Friday, February 24, 2012

Introducing... the COWARD system!

Here it is, the COWARD system will allow me to put some kind of notation to the games I'm currently playing.

It was a hard time trying to figure out what to put in this scale, because it has to be a bit generalist.
The GIMLET, PISSED and CAPICE systems (from the CRPG Addict, Adventure Gamer and RPG Consoler blogs, respectively) work great, notably because they are specialized in one genre. My major problem was that I should be able to find a scale that could be used for any kind of game. I didn't want to go for a "classic" video game magazine scale, which would hold no new interest (Reviews on 1UP or Gamespot would be much more interesting to read).

So, the COWARD system works majorly on my "feelings" towards the game I just played. It's even more subjective than any other scale, but let's try this for the time being, we can always change it if you find it doesn't work.

C stands for Cleverness.
Cleverness is, for me, one of the most important part of any game. Why are Zelda games so great for example? It's because it makes you feel good when you solve a puzzle. Cleverness stands for when the game lets you figure something out for yourself instead of shoving it down your throat. In the Resident Evil franchise, it would be to let you forge your own path through the mansion (e.g. RE1) instead of putting you on rails and never let you go astray (e.g. RE0 in my memory). If the game itself is "clever" and able to fool the player with something he would never have seen coming, it will be notified here as well.

O stands for Originality
This one is a bit peculiar. Considering I'm working through game franchises, the first game of every series would get a great Originality grade, and all the subsequent ones would get a low one. I'll treat the first games of every series differently : How is RE1 has changed anything in the video games industry instead of just getting its inspiration from other places? About the sequels, the O grade will stands for the risk taken from the formula. Resident Evil 4, where everything was rethought concerning how to change the formula, is sure to fetch a great grade, where Resident Evil 5, which is basically a "quicker, more aggressive" version of RE4, would score lower.

W stands for Writing
Considering I want to play games that have always something to do with storytelling (even if it's not the major point), this note stands for how the story is told. A "classic" Mario game usually doesn't have a lot to say about the story, it's often "cross level, battle Bowser, save princess", but a Zelda, or even a Resident Evil one (the books and notes scattered all over the place tell you more about what happened in the first place) would be much more interesting to evaluate. The story itself is important, but this grade will also gauge how it's told.

A stands for Appeal
Here it is, the graphics and sound grade. It stands for the setting of the game, the beauty (or ugliness) of graphics, the ambiance in itself. I will try to evaluate the appearance of this game when it first hit the shelves, and how it's aged. In this regard, older games won't be necessarily disadvantaged compared to the newer ones. A good looking NES game can of course score the same grade than a PS3 one, for example. This grade is more about how the graphics and sound help the story unfold, or how they try to hide that the game in itself is an empty vessel.

R stands for Reactivity
The controls are graded here. In my opinion, the gamer should always find that a game is "fair". If you die because of your lack of response to an immediate threat, the game is fair, if you die because you couldn't make your character do what you wanted him to do, it's unfair. The "tank control" of the early Resident Evil games will have a hard time going through this grade...

D stands for Delicacy
Why do we play games? It's because of how good it sometimes make you feel. Overcoming a really strong foe or solving a complicated riddle can make you feel good, like you've really accomplished something. On the other side, too much difficulty can lead to frustration and smashing controllers. The greatest games have usually found the perfect balance in this regard.

Following the example of my blog mentors, I'll give every category a grade between 0 and 10 (leading to a 60 points rating), then put that grade on a 100 scale to get a final rating.

Here is my scale, for the time being, I'll try it on the first few games I play, and see how it goes. Please let me know what you think!

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