[Review] LASH [Explicit Spoilers!]

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Quentin D. Thompson

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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There's a terrific moment in Agatha Christie's "The A.B.C. Murders", where
Hercule Poirot gathers all the people implicated in the series of apparently
alphabetical murders, and delivers a lengthy diatribe on how the truth would
be arrived at. Essentially, what he's doing is repeating the same thing over
and over, but no one cottons on to it - they're too busy nodding their heads
and saying "Yes, Mr. Detective, you must be right" - only the clear-eyed
Megan Barnard points out, rather coldly, that all he's doing is repeating
himself. Poirot, of course, was doing this with a purpose: one of his
fundamental axioms is to get people talking, because they betray themselves
by tiny slips. On the other hand, Paul O'Brian's LASH - which has already
been elevated, at least by one reviewer, to the level of AMFV and Spider &
Web - seems to try the same trick, in its epistolary narratives, but to no
obvious purpose. What originally seems to be the main point of the game -
unravelling what happened to the late Percy couple during the "Second
American Civil War" is abandoned, abruptly, in favour of - in this reviewer's
opinion - a much worse idea.

As LASH opens, you're commanding a robot, the MULE, on a salvage mission to
recover artifacts and other items of interest from the aforementioned
couple's home in - guess what - the South of America. As far as this goes,
the gameplay is engaging though hardly innovative; if I wanted a treasure
hunt, I wouldn't waste 360KB on it, would I? Obviously, there was more to the
game, and the discovery of a diary - ironically, using LOOK UNDER, which
several reviewers of my game told me was archaic (I guess I'm dealing with an
"It's deliberate! It's a deconstruction of the traditional treasure hunt!"
here), made me think that this was going to be a flashback game 0 as you make
new discoveries around the mansion and solve new puzzles, the story unfolds
in a manner akin to Babel. With this in mind, I solved a handful of puzzles -
including a _terribly mechanical, tedious and sleep-inducing_ bit of by-play
with bellows - but wasn't rewarded much more. The diary entries told me very
little about the "Second Civil Wa" apart from generic war cliches: Evil White
Fascists, a Corrupt Armed Force, Blacks Who Weren't ALL Good, a beleaguered
Black President, et seq. The diary entries were dreadfully turgid, affecting
the same Poirot style I mentioned above - never has Eric Morris' Journal been
closer to my heart than when I was playing that game. But on solving what was
apparently the crucial puzzle, I found that flashbacking wasn't the point,
either.

And this is where LASH loses it, loses its chance to the Babel or Delusions
succession and becomes an uncomfortable mix of soapbox rhetoric and illogical
science-fiction. Apparently, Lisa, one of the Percys, was working on some
sort of mentalic device, and when activated (I'm surprised it survived the
nukes when almost nothing else did..) your robot enters the skin of a young,
innocent, black slave girl, helpless before a cruel and corrupt Master whose
name, subtly enough, is Nicholas Duke (Deep Topical Reference #1 - if you're
tasteless, insert favourite Ku Klux Klan joke here). Apparently, you've been
meddling where you shouldn't, and Nicholas rewards you for this with a fairly
generic bout of whipping, salting and Bible-thumping. After a lengthy
atrocity story that was probably meant to be heart-wrenching but which I
found merely gut-constricting, you discover: A. that Nicholas Duke is
actually your father (Deep Topical Reference #2 - if you're a jerk, insert
favourite Thomas Jefferson/Bill Clinton joke here) and B. that what this game
means by 'offensive language' is words like 'nigger' and 'penis'. In 2000?
Gimme a break. You have several ways to exit this part of the story -
suicide, killing the evil Nicholas, escape on the Underground Railroad, etc.
All this Reader's Digest scenario needs is a couple of good guys, and they
exist in the form of your Momma and Duke's "nice, but a bit of a wuss" son,
Matthew. After exiting this scene, it's back to treasure-hunting. Or is it?
Your robot, apparently, has been so deeply impressed by this that it starts
demanding its freedom. And the _real_ ending of the game (at last) depends on
whether you set it free or behave like a robot-bashing, morally corrupt,
Nicholas Duke-style bastard.

I don't for a minute question the author's sincerity; I'm glad an IFer has
come out with such a strong anti-racism message. But the waters are muddied
by the untidy 'robot=nigger slave', 'human=white master' identity, which -
quite honestly - doesn't compute. When I type C:\>COPY HALOT.ZIP a: at my DOS
7.00 prompt, I'm not saying "NIGGER, CLEAN MY SHOES". Does a Telnet program
want to be free? Do the robotic arms in a Ford plant want maternity leave?
Can any artificial intelligence, however cleverly programmed, react in such a
manner? Considering the number of spectacular failures of aspirants to the
Turing test, I don't think so: machines, even "intelligent" ones, would be
built in with safeguards to give them perspective, such as Asimov's Three
Laws of Robotics. But this author, apparently, has missed the point of
Asimov's works, and not only presents a Lawless robot, but quotes Asimov
horribly out of context early on in the game. (The relevant passage is
illustrative of the prejudice that Elijah Baley, n Earthman, has against
robots, which are widely accepted on other planets, for the record.) Besides
this blurry logic, the slavery piece is poorly handled. See, I'm not for a
minute trying to be a cynic or an apologist. As a medical man in a developing
country, I see plently of tragedies that push LASH's tale notches down:
bonded labour, protein-energy malnutrition, spousal abuse and burning - even
racism, if you have to ask. All these are tragedies; the trouble with the
Reader's Digest approach to them is that it trivialises them and desensitizes
us to them, making us say "So what?". LASH, unfortunately, suffers from this
syndrome. Contrast this with Worlds Apart, where the imbroglio between the
rigid Lashiaran and the breakaways Kitara and Lyesh is much more
realistically and skilfully presented. And, finally, if you're going to use
360KB to make a game, why not present both sides of the tale, or at least
make it more fun? Other works of IF have simple messages: Trinity's is
anti-nuclear, Shades of Gray' is the age-old concept of adherence to unfair
law .vs. adherence to a higher law. But these games had depth, complexity,
and playabilitty, and didn't preesent everything in bald black and white.

Summing up, LASH is a sincere attempt, but it fails. Not marginally, but by a
large margin; sunk by a combination of soapbox preaching, bad design and
gameplay decisions and screwy logic, I can only wonder what might have been.
My score for "LASH": 5 out of 10.


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

David Welbourn

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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Well, that was harsh. Makes me feel vaguely better that I haven't written a
game yet to prove how little I know. Anyway, a couple points:
- IMHO, I don't agree that "LOOK UNDER" is archaic. Besides, the game lets
you move the mattress as an alternate solution to finding the book.
- IMHO, I think every IF game should be allowed to have at least one
tedious-style puzzle. Why should everything come easily to a player?
- IMHO, the size of a game in computer memory should not be held up as a
gauge of the game's quality, strengths, or deficiencies. That's like
counting brushstrokes on an oil painting.
- The introduction materials on LASH explained that the MULE had human brain
matter as part of its construction. To me, this is sufficient explanation
as to why the MULE had the potential to become sentient, whereas other
machinery does not.

-- David Welbourn


Andrew Plotkin

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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David Welbourn <d...@ionline.net> wrote:
> - The introduction materials on LASH explained that the MULE had human brain
> matter as part of its construction. To me, this is sufficient explanation
> as to why the MULE had the potential to become sentient, whereas other
> machinery does not.

I simply thought -- this is science fiction; sci-fi has a true AI as a
well-established trope. Authors have been talking the thing about since
Tik-Tok of Oz. And it's hardly fair to criticize _LASH_ for unduly
anthropomorphizing machines, while praising Asimov's approach in the same
breath!

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Magnus Olsson

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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In article <8bvk49$njc$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,

Quentin D. Thompson <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>Nicholas Duke (Deep Topical Reference #1 - if you're
>tasteless, insert favourite Ku Klux Klan joke here).

Sorry, I didn't get that reference - care to explain?

>that what this game
>means by 'offensive language' is words like 'nigger' and 'penis'. In 2000?
>Gimme a break.

So what you're saying is that the word "nigger" *isn't* offensive
nowadays?

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

Heiko Nock

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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In article <8bvk49$njc$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>, Quentin D. Thompson wrote:

I really wanted to like your review, honestly. After all, who wouldn't
like a review that starts off with comments on Hercule Poirot. However,
you decided to move on to dissecting the game in a manner that can only
be called blatantly unfair.

>And this is where LASH loses it, loses its chance to the Babel or Delusions
>succession and becomes an uncomfortable mix of soapbox rhetoric and illogical
>science-fiction. Apparently, Lisa, one of the Percys, was working on some
>sort of mentalic device, and when activated (I'm surprised it survived the
>nukes when almost nothing else did..)

If you don't want to assume that an atom bomb has been dropped on every
single building in the country, that isn't surprising at all. The term
nuclear fallout comes to mind.

>your robot enters the skin of a young, innocent, black slave girl, helpless
>before a cruel and corrupt Master whose name, subtly enough, is Nicholas
>Duke (Deep Topical Reference #1 - if you're tasteless, insert favourite Ku
>Klux Klan joke here).

Why do I get the impression that you regard the setting as being
ridiculous in spite of the historical correctness ?

>Apparently, you've been meddling where you shouldn't, and Nicholas rewards
>you for this with a fairly generic bout of whipping, salting and
>Bible-thumping.

I don't quite see what is generic about the whipping, salting and
bible-thumping unless you

a) totally refuse to see the relevance of how the robot reacts to it and
b) are used to whipping, salting and bible-thumping.

>After a lengthy atrocity story that was probably meant to be heart-wrenching
>but which I found merely gut-constricting, you discover: A. that Nicholas
>Duke is actually your father (Deep Topical Reference #2 - if you're a jerk,
>insert favourite Thomas Jefferson/Bill Clinton joke here) and B. that what
>this game means by 'offensive language' is words like 'nigger' and 'penis'.
>In 2000? Gimme a break.

I am surprised. You seem to be entirely oblivious to the fact that
many (?) Americans are extremely puritanic and don't like the public
mentioning of terms like 'penis' and that also many
blac^H^H^H^Hnegr^H^H^H^Hcolored people consider the term 'nigger' as
being libelous (which I find quite ridiculous, but that's not the
issue).

>You have several ways to exit this part of the story - suicide, killing the
>evil Nicholas, escape on the Underground Railroad, etc.
>All this Reader's Digest scenario needs is a couple of good guys, and they
>exist in the form of your Momma and Duke's "nice, but a bit of a wuss" son,
>Matthew.

You are fast with remarks like that but you fail to point out what should or
even could have been done differently.

>I don't for a minute question the author's sincerity; I'm glad an IFer has
>come out with such a strong anti-racism message. But the waters are muddied
>by the untidy 'robot=nigger slave', 'human=white master' identity, which -
>quite honestly - doesn't compute. When I type C:\>COPY HALOT.ZIP a: at my DOS
>7.00 prompt, I'm not saying "NIGGER, CLEAN MY SHOES". Does a Telnet program
>want to be free? Do the robotic arms in a Ford plant want maternity leave?

Why is a raven like a writing desk ?

Do you really need to be explained what the difference between a
comparatively small computer program and a futuristic, highly developed
human-like robot is ?

But as you mention later, you have read Asimov and probably other works
of science fiction.

So if I wouldn't know better I'd say that you are playing dumb on purpose.

Especially since the MULE's description in the help text explicitly mentions
that it contains a partly human brain.

>Can any artificial intelligence, however cleverly programmed, react in such a
>manner?

I guess that's why it's called science fiction and not documentary.

>Considering the number of spectacular failures of aspirants to the
>Turing test, I don't think so: machines, even "intelligent" ones, would be
>built in with safeguards to give them perspective, such as Asimov's Three
>Laws of Robotics.

If you have read Asimov's stories, you should know that many robots
found opportunities to evade the laws or even remove/change them.

>But this author, apparently, has missed the point of Asimov's works, and not
>only presents a Lawless robot, but quotes Asimov horribly out of context
>early on in the game.

I am wondering: Since when is it an obligation to use Asimov's robot
laws when writing a story about robots ?

And where did you get the impression that the robot doesn't have these
laws ? It is never mentioned, but that's not necessary at all, since it
is never disproved either.

In any case you totally ignore the effect the transformation booth has
on the robot.

>See, I'm not for a minute trying to be a cynic or an apologist.

Of course not. Who would get *that* impression.

>As a medical man in a developing country, I see plently of tragedies that
>push LASH's tale notches down: bonded labour, protein-energy malnutrition,
>spousal abuse and burning - even racism, if you have to ask.

That's the problem: Nobody asked. It's also not relevant to the review,
if you have seen all of this.

>All these are tragedies; the trouble with the Reader's Digest approach to
>them is that it trivialises them and desensitizes us to them, making us say
>"So what?".

Sorry, it does *what* ? Maybe you mix that up with being desensitized
by your work.

I didn't feel desensitized at all by the story, on the contrary.

>LASH, unfortunately, suffers from this syndrome. Contrast this with Worlds
>Apart, where the imbroglio between the rigid Lashiaran and the breakaways
>Kitara and Lyesh is much more realistically and skilfully presented.

So you are comparing a completely made-up fantasy/science-fiction story
with a partially history-based story ?

Is this supposed to be a joke ?

I could say just as well that "Worlds Apart" is a rip-off of "So Far"
or "Losing Your Grip".

>And, finally, if you're going to use 360KB to make a game, why not present
>both sides of the tale, or at least make it more fun?

Both sides of the tale ? What do you mean ? A cruel and corrupt black
Master and a young, innocent, white slave girl ?

I guess he didn't show that because it didn't happen this way.



>Other works of IF have simple messages: Trinity's is anti-nuclear,

Oh, how fair. Experienced commercial author and one of the best
interactive fiction games ever against a newcomer's first free game.

>Shades of Gray' is the age-old concept of adherence to unfair law .vs.
>adherence to a higher law. But these games had depth, complexity, and
>playabilitty, and didn't preesent everything in bald black and white.

Last time I played it, I saw several loose parts with a tacked-on story to
tie them all together. Several parts that only made a coherent sense
because the author said so.

>Summing up, LASH is a sincere attempt, but it fails. Not marginally, but by a
>large margin; sunk by a combination of soapbox preaching, bad design and
>gameplay decisions and screwy logic, I can only wonder what might have been.
>My score for "LASH": 5 out of 10.


********* You have completely missed the point of the story **********


--
Ciao, Heiko...

Ross Presser

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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alt.distin...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson).wrote.posted.offered:

>In article <8bvk49$njc$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,


>Quentin D. Thompson <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>>Nicholas Duke (Deep Topical Reference #1 - if you're
>>tasteless, insert favourite Ku Klux Klan joke here).
>

>Sorry, I didn't get that reference - care to explain?

David Duke, a former US presidential hopeful, was known for racist and
antisemitic remarks and for purported connections to the KKK.

>>that what this game
>>means by 'offensive language' is words like 'nigger' and 'penis'.
>>In 2000? Gimme a break.
>

>So what you're saying is that the word "nigger" *isn't* offensive
>nowadays?

I recall at least two other offensive words, <rot13>"shpx" naq
"phag"</rot13>, although they were "optional" scenes.

And the violent and sexual *content* was enough for the warning, even
if the language was minimal.

--
Ross Presser * ross_p...@imtek.com
"You can kill more lusers per hour with a dull spoon and a kind
sword, than with just a dull spoon." -- rst...@xs4all.nl (Rik
Steenwinkel)

Andrew Plotkin

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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Heiko Nock <zif...@wtal.de> wrote:
>>LASH, unfortunately, suffers from this syndrome. Contrast this with Worlds
>>Apart, where the imbroglio between the rigid Lashiaran and the breakaways
>>Kitara and Lyesh is much more realistically and skilfully presented.
>
> So you are comparing a completely made-up fantasy/science-fiction story
> with a partially history-based story ?
>
> Is this supposed to be a joke ?
>
> I could say just as well that "Worlds Apart" is a rip-off of "So Far"
> or "Losing Your Grip".

Having criticized one aspect of the review, I will now criticize one
criticism of it...

He *didn't* say that _LASH_ was a rip-off of _Worlds Apart_, or that
anything was a rip-off of anything.

I agree with that point, anyway. The slavery theme in _Worlds Apart_ was
interesting, complex, and tied in with several well-drawn characters. The
presentation in _LASH_ was basically stock.

Put it this way: I saw the title, started the game, read the description
of the MULE robot. Then I saw that the setting was (partially) slave-era
US South. And I said, hey, that's pretty cool; this game is going to draw
parallels between that and the robot-as-IF-command-slave thing. And the
title fits too!

But *after* that, the game provided no surprises; no revelatory moments
beyond that first one. I didn't learn anything from it, beyond factual
historical detail. (Which is fine, but historical details on their own
have never made a story work for me.)

>>Other works of IF have simple messages: Trinity's is anti-nuclear,
>
> Oh, how fair. Experienced commercial author and one of the best
> interactive fiction games ever against a newcomer's first free game.

Yes, it's fair.

Besides, he didn't put them against each other, did he?

Matthew T. Russotto

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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In article <9opub8...@wtal.de>, Heiko Nock <zif...@wtal.de> wrote:

}>After a lengthy atrocity story that was probably meant to be heart-wrenching
}>but which I found merely gut-constricting, you discover: A. that Nicholas
}>Duke is actually your father (Deep Topical Reference #2 - if you're a jerk,
}>insert favourite Thomas Jefferson/Bill Clinton joke here) and B. that what
}>this game means by 'offensive language' is words like 'nigger' and 'penis'.
}>In 2000? Gimme a break.
}
}I am surprised. You seem to be entirely oblivious to the fact that
}many (?) Americans are extremely puritanic and don't like the public
}mentioning of terms like 'penis' and that also many
}blac^H^H^H^Hnegr^H^H^H^Hcolored people consider the term 'nigger' as
}being libelous (which I find quite ridiculous, but that's not the
}issue).

Actually, you can get old Nick to use 'fucking'. That should be
offensive enough.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

ct

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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In article <8bvk49$njc$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,
Quentin D. Thompson <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>Summing up, LASH is a sincere attempt, but it fails. Not marginally, but by a
>large margin; sunk by a combination of soapbox preaching, bad design and
>gameplay decisions and screwy logic, I can only wonder what might have been.

Well, I might not agree with all of what went before, but I'm glad to
see I'm not the only person underwhelmed. After playing, my head felt
like someone had been hitting it very hard with a solid metal thing.

regards, ct


Sean T Barrett

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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Ross Presser <rpre...@NOSPAMimtek.com.invalid> wrote:
>alt.distin...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson).wrote.posted.offered:

>>Quentin D. Thompson <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>>>Nicholas Duke (Deep Topical Reference #1 - if you're
>>>tasteless, insert favourite Ku Klux Klan joke here).
>>Sorry, I didn't get that reference - care to explain?
>David Duke, a former US presidential hopeful, was known for racist and
>antisemitic remarks and for purported connections to the KKK.

Huh, I thought it was a reference to Bo and Luke and Daisy.

SeanB

Matthew T. Russotto

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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In article <8c00jp$l1d$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,
Magnus Olsson <m...@pobox.com> wrote:
}In article <8bvk49$njc$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,

}Quentin D. Thompson <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote:
}>Nicholas Duke (Deep Topical Reference #1 - if you're
}>tasteless, insert favourite Ku Klux Klan joke here).
}
}Sorry, I didn't get that reference - care to explain?

Nor I. David Duke is a former KKK official and founder of the National
Association for Advancement of White People. But there's also the
Duke family for which Duke University is named. It's certainly not an
implausible name, references or no references.

Brother Noro

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Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
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I've always thought that envy was one of the worst emotions a
human could feel. However, I must admit, that after reading
Mr. Thompson's review of LASH, I was quite envious of Paul
O'Brian. His game, in addition to being Excellent, is now also
Controversial! Wow. If only I could be in his shoes right now.
I'd love to get into a discussion of why some people have such
diverse reactions to games, and figure out, exactly, why people
are underwhelmed by what I consider to be an excellent game.
I'm not going to, though, because I already know why.

I do, incidentally, disagree with pretty much everything
Mr. Thompson has to say, but I've been trying to figure out how
best to get that across. I could to it by attacking what I
perceive to be flaws in his argument; I could do it by pointing
out that some of our favorite games: Spider and Web, Photopia,
and most likely AMFV, though I haven't played it, all possess
rather telling and extreme flaws of their own. However, I won't
do that because LASH is good enough to stand on its own.

I will, instead, try to elucidate my point by giving out spoilers
for Hunter, in Darkness.

S
P
O
I
L
E
R

S
P
A
C
E


When I first played Hunter, In Darkness during the competition
I hated it. I thought I had many reasons for that, but in
retrospect, they all boiled down to this one game response:

"That's not how the thighband is meant to be worn."

You see, after I had used the makeshift grappling hook, and
cut up my hands, I figured, hey, next time, I will wrap my
thighband around my hands first, so they won't get cut up.

"That's not how the thighband is meant to be worn."

Fine. Later, When I was bleeding, I thought, "Hey, I will wrap
the thighband around my hands to stop the bleeding."

"That's not how the thighband is meant to be worn."

"I KNOW that's not how it's MEANT to be worn!" I screamed at the
game. I am being Creative! I am Dying, for Begezes sake, I am
Not Concerned with Fashion At The Moment! Eventually, I
discovered that the correct solution was to make bandages from
the corpse's clothes. That's when I got really upset. "I'm
Bleeding to death, I have a perfectly good Thighband that I could
wrap around the wound, but Instead, I will get a Sterile Bandage
from a ROTTING CORPSE! I am a Genius, because I have Solved the
Puzzle Correctly, even though I will Shortly Die of Gangrene!"

Some time after the competition, I examined the thighband, and
found that it was an inflexible thing made of leather, and quite
unsuitable for my purpose.

---------------------------------------------------------------

I will not criticize Mr. Thompson's review for being one-sided.
It is, after all, a natural reaction after seeing several glowing
reviews of a game that one did not particularly enjoy.

I couldn't help but be amused at his claim that it is a
"Reader's Digest" portrayl, and his total confusion as to where
the 360KB went. This is, actually, what I loved about LASH.

You see, LASH, is, without exception, the single most detailed
and deepest IF game I have ever played. EVER. But, only if the
player wants it to be. You can treat the game as a mere salvage
mission, leaving without opening the steel door, missing the
point entirely, and the game doesn't tell you that you have
missed the point. You can cover the game in less than an hour,
missing many of the objects in the future, wander in the past,
disregard the characters as mere sterotypical shells, and end
the game feeling that you have seen it all, and the game doesn't
tell you "You missed over 80% of the text." LASH is, in my mind,
the first game where the story is told by the player, the details
are there only if the player wants them; many, many incidents
occur, but only if the player explores. The player is free to
tell the story himself. It is, in short, pretty much what
many people have been clamoring for. Of course some of us
hate it. We aren't playing the same game.

It seems to be widely accepted that the point of LASH is the
human slavery - robotic slavery comparison. Actually, I also
found this to be a bit of a stretch, and rather already beaten
to death in SF. In fact, I wrote an essay in which I poked fun
at this comparison in LASH, and derived that its hidden theme
was actually "All hail Microsoft." I will probably not bother
posting that now.

So, I guess the question I'd like to address is, are LASH's
characters stereotypical and shallow because the game draws them
that way, or because the player does? I found the most
interesting parts of the game to have nothing to do with the
MULE, but to do with the characters and what they implied about
Lisa herself. Initially, I was quite bothered by Matthew's
naivette, and how the game seemed to put forth his opinion as
gospel, despite the fact that he had no clue how he would run
the plantation if he took over. Witness:

In his argument with Master:
---------------------------------
"Have you ever heard of hiring, Father?" retorts Matthew
sarcastically. "It's an ingenious system devised to exchange
labor for a fair wage. Perhaps it could be employed to get the
cotton picked."

But he also says things like:
----------------------------------
~Why, Linda, you're my favorite and you always have been. I'd
never allow father to sell you; why, I hope to own you myself
one day!~"

"And I promise that when Father dies, I will construct more
cabins for the slaves"

Which shows that, really, he had no intention of abolishing
slavery on the plantation, and the historical record shows
that he, in fact, did not. I was bothered by the fact that he
would probably have been a terrible Master, too weak to force
compliance, unable to be kind enough to deserve it. A slave
is still a slave, no mattter how kindly you treat him/her.
Initially, I took this as a weakness in storytelling.

But it isn't Paul O'Brian telling the story. It is, in fact,
Lisa's story. Based on historical record, loosely, subject
to her prejudices and misconceptions of Matthew's personality.
We get an insight into Lisa's prejudiced and somewhat misguided
view of what slavery was, and what made a good master and a bad
master. I thought this dimension of the game was outstanding,
and I think the story is better this way.

The same is true of Master. There is a scene, pretty hard to
get to, that involves Master toasting his dead wife with a
bottle of wine. In this scene, Master clearly feels guilty
about some of his actions and wonders if Matthew isn't right
about some things. Again, this is Lisa's perception of how
Master might have felt. Likely, Lisa has many things wrong.

What I loved about this game was that I played through it 6 or
8 times, then TXD'd it, and found that there was more than
twice as much there as I'd thought. I had gone through the
game, doing many of the optional actions, but I'd hardly TALKED
to anyone, to find out their opinions and personalities.
All the characters have responses to almost every reasonable
topic in the game. I then made sure to
experience everything I'd seen in the TXD'd version in the game
itself, to see it as the author intended. This is something
I've never done before, and I found it all much stronger that
way.

And then there is the interesting question: Would I have noticed
any of this without TXD? Does this explain, maybe, why I was
less able to get into Worlds Apart, because this option was not
available to me? Authors, what do you think?
TXD: Valuable player's tool or spawn of Satan?

--------------- Extreme "Optimal" Ending Spoiler ---------------
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

I consider the "optimal" ending to be the one in which the player
sees the most text. Hence, I would suggest that this would
consist of Linda getting clothes and two food items, the gun,
some bottles of Master's finest wine, then burning down the
house as she flees. What is done with the MULE after is mostly
irrelevant, and in my mind, not the strongest part of the story.


* Sent from RemarQ http://www.remarq.com The Internet's Discussion Network *
The fastest and easiest way to search and participate in Usenet - Free!


Gabe McKean

unread,
Mar 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/30/00
to

Heiko Nock wrote in message <5o4vb8...@wtal.de>...
>In article <8c056q$agk$1...@slb2.atl.mindspring.net>, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
>Worlds Apart was not a historic representation of America's slavery. I
>wouldn't call it slavery at all, since there was no mention of the "slaves"
>being beaten or forced to stay. Kitara was obviously allowed to leave
>as well as her daughter, rather unthinkable for a slave in America.


WA is partially about slavery, but it's a different *kind* of slavery. I'm
almost tempted to call it 'gentle' slavery; a certain type of person (can't
remember the race names) is considered subservient to other, 'superior'
types, but they are still treated far better than slaves in America, or many
other places in the real world, were. In any case, it's still not really
appropriate to compare the two works: WA is a novel-length work with many
different things going on, while LASH is closer to a medium-sized short
story exploring a few themes.

>>Put it this way: I saw the title, started the game, read the description
>>of the MULE robot. Then I saw that the setting was (partially) slave-era
>>US South.
>

>Then ? After half of the game :)


>
>>And I said, hey, that's pretty cool; this game is going to draw
>>parallels between that and the robot-as-IF-command-slave thing. And the
>>title fits too!
>>But *after* that, the game provided no surprises; no revelatory moments
>>beyond that first one.


I was pretty dense and missed a lot of the fore-shadowing the first time I
played the game, so it was *really* surprising to me when I realized what
the game was actually about. I didn't pick up on the significance of the
words MULE and LASH, for instance, until after I had finished the game and
was thinking about it. At first I thought they were just throw-away
acronyms.

>The way the robot behaved after returning from the simulation was a
>surprise for me.

That, and the fact that the dream can end in different ways, and can have
different effects on the MULE's behavior. I didn't realize this until I
read some of the newsgroup postings, and then it totally blew me away! In a
sense, when you guide the MULE through the dream you're teaching it
problem-solving skills without realizing it.

In my opinion, the only bad thing about the game is that the *game* aspect
is almost totally separated from the *story*. I didn't find the treasure
hunt to be very compelling, especially since the puzzles weren't all that
great, and it feels pretty much tacked on. This seems to be inherent in the
design, though, and it does force the player to question what he really
cares about: getting a high score (it's interesting that the highest
possible score is only available by getting caught and sold in the dream and
sending the 'malfunctioning' MULE back to it's masters), exploring the dream
as much as possible, or freeing the MULE.

Katsaris

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to

Gabe McKean <gmc...@wsu.edu> wrote in message
news:8c0pab$mmh$1...@leopard.it.wsu.edu...

>
> Heiko Nock wrote in message <5o4vb8...@wtal.de>...
> >In article <8c056q$agk$1...@slb2.atl.mindspring.net>, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> >
>
> >The way the robot behaved after returning from the simulation was a
> >surprise for me.
>
> That, and the fact that the dream can end in different ways, and can have
> different effects on the MULE's behavior.

Unfortunately, this difference in effects is only limited in a single final
paragraph -
not in its overall behaviour...

Aris Katsaris

Katsaris

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to

Heiko Nock <zif...@wtal.de> wrote in message news:5o4vb8...@wtal.de...

> In article <8c056q$agk$1...@slb2.atl.mindspring.net>, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> >>>LASH, unfortunately, suffers from this syndrome. Contrast this with
Worlds
> >>>Apart, where the imbroglio between the rigid Lashiaran and the
breakaways
> >>>Kitara and Lyesh is much more realistically and skilfully presented.
> >> So you are comparing a completely made-up fantasy/science-fiction story
> >> with a partially history-based story ?
> >> Is this supposed to be a joke ?
> >> I could say just as well that "Worlds Apart" is a rip-off of "So Far"
> >> or "Losing Your Grip".
> >Having criticized one aspect of the review, I will now criticize one
> >criticism of it...
> >He *didn't* say that _LASH_ was a rip-off of _Worlds Apart_, or that
> >anything was a rip-off of anything.
>
> I didn't say that he did. It was just an example of unfair comparison.
>
> Like harping on the names of the characters or their character traits.
>
> It sounded like someone who complains about the color of a car instead
> of looking at it's features.

He complained about realism, subtlety, complexity and the lack thereof.
These aren't issues as trivial as the colour of a car.

> >I agree with that point, anyway. The slavery theme in _Worlds Apart_ was
> >interesting, complex, and tied in with several well-drawn characters. The
> >presentation in _LASH_ was basically stock.
>

> Worlds Apart was not a historic representation of America's slavery. I
> wouldn't call it slavery at all, since there was no mention of the
"slaves"
> being beaten or forced to stay. Kitara was obviously allowed to leave
> as well as her daughter, rather unthinkable for a slave in America.
>

> That's an unfair comparison since with LASH the player can always say
> "I've read about this before, it's not new."

It's not an unfair comparison - it's truth. That LASH chooses to tell us
about something which we've read about before, means it's less original
in atleast some ways.

Moreover the case of subtlety-vs-beating the other over the head with the
moral
still exists.

The comparison is valid.

> >Put it this way: I saw the title, started the game, read the description
> >of the MULE robot. Then I saw that the setting was (partially) slave-era
> >US South.
>
> Then ? After half of the game :)

*Immediately*. The "papers" accompanying the game described in detail
the history of the mansion. I didn't know I would be transported
to slave-era US South, but I did expect that time-period to have some
importance...

> >And I said, hey, that's pretty cool; this game is going to draw
> >parallels between that and the robot-as-IF-command-slave thing. And the
> >title fits too!
> >But *after* that, the game provided no surprises; no revelatory moments
> >beyond that first one.
>

> The way the robot behaved after returning from the simulation was a

> surprise for me. Actually, there are two things I want to mention about
> that:
>
> 1. Who says that a story needs a revelatory moment at the end ? Many
> books don't have one.

Not *at the end* Anywhere. And those books which have no revelatory
moments are quite often inferior...

> 2. LASH *has* a revelatory moment at the end. The relevatory moment is
> the moment in which the player decides how to treat the robot and sees
> the result.

It may be that we have different definitions for 'relevatory moments' for
this is *certainly* not my definition of one...

> >I didn't learn anything from it, beyond factual historical detail.
> >(Which is fine, but historical details on their own
> >have never made a story work for me.)
>

> History is boring. Then again the story was not really about history,
> but about human perception and the thin line between being a machine and
> being a human being.

Unfortunately (as I hope to explain in a coming review) it fails in that as
well...

> >>>Other works of IF have simple messages: Trinity's is anti-nuclear,
> >> Oh, how fair. Experienced commercial author and one of the best
> >> interactive fiction games ever against a newcomer's first free game.

> >Yes, it's fair.
>
> I don't think so. Of course you can say that it doesn't matter who
> wrote a piece of literature, that only it's good and bad sides matter.
>
> If I compare Photopia to Trinity, Photopia loses as well, just because
> I prefer the way Trinity is constructed and played.

But it's not an unfair comparison. For *you*, Trinity is better. For others
Photopia would be better. The comparison is still valid.

Aris Katsaris


Jon Ingold

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to

> Unfortunately, this difference in effects is only limited in a single
final
> paragraph -
> not in its overall behaviour...

Is it? I've not looked, as when I did the flashback I played like a true
paranoiac saving and restoring until I got myself onto the UR, and then went
I went forward the MULE did what it did; which included being more helpful
with suggestions (and the change in the default ATTACK response; though I
was a little irritated there was nothing I could find still which was worth
attacking, it would have been a nice puzzle-solve if nothing else). But
other posts have suggested the behaviour is actually different. If it's not,
that's a shame.

I really ought to go try, hadn't I?

Jon

Heiko Nock

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
In article <8c1i6k$2hd0$1...@ulysses.noc.ntua.gr>, Katsaris wrote:

>> It sounded like someone who complains about the color of a car instead
>> of looking at it's features.
>He complained about realism, subtlety, complexity and the lack thereof.

That's true. He complained. I looked for a convincing justification of
his complaints, but couldn't find one.

As you may have noticed, I tried to evade most of the points he made
where his opinion was influenced by personal taste.

>> That's an unfair comparison since with LASH the player can always say
>> "I've read about this before, it's not new."
>It's not an unfair comparison - it's truth.

Oh.

>That LASH chooses to tell us about something which we've read about before,
>means it's less original in atleast some ways.

It's less original, because the slave girl is black and innocent and the
master is white and cruel ?

>Moreover the case of subtlety-vs-beating the other over the head with the
>moral still exists.

Subtlety is subjective.

>> >Put it this way: I saw the title, started the game, read the description
>> >of the MULE robot. Then I saw that the setting was (partially) slave-era
>> >US South.
>> Then ? After half of the game :)
>*Immediately*. The "papers" accompanying the game described in detail
>the history of the mansion.

That's not the setting, but the history of the house. The setting is
the destroyed area, which is supposed to be looted. Until about half of
the game you don't even know that the simulation can be used.

>> 2. LASH *has* a revelatory moment at the end. The relevatory moment is
>> the moment in which the player decides how to treat the robot and sees
>> the result.
>It may be that we have different definitions for 'relevatory moments' for
>this is *certainly* not my definition of one...

It's not a definition, but an example.

--
Ciao, Heiko...

Aris Katsaris

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to

Heiko Nock <zif...@wtal.de> wrote in message news:luu0c8...@wtal.de...

> In article <8c1i6k$2hd0$1...@ulysses.noc.ntua.gr>, Katsaris wrote:
>
> >> It sounded like someone who complains about the color of a car instead
> >> of looking at it's features.
> >He complained about realism, subtlety, complexity and the lack thereof.
>
> That's true. He complained. I looked for a convincing justification of
> his complaints, but couldn't find one.

Wait for *my review*, then. It won't be as hard as Quentin's but it will be
hard.

> As you may have noticed, I tried to evade most of the points he made
> where his opinion was influenced by personal taste.

Reviews are always influenced by personal taste. If they were objective
they would be called statistics, and we'd only need one for every game.

> >> That's an unfair comparison since with LASH the player can always say
> >> "I've read about this before, it's not new."
> >It's not an unfair comparison - it's truth.
>
> Oh.
>
> >That LASH chooses to tell us about something which we've read about
before,
> >means it's less original in atleast some ways.
>
> It's less original, because the slave girl is black and innocent and the
> master is white and cruel ?

And for a couple other reasons, like the robot-that-wants-to-be-freed.
Obviously.
Are you claiming that it *is* original because of those reasons?
You can ofcourse claim that it's unoriginality doesn't *harm* the game, or
that
it even serves a purpose, but that's a whole other discussion and it doesn't
make it any more original.

> >Moreover the case of subtlety-vs-beating the other over the head with the
> >moral still exists.
>
> Subtlety is subjective.

Obviously. That doesn't mean it's non-existent.

[snip]


> >> 2. LASH *has* a revelatory moment at the end. The relevatory moment is
> >> the moment in which the player decides how to treat the robot and sees
> >> the result.
> >It may be that we have different definitions for 'relevatory moments' for
> >this is *certainly* not my definition of one...
>
> It's not a definition, but an example.

Nevertheless, if it's an example of a revelatory moment, it still means we
have
different definitions for the concept.

Aris Katsaris

Aris Katsaris

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to

ct <turn...@xserver.sjc.ox.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:8c06ef$3d3$1...@xserver.sjc.ox.ac.uk...

> In article <8bvk49$njc$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,
> Quentin D. Thompson <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote:
> >Summing up, LASH is a sincere attempt, but it fails. Not marginally, but
by a
> >large margin; sunk by a combination of soapbox preaching, bad design and
> >gameplay decisions and screwy logic, I can only wonder what might have
been.
>
> Well, I might not agree with all of what went before, but I'm glad to
> see I'm not the only person underwhelmed.

You were not. I really wonder about the number of people who started singing
its praises before it was halfway out - given that they were its
beta-testers I'm
not even certain it was the proper thing to do...

I'll have to write my own review of it I think...

Aris Katsaris

Dan Shiovitz

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
In article <8F08607F...@207.211.168.91>,
Ross Presser <rpre...@NOSPAMimtek.com.invalid> wrote:
>alt.distingui...@otenet.gr (Aris Katsaris)
>.wrote.posted.offered:

>
>>You were not. I really wonder about the number of people who started
>>singing its praises before it was halfway out - given that they were
>>its beta-testers I'm not even certain it was the proper thing to
>>do...
>
>I, for one, wasn't a beta-tester, and I reviewed it after playing it as
>fully as I could.
>
>I am beginning to worry about the intensity of resentment displayed
>between the "LASH-Lovers" and "LASH-Bashers".

I think it's pretty similar to the degree of resentment we saw over
Worlds Apart (a game not entirely dissimilar) or even Photopia, in
parts. Critical reviews of a game don't bug me -- what does bug me is
when person A is reviewing a game and says "This game is bad, and it's
not as good as game X", and then person B feels the need to follow up
and say "Oh yeah? Well game X sucks!!!!!".

This inevitably leads to a massive argument that sucks in all sorts of
extra people. For some reason people don't seem to feel the same need
to be polite about other games that come up in the reviewing
discussion, even though there's just as much chance for hurt feelings
and misunderstandings.

>Ross Presser * rpre...@imtek.com
--
Dan Shiovitz :: d...@cs.wisc.edu :: http://www.drizzle.com/~dans
"He settled down to dictate a letter to the Consolidated Nailfile and
Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation of Scranton, Pa., which would make them
realize that life is stern and earnest and Nailfile and Eyebrow Tweezer
Corporations are not put in this world for pleasure alone." -PGW

Ross Presser

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
alt.distingui...@otenet.gr (Aris Katsaris)
.wrote.posted.offered:

>You were not. I really wonder about the number of people who started
>singing its praises before it was halfway out - given that they were
>its beta-testers I'm not even certain it was the proper thing to
>do...

I, for one, wasn't a beta-tester, and I reviewed it after playing it as
fully as I could.

I am beginning to worry about the intensity of resentment displayed
between the "LASH-Lovers" and "LASH-Bashers".

--
Ross Presser * rpre...@imtek.com

Iain Merrick

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
Quentin D. Thompson wrote:
[...]

> Can any artificial intelligence, however cleverly programmed, react in such a
> manner? Considering the number of spectacular failures of aspirants to the
> Turing test, I don't think so: machines, even "intelligent" ones, would be
> built in with safeguards to give them perspective, such as Asimov's Three
> Laws of Robotics. But this author, apparently, has missed the point of
> Asimov's works, and not only presents a Lawless robot, but quotes Asimov
> horribly out of context early on in the game. (The relevant passage is
> illustrative of the prejudice that Elijah Baley, n Earthman, has against
> robots, which are widely accepted on other planets, for the record.)

Well, this is a controversial area. Nobody has managed to produce an
actually-intelligent AI yet; but nobody's managed to prove it's
impossible, either. All we have at the moment is a bunch of
philosophical arguments on either side.

It's a bit harsh to complain about 'blurry logic' when someone includes
sentient machines in a science fiction story. Nobody complains about
stories which include faster-than-light travel, for instance, although
there's much more evidence to suggest that that _is_ impossible. The
point is, this is fiction.

I guess AI is almost a religious issue. But if someone were to write a
story with a strong atheist message, it'd be silly to write it off just
because you're _not_ an atheist. No, that's not it; it'd be silly for a
theist _reviewer_ to claim that the story is flawed because its message
is incorrect. You can argue against the message, but you shouldn't give
the impression that any random bystander would disagree with it too.

Likewise, it would have been fair to say in your review that you don't
think the machine sentience stuff holds water, or that you thought it
was handled badly. What you shouldn't do is suggest that there's
something inherently illogical about the basic idea when it's currently
impossible to prove this one way or the other.

(I must point out that my position on this issue is probably exactly
opposite your own---I'm an Iain Banks fan, me. But I'm arguing for
religious tolerance, so for current purposes I'm wearing my woolly
agnostic's hat.)

--
Iain Merrick
i...@cs.york.ac.uk

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
Heiko Nock <zif...@wtal.de> wrote:
> In article <8c056q$agk$1...@slb2.atl.mindspring.net>, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
>>Put it this way: I saw the title, started the game, read the description
>>of the MULE robot. Then I saw that the setting was (partially) slave-era
>>US South.
>
> Then ? After half of the game :)

No, "then" == "after reading the introductory material, before starting to
play the game proper."

(I'm misstating somewhat. The introduction didn't tell me that the
*setting* was going to move to that era, but it did tell me that that was
the background that would inform the game; that's what I'm talking about.)

>>And I said, hey, that's pretty cool; this game is going to draw
>>parallels between that and the robot-as-IF-command-slave thing. And the
>>title fits too!
>>But *after* that, the game provided no surprises; no revelatory moments
>>beyond that first one.
>
> The way the robot behaved after returning from the simulation was a
> surprise for me. Actually, there are two things I want to mention about
> that:
>
> 1. Who says that a story needs a revelatory moment at the end ? Many
> books don't have one.

Those are books I don't like.


> 2. LASH *has* a revelatory moment at the end. The relevatory moment is
> the moment in which the player decides how to treat the robot and sees
> the result.

Didn't happen for me. My reaction was "Yes, that fits."

>>I didn't learn anything from it, beyond factual historical detail.
>>(Which is fine, but historical details on their own
>>have never made a story work for me.)
>
> History is boring. Then again the story was not really about history,
> but about human perception and the thin line between being a machine and
> being a human being.

And that's the part which I'm saying had nothing for me after the opening.

Suzanne Britton

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
"Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote:

>You were not. I really wonder about the number of people who started singing
>its praises before it was halfway out - given that they were its
>beta-testers I'm not even certain it was the proper thing to do...

Er.

I don't think there's anything improper about beta-testers discussing a
game after its release....nor that what Irene said and I seconded counts
as "singing its praises". All we said was that we hoped and expected it
to generate discussion.

I don't review games I've tested, but I will say, for the record, why I
loved LASH despite its flaws. Watching the MULE come to life was incredible.
For me, the slavery theme, the salvage project, etc., were all so much
window-dressing around that star attraction. It was fascinating to watch
the progression from this--

There is a corpse here.

--to the rich, evocative language used to describe the MULE's experiences in
the sim.

As Quentin said, all this is very subjective. It worked for me.

-Suzanne

--
tr...@igs.net \
http://www.igs.net/~tril/ \ This space intentionally left blank.
"Worlds Apart" Homepage: \
http://www.igs.net/~tril/worlds/ /

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
In article <8F08607F...@207.211.168.91>,
Ross Presser <rpre...@NOSPAMimtek.com.invalid> wrote:
>alt.distingui...@otenet.gr (Aris Katsaris)
>.wrote.posted.offered:
>
>>You were not. I really wonder about the number of people who started
>>singing its praises before it was halfway out - given that they were
>>its beta-testers I'm not even certain it was the proper thing to
>>do...

I must say that I've always found the idea that beta testers are
somehow disqualified from reviewing a work more than a little
strange. To me, a beta tester is *very far* from being a co-author;
I've beta tested a number of games and I can't say I had the kind of
influence of any of them that would make it "improper" for me to
review the game. And the same goes for the peopel who beta tested
my games.

OK, there's one exception: a play tester came up with an entire
subplot for "Dunjin". So if he were to review "Dunjin", I'd expect him
not to discuss that subplot.

>I am beginning to worry about the intensity of resentment displayed
>between the "LASH-Lovers" and "LASH-Bashers".

I'm worried about that, too, and about the intensity of resentment
and enchantment displayed towards the games themselves.

After all, Quentin's review was not just "frank and honest" as
somebody put it, it was rather, well, animated. You can be honest
about disliking a game without being rude. My impression of Quentin's
review was that not only did he dislike "LASH" intensely - which is of
course his right, and a matter of taste, and all that - but he seemed
to take the very existence of the game as a personal insult, and
seemed to be writing not just to explain and motivate his dislike
(which is of course the purpose of the review), but to blow off steam.

Please, don't do that. Or, by all means, write an incensed review, and
then delete it and rewrite it when you're feeling calmer. If nothing
else, you'll not be as likely to get flamed, and you'll in all
probability be better at explaining just what's wrong with the game
when you're not writing in a rage.

(OK, maybe Quentin was totally calm and composed when he wrote his
review. It doesn't give that impression on me, though.)

Soemthing similar goes for writing rave reviews when you really
*loved* a game: it's better to let your feelings cool a bit so you can
give constructive criticism, rather than raving for five pages about
how much you loved the game :-).

David Thornley

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
In article <3aa00a1b...@usw-ex0105-036.remarq.com>,
Brother Noro <brother_no...@iname.com.invalid> wrote:

I'd probably better...
F
R
O
B
O
Z
Z
M
A
G
I
C


S
P
O
I
L
E
R
S
P
A
C
E

>You see, LASH, is, without exception, the single most detailed
>and deepest IF game I have ever played. EVER. But, only if the
>player wants it to be.

It seems very similar to "Worlds Apart" in this. You can move through
that game pretty fast if you like, or you can slow down and talk to
the characters.

>It seems to be widely accepted that the point of LASH is the
>human slavery - robotic slavery comparison. Actually, I also
>found this to be a bit of a stretch, and rather already beaten
>to death in SF.

Well, that's one point. There are others. One thing that I liked
was the ambiguity of the PC: MULE or commander? The trip to the
past (more or less) is something of a game within a game, written
by one of the characters.

>So, I guess the question I'd like to address is, are LASH's
>characters stereotypical and shallow because the game draws them
>that way, or because the player does?

Um, I don't see this quite the way you do. LASH makes it possible
to have more complicated relationships than some games do, and
provides more characterization. They're stereotypical to some
extent, but everybody is. I haven't played enough to realize
how much.

I found the most
>interesting parts of the game to have nothing to do with the
>MULE, but to do with the characters and what they implied about
>Lisa herself.

I like this viewpoint.

How much cash can the player get, doing it this way? "Optimal" is
meaningless without some idea of what's being optimized.

It seems to me that the player is going to get the most cash by
inciting rebellion and bringing the MULE back to be analyzed.
Sort of like the Dukes having to use slavery to raise cotton at
a profit.
--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Michael Brazier

unread,
Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
Gabe McKean wrote:
>
> Heiko Nock wrote in message <5o4vb8...@wtal.de>...
> >In article <8c056q$agk$1...@slb2.atl.mindspring.net>, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> >
> >Worlds Apart was not a historic representation of America's slavery. I
> >wouldn't call it slavery at all, since there was no mention of the "slaves"
> >being beaten or forced to stay. Kitara was obviously allowed to leave
> >as well as her daughter, rather unthinkable for a slave in America.
>
> WA is partially about slavery, but it's a different *kind* of slavery. I'm
> almost tempted to call it 'gentle' slavery; a certain type of person (can't
> remember the race names) is considered subservient to other, 'superior'
> types, but they are still treated far better than slaves in America, or many
> other places in the real world, were.

Actually, WA's "slavery" isn't slavery in the proper sense at all; it's
a caste system, strongly resembling India's. Members of the "hasidja"
caste (like Kitara and Lyesh) are normally bound to the "Households",
but there's no indication that the head of the Household can buy or sell
hasidja without the hasidja's consent. They're more like serfs than
slaves -- serfs, you'll remember, were bound to the land and could not
be removed from it.

--
Michael Brazier But what are all these vanities to me
Whose thoughts are full of indices and surds?
X^2 + 7X + 53 = 11/3
-- Lewis Carroll

Heiko Nock

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Mar 31, 2000, 3:00:00 AM3/31/00
to
In article <8c2emg$lrv$1...@newssrv.otenet.gr>, Aris Katsaris wrote:

>> That's true. He complained. I looked for a convincing justification of
>> his complaints, but couldn't find one.
>Wait for *my review*, then.

I look forward to it :)

>It won't be as hard as Quentin's but it will be hard.

I don't really care if it's hard, as long as the arguments are
justified.

>> As you may have noticed, I tried to evade most of the points he made
>> where his opinion was influenced by personal taste.
>Reviews are always influenced by personal taste. If they were objective
>they would be called statistics, and we'd only need one for every game.

Even if a review is partly subjective the reasonability of the
argument's justification can be judged in the end. Saying that
something is badly written is subjective and hardly debatable, but
saying that something is cliched, because the author has adhered to
historical correctness, is simply silly.

>> >That LASH chooses to tell us about something which we've read about
>> >before, means it's less original in atleast some ways.
>> It's less original, because the slave girl is black and innocent and the
>> master is white and cruel ?
>And for a couple other reasons, like the robot-that-wants-to-be-freed.
>Obviously.
>Are you claiming that it *is* original because of those reasons?

No. I just don't see why a historically correct setting has to be
original in itself. Intertwining it with the perception of a robot from the
future makes it original.

>> >Moreover the case of subtlety-vs-beating the other over the head with the
>> >moral still exists.
>> Subtlety is subjective.
>Obviously. That doesn't mean it's non-existent.

If Subtlety is subjective, it is also subjective if there's any
subtlety at all.

>[snip]


>> >> 2. LASH *has* a revelatory moment at the end. The relevatory moment is
>> >> the moment in which the player decides how to treat the robot and sees
>> >> the result.

>> >It may be that we have different definitions for 'relevatory moments' for
>> >this is *certainly* not my definition of one...
>> It's not a definition, but an example.
>Nevertheless, if it's an example of a revelatory moment, it still means we
>have different definitions for the concept.

How do you define a revelatory moment ? I define it as a moment which
reveals something to the player that probably wasn't obvious to him before.

--
Ciao, Heiko...

Aris Katsaris

unread,
Apr 1, 2000, 3:00:00 AM4/1/00
to

Suzanne Britton <tr...@host.ott.igs.net> wrote in message
news:8c2nbe$hkk$1...@news.igs.net...

> "Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote:
>
> >You were not. I really wonder about the number of people who started
singing
> >its praises before it was halfway out - given that they were its
> >beta-testers I'm not even certain it was the proper thing to do...
>
> Er.
>
> I don't think there's anything improper about beta-testers discussing a
> game after its release....nor that what Irene said and I seconded counts
> as "singing its praises". All we said was that we hoped and expected it
> to generate discussion.

True, quite possibly there's nothing wrong with it... Still, there's
something
that just strike me oddly in the situation - perhaps it created
expectations:
with such comments I *expected* it to be somewhat controversial, original,
or something of the sort...

Anyway, it's nothing really important. No offense intended.

Aris Katsaris

Quentin D. Thompson

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Apr 2, 2000, 4:00:00 AM4/2/00
to
In article <8c00jp$l1d$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

m...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
> In article <8bvk49$njc$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,
> Quentin D. Thompson <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote:
> >Nicholas Duke (Deep Topical Reference #1 - if you're
> >tasteless, insert favourite Ku Klux Klan joke here).
>
> Sorry, I didn't get that reference - care to explain?
>

I figured it was a reference to David Duke, a white supremacist, Anti-Semite,
and generally what the Irish would call a lovely man.


>
> So what you're saying is that the word "nigger" *isn't* offensive
> nowadays?

To a right-minded person, any discriminatory term, whether "nigger" or even
"Jew" spoken with offensive intent, is offensive and dehumanizing. But the
fact is that, these days, "nigger" is not so much offensive as politically
incorrect. It _was_ offensive before the PC-speak apologists got into the
act, sad but true; there are probably many people who don't use the word, not
because it's offensive, but because using it would be a solecism/socially
unacceptable action/"not the nice thing to do". As Ed McBain put it, there
are lots of Americans who still _think_ "nigger", whether they say
African-American or not. No offense intended.


Quentin D. Thompson
Thane of Halo
Arms: A red six-pack with two koalas rampant


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

Vincent Lynch

unread,
Apr 2, 2000, 4:00:00 AM4/2/00
to
Magnus Olsson <m...@pobox.com> wrote:
>
> I must say that I've always found the idea that beta testers are
> somehow disqualified from reviewing a work more than a little
> strange. To me, a beta tester is *very far* from being a co-author;
> I've beta tested a number of games and I can't say I had the kind of
> influence of any of them that would make it "improper" for me to
> review the game. And the same goes for the peopel who beta tested
> my games.

I've beta tested a number of games, and I don't consider myself in any way
a co-author of any of them. But I do feel that I'm generally far too familiar
with a game I've tested to know how it would have affected me if I'd just
played it. So I'm not sure I could give an unbiased review.

And I really shouldn't be reading this thread, not having played LASH
properly yet...

-Vincent

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