This is actually a response to mdkess, but I felt that it should be it’s own post. You may want to read mdkess’ post which can be found here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/2012/09/11/on-the-rating-system/
> The other issue that I see is that there’s no guideline for ratings.
There is indeed a guideline. It can be found here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/rules/ (scroll down to “Judging”)
When I’m rating, I don’t think too much. Players don’t think too much when they are playing a game. They either enjoy certain aspects, or not, so I try to reflect this in the way I rate games, in the hopes that the ratings are more authentic. I don’t think too hard about the categories or try to split it up too much in my mind. What you will now read, is merely me trying to analyse the way I think about categories, but when I actually rate them, it’s pretty much by impulse.
Here is how I think/feel about the different categories:
I agree with Codexus on the “Theme” category being weak. The only person really able to know how well they did in Theme, is the person who made the game. In the Judging guidelines, for Theme, it says “How well an entry suits the theme. Do they perhaps do something creative or unexpected with the theme?”. The problem is, if a game is creative and unexpected in it’s use of the theme, people rate it low because it doesn’t seem to follow the theme, or it seems to have used the developer’s warped (when actually potentially creative) view of the theme as an excuse for their implementation of it. In other words, it’s impossible to know if a theme is creative or used as an excuse unless you are the developer, and as a player you can only rate the Theme category with how unoriginal and close to the literal theme as possible, so this is what people do. I personally have a lot of trouble rating Theme, because if it isn’t creative, then I should rate it low according to the Judging guidelines, and if it is creative, I don’t know weather it actually is, or if the theme is just used as an excuse for their game. Perhaps Theme should be rated according to how genuinely it feels like it follows the theme, while on the surface seeming completely unrelated to the theme. Otherwise I just can’t see someone’s Theme rating being helpful to them at all.
So I know I’m talking a lot about the theme category… Here, have some more:
I think themes are a big part of what makes Ludum Dare, so I don’t think the theme category should be taken away necessarily, but maybe something to just keep in mind, is that I don’t think Ludum Dare is here to get people to make sure their game follows the theme. Ludum Dare is here to get people excited about making games, and to actually make one. For some, the theme can be very off-putting because they can’t think of something to make under it. I know people who had an idea for another theme in the voting period, and were excited for it, but just didn’t participate because the winning theme discouraged their idea. While I like there being a focused theme, I think something needs to happen to compensate for people like that. I don’t know what… Perhaps it only needs to be as simple as a small message in the post that announces the theme. I dunno.
I think this is fine, and too unlike theme to be merged. “Have you experienced this before? No? That’s what I thought.”
-Mood and Humour-
I don’t think these should be taken out or merged. A serious or emotion-provoking game can have funny parts or well placed humour. Furthermore, I think Mood is more like “How well did the game make you feel (negative or positive) the way that the game was trying to make you feel?” I think this is completely different to Humour. To me, Mood is a game-long thing, whereas Humour isn’t necessarily so. Humour to me is more like “The parts that were trying (or perhaps not necessarily trying) to be funny, were they funny?”
Fun is… Well, I’ve been rating “Fun” the way that I would rate “Addictive” (but still sort of keeping “Fun” in mind, the same way that with “Audio” you think of music and sound effects separately), if it existed, because in the Judging guidelines it says something like “Did you look up at the clock and realise it was hours later?”. I think addictive, and fun, are two different things. You can be playing a game that is hard to put down (maybe you want to see the ending, so you trudge on), but it isn’t very fun to play. I’ve played many games like this. I think “Fun” is how great it feels to play. Sort of like the mood category, but not directed at how well the feeling of the game manifests within you, instead, how fun the mechanics are. With these thoughts, I believe an “Addictive” category should be added, which is how engaging the game was, and “Fun”, being how good the mechanics felt to play with. Surely Fun can affect Addictive, but a game can be addictive without being fun.
-Graphics and Audio-
I think these are fine as is. I don’t think these should be elaborated on or split up or anything.
So I think I would have the categories presented something like this (perhaps questions should actually be given alongside the category as you are rating them, so that everyone is on the same page?):
-Overall: Generally, how much did you like the experience?
-Theme: How creative, and authentic did the creativeness of, the theme implementation feel?
-Fun: How fun were the gameplay mechanics?
-Addictive: How compelled were you to continue playing?
-Mood: How close did you feel to the way the game was intending (or not so intending) to make you feel?
-Humour: How humourous were the intended (or not so intended) parts or aspects of the game?
-Graphics: How well did you feel the graphics enhanced your experience?
-Audio: How well did you feel the audio enhanced your experience?