Eurogamer drops review scores

Editor Oli Welsh:

In the present environment, scores are struggling to encompass the issues that are most important to you. How should we score an excellent game with severe networking issues? A flawlessly polished game with a hackneyed design? A brilliantly tuned multiplayer experience with dreadful storytelling? If you expect the score to encompass every aspect of a game, the task becomes an exercise in futility. Add an inflated understanding of the scoring scale in many quarters – whereby 7/10 and even sometimes 8/10 are construed as disappointing scores – and you have a recipe for mixed messages.

Scores are failing us, they’re failing you, and perhaps most importantly, they are failing to fairly represent the games themselves.

The decision comes a month after Joystiq dropped review scores for similar reasons. (They’ve since sadly shut down.) Meanwhile, in an attempt to reconcile their scoring policies with Metacritic’s, Polygon has introduced the concept of “provisional” reviews.

Not sure if there’s a trend here yet, but it’s close.

A Beekeeper’s Guide to Game Design

I love this poem/blog post from Holly Gramazio:


When designing a game for bees
Consider their natural skills,
Their strengths and habits.

Bees like to search and gather,
So give them plenty of items to collect
(Hide the first few inside a flower
To help them get the idea).

Bees fan the hive with their wings,
Promoting circulation through the tunnels,
Filling warm air with the scent of honey.

They dance instructions to their fellow bees.

For a bee new to gaming,
Suspicious of the hobby,
A rhythm action game is therefore an excellent start.

The K-Pendium

A new blog that provides wonderfully thorough analyses of hit K-pop songs. Says author Jakob Dorof:

This project aims to guide the listener’s attention above all to the music itself (with some helpful cultural context), and past the pitfalls I’ve seen snag many others struggling to make sense of Asian pop in general. Within the space of just a few songs, I’ve gotten some of my most resolutely skeptical peers to agree excitably that what’s going on in K-pop is clearly more advanced, sophisticated, and sublime than anything that’s happened in the western mainstream in a long, long time.

There are two posts so far, on Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” and 2NE1’s “I Am the Best”; both are absolutely worth your time, for the music theory geekery and for the historical context. (I was a bit confounded by “I Am the Best” when it showed up on the Dance Central 3 soundtrack, so I’m particularly glad to have learned more about that one.)

Carolina Chocolate Drops bandleader Rhiannon Giddens to release first solo album

Jon Pareles for the New York Times:

The album is a showcase for Ms. Giddens’s glorious voice, which merges an opera singer’s detail and a deep connection to Southern roots. She can summon the power of a field holler, Celtic quavers, girlish innocence, bluesy sensuality, gospel exaltation or the pain of slavery. She can sing velvety, long-breathed phrases or rasp and yip like a singer from the backwoods long ago. For all her technical control, her voice is a perpetually soulful marvel.

“I was given the voice — I’ve developed it, but the voice was just here,” Ms. Giddens said. “I feel proud about what I’ve done with it, but it’s never been mine. It’s been given to me to take care of and to shepherd.”

Giddens is the real deal, and I’m excited to see how this turns out. The album, which is called Tomorrow Is My Turn, is out February 10.

Mobile developer Game Oven to close in April

Studio cofounder Adriaan de Jongh:

All of us felt the financial pressure of three full time people, an office, and a whole bunch of contractors for 2D art, 3D art, music, sounds, and trailers. This pressure removed much of the creative downtime we needed and gave us less and less time to think about new games or to make new prototypes. This ultimately left us where we are today, at a point where we are in need of another vision for a beautiful game, but where we don’t have one, and don’t have the financial resources to find one and make one.

Sad news. Adriaan and Game Oven producer Eline Muijres visited Harmonix early last year to show off Bounden, and they seemed like great folks (and kindred spirits in the weird-games-with-weird-inputs space).

The Shape of the App Store

iOS developer Charles Perry, with an encouraging analysis of the App Store revenue distribution curve:

At the top of the long tail, in position 871 on the Top Grossing list, an app still makes over $700 in revenue per day. That’s almost $260,000 per year. Even number 1,908 on the Top Grossing list makes over $100,000 per year. In fact all apps above number 3,175 on the Top Grossing list produce enough revenue to at least make its developer the United States household median income for 2014 ($53,891). And this is just for a single app. Most indies I know develop more than one app simultaneously. Developers who can put together a collection of apps that rank at about 6000 on the Top Grossing list (about $25,000 in revenue per year) stand a good chance of building an app business that can sustain them and their families.

Developing “a collection of apps that rank at about 6000 on the Top Grossing list” is no small feat, obviously, but things are less dire than I would have expected.