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When Homebrewers Produce Crap

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Did you ever come across a thread on a forum here or there where a homebrewer posts a video of a game they're working on and you think it looks like utter crap yet there's reply after reply from people saying "look's great" "great job keep up the good work!"?

 

Is it best just to keep our mouth shut or should we be honest? It would depend on that particular homebrewer, right? I'm thinking some would get offended while others might welcome the criticism if it's constructive. I'm thinking it's best to keep quiet if I don't think a game looks good but wanted to know if anyone else fights this temptation.

 

Am I alone in thinking some of these games are bad?

 

I won't mention by name, but there's a homebrewer that's been turning out games at a rapid clip and every single one of them looks bad. No doubt this person has programming skills above and beyond what I have but I just don't think they get what makes a game fun.

 

Inb4 people tell me to STFU and learn how to program

 

Time's yours...

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Is it best just to keep our mouth shut or should we be honest?

 

Why only those choices? If you don't like a game then state why. There is a well-reasoned middle ground between being a dick and being passive aggressive.

 

Did you ever come across a thread on a forum here or there where a homebrewer posts a video of a game they're working on and you think it looks like utter crap yet there's reply after reply from people saying "look's great" "great job keep up the good work!"?

 

It shouldn't be a mystery when other people praise something that you don't. They simply have a different opinion than you.

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I appreciate all of the creative efforts, even if the results aren't anything I'm personally interested in or impressed by. Sometimes people are able to create great things on purpose, but not always. I don't want to discourage anyone because while 9/10 homebrews might not appeal to me, 1/10 might be a masterpiece. That 1/10 might never appear if the creator is turned off and overwhelmed by internet criticism.

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Did you ever come across a thread on a forum here or there where a homebrewer posts a video of a game they're working on and you think it looks like utter crap yet there's reply after reply from people saying "look's great" "great job keep up the good work!"?

 

Is it best just to keep our mouth shut or should we be honest?

 

Well, just saying something looks like crap isn't terribly constructive.

 

If you could explain WHY you feel it looks like crap (without using loaded fecal terms) then that would be a much better route to take. Are the colors garish? Does the graphic not resemble what it's supposed to look like? Add realistic suggestions as to how it could be improved.

 

Another important thing to remember is to add your commentary once and then get out of the way. I don't mean to do it in a drive by manner. But either the creator will take your input and make some changes or they won't. And they might make changes that you still don't like. The important thing is to not get all internet petulant about it.

 

And as someone who has gotten all internet petulant on many occasions, I feel bad about it, and it doesn't do anyone any favors.

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The problem with telling someone their game is crap is discerning what is poor quality from what is good quality but not enjoyable and then determining if others will enjoy it.

 

I usually only give constructive advice such as if I think a feature would be nice or if something in the game makes it too difficult / easy.

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I won't mention by name, but there's a homebrewer that's been turning out games at a rapid clip and every single one of them looks bad. No doubt this person has programming skills above and beyond what I have but I just don't think they get what makes a game fun.

 

Obtusely naming names benefits no one and frankly sounds like you can't stand behind your own words. If you want better games then provide well-reasoned feedback - negative or positive. There is also a chance you may not have the whole perspective on a particular game. Start a topic on one or two of the "crap" games on your list and through discussion you might find a new appreciation.

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Just try to post positive criticism, if you think a project can be 'saved' :)

Edited by roland p

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In my humble opinion, I don't think giving suggestions or criticism (constructive or otherwise) to homebrewers is ever a good idea, unless the person actually asks for comments on his work. We cannot all have the same talent for game design (or graphic design) nor can we all have the same dedication to putting out a "commercial-grade" product. What seems "sufficient" to one guy in terms of general quality can be labelled as "half-baked" by another, and it quickly falls into the realm of subjectivity.

 

The whole point of programming homebrew games is to have fun with it. This involves setting goals for yourself as a programmer, and that may imply not placing the bar too high in order to prevent the project from becoming tedious to work on. The same can be said about packaging (box, manual, cart label, etc.).

 

Most of the time, homebrewers are just looking for encouragement to keep going, not opinions/ideas on how to improve their games. If you find a game lacking in certain key areas, and these issues are not fixed by the time the final version is released on cartridge, then you can simply refrain from purchasing the cartridge. That shouldn't stop you from offering words of encouragement while the game is being developed.

 

On the other hand, if a homebrewer does ask for opinions and comments, then I believe the guy is openly exposing himself to criticism and there should be no rule limiting comments and opinions beyond basic politeness.

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I think a lot of it depends on the homebrewer and market..

If it's someone writing a game that they intend to sell for $60 and it's crap, I'd probably find a way to constructively list some things..

But if it's someone learning/starting out, then I take that into account.

 

Assuming all homebrew games are going to be retail quality just because some of them are is silly.

 

And when it comes to looks, who cares about that? If the game is fun, I could care less what it looks like. But that's me.. ;-)

 

And since I'm not programming games, I don't comment unless someone asks...

I don't go to an art gallery walking around saying "where's the painter, I want to tell him that picture sucks?"

But if someone asked me my opinion, I'd probably say something like "it's not my style." If they asked why, I would tell them.

 

In fact, even if I knew how to paint, I still wouldn't just volunteer my opinion. So scratch that "since I'm not programming" part.. ;-)

 

desiv

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Well, let's see, the last 3 games I see listed in the Homebrew section are:

 

GoSub2 (Odyssey)

Lamb Chops (Apple 2 / Android)

Duck Attack! (Atari 2600)

 

Only one of these programmers have released an obscene number of games... :)

 

On the bright side, all these games are free so you can't really complain. If they're pulling a Gamester81 and making a crap game and charging crazy cash after already pulling in $11,000 from their indiegogo compaign and they didn't even program it, then we can talk, but these guys aren't crooks and they aren't hiring others to do their work for them...

Edited by PDog

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I've noticed a general lowering of gaming standards when talking about homebrew or indie games. Maybe it's the 'if you can't say anything nice' crowd not participating because the author is often in direct communication. That tends to be how I handle the topic of homebrew games that I'm not interested in--I just keep it quiet.

 

I know I'm not the inspiration for this thread, but I'm guilty of putting out terrible homebrew. I knew it wasn't great at the time, but it was the first time I thought about even simple gaming concepts. If I had gotten the slamming that the game pretty well deserves, I might have stopped right there. Mind that I'm still terrible, but what I put out is generally the best I can produce at the time.

 

I will say that for me, making something fun is every bit as hard as the technical details of making something that functions. For the longest time I've been wanting to make an ice fishing game so I can say "it's the best ice fishing game you've ever played." If anybody knows how to make ice fishing even slightly fun (without beer), I'm all ears.

Edited by Reaperman

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Sometimes, games are just crap. Lots of commercially released games are total crap, so it's no surprise that some homebrew games are crappy to, regardless how much time, effort, and love are put into them.

 

Finding a way to tell someone as much without becoming a public pariah is next to impossible.

 

But yeah, you're not alone in thinking something is crap, but not understanding why many others praise it.

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People making crap games, meh. Not a problem.

 

People making crap games that look like they took five minutes of effort, and then instantly selling their entire 'run' out at $40+ on a cart - that's a whole other big problem.

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Sometimes, games are just crap. Lots of commercially released games are total crap, so it's no surprise that some homebrew games are crappy to, regardless how much time, effort, and love are put into them.

 

Finding a way to tell someone as much without becoming a public pariah is next to impossible.

 

But yeah, you're not alone in thinking something is crap, but not understanding why many others praise it.

 

One commercial game I've always hated is Airlock. The guy you move around is not animated, he makes an irritating card shuffling noise when he walks, and the 'game' has all of the fun and excitement of grocery shopping for food you hate with a gun pointed at your head that will go off if you make a mistake. But some people love it so much that it makes them goo their pants.

 

youtube.com/watch?v=xJlStZhwzvc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJlStZhwzvc

 

I think it's an un-fun, lazy-ass, shitty, shit game.

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People making crap games, meh. Not a problem.

 

People making crap games that look like they took five minutes of effort, and then instantly selling their entire 'run' out at $40+ on a cart - that's a whole other big problem.

 

I can cosign that. Anyone can make anything they want and I won't bat an eye; I've made some crappy ROMs myself, though I've kept them to myself.

 

But as soon as people start paying money for it, that's a very different kettle of fish -- though I don't think the issue is greed as much as ego. I pretty much said my piece about that here and here.

 

Also, I don't really agree that "if you don't like it, don't buy it" is a sufficient answer to this problem. When people are selling crap games, it's damaging to the bonds of good faith that help make a community strong. One of the really nice things about the Intellivision and, from what I can tell, ColecoVision communities is that the homebrew release standards have generally been very high. We trust game producers not to put a ROM on a cart and sell it if it doesn't deserve it, and they've generally repaid us.

 

It used to be that way in the Atari 2600 community, but the level of TLC put into games has definitely dropped on average, even though great games are still being made.

 

And I don't think it's fair to ask people to name names. It's not like we need more shitstorms or forum drama, and as I said in my linked post, I think people who can't see that their games aren't ready for prime time are often the same people who can't tolerate criticism or frustration. Doing good work involves a high tolerance for frustration, after all, and if you don't have that, you're far more likely to say "OK, then it's done -- go me! -- and now, on to my next project" prematurely.

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Give me a great box, instructions, and overlays and I can accept an average Homebrew game.

 

It is all collectible at that point!

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If the programmer is actually open to suggestions, then it's good to make them, but best to be positive in the way those suggestions are framed. Otherwise, usually they are looking for encouragement, which everyone appreciates.

 

If it looks like someone is doing the minimum to pull in some cash, then maybe it's OK to be critical (but not a jerk) as that gives them the information they need to actually make a gem instead of a dog.

 

I'm always in favor of another gem, no matter why it was created...

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For whatever it's worth, here's my opinion on the matter, as someone who dabbles in the homebrew space whenever I have the time:

 

Homebrewing for vintage platforms is becoming an increasingly crowded field, so much so that I would be flattered if someone took enough notice of something that I created to be motivated to offer feedback. For games in progress that have been posted to a place like AtariAge, there's not much point in worrying whether the feedback is "unsolicited" or "uninvited"; after all, if the authors didn't want feedback, they wouldn't have posted their games on a public forum.

 

Ideally, any feedback offered should be respectful and constructive, instead of something like "sorry, but that totally blows!", which is non-specific and insulting all at once. What kind of feedback would be most constructive depends on what the programmers are after. If they're creating the games solely for their own enjoyment, your feedback should be motivated to help the authors realize their vision to its fullest potential, even if it is different from your own vision. I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't be glad to accept feedback offered in that spirit.

 

Games that are created to be offered as commercial products are a different story. One of the reasons that homebrew has become so big is because some see it as a quick way to cash in on the retro gaming fad, and unfortunately, rapid development tools like Batari Basic only make this easier. We all know of the more cynical attempts, such as N.E.R.D.S. and The Last Ninja. As Nathan Strum correctly says in his negative review, those games turned out so badly in part because they were developed in a vacuum, without exposure to constructive feedback. His review was a kind of "feedback" that had to come after the fact, but I think it was an important service, because it helped to steer collectors clear of those particular games.

 

As I've said, feedback can help to improve a game, but sometimes it can (and should!) be used to help kill bad games before anyone unwittingly spends their hard-earned money on them. If a bad game gets nothing but unconditional praise from the community during its development, out of fear that real criticism would hurt the author's feelings, collectors who then pay for it would have a right to feel let down by the community and probably wouldn't be too eager to buy another game, which only hurts the hobby as a whole. Games that are destined to be offered commercially should be held to a higher standard, for everyone's sake.

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Hi guys,

 

Even though I don't make video games, I respect the people that do so! Especially the homebrewers that make games for a certain platform and make it available for the public to enjoy them.

 

To me personally, I can't criticize them. If I felt I can do a better job then the programmers, then I would say something about it. But since I can't. I'll just say more power and respect for the men/women that are able to make the homebrews!

 

Anthony...

Edited by fdurso224
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If I felt I can do a better job then the programmers, then I would say something about it. But since I can't. I'll just say more power and respect for the men/women that are able to make the homebrews!

That's kind of like saying "Since I can't make ice cream, I can't say anything if they put broken glass and gravel in it. I'll just say more power and respect for the men/women who are able to make ice cream! Why is my mouth bleeding?"

 

You don't have to know how to make a game to say something about it. As a gamer, you can tell quality from crap as long as you're not a clueless airhead who can't tell the difference between a diamond and a dog turd.

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That's kind of like saying "Since I can't make ice cream, I can't say anything if they put broken glass and gravel in it. I'll just say more power and respect for the men/women who are able to make ice cream! Why is my mouth bleeding?"

 

Sorry, I prefer my ice cream with hot fudge with a side of sprinkles to add! :-D

Edited by fdurso224

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But as soon as people start paying money for it, that's a very different kettle of fish

 

[...]

 

Also, I don't really agree that "if you don't like it, don't buy it" is a sufficient answer to this problem. When people are selling crap games, it's damaging to the bonds of good faith that help make a community strong.

 

With the slight difference - compared to back in the days - that we have easy ways to find out if a game is crap or if it's good: The Internets.

 

Remember when it could happen that you see the same game three or four times in the same store, just with completely different titles and artwork? Hacks, 1:1 clones, shitty half-ass clones... you name it. Back in the day, the market was hurt by this practice. Nowadays, much more information is much more easily available.

 

You're right. Shitty homebrews aren't exactly good for the community. But at least, thanks to modern technology, it's much harder to put out a bad game and get away with it. That's something, I guess...

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In my experience, the retro-gaming community (excluding arcade-specific sites) is characterized by the most friendly and disarming collective personality that I have ever encountered online for any hobby. I’ve spent a lot of time on various other forums, related to subjects such as cars, home recording, songwriting, and photography. Most of these become unbearable due to the egos and a-holes and can only be enjoyed in short spurts before a break is required to regain sanity. In comparison, AtariAge might as well be a hippy love fest.

 

For the most part, that’s great, but I think it’s part of why we see what we see regarding the reception of homebrews. The crowd in general is just too friendly and upbeat to be critical. Plus, I believe there is a strong underlying desire to perpetuate the spirit by nurturing the homebrewer ranks. Maybe it is felt that criticism—even if well justified and gingerly delivered—is counter to the overarching objective of keeping homebrew development as unintimidating, inviting, and therefore widespread as possible.

 

I can only speak for myself, but if I were to put out a homebrew (which I don’t see happening), I’d be disappointed if all everybody did was blow smoke up my arse about how great my work is. For all of that time and effort, I’d want to make the game good, and I think it’s too easy to lose all objectivity with your own work. Outside feedback can be invaluable if you have the skin to take it in all forms.

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