Category Archives: Me and Mine

Anything about me and anyone I care about. Personal garbage.

Criticism about Criticism

I’m mad about two separate but related things that have to do with media criticism.

A 10 Point Scale is Bullshit

The 10 point scale is terribly common and it’s also terrible. Here’s all criticism of the 10 point scale boiled down to one simple question:

What’s the difference between a 6 and a 7?

If you’re doing qualitative reviews, and nearly every media critic is doing qualitative reviews, then there’s essentially no measurable difference between two adjacent points on a scale. You get the perfect 10, which is never used, and the garbage bin 1, which is also never used, and those are your only absolutes.

The middle of the road changes depending on whether you perceive a 5 to be average or a 7 to be average. A 5 average makes the most sense strictly from a numbers point of view, but the 7 average aligns with a C grade from school, so it’s extremely hard to escape the perception that anything less than a 7 is below average. When you, or your audience, perceives a 7 to be average, then you will use far less of the lower end of the scale, because it doesn’t matter. If it’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s less than average, and your perceived average is a 7, then it doesn’t matter whether you give it a 4 or a 5. There’s no functional difference.

Since the 10 point scale sucks, we have to look at alternatives. Of the numbered options, here are the most common:

  • 2 point (up/down, yes/no)
  • 3 point (up/neutral/down)
  • 5 point (5 stars)
  • 100 point (percentage)
  • 1000 point (percentage with decimal)

I’m going to bin three of these right off the bat. 100 point and 1000 point have the same problems as a 10 point scale. If there’s nothing quantitative to differentiate between a 91 and a 92, why are you even using a 100 point scale? I’m also going to bin 2 point up/down scales too, for having the opposite problem of no nuance. Some things are just average, or they really work for a niche but no one else, and 2 point scales don’t allow for anything but good or bad. They work for probably 90% of scoring needs, but really don’t for the rest. Criticism demands a space for something other than worst or best.

This leaves three point and five point scales. Both scales escape the problem of the 7. Both scales have more nuance than up/down. Both scales have obvious differences between scores (unless you’re doing a 5 star scale and using half stars, then you’re just using a 10 point scale). I lean closer to the 5 point scale for preference, because those extra two points between best of the best and worst of the worst can save a lot of criticism from scoring everything as mediocre. But this leads to my next complaint about criticism.

No One Uses 1’s or 10’s and That’s Bullshit

Perfect and worst scores are rare on a 10 point scale. Why? Because they represent the absolute pinnacle and the absolute pit. When you have a 10 point scale, the temptation is always there to give a 9 instead of a 10 because 10 represents perfection. But nothing is perfect. 10 and 1 are essentially unattainable; reserved for the best of the best and the worst of the worst when everything is scored at a moment in time. Even if you do something like a look-back review, your score isn’t likely to increase over time. It’s more likely to decrease if anything, because you’ve got newer works to compare it to, or because it’s being looked at outside of its bubble in time.

By making 1’s and 10’s off-limits, reserved for exceptionally exceptional works, your 10 point scale becomes an 8 point scale. 2 and 9 become comfortable because they should be 1’s or 10’s but we can’t get over that need for perfection or utter failure. Now combine this with an assumed 7 average, and you end up with the IGN problem: everything great is an 8.

I’m 100% guilty here. I’ve given 9 scores to excellent games, games that should be a 10. I’ve also been reticent to give a 1 to anything I’ve finished because, hey, I finished it right? Even worse, when I’ve tried to translate 10 point scores to a 5 point system, I’ve found myself rounding down, so those 9’s became 4’s. I’ve given reviews to things I haven’t finished a 2/5 because… why? I didn’t finish it! Isn’t that a sign that something’s very wrong?

It takes some bravery to give something a 10 or a 1, but I want to see more bravery in criticism. I want to hold myself accountable to this. Great work deserves a 10. Garbage/DNF stuff deserves a 1. Mediocre things should be a 5, because a 7 average is wrong. And all scoring of media is bullshit, because it shortcuts the actual criticism and lacks nuance, but it can be better if we stop using a 10 point scale, and start using the far ends of whatever scale we’re working with.

Pre-E3 Thoughts: Destiny 2 F2p and Google Stadia

Hey, E3 season is upon us and I have more thoughts in my brain than is worth trying to tweet out. Instead of blasting your Twitter feed, I’ll just put them all in self-contained blog posts that you can safely ignore. But maybe don’t ignore them because I take video games too seriously for being someone not in the industry.

Kotaku – Bungie Outlines The Future Of Destiny 2: Cross-Save, No Exclusives, Free-To-Play Base Game

Ever since Bungie left their publishing deal with Activision, I’ve been curious about what they would do with Destiny. Destiny was intended to be a 10 year-long supported game, and Bungie didn’t quite get through their decade of support. Would support continue like it had before, with regularly released expansions and seasonal events, or would they drop Destiny because they were tired of making it?

With today’s news, I’m going to contend that the answer is both. It’s going free-to-play, and Bungie are doing everything they can to put as many people into a common environment as they can, with cross-play and cross-platform progress transfers. Destiny has had two teams supporting it, a core development team that worked on the retail releases, and a live team that supported the seasonal events. Cross-platform integrations and offering a free-to-play version feel like a way to keep the player counts high. The game will also continue to receive “season pass” expansions.

But these feel like a way for Bungie to hand the game entirely over to the live team to babysit until it can feasibly call it quits. This isn’t Destiny 3. This is extending the life of Destiny 2 in lieu of a Destiny 3. My baseless speculation is that Bungie will use their core development team, previously working on major Destiny expansions, to make something else. Destiny’s history isn’t perfect and I personally stopped playing because I felt like I was being milked for cash entirely too often, and I think Bungie is taking this opportunity to both fulfill their commitment to Destiny with as little resources as possible, and come back later with a clean slate product.

Kotaku – Everything We Learned Today About Google Stadia [UPDATED]

Eugh. Let me get this straight. The future of gaming, a pure streaming platform that lets you play your games anywhere, is going to start with an initial investment (buying a Chromecast Ultra and Google Stadia controller for $170, not unlike purchasing a traditional console), charge a monthly fee for access, and also charge for individual games. Google says this isn’t a permanent condition, that we will be able to use Stadia with our own web browsers and without a monthly fee in 2020, but this initial launch feels like the worst of both worlds.

You have to own discrete hardware. You have to pay monthly for the privilege to play your games. You have to dump handfuls of money into individual games, and you own nothing except your Chromecast Ultra and Google Stadia controller. Combine this with Google’s nasty habit of throwing out a product as THE BEST THING EVER for a couple months, letting it rot for a couple years, and then killing it, and I’m extremely skeptical that Google will give this a long lifetime. And if they don’t, you won’t have anything to show for it besides their hardware.

Given Google’s history of poor support for less than stellar products, Google Stadia’s initial release is strictly for gamblers. It won’t be a future of gaming until it delivers on that promise of any game, anywhere, any way you want to play it. Right now, it’s just another upstart console.

2019 Goals

2018 is over and mostly successful, goals-wise. It’s time to write up some goals for 2019.

Exercise

I realized recently that I was in better shape and probably happier when I ran more. I’ve been avoiding running since I trained for and ran a marathon in 2016, which I blame for my 2016 kidney stone. While I have no intentions of ever running another marathon, in 2019, I will run more. In 2016, I ran 367 miles (counted on my Garmin). I’m not training for another marathon, but I need to log more miles than I did last year (~100).

Goal: Run 200 miles

Being a Person

I’m still looking to improve myself in non-video game things, and I’ve been watching too much Great British Bake Off. In 2019, I’m going to do better at making food.

Goal: Make a food item (not frozen or pre-made) at least once a month. (need to somehow document each thing)

Shhhh

Some goals I can’t talk about in public. It’ll either screw something up or cause drama or otherwise impact my ability to achieve the goal. This is one of them. I guess if I succeed, I can reveal it at the end of 2019, and if I fail, I won’t.

Secret Goal

2018 Goals Review

2018 is over, so maybe I should go back and look at those goals I wrote at the beginning of the year and see how they went! Introspection!

Writing/Production

Goal: One video per month

Hmm nope. But I did stream a lot of games, much more than 12. Most of that was my ongoing Stardew Valley playthrough, which is still in progress. Partial success.

Goal: One non-review per month

Not even close. Excluding video game reviews, WWE PPV reviews, and posts about streaming, I wrote four non-reviews. That’s too far from 12 to call even a partial success. Failed.

Exercise

Goal: Keep my body weight under 200 lbs.

I’ve hovered around 190lbs all year, so that’s an unqualified success. Success.

Goal: Increase max 5 rep weights

Completely abandoned after I hurt my back. I’m not even going to go back and check. I had some success here, but I’m not counting it. Failed.

Goal: Maintain the ability to run a 33:00 5K

I didn’t test this as often as I would have liked throughout the year, but I kept up this pace for every race and only dipped below on purpose (like doing a negative splits run). I ran 5+ miles today at a sub 10:30 pace. Success.

Being a person

Goal: Play each of these games once

I played half of those games. Partial success.

Goal: Go to a con

I went to two cons. Success.

Wrap Up

I’m genuinely a little surprised at how well I’ve done. I’ve been avoiding looking at my goals since March-ish because I thought I had blown all of them and I was wrong. I only completely failed one, and abandoned a second. The rest were either complete or partial success, and I’m quite pleased by that. In 2019, I will set fewer goals, but no less ambitious.

2018 Dream of waking video game awards

2018 wasn’t exactly a great year for me and video games. I played a lot of games and very few of them stuck with me. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the games, but I wasn’t really feeling much of anything. Even the two games I spent the most time playing this year, Final Fantasy XV and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, didn’t make the top of my awards. They merely consumed the most time. As I look around at other GOTY lists, I’m seeing a lot of stuff I’m either not interested in, not on a platform I own (or even compelling enough to buy that platform to play it), or some combination of the two. But that doesn’t mean that there were no good games! I absolutely loved my GOTY, and many of the others on this list! It just means that most of these are only going to have one honorable mention, and some of them may not be from 2018.

2018 Game of the Year

DUSK

Right, this was an easy choice. I love DUSK. It’s a Quake/Heretic/Blood sequel I never got. It’s ugly but fun. It’s an amazing emulation of games from the mid-90’s, but even better. Many games have tried to make neo-retro work and failed. They usually get the look right, but not the feeling. DUSK nails it all.

Runner Up: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

2018’s 2017 Game of the Year

Assassin’s Creed Origins

I’ve had a long-lived love/hate relationship with Assassin’s Creed. I almost always finish them, but I rarely enjoy them. They’re just kind of mindless filler, and after Unity, I was pretty much done with the series. Until Origins. Origins brought me back because it changed so much of the Assassin’s Creed formula. It changed so much that it’s more or less a different game entirely from its predecessors. The same could almost be said for Final Fantasy XV. This is a series that I’ve played (nearly) every game but never enjoyed them and never finished them. I enjoyed FFXV and finished it. Dark Souls 3 didn’t particularly change much of the series but it is the first one I enjoyed enough to finish

Runners Up: Final Fantasy XV, Dark Souls 3

The “I Wish I Had More Time for This” Award

Battletech

Battletech could almost go into “Wish I Liked This More” because I enjoyed the short time I’ve played it, but maybe not enough to go back. I love the Battletech world, but I’m much more of a Mechwarrior type of person. Still, I came home from Gencon and wanted to jump right into Battletech. I got humbled on my first real mission and I haven’t worked up the nerve to go back. I want to. I eyeball it. But I don’t know if I’ve got the time to invest in re-running the beginning or starting up again and seeing if I’ve dug myself into too deep of a hole to get out of.

Runner Up: Into the Breach

The “I Wish I Liked This Game More” Award

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is the clearest winner of this award, maybe the easiest choice of the year. I really enjoyed the demo for Hollow Knight, so much that I bought it immediately upon release. But the punishing difficulty, often aimless design, and awful body retrieval mechanic turned me off eventually. This is a beautiful game, fun in many parts, and doesn’t want you to enjoy it. I love a good Metroidvania. Hollow Knight hates me and I refuse to stay in an abusive relationship with it.

Runner Up: CrossCode

The “I’m Never Going to Finish This, But It’s Still Great” Award

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

This isn’t entirely fair, because Super Smash Bros. Ultimate just came out weeks ago, but there’s so much in there that there’s essentially no possibility I’ll ever see the end of it. There’s so many character unlocks, so many spirits, so many minigames, just an unholy amount of video game. Even the World of Light seems like a nearly impossible task for all but the most dedicated SSBU player. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot. The same could be said for Forza Horizon 4. It’s a fun game, but I play racing games in 2-5 hour spurts maybe three or four times a year. When I want to play one, I enjoy it, but I get my fill of them pretty quickly.

Runner Up: Forza Horizon 4

Awards for Things That Aren’t Video Games That I Loved in 2018

Best Film – Annihilation

Best Album Single – Childish Gambino This is America

Best Novel – Peter Watts The Freeze-Frame Revolution

Best TV Show – Great British Bake Off Series 6

I’m not happy about the build-up to WWE Evolution

I can’t be nice about this; the build-up to Evolution has been awful. This is the first WWE all-women’s PPV. It culminates many years of fantastic women’s wrestling, despite being constantly minimized and downplayed by main roster. There is no doubt that WWE has extremely talented women on their roster who often do not get their due. Instead, it’s been built on nostalgia and WWE’s favorite rookie. Let’s beat this card up from most appealing to least.

  • Mae Young Classic Finale

No spoiler, but I’m extremely excited to see how this wraps up. This year’s MYC has been excellent and I can’t wait to see how it ends. We’ve had the whole MYC to build it, even if the MYC has been barely featured on main roster shows.

  • Sane v. Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship

These two are very talented and this match has had a good build up on NXT, but we’ve seen this match, what, twice? Three times? It’ll be good, but it would’ve been nice to see a different opponent for either of them.

  • Lynch v. Flair in a Last Woman Standing match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Both of these women are incredible and two of the best the main roster has. We’ve seen this match several times over the years, but it’ll still be good. The stipulation means that the match itself will be full of slow downs as we get numerous near-10 counts.

  • NXT UK Women’s Championship Match

Again, no spoilers, and literally no build up. This is a wild card. Until Wednesday rolls around, I don’t even know who’s competing and I didn’t know this was on the card until I looked up a list. Could be great, but again, no build.

It’s all down hill from here.

  • Banks, Bayley, and Natalya v. The Riott Squad (Riott, Morgan, and Logan)

All of these women are talented, with Bayley and Banks putting on some real MOTY contenders in the past, and this is a Raw women’s match. We’ve seen pieces of this for weeks. I’m watching Banks v. Riott right now, with the rest of them ringside. This match is a waste of their talents.

  • Stratas and Lita v. Bliss and James

Here’s our nostalgia match that has seen a couple Raw promos and zero action. I wasn’t watching when Stratas, Lita, and James were in their primes, and I’m sure they’re talented, but (except James) they likely won’t be sticking around in the ring after this match. There’s no stakes here.

  • 16 Woman Battle Royal

This one is a double-whammy of being a dumping ground for nostalgia (talented, but not staying) and women who’ve had prominent programs and title runs recently. Seriously, there are a ton of great main roster women in this throwaway match. I’m glad they’re getting a payday, but that’s it.

  • Rousey v. N. Bella for the Raw Women’s Championship

Here it is. Our main event. The flag ship match. The match with the most promotion and TV time. It’s a rookie champion that WWE couldn’t wait to put a title on versus a woman that’s good but not great, obviously dividing her attention between many other business ventures, and not likely to stick around after she loses. Instead of putting the focus on the women who got us to the point where an all-women’s PPV wouldn’t immediately be written off as a joke, we’re putting them behind WWE’s favorite new MMA star and a woman who hasn’t been present, let alone putting on great matches, for the last couple years.

While I was extremely excited to hear about Evolution when it was announced, I now want to just get it over with. I hope it does well enough to warrant another one next year, because I want WWE to get past this “historic first” PPV with all of its tributes to past glory and get on with showing us the incredible women’s matches that got us here in the first place in a proper showcase next year.

Streaming Schedule – Week of October 1st

I’m really struggling. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is going to be released this week but I’m not sure if I’ll get too play it on the 3rd or the 5th. And I’ve dropped CrossCode but I need to play something so I’m playing the first two hours of Vampire: The Masquerade –  Redemption for the thousandth time. This week’s Whatever will be one of those two games, Odyssey or Redemption.

Wednesday, October 3rd – 9pm CST – Whatever (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption)

Saturday, October 6th – 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

Check out last week’s streams!

Whatever 26SEP18 (CrossCode)

Saturday Night Stardew – Part 9

Subscribe! https://www.twitch.tv/emnii

Streaming Schedule – Week of September 24th

OKAY. Now we’re back on a regular schedule. I’m thinking of doing nothing but horror/scary games for Whatever in October. This week, though, will probably be CrossCode, provided I can get out of this damned dungeon I’m currently stuck in!

Wednesday, September 26th – 9pm CST – Whatever (CrossCode?)

Saturday, September 29th – 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

Check out last week’s streams!

Whatever 19SEP18 (A Hat in Time)

Saturday Night Stardew – Part 8

Watch me on Twitch! https://www.twitch.tv/emnii