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Crate Review System
2000-04-26 Erik Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7
Scientists tell us that our prehistoric ancestor Homo Habilis, as he stood high atop a cliff thoughtfully chewing a great mouthful of Ancient Grains brand cereal, often stared up at the sky and wondered:   Where can I hide my ammo and health?  Obviously, he used different words, probably something like "Where Homo Habilis hide Homo Habilis' ammo and health?", but the problem remains the same even today.  Another eternal question - in the sense that it was first posed in the subjective eternity between when Paul Steed opens his mouth to make human-like talking sounds and when he finally decides to shut up - is how can a game be judged objectively without the vagueness and potential bias towards Unreal Tournament that has always tainted the traditional, but imperfect, art of opinion-giving? 

Game developers have known the answer to the first question since the early 1980's: ammo and health can be hidden inside crates or sometimes barrels.  As often happens, the answer to the second question was hidden in plain sight within the answer to the first.   All games contain crates, therefore all games can be judged empirically on those crates.   

Upcoming Todd McFarlane "Heroes of Videogames" crate & barrel action figures.  Spider sold separately.

Once we came up with that insight, the actual formula for the world's first completely unbiased review methodology was a trivial matter of applying our many hours spent watching actors portray scientists on television to our hatred of crates.  Games can be rated and compared based on the shortest amount of time it takes a player to reach the first crate, which represents the point where the developers ran out of ideas.  This number is measured in seconds and is called "Start to Crate" or "StC".  The smaller the StC, the worse the game.

To test our theory, we installed and played the twenty-six games we had within easy reach of where we were sitting.  To our scientific delight, all exhibited crates within the first one hundred and twenty seconds of play.  Please note that by crates, we mean both crates proper and the circular crate, the barrel.

In the interest of scoring some points with our peers in science, such as our new colleague Dr. Jonas Salk, we've utilized all of the components of the very popular scientific method, including the notion of a control group.  Our initial control group was this picture of Paul Steed's head digitally imaged onto the body of a chubby waiter at the Lebanese Hooters:

We asked a fellow scientist at Case Western Reserve University here in Cleveland to peer review our experiment.  He had some difficult-to-understand, but serious-sounding concerns regarding our control group.  In response to his generally negative tone, we put Steed's head on a much fatter body and gave him a little cowboy hat:

With our control group finally in place, all we needed was a research assistant and a microscope.  After a brief search, we narrowed the field of potential assistants down to two candidates: Dr. Stephen Hawking and our friend Kevin.  While Hawking is a TV star like Allie McBeal, owns his own microscope, and sounds like a robot, Kevin is the only one of the two who talks to us, making him the winner by one degree Kelvin.

That still left us without a microscope.  Kevin validated our choice of him over Dr. Hawking by helpfully suggesting that we eliminate step 4 of our scientific review procedure, "Look at the game through a microscope", and we were off.

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