You may have noticed that many gaming publications and blogs have their own reviews, and unless you’re new you’ve probably seen some gaming titles that are followed with The TAY Review popping up on the front page of our wonderful site. There have been dozens of TAY Reviews posted in the last three years, so here’s a refresher on how to write one for anyone new or any veterans who have forgotten.
Part 1: What’s in a Name?
If you want to write reviews on TAY do you have to use our system or name? No, you absolutely do not. But if you are going to use our review system you need to use the name, and if you’re going to use the name you need to use the system. Make sense? You can come up with your own thing and style it however you like if that’s more appealing. This is just here if you want it. No pressure.
Basically, we’ve constructed a system that we feel works and people enjoy. So use it! It’s great, it’s free, and it’s something we’ve built upon and improved over the last few years.
FAQ - “Well how come you get to say what’s officially a TAY Review? How come I can’t just use that title and do whatever I like? Huh!? Huh!? I write here too you know!”
Well, aren’t you a spicy little meatball. It comes down to the fact that we’ve put a lot of work into this and tried to bring a bit of organization and structure into the wild west that is TAY. Developers know us and they know how our reviews work, so claiming to be a TAY Review but then not following our outlines, you’re likely to lose us the small relationship we already have with developers.
This is system for everyone, but it does have an outline and some very basic rules.
Part 2: Pick a Winner
Since anyone with authorship on TAY can write a TAY review it’s kind of hard to tell who is going to be doing what review. You don’t want eight Fall Out 6 reviews popping up next to each other. I mean... that would be fine, but when they all have the same title and set-up, it’s going to look odd. So! To fix this we have a Google doc where anyone can sign up for any game (under certain conditions that I will get to in a second).
Here is the official review sign up document. Save it as a favorite or leave it up for the rest of existence or something.
The first thing to remember when signing up for a game is that *ahem*
YOU CAN’T SIGN UP FOR A GAME UNLESS IT HAS A SOLID RELEASE DATE.
Not a release year. Not a release season. Not a release month. An actual date that consists of a day, a month and a year that has been officially announced by the developer or publisher. The ONLY time you can have a game written in that does not have a set release date is when it did have one, but was then delayed to an undetermined later date. Not your fault, so you get to keep the game under your name.
If you DO sign up for a game without a release date we will delete it. Simple as that.
This stops people from putting down games like Legend of Zelda for Wii U or Kingdom Hearts III, which are known about, but don’t have set releases.
If you want to sign up for a game go to the document I linked above. It has tabs for each system, as well as few other specialty areas like “retro” and “mobile”. Find the one with the game you want to review. If your game is on multiple systems make sure to check the others to see if someone signed up. Don’t see your game? Great! Write in your TAY handle, the game’s name, the release date and whether or not you’ve written the review yet. That’s it. You’re done.
We try to clean up the document from time to time, but it’s really up to everyone to move/remove their names and games after a review has been completed.
FAQ - “I signed up for a review, but I forgot about it or can no longer write it! What do I do!?”
Great question. Simply remove your name and write “OPEN” in the name column. You can also alert others via a blip on TAY that you can no longer do this review and it is up for grabs.
FAQ - “Someone got to a game I REALLY wanted before me. Can I kill them?”
No. That would not be advised. Chances are they really wanted it too, and since we have no way of doing this aside from first come first served, you’re pretty much out of luck. What you can do is contact the person who signed up and see if they’d be down for signing it over or letting you tag team it with them. Doesn’t always work, but you never know.
3. Review Copy Roulette
TAY has some surprisingly great connections to the world of game developers. We have contacts with many big names like Nintendo, Disney, Epics and more. That being said, we’re still at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to review copies. We get a small amount a year, and we’re never sure which ones we’re going to get. So if you sign up for a game and want us to try and get you a review copy we will be more than willing to reach out. Chances are you won’t get one, but it happens! So plan on purchasing a copy yourself until you hear otherwise.
FAQ - “Holy crap! I actually got an early review copy of a game I signed up for. Do I need to do anything special?”
That all depends on the publisher or developer. Games sent to us come with what are known as “embargo notes” These tell you everything you need to know about your review copy, such as what you can talk about, when you can post it and any specific parts of the game that may be different after launch. Follow them exactly.
FAQ - “I don’t want to use the TAY Review system, but I still want to request review copies. Should I?”
That’s not a great idea, unless you contact them representing a different site or publication. When two people from the same site ask for review copies it doesn’t make them look very organized and usually leads to confusion on the developer’s part. It’s also a little seedy and can result in us losing contact with that company. Most times they think we’re just trying to swindle them out of free titles. If you have notes about the review system and how they could be changed for the better, we’re all ears. Let us know.
4. Let’s Get Reviewin’
Alrighty. You signed up and you have/bought a copy of your game. Now you should, uh you know, play it. Preferably all of it. If there’s a main campaign you should complete it. If there are main characters and modes to unlock you should unlock them. Take in the game as a whole for you review. I would highly recommend making quick notes for you to look over later. Things like, “annoying tutorials” or “amazing dialogue” are just enough to remind you of the high and low points in the game at hand.
We understand that some games can take hundreds of hours to complete, and some are never ending (we’re looking at you RPGs and MMOs). In these cases, there usually comes a point where you’re comfortable enough to see where the game’s direction is going from a technical standpoint. Story-wise, it may not always be so clear cut.
So in these cases, please spend as much time as you possibly can (or again, all of it) and write honestly to make an informed decision, and fair assessment of the game. You can usually tell if a story is getting interesting, or is dull as all heck. That’s not always true until the very end, and you may not know for sure but write your experiences as best you can. you should also note that you are not finished in the review too, but what you’ve played of the game thus far is promising/disappointing/etc.
Reviews can be updated to reflect these changes if the game truly went off the rails or amazed by the end of it. Don’t forget you can also write new accompanying, focused pieces as well.
Once you’re done with your game it’s time to write. The TAY Review is currently set up in the following sections
Title, Intro and Header Image
Your title should always be the game’s name in italics followed by a colon and The TAY Review.
Your header image should be a clear image (800 pixels by 500 pixels at least) that represents your game. Slap a TAY Review button on it and you’re good to go. Like so:
Your intro sets the stage for your review and gives readers a brief preview of what’s to come. You can mention the game’s background or how much you’ve been anticipating it. There’s a ton of great ways to start off a review. Find one that works well for you and the game at hand.
The Three Body Sections
The body sections consist of three overarching feelings about aspects of the game. Each aspect should have its own little title and a description. The description can be as long or short as you deem necessary. For example:
There have been many amazing video game soundtracks composed, but Jerkosaurous has the best one my ear holes have ever heard. The classical approach to dubstep is both inspiring and confusing (in a good way). Sometimes I would just sit and listen to the beautiful sounds, produced only by blowing on jugs, until I fell asleep.
This example is an aspect that would fall under...
Anything under this happy banner is the bee’s knees. You loved it and you’re here to tell us why.
Then we have...
Hey, it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. So the “Decent” category is the place for passable parts of a game that feel right between great and awful.
These are the aspects of the game that disappointed you the most. They were bad choices by the developer and need to be noted.
FAQ - “My game was pretty stellar and I didn’t think any parts were disappointing. Do I have to pick something?”
Heck naw. Any of these sections can be omitted if you don’t feel any aspects of the game fell into them. It’s your call, compadre.
Conclusion and Score Card
At the very end of a TAY Review you’ll drop this banner.
Under it you’ll write your conclusion and drop in your scorecard or vice versa. Score cards currently look like this.
It pretty much explains itself. Fill in all the areas of information about what you played, who the game is/isn’t for, and all the publishing details. You’ll also need to pick one of three verdicts - “Play It”, “Consider It”, and “Avoid It” They toggle on and off in Photoshop so it’s rather easy.
FAQ - “Photoshop?? What am I, a billionaire with an iMac? I don’t have that program...”
If this is the case you have two options. You can come up with all the info, find the screenshot you want and send it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll do it for you. Or if you’re handy with GIMP (it’s free), then you can take a whack at it yourself.
Speaking of which.
Here are the Photoshop and GIMP Assets. We bundled them together.
Don’t forget to tag your review at the bottom with “The TAY Review” and the name of your game. You can add in whatever else you feel will make your review show up when folks are searching for it.
6. The Obvious Stuff
There are certain things that just go without saying, but we’re going to say them anyway!
Don’t be racist or sexist. Don’t attack others. Don’t lean on curse words as a writing crutch, they’re much more powerful when there are just a few (or you could just choose to use none like most folks here on TAY).
Edit your writing for spelling and grammatical mistakes, as well as punctuation. We all mak mistakes from time to time, so it’s no biggie; but if your review if chalked full of issues it’s not a great look for you or for TAY. Just sayin’.
And don’t forget, if you do need help with editing, or want a second pair of eyes on the review, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Zarnyx.
Here are some example reviews for you to look over if you need an idea as to what they should look like.