GAME BYTES Reviewer's Information Pack, version 2.3
This file contains guidelines for reviews for Game Bytes, divided into
three sections: Format, Style and Content. (The format rules apply in
general to non-review articles (tips, etc.) as well.) Before you send off
your review, please check that it follows these guidelines.
The Editor of Game Bytes is Ross Erickson, email addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org - Internet
71441,1537 - Compuserve
RossGBytes - America On-line
Ross Erickson - EXEC PC, Nitelog Imaging, Software Creations (BBS Network)
Contact him if you'd like to do an article. Once it's done send the files
to Ross and Daniel Starr (if on Internet) at email@example.com and
Thanks for supporting Game Bytes!
To begin with, I only have 3 basic overall rules you must follow:
1) Be honest - In deference to the reader
2) Be fair - In deference to the developer/publisher
3) Be thorough and comprehensive - In deference to both
GAME BYTES Review Guidelines: Format
- No profanity! (Some services won't post the entire magazine
if they find one profanity!)
- If it's a PC game, send screen shots!
(You can use PCXDUMP to get screen shots, available by ftp to
oak.oakland.edu, /pub/msdos/graphics/pcxdmp81.zip. (version 9.0 is
too, but 8.1 is more robus. Email if you need help. If the game
is incompatible with PCXDUMP, let us know.)
(Not needed for cartridge games.)
- Put a header at the top using the review header templates at the end
of this article. (Use the PC game or cartridge game header as
- Set your editor's margins to 0 and 75. (That way it fits our screen.)
THIS IS A MUST!!!
- Use spaces, not tabs (they play havoc with our format).
THIS IS ALSO A MUST!
- Don't indent paragraphs.
- Include a copyright notice at the bottom, of the form
"This [review/article/whatever] is Copyright (C) 1993 by
[your name here] for Game Bytes Magazine. All rights reserved."
- Put the first mention of the title of _any_ game in the
review body in ALL CAPS.
- Use a spell-checker, check your punctuation, and have it proof-read
by both a friend and yourself before you submit it, please! Then read
it again, out loud. You'll be surprised how you sound the first time.
- Don't insert any backslash (\) characters in your file. The magazine
will not compile with these characters embedded in an article.
- Make a list of all the topics about the game you need to explain:
- Overall premise of the game
- Mechanics of the game
- Playability (replayability)
- Fun factor - Was it enjoyable?
- Installation / Copy Protection / etc.
- Graphics, Sound, Music, etc.
- Did the designer/producer achieve his/her goal?
- BE THOROUGH! What else do you need to tell someone about this game!
GAME BYTES Review Guidelines: Style
Actually, the best stylistic advice is to go back through back issues of
Game Bytes, and study the approach of reviews that you yourself found
helpful and enjoyable. But keep the points below in mind, and when the
review's done, check to make sure it fits them.
- Give both description and specific opinions for each game element.
Readers want to know both what the game is and what elements you
think are good or bad.
- Make comparisons with other games. It's the most efficient way to
showcase what's different, and to get out of the way what's standard
about the game design. (Not everyone will have played those other
games, though, so make sure the review can still work for readers who
aren't familiar with them.)
- Give specific examples of what you talk about. Your readers haven't
played the game, so you really need to demonstrate what you mean by
"great graphics" or "detailed statistics" or "you colonize planets".
- Avoid lists. A clear statement plus one or two examples are
usually enough; more becomes tiresome and bogs down the review.
- Point out the exceptional or unusual things about the game.
- Decide what things make the game more or less fun, and discuss them!
- Don't waste time on the unimportant. If the manual/sound/whatever
didn't make a big difference in your enjoyment of the game, then it
only needs a sentence or two tacked onto an appropriate paragraph.
- Be personal. Let readers know how you yourself felt about the game,
what you enjoyed or didn't enjoy, heck, whether you had fun!
- Leave the emotional extremes at the door. Whether you hated or loved
the game, don't rant and rave -- it's unpleasant reading and ruins
your credibility. Objectively describe what's so bad or good about
the game and why -- readers do want your judgement, but calmly.
- Don't give ratings. Without a standard GB system, readers can't
compare them, so they're just confusing.
- Write a review that reads smoothly as a single piece. Don't use so
many sections that it becomes a bunch of isolated paragraphs; don't
write 2+ screens in a single paragraph so as to bog the reader down.
- Give the review the information it needs without crushing detail.
The typical PC game review is about 100-150 lines, the typical
cartridge review about 50-100 lines. If you find yourself
significantly outside those ranges, the game may or may not warrant
it -- ask yourself whether you're providing too much (or too little)
GAME BYTES Review Guidelines: Content
Every review should cover all these elements. This also works reasonably
well as an outline, although you're free to use whatever order works best
for you. Either way, check to make sure you've covered these subjects
when you finish your review.
[Do realize that in a typical review the first three and last three items
below (the introductory and concluding topics) will be much shorter than
the middle four sections (the "meat" of the review).]
- Background on the game/genre/author -- if it's a sequel, tell us about
the predecessor; if it has obvious competitors, what are those like?
- Overview -- what is the game about? What, in general, do you do?
- Summary -- what are the game's strengths and weaknesses (that you're
about to explain)? Let the reader know where you're headed.
- Output -- quality and style of graphics, sound, animation, etc. Does
the game have a distinctive 'look'? Is it pretty and/or realistic?
- Interface -- ease/precision/detail of controlling your actions. Does
the game let you do what you want to? How easy is it to figure out?
- Activities -- what specifically do you do in the game? Give specific
examples of game play. What's enjoyable (or not) or unusual?
- Evaluation -- how much fun is playing the game? Does it get
repetitive, or does it have 'replay value'? How's the ending (if any)?
- Miscellaneous features -- how good or bad (or missing) are the manual,
installation, film replay, modem play or other features not central to
- Fulfilled potential -- does it live up to your expectations? What
features are missing that really should be there? What additions
would have been nice, though not necessary?
- Conclusion -- what's your overall opinion of the game? How does it
compare to similar games? Who do you think would enjoy it?
GAME BYTES Computer Game Review Header Template
GAME TITLE (all CAPS) from publisher/developer
Computer Graphics Memory Disk Space
Reviewed version on:
GAME BYTES Cartridge Header Template
Platform: (Super Nintendo / Sega Genesis / Sega CD)
Size: (if cartridge, # of Mbits)
Supports: (if any -- e.g., Nintendo mouse, Menacer, etc...)
* Sample Computer Game Header *
ULTIMA VII PART TWO: SERPENT ISLE from Origin
Reviewed by Daniel J. Starr
Computer Graphics Memory Disk Space
Minimum 386 VGA 2 MB 25 MB
Control: Keyboard, Mouse (recommended)
Sound: Adlib, Sound Blaster, SB Pro, Roland LAPC-1/MT-32
Notes: Supports simultaneous SB or SB Pro and Roland. Cannot be
run with expanded memory manager (EMM386.EXE or equivalent).
Reviewed version 1.02 on: 486/66, 8MB RAM, SB Pro and Roland sound cards.
Reviewer recommends: 2MB disk cache, SB-compatible sound card.
* End Sample Header*
[Notes for PC game headers]
Use the box, manual, README file, program menu, or other documentation to
fill out the header. If your experience disagrees with what they say,
note that in the review, not the header.
The 'minimum' row refers to the slowest computer type, lowest
resolution, smallest amount of memory and least amount of disk space
physically required to run the game, according to the publisher. The
'max/rec.' row refers to the computer type/speed recommended by the
publisher for quality performance, and to the highest resolution, largest
amount of memory, and largest amount of disk space the game can usefully
employ. If the game doesn't use variable graphics/memory/disk space, just
put a single figure in the 'Minimum' row (see example).
For memory, it's the total memory (640k,2MB,etc.) that should be listed;
the particular amount of low memory required ("535-587,000 bytes") can be
listed in the Notes or the review body if you think it needs to be
mentioned. For disk space, if the manufacturer doesn't list a figure, you
should count it up and enter it in the 'minimum' row yourself. For
graphics, enter super-VGA graphics modes as resolution x colors, e.g.
"800x600x16" or "640x480x256".
Put any documented nonstandard hardware features or requirements (e.g.
cannot be run with a memory manager present, runs only under Windows, runs
off a CD-ROM) in "Notes". (See example.)
List your computer type and speed in the 'reviewed on' entry, and any
particular peripherals you have that the program used. If the program
uses a variable amount of memory, or offers a choice of graphics modes,
list the memory and/or graphics mode of your computer as well.
And most of all, thanks for supporting Game Bytes! We look forward to
working with you as a reviewer.
Ross Erickson, Editor/Publisher
Daniel Starr, Assistant Editor
Game Bytes Magazine