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Importing reviews from Home of the Underdogs

Posted at 15:08 on February 24th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 09:16 on February 24th, 2010:
Edit: Added the ratings. I'm not sure they're actually as good as you remember them, though. I did some queries on the database, and 3123 games have a rating of 8 and above, for example. 8 out of 10 is already amazing - I doubt that's really true for that many games. Only 152 games have a rating smaller or equal 5.

Hey, it was the golden age of computer gaming after all! :)

But great stuff, thank you!
Additionally (always demanding!) it would be great to have these ratings visible in search results. And on top of that, if you could optionally order the results by the rating... But really, that's all far from critical. After all it's important to have one reliable backup-dump, instead of losing those data forever.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 09:16 on February 24th, 2010:
Oh, and before you complain: I didn't fix up the broken HTML within the reviews. The basic template used around it is valid HTML ;)

I would never complain about invalid HTML. Only pointing out the consequences for average users, web-developers and mankind. ;)

Didn't you ever considered to incorporate this data into TGOD itself? Yes, only hypothetical because of all those copyright issues and data collision and so on, but would you even want this data merged with TGOD? Just curious.
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Posted at 17:22 on February 24th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by dregenrocks at 15:08 on February 24th, 2010:
Additionally (always demanding!) it would be great to have these ratings visible in search results. And on top of that, if you could optionally order the results by the rating...

None of this would be hard to do, the question is just whether any further work on that archive is worth it. It doesn't look like many people are using it. When I asked for people to send in screenshots for the games, T-Pow sent two. The rest came from me. Nobody else cared. So I'm not really sure whether any further time spent on it would be wasted.

Originally posted by dregenrocks at 15:08 on February 24th, 2010:
Didn't you ever considered to incorporate this data into TGOD itself? Yes, only hypothetical because of all those copyright issues and data collision and so on, but would you even want this data merged with TGOD? Just curious.

We discussed that internally back then, yes. Three main points:
1. Most contents of HOTUD don't meet the minimum criteria of TGOD.
2. Many reviews contain extensive quotations, sometimes even quoting complete reviews. This is certainly not covered by common laws about quotations, making those reviews unusable (I'm aware of the irony of still displaying them on the archive site).
3. Integrating contents of other sites only works if the site being integrated is smaller than the one it is being integrated into. Otherwise, it's a takeover. It worked with 21st Century Oldies, because that site only had about 50 or 60 games versus a few hundred on TGOD at that time. By now, those reviews have become 'TGOD native', of course, because it's been four years already. One has to be careful about influx of 'foreign' contents - too much at once can't be healthy.

I'm not saying it will never happen. It could be a good idea to carry over at least selected parts. We had other, more pressing issues then, though.
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Posted at 20:03 on February 24th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Thank you for the answer.

Tell me, when you start to sort out those worth reviews. I think in the weeks around end of March and beginning of April I will have some time to lend a hand / eye on that subject, if you want to.
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Posted at 20:17 on February 24th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Well, what do others think about it? Is is time to go through the HOTUD list to identify and transfer usable contents? At the very least, this will mean locating the game itself to make a few screenshots for each transfered entry (unless the game is already on TGOD with screenshots). Another question to be answered is the ratings. Importing a review from HOTUD, we'd need an 'editorial' rating associated with that review. The only thing HOTUD had was average public ratings - which, as pointed out above, were extremely positive (making them unbalanced against 'our' ratings) and worst of all, often don't even fit the review (check out /hotud/index.php?show=game&id=617, for example).
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 22:08 on February 24th, 2010
Posted at 22:57 on February 24th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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I don't recall a single good review on HOTU. I don't see the need to transfer anything from the page.
Posted at 09:50 on February 25th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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With all due respect, that is a non-answer to a non-question. Of course there is no need to transfer anything.

Also, saying these reviews aren't good enough isn't really a good point. If those reviews (without their HOTUD history) were submitted to the site (those which are long enough), they would be approved. There is no 'subjective quality rule'. The reviews qualify for inclusion, so the question is why not to take them. There are already quite a few reviews on TGOD which I don't like very much personally (most of them written by myself).

As I said, I'm not prepared to simply take 'everything' at once due to the influx ration becoming too high. But what about these suggestions (up for discussion; can be done combined or alternatively):

- Take reviews of games which are already on TGOD. Eliminates the screenshot problem and the matching of game data since only the review is taken.

- Take reviews of games which are already on TGOD for another system. As discussed in another context previously, people are very reluctant to review games 'again' in order to warrant an entry of another system version. So it's not happening and we're stuck with the inital reviewer's subjective (and sometimes fairly random) choice. New screenshots needed in this model.

- Open up for any reviews from HOTUD (which qualify length-wise), but require every game entry being carried over to have a 'sponsor'. What I mean is a member (doesn't have to be a longtime contributor) who picks the review and knows the game (neither "I've heard of it", nor "I've started it up once", but someone who has really played the game). This sponsor would then be responsible to provide the required screenshots to complement the review and to come up with a rating, one that is supposed to go with the review, i.e. not necessarily representing the opinion of the sponsor (though it will be influenced by his view, of course), but trying to reverse engineer the opinion represented in the review. Which wouldn't stop the the sponsor to give the game entry a rating under his own name in addition, of course.


The downsides of any of this:

- The rating problem is not really solvable. Even the last option is still not a very good construct, but probable the best we can do.

- The German version of the site will suffer once again. The situation is already not too bright, importing another batch of English-only reviews will hardly make it better.

- The contents aren't unique (used elsewhere, too).


So please, being against it is a valid opinion, but it should be worth a little more than one dismissive line.
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Posted at 12:28 on February 25th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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It was a rhetorical answer to a rhetorical question, it helped you to continue talking.

But more seriously, I prefer having new reviews, improves the page, which just taking reviews from a big and famous one won't do. Also, as said most of the reviews from Underdogs are quoted reviews, and those which aren't are too broad, they talk little about the game. There are a bunch of longer reviews, but if they have and interesting game I think it would be better reviewing it ourselves than taking whatever they have.

The HOTU death is a loss, but we should keep going. All the obsession with reviving it will do nothing, first because people moved to other places (abandonware is as dead as 60's films, there is always people interested on it) and they won't care, and second because most people liked HOTU for it's downloads, and we are here to give interesting reviews.
Posted at 12:37 on February 25th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Disclaimer: I'm only talking about HOTUD reviews which are long enough for TGOD and which aren't 'quoted' unless I'm explicitely saying differently.

The predominant reviewing style of HOTUD is different from the way you or I write reviews, yes. UD wrote mostly about historical perspective, taking knowledge of the game mechanics for granted. We're both describing the game itself more. Those methods are just different, none is inherently better than the other.

Of course, in an ideal world, all the interesting games would have original reviews on TGOD. If you're counting on that, though, why isn't it already the case? And what about those special cases I mentioned in my previous post? Like alternate versions? Or complementing reviews we already have with another perspective from HOTUD?

Do you also object to taking material from other deceased sites or is it just the relation to HOTUD? Because we already have the whole 21st Century Oldies on the site and a nice number of reviews from The Keep as well.

Again, I'm not talking about reviving HOTUD. If it will be done (which I still doubt), it won't happen here. I'm talking about including selected contents based on certain rules for which I have made a few suggestions which, so far, have remained unanswered. To make it clear: I'm not just asking Wandrell here. Everyone is welcome to have his say.
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 13:21 on February 25th, 2010
Posted at 16:58 on February 25th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 09:50 on February 25th, 2010:
- Take reviews of games which are already on TGOD. Eliminates the screenshot problem and the matching of game data since only the review is taken.

I think this should be our first choice. Everything further may still be discussed after that.

But matching games already on TGOD with games in the HOTUD-archive, checking reviews for standards and then importing those qualified is doable. Not something to get lost into for a long time.

Also, this adds some different perspective to the site reviews here. As Creo mentioned, there is no right way of a review. Taking myself for example, I would be interested in games mechanics (e.g. if I don't know a game) and about historical things (e.g. if I already know a game).

I would be not that worried about the ratings. The recalculation is possible and the new rating is clearly associated with the specific review.

About the "HOTUD revive": I also think that current projects are already failures by design in many ways. A modern HOTUD would go different ways today. A lame copy isn't more than a curious reminder of the past.

And that's not the point of the question as I depicted. It's only about reusing good content. Even if there is only 1 percent of all HOTUD-reviews meeting requirements, it would be worth it.
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Posted at 17:40 on February 25th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Just for the record: If this will happen (I'm not saying it will, I'd like to wait for some more feedback first; at least to give others a chance to speak up), the list of those games is fairly easy to get: Just select 'with screenshots' on the archive site. This will list three or four more games than the actual overlap, but it shouldn't miss any.
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Posted at 12:41 on March 2nd, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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I never liked HotU for its mediocore reviews and over the top ratings, but for their extensive database (which was one of the best of it's time with really excellent search options [even different tyoes of multiplayer]), exotic entries and probably for being the most hyped abandonware-site out there...

After broswing through the HotU archive and searching for some of the titles listed on TGOD I came to the following conclusions: The reviews of HotU are either
-) too short: 90% of them are one sentence only
-) too subjective or hyped: there are only so many "best games ever" you "have to try"
-) too personal: every second game kept someone up all night...
-) too comperative: yes Game A is quite different than Game B, probably because one of them is an RPG and the other one a racing game
-) too digressing: we allready know that the computer gaming industry is dying and beyond it's golden era

Still there are a handfull (e.g. Lands of Lore http://www.goodolddays.net/hotud/index.php?show=game&id=1324) of them that are comperatively good. While those few could be recovered for TGOD and you could try to translate the rating system, the big question remains: How do you choose them? What criteria are to be applied to the rather massive amount of mediocore reviews to be transferred? Which are those 1% good reviews?

My opinion: I would strictly keep to games which allready have a review here, to give an alternative viewpoint in order to complement existing stuff, not to add "new" one. While integrating a smaller site that definitly vanishes from the net may enrich the new site and help the content to survive, taking from such an (in)famous source like the Unterdog diminishes originality.
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Posted at 13:53 on March 2nd, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Thanks for that, good to see anyone cares at all - one way or the other.

In the light of these points, I did some digging in the HOTUD database:

About 1500 reviews fulfil the minimum review length requirement. This has purely been measured by word count, i.e. we still have to subtract those reviews which are just quotes. A conservative estimate leads me to believe there are about 1000 review which would qualify purely based on length.

Only taking the overlap of game entries of TGOD and HOTUD, not taking into account any games with a non-qualifying HOTUD review (too short / quoted), there would be about 50 reviews we could import. That is if we insist on exact matches, i.e. reviews covering the same version of the game (the same system). I haven't counted the number of games if we were to disregard the system and allow the HOTUD database to feed TGOD concerning alternate versions of games already available.

Since the question of the subjective quality of reviews came up again: How is this measured? Sure, way too many games are "the best ever" on HOTUD. So many that the phrase loses all its value. But what would happen if anyone wrote original reviews for TGOD using that phrase in most his reviews? Would they be rejected, too? This is not a rhetorical question, I'd really like to know how you guys would go at this? The goal of keeping the quality up is certainly a noble one, but where do you draw the line?

The point of non-originality is valid and it has to be taken into account, of course.
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 13:54 on March 2nd, 2010
Posted at 21:19 on March 2nd, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 13:53 on March 2nd, 2010:
Since the question of the subjective quality of reviews came up again: How is this measured? Sure, way too many games are "the best ever" on HOTUD. So many that the phrase loses all its value. But what would happen if anyone wrote original reviews for TGOD using that phrase in most his reviews? Would they be rejected, too? This is not a rhetorical question, I'd really like to know how you guys would go at this? The goal of keeping the quality up is certainly a noble one, but where do you draw the line?

Well, if I look at my own few reviews, I always took games I liked very much and I had a very personal relationship with. After all my motivation to review those games, were to promote these games for others to try. After all a review may only be a teaser for someone, who wants to try a game himself.

Of course reviews in the manner "Coolest game ever, because it rocks" are inadequate. But since there is already a filter in length of the reviews, there surely are always at least some objective informations about a game hidden in the text.

Additionally I think it may be good to read about ways people enjoyed a game, instead of someone who maybe didn't found the way a game is supposed to play or tried a game simply not in his / hers manner. For example someone tried playing Elite as a space-shooter or is simply not used to play strategy games, but reviews Panzer General won't be rating those games in a way, a genre-specialist would appreciate or even try those games.

EDIT:
Also, welcome Herr M! I always like to read well pointed opinions. :)
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Edited by dregenrocks at 21:21 on March 2nd, 2010
Posted at 22:10 on March 2nd, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Thanks dregenrocks, you also have some good points there. ;) Of course there should always be a personal note to a review and there is nothing wrong with giving some subjective impressions you had while playing the game back when they where new and shiny, especially on a site dealing with such nostalgic items like abandonware. Ever watched some episodes of the Angry Video Game Nerd (http://www.cinemassacre.com/new/?page_id=3130)? While he swears a lot and gives a very opinionated and one-sided view of the games he also excells in two things: Reviving memories of why we concerned ourselves with games in the first place, and packing a lot of information into a lot of humor making one curios to give those sh*ty games from the past one ignored so far a try... So a review doesn't have to be totally serious and dry in order to be informative or of any kind of interest.

Concerning quality and where to draw a line, I would distinguish two cases: Original reviews and (let's call them) "borrowed" reviews.

If someone bothers to write a review to put it up on this site (and this site alone), puts some effort into it, to tell others about a game he really likes (even if he thinks it's the ubergame and doesn't tire to tell us so) it doesn't have to be a work of art, skilled wordplay, precise to the point and ingeniously well constructed. In this case I would draw the line at really bad grammar and orthography (when it starts to be incomprehensible) or lack of _any_ content concerning the actual game (like someone telling us only about how he spent hours on hours playing this game without giving a reason why). If such a "bad" review was to appear, I would put it up for debate in the forums, trying to motivate the author to correct it a little bit.

With borrowed reviews you can (and should) set the margin a little bit higher.
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Edited by Herr M. at 22:10 on March 2nd, 2010
Posted at 09:25 on March 3rd, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Here's the list of overlap games. Please don't jump at me if there's a review among them which is only 290 words long - automated word counting isn't as exact as it should be sometimes.

striked through: turned out to be invalid
italics: done

Ambush at Sorinor
Ancient Domains of Mystery
Battle Isle 2
Bermuda Syndrome
Blackthorne
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
Castlevania
Covert Action
Crusader: No Remorse
D/Generation
Dark Seed 2
Darklands
Deadline
Destruction Derby
The Dig
Double Dragon III: The Rosetta Stone
Dungeon Master
Hidden Agenda
History Line: 1914-1918
The Horde
Imperialism
Imperialism II
Jagged Alliance
Jeopardy (review about multiple versions)
Kick Off 2
Lands of Lore
The Lost Tribe
The Lost Vikings
The Lurking Horror
Bundesliga Manager Professional
Murder Makes Strange Deadfellows
Nebulus
Another World
Prisoner of Ice
Proliferation
Red Baron
Shadow Caster
Starflight
TV Sports Basketball
Theme Park
Ugh!
WWF Wrestlemania
Privateer
Witness
Martian Dreams
Savage Empire
Z
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 09:18 on March 10th, 2010
Posted at 15:19 on March 4th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Until now I only managed to read the reviews up to "Crusader: No Remorse". So far, in my opinion, worth to be taken. Of course very personal and subjective reviews, but nothing, that would hurt TGOD seriously in my opinion. At least not as additional reviews.
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Posted at 18:45 on March 4th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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To put a more positive perspective on it: The review of Ambush at Sorinor is better than the one currently on TGOD, for example.
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Posted at 15:01 on March 5th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Well, if you should decide to greenlight this project, I would volunteer to be the "sponsor" and translator for some of the games.
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Posted at 18:41 on March 5th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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You've got my blessing, but I will have to do some easy additions to the backend code in order to attach licence information to individual reviews. Will do it this weekend. If nobody seriously protests in the meantime, we can go ahead.
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Posted at 12:34 on March 6th, 2010 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Everything is ready as far as I'm concerned. Keep in mind, however, that if you translate such a review, you're creating a derivative of the original which means you have to put your translation under the same licence terms, too. I'm mentioning this, because this is different from the TGOD default (which is roughly "you retain all rights on your translation, but you allow the site to use it").
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 12:58 on March 6th, 2010
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