These guidelines are outdated and retained for archive purposes only. Please use the
current Review Guidelines for your reviews.
This article will provide a
description of how to write quality reviews for Age of Kings Heaven that are scored
consistently between reviewers and are helpful to both the file's creator as well as the
I (Angel SpineMan) created
the reviewing system almost three years ago and it was first used for the original Age of
Empires. It has been tried and tested and I still believe that the 5 category system
of Playability, Balance, Creativity, Map Design, and Story/Instructions, covers all the
areas that a truly great scenario should excel in. Each category is scored on a
range from 1 to 5 with 5 being the best score and 1 being the worst. The total score
is achieved by averaging each category. The system is very effective if it is used
At the beginning, my sole
responsibility at Heaven was writing reviews. As such, the reviews were very
consistent since I wrote them all. However, over time, I took on more and more
responsibilities at Heaven and I no longer had the time to write very many reviews myself.
So, we got a small team of reviewers together and I explained the system to them in
detail. That worked well for awhile but over time, some of the original team left
and new reviewers have been constantly added to the team to try and keep up with the
immense number of scenarios and campaigns that need to be reviewed. Unfortunately, I
have not able to give each of the new reviewers as much guidance as they needed and the
reviews have started to become very inconsistent.
This inconsistency is very
troubling since scores can vary widely depending on who is doing the review. That's
not fair to the designer or to the downloader. I know that there will always be some
variation in scores depending on the reviewer, but lately, the amount of variation is
unacceptable and this document will detail what I expect each score to represent. As
the Angel in charge of reviewing, it's my job to ensure that reviews remain a valuable
tool for both designers and downloaders.
The first thing to
always keep in mind is that reviews serve a double purpose. They are written for
both the scenario designer and for the site visitor who is considering downloading the
file. As such, reviews need to praise the designer for things that are done well and
point out areas where the designer can improve. Reviews also need to provide enough
information about the scenario so that potential downloaders will know if the scenario
matches their interests. Obviously, don't give away the plot or reveal secrets that
should be discovered while playing, but let the downloader know what the scenario is
about, if it's mainly fighting, or mainly rpg, or mainly puzzles or a mix of
everything. Whatever the case, a downloader should know what to expect from a
scenario after reading a review.
Try as hard as
possible to avoid vague statements in reviews. Make sure that your review answers
more questions than it raises. Don't ever say something like "The first part of
the 2nd scenario was good" or "the part with the wolf could be improved"
without providing further explanation. Try to always include an example from the
scenario to back up any points that you make. If you are pointing out something to
the designer that you feel could be improved, try to provide some ideas that the author
could build on. Do as much as you can to help the designer improve his work.
All scenarios have
good aspects and bad aspects. Try to always say at least one good thing about any
scenario you review and never, NEVER insult a designer. They might not be as good of
a designer as you but even if you are handing out a score of 1.0, you still should never
insult the designer. Be honest about the scenario but make every effort to encourage
the designer to do better next time.
Always spell check
your reviews. I've seen far too many reviews that take points off a rating because
of poor spelling yet the review itself is full of errors. Don't embarrass yourself -
spell check your work.
Lastly, the review
should contain a short explanation of why you scored each category the way you did.
This does not need to be lengthy, sometimes a sentence is enough but other times, a
paragraph for each category is needed.
About Scoring Methods for Each Category