Comp Reviews 2002

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LizM7

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Nov 16, 2002, 11:40:43 PM11/16/02
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The quality of the comp games is down a second year in a row – there
isn't a "Shade" nor a "Rameses" among them. This depresses me.

And, like last year, this comp does not include a game written by
yours trully. This depresses me even more.

- Liz

Help:
I Do Not Get this game.

Let me explain. I am, first of all, a player who appreciates being
able to take her time looking around. I do not appreciate time
limits, especially when there's *another* puzzle I'm trying to solve.
I do not appreciate having most of my basic commands taken away from
me. I especially do not appreciate not being able to know what
commands *can* be used. I also don't enjoy having room descriptions
appear only once (even if I try to look around later) -- and then to
include a fair amount of information that must be tinkered with in
between the pointless "help" sessions.

And I'd appreciate a coherent walkthrough, too. Something that tells
me exactly what the hell I'm supposed to do.

Rating: 4, because I couldn't find any real grammatical errors or bugs
or the like.

Unravelling God:
(This game triggered a pet peve of mine – or, multiple pet peves.
Hence the longish review.)

To give the game credit: it didn't go for the typical conversion
experience. OTOH, it didn't go for much at all – the entire story
leaves something to be desired. (Apart from the proper use of
articles, I mean. "The" and "a" aren't really necessary to
communicate, but they *are* necessary if you want to look
professional.) The garbled combination of scenes was a clear
derivation from "Photopia" – but in this case, it made things seem
forced and hurried. And the "Spider and Web"-like ‘replay' didn't add
to the effect either: part of Photopia's effect (and that of Ramses
and all the other derivitive classics) comes from the fact that,
though your PC has more-or-less free will, you aren't able to change
any of the events that follow – because everything that happens is out
of your control. [*]

What could this game have done to impress me? Well, more beta-testing
would've helped. The appropriate use of articles might have helped,
too. A deeper exploration of the ethical issues involved here would
be nice – something different from the "God said so, therefore it must
be right" thinking that's prevailant in this subgenre. Better
science, as well – "dizzy spells" are not near-death experiences, and
near-death experiences are *definately* biochemically induced. By
ketomine, IIRC. (At the very least, you can get the parts that
*aren't* handwaving correct.) The characterization was also more than
a bit weak – would you *really* have been lovers with someone for
several years without knowing their religious beliefs? [**] And for
that matter, a message for all you trying to write religious IF: if
you've never been an atheist or agnostic (and I do *not* mean merely
questioned your faith), then by all means *please* don't try to write
one. Lines like, "You decide not to add that you are certain that the
traditional view of God isn't correct, and it's a good thing, too.
You sure as hell don't want to be judged for some of your actions
after you die" just make me wince.[***] I would be *much* more
impressed with a carefully-drawn religious character – one who is
questioning his or her faith or not – than I am with a poorly-drawn
nonbeliever.

And as a final note, the game doesn't live up to the title. God is
*not* "unravelled", IMHO, because the game offers no coherent
explaination for his actions. Some of the game suggests a
nearly-Deist divinity, a watchmaker who creates a world and then walks
away – and this is never reconciled with the far more active Christian
deity suggested by the final scenes. (In fact, a *lot* of this isn't
reconcilable, now that I think about it. The entire "Wrfhf pna rfpncr
sebz uryy jvgubhg pbafrdhraprf, ohg lbh pna'g" thing boils down to
"God did it, therefore it must be right". Or, possibly, in this case,
"God did it; therefore it must make sense.")

[*] More on this: The crucial flaw here is that while *some* actions
are predetermined, others allow you a fairly wide array of
possibilities. If the player isn't able to ‘change the past' and
[spoilie], then why should he be able to decide what he should say in
a given conversation?

[**] Pet Peve: For some reason, a lot of strongly religious people
seem to be convinced that the rest of us regard them as moral prudes.
Seeing as this (as far as I am concerned, at least) doesn't seem to
reflect any *external* reality (prudishness being, in my personal
experience, something directly proportional to one's age rather than
one's religion), one has to wonder about whether this reflects some
sort of personal insecurity on their parts, or, perhaps, the belief
that one cannot trully be devout until one has managed to irritate
everyone who *isn't* religious. (Admittedly, I did this myself for
awhile. But it still doesn't excuse it.) Alternately, it might just
be a persecution complex.

[***] <rant>Do YOU go around feeling relieved that, say, the Greek
gods don't exist, since you haven't bothered making the proper
sacrifices? No? Then why the hell should an atheist or agnostic feel
relieved that *your* god doesn't exist?</rant>

Score: 5

Ramon and Jonathan
More of a vingette, really. It felt cut off. And the translation
could use a little work.

Nevertheless, it was coherent, putting it above several other games.
(*Ahem*) And for some reason, I liked it.

Score: 6

Blade Sentinel:
Somewhere in some archive of r*i-f posts, there is a thread discussing
IF music. Perhaps I have a twisted sense of humor, but this
particular game had a bug that rather reminded me of a NIN song:
(> drop blade
You drop it.)

> take blade
You can't take it.

> take blade
You can't take it.

But this could possibly just be me.

Score: 2

Color and Number:
A solid puzzlefest.

Score: 7

Samuel Gregor:
This game reminds me a lot of "Fine Tuned" from last year's comp.
(And of Planescape: Torment, but that's a different story.) Like
"Fine Tuned", this game could potentially have been one of the best
games of the comp. And, like "Fine Tuned", it really needed at least
a few weeks worth of beta-testing.

Not that the game crashes. I'll give it credit for that. Hell, I
didn't even encounter a parser error. But in order for the game to
work, I think, it needed a good deal of revision – I encountered a
fair number of bugs which should have been caught prior to the start
of the comp.

I was going to say more, but that can wait until the game is actually
playable.

Rating: 7

Hell:
Like "Dungeon Master" in hell. Except there's less to do, and if
there are any puzzles, I seem to be unable to find them.

Rating: 3

Augustine:
Does this remind anyone of "Interview with the Vampire"? (Then again,
I'm not one to judge - I've never finished the book, nor seen the
movie.)

I could have liked this game. Really, I could have. Had the author
bothered brushing the game up for a few weeks instead of including
hollow location after hollow location, I could have liked it.

But, instead, I found it irritating. Like walking around a half-built
house.

Rating: 6

Terrible Lizards:
Confusing. Not even because it was *intentionally* confusing, the way
I suspect that "Help" was supposed to be. But because I didn't have a
clue what to do.

Rating: 3

Temple:
Lovecraft derivitives seem to pratically have their own subgenre in IF
these days. And this is a decent addition to the list, despite a few
awkward sentences ("nightly nightmares"?).

Couldn't find the key to the chest, so I couldn't finish the game.

Rating: 8

Fort Aegea:
Fairly solid worldbuilding, from what I can tell. Bit too utopian for
my tastes, but I've seen far worse in print. Too bad you see most of
it only while avoiding instant death traps.

Rating: 7

Janitor:
Something of a cross between "Zero Sum Game" and ... something, I
don't know what. Interesting, though.
Rating: 8

BOFH:
Next time, don't insult potential judges. It just isn't a good idea.

Rating: 1

Screen:
The introduction is written in the first person. The rest of the game
is written in the second person. This irritates me.

In fact, the writing in general irritates me. And, come to think of
it, the plot isn't that great either.

Rating: 4

Constraints:
I enjoyed this game. It wasn't great, mind you, but it was better
than most of the games. And then I hit the maze. And played it. And
played it.

The thing about roguelikes, you see, is that they have things to *do*.
This was just a maze. And it went on *forever*.

Rating: 6

Koan:
Somewhat reminiscent of "Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die".

Or maybe not.

At any rate, it reminded *me* of it.

One or two parser errors.

Rating: 6

Sun And Moon:

Interesting idea, but it didn't come off very well. A pointless maze,
very little plot.... Not my thing.

Rating: 5

Todd Watson

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Nov 18, 2002, 3:24:28 PM11/18/02
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hsel...@hotmail.com (LizM7) wrote in message news:<d89b4999.02111...@posting.google.com>...

> [**] Pet Peve: For some reason, a lot of strongly religious people
> seem to be convinced that the rest of us regard them as moral prudes.
> Seeing as this (as far as I am concerned, at least) doesn't seem to
> reflect any *external* reality (prudishness being, in my personal
> experience, something directly proportional to one's age rather than
> one's religion), one has to wonder about whether this reflects some
> sort of personal insecurity on their parts, or, perhaps, the belief
> that one cannot trully be devout until one has managed to irritate
> everyone who *isn't* religious. (Admittedly, I did this myself for
> awhile. But it still doesn't excuse it.) Alternately, it might just
> be a persecution complex.
>
> [***] <rant>Do YOU go around feeling relieved that, say, the Greek
> gods don't exist, since you haven't bothered making the proper
> sacrifices? No? Then why the hell should an atheist or agnostic feel
> relieved that *your* god doesn't exist?</rant>
>
> Score: 5

Liz,

As the author of "Unraveling God," I guess I'm complimented by your
review in the sense that you were clearly effected by my writing,
enough to pen a long review in response. Obviously, I would have
preferred if you'd been positively effected, but I never expected
everyone to like the story.

Before going any further, I should point out that I have received a
myriad of comments and reviews, both good and bad, and have found all
of them to be insightful criticisms, giving me plenty of food for
thought on how I could have improved upon the game. I think my next
game will be better because of this. The exception is your review,
which revolves around what you've labeled as your "Pet Peve" (sic),
which is not really related to the game itself and is why I feel
compelled to respond.

As best I can, I'll avoid arguing with the specific points you make
about the game. It is what it is, and you raised some valid points
(such as the lack of articles -- a problem with the Adrift Runner).
Also, arguing with someone's review, which is necessarily reflective
of their personal opinions and frame of reference, doesn't strike me
as a productive endeavor.

The problem I have is that you seem to have made some assumptions
about me as the author that are based on little or no information, and
that are wrong. I think you've taken the game as some sort of attempt
by a religious zealot to convert people to a conservative Christian
point of view. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To clarify: I'm 35 years old. I was raised Presbyterian in a mildly
religious family, but quit going to church almost 20 years ago. In
fact, I am pretty much an atheist. I say "pretty much" because I hold
out some small hope that god exists, but am not overly optimistic on
that score. So, your statement "if you've never been an atheist or


agnostic (and I do *not* mean merely questioned your faith), then by

all means *please* don't try to write one." is rather far off-base. I
am not a religious person.

Your suppositions about my motivations as the author are rather
amusing. To assume that I believe in the things I put in the story is
rather like assuming any actor who portrays a gay person must be gay.
It's merely a story I came up with that I thought was interesting. It
did not reflect my personal beliefs.

Judging by the tone of your review, my game may have struck you as a
personal affront, which makes me curious about your religious views.
If I can take a turn at your assumption game, I'm guessing you're in
your early 20s, used to be very devout, have parted ways with your
faith, but are still having trouble dealing with the ramifications of
that decision. Am I at all close? I'm speculating the way I am from a
few statements in your review ("Admittedly, I did this myself for
awhile") and the sense I get from it that the issues you had with my
game may actually been issues within yourself revolving around
religion.

I recognize I may now be guilty of the same sins I'm accusing you of
-- bad assumptions and poor interpretation of the available
information. So, please let me know if I've misunderstood your review!

Incidentally, in my mind a prude is not just someone who is overly
modest or proper, but is someone who reacts with indignation when
presented with ideas that don't coincide with their own.

Todd Watson, author of "Unraveling God"

[Okay, okay, two quick game points I can't resist arguing while I have
your attention.

1. Last I read, scientists researching near-death experiences had not
reached a consensus on it's exact cause. See
http://skepdic.com/nde.html for a decent summary and a refutation of
its possible religious origins. In any case, your point is irrelevant.
The game is a fantasy story presupposing the existence of a literal
heaven, hell, devil, and god. In that context, near-death experiences
certainly could be supernatural in origin.

2. Regarding your rant, yes, I think if I were a nonbeliever raised in
ancient Greece, and had not slaughtered my quota of lambs to Zeus this
year, I would be relieved to know Zeus didn't exist. The PC in my
game, on the other hand, was living in the largely Christian and
Jewish society of modern America, so it seems believable to me that he
might be glad to think their traditional view of God is inaccurate,
especially given the nature of his not-so-nice nature.]

Magnus Olsson

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Nov 19, 2002, 1:46:15 PM11/19/02
to
In article <d89b4999.02111...@posting.google.com>,

LizM7 <hsel...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>if you've never been an atheist or agnostic (and I do *not* mean merely
>questioned your faith), then by all means *please* don't try to write
>one.

I don't agree with this, or similar arguments along the line of
"You can't write about a person who is X unless you are one yourself",
or "You can't write about a person doing X unless you've done X
yourself".

It is clearly difficult to do so, but IMHO one of the characteristics
of a good author is the ability to write about things of which the
author has no direct experience.

I feel strongly about this because I come from the SF/F camp. And how
could we possibly write science fiction or fantasy if you were right?
I'm not a cyborg, nor a necromancer. I haven't been to Betelgeuze or
visited Avalon. Yet I do harbour the conceit that I'm able to write
about those things. And, even if I am deluding myself here, I've read
books about those things, and somehow I don't figure William Gibson has
cybernetic eye implants or that Barbara Hambly has ever talked to
a dragon (or, leaving SF aside, remembers a previous life as a black
man in 19th century New Orleans).

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Peter Seebach

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Nov 19, 2002, 2:43:46 PM11/19/02
to
In article <are0tn$ric$1...@news.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>In article <d89b4999.02111...@posting.google.com>,
>LizM7 <hsel...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>if you've never been an atheist or agnostic (and I do *not* mean merely
>>questioned your faith), then by all means *please* don't try to write
>>one.

>I don't agree with this, or similar arguments along the line of
>"You can't write about a person who is X unless you are one yourself",
>or "You can't write about a person doing X unless you've done X
>yourself".

While this is true to a large extent, there is a serious and recurring problem
I've observed where people who have never doubted their religious faith seem
to come up with *painfully* implausible atheists and agnostics. I engage in
apologetics as a hobby, and the most painful part is watching the well-meaning
newbies start out with "Why are you so mad at God that you want to deny
Him?!?". In practice, about half of my apologetics consists of apologizing
for the other Christians. :)

-s
--
Copyright 2002, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
$ chmod a+x /bin/laden Please do not feed or harbor the terrorists.
C/Unix wizard, Pro-commerce radical, Spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/

Jon Ingold

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Nov 19, 2002, 2:51:54 PM11/19/02
to
> I feel strongly about this because I come from the SF/F camp. And how
> could we possibly write science fiction or fantasy if you were right?
> I'm not a cyborg, nor a necromancer. I haven't been to Betelgeuze or
> visited Avalon.

..hmm, not sure I agree with either side here, but it's worth noting that
"neither has anyone else".

jon


LizM7

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Nov 16, 2002, 1:40:43 AM11/16/02
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+ User FidoNet address: 1:396/4
From: hsel...@hotmail.com (LizM7)

- Liz

that matter, a message for all you trying to write religious IF: if


you've never been an atheist or agnostic (and I do *not* mean merely
questioned your faith), then by all means *please* don't try to write

one. Lines like, "You decide not to add that you are certain that the
traditional view of God isn't correct, and it's a good thing, too.
You sure as hell don't want to be judged for some of your actions
after you die" just make me wince.[***] I would be *much* more
impressed with a carefully-drawn religious character one who is
questioning his or her faith or not than I am with a poorly-drawn
nonbeliever.

And as a final note, the game doesn't live up to the title. God is
*not* "unravelled", IMHO, because the game offers no coherent
explaination for his actions. Some of the game suggests a
nearly-Deist divinity, a watchmaker who creates a world and then walks
away and this is never reconciled with the far more active Christian
deity suggested by the final scenes. (In fact, a *lot* of this isn't
reconcilable, now that I think about it. The entire "Wrfhf pna rfpncr
sebz uryy jvgubhg pbafrdhraprf, ohg lbh pna'g" thing boils down to
"God did it, therefore it must be right". Or, possibly, in this case,
"God did it; therefore it must make sense.")

[*] More on this: The crucial flaw here is that while *some* actions
are predetermined, others allow you a fairly wide array of
possibilities. If the player isn't able to change the past' and
[spoilie], then why should he be able to decide what he should say in
a given conversation?

[**] Pet Peve: For some reason, a lot of strongly religious people


seem to be convinced that the rest of us regard them as moral prudes.
Seeing as this (as far as I am concerned, at least) doesn't seem to
reflect any *external* reality (prudishness being, in my personal
experience, something directly proportional to one's age rather than
one's religion), one has to wonder about whether this reflects some
sort of personal insecurity on their parts, or, perhaps, the belief
that one cannot trully be devout until one has managed to irritate
everyone who *isn't* religious. (Admittedly, I did this myself for
awhile. But it still doesn't excuse it.) Alternately, it might just
be a persecution complex.

[***] <rant>Do YOU go around feeling relieved that, say, the Greek
gods don't exist, since you haven't bothered making the proper
sacrifices? No? Then why the hell should an atheist or agnostic feel
relieved that *your* god doesn't exist?</rant>

Score: 5

Ramon and Jonathan

Score: 6

Score: 2

Score: 7

Rating: 7

Rating: 3

Rating: 6

Rating: 3

Rating: 8

Rating: 7

Rating: 1

Rating: 4

Rating: 6

Or maybe not.

Rating: 6

Sun And Moon:

Rating: 5
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+ The FidoNet News Gate (New Orleans LA USA) +
+ The views of this user are strictly his or her own. +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Todd Watson

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Nov 17, 2002, 5:24:28 PM11/17/02
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+ User FidoNet address: 1:396/4
From: jilla...@earthlink.net (Todd Watson)

> [**] Pet Peve: For some reason, a lot of strongly religious people
> seem to be convinced that the rest of us regard them as moral prudes.
> Seeing as this (as far as I am concerned, at least) doesn't seem to
> reflect any *external* reality (prudishness being, in my personal
> experience, something directly proportional to one's age rather than
> one's religion), one has to wonder about whether this reflects some
> sort of personal insecurity on their parts, or, perhaps, the belief
> that one cannot trully be devout until one has managed to irritate
> everyone who *isn't* religious. (Admittedly, I did this myself for
> awhile. But it still doesn't excuse it.) Alternately, it might just
> be a persecution complex.
>
> [***] <rant>Do YOU go around feeling relieved that, say, the Greek
> gods don't exist, since you haven't bothered making the proper
> sacrifices? No? Then why the hell should an atheist or agnostic feel
> relieved that *your* god doesn't exist?</rant>
>
> Score: 5

Liz,

that score. So, your statement "if you've never been an atheist or


agnostic (and I do *not* mean merely questioned your faith), then by

Magnus Olsson

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Nov 19, 2002, 6:08:38 PM11/19/02
to
In article <are4pl$cgl$1...@news6.svr.pol.co.uk>,

That argument has some validity - but let's look at thrillers instead.
Do you have to be a murderer yourself to write an inverted-school
mystery? I hope not. Do ex-policemen write better police procedurals than
ordinary authors?

Of course, "good" is subjective. A reader who is an active policeman
himself may require a degree of realism in a mystery that is hard to
achieve for anybody without a background in law enforcement. But
is it impossible for anybody without that background?

This subject has been discussed extensively on various fiction-writing
newsgroups, such as rec.arts.sf.composition, and the arguments
presented there are much better than anything I can produce, so I'd
suggest googling for threads there.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

David Thornley

unread,
Nov 20, 2002, 12:04:27 PM11/20/02
to
>The quality of the comp games is down a second year in a row – there
>isn't a "Shade" nor a "Rameses" among them. This depresses me.
>
The worse ones are considerably better than in years past, at least.
(Well, with a few exceptions.) Also, it's a matter of taste. I
liked last year's "All Roads" better than I liked "Shade" or
"Rameses".

>And, like last year, this comp does not include a game written by
>yours trully. This depresses me even more.
>

I sympathize there.

>Unravelling God:
>(This game triggered a pet peve of mine – or, multiple pet peves.
>Hence the longish review.)
>

>too. A deeper exploration of the ethical issues involved here would
>be nice – something different from the "God said so, therefore it must
>be right" thinking that's prevailant in this subgenre.

I didn't see the rules being set up by God here. They are certainly
arbitrary, and at least verge on Manachaeism (which I've probably
misspelled), but they don't look like God's say-so.

Better
>science, as well – "dizzy spells" are not near-death experiences, and
>near-death experiences are *definately* biochemically induced. By
>ketomine, IIRC.

So? Experiences are biochemically induced at some level. I don't
see the problem.

>*aren't* handwaving correct.) The characterization was also more than
>a bit weak – would you *really* have been lovers with someone for
>several years without knowing their religious beliefs? [**]

Actually, I find it plausible. This looks like a superficial
relationship in some respects, founded on sex and love of science.
I suspect that most relationships have subjects that are not
discussed. I'd expect lovers to know each other's practices, but
not necessarily the feelings and beliefs behind them.

And for
>that matter, a message for all you trying to write religious IF: if
>you've never been an atheist or agnostic (and I do *not* mean merely
>questioned your faith), then by all means *please* don't try to write
>one.

There's all sorts of people in those categories. Many are atheists
and agnostics for philosophical reasons. Some are ex-Christians
(raised that way) who just kinda fell off and still have a vague
fear that they might be going to hell. The protagonist seemed to
me to be basically areligious as opposed to having formed real
opinions.

Lines like, "You decide not to add that you are certain that the
>traditional view of God isn't correct, and it's a good thing, too.
>You sure as hell don't want to be judged for some of your actions
>after you die" just make me wince.[***] I would be *much* more
>impressed with a carefully-drawn religious character – one who is
>questioning his or her faith or not – than I am with a poorly-drawn
>nonbeliever.
>

This isn't a religious character questioning his faith. This is
somebody who was raised Christian and never quite got away from
it. There's got to be lots of them out there. Most of the people
who have tried to convert me seem to expect me to be in that
category.

My big problem with the game is taking it seriously. I stopped being
a Christian initially because of an absolute belief that eternal
torment is incompatible with a good, all-powerful God. On
research, it turned out that such torment seems to be well integrated
with Christian teachings from the very first (Jesus is recorded as
preaching hellfire), and if I were to reject Hell there was no
logical reason to keep the rest of Christianity. I don't worry about
Hell, like the protagonist, because I have reasoned my way this
far, and very definitely don't believe in it.

This means that, while I can accept Hell for fictional or humorous
reasons (such as in "Hell: A Comedy of Errors"), an attempt to
deal with it seriously, as "Unravelling God" did, turns me off.
In other words, there are serious spiritual reasons why I can't
accept it.

The extreme unfairness of the final choice only reinforces this.

I don't want to argue about the fairness of scoring based on this,
but I will mention that it was my vote and based on how much I liked
the entry. People who disagree, either about theology or about
whether or how it should affect a score, should have voted differently.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Stas Starkov

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Nov 23, 2002, 1:28:24 PM11/23/02
to

"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in article
news:areg9m$1pg$1...@news.lth.se:

> In article <are4pl$cgl$1...@news6.svr.pol.co.uk>,
> Jon Ingold <jonny...@netscape.net> wrote:
> >> I feel strongly about this because I come from the SF/F camp. And
how
> >> could we possibly write science fiction or fantasy if you were
right?
> >> I'm not a cyborg, nor a necromancer. I haven't been to Betelgeuze
or
> >> visited Avalon.
> >
> >..hmm, not sure I agree with either side here, but it's worth noting
that
> >"neither has anyone else".
>
> That argument has some validity - but let's look at thrillers instead.
> Do you have to be a murderer yourself to write an inverted-school
> mystery? I hope not. Do ex-policemen write better police procedurals
than
> ordinary authors?
>
> Of course, "good" is subjective. A reader who is an active policeman
> himself may require a degree of realism in a mystery that is hard to
> achieve for anybody without a background in law enforcement. But
> is it impossible for anybody without that background?

And nobody without that background will even notice lapces in the "bad"
mystery
(written by non-policeman). So, who cares?

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Nov 24, 2002, 5:05:40 PM11/24/02
to
In article <arr4l2$j6m$2...@news.sovam.com>,

Who cares? Well, you snipped the original argument which was along the
lines that "you can't write about a person who is X without being or
having been X yourself". All aspiring authors should care - or
shouldn't care, depending on how you see it.

But the point is exactly what you say: most readers probably won't
care.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Stas Starkov

unread,
Nov 25, 2002, 4:08:25 PM11/25/02
to
> Stas Starkov <st...@mail.rb.ruANTISPAM> wrote:

>>"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>>> Of course, "good" is subjective. A reader who is an active policeman
>>> himself may require a degree of realism in a mystery that is hard to
>>> achieve for anybody without a background in law enforcement. But
>>> is it impossible for anybody without that background?
>>
>>And nobody without that background will even notice lapses in the

>>"bad" mystery (written by non-policeman). So, who cares?
>
> Who cares? Well, you snipped the original argument which was along the
> lines that "you can't write about a person who is X without being or
> having been X yourself". All aspiring authors should care - or
> shouldn't care, depending on how you see it.

There are too many things an author doesn't know; why should he/she try
to grasp _everything_ in the world? Are Vikings really carry spiked
shields? or they use normal ones? Usual people (it's possible to
call them consumers also) hardly know how does spiked shield look. Maybe
it's worth to concentrate on _important_ parts of art: dialogues,
descriptions, characters?

> But the point is exactly what you say: most readers probably won't
> care.

Is it deprecation?

--
Stas Starkov (stas_ at mail.rb.ru)


Magnus Olsson

unread,
Nov 25, 2002, 5:16:07 PM11/25/02
to
In article <aru3j3$h2l$1...@news.sovam.com>,

Stas Starkov <st...@mail.rb.ruANTISPAM> wrote:
>> Stas Starkov <st...@mail.rb.ruANTISPAM> wrote:
>>>"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>>>> Of course, "good" is subjective. A reader who is an active policeman
>>>> himself may require a degree of realism in a mystery that is hard to
>>>> achieve for anybody without a background in law enforcement. But
>>>> is it impossible for anybody without that background?
>>>
>>>And nobody without that background will even notice lapses in the
>>>"bad" mystery (written by non-policeman). So, who cares?
>>
>> Who cares? Well, you snipped the original argument which was along the
>> lines that "you can't write about a person who is X without being or
>> having been X yourself". All aspiring authors should care - or
>> shouldn't care, depending on how you see it.
>
>There are too many things an author doesn't know; why should he/she try
>to grasp _everything_ in the world?

I'm not really sure whether we're on the same side or not, whether
you're arguing with or agreeing with me, or even if you've read the
original post which I was responding to. We certainly seem to be talking
past each other.

So, just to get things straight: somebody said that you shouldn't try
to write about an atheist unless you're an atheist yourself. I'm
arguing *against* that statement, and its generalization; the fact
that it's more *difficult* writing about things you haven't
experienced first-hand doesn't mean that it's impossible, or that
people should be dissuade from doing so. The world would be a much
poorer place if only atheists were allowed to write about atheists, or
policemen about detective work, or if "Crime and Punishment" should be
considered inferior literature because Dostoyevsky wasn't a delusional
murderer himself.

And when I write that "all aspiring authors should care" I mean that
they should care about whether they *can* aspire to write about people
different from themselves. Their very art hinges on this. Or -
paradoxically - maybe they shouldn't care, and just write what they
feel like writing.

>> But the point is exactly what you say: most readers probably won't
>> care.
>
>Is it deprecation?

Sorry, I'm not sure I understand you here. Deprecation?

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Stas Starkov

unread,
Nov 25, 2002, 10:07:37 PM11/25/02
to
"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in
news:aru7f7$1j1$1...@news.lth.se:

> In article <aru3j3$h2l$1...@news.sovam.com>,
> Stas Starkov <st...@mail.rb.ruANTISPAM> wrote:
>>> Stas Starkov <st...@mail.rb.ruANTISPAM> wrote:
>>>>"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>>>>> Of course, "good" is subjective. A reader who is an active
>>>>> policeman himself may require a degree of realism in a mystery
>>>>> that is hard to achieve for anybody without a background in law
>>>>> enforcement. But is it impossible for anybody without that
>>>>> background?
>>>>
>>>>And nobody without that background will even notice lapses in the
>>>>"bad" mystery (written by non-policeman). So, who cares?
>>>
>>> Who cares? Well, you snipped the original argument which was along
>>> the lines that "you can't write about a person who is X without
>>> being or having been X yourself". All aspiring authors should care -
>>> or shouldn't care, depending on how you see it.
>>
>>There are too many things an author doesn't know; why should he/she
>>try to grasp _everything_ in the world?
>
> I'm not really sure whether we're on the same side or not,

I'm on _your_ side. Sorry for my poor English because I was so
unclear. I'm really sorry. :-(

> whether you're arguing with or agreeing with me,

I'm trying to add an argument, which is:

An author is _able_ to write about atheists even so the author is not
an atheist himself/herself. But if he/she intends to write about
Vikings, he/she shouldn't worry much about details, which nobody will
be able to notice (spiked shield or normal?). And this adds to your
arguments -- "write, write and write, aspiring author, because nothing
is limiting you in _your_ intentions".

> So, just to get things straight: somebody said that you shouldn't try
> to write about an atheist unless you're an atheist yourself. I'm
> arguing *against* that statement, and its generalization; the fact
> that it's more *difficult* writing about things you haven't
> experienced first-hand doesn't mean that it's impossible, or that
> people should be dissuade from doing so. The world would be a much
> poorer place if only atheists were allowed to write about atheists, or
> policemen about detective work, or if "Crime and Punishment" should be
> considered inferior literature because Dostoyevsky wasn't a delusional
> murderer himself.

I agree completely. (OT: Looking deeper, Dostoyevsky wrote about himself
and his life -- in not very metaphorical way.)

> And when I write that "all aspiring authors should care" I mean that
> they should care about whether they *can* aspire to write about people
> different from themselves. Their very art hinges on this. Or -
> paradoxically - maybe they shouldn't care, and just write what they
> feel like writing.

I "vote" for second part. :-)

>>> But the point is exactly what you say: most readers probably won't
>>> care.
>>
>>Is it deprecation?
>
> Sorry, I'm not sure I understand you here. Deprecation?

Sorry, but my dictionary says that "deprecation" is a synonym to
"disapprobation"/"dispraise"/"reprehension"/"reproach".

Rikard Peterson

unread,
Nov 26, 2002, 6:37:11 AM11/26/02
to
Stas Starkov wrote in news:aruoi7$1vo$1...@news.sovam.com:

> An author is _able_ to write about atheists even so the author
> is not an atheist himself/herself. But if he/she intends to
> write about Vikings, he/she shouldn't worry much about details,
> which nobody will be able to notice (spiked shield or normal?).
> And this adds to your arguments -- "write, write and write,
> aspiring author, because nothing is limiting you in _your_
> intentions".

...or do *some* research to find out how a viking shield was crafted.
While most people probably never will know, it might make the viking
enthusiasts a little happier and maybe add some sense of Real History
for the normal people too.

Rikard

Stas Starkov

unread,
Nov 27, 2002, 12:56:59 PM11/27/02
to
"Rikard Peterson" <trumg...@bigfoot.com> wrote in
news:Xns92D2806201CABtr...@130.133.1.4:

> Stas Starkov wrote in news:aruoi7$1vo$1...@news.sovam.com:
>
>> An author is _able_ to write about atheists even so the author
>> is not an atheist himself/herself. But if he/she intends to
>> write about Vikings, he/she shouldn't worry much about details,
>> which nobody will be able to notice (spiked shield or normal?).
>
> ...or do *some* research to find out how a viking shield was crafted.
> While most people probably never will know, it might make the viking
> enthusiasts a little happier and maybe add some sense of Real History
> for the normal people too.

There are too many things in the world to "do some research" (and "some"
can mean "a lot"). I talked about necessity to research _everything_
what possible could be included in a game/book. But I think that process
of writing must be finished -- it may not be continued endlessly. Of
course, this can lead to a loss in quality of art piece, but that's why
there are so many (book) writers and so little good works (I'm not
talking about IF here).

On the other hand, who can judge? Only reader/player, I think. That's my
point.

The writing is very difficult thing, I think.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Nov 28, 2002, 5:25:27 AM11/28/02
to
In article <aruoi7$1vo$1...@news.sovam.com>,

Stas Starkov <st...@mail.rb.ruANTISPAM> wrote:
>"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in
>news:aru7f7$1j1$1...@news.lth.se:
>> In article <aru3j3$h2l$1...@news.sovam.com>,
>> Stas Starkov <st...@mail.rb.ruANTISPAM> wrote:
>>>> Stas Starkov <st...@mail.rb.ruANTISPAM> wrote:
>>>>>"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>> I'm not really sure whether we're on the same side or not,
>
>I'm on _your_ side. Sorry for my poor English because I was so
>unclear. I'm really sorry. :-(

And I'm sorry if I seemed a bit irritated - it was really just confusion
and a bit of frustration over being confused.

BTW, I don't think it's your English that's the problem. It's more the
communication situation where we're addressing the same questions from
different angles at the same time. Something that's quite common on
Usenet.

> An author is _able_ to write about atheists even so the author is not
> an atheist himself/herself. But if he/she intends to write about
> Vikings, he/she shouldn't worry much about details, which nobody will
> be able to notice (spiked shield or normal?).

One problem is: how do you know which details your audience will notice?

Another aspect is that if you've under-researched your area - say, if
you're writing about Vikings with only some fuzzy ideas that they were
barbarians from the north, you're likely to end up with something
generic and flavourless. Vikings from an American author who knows
little about Viking society are likely to end up as modern-day
Americans in fancy dress (substitute your favoured ethnicity for
"American" if you like), or as generic Northern Barbarians (tm) from
the list of fantasy clichés.

On the other hand, over-research tends to lead to pedantry - lots of
descriptions of the spikes on the shields, for example - plus, of
course, that it takes a lot of time.

>> if "Crime and Punishment" should be
>> considered inferior literature because Dostoyevsky wasn't a delusional
>> murderer himself.
>
>I agree completely. (OT: Looking deeper, Dostoyevsky wrote about himself
>and his life -- in not very metaphorical way.)

An important point - to some extent, all authors write about themselves.
It's only that to write about, say, a murderer, you don't have to *be*
a murderer, but you have to be able to put yourself in the murderer's mind.

>>>> But the point is exactly what you say: most readers probably won't
>>>> care.
>>>
>>>Is it deprecation?
>>
>> Sorry, I'm not sure I understand you here. Deprecation?
>
>Sorry, but my dictionary says that "deprecation" is a synonym to
>"disapprobation"/"dispraise"/"reprehension"/"reproach".

Well, yes, but who is deprecating what?

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Howard

unread,
Dec 2, 2002, 6:08:22 PM12/2/02
to
Todd,

I totally understand where you're coming from. I wish Liz at least gave
you the common courtesy of a reply to your well-considered comments.

Howard


Howard
http://www.malinche.net

Todd Watson

unread,
Dec 3, 2002, 12:23:35 PM12/3/02
to
Howard <lordr...@erols.com> wrote in message news:<3DEBE7D5...@erols.com>...

> Todd,
>
> I totally understand where you're coming from. I wish Liz at least gave
> you the common courtesy of a reply to your well-considered comments.
>
> Howard
>
>
> Howard
> http://www.malinche.net
>


Thanks, Howard. Me, too. She took the time to write a review that,
frankly, I didn't think had a lot of thought behind it. She didn't
take the time to reply to my response, though, which disappointed me
because I spent a fair amount of time preparing it. I still wish she'd
respond in some fashion. I'd be equally happy with a "Oops, sorry I
misjudged you" or some sort of argument. In my response, I guessed her
to be in her early 20s, and I've since seen in another thread that she
said she wasn't old enough to drink legally (under 21, in other
words). I had based my guess of her age on her reactionary review. It
just telegraphed "young" to me, because a common mistake of youth is
to form deep-seated convictions that are based on erroneous
assumptions (in this case, that because I wrote a game that had God
and the devil in it I must be a religious zealot). My guess is she
hasn't responded because she's now realized that mistake and is
embarrassed. She should know, though, that we've all made fools of
ourselves as we transitioned from teenagers to full-fledged adults,
and I know it as well as anyone (just ask the adults who knew me when
I was younger). The wise, though, learn from their mistakes, by being
self-introspective enough to think about why they made the mistake.
I've learned, for example, that drawing a conclusion about a person is
best saved until sufficient facts are known, and I seek out those
facts when necessary. Consequently, I always give people the benefit
of the doubt, and always assume I don't really know what they're
thinking. The not-so-wise will likely remain fools their whole lives
long.

Peter Seebach

unread,
Dec 3, 2002, 1:53:46 PM12/3/02
to
In article <9f66126.02111...@posting.google.com>,

Todd Watson <jilla...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>Your suppositions about my motivations as the author are rather
>amusing. To assume that I believe in the things I put in the story is
>rather like assuming any actor who portrays a gay person must be gay.
>It's merely a story I came up with that I thought was interesting. It
>did not reflect my personal beliefs.

And you've convinced me to play it; I didn't get to many of the comp games
this year, but this sounds interesting.

Howard

unread,
Dec 4, 2002, 8:57:41 PM12/4/02
to
Interesting take you have. I get the sense she is anything but young.
A lot of her expressions and her overall style of writing smack of
someone quite a bit older than 20something.

Your age theory does go a long way in explaining her reactions, though.
An experience I had with her dating back to September was nothing short
of astonishing. It also explains why she rated my game a 1 on the basis
of "It's just not a good idea to insult a potential judge." Scroll back
to "Background Reading" thread sometime in mid September to fully
understand.

Whatever her age, she's got issues. No doubt, though, she will learn
fro these experiences just as we all do. If she is not as young as you
postulate, we can only hope her mind is sufficiently open to welcome and
nurture the learning experience.

Howard
http://www.malinche.net

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Dec 4, 2002, 11:10:10 PM12/4/02
to
Here, Howard <lordr...@erols.com> wrote:

> Whatever her age, she's got issues.

Okay, look, you guys. Either talk with the person like she exists, or
take it to email.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Todd Watson

unread,
Dec 5, 2002, 8:46:24 AM12/5/02
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message news:<asmjj2$bog$1...@reader1.panix.com>...

>
> Okay, look, you guys. Either talk with the person like she exists, or
> take it to email.
>
> --Z
>

Point well taken. Looking back, you're right that this was an
inappropriate discussion. I apologize to all concerned. I was trying
to elicit a response so I could talk with her, but should have just
sent a private e-mail. Well, here's yet another foolish mistake I can
learn from!

Howard

unread,
Dec 6, 2002, 8:46:14 PM12/6/02
to
She does exist. In fact, this thread is continuing in her absence. If
she were here she could add her input to the conversation since it does
indeed involve her.

Todd, though, did move this to email where it will continue in Liz's
continued absence.

Howard
http://www.malinche.net

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