Should Hosted Games be vetted more thoroughly?


#1

Before I state my position on this, I just want to make it clear that I’m a huge fan of hosted games. If I were to make a top 10 CoG/Hosted list, it would be dominated by hosted games. I think the ability to write without the restrictive shackles of CoG’s style and design guidelines is a huge boon to authors. That said, it would also easily dominate a list of the worst 10 games I’ve played. I believe CoG should seriously consider implementing a more thorough approval/vetting process.

I’m not asking for CoG to set up some arbitrary quality standards or writing guidelines they do with their official label, infact I’d actively discourage that, but there needs some sort of barrier to entry set up to stop games that are actively diluting the hosted games brand and damaging it’s reputation with customers from slipping through. I am aware of the basic rules, but these are not enough. Games like Sword of the Elements and Zombien should never have been published.

Here are some of my proposed rules. These are fairly basic and, in my opinion, the bare minimum of what should be expected for a commercial game. They’re also fairly objective, so simple to enforce.

  • The author should be fluent in english, or at the very least the game should be edited by someone who is. CoG already require the games to be in english, It would be easy to take another step and say they should be in fluent and smooth english.
  • Grammar/Spelling. I can forgive the occasional mistake, but some games are just so egregious with it that it turns me off from them entirely. It gives me the impression that either the author never graduated from school, or is just incredibly lazy and doesn’t care for the quality of their work. CoG should enforce grammar standards and consistency above and beyond the basic “this sentence has to make sense”. If a game frequently switches between past and present tense, that’s not up to grammatical standards. If a game doesn’t make proper usage of paragraphs and page_breaks, that’s not up to standard either. Refuse to publish their game and make them fix it.
  • The game needs to be relatively bug free. Yes, I know it’s near impossible to eliminate all bugs, but I should be able play through it with the expectation that I won’t be running into weird continuity errors every chapter.

What do you guys think? Do you have any additions to the list? If you disagree, I’d love to hear why.


#2

My own top ten list is I think pretty evenly divided between HGs and CoGs; my top twenty would tilt HG-ward. Still, I’d never buy a HG unless I see it warmly recommended on the forum. And as it stands, I wouldn’t talk about “the HG brand.” It’s just a platform; I’d no sooner buy a game because it’s a HG than I would because it’s on Steam.

I don’t think your proposal is completely off the wall. CoG have taken some very basic steps in that direction already, with the requirement for games to pass a forum beta test as well as QT and RT. But going further in that direction raises the question of how and by whom the additional vetting’s going to happen.

It would take time to make sure a game is (even relatively) bug free, and to confirm that it’s got decent grammar and spelling throughout. Making that commitment for every HG would mean committing a significant chunk of CoG time – unless we can think of a good mechanism to forum-source it.


#3

I’m not sure that naming is necessary. (I think your point can be made without it and has less potential for angst that way.) I haven’t read sword of the elements yet (it’s not the only one, I need more $ and time). If zombien is the one I’m thinking of ( with the alien tech near the end? It’s been a while.) I don’t remember it being hard to read.

COG has said in the past when this has been brought up that they don’t vet hosted games, although they now require a beta test (something not mandatory for the older games.)


#4

I think everything should stay as it is, dont try to repair something that already works. If anything, I would like to see CoG and HG with background music, to give a little extra touch to the text you are reading, like if you are in a market, some busy street mp3 in a loop until you leave that are and such


#5

Sword of the Elements was created by a guy whose native tongue isn’t English, so even though the beta testers did a good job helping him out, I can see your point as it wasn’t thoroughly corrected and it has that feeling where you know it was done by a person who doesn’t speak native English. Zombien is a bit better grammar wise but it has a decent concept with an off-putting execution. The sense of humor is just…odd. Not good, not bad, just odd, for lack of a better term.The pacing is also pretty whacked out, too.

Still, I’d say while they’re not the most perfect games HG has to offer, I don’t want to have more vetting unless there’s a demand for it. Most of HG are of passable quality, at least, and there is benefit to be gained from not following the CoG standards and procedures. I’m not saying that we should do away with CoG entirely–quality control and all that–but sometimes more red tape can be a bit of a hindrance to authors.


#6

As a not native, I found your post racist. If literature worked as you has defined Shakespeare, Cervantes, Proust… would have never been published. Literature is not grammar. Shakespeare is by all actual laws, not grammatical accuracy. He is switching between times and flashbacks. He made it words same as Proust and Cervantes invented modern novel. Mary Shelley for instance, wasn’t native Frankenstein still being one of the best horror novel and she established one of first truly sci fi titles.

So say Sorry, You are not native go back to your country we won’t want your story. Or give me a certification of your grammatical level. It’s insulting.

I think the system works well and allows most of people trying out, and say Hey, if I working hard on it I could reach my dreams.

I don’t have money to pay editors and publishers and more. So if that was a rule no natives except with professional editors. Well, broken dreams. And I really don’t think I am the one in that situation.


#7

@Havenstone CoG already review the games to make sure there is no objectionable content - it wouldn’t be that big of a leap to start checking for spelling and grammar too. I’m not saying it should be impeccable, just up to basic standards. Maybe if Hosted games had some form of QC, people would be less wary to buy them.

@Jacic I don’t think there’s anything wrong with naming offenders. I’m just using them as examples of bad grammar. They shouldn’t be immune to criticism.

@poison_mara How is it racist to expect my games not to be delivered in broken english? Are CoG also racist for not allowing games in other languages? Is every publisher in the world racist for wanting what they publish to be well written? I never mentioned native, I said fluent. If you want to write a game, a book, anything in the english language and then charge for it, you better damn well be fluent.


#8

I’ll agree, I have played a few Hosted Games where I was surprised by the amount of spelling and grammar mistakes. I accept that some mistakes do make it past the beta testing stage and I don’t really care if a game has a handful of spelling/grammar mistakes. That said, with some games it’s not a case of two or three mistakes throughout the game, it’s a case of two or three mistakes on every page.

In cases like that, I think maybe the COG staff should just say to the author, “Sorry, but your game does not meet our standards as it contains too many spelling/grammar errors. Please correct these and then submit the game again.”

In the long run, I think that would be better for the site and the author. Sure it would take a little longer for the author to get their game published, but the game would get higher ratings and more people would probably play it as a result.


#9

I think @tw1stedmind isn’t talking about whether or not Hosted Games should be allowed to use graphics or sound effects so much as whether or not games with a lot of spelling and grammar errors should be published.


#10

Your opinion on it, but with your rules Shakespeare wouldn’t be able to selling a poem. Grammar is not the most important thing in literature. Hemingway adapted certain Spanish extructures to English to give flavor certain of his works. Switching between present and past is used with mastery with certain other like Proust or several Dadaists. Lewis Carroll is very famous for that too in several poems and short stories. Literature is not grammar. Limited all based in grammar is not the way of separate. I don’t consider myself enough fluent to be published but that doesn’t mean that should be a rule to directly null value of certain Hosted games.I like Zombien.


#11

I see what you are getting at. I think some of the points are valid. Language barriers are indeed something any writing community has, and I agree to the extent that it should be well written grammatically and spelling wise. However, if the person isn’t a native English speaker, traditional or Americanized, I feel the beta test should be more rigorous in seeking out the issues with the text. No one should be barred from making a game. If a non-native speaker wishes to make one, they should do so to the best of their ability and meet the currently set guidelines before a more focused beta.

We all make mistakes grammar wise. I’m sure my post and even yours has some type of error that we are not aware of. Simply put. We need to get over it. If it is good enough for HG it is good enough for me. I’m not going to run around a game worrying about what ever parrallism they don’t have or syntax errors. “Oh look they improperly used a logical fallacy!” (Not often used in fiction, but for my point to be made…)It’s not an AP Lang essay, so don’t make it out to be one.

Error wise, I don’t see how you would be running into major errors after a game has been Beta tested. If any thing the beta test itself should draw out anything like that. If you do, just say “Hey here’s an error!” And that’s the end of it. What I think you are asking for is not a more rigorous accemptence policy, but a better beta system.


#12

Grammar may not be the most important thing in literature, but unless if it’s stylized, people still expect a standard of neatness.

No one is perfect, and people won’t be nitpicky over the occasional error or two; however, if a CoG or HG is released and there are so many mistakes on every single page, then people would be turned off and no one would buy it. What would people say about CoG’s standards then?

That’s kinda why CoG wants all their games nowadays to go through a beta test; that way the games can be ironed out by the community themselves while also being trusted to sort out any grammatical issues. I know Sword of the Elements and Zombien went through the same treatment at some point. Any mistakes made then can be blammed on either the beta testers or authors, but I still think the current model is good for CoG to quality tests their games and user submissions without being overbearing.


#13

I might disagree a bit here. I think some customers do keep in mind the “HG brand.” Here’s the first line of a recent review I received on Android…

I was pleasantly surprised when I experienced this, especially since it’s a Hosted Game and some of them tend to be rather poor quality.

And I’ve received other reviews with similar statements. Let’s just say that when a HG of subpar quality is released, it does nothing to help other HG titles, and to some extent, may damage the brand, and by association, other HG titles.

But I totally agree about CoG having limited time and resources, and the inherent difficulties in devoting even more time to a subpar game. So I’m not sure there is a fix for this issue. It’s just the nature of how HG is set up that there are minimal content requirements.


#14

I think you misunderstood what @tw1stedmind was saying. To me, what he seemed to be saying is that the game should make sense. Whether or not English is the author’s first language doesn’t matter. Even if the author doesn’t speak English at all, they write a game in a foreign language and the game is translated into English by another person, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the game makes sense.

English might not be your first language, but you speak it well enough that we can all understand what you’re saying. Not all people who speak English as a second language speak it as fluently as you though, and things can easily be mistranslated.

Let’s take a simple sentence, “Growing up as a poor, young farm boy, Bob never would’ve dreamed that he was secretly a missing prince!”

Put that sentence in google translate a few times and you get, “To grow up as the son of the farmer of the poor, young and old had never seen in him the secret of the ruin of the prince of the Bob!”

… That does not make sense, and if a submitted game began with a sentence that looked like that, it should not be accepted because nobody would be able to understand it.


#15

First of all you shouldn’t name specific games. Do you even know the work that writing a CoG represents? Would you like to invest days, weeks, months, maybe years in an interactive novel and then just see some random user bash it in a random thread and saying that it is ruining the Hosted Games label? A little bit of respect goes a long way in a discussion.

Second, the Hosted Games label is what makes CoG company great and completely different from any other. They give any writer the possibility to share his story with the world. We should all support that.

Third, I disagree completely with your argument about HG general lack of quality. I usually like Hosted Games more than those of the official line.

Fourth, I disagree with the idea that literature should be concerned with grammar that much. Literature’s grammar should be subjective. Why? Because it is a reflection of the author. I am not saying that there can’t be bad grammar, I am just saying that a discussion like that isn’t that simple. Look at José Saramago, he has a very, very particular style of writing, one that even disrespects traditional grammar rules. Is he a bad writer or are his books of low quality?

Fifth, The community has a good system to help Hosted Games authors make the best game possible. The community goes a long way in enhancing a game’s quality. There is no such thing as perfection.


#16

I understand what you are writing and I comprehend, fully, your critique. Paradox Interactive is a company that for years had quality control issues with their releases, so much so, that even today that reputation is a burden on their current releases.

Here is the key concept that you are missing though; @Havenstone alluded to it but I feel a need to bring this to the forefront of this discussion. @poison_mara alludes to the concept as well but mis-names the problem with your position. This key concept is: Hosted Games acts as a gateway for non CoG programmers using Choice-script.

This is important to understand because under this gateway, CoG is acting more then just a publisher.

Which is where Mara’s post comes into play - it isn’t racist, it is discriminatory to add further milestones that a programmer/author must meet in order to be published. Why?

Because many of the authors and programmers in the Hosted field are not able to meet even the simplest of such milestone hurdles. Let’s take getting an editor to “clean up” any future submission. Such services are very important to catch and correct the grammar/structure and writing issues you loathe so much.

Yet, an editor is an expensive service to buy. The purchase point of these releases will not cover the cost of such services. One of the most popular titles in the Hosted library still is barely in the red several years after release due to expenses. Adding on to this, it means charging 3-5 dollars more per copy to recoup costs in a timely manner.

As a consequence, your limiting the available pool of coders/authors and prohibiting contributors from poorer nations of the world.

Most Hosted authors that are successful do a lot of work that costs both time and money beyond what little CoG offers a Hosted author. Cataphrak does works on Patreon for example and Eric Moser goes to trade-shows and start kick-stater campaigns … authors like JimD do facebook and modern social media but my bet is they still can’t support themselves on publishing titles in the Hosted library this way.

Authors like Mara spend years finding people and resources to help them succeed and most don’t find volunteer editors or illustrators and the like - so they do what they can do and take a loss-leader to get their work published.

This is such a niche market as of now that to further dilute the number of publishing authors like your additional milestones will might even bring CoG’s Hosted library to the brink.

The Hosted library relies on getting itself out there and seen to survive. If CoG doesn’t have titles churning out on a regular basis then it means the library may not survive for long. It is very analogous to dime-store novel publishers of the late 1880’s in America. Most of which could not survive without the constant churn they made.


#17

This is true… but I also think that in most cases, you need to know the rules before you can break them well. Deliberate use of nonstandard grammar or spelling can make a work great. If it’s not deliberate, if you just don’t understand the rules well enough to know you’re breaking them, then it’s almost certainly going to weaken your work. I know a little Spanish, but if I tried to write XOR in Spanish I’d be constantly breaking grammatical rules because I’m non-fluent. That wouldn’t make me Cervantes.

I don’t think it’s a decisive weakness. I can still enjoy a work with bad grammar if it’s got good plot, characters, etc. Speaking as the guy who proofread Sabres of Infinity, I can say both that (a) it’s one of my favorite works written in ChoiceScript and (b) spelling and grammar aren’t Paul’s strongest suit. But his writing abounds in other strong suits.

To bring it back to @tw1stedmind’s proposal, if Paul hadn’t been able to get someone to volunteer-proofread his HG and it had been left unpublished by a CoG that refused to publish HGs with significant spelling and grammar issues, we’d be much poorer for it.


#18

A well that’s different, His post sounded You have no English mayor and or an English mayor editing your work. You are banned from even trying. Literature has to make sense and being at least well paused and well spaced. Switching between tenses or points of view however, are mechanisms used in literature and could helping the flow or rise the dramatism of a scene.

What I think it should be done is a forum volunteers group of editors. In exchange part of author revenue. I certainly would do that, I would never try to present something to Hosted with my current level on English. However, that should be an author auto censorship not a rule.


#19

I think in most cases, a more thorough beta-testing process would fix all the problems. The trouble is that beta-testers are not professional editors, they are members of the site that volunteer their help. In a lot of cases, the author of the game might have a better understanding of spelling and grammar than the beta-testers do.

One person on another site offered to beta-test my game. I sent them the link and after awhile they sent me a message to tell me they’d finished the game and that they enjoyed it. When I asked if they’d noticed any spelling or grammar errors, they admitted that they hadn’t really been looking for errors, they were just playing the game for fun. :yum:

It would be great if every game could be beta-tested by somebody with a degree in English language, but since it’s all voluntary, that’s not really possible. You just have to accept the help from whoever offers it.


#20

But would something like that be essential? I mean, grammar is important, ok. And having someone that really knows english is also important and very useful. But is it essential? I, for instance, would very much prefer to read a good story/game, with a meaningful plot, good characters, important and difficult choices, that isn’t written perfectly, than the contrary. The OP insisted in mentioning Zombien so let me say that it is a great game. Is it perfectly written? Maybe not. But the story is quite interesting, the characters are good and the choices meaningful. Do we really want to limit ourselves to “well written” games, ignoring the quality of other, perhaps more important, aspects?

And I believe that when @poison_mara says that the post is a bit offensive to non-native english speakers she is right. Why is the discussion focused on non-native english speakers? Why isn’t it just focused on good and “bad” speakers? I have known a lot of non-native english speakers whose english is much better than some natives that I know. Do we really want to make this about “races” or countries of origin?