At NoMutantsAllowed there’s a new editorial, written by Brother None, entitled The Rybicki Maneuver: When to praise and when to criticize: a how-to guide:
Morrowind just laid the groundworks for Oblivion or Oblivion loses out to Morrowind on the basis of being more action-orientated? It can’t be both, so what causes the difference in opinion between these two pieces?
And there we arrive at the central point of this article; the Rybicki Maneuver. In short the maneuver means that as long as your opinion on the product actually matters towards the game’s sales, don’t be too critical. The moment criticism doesn’t matter anymore or, even better, criticism can be used to say “they won’t do this again”, do a 180 and suddenly claim the flaws you didn’t mention in your review should be obvious to anyone.
Coincidentally a discussion about the role of gaming reporters started on the Bethesda Games Forum, and in there you can see an interesting discussion featuring Matt “Gstaff” Grandstaff and Brother None:
Consumers should definitely take previews with a grain of salt. Ultimately, more educated decisions about purchasing games can be made once reviews are out or if you have a chance to rent the game or download a demo before purchasing.
At the same time, if there weren’t previews for the game for you guys to read about, then there would be complaints that you’re not getting adequate information about the game. I know that a lot of journalists aren’t so keen on writing previews, but everyone wants a “first look” at games. For that reason, I don’t blame journalists for not going out of there way to bash a title. These guys have played a lot of games, and they know that they’re “works in progress.” If they don’t like what they see when the final product, they definitely want consumers to know. At least this is my experience of reading reviews over the years.
And typically, from coverage I’ve read over the years, magazines will weigh in on what they thought about the game. For years I’ve been reading EGM and when they do E3 previews, there’s usually some sort of label next to each preview that says something like “terrible,” “so-so” or “excellent,” so I don’t really buy that preview coverage is always fluff.
In the case E3 Best of Show previews, my journalists usually consider handing out such awards to be a big deal and take it very seriously. Of course, since these still qualify as previews, they realize that the game isn’t complete either – they can only judge game on the material they saw. Take Jeff Green for instance – from his 1up blog post, he seems anxious to play Fallout 3 after seeing it, but he still acknowledges that he wants to know more about the game.
Good post, Gstaff. Dead on the money. I just wish it didn’t need to take 50 previews saying *exactly the same thing* with *exactly the same screenshots* to get the info out there. Bethcha NMA could’ve found out that and more in one preview/interview, zing!
At some point, I’d love to get fans a chance to see more, but I don’t think we’ve gone against the norm by starting with gaming press. That’s just my experience, if you allow me to take my Bethesda hat off (BTW, I hate that expressions, sorry for using it).
Gstaff; no worries. We got some of our more pressing questions in there, and in gathering tidbits from the 50-odd interview/previews, we could gather almost a full page of actual information. Heh. Glad our international colleagues participated, always more interesting than the Americans in the RPG business. One question I’ve been meaning to ask you, Matt: were no Russkies invited or did we all just miss it? One of the biggest and most dedicated fanbases of the world, Russia (though the market is kind if impenetrable/nonlucrative, with the loose copyright laws)
Suddenly it hit me…
Matt, I hate to break it to you. But the Fallout franchise and its fanbase, like, don’t fit the norm. So going against the norm here would be fitting the aberrant norm, or something
Oh don’t worry, I realize that. When I’m given the opportunity to share stuff with you guys, that’s what I want to do.
As for the norm part, I do think that Fallout fans share much in common with Transformers fans. Though experience from another job, I realize you both have: a devoted fans, long waits, a project in new hands, online outroar upon release of new assets, etc. My personal opinions aside about the movie, you could also say that many fans were happy, and then there are fans that will always have a problem with change (which is fine by me, and from what I’m seeing in the forums here, will likely be the case with Fallout 3.) Still, like any movie, if you’re fan, I’d suggest giving it a chance.