Monday, January 22, 2007

Sometimes you have to take it on the chin...

Reviews. A constant thorn in the side of most game developers (unless you're a big-name Charlie who gets 9/10 just for turning up). Even after all this time, it does irk when some cutting remark is made in a review or comment, especially when you know how much effort has gone into producing something.

The object of my grumble this time is a review over at Gamespot of Lemmings for PS3. It gets a reasonable review (although player reviews have scored it higher) but the thing that irks is that it suggests it's "mostly a port of the PSP version" we developed and Sony released early in 2006. This suggests that we haven't paid much attention to the PS3 and indeed, possibly just done the easiest thing and that all the content is similar.

It also suggests that if you've got the PSP edition then there's nothing new. This is nonsense, all the levels are new and exclusive for PS3, the art and animation is all new for 720p high-def (and sublime it looks, too) - not to mention a host of new puzzle features (teleports, cloning machines, torches for dynamic lighting, collectable utilities etc).

The review goes on to bash the game for not having a full level designer (not that the PS3 currently has much support to pass these around) or doesn't support Eyetoy like the PS2 one (I'm not aware of a PS3 eye-toy as yet).

And the game only costs $5.99 (£3.20) some £30/$30 cheaper than the PSP release it's being criticised against (despite it not being a port of that)...

It's stupendously good value for money, which is pretty much what all the user-reviews are saying, but if commercial reviewers aren't going to recognise pricing/value when reviewing then I'm not sure what realistic expectations there are for content anymore.

This is a big problem between players and development in general; players assume that because some games are uber-rich in terms of content and features then it's only right that all games should have the same. However the reality is that projects have very different budgets in terms of both money (which buys the development man-power) and also time - more resources and more time = more content, simple as that.

After all these years, I should really learn to take it on the chin. I manage ok mostly, but I just get annoyed when I see unjustified comments that do not take into consideration the efforts of many here in the studio.

To be fair it wasn't a bad review, it just goes to show that what we do and what people think we've done are two entirely seperate beasts. I'm still surprised people can find something to moan about with Lemmings on PS3, particularly at the cost of less than 2 pints of beer... (which is my general conversion technique for assuming the value and enjoyment of things).

1 comment:

Andrew Taylor said...

Part of it is, I suspect, the difference between judging the quality of the product and the quality of the development process that made it. To the average consumer, a great game made by team of bored ad tired drones with loads of money behind them is no different than a great game made by a dedicated and hard working team on a shoestring. Perhaps you should start making games with the "Fairtrade" logo.

I think the daftest review I've seen of Team17's games is an online review of Arcade Pool II -- not on a "proper" games site, just by some guy with a blog calling himself "Pseudo Nym" (I suspect this wasn't his real name) -- which criticised it for having no way to set the power of your shot. I vaguely wonder how long he played it before reaching that conclusion, in order to miss all three methods of doing just that and yet still feel qualified to write about it.