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Steam Reviews


I think the contents of the actual reviews is what matters here rather than the thumbs up or down system, which doesn’t make any sense to begin with, as that basically equates to either 10/10 or 0/10. If yr limited to a thumbs up or down, then the only logical application of that would be that everything which scores 5/10 or higher gets a thumbs up and only absolute shite will get a thumbs down, 5/10 is pretty bad, but it’s still not worth a thumbs down, which basically equates to 0/10, so to be somewhat fair a game would have to score 4/10 or lower to get a thumbs down, so there’s rly no solution for that, and that’s steam’s fault


I have a lot of bad games in my library, but I dont’feel the need to play them, just to have more negative reviews. It’s a waste of my time. So I do choose the ones I think that are good (and luckily most are) and they get a recommended ofc.
If a game is bad it will get a negative. But I prefer to NOT play them in the first place.


It was mostly a PSA to provide awareness. That is all.

TBH, a 5/10 or even a 6/10 deserves a :-1: in my book because there is no way my time should be wasted on them. And even when you recommend something, I (and probably most) don’t immediately go rushing out to buy it, it is compiled with many other tidbits of information we collect about a title before we make an informed purchase decision.

Based on standardized metadata and scoring across many, many critics, games tend to have a skewed normal distribution with scores clustering around a 70 peak, skewing high with a long tail on the low end (rarely do games score below a 30 in aggregate, because no one wants to play bad games and even less want to have to write about it afterward). Wilson’s formula was even invented for the sole purpose of providing a confidence interval with the likely true score represented when things like games or movies are rated by many fallible people; it is basically a score for the score.

This isn’t a criticism of the IndieGems reviewers, it is a post to provide information.


I can only speak for myself. I have a limited taste of games I like. So the games I have reviewed are games that fit my criteria.
Most of those games are good enough to recommend.
I don’t review for example action games, because I dont like them at all. If I had to review them, I wouldnt be able to recommend any action game. Would that be fair? I don’t think so tbh. Because I don’t like a genre doesn’t mean all games in this genre are bad.


100% agree, review games in genres you enjoy (I’m not asking you to play bad games) just to be mindful how your reviews are skewing. Remember, you are effectively actively calling for people to spend their money or time on a game. That is a big and important leap above and beyond a critic’s role which is usually just time (when given games for free), and often critics are not expected to have played the entire game.

Here’s a simple example, I’m not going to check out TotalBiscuit’s channel to find an idle game to play because he openly displayed contempt for all idle games and never understood the intricacies of what make some idlers good, most mediocre, and some bad. I do like idle games though, and I have no qualms admitting to it. The good ones involve a fair bit of math, planning, testing, and time all while never forcing the gamer to actively play very much (typically a few minutes here and there), and the best idlers have clear objectives that once accomplished change the game in a persistent but recognizable fashion such that the gameplay never becomes stale.

When it comes to indie games, my favorite two sources are Nookrium and Belannaer, because they both tend to avoid shooters (1st or 3rd-person) and focus on games I might actually play, like strategy, builder, manager, RTS, 4X, adventure, some survival, turn-based, etc. Both are clearly tiny (41k YouTube subs for Nookrium, his main platform) (106k followers for Belannaer as a curator on Steam) and both succumb to the same positive bias I mentioned but they aren’t afraid to lambaste flawed games during their review. Obviously there are much bigger reviewers that touch on indie games and I occasionally use them, but I prefer smaller, more intimate channels.


I think the issue mostly comes from us having a lot of bad games, and none of us wanting to spend time playing them. In the end, we play the games we feel deserve our time and then since they are the games that drew us to play them, there’s a more favorable outlook.

Sometimes I start a game I feel like looks good, but I just can’t get into it. It looks like someone else could enjoy it, and I just spend half hour, or sometimes even less time, before I want to go do something else. I don’t want to give it a negative review just because I can’t get into the game, for personal preference. If I were to write a negative review, it would have to be something I spent some time with, but ultimately decide it’s not worth my time. In the end, time is worth more than the cost of the games themselves, since most of us have way more games than we know what to do with. Thus I think the reviews are for games that we ourselves gravitate to.

I think 6/10 means that I think something has more positive than negatives, and the overall feel of the game is positive. It has enough going for it to warrant people to consider playing, from my personal perspective. I do think any game I would only give 5/10 I would not know what to do with. If it has enough negatives to completely draw the positives back to neutral, I would probably give it a negative just for the time wasted.

Looking back at some of the reviews written, perhaps some of the ones that we gave positive reviews for, is that we often tend to be a bit more generous because we get a lot of background stories from the developers, how big their team is, how much time they have worked on the project, their own personal struggles, motivations for the game. We are not being bribed at all, and you might be surprised at how many games we decide not to review from the curator page, they are there for a month from the time they are offered, and if we don’t want them, they expire. Unfortunately we don’t review everything we get, there are times we sit there in our own discussion laughing because none of us want the additional filler/shovelware in our libraries. I agree, the numbers are skewed. I will be honest, I have a list of games that I am struggling to write reviews for, just because I don’t think the games themselves are very good. In the end, when I sit down to write something, I am drawn away instead to go play Hollow Knight or Spelunky, (I don’t dare dive too far into Gungeon with the new update due to my total addiction with this game), instead of completing the review. I think I need to make a better effort to complete these. But time management has never been my strong suit.

Like harith said above, I focus on the actual content of my reviews more than anything else. I prefer to be open about my experience playing the game, what I liked about it, the things that stood out, and my struggles with the game. A lot of my positive reviews outline some issues I had while playing the game, but not enough to deter me from playing. A lot of these developers are quite active on the community forums as well, and they make a pretty good effort to try to improve something if need be, especially if the problems are causing some games to be broken and unplayable.

I don’t much about the data distribution of game scoring, and there are games I am surprised only have 1-2000 reviews when the leaderboards go out past the million mark. I am always surprised that if there are that many people playing, and the review system is set up that anyone can give a thumbs up or down with little to no text, that so many people would play and not mention it ever. I saw a negative review for a game that had a “☐” in the text, and I sat there thinking, well, I guess someone didn’t like the game, but I have no idea why. Even a sentence or two about a bad experience would be helpful.


Do you still think Tyr is a “Thumbs Up” kind of game??? :smile:


My initially negative review of that game I redacted because of the changes that were made. There are still problems with the game, I agree. If the game is put in front of me right now, I am not sure what I would do with it. I am not good enough to get through the game. I tried your strat but ended up dying way more than I cared to keep trying, but I do like the improvements they made. I think I would still keep it as a positive.

When I last chatted with the developer, he told me that they are working on some difficulty settings and maybe not having such a strict time limit. I am still waiting for that to show up…

By the way, I am still completely amazed at your progression in that game.


They need more content, not changes such as you mention. Eliminate the time limits or the challenge and the game would be even less interesting. As a first game it’s ok, but they need to really drop the price and move on to game two, chocking this one up as a learning experience.

And I know that you could have beaten it too…it wasn’t that hard, it just took a little bit of stubborn persistence!


Probably more than I am willing to give at this time, unfortunately.

I agree with this thought… Fortunately the people who don’t like it will know right away and can refund the game, since they will know in the first hour–when that first random game over shows up for no good reason… lol…

Let me just answer to this specifically, your math from our review numbers is correct, but once again, we dropped a lot of proffered games that nobody wanted to try, and as a result, the numbers are skewed. But extrapolation toward all indie games is a dangerous assumption. I don’t think we want to imply anything about the way too many games on Steam at the moment. I think to project our current small sample and numbers to the whole is incorrect, however, because we mainly focus on games that we liked up to this point.


It’s not 6.5% of all of the indie games ever made. It’s 6.5% of the games that this team chose to review. Just like real publications (Game Informer etc…) Reviewers only have a certain amount of time to dedicate to this process, and can’t conceivably review every game released on steam.

It also doesn’t serve the industry well to bring attention to bad games for a few reasons. I don’t want fledgling devs to get their souls crushed by an angry mob for not releasing an A+ game on their first try. I also want novice devs to release more games, and really work on their skills, unfortunately Steam is simultaneously the best and worst place to do that. Best for the low barrier to entry, worst for visibility and actual worthwhile feedback.

I’ve been working on a dungeon crawler in RPG Maker VX Ace for months, and I keep deleting ALL OF MY WORK and starting over because I can’t make it perfect. When the day comes that I finally suck it up, stop being over critical of myself, and just release the damn thing I’ll sell it for $.99 and read hate-mail all day, and not even be able to recover the cost of the software I purchased to create the game. (RPG Maker VX Ace, A few animation/ pixel art pieces of software, and music programs to write an original sound track)


I look forward to this day, please let us know right away!!!


It’s gonna be a long time. I’ve just been dedicated to building my animation, sprite database. I’m a terrible artist, and have a ton to learn.

I work in network security, so the actual programming nuts and bolts I get and do ok at, and play music as a hobby, so I’m good there as well… but art and animation. UGH. I find it to be super tedious, and extremely difficult. However when I finally get everything working and looking like my imagination, it’s totally worth it.


This is one of my top/favorite dungeon-crawler rogues of all time…

I can imagine if this gets posted to Steam, even at the same open-source freeness, it would get lambasted to no end.

I actually do hope someone takes up this project and rework it into a more modern looking game…


It looks like a nice template to work from.

I’d be open to taking something already good and making it better, I’ll definitely check this out.

I just downloaded the Source Code. It’s all written in some C base. Not sure which version yet, but at least I can read C base.


Omg, myself, both brothers, all of our childhood friends, AND friends of friends were obsessed with Utumno growing up! No one since has even heard of it, much less mentioned it, but we had so many floppy disks with the game backed up on it, complete with our characters’ save files (and backups to somewhat bypass permadeath for important characters).

Only one of us beat it even with most of us save scumming, his name is Carter, and to this day his wife Becca does not understand why he is a God among mere mortals. :smile: Nowadays, my brother is the Keeper of the Sacred Savefiles, think he has a USB stick and cloud backups.

I loved that game for the amount of Lord of the Rings lore Matt crammed into the game, from the mobs to bosses to artifacts. We had so many strategies for beating Saruman or Shelob or quickly gaining the Phial of Galadriel (first permanent light artifact) but still died to a common death mold. It was so easy to die. Ah, memories!


I am glad you agree with me that this is such a wonderful game… lol… I never beat it, never came close. I haven’t played in a long time, honestly, but I always think of it, and very fondly.

In my Utumno days, I was always dying, dying, and dying. I wasn’t savvy enough to save and backup saves… lol… so you can imagine, my progress was very limited. But dying became part of the game, fire it up, get as far as possible, and die… lol…

It really is impressive. :slight_smile:


My favorite aspect was when playing a half-orc warrior (well, any warrior) dumber than a box of rocks that licked (food), rubbed (rods/wands), or chugged (potions) completely unknown what they would do because #rogue, typically ending in a horrible death with something poisonous or zapping oneself to floor 20. Those first dozen or so levels were pure gambles: Pokémon style gotta collect all the things, and lick ‘em. Eventually you found or bought a rod (or wand) of identify, and a rod of recharging. That would carry you through to mid game usually by preventing yourself from equipping 7 pieces of cursed gear and chugging 39 orange-green potions of…agonizing death. :skull_and_crossbones:


Oh, I had a hobbit that I remember fondly, mostly because I quaffed a bajillion potions of dexterity (and save scummed if I got a bad roll) and had it at 18(255) really early - or whatever the cap was. He just ran around with Sting (early artifact dagger) and attacked at like 10x speed, so it just looked funny because of the animations of the game: walking around normally, dragon flying at me normally, we run into each other, console log immediately fills up with like 30 lines of text instead of 1-2 while my arm is flailing at hyper speed and the CPU fans kick in to high gear, and poof! dragon disappears before he even got to scratch me.

Fairly certain that hobbit died a horrid death though. I was nonchalantly exploring passageways and rooms fairly deep with great gear and getting more and more lax, killing anything in my path without examining or considering it first. I may have accidentally stumbled upon and fought a multi-headed hydra that replicated itself if attacked/killed with a slicing weapon, so before I could save scum I’ve suddenly spawned an entire roomful of hydras that get into a fight with a neighboring room of kobolds or something so they just keep spawning, so many I can’t walk…eventually die to small wounds that add up after switching to a secondary bow and running out of ammo, then tertiary backup sling and stones. Finite ammo and finite healing charges on my wand versus a near infinite supply of hydras I’d accidentally created (and I partially blame whatever was 1 room over, I swear they kept spawning). Good times.


I am going to try to play this again this weekend… your talk is bringing back too many good memories…

I probably will stick to my old style of start and die instead of save and backup… we shall see. :smiley: