Wednesday, 5 February 2014

USR got a 1 star review and these are my thoughts

I've just seen that USR got a pretty scathing review on DriveThru. Ordinarily I wouldn't respond to reviews, but this one seems a bit off. 

The reviewer seems to have a problem with me saying that USR 'encourages roleplay', even calling it 'misleading'. As a system built on skillsets that organically grow depending on how the character is roleplayed, I'd say that it requires a relatively high level of roleplaying a character. That's where the 'roleplay-centric advancement' comes in, which he also has a problem with.

He says "calling it rules-lite would be an insult to all rules-lite systems out there." Well, that's the point. It's 'unbelievably simple'. You should be able to read the rules and start playing in 10-15 minutes. I created USR for people who want to get stuck into a game and want a flexible system that allows you to do almost anything you want. Is this the same thing they would say about Risus, which has perhaps fewer rules yet is an incredible game? (Not trying to big up USR here, but you get my meaning). 

So the result is 1 star, which pretty much means this person didn't find anything at all to like with the game. That's fine, if super rules-lite isn't for somebody then that's ok. But the thing is, I'm an amateur designer with a team of 1, a full-time job and I like to release things for either free or pocket change. Tonnes of small press publishers are in the same boat and when I see someone really laying into free passion projects it really irks me. Hell, I don't even like giving RPGs by big companies bad reviews.

Everyone is obviously entitled to their opinion, but it's when people criticise without being constructive that it can make people think twice about doing what they love, especially if they're making no money from it.

I think if I didn't receive an email from someone the other day telling me that my little game has literally made their life better, I'd be a bit more disheartened. But the fact is, I know people love the game and that's why I make games. I want people to enjoy themselves with their friends just like I did when I first picked up D&D so many years ago. I made the game that I most wanted to play - one that doesn't have numerous charts and reams of rules, one that does encourage people to roleplay instead of looking up tiny details in the index. 

Maybe I'm being oversensitive about it, but this one niggled me.