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I just released my 20# game but, again, I got negative reviews. The maximum that I was able to reach was a total score of 20, with 6 max single review score.

How can I improve my games reviews? Are there any particular genre/type combination that works better than other?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

The main way you can increase your review scores is by having higher overall values for Fun, Graphics, Creativity and Sound. These values, in turn, are mostly affected by your staff members, so hiring the best staff is extremely important. Development of a game takes a certain set time (controlled by the budget you set for it) so the only way to consistently cram more Fun into the game is to have staff members that generate more stats-per-second. The high-cost, high-stat staff members regularly churn out +8 or +10 without even being "on fire", so the more high-stat workers you have, the more Fun/Graphics/whatever your game will have. On top of this, the high-stat workers will contribute MUCH more when given one of the three main jobs (Scenario/Graphics/Audio) for a game. I've had the Graphics phase end with the guy adding +103 to the Graphics category before!

One example of the stats you need for high reviews: In my most recent playthrough I released multiple games with two or three of Fun, Creativity, Graphics, and Audio over 200 (and the others not far behind) and I still never got a perfect 40 on the reviews. You definitely need to start pushing 100 in each category to get really positive reviews, I would say.

Some of the game text would seem to suggest that good genre/type combinations only affect sales, but I have seen review comments about the weird combination, so I think particularly bad combinations may negatively affect review scores. It's better all-around if you can find a good combination, of course, since you'll earn more money that way.

In order to get the best staff members (with 200-300+ ratings in Coding/Scenario/Graphics/Audio) you're eventually going to have to sink money into the costly Hollywood Agent recruiting type - you just won't get the best people without spending that $3.5M. You'll also need to have plenty of excess cash to pay the hiring contract cost for the best employees (which can be several million as well).

Getting just one Hacker or high-level Director or Producer into your company will really help, boosting the scores on your games immensely and letting you hire even more talented people. These high-stat workers can even usually do two or three roles per game, writing the scenario, doing the graphics, and even maybe the audio (as long as you rest them once in a while).

Leveling up and training your existing employees will help them generate more Fun etc for the games, but ultimately not everybody is equal - you're going to have to fire some of your original employees to hire the big shots with the super stats (like Francoise Bloom, Walt Sidney, and Stephen Jobson).

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One thing to remember is that Hype factors into the reviews as well, so spend a good chunk of change advertising the game and you'll see slightly higher scores. I've gotten perfect scores with games that had more than one score under 200, but you'll never get a perfect score if you have one category WAAAY higher than the others. (I always have this problem)...In the end though, you can score Game of the Year with anything 38+, so it doesn't really matter. –  Satanicpuppy Feb 14 '11 at 15:54

Short answer

Increase your fun/creativity/graphics/sound scores.

Long answer

To achieve high scores when developing the game, you're going to have to increase the size and skillset of your staff. Periodically you will be given the ability to move into larger offices and will be able to support a maximum of 8 people. From there, you want to train your staff.

You can use the Hollywood agent scounting type to find good people (hackers tend to be very good). This will get you a number of good people, but you will find that you end up with a group of people with high scores and a group of people with low scores. For the people with low scores, you can train them up:

  • Use the Staff > Train option, start at the cheapest option, and train each person on it until they stop gaining skill points. Do this as you have money until you run out of training options.
    • Keep in mind that, each time you expand the size of your office, you will have more training options available.
    • For the purposes of this, you can skip the options that reduce a score. Some of these actually didn't remove anything from the stat when I would run them and I would learn new genres by using them. Others reduce the score by a small amount.
  • Once you max out a person, level them to Level 5 via research.
  • Purchase as many career change manuals as you can each time the salesman visits.
  • When someone hits level 5, change their career. Select a new career where they are 'New' and (ideally) where they don't lose a lot of stats. This will allow you to level them all over again.

Using the above method, I took one of my rather mediocre employees (low hundreds) and ended up leveling her to the level at which I hired my hackers. Also, while you can train and level up hackers, changing their career is not worth it. You lose too much in the way of stats.

By following the above steps, you'll notice that, even without boosts, you're scoring between 150-200 in each game stat each time you make a game, resulting in a minimum review score of '8'. If you use boosts and allow employees to try to boost scores, you can get perfect 10s from all 4 reviewers.

On a side note, this is how you can get a hardware engineer before the game makes on available to you via hire in the 17th year: If you change someone's career and max them out enough times, a new career change opportunity called 'Hardware Engineer' will appear. Having one of these on your team lets you create your own console.

Other Information

  • I did not find that 'interesting game combinations' affected my review score at all. I got very high ones even when the game warned me that my combination was bizarre. This only affects sales, but with a game that's awesome enough, the effect isn't noticeable.
  • Even when someone released a similar game near mine, my scores were awesome.
  • Advertisement didn't seem to affect my review scores, but it does help with sales.
  • If you follow the above training plan, your staff will be so talented that hiring contractors will both cost more and earn you fewer points.
  • When selecting who will perform each step in the game process (write the scenario, do the graphics, create the sound), keep close attention to the "In" indicator. If you had someone do the same thing last time, it will say "Prev" beside it as well. If you use someone more than twice in a row, the points they contribute to that part of the game drops a lot. For best results, keep swapping between two people.
  • I am uncertain whether the points you put into each game category has an effect on reviews. Some of the things people say seem to indicate that they do (Such as "this game is for hardcore players", suggesting that it needs to be simpler), so I continue to level genres up to 5 so I can keep getting the point bonuses each time I level a new one to a certain level.
  • If you have someone boost a stat on a game and they fail, you can immediately exit out of the game and try again. The game auto-saves right before the person heads for your desk to ask for permission. It's cheating to a small degree, but it works.
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  1. Hire only people with long energy bars (they stop working less frequently)

  2. Use the research points and career change manuals (you can buy them from the travelman saler) to make them become "super hackers" (all the other jobs at level 5, then you unlock hackers. take it to lv 5 and you have a super!) (the employed hackers often don't have all the other jobs at lv5).

    A super hacker, when writing a game proposal, designing graphics or creating soundtracks can make a 100/400 result! they also make a +15 without being on fire or a +50 with the fire.

  3. When you have an hardware engineer (and a lot of cash) create a console. You will make a lot of money, and you can make the Hollywood search!

  4. When you choose the development direction, chose "quality". it will cost 30% more, but you should have best game scores (and reviews)

At this point, you should have just high values on fun, creativity...and high values (with 0 bugs) means high reviews!

I hope it helped!

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I'm now on game #54 and year 24. I find you get better reviews if your graphics, sound, creativity and fun are all high. So say 100+

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