Reviewing Products for Fun and … Fun

Welcome to the first installment of Everyman Gaming’s Product Reviews. In this first installment, we’ll be briefly discussing the format for the upcoming Everyman Gaming Product Reviews.

While I think most folks know that I’m a third-party designer (It’s written at the bottom of EVERY article I write!) many probably don’t know that I used to do a LOT of product reviewing on Paizo.com. As a matter of fact, my door “in” with Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press was through my product reviews. He started sending me stuff to review and I got to thinking, “Hey, I could totally write some of this stuff!” and Village Backdrop: Vulgruph’s Hollow was born.

That said, the real reason I love reviewing products is the same reason that I love writing my GM Guide articles: I’m a teacher at heart and I absolutely love helping to inform other gamers. So now that Everyman Gaming is up and running, I thought to myself, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be swell if I totally flagellate myself a little bit and try to write product reviews for my blog every so often?”

Don’t answer that question.

Before I start reviewing products, here are some notes about the process I’ll be using:

  1. Just like my product plugs, I’m going to be promoting my product reviews on Paizo.com or on Facebook with the exception of the Everyman Gaming Facebook Page. Product reviews will always be on a day that I don’t have a product planned (i.e. any day except Monday, Wednesday, or Friday) but you’ll never know when I’ll publish them or how often I’ll publish them unless you follow the Facebook group. Is this a shameless tactic to try and get you to follow my Facebook page? Yes it is, and if the public demand is loud enough I’ll also start posting about my updates on Twitter too.
  2. I’m going to be reviewing both Paizo products and Third Party Publishing products; whatever tickles my fancy, really.
  3. I WILL be accepting product requests from my readers as well as publishers. If you’re a publisher and you want me to review your product, however, you’re going to have to provide me with a copy of the product that you want me to review because my review is essentially advertisement for you. I’m not going to take the time to review your product AND hand over my money to you in order to do it just because you asked nicely. (Remember publishers; Owen K.C. Stephens is an exception, not a rule!)
  4. Even if you give me your product for free, I will review it when I have the time. I won’t keep you waiting too long and I will give you the exact date of when I plan to publish my review.
  5. My review will go live here at the Everyman Gaming blog first. I’ll also be posting my reviews on the d20pfsrd.org website page as well as DriveThruRPG, but the formatting will mostly depend on the website in question.

And with those rules underway, let’s take a quick look at the format I’ll be using in giving my reviews:

Crunch

The first aspect of every product that I look at is its crunch. ‘Crunch’ can be defined as its game mechanics. Whether this is stat blocks in a Bestiary, rogue talents in the Genius Guide to the Talented Rogue, or magic items in a magic item compendium, anything that involves game rules will be discussed here. This section is rated out of five points, with five being absolute perfection and one being a terrible show.

Flavor

After crunch comes flavor, which is the product’s story elements, setting information, visual elements, and characterization. For example, if I’m looking at the Advanced Player’s Guide, a crunch dominant book, the flavor section will talk about the imagery provided by the product’s base classes as well as the story elements present on the chapter pages. This section is rated out of five points, with five being absolute perfection and one being a terrible show.

Texture

Texture is the final aspect of a product that I look at. Texture comes down to the product’s visual style and layout. This is an aspect of publishing that I think is often criminally overlooked in most product reviews. If it’s mentioned at all, its usually handled as a sentence or two and as someone who has wrestled with layout before, I understand how vital a good layout is to product design. I want to make sure those layout artists get their dues. This section is rated out of five points, with five being absolute perfection and one being a terrible show.

Score & Final Thoughts

At the very end of the product, the three scores are averaged together for a final score out of five points. Then I’ll wrap up with some closing thoughts. Huzzah!

That’s it for my thoughts on product reviews. What do you think? How do you determine if a product is a must-have or a flop? What do you look for in a good RPG product? How do you determine if you want to purchase a product? Leave your answers and comments below and I’ll see you next time here at Everyman Gaming!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long over 90% of his colleagues. Affectionately called a “budding game designer” by his partner at Radiance House, Alexander is the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series (Radiance House) and a handful of other Third-Party Products. Before founding the Everyman Gaming blog, Alexander gained notoriety for writing the GM’s Guide to Challenging Encounters, which remains accessible to this day. His favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune noble scion, and he is best known for playing laser tag on his birthday.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Reviewing Products for Fun and … Fun

  1. For me, crunch is the most important part of a book; it doesn’t matter how evocative or descriptive the fluff is if the mechanics don’t work. So if someone is capable of putting out consistently high-quality crunch, I’m more likely to keep buying their products. There is no point in purchasing a sexy looking car, only for it to need constant maintenance and repair just to barely function.

    Now, Fluff is what lets me ‘enjoy’ a product more. Fluff is everything from the name, to groupings of feats, to text descriptions of the action of using something. However, fluff always comes secondary to me when determining the quality of a product. Fluff is also what draws in a reader, so good fluff can get me to read your product, though crunch is what will keep me coming back.

    I’ve never really cared too much about layout that much, but it can indeed help me appreciate a product more. A little bit of quality artwork can go a long way to making a product look better. I’ve seen utterly black and white stuff that looks like an e-book, and I’ve seen brilliant designs and borders and stuff. While I would prefer a well designed and handsome product, it’s not necessary as long as the crunch is good (preferably the fluff as well).

  2. Pingback: Unbirthday Week 2014: People of the Sands | Everyman Gaming

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s