Rate your own game

Posted by (twitter: @j_nikolai)
September 10th, 2012 10:14 pm

In lieu of a postmortem, I’m going to try an experiment.

You’ve played and rated a bunch of other games by this point.  You’re probably curious how you’re going to do in the final tallies, even if your game didn’t turn out to be what you wanted.  You like making and playing games, and you like competition — you’re here, after all.  Well, here’s a bonus competition.  Rate your own game, post your scores, and see how close you get to the final ratings you receive.

Try to forget everything you know about your game.  It’s completely impossible (given you’re the only one who knows all of it), but do it anyway.  Now, go back and play it.  If you’ve done any work on it since, play the original.  Give it the same chance you gave any other game you played.  Ignore any insider information you might have, put aside your biases, and write down your scores in that comment field down there.  You know the one.

Be honest.  I’m usually very sparing with 5’s, to save them for really spectacular entries…  and I’m judging myself on the same scale I used for everyone else.  Keep the same criteria you’ve used in the past in mind when you’re rating your own game.  Remember, this isn’t your game anymore, you’ve never seen it before today.  If you cheat and write all 5’s, you’re only cheating yourself.

Just as important as all the other skills needed to create a game is the ability to judge your own work with a critical eye, and be able to picture how others are going to see it.  Playtesting, as often as possible, is awesome for this (we did one last weekend), but you can’t playtest all the time, and getting stuck on a bad idea can kill you.  It’s too easy to come up with an idea that doesn’t work but convince yourself that it’s fun, and ignore what others have to say.  If you always try to put aside your own preconceptions when looking at your own work, it’s easier to stay focused on creating a good game.  This experiment will help us all see how capable we are of doing this.

If enough people are interested and post their scores, I’ll throw them all in a spreadsheet with the actual scores once they’re out, and figure out how close everyone came to their real scores.  If this idea sounds interesting to you, rate your game, and like this post so more people see it.

I’ll go first, but I’ll save it for a comment.

17 Responses to “Rate your own game”

  1. Overall: 3. It’s an interesting idea, and fun for a bit, but nothing spectacular.

    Innovation: 4. It’s unique, and isn’t obviously derivative of anything else, which is rare.

    Fun: 3. Throwing stuff around is fun for a while, even if I’m not sure how I’m doing. It gets monotonous for a little while

    Theme: 2. The name is about it. The gameplay kind of ‘evolves’, I guess, when levels go up. Or are the pieces evolving? Maybe they meant to do more with it…

    Graphics: 2. It’s at least a little dynamic, there are some particles and stuff, and the font isn’t comic sans.

    Audio: 1. Nothing. It’s a shame, too, it could have used some sound effects. (Note: I’ll usually leave audio as ‘n/a’ if there isn’t any, and reserve ‘1’ for particularly grating/annoying audio).

    Humor: 2. He obviously tried to be funny in a couple places, but it didn’t really work. (Note to self: If you think of an inside joke that only 3 people in the world are going to get, laugh at it, then leave it out of the game).

    Mood: 2. There isn’t one, but there isn’t not one. Honestly, I never really know how to rate ‘mood’ for something abstract like this that doesn’t really try to set a mood.

  2. johnfn says:

    Instead of rating ourselves, why not guess what our eventual scores will be?

    I’m too nervous to guess though. 😛

    • That was basically what I was going for (and, that’s what it’ll be compared against). I guess the one big difference is that since the final scores are averages, they won’t be constrained to integers. So, decimals are allowed if you want to try to guess the final score.

      And if you’re afraid to judge yourself publicly (it’s not an easy thing to do), then just do it for yourself and write it down somewhere. My real goal here was just to get people thinking about their games from the viewpoint of their players, and outside the confines of being the creator.

  3. Sestren says:

    I think this is a great idea. Human beings are hard-wired with a self-serving bias, but checking against your biases from time to time, I think, can help mitigate that to an extent. With that in mind, here’s what I imagine a newcomer to my game would probably think.

    Overall (2/5) : Blowing up the bunnies is fun, but the difficulty curve is terrible, and the lack of sound or gameplay depth really hampers it.

    Innovation (3/5) : The gameplay and appearance is unique, but with the absence of any upgrades, additional mechanics, or goals, there isn’t much to go on for innovation.

    Fun (3/5) : Again, blowing up the bunnies is fun, but if you don’t get them all right away their population quickly spreads unfairly out of control. Maybe that was the point the developer was trying to get across, but I doubt it. Overall, too hard.

    Theme (4/5) : The counter at the top keeps telling me the bunnies are mutating, and at the beginning there is quite a variety of different colors and shapes of bunnies, but with how little time there is to react when playing, it’s kinda hard to tell if the theme has really been properly implemented or if I just think I’m seeing them evolve over time. I think I saw one bunny cloned from another that had bigger eyes, so I guess it must be mutating. I think I can safely give the developer the benefit of the doubt here.

    Graphics (3/5) : The bunnies are cute and move fluidly, but the bomb sprites are lacking. Overall, everything looks alright. Clearly, a programmer first and not an artist, but one that at least takes time to deliver a clean and varied look.

    Audio (1/5 or N/A) : A game like this needs some kind of music or sound effects to keep the pace going. As it is, the whole thing is silent and boring.

    Humor (2/5) : Watching the expressions on the bunnies’ faces as they get hurt or die is mildly amusing, but there isn’t much else to speak of.

    Mood (2/5) : The information text prompts you when you win or lose (mostly lose), but apart from that and the bunnies themselves, there isn’t much to set a mood for. It’s pretty clear the developer ran out of time or worked too slowly that weekend to implement much in the way of polish or small extras.

    . . .

    I realize I’m being mostly critical, here, but I really think that unless you play the post-compo version of the game, it’s very difficult to tell that there even IS an evolutionary simulation going on under the hood (there really is). The bunnies have their own genes, when they clone themselves, there is a chance for random error (read: mutation), and the genes express themselves in the bunnies’ appearance and behavior. However, none of that really shows through all that well when the player is given very little feedback, the game rushes you too much to notice subtleties like slight changes in appearance, and there’s not much you can do about it even if you do notice it. If a player really didn’t notice this, I wouldn’t blame them for giving me only a 2 or 3 in Theme, and that’s a failing of my game that it doesn’t help in this regard.

    Overall, I’m fairly pleased with the post-compo version of my game, where the evolutionary theme is much easier to notice and the difficulty curve is fixed, but I acknowledge that the compo version was just too rushed to amount to much.

    Thanks for submitting this idea. I hope many more people participate, I think it’d be great to see how good people are at predicting what other people think of their work.

  4. Haette says:

    I really like this idea, I haven’t been rating games and this seems like a neat place to start.

  5. ReveLorenfield says:

    I like the idea, I’ll join you and rate my game too.

    Overall: 2. The game is pretty and colorful, but the game is not balance and the screen can be randomly overwhelmed by words. The game becomes really repetitive and doesn’t offer a good replayability, the player doesn’t have much control on the game : he just avoid and catch words.

    Innovation: 4. Playing with words is not common I think. It’s a mix of a infinite scroller and a bullet-hell game with word-shaped bullets…

    Fun: 3. As I said, the game becomes really repetitive. The player can just move the character, he can’t counter-attack. It’s really frustrating.

    Theme: 3. The character evolve and de-evolve by absorbing positive and negative words. The player starts as a neutral jelly ball and can finish as an angel or a demon.

    Graphics: 4. Dynamic and colorful. Some monsters are cute and the animation reminds cardboard stop motion.

    Audio: 3. There is audio and simple sound. It had a simple mood to the game but it’s not extremely good.

    Humor: 2. We can wonder why some cute animals are so means (why Mew is a mean word… ?)… The only place where you can try to find humour is in the words shouted by the enemies.

    Mood: 2. It doesn’t have a story to care about. I don’t really know how to rate mood…

    I can recognize the points I was focused on when I created the game : Something different and pretty. As a consequence, there is a bit of everything, but everything is average :)

  6. darkshadow says:

    Overall: 3 Its not great and its not terriable, not much more to say.

    Innovation: 3/4 The evolving creatures is not really something I’ve seen much of (outside this competition) and even in the competition it has not been done much. The game is boldly different from a lot of others.

    Fun: 1/2 The minimum amount of interaction makes it pretty dull, but watching the creatures is slightly amusing.

    Theme: 4/5 The game is a literal interpretation of the game but its done well enough to merit the theme.

    Graphics: 3 The tileset and the creatures look nice, though the creatures are a little small.

    Audio: N/A There is no sound

    Humour: 2 Perhaps evolving to bears and not people is funny, some of the random messages can be a little bit funny, but there isn’t much humour.

    Mood: 3/4 The simulation feels pretty complete, creatures are born, eat and die. The world can become desolate from over eating, and the creatures slowly evolve and change. It is a good game to sit down and just chill out and watch what happens.

    COOL IDEA:What would be interesting if we were really able to actually rate our own games, and a new category made for the people who are best able to be self critical and predict what their game scores! :)

  7. sorceress says:

    Innovation: 2.25. My game isn’t very innovative. But I don’t try to be innovative, so I get what I deserve here.

    Fun: 3.75. My game is fairly good fun, although it becomes a bit of a grind after a while. Shapeshifting and countering are fun. It’s also interesting unlocking the different forms.

    Theme: 3.00 My game follows the theme, but is nothing special. It doesn’t stand out strongly as being a game about evolution.

    Graphics: 4.75. My graphics are excellent, but would been 5.00 if there was some diversity between the 3d models. I do have my own graphics style, but it may not be to everyone’s taste.

    Audio: 4.50. The music I wrote is excellent. Sound effects are above average,

    Humor: 2.50 There is no deliberate humor, but some things are funny.

    Mood: 4.25. My game has a strong mood,

    Overall: 4.00. Overall, a strong entry, and will hopefully place at or about the top 5% mark. Grindy gameplay and imperfect controls, mean it doesn’t score higher than this. There is plenty of room for improvement, and the game would have good potential if it were developed further.

  8. Accidental Rebel says:

    Nice idea. I shall accept the challenge as well.


    Innovation: 2
    Not much innovation, to be frank. The overall gameplay is just a mash of different mechanics, first person movement with platforming. However, mashing them up in the first place is a unique idea in itself which I guess earns it a point or two.

    Fun: 4
    I was actually surprised of how fun the game turned out. The sense of urgency and the will to not fall to your death seemed to have heightened the tension even more. This, I feel, challenged players. Although it may have been frustrating for some, general consensus says that the experience was fun and enjoyable.

    Theme: 1
    This is where my game really flopped. The initial idea was that the land is “evolving” as evident in the disappearing tiles, but I felt that this was not enough so I added the evolving enemy. It was supposed to have a better AI every level but I was not able to add this feature.

    Graphics: 4
    I actually liked the overall look of the game. Shapes were simple cubes and hexagons but it was able to create a nice looking world. The visual style is also coherent and gives the player an idea of the backstory of the game even without knowing about it.

    Audio: 3
    Some simple Sound effects made in AS3SFX which, frankly, could have been improved. The looping background music, is fitting and makes you want to move around to the beat. However, it wasn’t looping correctly making it distracting, to say the least.

    Humor: 2
    Nothing much in terms of humor except for a *secret* easter egg that was inserted to the game. I was surprised that it made a lot of people laugh, to be honest.

    Mood: 4
    The coherence of both the graphics and audio I felt gave the game a really good mood. The lighting was bright, the colors gave you a sense that you were really inside a computer, the music was fitting. A few more tweaks light some blurs and some snazzy effects would have shot the mood through the roof.

    Overall: 4
    Overall, the game offered a pretty solid experience. It may not be too innovative, or may not be too related to the theme, but it did made me lose a few minutes enjoying playing it. And honestly, being able to offer that kind of experience is hard to pull off for a game made in under 72 hours.


    I had fun with this exercise, I’m curious to see what others have to say about their own games.

  9. vilya says:

    Great idea & really interesting to see what others think of their games! Here’s how I think I’d rate mine:


    Overall: 3. It’s kind of fun and the story is amusing, but the buggy alien spawning hampers it.

    Innovation: 3. Telling the back story from the aliens point of view makes the Space Invaders template more engaging & the last level introduces a new mechanic to the game. There’s not really anything here that hasn’t already been seen in other games, but as a package this combination feels kind of new.

    Fun: 3. I kept on playing ’til I won, despite the spawning bug. It could have been more clear what the victory conditions were in the last level, though.

    Theme: 1. Doesn’t really have anything to do with the theme other than the title.

    Graphics: 2. The retro pixellated look suits the game, but there’s no animation and the bombs look a bit too chunky.

    Audio: N/A. There wasn’t any.

    Humour: 4. The back story is pretty amusing. Those poor invaders were just so misunderstood!

    Mood: 2. Don’t really know how to rate this category. The game kept a kind of retro feel, does that count as “mood”?


    So looking through those scores, I guess I was pretty happy with the way the game turned out. Which is nice. :-)

  10. Gama11 says:

    This is actually a really interesting idea. I’ll rate my game is I see it (probably overrating it :/) and I’m bookmarking this page so I can come back and see how good my guess was.

    Innovation: 3/5 – it’s pretty much a standard avoider game but brings some new mechanics to the table like a trail that deflects enemies and bumping into walls to collec DNA / score.

    Fun: 4/5 – Gameplay was my focus pretty much and I’m positive I was able to create a fun experience – at least for myself. It’s rather hard, but I love challenging games.

    Theme: 2/5 Meh – there’s DNA and you and your enemies level up, but other than that, there’s no *real* evolution here. I thought the theme sucked.

    Graphics: 3/5 – nothing too fancy, in fact, the game pretty much consists of simple shapes only, but I think I was able to give it a decent look still without hurting the players eyes.

    Audio: 4/5 I think that the music I got from NG for this game is pretty badass, sfx ok.

    Humour: 2/5 Not much here except for the crazy story in the description.

    Mood: 3/5 Mode is medicore, mainly created by the background music.

    Overall: 3/5 – Nothing too special, but still a fun little time waster for 5 or 10 minutes, maybe even longer if you’re trying to beat the highscore on Kong. 😉

  11. Codexus says:

    Actually I’m pretty proud of my game this time so rather than boast or use false modesty I’ll skip that one. But it’s a nice idea.

  12. TobiasNL says:

    A pretty nifty idea indeed. It is hard to look at your game that way though.

    Theme 2/5 – No, just no. I’m not that originial. You can clearly see that while playing the game. The reptiles evolve into better ones once they have been killed, but I lacked the time to complete all evolutions which severely weakens the theme of my game.

    Graphics 4/5 – This took the most time beside programming the engine. I feel very satisfied about it, except for the dinosaur’s movement which looks lame as poo!

    Audio 4/5 – My favourite part; creating music and sound effects. Lots of sounds were recorded with my microphone and mixed together with SFXR sounds, resulting in pretty fancy shizzlebizzlestuff.

    Fun 3/5 – Good stuff! Traveling back into time to murder evolving dinosaurs? Hellz yeah! The game gets boring after a few rounds though, as it lacks upgrades and móre enemies with different attack patterns. [I am however very skilled in this game so there’s no challenge left for me at all:P]

    Humour N/A – As far as I know I didn’t put any humour into the game. The story is pretty funny though, because it is so unbelievable lame.

    Innovation 2/5 – It’s an arcade platform shooter with enemies that grow stronger. Not that innovative.

    Mood 3/5 – The music creates, together with all of the voices, a pretty nifty mood. The text flying around with lots of sounds and flashes really adds to that ‘arcade’ feeling. Job well done I guess.

    Overall 3/5 – My game feels very solid. It features an intro, a menu, a tutorial ánd a mission. Therefore I’m pretty proud of my end results. In other words, great presentation. The game however lacks immersion in relation to the theme.

    -The ‘after competition’ version will feature custom controls, a better strafing mechanic and more content.

  13. Spaceoff says:

    Great idea, this will definitely give some interesting posts, and a good thing to reflect on. My bet is nobody/almost nobody will write themselves a single 5 in reply, and people will often write a 1 in a field they know well is neglected… which is an understandable instinct, but not necessarily accurate… it is hard to rate honestly after all.

    Innovation – 2/5, it’s based on another already popular game after all, and doesn’t deviate much from the concept at all.
    Fun – 4/5, rather glitchy, hard at first to know what to do, but there’s quite a lot you can do once you know how to play, and can be very engaging.
    Theme – 3/5, I guess its somewhat linked to the theme, but not directly.
    Graphics – 4/5, neat little graphics that work well, fog of war works effectively in adding an element of the unknown, some sprites however, eg. the “mountains” AKA weird bulging rocks, and “cities” AKA mud grovel things, are not so great. Not the most pro, but work well for the game.
    Audio – 2/5, since there are only extremely basic sfx that are hard to notice even exist… some slow paced music to fit with the pace of the game would’ve really gone well.
    Humor – N/A, simple as that, no attempts at humour anywhere from what I can see.
    Mood – 3/5, the fog of war really adds to this… it can be engaging, but the mood is weakened when you don’t know what’s going on, and severely weakened by the lack of any proper sound.
    Overall – 4/5, very impressive to make a 4X in that kind of time, and plays well… but its not clear how to play unless you’ve played civilization games before.

    Rated this honestly, not modestly, and the same way I would rate any other game. It’s hard to be completely honest about a game you made yourself though, because after a certain point you really don’t know how to judge it any more. Tbh, I expect worse ratings for the entry, but that’s how I’d rate it if I hadn’t made it.

  14. wibblymat says:

    Hmm, my game was made in about 10 hours of actual work, so its not going to look great. Here is how I’d rate it:

    Innovation – 1/5 – It’s a totally standard platformer. There is nothing new here.
    Fun – 2/5 – It plays quite well and its challenging. I did quite enjoy playing it for the 2 minutes it lasts. But too short and quite frustrating.
    Theme – 1/5 – Tacked on. The “story” talks about fossils. The idea I wrote down involved Aliens collecting them to find genetic ideas for their own improvement. Not there in the game I made though.
    Graphics – 2/5 – Not a 1 because the very, very minimal style doesn’t actually look all that bad. But still lame.
    Audio – 2/5 – The sound effects exist and there was music. I reserve the 1s for the silent games in this category normally.
    Humor – 2/5 – For the pun in the name – Doug Bones the paleontologist.
    Mood – N/A – I just never know how to rate this one. What does it even mean in the context of my game? No emotional reaction at all.
    Overall – 1/5 – Just not a lot here.

  15. I haven’t forgotten, I was just out of town when the results came in. (and, spreadsheets in google docs are amazingly unusable on android).

    Here are the results, sorted by a few metrics:

    Closest to actual rating: (sum of ABS(actual – guess) for each category)

    2.57 Gama11
    3.33 vilya
    3.39 Spaceoff
    3.77 Jeremy Nikolai
    4.16 Sestren
    4.59 darkshadow
    5.05 ReveLorenfield
    5.15 wibblymat
    5.33 Accidental Rebel
    6.07 sorceress
    7.15 TobiasNL

    How far the actual ratings were over (or under) your guess. (sum of actual – guess for each category). The higher the number, the more humble you were.

    6.19 TobiasNL
    4.11 wibblymat
    3.21 ReveLorenfield
    1.95 Jeremy Nikolai
    1.79 Accidental Rebel
    0.87 vilya
    0.84 Sestren
    -0.15 Gama11
    -0.35 Spaceoff
    -3.63 darkshadow
    -5.27 sorceress

    Price-is-right (closest without going over) for each category:

    Overall: Gama11 (0.27)
    Innovation: Gama11 (0.16)
    Fun: vilya (0.04)
    Theme: ReveLorenfield (0.3)
    Graphics: ReveLorenfield (0)
    Audio: Spaceoff (0)
    Humor: Jeremy Nikolai (0.14)
    Mood: Gama11 (0.03)

    If there’s anything else you want to see out of this data (or just want the data for yourself), let me know and I can post it.

  16. sorceress says:

    The reason why my ratings were not very close to the ratings I received is because you asked us to “rate your own game”, rather than “predict what results you will get.” These are very different questions.

    But when compiling these statistics, you’ve switched your interpretation of the data to the latter, which is deceptive. :-/

    I am more generous than most when I give ratings, so that will inflate the ratings I give myself above those I would predict to receive.

    Plus I like my own tastes (intrinsically), so I’m more inclined to understand and like the style of my own game.

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