It’s nice to know that they care!

I recently reviewed Trials HD, available on Xbox Live Arcade, and gave it the praise I felt it deserved. There’s nothing unusual or noteworthy in this, I’ve done quite a few reviews here at Ready Up and I’ve always been honest about how good, or not so good, I felt the game in question to be.
What’s different about the Trials HD review is that the Developers have sent a note back thanking us for our honesty and enthusiasm about their game.

Now, typically the development team behind a game will be hidden away behind the publisher who will also be cosseted behind layers of Public Relations and Marketing folks who will make sure that the ‘message’ which is delivered in both directions is consistent and acceptable – not a criticism there, that’s their job after all!

So to receive an email saying:

It’s been absolutely stunning to see the enthusiasm and positive feedback we have got for Trials HD.”

From the lead of the team who wrote the game itself is very gratifying. Yes they are a small team, and yes this is an XBLA game rather than a big, boxed product but I feel that sometimes the air-gap between the developers and the consumers is too large.

Reviews are strange beasts and typically there’s some sort of arbitrary value assigned. You’ll notice that here at Ready Up we don’t ‘score’ games we just say what we think and let you make up your own mind as a result. This is the difference between the direct and indirect contexts. The indirect (PR’s, marketeers, etc) are happy to take an aggregate ‘score’ and report back to the publishers that the games “made an 8.7” at which point there’ll be whooping and hollering and popping of champagne corks. And this is fine – after all that’s a good score – but it tells them nothing about the emotions behind these numbers. The direct folks will also be happy with a high score but will, I’m sure, also be interested in how we ‘feel’ about their games, what we liked and what we didn’t. Did we laugh, were those laughs in the right places, were we supposed to laugh?!

Getting this more visceral feedback on a game – notice this is feedback rather than scoring or reviewing – means that things can be learned. Getting a score of 8.5 as a dry stat will simply indicate that more of the same will hit the same mark. I’m sure that focus groups and play-testers will also provide impact, but again this feels a little removed and after-the-fact. Getting the words “XXX made me howl with laughter” or “YYY was mega hard and felt a little bit out of place” or even “ZZZ was a pimple on the face of this otherwise beautiful game” actually gives meaning and a context under which immediate changes can be made.

This is not unusual, in Project Management circles these are called ‘Lessons Learned’ and they are a vital part of the whole process and a key to improvement and progress. In gaming, taking a proven formula and giving it a new skin has been the staple of many a studio for years based on the average score and generalised feedback provided. Things are changing though, more and more we see large studios going out and ‘getting physical’ before starting the code or getting real life racers, riders, etc to provide input in the design process. The resulting games are far superior in their playability than those derived from the cookie-cutter approach. I’d like to think that we have some small part in this progress forward and that we’ll continue to do so.

It’s also nice that as a reward for our feedback we get new stuff (I’m not talking about goodie bags crammed full of… well goodies here), the nice folks at Red Lynx are so chuffed that we like their game that they’ve made two more videos available for us collectively to see. The first is described as either a bit harsh or funny (this being a subjective thing – my better half thinks that glass, flames and deliberately broken bones have no place in a motorcycle game , I think that it’s hilarious) and the second is a full walk through of level creation with the editor. I’ve spent a little time working with the editor, mostly in basic mode, and it’s addictive fun so you should give this a watch.

So here for your viewing pleasure are the tokens of Red Lynx thanks for enjoying their game. What nice people!

[youtube][/youtube]Harsh? Perhaps… Funny? Absolutely!

[youtube][/youtube]This is the way you make a level, easy when you know how!







2 responses to “It’s nice to know that they care!”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I’ve yet to get Trials HD, I downloaded the demo but told myself I had to beat Splosion Man before I could even look at it. I had already watched a video of it so knew what it was, but when I got to try it out when Markuz bought it, I knew it was definitely one to get.

    Still sticking to the beating Splosion Man first, but I do look forward to playing through the levels. The most painful thing I’ve seen so far is finishing a level and the rider coming to a stop on a pole which hits you in the throat, so painful, maybe I shouldn’t have laughed. 😀

  2. MarkuzR avatar

    I love this game so much I hate it! This may sound really petty… but I don’t play “skill” games very often, if at all. I play RPGs and RTS so for me to become so immersed in a game of skill is really quite something.

    I am not ashamed to admit that I’m SO surprised by the fact that I’m actually pretty good at it. I’m PROUD of the fact that I’m really good at it. It’s now starting to annoy me though, not the game, but the level of competition within me that has never reared its ugly head before.

    There’s one guy on my XBL friends list, and he’s a client. He’s not a mate, or a relative… he’s a client. I told him how good the game is, and he bought it, but every time I get myself to the top of the leaderboard through sheer determination and repeated restarts, I come back the next day and he’s gone back through to better my time.

    I understand why he does it, because he’s a very controlling character and likes to be in charge of every situation… but I finally found a skill game that I was actually good at, and when I logged on to play the game last night and saw that he’d shaved a few hundredths of almost all of my times, I just switched the game off again. It spoils my enjoyment to know that he won’t allow me to be top of my own leaderboard… so the only options I have are to remove him from my friends list (ridiculous), ignore it (difficult) or try and beat his times again (not enough hours in my day).

    So… I LOVE this game, but I also hate that it’s made me competitive when all I wanted to do was to enjoy it 🙂 Great game though, fantastic game actually.

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