Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Why I don’t review games – but I do want to talk about them

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 4, 2013

I haven’t said it in a while, so I guess it needs to be mentioned again: I don’t really do game reviews here.

I will do quick takes – little thoughts on a game as I play. And if something really grabs my fancy, or pisses me off, I may discuss it. Sometimes if something really chaps my hide, I may talk about it, but leave off the name of the offending game(s) to protect the guilty.


Well, a few things.

Number one – I’m not really on the game journalist side of the fence. I don’t have that layer of insulation. My lot is with the game developers, and while we may be loosely affiliated, we are a community. And I know some of these guys / gals. In some cases, we’re friends. So I got friends on all sides, and I’m trying to be civil and friendly on all sides. We do need to work together sometimes, after all. So if I can’t say something nice… well, you get the idea. And I have discovered that – much of the time – what I say here gets back to the original developer(s). I may not be all that important, but I can’t really be anonymous.

Number two – I’m a game developer. Anything I say will be used against me. It’s fair. I know I’ve said a few things in the past that I ended up eating later. Like when I rant against a particular design decision, and then find myself making the same “mistake” – even consciously, because it’s a difficult trade-off.

Number three – I’m a game developer, redux. I understand these things. I guess in reality, this makes me well-suited as a reviewer, as I understand what the developer did, and sometimes why they did it, even if it seems like a bad idea to the customer. But that makes me take more of the tone of an apologist than a brutal reviewer.

Number four – Conflict of interest. I sell some of these games from my site. As hard as I would try, I’m not sure I could really distance myself as a reviewer from that of a marketer. And even if I could, would people really believe in the integrity of a review for a game I stand to profit from selling? No, better just to share my enthusiasm for the game and list its good points with the understanding that yes, I do sell the game.

Number five – Conflict of interest, redux. I compete against some of these games. Now, I tend to believe that my “competitors” are actually a powerful marketing vehicle and very much to my benefit. I’m often a fan of their games, they are often a fan of mine, and we do a lot more to grow the potential pie rather than squabbling over the size of the pieces. Every new player who discovers indie RPGs through any of our games becomes a potential customer for all of them.  Now, that being said – yes, there’s still an element of competition, and I worry about how it would be perceived if I trashed a “competitor’s” game in what purported to be an honest review.

Anyway – for all those reasons, I just don’t feel good about doing reviews on Tales of the Rampant Coyote. I may write a review for another site, sometimes, where someone else has editorial control over things. I like speaking my mind (and sometimes shooting from the hip) here. Game reviews are a service to customers, and I wouldn’t want to dilute my focus by having another product that could be at odds with making games.

What I do like to write about here (or have others write about – actual community members are always welcome to submit something) are games. I like talking about them as much as I like playing them.

Now, do you have a game you’d like to bring to my attention? Maybe have me talk about? Sure. I’m okay with that. Don’t expect a full-fledged review or anything, but especially if it’s in the indie RPG or Adventure Game arena, if I have the time I’d love to check it out. Maybe even do a “quick take” on my site talking about it.  I do like to share cool things with my community.

But as a community member, please understand that while I’ll try and be honest, I’m not offering a full-fledged, vetted recommendation or anything. I’m simply talking about things I like, and things I think you might be interested in. I have zero influence over whether or not a Kickstarter campaign will actually deliver on its promises, or whether a game will actually be to your liking. I’ll just talk about the reasons why you might want to check it out.

Another thing I’d like to talk about here – to continue to talk about – are the really weird, niche, unknown games that probably won’t get much attention anywhere else. There are TONS of RPGs, adventure games, roguelike, strategy games, etc. out there that almost nobody is talking about. In some cases, it might be because they aren’t all that good. It happens. But especially in the RPG genre, it is rare indeed to find a game that is completely without any element worthy of praise or at least interest.


Filed Under: Rampant Games - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • Stick Games said,

    That makes sense, man. I feel like if you’re “reviewing” games, you’re kind of stuck inside a box of some uniform expectation of how it’s supposed to be written. This goes against what I think a blog should be about. If you’re blogging, you should have the freedom to write where you’re mind takes you and be a little more impulsive than what is expected from the more journalistic side of things.

  • Cuthalion said,

    Seems sensible to me.