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Bit-Tech questions

Discussion in 'Feedback & Suggestions' started by brumgrunt, 6 Jan 2012.

  1. brumgrunt

    brumgrunt New Member

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    I can only speak personally here. I've little desire to turn Bit-Tech into a mainstream site, as I find niches far more interesting. Likewise, I'm not being leaned on to do so. There are some realities to face: I'd rather material on the site gets read than not, for example, and thus I'm wary of ploughing every resource we have into something of little interest to most. But that's far removed from saying let's just do mainstream content to try and get more numbers. The irony of that approach, as you point out, is that it's unlikely to work anyway!

    I'd say this, too: I'm happy, and want, to try things. If you have suggestions for content you'd like to see, then pop them in the thread. As I've said before, it's going to take me a month or so to take stock of everything, but once I've done that, and got a better feel for what works and what doesn't (again, that's not just a question of numbers), I'll be looking to try a lot more things.

    Simon
     
  2. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    Yodasarmpit has addressed this already, but just for the record it is common practice (and I have done it myself) for a moderator to edit out offensive parts of a post and leave a warning. I have done it; other mods have done it. It's nothing new.

    Yes, it does. Carrie may recall how she once helpfully made me aware of a new young female member posting a rather revealing photo of her in a bedroom, wearing nothing but a pair of knickers. I deleted the photo and explained to said member that a young girl posting such an image on a forum of predominantly young males might generate the wrong impression of her, and risk some unwelcome jokes and remarks. She agreed that I had a point and left the image deleted.

    So yes, it is something we occasionally do. There is no such thing as a private photo album on Bit-Tech. Your private photo album is the folder on your own harddrive, the faux-leather book in your own sideboard drawer. The idea that photos uploaded to Facebook, Flickr, Picasa or the multitude of other sites out there are somehow exempt from censorship or public view just because you label them as "private" is naively wrong.

    This grumbling quite clearly started, and from specific members, when Specofdust was made moderator. I am sure that there are some members out there who somehow feel that they are more deserving of that role, or that Spec is not. Well, tough. Moderators are chosen by the team after a vetting and following process that can take over a year. We had compelling reasons to choose Spec and everything he has done so far has only reinforced our conviction that we made absolutely the right choice.

    We also approached another member but he has respectfully declined because he cannot make the time commitment right now. We are still considering a few others. Those who feel that they should have been chosen need to realise that they were not for equally compelling reasons, and that their behaviour in equal measure reinforces our conviction that this, too, was the right choice.

    Now hear me: this discussion is OVER. Moderator choices are NOT up for debate.
     
    Last edited: 14 Jan 2012
  3. KidMod-Southpaw

    KidMod-Southpaw Super Spamming Saiyan

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    Thank goodness you can always rely on Nexxo to get a discussion going as normal again.
    :)

    Simon, may I ask what has been discussed about the modding section so far, and your opinion concerning my PM when I first posted in this thread.

    Thanks a lot.
     
  4. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    I wanted throw some of my thoughts there about this and say that I mostly agree with you, to be honest. There was a time when the direction of the gaming content wavered and when we wanted to make it more console based. The long-term aim there was to not impact on Bit-tech as a whole, but to grow the Bit-Gamer brand for it's console coverage on top of Bit-tech, then to spin Bit-Gamer off into an entirely separate site - leaving the console coverage separate.

    There were a number of factors behind this push, most of which we've always been open about. Business interests (there's more money in console games) and a want to provide quality articles for the audience (limiting focus to PC meant we'd end up looking at more Conspiracy Island-level dross and less of the bigger titles) were the big two reasons. Other factors behind the scenes included the fact that many publishers were awkward about sending PC code in advance and, frankly, that after some enormous personal upheaval for me and some dissatisfaction with how my career was advancing, I thought it was the best thing for me to do.

    When it became obvious that things weren't going as well as I'd hoped in terms of you guys accepting the console coverage I was slowly convinced to deviate from the plan and act on your feedback - a quick look back through the feedback thread shows that there was a consensus that something had changed in terms of the site's feel and that the games content was a big contributor to that. My personal problems at the time meant I didn't act as fast as I might have done three years ago, but eventually I tried to reintroduce the type of coverage you said you wanted - the Crysis 2, Frozen Synapse, 3D Week and Rage coverage being the best examples.

    The transition from one type of coverage to another wasn't smooth and could have been handled a lot better. Looking back now, I can see I made a series of mistakes in regards to my approach to games coverage on Bit-tech and that the Bit-Gamer plan deviated far from the original idea I presented back when Alex was editor. The issue got further compounded by the fact that these recent changes came along in November and personal priorities shifted again. Instead of writing the technical articles that I knew you'd want but which required me to spend long hours in the office, I'd write in the more creative style that I've always found more fulfilling - the Sequence and Minecraft and Modern Warfare 3 review, for example. Bear in mind that, at the time, we were in a state of limbo as we waited for the future of the site to be cemented, so investing huge effort in changes that may just have been undone didn't seem reasonable.

    So, yeah. We tried to do something with Bit-Gamer and it didn't entirely work, for a whole host of personal and corporate reasons. We tried to react to those reasons and the rug was pulled out from under us before we could find our footing, creating a time of freefall. The good news though is: now we've landed, we've got a better idea of what to do and Simon brings both a fresh perspective and more flexibility to the games content. I'm still going to be as involved with the site as I can be and Simon isn't the only one who's keen to hear your thoughts on the future and past of the games content - some really good ideas have been thrown up here and they are ones I'm tremendously excited about exploring.
     
  5. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    What you say is reassuring, Simon. The proof is in the pudding and words are cheap though; so I think a lot of us will be watching keenly for the changes we hope to see.
    That sounds harsher on you than I intend; but it's just that we've been told quite a few times in the past few months that these positive changes are coming, but things often just got worse.

    I'll try to give a proper, detailed account of what I'd like to see on bit-tech, but I'm wary of being 'that guy' who thinks he speaks for everyone when he doesn't; And I know my own preferences are often not in-line with other members'.
    Simply put, the main things that I want to see on bit-tech, without getting into specifics:

    + Modding content beyond MotM/MotY - I want to see articles on modding. Techniques, ideas, tutorials. This is something that could be integrated with the community succesfully, I think; And is something that people have been absolutely crying out for, for so long now.

    + Detailed hardware articles. The articles in which Tim, Rich, Harry and others wrote in length and detail about new processor architectures or new GPU series from the block-diagram level upwards are some of my personal favourite articles on bit-tech because the writers here have always had a knack for taking that information and bringing it down from the electronic engineer's level to the tech enthusiast's level without being condescending.

    The only flaw I could ever find in those articles was that there simply wasn't enough of them!
    I'd love to see that kind of detail (or a reasonable compromise, at least) on almost any new hardware that the site covers; because the writers have already demonstrated skill in handling it.

    + More hardware reviews - I'd love to see the drip-feed of hardware turn into a torrent. It felt like bit-tech was full of hardware reviews in the past and when that slowed down I put it down to less new hardware coming out, but looking at other sites that just doesn't seem to be the case.

    The reason I stuck with bit-tech after first finding the site was that I enjoyed the content that the writers here produced and I trust their opinions. We've lost Tim and Rich, but I'd like to see more content from the other regulars, if even just to keep their names familiar to us so that we can continue to trust their opinions and feel like we know them. That's going to be more difficult with the new arrangement, but all the more reason to give us more content. :p

    + PC-centric content - This is where I'm not so sure that I speak for the majority, but personally I'm tired of seeing iPad/iPhone/Console content on bit-tech; particularly when other tech sites already absolutely spam us with that as it is.
    I don't begrudge the occasional "this app/game is handy/interesting/wiles away time on the train", but for a while it just felt like bit had adopted the worst part of ArsTechnica (without the other parts) just to get on the iEverything bandwagon.

    Thanks for the response, Joe. I hope I don't come across as being personally critical of the work. I don't always agree with your opinions as a reviewer (Bioshock comes to mind:p) but that's just how the cookie crumbles (and so it should) - I enjoy reading your articles/reviews, even the ones I don't agree with, because your passion for gaming as a whole usually comes through strongly in your writing.

    I can understand the inherent difficulties in getting your hands on PC review code (and dealing with the pressures involved where publishers/PR-people are concerned); but when bit-tech does PC reviews it tends to do them well.
    I understand that Ben Kuchera at Ars Technica has a lot more clout behind him (in the form of Ars itself) when it comes to dealing with publishers, but could a similar stance to his PC-gaming focus not be adopted?
    Between Ars, Bit and RPS surely publishers would start to take notice and accept that PC review code has to be made available for that market?
    I could be way off though and I'm aware it's probably not that simple - This is something I have no personal experience of whatsoever, I'm just a reader!

    I actually read some of your blogs, so I was aware of the personal problems myself and never wanted to seem too personally critical about the rate of change because I assumed it could be a factor.
    The coverage you highlight there was exactly what I personally wanted to see from bit-gamer and I thought those articles were nicely done.

    Personally, I enjoy both types of article and am happy to see both regularly! Bit-tech has produced some great, controversial, debate-inspiring articles before and I enjoy those just as much as the best reviews; as well as the tabletop/wargame/P&P stuff and so on.
    If it's niche and/or PC-centric, it's right up my alley, generally speaking; And I think that's where bit's strength lies because its writers are more than capable of slotting into the same market as sites like RPS successfully (instead of me-too'ing in the mainstream segment).

    I can understand that - And again I hope I don't come across as being too personally-critical, because I can only really comment on all of this as a reader/customer. I'm not a journalist and my only experiences of games journalism come from being the kind of person who enjoys journalists' blogs and non-review content alongside the main stuff; so my expectations probably come across as demanding or unrealistic some of the time.

    I'm glad to know that you're still going to be involved with the site Joe, and that goes for all of the previous writers, really. It's the combination of personalities and community that made bit-tech great, and I really hope we don't lose either of those aspects of the site in this shakeup.
     
    Last edited: 14 Jan 2012
  6. Da_Rude_Baboon

    Da_Rude_Baboon What the?

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    I have read your reply with interest Joe but I am still somewhat confused about the direction Bit-Gamer is now taking. Is it now solely PC focused? The reason I ask is major releases go by on other platforms with out any mention here but we get reviews for board games instead. I think Bit-Gamer should be PC focused but it would be nice to see articles on interesting games which are not available on the PC. Something along the lines of "What Joe/other contributors are currently playing".
     
  7. brumgrunt

    brumgrunt New Member

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    Sorry for the delay in replying. Now I'm nearly settled down here, I'm going to take a look at ways we can push Bit-Gamer. Clearly, a PC focus isn't going away, but I am inclined to agree that it's worth going further afield. I don't want to cover everything, but will be having a natter with Joe about what to do next.

    Many thanks

    S
     
  8. Da_Rude_Baboon

    Da_Rude_Baboon What the?

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    As always Simon thank you for taking the time to reply. :thumb:
     
  9. brumgrunt

    brumgrunt New Member

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    No problem. Took me a bit longer that time, though!

    Thank you for taking the time to ask the question in the first place.
     
  10. Kris

    Kris Lord Lolwut

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    Hi Simon, Joe,

    Another idea came to me that might be interesting to look at.

    Long story short, I came to this after looping this video: http://youtu.be/UFqFk4MAmrE
    Because of the music.

    So, for future gaming articles / reviews, perhpas would be worth it to look more into the soundtrack of games in general, + to tell more about the soundtrack besides "music is powerful and fits the genre" or something of the like (i really don't know what actually you've said but you get my point i hope).

    That song right there is basically my favourite when it comes to game soundtracks (not to mention the Portal songs), but it is actually the original soundtrack that just packs one hell of a punch.

    So, combined with my earlier suggestions:

    - More specific information regarding the PC platform as opposed to consoles (when a game is on all three platforms)
    - This might be just me overall, but something more about the soundtrack of games and how it "makes the reviewer feel" or something (as music is so subjective).
    - Performance graphs for the current 2-3 GFX cards on the market from both competitors, so 4-6 in total, in every game review that is on PC(maybe one resolution only to keep the work you guys have to do to a minimum, like 1080p) <-no one does that yet, so i believe it could be a great opportunity for BT to differentiate itself from the rest of the market

    So those are my wishes overall :) and so on... :)

    P.S. Thanks guys for all the feedback and comments you've given in this thread! :)
    P.P.S. I apologize if my English is at times confusing, it is not my first language. But, at least i do not mix up your/you're and than/then. :
     
  11. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    So, my personal thoughts are that while there's a lot to say about soundtracks in games, I'm not generally a big fan of compartmentalising reviews into explicit MUSIC and GRAPHICS sort of studies. To me, it should be much more a case of how the game works as a gestalt. There are great games out there which don't have any music - as well as games which are great because they don't have any music. At the other end of the scale, there are games such as Guitar Hero which only have music.

    If the discussion of music is relevant to the article, it should be mentioned anyway. If it's not...why are you forcing it in just so you can say something about music?

    Music in games is a great topic though, suitable for all sorts of features (has anyone else read Kill Screen's latest issue which focuses on just this topic? Awesome reads!) that I've been weighing up lately.

    I'm not going to touch on the graphics stuff really unless I have to, but suffice it to say that it's not something which is at all practical in my opinion given the way we all work from home and on multiple projects now. I can't really justify keeping that many multiple systems at home and doing that much extra work for something which wouldn't really bring a big benefit to the site. If every game was like Crysis, that idea would make sense to me, but they aren't. Most games can still run fine on an 8800.

    Ultimately though, its up to Simon to decide the direction of the site - I'm only giving my personal opinions as a writer and reader of the site.
     
  12. Kris

    Kris Lord Lolwut

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    Joe, cheers.

    My idea was exactly what you wrote - I would definitely not want to see a different section just for music to discuss the composers' work etc.
    But more like overall information that tells a bit about how the music fits the game, quality of the sound effects etc. I remember everyone has been saying how BF3 has the best sound effects in a game so far etc. (don't know if that is true of course).

    And for the graphics stuff - my idea was that the writers such as yourself keep doing what you do best, while the HW guys do the short benchmarking session for the games.

    Granted, of course not every game is a GPU "killer", but the idea behind this thought is to see how cards perform in games that are not a part of every benchmark suite out there.
    Short check shows that almost every site out there uses games like Deus Ex, BF3, Skyrim etc, while we know that there are a multitude of games released that are never benchmarked as such.

    Call it like "searching for truth" behind what the GPU manufacturers say and how their products perform in games that aren't that much talked about.

    Benchmarking games like Braid and Bastion would of course not make sense, but what if a specific driver for a specific recent GPU 'causes the game to crash? And so on.

    I hope you get what I am aiming for,

    Another thought for the benchmarkers - many people use laptops for gaming nowadays, perhaps some more coverage on different notebooks / mobile craphics cards?
     
  13. kelvinb

    kelvinb BF3 Username - D0rmarth

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    With regards to the above when doing the reviews it would be very useful if you were able to explain what type of performance we can expect when playing these games on the most common GPU's.
     
  14. Bauul

    Bauul Sir Bongaminge

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    I'm starting to wonder if this is really a good use of a game reviewer's time. Games simply don't push graphics cards like they used to, mostly due to the long console life. I think it's very important to state the minimum specs of a game, but is it really a good use of time to research the performance of of a load of graphics cards in a game review when you basically already know how they're going to perform from the actual reviews of those graphics cards?

    It's one thing to highlight specific graphical aspects that need to be considered - for example if a game favours AMD or nVidia, or if it's a real CPU hog for instance. But an extensive graphical breakdown by a bunch of different cards seems a bit redundant.

    Instead, I think what people really want to know is "is my GPU good enough to play this game smoothly?". To answer that, all you need to do is benchmark one mid-range AMD card and one mjd-range nVidia card, and then a reader will know if their card is good enough to play the game based on how much better/worse it is than the benchmarked card.
     
  15. kelvinb

    kelvinb BF3 Username - D0rmarth

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    You hit the nail on the head (never understood that saying) about what I was trying to get at :)
     
  16. Kris

    Kris Lord Lolwut

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    I think that's what I was trying as well, and limiting the number of cards is an excellent point.

    let's say, 6950 and 570 tested at 1080p, max quality. This shouldn't take too much time.

    Also, like Bauul mentioned, any and all information about how the games actually perform - any bugs, any specifics to mention (very CPu limited, not using more than 2 cores etc).
     
  17. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    I've not spoken to Simon about this at all, but for me personally, working from home, any changes of hardware drastically increase the amount of work (both in writing and graphing, as well as in physical switching of cards or storing of different systems).

    That means, if you're talking about integrating it into current game reviews, that the fee and production time would both increase. The possible complications also multiply - what if the DRM doesn't like a hardware change? - all of which mean a possible reduction in the amount of articles.

    Don't get me wrong, if that's what needs to happen then that's what needs to happen - but I'm outlining the reasons why I'm reluctant to just say 'Yes, that's a great idea', especially as I see it as only bringing limited benefit.

    Obviously, if we run into issues then we mention those in the article anyway. We always have done. If a game is a beast to run or has issues with a particular brand and we notice it in the review process then we always have and always will mention that - the fact that it's only rarely done should hint at how it isn't really required.

    I mean, we're talking quite a bit of extra hassle and expenditure for what will be nothing more than a double-graph equivalent of "Guess what, the minimum requirements are realistic and Call of Duty will run on pretty much anything." To me, that's just redundant information to anyone who can successfully spot a mid-range card, because doesn't that term give all that information implicitly?

    Minimum requirements listed in reviews, meanwhile? Yeah, makes sense if you want that data there.

    Again; I'm not against the issue - bit-tech should be a little bit forensic, yeah? - but I'm anxious to avoid a very small number of community members from demanding things that compromise the workflow behind the site without fully understanding the situation and ramifications.
     
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  18. kelvinb

    kelvinb BF3 Username - D0rmarth

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    I understand what you are saying here but for me at least not being the most tech savvy person the reason why I come onto bit-tech and subcribe to the likes of CPC is that it helps me make decisions on where do spend the few pennies I have. Knowing how this game will play is a key factor for me.

    I really dont mean to seem harsh but isnt the consumer king when it comes to things like this. I may just be speaking for myself or even one or two people but it really does matter to me and things like losing the buying guide really do sway my feelings on bit-tech and CPC
     
  19. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    Oh, totally - and you're right, the consumer is king, you're right. I guess was being a little defensive and trying to explain why we didn't do this stuff previously, more than outlining the situation now. Apologies for that; again, all the comments I make here are either retrospective or my personal viewpoint. Simon runs the games content now, not I!
     
  20. Kris

    Kris Lord Lolwut

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    Yeah Joe I totally understand - the idea behind the graphs or whatnot was still for "HW guys doing the benches". And of course not always, but when it is "necessary".

    Of course when you're reviewing a game and notice that the game runs at 100fps at your home (on whatever gaming rig you have), at max, most probably there is no need for any benches beyond saying "it ran at 100fps on this machine".

    Whenever someone cares to, please do a big writeup on DRM with possible input from developers as well :) (somehow i don't think they would be very willing).
    Main thing - if you as a reviewer would have to do all the work from start of the review process to the finish, then I would rather drop the subject at all. You are a writer ;)

    The more in depth reviews of specific game performance can be found on the web anyway, so any and all details us PC gamers get are much appreciated, that's all.

    Like you mentioned - are minimum requirements realistic? etc
     

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