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2014 theme

Posted at 14:52 on October 30th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Current State of Planning:
  • Jan: First Games
  • Feb: The Beginnings of TGOD
  • Mar-Apr: Multiplayer Games
  • May-Jun: Laser Age
  • Jul-Aug: WW1
  • Sep-Oct: Promotional Games
  • Nov: IF Comp
  • Dec: Winter/Christmas

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Original Post:

Well… should we do one? On the one hand, I really see this helping, but on the other hand, we are pushing ourselves very hard with it. It's no good if it results in people giving up completely out of frustration of because of being overworked.

So, let's discuss the general questions first: Should we try again? What have we learned from this year? Was splitting up into three streams a good or bad idea?

Barring those decision, here are the suggestions open from last year's discussion:

Originally posted by Herr M. at 20:12 on November 21st, 2012:
-) The time machine: Start with a review of a game published in 2013 (some big blockbuster smash-hit ;) ) and moth per month go back year(s) by year(s) to the oldest game on your site (or the oldest video-game ever).
-) Games with multiple versions e.g. for different systems or remakes, comparing them to each other, focusing on the differences.
-) Multiplayer Games

All of these sound doable and still offer a lot of choice. The first one would probably be tough, because there would be sort of an expectation that every "year's" game is somehow representative. Multiplayer games, in my opinion, only makes sense if we actually manage to play these games together before reviewing them.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 18:51 on December 1st, 2012:
One idea I'd like to throw in here is doing a "Laser Age" theme, i.e. focus on early CD-ROM games. That would be less restrictive than a single year with regards to the time of release, but still be a stronger link between the games due to other aspects.

Pros: Little coverage elsewhere, historically fascinating period
Cons: Not many good games…

Speaks for itself.

Originally posted by Herr M. at 17:25 on December 19th, 2012:
I just had an idea for the 1993 era! I have got some issues of a rather obscure gaming magazine called PC Review. I own two issues from 1993 and a special issue from January 1994 with the "Best 100 PC games of the last 18 moths". Somehow I always wanted to scan them and make them available to a broader public. I could either scan some reviews and add them to games which are already on this site or open up some new ones with a transcription of the texts. Could be a nice contemporary voice form the past! :D

That magazine is dated 01/94, so although it covers the last 18 months seen from that, we could easily sell it as the "state as of 1994". By my preliminary count, we would have to cover 41 games if we want to be complete. 59 games are already on the site. Personally, I consider this tough, but doable (one game per week is the absolute maximum). Of course, though, there is a reason why these 59 games are already on the site and the other 41 are not. We have to be aware that if we do this, we will be playing lots of games from genres we probably don't like all that much (e.g. that magazine is full of flight simulations).
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 19:23 on August 13th, 2014
Posted at 18:23 on November 1st, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Looking back at the 1998 reviews I did, I have to say that I would not want to do another year of XXXX again. Don't get me wrong: It was an interesting experience and quite thrilling at first, and I would never have played games like Operation Cleaner, Fish Fillets or Bad Machine (games I really enjoyed) if not for the theme. But by now it gets somewhat tiresome, because the selection of possible games is actually very narrow. E.g. I could not find a single decent racing game for this year. And I can't imagine it to be that different for 1984, 1989, 1994 or 1999 (or wathever year we would choose).

Yet what bothered me the most, was that I sometimes felt a lot more like doing a game that was just one or two years of the mark. And doing more than one review a month means either several shorter reviews (of lesser quality), or a lot of work (something which I kind of underestimated).

But that's only from a writers point of view. I still think the parallel years was a good idea. I liked reading your reviews and cycling through the three (sometimes even four) years, and I can imagine, that anyone, who followed the theme, might have felt the same way. And it is good to know, that the number of 1998 games on the site more than doubled. ;)

So much for what I learned from this year, let's move on to the next:

Personally I would prefer doing (monthly?) specials instead of a fixed theme, something like the current coverage of the IF competition, or the indie games feature at the beginning of the year. E.g. we could do a Laser-Age special, an indie special (again), an Amiga/C64/NES special, a multiplayer one (probably inviting some people to join in), some re-reviews, a month were each one picks a game for someone else to review etc.

If it should be a running theme I think something like 'The [enter superlative of your choice here] game', each month with a different quality like 'worst', ' best sequel', 'most obscure' etc. could be nice.
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Posted at 13:38 on November 12th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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While patiently waiting for Wandrell to have his say, I'm going to suggest a 1984 theme. Not meaning games from that year, but games in the Orwellian sense.
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Posted at 12:59 on December 7th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 13:38 on November 12th, 2013:
While patiently waiting for Wandrell to have his say, I'm going to suggest a 1984 theme. Not meaning games from that year, but games in the Orwellian sense.


While this does sound interesting, I wonder what games would fit this particular theme. The only one I can think of right now (except the dozens or so with an opressive police force) would be Queen - The eYe, which is a so-so game with one of the worst German voice 'acting' I ever heard. Oh, and maybe Beyond Good&Evil, which might be a bit too optimistic to really fit the mood.

Is there a 1984 text adventure somewhere? If it was done properly, this could actually be great. Just think of double-speak, thought crime and so on and what could be done with it in an IF game (like the parser misinterpreting your words on purpose or wrong phrasings leading to confrontations with the thought police).


Sometime next year I will definitely add some really obscure games like Duracell Run the Bunny (Doom meets batteries meets LSD trip) or Abenteuer im Wald (Austrian wood industry propaganda).
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Posted at 14:27 on December 7th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 12:59 on December 7th, 2013:
Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 13:38 on November 12th, 2013:
While patiently waiting for Wandrell to have his say, I'm going to suggest a 1984 theme. Not meaning games from that year, but games in the Orwellian sense.


While this does sound interesting, I wonder what games would fit this particular theme.

Hm, true. Probably won't work.

Originally posted by Herr M. at 12:59 on December 7th, 2013:
Is there a 1984 text adventure somewhere? If it was done properly, this could actually be great. Just think of double-speak, thought crime and so on and what could be done with it in an IF game (like the parser misinterpreting your words on purpose or wrong phrasings leading to confrontations with the thought police).

I fear we will have to write that one ourselves, too ;)

Originally posted by Herr M. at 12:59 on December 7th, 2013:
Sometime next year I will definitely add some really obscure games like Duracell Run the Bunny (Doom meets batteries meets LSD trip) or Abenteuer im Wald (Austrian wood industry propaganda).

I see you're beginning to understand the advantages of 'freeform' updates ;) Though if we also throw in others like Arnie goes 4 Gold (Bank Austria promotional game), Die Enviro-Kids greifen ein (environmental propaganda game) or Time Trouble (promotional game of the chemical industry) we might have a theme.
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Posted at 17:34 on December 7th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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So, apart from the selection of more or less closely tied themes, one thing where I see a major conflict is form vs. frequency.

This year, we only had very few interactions. By that, I mean not just collaborative reviews, but also reviews in "each other's" niche. Herr M. did Escape from Mount Drash for 1983 and Border Zone for 1988, Wandrell collaborated on Quest for Glory for 1998, I did Die Fugger and Vindicators for 1988 and helped with Grim Fandango for 1998 and finally, we have Black Dahlia, of course. Other than that, everybody pretty much did his own thing side by side. For me, this is not very satisfying, because it is too close to everybody just working on their own websites without interaction. Different reviews by different people, even done individually, are much more fun for me if they form sort of a discussion back and forth. This was not really the case with everybody having "his" year to cover. It could probably be better with the idea of micro-themes and everybody always contributing to each of them.

The other thing is quantity, of course. As usual. I do believe we are pushing our own limits hard. Yet what is the outcome? At the end, I'm counting a whole 13 games for 1983 added this year. It will be even less for the other years. This is not about comparing "who did more"; I'm well aware that writing a couple of short paragraphs about a simplistic arcade game cannot be compared to the effort of covering a much more complex game in detail. Even though I know it's virtually impossible to improve, I'm still not satisfied with this number.

Now, the thing is – anything implying tighter interaction will inevitably lead to an even smaller output. I seriously don't know what to do. But maybe I'm driving too hard in the direction of more interaction anyway; just understand that I'm more than a decade ahead of you, Herr M., for example, when it comes to working on this site ;) My personal drive to just cover specific games because I feel I have something to say about them has greatly reduced over time. If I'm going too far to fit you guys into a corset, just say so.
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 17:37 on December 7th, 2013
Posted at 18:08 on December 9th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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The best way to increase collaboration would be taking interesting games, maybe ones with a gimmick such as Black Dahlia's FMV. But these collaborative reviews would have to be once a month, as they require more time and work than the usual, or at least I try to pay more attention to these games than the ones I review alone.

Still, we could try to make one of these reviews once a month for three to six months as a test. Of course this could go along any other thematic updates, it would be just giving more effort to the collaborative part.
Posted at 20:14 on December 9th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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More collaborations could be the way to go, and I agree on the gimmicky part: It should be games that are special or draw some attention, like the IF games (at least we got some feedback for them).

But I think 'micro'-themes might help already too, especially if the games are a bit more connected, which will lead to more interactivty (e.g. discussing which games to do or thinking about cross references/comparisons).

As for the quantity: Considering that we had an update almost every weekend (I think there were only two or three in which there was none), we must have added something around 50 games. Sounds like a lot to me.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 17:34 on December 7th, 2013:
just understand that I'm more than a decade ahead of you, Herr M., for example, when it comes to working on this site ;) My personal drive to just cover specific games because I feel I have something to say about them has greatly reduced over time.


Granted, you have quite a head start, but I can't imagine that you don't feel like you have something to say about some games, or at least that there should be something to be said about them, elswise I can't see how you can keep writing them. Admitetly the selection process on which games to do might be a completely different story.
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Posted at 20:30 on December 9th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 20:14 on December 9th, 2013:
As for the quantity: Considering that we had an update almost every weekend (I think there were only two or three in which there was none), we must have added something around 50 games. Sounds like a lot to me.

56 games new game entries this year. This includes a couple of stubs (alternate versions without review), but it's still pretty good on the whole, agreed. 55 new reviews.

Originally posted by Herr M. at 20:14 on December 9th, 2013:
Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 17:34 on December 7th, 2013:
just understand that I'm more than a decade ahead of you, Herr M., for example, when it comes to working on this site ;) My personal drive to just cover specific games because I feel I have something to say about them has greatly reduced over time.


Granted, you have quite a head start, but I can't imagine that you don't feel like you have something to say about some games, or at least that there should be something to be said about them, elswise I can't see how you can keep writing them. Admitetly the selection process on which games to do might be a completely different story.

But that's exactly it: Where you had the impression that the theme might have constrained you in some situations, because you'd rather do a specific other game, for me, it's exactly the opposite: If I have the choice of every game out there, I end up doing none, because I can't really choose. I would like to cover pretty much everything, but nothing is standing out. So the more restrictive a theme, the better for me, because it eliminates the impossible selection process.
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Posted at 16:21 on December 23rd, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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OK, so it seems to be smaller themes. In general, I believe two months per theme is a good amount of time in general (there are a couple of exceptions). As noted in another thread, we need to announce the themes beforehand if we want to give others the chance to join in.

What should the themes be?

  • Jan: First Games
  • Feb: The Beginnings of TGOD
  • Mar-Apr: Promotional Games
  • May-Jun: WW1
  • Jul-Aug: Something summer related?
  • Sep: ?
  • Oct-Nov: IF Comp?
  • Dec: Winter/Christmas?
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 08:45 on January 3rd, 2014
Posted at 11:54 on December 24th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 16:21 on December 23rd, 2013:
What should the themes be?

  • Feb: End of February is the site anniversary, so maybe re-reviewing a couple of old (crappy) entries?
  • Jul-Aug: Something summer related?
  • Oct-Nov: IF Comp?
  • Dec: Winter/Christmas?


Those sound good so far. As for january, how about one of the following: Games that mention 2014 somehow (in the title, time frame, etc.), New Years games, Winter sports or the first games we ever played?
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Posted at 11:05 on December 25th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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I got Deponia, a somewhat recent adventure game I heard a lot of good things about, for christmas and consider adding it to the site some time next year (that is if it is at least a half decent game, which I have good reasons to believe). Since it is a trilogy, it would be cool if someone joined in and did one of the other games of the series. Any of you guys interested? Btw: Doing the one or the other game series could also be a nice mini-theme and would certainly make for some strongly connected reviews.
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Posted at 12:08 on December 27th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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I think it is hard to get games which fit on the "2014-related" theme, but winter games is a good fit, we have the Christmass-variant games, like Lemmings did several times (we already have a review of one in the site), but also other games such as Jetpack or Jazz Jackrabbit tried it, but we can extend it not only to winter games, but also to games which have some relation to cold.

And Deponia is from Daedalic, just as "A new beginning", and the "Dark Eye" graphical adventures, which are better than they look.
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Edited by Wandrell at 12:09 on December 27th, 2013
Posted at 13:12 on December 27th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Please, no Christmas games in January – that would make no sense at all! 2014, I also thought about, but I can't think of any games which mention the year specifically. "First games we played" sounds good. Could even be extended to something like "First games": First game bought, first game on this new computer etc. So I'd say let's go for that one for January.
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Posted at 12:06 on December 28th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Wandrell at 12:08 on December 27th, 2013:
And Deponia is from Daedalic, just as "A new beginning", and the "Dark Eye" graphical adventures, which are better than they look.


Actually I think they look great, but maybe that's just my preference for 2D comic style for adventure games. ;) I am surprised how power hungry these game are, considering the simple graphics. Still Deponia is quite entertaining.
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Posted at 13:57 on December 28th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Well, they have a weird mix of 2D and 3D pre-rendered, along some cheap graphical tricks for some animations. But I mean they look like very generic and bland games at first.

And Ok with the "first games" theme. The first games I played were from an old Atari when I was kid, so I'll take a look at them.
Posted at 16:29 on December 31st, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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It might be a slightly delicate matter, but next year sees the 100th aniversary of the First World War, so how about doing a WWI game theme?
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Posted at 10:06 on January 1st, 2014 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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That's actually a great idea, I think! Wings, Dogfight, Scenario, Dreadnoughts, Dawn Patrol, Wings of Glory…
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Posted at 18:00 on January 1st, 2014 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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And Red Baron of course! ;) I just want to avoid gloryifing it too much… which might on the other hand be an interesting point for the reviews. Especially the ones about dogfights and their romanticism about chivalry and such.
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Posted at 19:09 on January 1st, 2014 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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WWI is mostly forgotten due to the second war, so I don't think it is such a touchy matter. And also a great idea for a theme.
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