bit-gamer.net

"All games journalists should make a game"

"All games journalists should make a game"

According to Zombie Cow's Dan Marshall, all games journalists should have a go at making their own game.

Indie developer Zombie Cow's Dan Marshall has called out games journalists on their hypocrisy, suggesting that all games journalists should develop their own games to help give them further insight into the industry.

Marshall, who started off in the games industry by writing for PC Zone, now leads indie outfit Zombie Cow, makers of retro-styled adventure games like Ben There, Dan That.

"As a developer I think you're slightly more understanding of the process involved, but as a gamer you know whether or not you're having a good time," Marshall said.

"I think all games journos should be forced to make a game somehow, see how they get on. It gives you a more rounded perspective."

"I pitched the idea of some articles to PC Zone magazine, and wound up doing a 10-part series about what it’s like to learn to code" and suddenly have to design gameplay elements, making sound effects, and balancing weapons and stuff....As a gamer, I always assumed that sort of thing was relatively simple, so it was a fairly harsh lesson."

It's certainly a valid point and one we'd like to hear your thoughts on. For my part as a games journalist I have dabbled in games making over the years, as well as a bit of level design. Hypothetically, I'm still working on a little text adventure game, but realistically it's been overtaken by The Baldur's Gate Challenge.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

36 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
stonedsurd 13th October 2009, 11:34 Quote
Rubbish. He sounds like he's whining.

A tea-taster doesn't have to make tea, a booze connoisseur doesn't have to own a distillery and a hardware reviewer certainly doesn't need to know how to manufacture a video card.

Suck it up Dan.
Omnituens 13th October 2009, 11:46 Quote
Unless the reviewers are having ago at the way the game is made, instead of the results.
Xir 13th October 2009, 11:52 Quote
If he has to change code instead of just a property table for balancing....juuuuup that'll make it more complicated.
Hugo 13th October 2009, 12:01 Quote
Utter, utter nonsense. Having an experience of what the process of creating a game is like may well make you more appreciative as to how difficult (or not) it is, but it won't make you any more or less qualified to comment on what the end experience is like. Games journalists aren't reviewing the creation process, they're reviewing the end result. I don't need to know how to make a cheesecake to know when I've eaten a good one.
NikoBellic 13th October 2009, 12:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonedsurd
a hardware reviewer certainly doesn't need to know how to manufacture a video card.

But I'd preferre to read a review from someone who knows what they're talking about
Mentai 13th October 2009, 12:03 Quote
The only reason gamers might think the process must be easy would be the more talented studios consistently make it look so. And even then, ease of creation has absolutely nothing to do with how the end consumer enjoys the product, so who cares? At the end of the day, games journos should be telling me which game I should be spending my $100 on based on how enjoyable the experience is, not on whether it was difficult to make. All that stuff is extra fluff between releases.
quake1-rules 13th October 2009, 12:03 Quote
Quote:
"I think all games journos should be forced to make a game somehow, see how they get on. It gives you a more rounded perspective."

Forced how? At gunpoint? If they refuse, shoot them? Mass grave for those who refuse?

I like how people come up with an interesting idea then decide it should be forced onto people. Statist mindset at work.
ChaosDefinesOrder 13th October 2009, 12:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonedsurd
a booze connoisseur doesn't have to own a distillery

doesn't HAVE to, no, but a knowledge of the brewing process and particularly what differs between brews does help in telling beers apart - for example! Also knowing what makes whiskeys different from a distilling/aging perspective also allows you to appreciate the character of the resulting product.

I think that he has a point, but only a very small point. Journos are all too quick to complain about delays or slag off certain aspects of development without knowing what it involves, but making them develop a game is a bit too far.

I don't think Bit-Tech are quite as bad, though. BT has a developer column, for example, so has a "both sides" thing working for them to an extent.
Centy-face 13th October 2009, 12:11 Quote
I wouldn't say that and I think on the sites I read at least that the writers have a good idea of how complex it is to make a great game and where some bugs can be overlooked etc. It sounds a bit like whinging but I guess it is a bit of a shock to the system but then going from all the other examples it is like that for anything you want to create rather than just enjoy.
stonedsurd 13th October 2009, 12:19 Quote
Argh, okay, I used poor analogies. I was being funny. :D

Point is, Dan whatsisname is whining.
VipersGratitude 13th October 2009, 12:20 Quote
I disagree fundamentally. I would argue that the opposite is true.

The objective of a games journalist is to review a game on behalf of the consumer, not the developer. To consider the challenges of developers in the review is to distort that objective.

It sounds like he got a bad review and is now jumping on anything he percieves to be a high horse.
tad2008 13th October 2009, 12:30 Quote
It is a simple matter for any journalist / reviewer to say that any game is particularly bad or not to their liking, what would give more credence to their words is being able to say Game X sucks because the developers failed to do something in particular. If a game has little to no plot / storyline or poor dialog then it's a simple matter to blame the writer, but to be able to criticise that writers particular style would require a better understanding of the English (or other) language(s) used.

When the staff at here at Bit Tech review a product they tend to explain why a particular feature is bad or why particular design features are good. Surely it makes sense for other reviewers / journalists to be able to share an informed and educated opinion to the masses that is un-biased and excludes personal opinion.

I am surprised that we don't have 2 or 3 people involved in the review process to give us an all round experience and to better highlight the good and bad elements, especially where is may come down to personal choice.
mikeuk2004 13th October 2009, 12:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by VipersGratitude
I disagree fundamentally. I would argue that the opposite is true.

The objective of a games journalist is to review a game on behalf of the consumer, not the developer. To consider the challenges of developers in the review is to distort that objective.

It sounds like he got a bad review and is now jumping on anything he percieves to be a high horse.

+1.
Woodspoon 13th October 2009, 13:03 Quote
Just because you like ice cream, it doesn't mean you have to know how it's made to know if it's good or not. It's the same with games
liratheal 13th October 2009, 13:05 Quote
...Does that mean, by the same logic, that war correspondants ought to go and fight in, or command in, a war?

Guy sounds like an idiot tbh.
Comet 13th October 2009, 13:09 Quote
Although I think it is positive for a gaming journalist to know a bit about the developing process I don't think any knowledge developing a game is required. What Is really important is to be able to analyze a game correctly for the limited time a reviewer has access to it and to have the necessary communication skills to pass that information to the public.

Just my two cents. I work as software developer and although I realize how complex it is to create a game and have some understanding of how a game comes together, I think it is unimportant from a gamer point of view. Gamers look for one and one thing only.
A good time. Be it playing an FPS, an MMO or whatever a game needs to provide you a good feeling. A reviewer only needs to share if the game accomplishes that and how. That is important because what a person likes another may not.
Todays games also brign a lot of tools to let a community florish. Modding tools are very popular and many gamers also pick games depending on the inclusion of those tools. Analysing those tools is also something reviewers need to take into count, but despite that a game needs to be able to stand up based on what is already included in it.
AshT 13th October 2009, 13:38 Quote
Maybe there is an underlying tone that he wants gamers to empathise with the process and how tough it can be?

Of course, as gamers, we don't really care as long as we enjoy the game. Personally speaking I enjoy GamesTM for the in-depth stuff. Edge was good for industry news back in its day.
TomD22 13th October 2009, 13:39 Quote
The whole POINT of a games journalist / reviewer is that thet review from the end-user's perspective, as that's what the consumer needs to know when buying a game. Reviewing from a developer's perspective would only really be useful to...developers.

What an idiot.
Isitari 13th October 2009, 13:48 Quote
He has a point. You'd never get a non-teacher to inspect a teacher would you!

If Reviewers did make games then they could make constructive comments about how the game could be improved. Rather than just saying 'oh this part isn't very good it needs something else'. Might not be so useful to the consumers but would be damn useful for the developers especially when you guys get your hands on previews.
aggies11 13th October 2009, 14:08 Quote
Depends on how you are critiquing the game I'd imagine, the viewpoint on which the criticism, the "review" falls. Are you measuring a game based on the perspective of the developer, how it was made, the quality of the craftsmanship. Or are you examining it based on the perspective of the person playing, what experience they may have, the end product. Both are valid, but they are also different and require varied mindsets and also levels of experience.

Should a game *player* be required to make a game before they can enjoy another one? The answer to that question has to be the same for a games critic who is taking the "player" point of view.

Now it has to be said that games Journalist and games Critic are not the same thing. Just being a critic I don't think makes you a journalist. We as an industry have a problem with mixing the two, especially since criticism (reviews) are such a big part. But it very well may be that he was talking about Journos, not reviewers, and in that case he may have a point. But that means it's not about review scores and critical assessment. But the people writing news pieces, feature articles, etc. Pretty much every games journalist that moves onto games development always has the reaction "Oh my god, I never knew how hard it was! I knew nothing of how games *really* were made!".
-VK- 13th October 2009, 14:26 Quote
Reviews are the opinions of the person / people writing them. One person might think it's awesome, another might think it sucks...it all comes down to personal preference.

Though I think all Bit Tech staff should design and manufacture a motherboard. *insert evil laugh*
Horizon 13th October 2009, 14:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodspoon
Just because you like ice cream, it doesn't mean you have to know how it's made to know if it's good or not. It's the same with games

but i read a lot game ice cream reviews where the reviewer has a negative bias on cherry because they like banana flavor. Or some more ridiculous ones like homemade vs leading brand, even though the homemade was pretty damn good.
KayinBlack 13th October 2009, 15:05 Quote
Game reviewer? Check.

Writing a game? Check.

Guy needs to stop now.
Star*Dagger 13th October 2009, 15:43 Quote
From the top Watson,

1) As I get up I should know they chemical processes that release me from sleep and the circulatory and respiratory differences between sleep and wakefulness
2) As I drink my morning protein shake, I think about the process of plastic manufacture and the trucking/shipping infrastructure that brought that and the protein itself to me
3) As I check the news, I consider the entire process of news gathering and all the people that went into that, and the electricity grid and the geopolitics involved in getting the oil transformed into energy.
4) As I remove my girlfriends clothes I consider the endorphins rushing through her slender young body as I touch her and the 400 million years of evolution that make sex so pleasurable
5) As I use the shower I think about how if water in its solid form did not float we would not be here
6) As I take the tube to work I wonder at the man hours put into tunneling and quickly think about the grand daddy of them all, the Chunnel.

I could go on, but we do not live this way. We live in a very highly specialized society where we build on each others work (often ignoring it like the tube and mammalian evolution) and provide each other services. I would be happier with game "journos" writing good in depth reviews (see the american magazine Computer Gaming World before it folded) and game devs writing incredible games (see EVE and most of Valves games, both available on Steam, lol).
We can not and SHOULD not try to get too in depth into other peoples areas of specialization.

I am going to go use the internet now, and not think about how all the packets of this insightful post get to the server in the UK 1000s of miles away.

Yours in Specialized Generalist Plasma,
Star*Dagger
delriogw 13th October 2009, 15:52 Quote
he kind of has a point, a lot of more indepth reviews don't stick to the playability of a game. they rip apart the building blocks of the game and question the way the game was put together.

those kinds of reviewers - it would benefit them to have some experience to validate their comments
Phil Rhodes 13th October 2009, 16:05 Quote
Quote:
Does that mean, by the same logic, that war correspondants ought to go and fight in, or command in, a war?

Well... yeah, actually.
ZERO <ibis> 13th October 2009, 16:57 Quote
Another idea could even be to look at running game servers. Especially for mod servers you really can get a better idea of what people are looking for in a game. I have been running game servers for years and it gives me a different perspective on upcoming game releases.
Isitari 13th October 2009, 17:03 Quote
@Star*Dagger:

As a Physics Teacher though I WANT to know why everything is happening. If you don't understand something then people don't have any right to criticise it as they can't understand it fully. How can people critique anything without knowing the system is beyond me!

:)
SMIFFYDUDE 13th October 2009, 18:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isitari
@Star*Dagger:

As a Physics Teacher though I WANT to know why everything is happening. If you don't understand something then people don't have any right to criticise it as they can't understand it fully. How can people critique anything without knowing the system is beyond me!

:)

If a game is sh!t, learning how it was made isn't going to make the game any better.
Yemerich 13th October 2009, 18:25 Quote
hmmm

That makes me think that to criticize a critic you will need to be one yourself. So, no game developer should criticize journalists.
thehippoz 13th October 2009, 20:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
If a game is sh!t, learning how it was made isn't going to make the game any better.

have to agree.. and he is a dev

if he was writing games like mass effect or witcher.. I'd listen, but he's writing donkey code and can't sell it on steam oh well!
CardJoe 13th October 2009, 20:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by -VK-
Reviews are the opinions of the person / people writing them. One person might think it's awesome, another might think it sucks...it all comes down to personal preference.

Though I think all Bit Tech staff should design and manufacture a motherboard. *insert evil laugh*

LOL

Though saying that, Tim and Bindi probably could...
capnPedro 13th October 2009, 22:12 Quote
Jayne: You ever been shot?
Simon: No.
Jayne: You oughta be shot. Or stabbed, lose a leg. To be a surgeon, you know? Know what kind of pain you're dealing with. They make psychiatrists get psychoanalyzed before they can get certified, but they don't make a surgeon get cut on. That seem right to you?
stonedsurd 14th October 2009, 01:32 Quote
Oi! Jayne doesn't say that, Jubal early does.
Bauul 14th October 2009, 09:41 Quote
Appreciating the hard work someone puts into something is not the same as being able to critique their creative output.

In order to critique a dev's workmanship and technical ability, yes Journos should learn how to dev themselves. But they don't, they are critiquing the games, and to do that all you need to do is know how to play games, and what makes a good game.

He'd have a point if he said "All games journos should know how to play games!", because it's true. But they all do, so no problem!
capnPedro 14th October 2009, 10:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonedsurd
Oi! Jayne doesn't say that, Jubal early does.

****. Quoting from memory, I knew it was a psycho I just picked the wrong one.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums