Want to write for HG101? Hooray! Please read the below.
Picking a Topic:
The general goal of this site is twofold: (1) Get people interested in games they may not have played otherwise, and (2) Educate people in retro games.
We have a regularly updated list of games we’re looking for here:
Remember: you must be able to cover all games in a given series. Being obsessively thorough is a trademark of the site, and this should be consistent among all articles. If it’s a big series, then we can break it up into chunks. You can pick themes, if you’d like – for example “Dune RTS” games if you just want to cover the ones by Westwood and skip the other ones. If there’s some super obscure entry that’s beyond your ability to play (like Japan-only mobile), at least find some screenshots and give some facts about it. If a series is too expansive, you may want to think about covering something else.
You also must cover all of the console and computer versions. You should definitely compare specifics between arcade and console ports on all systems, and find out if there’s any difference between regions. This is easy for 8/16-bit games, where you just need to download the ROMs, but grows more difficult for other platforms. You probably don’t need to go into much detail between the differences of most Xbox/PS2/GC games, because they’re probably very similar, and if not, you can trust most professional sites for the differences. But definitely try to compare between PS1 and Saturn versions. Emulators for these platforms have near 100% compatibility, so you should be able to check for yourself. If you hear about some things changed between Japanese and English versions, try to confirm it yourself, don’t parrot what people say unless you either do the research or there are a lot of people backing it up. Ask on the HG101 forums if you’re unsure.
For many older games, you need to cover all of the home computer ports too, including the Amstrad, Amiga, Spectrum ZX, IBM PC, and so forth.
Pitching a Topic:
If you want to write an article, please pitch it to us! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The four things we need are:
(1) A brief run down of the game you want to cover, what you intend to cover in the article, and why you think it’s relevant. If it’s already on the wanted list, you can just name the game. This doesn’t need to be anything complicated – if it’s a somewhat enjoyable, underrated arcade game, just say that.
(2) How long you intend it to be. Generally standard articles should be about 1250 words, no more than 1500. If you want to write more, there needs to be a justification (lots of mechanics to discuss, lots of home ports to go over, etc.) Please discuss with me when pitching and don’t go over the approved amount. This is because we occasionally reprint articles in books and 1250 words is about how much can be fit in a two page spread.
(3) A writing sample. It doesn’t have to be anything specifically you’ve written for this pitch – if you have a video game oriented blog, that’s good enough. It’s just to know that you have some kind of writing capability. Just please note that you will need to follow the site’s writing guidelines for your actual article.
(4) Confirmation that you can provide quality screenshots. HG101 is just as much of a media site as a review site, and part of them revolves around these, especially since it’s something that so few web sites seem to care about. This means you must know how to use emulators. If it’s a game on the PlayStation 2, Gamecube or Wii, you need your computer to be able to run PCSX2 or Dolphin. If it’s on another platform, you need an HD capture card. If you are unable to run these programs or do not have the necessary equipment, do not pitch the article in question.
Please, only reserve an article if you are absolutely committed you’ll be working on it in a reasonable time frame. Obviously some of these can get very long, so we’ll allow a significant amount of time for them, but in general, if you’re not sure you can finish anything within a 2-3 month time span, then you may want to rethink your choice. We understand that Life comes up, and if you can’t complete something, that’s totally okay. Just let us know.
A few extra notes:
Contributors of articles may not be professionally affiliated with the developer or publisher of any of the games covered.
All submitted articles are subject to fact checking and editing by staff. Contributors should nonetheless always strife to write as accurately and fairly as possible.
We reserve the option to not publish any submitted articles for content, completion or quality concerns. We’ll always write back to discuss whatever improvements may be necessary to bring it up to standards.
The payment rate (unless otherwise specified) is $15 USD per 500 words. This may be higher depending on certain projects. In borderline cases, these can be rounded up (i.e. 800 words is OK for $30, 1250 words is OK for $45).
Payment will be made with two weeks of the article being officially posted on the site’s main page. This depends on our backlog, but this is typically between 3-4 months. Sometimes this can take longer if the initial submission is missing something or we need make more substantial edits.
For payment, we’ll need a few things:
(1) Your Paypal address. We do all payments through Paypal so this is mandatory.
(2) If you’re a US citizen and you intend to become a regular contributor (or contribute a very large article), then we need an IRS W-9 tax form completed, since we’ll need to report these wages to the government for tax purposes.
(3) If you’re based in California, we need to know because there is a limit to the number of articles we can accept due to recently passed independent contractor laws.
(4) An invoice breaking down the services provided. This is for record keeping purposes.
To submit an invoice, send an email to email@example.com. In the subject line, make sure to include the invoice # and the total payment. The text should include:
Your Paypal Email address
Invoice Number – you can make these up, use your initials, then count 01, 02, 03, as you continue to submit them The work performed and the payment rate, line-by-line
The total payment
So, it should look something like this:
Subject: JP001 – $150
Pork Ahoy! – $30
The Art of Ham and Video Games – $60
Bacon Empire II – $30
Vagrant Story – $30
Total – $150
You can submit an invoice at the same time you submit your article. However, be aware that we don’t issue payment until the article is published. We’ll keep you in the loop as to when we have something solidly scheduled. Please note that we NEED an invoice before we can disburse payment.
In exchange for payment for these articles, you are giving the rights to publish your work on HG101. You still have the rights to republish the work on your own blog, sell it to another site, or basically do what you want with it.
We also occasionally publish books with articles compiled for the site. If we choose one of the articles you’ve written, you’ll be contacted separately regarding the re-use the articles, keeping in mind they might be edited for length. You’ll receive credit in the masthead and a free copy of the book, in both digital and physical forms. (For long time contributors, if we’re reprinting an article from the days before we paid writers, you’ll also be paid for use of the article based on our current rates.) Sometimes HG101 books are also published in other languages, so by submitting an article, you are granting permission for them to be translated.
Please e-mail submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the text in an RTF or Word DOC file, and include all of the images together in a zip file. Try to find the box shots in at least 500 x 500 resolution. Make sure to include decently sized images of box covers, including regional variations, or an image of the Steam (or digital store) banner. Include as many screenshots as possible. Pick which ones you want me to use and name them “gametitle-1.png”, “gametitle-2.png”, etc. Include as many as possible as well – it’s better to have extras.
When taking screenshots, try to capture the most interesting moments of the game. You need to be able to show different parts of the game as well. Try to avoid using multiple screenshots of the same level, unless there really is no variation in graphics. If there are amusing cutscenes or dialogue, grab some of those too.
Screenshots must be in the native resolution for the platform. Please do not supply screenshots that have been upscaled and filtered. Refer to our screenshot guide with instructions to get screens for common systems and emulators. Most screenshots should use the PNG format – however, if they grow too large (usually screens for HD games can grow to be 1 MB+ each), then use JPG with extremely low compression. Use very low JPG compression for these.
If there are character profiles, please supply portraits. They should be roughly 150 x 150, although you can make them smaller or larger if necessary, as long as they’re consistent. If they’re screenshots, they should be in PNG format, but otherwise use JPG if they’re scans. You can also supply a larger, full size image if you want to the reader to be able to click on them to get a bigger view.
For comparisons across platforms screenshots, please use the format “gametitle-platform.png”. (For example: “shinobi-c64.png”, “shinobi-sms.png”, “shinobi-genesis.png”.) Remember that when you take pictures, they should be in approximately identical situations, usually the first screen of the first level.
The central idea of any article should be: Why is this game interesting? For example, take two Sega games from the 80s, Altered Beast and Alien Syndrome. For Altered Beast, it was the huge graphics, and the sense of power you get from turning into huge monsters and smashing things. For Alien Syndrome, it’s all about the creepy atmosphere, the grotesque monster designs, the sense of urgency, and the fact that it rips off one of the best action movies ever made. Remember, just because you don’t specifically like something, doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything interesting about it. They were popular at some point for a reason, right? You need to figure out what they reason is.
You also need to ask: why is this game significant? Final Fight, for example, took the formula from Double Dragon, tightened it up and inspired legions upon legions of clones. That’s pretty damn significant. Most importantly, you need to establish a sense of context to understand why something was important. The Lunar games for the Sega CD might seem like kinda generic RPGs in the 21st century, but back in the 16-bit days, it was pretty standout – it was one of the few text heavy console games with a decent translation, it had voiced characters, cinemas and a vocal song, and the publishers didn’t feel the need to change the anime-style cover artwork into something more palatable for Americans.
At the same time, you needn’t solely wear rose colored glasses. If a game hasn’t aged well, talk about it, and be specific. Going back to the Lunar games – localizations have been getting better, far more RPGs have been getting translations, most of the world is more comfortable with anime characters, and people are getting jaded with simplistic battle and character development systems. So with the playing field leveled, the weaknesses become more apparent, so more modern gamers may find them less interesting.
Your articles should try to stay away from fanboy gushing and aim towards being balanced. All games have flaws, and talking about weaknesses isn’t bashing it, it’s just to give the reader a clearer idea of what to expect. Plus, be sure to analyze why a given title failed or was received poorly. Lots of people are eager to blame shortsighted critics or poor marketing plans, but in reality, cult games are usually obscure for a reason, because there’s some element of the gameplay or graphic design that gamers might find off-putting. Like the graphics and characters of Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil were cool and interesting and all, but perhaps a bit too weird for most people to accept. You’ll want to analyze these, and give the reader some kind of idea of what side of the fence they’ll fall on. Browse message boards for various games and see how it received, what elements are well liked and what aren’t. Obviously, if you’re trying to get people to play it, you’d want to skew more towards the positive, but definitely address both sides.
Try to avoid wordiness at all cost. Your pieces should be detailed but still succinct. The biggest changes I make in articles is deleting extraneous information or rewording sentences to make them flow better. Also, remove any redundant information. If you’ve already established that the graphics are awful and the control sucks, you don’t need to bring it back up again in your conclusion sentence. Conclusion sentences aren’t even always necessary, depending on how you’ve written the rest.
Also, avoid using the first person. These can easily be written as such:
Bad: “I think the graphics are outstanding.”
Better: “The graphics are outstanding.”
The latter speaks with more authority and fits with the tone of HG101.
Also, don’t be vague in your criticisms or praises. Say more than “The graphics are nice,” or “The level designs kinda suck.” Give at least one example to support these statements. “The graphics are bright and fluidly animated, especially the main character.” Or “The level designs are repetitive, consisting of huge expanses of flat terrain and almost no variation in graphical design.”
Some places consider it a no-no, but you can (and should) make some comparisons to a more well known games, since they’re an easy and direct way to hook readers (ex: “Senko no Ronde is like Virtual On mixed with a bullet hell shooter”, “Bubsy is sorta like Sonic except total rubbish”). Since this site is aimed at people who are at least somewhat knowledgeable about games, you should assume they have some vague knowledge as to what these famous titles are, and also assume they’re familiar with video game vocabulary like “move sets,” “combos,” “frames per second,” “anti-aliasing” and stuff like that.
For multiple game articles, it should flow like this:
Rip Off Games/Homages
The later sections can go in any order, and you can restructure various bits where you feel they make sense.
The Intro should establish a sense of historical context. Also do some research on the publisher, the people involved, or what kind of other games they’ve made. The more information you can find, the better, especially if you know how to dig through the Japanese Wikipedia to search for names, gameographies and connections.
After this, you should talk about the defining aspects of the series, and what elements are constant among all of the games. Beyond the basic game concepts, talk about graphic style (Are they consistent amongst all of the games? Who’s the character designer, if they’re important? Is it dark/bright, realistic/fantasy, serious/goofy?) and music style (composer, genres, etc.) This way, when you start talking about the actual games, you only need to address what’s different/unique about them, instead of stating the main points over and over and over again. For single game entries, separating the introduction is not necessary.
In the actual game section, you’re analyzing the specifics of a given title, rather than the general concepts of the series. For certain topics, the first entry may be the briefest, usually because all of the main points were already brought up during the intro. For example: R-Type. Once you detail the gameplay system, talk about the pace and difficulty and graphic style, there’s not much to say about the first game.
When talking about later games, you can talk about additions and changes to the formula, what works and what doesn’t, changes in graphic or music style, and – most importantly – the high and low points. Try to be specific, if there’s a really cool stage or setpiece, or a really annoying plot element or level, bring it up. For, let’s say, a Mega Man article – once you’ve set down what the original games are all about, all you need to address are the different robots, the types of stages, how the music is, how the graphics have improved (if at all), the difficulty, and how it all ties together, while maybe bringing up how cool the dragon was in Dr. Wily’s castle or how breathtaking the intro was in Mega Man 2, or how Bright Man’s stage was frustrating in Mega Man 4.
Again, you’re trying to be balanced – bring up facts, talk about how you feel about those facts, and whether they make for a fun game. If you want to lavish praise or completely bash a game, you should do it reasonably, and make it perfectly clear why this particular entry is totally the best of them, or why this one completely sucks. You should also avoid being too inflammatory, because if you sound too much like a jerk, readers may tend to tune you out. You should also have a good grasp on the attitude of the fanbase towards certain entries, and maybe try to address common complaints in a sensible manner.
Again, bringing up Mega Man – to an outside observer, all six games might seem practically identical. So you might want to bring up that the later games had worse music, or weaker boss designs, or unbalanced difficulty, or however you feel. If a fanbase is particularly nasty towards a game, and you feel that hate is unjust, defend it. If you think it’s overrated, make a case for it. Just try to avoid absolutes. For example, you’ll hear a lot of people say how Mega Man 4 massively sucks – when, really, you could say it sucks in the context of other Mega Man games, but it’s still a fairly decent compared to other NES titles, and shouldn’t be ravaged totally – it may just suffer from sequelitis, or some aspects that didn’t really work, or falters because it isn’t as inspired as later games.
When writing about RPGs and fighting games, you should talk about the major characters. This way, when readers see artwork or read people referring to them, they’ll be able to identify them. Usually RPGs have different rosters in each game, so they can be addressed in each individual sections. Only concentrate on the “main” characters, and perhaps the primary villain, or anyone else that you think is interesting. Fighting games usually have rosters that remain (relatively) consistent throughout each iteration, so they can be addressed in the intro. The exceptions are entries which have completely different character rosters. In the Power Instinct article, the intro covers the characters in all of the games except for Groove on Fight, which has its own unique roster addressed in the game section.
Not entirely necessary, but you may want to examine other games that are extremely similar, or even spiritual successors. Cannon Dancer, for example, is not a Strider game, but is practically a sequel for all intents and purposes. How far in depth you want to go is up to you – even a casual mention is fine.
This is another optional section. It can include random trivia about the series including cameos, cultural influence, additional artwork or screenshots, and stuff like that.
Talk about the anime, comics, live action movies, or any other appearances. Don’t worry about really obscure doujin or koma (4-panel) comics, they’re hard to get info on. Try to get firsthand experience on these and analyze them. If that’s not possible, just bring up that they exist.
Not completely necessary, but you can round up any remaining thoughts, maybe talk about the future of the series, if any. Other websites should be linked, especially sources you used for your article.
Single Game Articles:
Single game articles obviously need to be more in-depth than series based articles. Professional reviews answer the question “Is this game worth my money?” You should be answering the question “Why is this game important and/or interesting?” Why, of all of the other tons of games that come out every week, is this game special? The object is, simply, to make it better and more detailed than professional reviews. Delve deep into the story, talk about specific scenarios or levels or situations, if they’re worth discussing. Detail all of the characters, with pictures, and devote a lot of space to the graphical style or music. Talk about how the game fits into a genre, if at all, and how well it meets its goals compared to its brethren. For example, I spend a lot of time in my Rhythm Tengoku review disseminating the rhythm game genre, and where Rhythm Tengoku fits into the scheme of that. If you’re looking for another example, compare HG101’s God Hand review to IGN’s, and see what it does differently. The Psychonauts one went into the characters and a lot of situations that make it so worthwhile, while most reviews written when it came out didn’t really go into specifics.
General spelling conventions
1950s, 1980s, etc. Whatever the decade, never place a possessive apostrophe (‘) between the 0 and s. It’s plural, not possessive. If an article contains many decade numbers, the first two figures may be omitted, putting an apostrophe before the numbers, eg. ’90s.
Abbreviations Do not use acronyms. Single word titles, when italicized, are fine after the full title has been established once. (Symphony for Symphony of the Night, Dawnfor Dawn of Sorrow)
All caps Do not use, except when quoting onscreen text as is. Use bold text (preferably inside <b> and </b> tags) for emphasis instead.
Americanisms Color, humor, capitalized, italicized, localized.
Colons and Subtitles For games where the subtitles are more than one word, use colons. For example, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. Titles with a single word subtitle may go without colon as in Castlevania Bloodlines or Castlevania Resurrection, or with the colon, eg. Assassins Creed: Brotherhood or Dragon Age: Inquisition. Always check common use if uncertain.
Dashes Always use the short dash (-), as opposed to the longer (–) or double (–) when you separate sentences – such as here.
Double spaces Double spaces after full stops are not necessary. They are ignored in HTML, anyway.
English translations of Japanese titles Put in quotes – “Red Photon Zillion”, no italics. Only actual game titles use italics. Parenthesis are okay but not required.
Game modes “Arcade Mode”, “Duel Mode”, “The Duel”, etc. Should be in quotes and capitalized when cited as they’re named in the game
Game names Always italicized. When using the genitive, the apostrophe is outside of italics.
Names (other) Books, magazines, films, music albums, and other creative works are italicised like game names.
Numbers Cardinal numbers 0-9 written in letters (zero – nine), 10 and upwards written numerically. The same applies for ordinal numbers (eg. “third” instead of “3rd”). When referencing titles, it needs to match the actual name (i.e. After Burner II rather than After Burner 2).
Punctuation Punctuation goes outside brackets (like this sentence). And the same for single words in speech marks which go at the sentence “end”. The exception is: “When you’re quoting a piece of dialogue, in which case it goes inside the speech marks, like here.”
Song names Track titles should be in quotes, no italics.
Speech marks Used double (” as opposed to ‘) for both quotes and “attention” drawing. For site articles, use straight quotation marks, as opposed to the curly ones.
auto-scroll Rather than auto scroll or autoscroll
backstory One word, not hyphenated
beat-em-up hyphen between all words, apostrophe in front of the “em”. Use only for “belt-scrolling brawler”. When referring to one-on-one fighting games, write “fighting game” instead.
chiptune Rather than chip tune or chip-tune
close up Rather than close-up or closeup
cutscene Rather than cut scene or cut-scene
flamethrower Weapon, one word, not hyphenated
framerate One word, not frame rate or frame-rate
full screen Rather than fullscreen or full-screen
gameplay One word, not hyphenated
leaderboard One word, not hyphenated
lifebar Not life-bar or life bar
midair One word, not hyphenated
midboss One word, not hyphenated
midlevel One word, not hyphenated
minigame One word, not hyphenated
multiplane Rather than multi-plane. Also consider: parallax
onscreen Rather than on-screen
outer space rather than “outerspace”
overworld Not over-world or over world
power-up Rather than powerup or power up
rail-shooter Rather than railshooter or rail shooter
redbook For audio, lowercase, one word
ripoff When used as a noun, rather than rip-off or rip off
savegame One word, not hyphenated
setpiece One word, not hyphenated
shoot-em-up hyphen between all words, apostrophe in front of the “em”. Don’t use “shmup”
shooter use only when context makes it clear whether it refers to “first-person shooter” or “shoot-’em-up”
sidequest One word, not hyphenated
sit-down Common cabinet type in arcades, especially for racing games, lower case, with dash between
spinoff When used as a noun, rather than spin-off or spin off
subquest One word, not hyphenated
subweapon One word, not hyphenated
tilesets Rather than tile set or tile-sets
touchscreen One word, not hyphenated
two-player Two-player, three-player, with dash in between, no quotes
upscaled Not up scaled or up-scaled
video game Two words
Western games Referring to coming from America/Europe, capitalized
Hardware and software names
General For more obscure systems, the manufacturer may be named in front of the system name for the first mention, eg. “Sharp X1” or “NEC PC-FX”. “Sega Saturn”, on the other hand, is redundant unless you somehow find yourself in the odd situation that requires explicit distinction from the planet.
AdLib Rather than Adlib or Ad Lib.
DOS Write only when directly comparing with other operating systems. When referring to games running on DOS or PC Booter use IBM PC instead.
DOSBox DOS and the B is capitalized.
Dreamcast Single word.
Famicom Not FamiCom. Only write Family Computer when writing about the system’s history or making a point about the meaning.
FM-7 Hyphenated, not FM-7.
FM Towns Two words, not FM-Towns
Game Boy Two words, not Gameboy or GameBoy.
GameCube Single word, capitalize the G.
Genesis / Mega Drive
HuCard “Card” is capitalized.
IBM PC Use only when referring to games and systems that run in DOS. For Windows games use “Windows” or “Windows PC”
Master System May be abbreviated to SMS in screenshot captions.
MSX / MSX2 Double check it’s the correct format, either original or MSX2.
Neo Geo Not Neo-Geo, NeoGeo or Neogeo. The same goes for Neo Geo Pocket.
NES Always use the acronym, except when writing about the system’s history or making a point about the meaning.
Nintendo 64 May be shortened to N64 within the text body and in screenshot captions.
PC-88, PC-98, etc. Hyphenated, not PC88 or PC98. Do not write the full model numbers (PC-9801, PC-8821, etc.) unless referring to the specific model within the line.
PlayStation Single word, capitalize the S.
ScummVM Scumm is not capizalized, contrary to the SCUMM engine the name is based on.
SNES Always use the acronym, except when writing about the system’s history or making a point about the meaning.
Super Famicom Not Super FamiCom. Only write Super Family Computer when writing about the system’s history or making a point about the meaning.
TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine Generally write TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine only for games and phenomena that did not appear in North America. Not Turbografx 16 or PC-Engine.
X1, X68000 Not X-1 or X-68000.
Xbox Only the X is capitalized.
Xbox 360 Only the X is capitalized. Space between Xbox and 360.