Rating games: A Guide?

Posted by (twitter: @battlecoder)
August 29th, 2014 4:47 pm

It’s always pretty exciting to work on a game for  ludumdare. I’ve participated alone and in team and it’s always such a great experience!

I’ve seen a few discussions popping up here and there about the judging/review process. There are several instances where it’s not THAT easy to know how to rate a game!

While I’m not a veteran, during the time I’ve been here I’ve seen people agree on “best practices” that I’ll try to outline below or at least start a healthy open discussion about them! (if I’m wrong in any of them please let me know!)


Take into account  whether the game was submitted to the compo or the Jam!

This will let you rate the game better. I know bad graphics are bad graphics, but compo games can’t be judged with the same “harshness” you would use for Jam games because they were done in less time (48 hours instead of 72), by a single person (not a team) and -in theory- during the competition! (which is not necessarily true for Jam games, where using pre-existent assets is allowed). Same with music, or the level of polish. In fact, every aspect should be judged taking into account whether is a jam or a compo game!


Make sure you read the description!

The “description” is the first and main instance for developers to communicate with future players, so a lot of them will try to post information here that will help you play and rate their game.

I know sometimes there’s nothing relevant in the description, but you’ll find that in quite a lot of games reading the description first will definitely make a difference! Perhaps the developers didn’t have time for a tutorial and you’ll find the instructions there. Perhaps all the audio was taken from somewhere else and they are honest about it in the description (more on this later), perhaps you need to install something before playing the game.  Perhaps the web version has annoying bugs and glitches the other versions don’t have. All of this is relevant and will probably help you judge their game better!


The game doesn’t run? Don’t rate it!

If the game you are trying to play is not working for you, don’t give it a low score!. The most sensible thing to do is leave a comment saying that it didn’t run on your system. If you can provide relevant information (Operating System,  Processor, graphics card, Browser, A message that popped up before crashing, etc) all the better!


Remember that N/A means Not Applicable!

If the game lacks audio, for instance, the best thing to do is to NOT rate the game in that category.  Same with humor, for instance. If it’s an emotional game about a serious topic there’s no reason to give it a 1-star rating in humor when it’s not trying to be funny.


The audio or graphics are not their own? (Open to discussion)

For jam games where assets made before the competition or freely available on the internet can be used this is a really hard topic!. A lot of developers will tell you in the description if there’s something in their game they didn’t make themselves, while others simply won’t, which makes this issue all the more complicatedl! Not really sure what the “recommended course of action” is, but when the audio for a game wasn’t made by the team I usually don’t give the game a score in that category.

If they used a mix between things they made during the jam and things they borrowed from public sources then I try to “judge” the assets they did for the game and how they “blend” with everything else.  It’s a really complicated case (and hopefully uncommon) so I’d truly love  to know what other people do when this happens!


Leave a comment!

Leaving a comment after you’ve rated a game is not only a way to let the developer know you played their entry but also a way of helping them improve their game!  Bug reports, suggestions and feedback in general (e.g: “Loved your game!”) are always welcome by developers and will most likely help them continue working on the game beyond ludumdare. Plus, a lot of people (including myself) will return you the favor!



I think that’s all the advice I can give for rating games. If you know of other “best practices” please let me know and I’ll add them here!
Having said that, go and rate some games!


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5 Responses to “Rating games: A Guide?”

  1. Donar says:

    If a game has no sound, does it matter if I give N/A or 1 star? The “Overall” rating is not calculated by the other categories and the game won’t win in the audio category either way.

    The question you should ask yourself should be: “Does the missing audio affect my overall rating?”. In some cases it does, in some cases it doesn’t. In Jam entries it usually affects my overall rating in compo it depends on the game – I’m rating the skills of the developer, so audio doesn’t matter usually but if the developer tries to create a particular ambience and it doesn’t work without music or sound, it’ll affect my overall rating.

    How someone rates is actually not really important. Everyone has his/her own objective opinion on the games and in the end, his/her opinion is just a small part of the result.

    This guide should be called “How to not be a dick”, because leaving a comment, don’t voting if it doesn’t run and don’t being too hard on compo games is just good etiquette.

  2. MrTwister says:

    Glad to see someone chiming in!

    Well, I agree that for the most of it it doesn’t really make a difference if you give 1 star for a game without music or just skip the category entirely (N/A). I guess it’s just “semantics” (For me a 1 star in Audio usually means “game had music, but it made me turn my speakers off”). It will definitely not make the game win anything in that category, but it would be funny if a game without music tie with a game with cringe-worthy audio.

    I’ll still leave the “advice” there, because is kinda the “proper” thing to do. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a N/A option for each category.

    About renaming the post, well, haha, I believe that some people just “forget” that there’s a compo and a jam so there’s no ill intentions behind. I also recall people in previous LDs not knowing what to do when the game didn’t run on their system and some of them just gave the game a 1-star overall rating and moved to the next game, so although it’s just “good etiquette” I think a lot of people just don’t know.

    All in all this is not intented to be a strict set of rules but rather a list of tips and things that people should think about when rating games! Some of them (like reading the description) can potentially make their job easier!

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