Here are a few somewhat random level reviewing tips that I threw together. I will add more as I think of them. This is mainly geared towards new reviews, though once and a while, even seasoned reviews may need a reminder of some of the things here. Suggestions are welcomed.
1. Be impartial.
Do not rate levels based on anything other than the quality of the level. For instance, if your friend uploads a level, do not rate it higher just because you are their friend. In fact, I recommend against rating levels of close friends. Even the most fair reviewers can sometimes be swayed when reviewing friend’s levels. The same applies for clanmates.
2. Don’t take the law into your own hands.
If you see a review that is swaying the level rating system, do not increase your rating just because of it. After all, it just causes more work, no matter in what way it is intended. Report it to an administrator instead of posting a review that will mess up the review system further.
3. Don’t cheat.
This is by far one of the most important rules. Do not rate your own level, and do not have friends rate your level highly. There is a good chance you will be caught.
4. Don’t rate levels you made or worked on.
This is a no-brainer, at least as for levels that you entirely made go. It’s generally OK for beta testers to rate levels, but for co-authors, it’s not really a great idea.
5. There are numbers that are, in fact, between 1 and 10. Use them.
What I mean by this is that reviewers should not just use ratings such as 1 and 10. Nearly any level that you play will fall distinctly inbetween the two ratings, and you should use the ability to rate a 1.2, 6.7, 7.2, 8.5, and so on.
6. Give good reason to support your rating.
No matter how much work you went through playing the upload, don’t just write a review such as “whee cool” or “omg this sucks because it sux.” Support your rating or you might find your review deleted.
7. Long, sense-making reviews are good.
Long reviews are probably usually preferable to short ones. However, make sure your review makes sense. Don’t just type random comments that are not related in the review.
8. Use a senseful rating system.
It’s a good idea to get a template for rating levels if you review many levels, such as rating them by gameplay, eyecandy, weapon placement, etcetera. Make sure to prioritize what happens to be important. For instance, a review system that judges by gameplay, eyecandy, weapon placement, bugs, and storyline is a lot better than one which rates “Kewlness,” the author’s name, how much you like the author, where the author lives, and the author’s clothes. Be senseful and give heavy weight to important factors.
9. Don’t get revenge.
If someone gives you an unfair review, don’t go around and rate all of their levels low. Not only is that nothing better than what they did, it will get you in trouble.
10. Don’t swear.
Swearing is really not needed. Use different words.
11. Don’t personally attack the author or other reviewers.
If they do something you object to and is against the rules, report it, and don’t flame them.
12. Don’t give a level a 1 just because a file is not working.
If the file is missing or corrupted, that usually is not the author’s fault. It perplexes me why anyone would give a level such as this a 1 (or, even more disturbingly, a 10).
13. Don’t rate levels until you see them.
This may sound obvious, but I have seen people rate the level saying they are sure it must be good or suck depending on the author’s past uploads. Don’t do this. This is weird.
14. Stay on topic.
If you are reviewing a level, you should not be asking everyone what “eyecandy” is or how to get HTML rating. Stick with the topic at hand.
15. If the author(s) or administrator(s) say a level should not be rated, don’t rate it.
When a level should not be rated, there is good reason. Pay attention and make sure it is supposed to be rated before you rate it.
16. For contact information or similar questions, use private messages.
There is no need to, if you have a question regarding contact or non-reviewing information, to post a review. First check the author’s profile and then private message them.
17. Don’t do “level bashing”.
I’ve seen many situations when a level gets a low rating from the start, the ratings will get progressively lower as people think low-rated levels are OK to downgrade without anyone caring. Keep in mind that the difference between a 4 and a 1 is the same as between a 10 and a 7. Also keep in mind that Violet is better with math than I am. Give levels the ratings they deserve fairly, and don’t just rate low to look cool, because it really does not look cool.
18. Don’t downgrade high-rated levels for no reason.
This is sort of similar to the prior one, in that some people think it is “cool” to be “unique” and give a 4 to a level which deserves a 9. It is not. Nor is it cool to talk about how “in the good ol’ days, level packs were simple.” This just makes you look extremely jealous. (For that matter, don’t downgrade ANY level for no reason).
19. Look at other reviews for reference if you are stuck.
If you are having problems making and constructing your review, look at ones made by good reviewers who have reviewed many levels. Don’t copy their reviews, but it can show you some of the things to think about.
20. Make your own level.
If you feel as if all of the levels out there suck, you might want to try and make your own level to see how easy it is. It may not be as easy as you think. (Don’t expect an amazing first level – it very rarely happens. VERY rarely).
21. Don’t compare other’s levels to your own.
This is really an annoying thing to do. And usually those who do it don’t make great levels in the first place. There are two categories of level makers: those who are always skeptical of their own creations and want to make them better and better and those who think they are naturally talented. The first of those two groups will be much more healthy in the long run.
22. Use common sense.
This one is by far the most important rule of all, the most simple-sounding, and seemingly the hardest to grasp. If it doesn’t make sense, if it doesn’t sound fair, and if it doesn’t seem to be a good idea, don’t do it.
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.