Welcome to review guide for The Refined Geek. If you don’t need the full explanation of why I review the way I do feel free to skip to the TLDR section at the bottom.
It’s come to my attention that whilst I think my method for reviewing games is somewhat transparent it’s really anything but. Although I’ve tried to keep the same format and style over the past couple years I’ve noticed that my initial reviews are really worlds away from my current format. So in the effort of transparency (and hopefully adding some clarity) I thought I’d give you a brief overview of the process I go through in order to bring you game reviews every other week or so.
The first, and of course most enjoyable part, is that I’ll play the game that gets reviewed. Now my preference for games is the PC as that’s the best platform I’ve found for conducting reviews. I’m not adverse to playing on other platforms (as shown by my reviews of games like Assassin’s Creed, Heavy Rain, Red Dead Redemption, etc.) but I prefer it since I can take my own screen shots (all console games have thus far used press kit screen shots) and I’m not taking up the main TV which I have to sometimes fight my wife for. I am working on a solution for reviewing console only titles but I haven’t found a solution that works exactly the way I want it to.
One big point I make is to finish all the games that I play before reviewing them. This can be something of a burden with games that pack on the game time (like Skyrim, for instance) but I feel reviewing a game I didn’t complete doesn’t do it justice. The problem with this of course is that some games will drag out too long and I won’t finish them or, what usually happens, is that the game has nothing redeeming about it and I won’t attempt to finish it. I’ve had several games like this and unfortunately since my time is somewhat limited I don’t like to waste it on titles that just aren’t fun to slog through.
My review scoring system is quite simplistic: all games start off with a perfect 10/10 score and then will lose points for things that detract from the game experience. Think of it like an innocent until proven guilty sort of scenario where I like to err on the side of a game being good rather than it being bad. The issues are mostly subjective but there are also some objective things like game breaking bugs, bad performance or poor game design. The amount I take off is somewhat subjective, usually based around how bad something detracts from the game, and I haven’t bothered itemizing it since if you read my review you can easily tell where the game lost points. Still if there’s interest in seeing a breakdown of why I took points off for certain things I’ll be sure to include it in future reviews.
I’ve had some complaints that my review scores are too high and hopefully the last 2 paragraphs have explained the reasons as to why this might be. The high scores are a combination of my scoring scheme (everything starts out high) and the fact that I simply don’t finish crap games (so everything that gets reviewed meets a certain standard). I’m not one of those 7/10 guys nor are the game developers paying me for their reviews as all games (bar one exception, which I made clear at the time and will always do so) has been bought with my own money and played just like any other retail customer. Whether that makes the final score useful to you or not is left as an exercise for the reader but it is a useful guide to how I feel if you’re not in the mood for reading the entire review.
I try to keep the structure consistent if for the sole reason that it stops me writing an incoherent mess. For the most part I’ll start with some background of the game, genre or developers depending on what kind of history I have with those aspects. Then I’ll usually set the scene for the game to give the following sections some context. Then I’ll usually break it down into specific sections like graphics and performance, game and set design, combat, game mechanics, overall plot summary and finally multiplayer. The multiplayer section is a relatively recent addition to the reviews as I had avoided it previously but since I’ve had many games that are defined by their multiplayer experience I found it necessary to include it.
If you feel like I’m missing something important or you’d like to see a particular aspect included in future reviews feel free to drop me a comment here, send a tweet to @davidklemke or drop me a line at [email protected]
I’ve never been one for making a big fuss about milestones on this blog, apart from that one time when I hit 100 posts (now well over 450) and unleashed Geon into the world. Indeed as the title of this post suggests I even managed to let the 2 year milestone slip by for 2 days before realising that I had been at this blogging thing for quite a while, nearly double the time of any job I’ve held in the past 6 years. So since I don’t have anything else interesting to post about today (more on that later) I thought I’d take some time to reflect on what this blog was, where it is and where I think this thing is going in the near future.
As anyone who’s made the journey into the archives section of this blog will tell you I initially started blogging as a knee jerk reaction to being roped into the No Clean Feed movement here in Australia. In all honesty I’ve never really been that much of a writer nor anyone who you would consider as a public face for something. Still my ego is large enough to support that idea so when my long time friend Hannah asked me to be the media representative for the Canberran branch I didn’t hesitate to say no. What followed was a brief stint in the public eye with me doing a couple radio interviews and doing a speech in the middle of Canberra. Thinking that this would lead onto bigger and better things I thought it would be time to get my online personality into shape and started this blog to chronicle my thoughts and misadventures whilst fighting against the Australian Internet Filter.
The name was something I thought up with a night of googling through dozens of possibilities before I found one that didn’t have any meaningful search results for the title. I always had the theme of something debonair but also wanted to keep true to my geeky/nerdy roots and “The Refined Geek” seemed to fit the bill. Funnily enough not too long after starting this blog and buying the domain name did I come across Refined Geek, another Australian based blogger who shares some of my passions but who’s writings are worlds away from what I write here. I still drop by there from time to time as he’s quite a good writer, preferring to post less often with much more well formed posts than my usual one post a day scatter gun approach.
I can’t remember exactly when it happened but I do remember making the commitment to writing at least one post a day sometime back in the beginning of 2009. Mostly it was because I felt this blog was languishing in the dark recesses of the Internet, garnering only one view a day for the first 3 months or so. After integrating my blog with Twitter and Facebook that increased traffic ten fold but my presence outside my social circle was still quite minimal. Still as I developed a large backlog of posts on varying subjects the traffic started to climb, peaking at about 20 visits a day by the end of 2009. 2010 however really has been this blog’s year with 80~100 people visiting this blog per day looking for all sorts of weird and wonderful things. I’m still surprised to see some of my old articles popping up in the stats, it always brings a smile to my face.
Initially I started out with the idea that this would be my professional presence on the web, demonstrating my professionalism and expertise on certain subjects. However, as most amateur bloggers find, the stories that do well are often those that come with a personal aspect to them and I always found those the easiest to write. Over time I let go of the idea that people would come here like they do for the other big blogs, instead preferring to just write about what I’m passionate about and seeing where the chips fall. Most recently this has taken the form of not trying to force out a post every day (although my OCD keeps bugging me to) instead hoping that I can just let the topics come to me and write when the moment strikes. Most recently I took to blogging my exploits through the USA which was an interesting diversion away from the usual game/tech/space focus that I usually take. I think that was the final nail in the “this isn’t my personal blog” idea’s coffin (all the other nails were put in a long time ago, however) and I’ve wholeheartedly resigned myself to not thinking about The Refined Geek in that way again.
As for the future of this blog? I’m not really sure where I want to go with it. Spending an hour or two here every day writing a post is still feels like part of my morning routine so there’s no doubt that I’ll be continuing to post here for the foreseeable future. However there have been many times when I’ve considered moving it to a better domain (I happen to own www.davidklemke.com, which would be very suitable), revamping the site with a new theme or even starting anew with a better focus but with all my other exploits at the moment I can’t see many of them happening soon. So for those long term readers of mine can rest easy in the fact that I’m not going to start changing things now that I’ve hit the terrible twos but with change coming my way in the real world soon I can see this blog shifting in unison as it has done so over the past 2 years. Whether that’s anything I’ve just predicted is anyone’s guess, but I’m not one to be comfortable with the status quo.
I mean really, when was the last time you saw me write about finance? 😉