Peer Review: Not So Evil Checklist
Not So Evil Checklist

See the Evil Checklist for language/translation reasons that you should and should not fail a game
See the Legal FAQ, for legal reasons that you should and should not fail a game
See the Language FAQ for a list of things that are not reasons to fail a game

This is a list of things that historically are not reasons to fail a game in Peer Review. Several of these are things that you should fix in order to improve your game's quality.

Do Not Fail For

  • Not having an exit option; users can always quit by using the guide.
  • Using "Return to Arcade" as an exit option. Xbox prefers "Exit." However, "Return to Dashboard," "Return to Game Library," and "Return to Indie Games" are OK, too.
  • Leaving in the default back=quit code.
  • Not having a pause, not using start for pause, not pausing when Guide is pressed, or not pausing when the user disconnects the controller.
  • Not supporting controller switching during the game. A single press start screen is all that's required.
  • Legal reasons beyond those are listed in the legal FAQ.
  • Forcing a storage device to be selected.
  • Forcing a user to log in or play with a logged-in controller (though test what happens if you sign out after the game has started, and ensure the game can be played from any controller).
  • Code 7 crashes. These are caused by logging out of the account with the Xbox LIVE Indie Games Membership. This crash never occurs in non-review play.
  • Spelling or grammar errors; point them out, but it's up to the developer to fix these errors.
  • Lack of instructions or controller hints on screens and menus, unless they're so convoluted that the game or screen couldn't be used without a reasonable amount of guesswork. For example, you're totally stuck on the first screen because you had no clue that you had to hold down both triggers and use the right thumbstick to move. In these cases, post to the forum or look at other reviews. If everyone is having the same confusion, it might be worth a fail. If others aren't confused, then don't fail. Note that we occasionally see a game where guessing the controls and gameplay is part of the game. Developers should call this out in advance so that they don't get failed for it.
  • Not using thumbstick and dpad for navigation
  • Not using standard buttons or controls
  • In general, confusion and frustration related to technical issues. If the instructions, control scheme, or gameplay are confusing or frustrating, but it's as the developer intended, then just ignore the game. You can't fail a game because you think it's too difficult or boring, or you just don't like it. You can't fail a game because you think it's not a game. Feel free to send the developer a comment on any of these issues and ignore the game, but don't fail the game.
  • Not providing a way to upgrade to the full version of the game.
  • Memory Units/Device Selector (but see some best practices below):
    • Undefined, odd, annoying, or confusing behavior after pulling a MU or selecting a full or corrupted device. If it crashes, then fail the game, but anything besides crashing is the developer's decision.
    • Pulling the MU that the game is stored on. No XNA Game Studio or Xbox LIVE Indie Game can survive that.
    • Mandatory device selection.
  • Mandatory login.
  • Vomit doesn't count as excreta; urine and fecal matter do.

Special Cases

  • Some Xbox consoles with some games under some unknown conditions exhibit very long deployment and loading times. If you find a game that appears to have very long loading times, don't fail it right away. Post to or read the peer review forum and see if anyone else is seeing this. If everyone is seeing it, then it's OK to fail the game. However, if it's just you, then it's likely that you have one of those special Xbox consoles. See this discussion about this known issue. The issue only occurs when sending a .ccgame through XNA Game Studio Connect. It doesn't happen in marketplace and it doesn't happen under the Visual Studio debugger.
  • A few testers report black screens at game startup when reviewing a game through XNA Game Studio Connect. Restarting the Xbox copnsole usually clears this up. It appears to be random and not related to the game or XNA Framework. It hasn't been reported with any marketplace release. If you see this and it doesn't repro every time, then check the forum to be sure that it's not just you.

Other Advice (especially to new reviewers)

  • Read through the previous review comments and/or Playtest comments (click the number under the developer's name to find all their threads, including the Playtest one). You may find that your fail reason has already been discussed.
  • If in doubt, post first; other reviewers will help out.
  • If really in doubt, then spend some time playtesting only. Call out in Playtest what you would fail for, and people will correct you and you can learn the ways of the peer review process.

MU/Device Usage Recommendations

While you can cover all the failure cases with a simple try/catch and an infinite loop back to the device selector, it's not the most user friendly experience. Consider these best practices.

  • If the user cancels the selector, it means they don't want you to fill up their drive. Show a dialog explaining what features they'll lose, but allow them to reselect or continue without a device. If your game truly can't continue, then give them the option to quit immediately rather than force them to choose a device in order to see your menu.
  • If the selected device is full, then show a dialog explaining why this device can't be selected, with the option to reselect. Ensure they can bring the guide up to go to the dashboard if they need to tidy up.
  • If the selected device is corrupted? Right now this is so hard to test that we aren't 100% sure that you can tell the difference between a corrupted drive and one that just got pulled. So display a message stating that the device isn't available, with the option to reselect or quit. Make sure the guide is available in case the user wants to try to format the drive or delete the corrupted file.

Questions can be asked in the forums, or sent to creators@microsoft.com. Suggestions already listed on the Evil Checklist as a fail won't be reconsidered.

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