought your questions about review quality were rhetorical. ;)

Good to know that my initial criteria are of some use, if you want to we can expand them and discuss them a bit further.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 21:01 on November 3rd, 2019:
* Where's the line between "how the game influenced other games or how it was unique in its way" (belonging to the majority of the review) and "history lesson" (being a minor part of the review)?

I think the line is were most of the review is about a personal history or the facts are rather dry and clinical (e.g. only release date, developer, which system it ran on etc.). Or if the "review" is almost exclusively about the game's history.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 21:01 on November 3rd, 2019:
* Is "how it feels to play the game" also covered by "how it felt to play the game"?

That might be a question of personal taste (and I know you prefer the former) but considering that some of the reviews are almost as old as the games by now (or at least they are closer to the games in the past than they are to today) I think it would be OK if they are about the past, that is how they "felt". And the site is about nostalgia after all. ;)

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 21:01 on November 3rd, 2019:
Word count, by itself, is not very meaningful in my view. What should count is: is the length, level of detail appropriate for this game? Some games are easily covered in a short-ish review which is nevertheless fine. Actually, too many words may hurt. However, if a super complex monster is waved off in 301 words, it may be hardly scratching the surface.

OK, fully agree on this one: Complex game with short review is as bad as simple game with overlong, repetitive review.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 21:01 on November 3rd, 2019:
orthography and grammar
We should pay attention to it, but put it in a special bucket. Those are easily corrected.

Should we correct them instantly or collect such typos and mistakes? Btw: Some of the reviews could use a tad bit better formating too (thinking of one sentence paragraphs here).

Some more ideas for testing the review:
-) After you read the review, do you think you know what the game is about?
-) Are there breaks in the review? Mental leaps, changes in writing style, overlong paragraphs?
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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 18:00 on November 4th, 2019
Posted at 19:11 on November 4th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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For grammar and spelling mistakes as well as obvious formatting issues (paragraphs not properly separating etc.), I propose to fix on the spot. It's what I've already been doing for a long time.

So, criteria for thumbs up, sideways and down sufficiently clear?

I'm ready to start.

Summary:
* rate the review (make special note if you consider one particularly noteworthy; maybe for a later "showcase" feature)
* obvious language issues can be corrected on the spot
* check if screenshots are ok
* (optional) take note of available files of special interest
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 20:07 on November 4th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Well, sounds like a plan to me. :)

I am just going to repeat the CRITERIA so far, so they are easier to find and summarized in one post:

Each review should mention at least some of the following points:
-) The game play
-) How it feels to play the game
-) How the game influenced other games or how it was unique in its way
-) Outstanding feature(s)
-) Why you should/should not play this game (an actual reason and not because the reviewer liked it).

Additionally:
-) More than 50% of the review should be about the actual game
-) Less than 50% should be a (personal) history lesson or system requirements.
-) There should not be too many breaks in the writing flow, that is mental leaps, an obvious change in writing style, disproportional paragraph length. Or to put it more simple: Is the review a fluent read?
-) After reading the review, do you think you know what the game is about?
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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 20:08 on November 4th, 2019
Posted at 20:15 on November 4th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Just to get a first feeling, I will take the first two pages of the games list (list style, not table style; i.e. the first twenty games). I will read reviews in English.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 20:16 on November 4th, 2019
Posted at 16:37 on November 5th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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I just noticed another thing: There are several dead links to other sites in the reviews. Maybe we should also take a look at them an remove them or replace them to some archived version (if available).

FINISHED pages 10-11 (B.A.T. II to Battle Bugs).
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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 19:09 on November 5th, 2019
Posted at 17:53 on November 6th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Maybe to add to the criteria, my global definitions:
* Thumbs down: needs to be improved
* OK: could be improved
* Thumbs up: great as is
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 19:28 on November 6th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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I will continue with pages 12-14 (Battle Chess - Blade Warrior).
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Dear Sir, I object strongly with the last thread, and the next post.
Posted at 20:25 on November 6th, 2019 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Pages 3-9 for me (may take some time).
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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