[Comp00] Tril's Competition Reviews (4 of 4)

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Adam Cadre

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Nov 15, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/15/00
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Suzanne Britton wrote:
> Though I'm not Arab, "Desert Heat" clicked with me on every level.

The name on my birth certificate is Muhammad Adam Dahlan al-Kadri.
It occurs to me that part of the reason DESERT HEAT got my hackles up
a bit is that it does trade in many of the usual caricatures of the
Arab world. I can't say I was actively offended, but yeah, it did make
me bristle. Though I guess I should be happy that the author at least
refrained from tossing some terrorist hijackers into the mix...

-----
Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA
web site: http://adamcadre.ac
novel: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060195584/adamcadreac

Ben

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Nov 15, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/15/00
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> Suzanne Britton wrote:
> > Though I'm not Arab, "Desert Heat" clicked with me on every level.
>
> The name on my birth certificate is Muhammad Adam Dahlan al-Kadri.
> It occurs to me that part of the reason DESERT HEAT got my hackles up
> a bit is that it does trade in many of the usual caricatures of the
> Arab world. I can't say I was actively offended, but yeah, it did make
> me bristle. Though I guess I should be happy that the author at least
> refrained from tossing some terrorist hijackers into the mix...

So, if Arabs portrayed as, well, arab, the author is a racist? What
would you have preferred, his name be "John Smith"?

I think you are getting a bit politically correct here, Adam. I saw this
with your Futz Mutz review as well. Get over it. As far as i know, you
are not Arab or African-American. You don't need to be offended for them.

-Ben

--
bhi...@san.rr.com
... "Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre." - Joe Klein

Suzanne Britton

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Nov 16, 2000, 12:10:20 AM11/16/00
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Desert Heat
by Papillon

I'm thoroughly delighted. Just the merging of good interactive fiction
with good BDSM fiction is something I never expected to see: IF and BDSM
are two small niches; it's to be expected that the intersection between
them is tiny indeed! But "Desert Heat" is also the first "proof of
concept" CYOA IF game: someone did it, and they did it right.

The game starts with you, a high-born Arab woman, alone in your room
pondering, and it branches from there. The first third or so is roughly
linear--minor branches eventually lead back to the central path--but those
minor differences can be enough to strongly influence the endgame, so the
linearity is somewhat an illusion. From there, the story forks depending
on what approach you take. There are literally dozens of endings to be
found and several major branches to follow. It seems the strength of CYOA
is that, freed of most of the programming drudgework, the author can focus
their full attention on writing a good story and filling out the plot
branches. "Desert Heat" is artfully written, beautifully painted, filled
with well-sketched characters (including yourself), and a joy to explore.

I hunted down every branch I could find, taking different tacks on each
play-through, sometimes sexual and sometimes not: you can focus on saving
your city, running away, liberating those in captivity, or you can just
drop your guard and enjoy a life of pampered sex-slavery. You can even
play the cruel mistress (the result of taking advantage of the foreign
girl and then going off with her and her brother is a terrific bit of dark
humor--or maybe it wasn't meant to be funny, and I'm just really twisted
:-) Although you can finish one session of the game in about 10
keystrokes, it managed to keep me glued to my computer for the full two
hours.

The I-0 gag is terribly cute. Getting to choose who you love in one ending
is fun, and adds a dash of extra interactivity not found in traditional
CYOA.

All in all, a success in every way. It feels strange giving a 10 to a game
which, by conventional standards, is not interactive fiction. But I can
find no earthly reason not to do so.

Rating: 10

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

Threading the Labyrinth
by Kevin F. Doughty

"Threading the Labyrinth" is an experimental game with a similar idea to
"The Space Under the Window" -- you type words found in the text to
explore. It seems, also, to have been inspired by _House of Leaves_, a book
I quite liked, so I had high hopes for it. Unfortunately, there's just not
much there. Unless I missed something major, the path through the
"labyrinth" is linear until the end (only one word in each scene leads to
the next scene), at which point you can pick one of two choices to reach
an ending. I had exhausted my options within about ten minutes. The prose
itself seeks and hints but doesn't seem to go anywhere.

I'd be interested to see a more substantial game of this type, and I hope
my rating this time won't serve to discourage that.

Rating: 2

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

The Clock
by Cleo Kozlowski

A reasonable first try, but "The Clock" completely failed to grab me. I
found the writing uninspired and the programming weak, and the somewhat
cliched fantasy/humor storyline did nothing to keep my interest. I
apologize for the sketchy review, but after 30 games this reviewer's
pen-hand is growing weary.

Rating: 3

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

The End Means Escape
by D.O.

This is the first game of the year to completely and utterly baffle me.
The IF equivalent of Salvador Dali, perhaps. "The End Means Escape" is a
surreal trip through a sequence of puzzles, each stranger than the last.
There's a roomful of objects that act like people (by far my favorite
part--reminded me of the delightful "For a Change" last year), a roomful
of people who act like objects, a few confounding word puzzles, and more.
If there's any overriding theme or storyline connecting all this, I missed
it. The logic of the puzzles is so strange that I don't think anyone will
be able to get far without hints, but the hint system is generally
excellent: it gives many gentle nudges rather than immediate spoilers.

The endgame is...sneaky! Notice how the author has fiddled with the
normally inviolate system commands, and take nothing for granted. The game
may not end when it appears to.

Hmm, what else. The implementation is rich, almost absurdly so--there's a
scenario with three NPC's, each having several dozen implemented body
parts! (hint to the author: disabling "examine woman's" and the like may
be a good idea, unless you meant for it to work). Although I was pleased
with how much behavior was programmed in (even "lick note" produces an
amusing response! good grief!), and what wide scope I had to fiddle with
things, I did run into some minor bugs, and even a run-time error or two
(try folding the note). The most annoying bug was that the hint system
became temporarily stuck after I got the note onto the balloon.

"The End Means Escape" is not a memorable or even faintly comprehensible
game. But for some strange reason, I liked it.

Rating: 6

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

Kaged
by Ian Finley

I hope Ian leads a happier life than his protagonists. His games get
grimmer every year.

"Kaged" is a dystopian tale strongly reminiscent of _1984_ (but not
derivative). Like just about everything its author has produced, it is
strikingly original, evocative, well-written, and suicidally depressing
:-) I quite liked it, though it is, in my opinion, not as successful as
"Exhibition" or "Babel". It is more ambitious than either of those works,
which leads me to be somewhat forgiving of its failures.

As a mood piece, "Kaged" is excellent. Every bleak, oppressive nuance of
the world you live in comes to life in the vivid writing, enhanced by
graphics and sound (the opening picture is especially evocative), and your
own character is well-drawn. As a story, it is ambitious, but less
excellent. I felt that what began as tightly woven threads unraveled near
the end--and not just because of the protagonist's dissolving sanity. I
came out of the experience with no real understanding of what had happened
and why. Many hints, many seeming contradictions, no certainties.
Normally, I like it when a game leaves the player with a mystery, but this
was just unsatisfying. It's hard to pinpoint why...perhaps partly because
I felt I was expected to understand much more than I did. Certainly, my
protagonist seemed to be way ahead of me, and as a result, I felt less
connection with him.

(Postscript: I've since spoken with Ian, and to some extent "it's
intentional". Apparently, his playtesters kept pushing him for more
ambiguity. Ah, well.)

The programming was also not quite as polished as I've come to expect of
this author. Again, it was trying to accomplish more than in earlier
works, I think. The world was very fleshed-out, but flawed. I encountered
a number of guess-the-verb problems. Perhaps the most egregious was the
matchbook. It was lazily (and unintuitively) implemented as a single
object, leading me to fumble for awhile before I simply typed "strike
match":

>get match
You already have the book of matches!

>get match from matchbook
The book of matches isn't in the book of matches.

>look in matchbook
There's nothing in the book of matches.

Rating: 8

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

And The Waves Choke The Wind
by Gunther Schmidl

Well, it gets my vote for coolest title of the year. But what about the
game?

Good question. ATWCTW is well-written and well-programmed--quality-wise,
it's near the top of the competition heap. The gameworld is well
fleshed-out and nearly bugless, the parser is frustration-free (I am
well-pleased that the game had a smart response to "spit gag out" -- even
though it didn't work!), and the overall interface sports a number of good
innovations (the detailed status line, the replayable cut scenes, etc.).
Also despite my usual antipathy towards Lovecraft, I found the storyline
intriguing enough to draw me in and get me curious.

The bad news is, ATWCTW is a prologue--and a "teaser" prologue at that.
It's an introduction to a much larger game which, presumably, the author
plans to release after the competition. Both of the two endings I found
are cliffhangers. While this definitely got me interested enough to grab
the full game when it arrives, it was not exactly a satisfying experience.
So, as a competition entry, it gets a good rating but not a top rating.
Games that were less polished but that I found, in the end, more fun (e.g.
"Transfer") score higher.

The only bug I can remember: in certain locations, the game lets me run
even though I am being carried by Jones.

P.S.: After I finished, I ran the gamefile through txd to find out if I
missed anything that might (positively) influence my score. It locked up.
I wonder, did I find a bug in txd, or did Gunther do something incredibly
clever to protect his secrets? :-)

P.P.S: See below.

Rating: 6

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

The Big Mama
by Brendan Barnwell

One of the first things I noticed was this, in the credits:

"I'd like to thank Gunther Schmidl for his library extension that makes
colors work properly after saving and restoring, and for his
TXD-blocking hack."

Heh. So that answers *that* question. Anyway, in "The Big Mama", you play a
guy who's "bummin'" on the beach after getting dumped by his girlfriend.
You wander around, talk to people, and things happen. The game is fully
story-based and nearly CYOA, since it is the menu-based conversation
system which largely controls how the storyline progresses.

I felt guilty for not liking this game. It's original, it's sincere, it's
experimental, and it's got more alternate endings than you can shake a
stick at--one of my prime reasons for loving "Desert Heat". The thing is,
when a work of IF is fully story-based, I had better like the story,
because there's nothing else *to* like. Though I'm not Arab, "Desert Heat"
clicked with me on every level. The hip, rambling, Californian
pseudo-spirituality of "The Big Mama" totally failed to click with me. I
felt no connection with the protagonist and not the slightest interest in
how his life turned out.

There were several programming goofs in the dialogue. Occasionally I would
get a menu choice like this: "<illegal object number 357>".

On the positive side, I cracked up at the DikuMUD joke.

Rating: 4

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

Yes, Another Game With a Dragon
by "Digby McWiggle"

An utterly conventional and thoroughly delightful adventure game. I was in
a lousy mood when I started playing--I left the computer with a big smile
on my face. That is the highest praise I can give.

Let's back up. YAGWAD is, as advertised, a game about a dragon. You're an
unlikely hero hoping to rescue the princess from the nefarious beast and
win the king's favor. So why did I love it, when so many games of this
sort merit only a yawn and a shrug?

There are quite a few reasons. First and foremost, YAGWAD is the funniest
game I've played this year. From the rousing prologue (and responses to
"score" and "fullscore" therein), to the delightful ascii art animation in
the title, to the encyclopedia salesman (insert Monty Python clip), to the
friendly teeth, the troll, the answering machine, the monks....well, I
could go on all day. Suffice to say, YAGWAD kept me grinning ear to ear
from beginning to end. The humor is dead on, comparable to Steve
Meretzky's and often better.

Programming is very solid. I ran into a few relatively harmless bugs, and
that's it (notable: I can read the diary without picking it up). The
writing is not the lush, purple prose of much story-based IF (don't get me
wrong--I *like* well-done purple prose!), but it is comfortable to read,
grammatical, and often funny. The room descriptions, in particular, have
an economy of expression reminiscent of Infocom. Few of them span more
than five lines, yet they lay out scenery and evoke a mood with ease:

"The forest stops short of this slope of mountainside, where a crumbling
monastery stands with forlorn dignity overlooking the tangled remnants
of an overgrown garden. A cracked stone walk winds from the forest
opening north, through lank beds of herbs and wildflowers, and up to the
wide stairs and darkened doorway leading west."

The plot ties together neatly. In fact, figuring out exactly what happened
years ago to leave things in their current state is part of the fun. It's
impossible to put the game in an unwinnable state (a feat which clearly
required some extra programming), and there are no sudden deaths. Puzzles
are relatively simple, but fun to solve, and a few of them are clever
enough to yield that nifty "aha!" feeling when you think of the answer. I
especially liked the hilt-password puzzle, and when I realized the
solution to the final puzzle, I laughed aloud. It was just perfect.

Bottom line: YAGWAD is a polished gem. It was written by an author who
clearly knew what he was doing and took the time to do it right.

"Digby McWiggle": Thank you for reminding this world-weary judge why she
fell in love with IF in the first place.

Rating: 10

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

Best Man
by Rob Menke

Another "day from hell" game. "Best Man" follows along as you try to make
it to your best friend's wedding. Needless to say, there are
complications.

I had high hopes after printing and reading the professionally-designed
"feelie", but found that the author's IF design skills aren't yet as
polished as his desktop publishing skills. "Best Man" is not particularly
buggy, but it has a serious problem with mimesis. The gameworld feels
shallow, and the NPC's in particular are maddeningly unresponsive. The
nadir was this:

>tell captain about bomb
"How interesting."

Even in a puzzle-based game, this is unacceptable. Though I still find
*well-programmed* ask/tell to be the best conversation interface, I am
increasingly of the opinion that menu-based conversation is the way to go
for most novice IF authors. Certainly, it's been done extremely well by
several games this year.

The puzzles themselves were clever, arguably the best part of the game,
but not to my taste (brought back bad memories of chemistry class :-),
which left me less forgiving than I might otherwise be.

Rating: 5

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

The Trip
by Cameron Wilkin

One might jokingly call "The Trip" a Wiccan Jarod's Journey. It has a
message and is not ashamed of it. Unlike JJ, however, there's more of an
actual interesting story as well.

This one took me (pleasantly) by surprise. It started with yet another of
what I call "I hate my miserable life" intros, and put me in the shoes of
a stoner with whom I identified very little. Gradually, things because
interesting--and strange--and "The Trip" pulled off a most important feat:
it got me *curious*.

Then, it dealt me another surprise. Thinking back to Cameron's "Bliss"
last year, I expected the strangeness to develop into horrific
strangeness. This was not the case at all. Instead, it blossomed into the
story of a young man's modern-day "vision quest".

"The Trip" is weakly implemented, poorly proofread, and barely playtested,
all flaws of which I am inordinately forgiving--first, because it got me
curious, and second, because I like its spirit. In fact, this was just
what I needed on a Friday night after a maddening week at work. If it had
been skillfully programmed and well-tested, "The Trip" would have probably
been my sixth perfect score this year.

One thing that especially needs fixing is the final puzzle. I like the
puzzle, but the game gives no indication when you've partially solved it.
I ended up going to the hints, only to find out I was on the right track
all along.

I especially liked: the fox, the ever-filling in-box, and this, which gave
me my first laugh of the day:

"You vaguely remember smoking a few more bowls, and then wandering around
the park in a stoned-out daze, admiring the miracles of nature. ('That's
a big-ass rock, dude.')"

Rating: 7

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

The Planet of the Infinite Minds
by Alfredo Garcia

This game didn't just fly over my head. It whizzed over my head at warp
speed. This could be because I'm not a physics or philosophy major, or it
could just be because I'm not the author. In the ABOUT text, Alfredo tells
us:

***Welcome to my world***

He, um, isn't kidding.

I'm sure someone will love (and possibly even understand) this game, and
I'll leave the in-depth analysis to them.

Rating: 3

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

A Crimson Spring
by Robb Sherwin

"A Crimson Spring" certainly has a more interesting premise than Sherwin's
previous entry. Unless you count "Frenetic Five", it's the first X-Men
story that's been done as IF. It didn't manage to hold my interest, but I
respect it for what it attempts.

Major bias warning: I am perhaps the only person on Earth who A. loved the
X-Men movie and B. hasn't the slightest interest in the comic books. The
whole "graphic novel" phenomenon leaves me cold. As I was telling Paul
O'Brian (comic book acolyte) in e-mail, I find comic books a jumbled and
confusing way of telling a story. Also, the too-cool-for-you attitude,
which so many of them seem to affect, is grating.

Well, "A Crimson Spring"--what I saw of it--plays and reads like one of
those slick, postmodern comic books. That's one big strike against it (and
for others, undoubtedly, a big plus). The other problem is that, hiding
beneath the spiffy graphics and the musical scores (which range from
annoying to quite good--I particularly liked the theme for Red Wraith) is
a somewhat poorly programmed text adventure. The multimedia enhancements
make it *feel* more professional, but the core game design leaves much to be
desired. It does not impress me when a majority of the major objects
mentioned in a room description are not implemented, nor when a game
implements a telephone and a taxi but doesn't implement "call taxi".

[Warning: spoiler ahead.]

One puzzle I found insufferable was that of finding the intruder in
Cloud's room. It turns out he's hiding behind an object which is mentioned
nowhere in the room description! What's more, typing "move object" or
"look behind object" should work, but doesn't. If you type "search room",
the protagonist will automatically check in the right place, but there are
a couple problems with this. Firstly, I'd much rather have the author tell
me all the features of the room, and let me do the searching myself--IMOFO
(In My Old-Fashioned Opinion), it's the player's job to be clever, not the
player-character's! Secondly, it is highly rare and non-standard in modern
IF for "room" to be implemented, and "search" by itself (which should be
interpreted the same as "search room") doesn't work.

A novice IFer might well try "search room" right away, but for a game to
charm novice and experienced IFers alike, it should either adhere to
convention or make clear when it violates convention (note: ACS does the
latter for the "talk to" verb, so its heart is in the right place :-).

The writing in "Crimson Spring", both mechanically and creatively, is
quite good, and I can step back from my comic aversion long enough to see
that the storytelling is skillful as well. The combination of good writing
and spiffy multimedia sets a vivid mood, every bit as well as "Kaged".
These facts nearly coaxed me into an above-average score. Then, alas, I
encountered the battle scene. It took me about 50 UNDO's to get past, and
by the time it was done, the game had lost points for sheer annoyance.

Rating: 4

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

Unnkulia X
by Valentine Kopteltsev

I ran out of time and energy, so I neither played nor rated this (rather
sizable!) entry.

Rating: unrated

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

Futz Mutz
by Tim Simmons

I was warned.

Rating: unrated

--
tr...@igs.net - http://www.igs.net/~tril/
"I'm aware of that, sweetheart. It's just that when I wake up to a hissing
goat skull on my nightstand, and it hops off and runs across the floor on
spider legs, I sleep a lot better knowing where it ran off to."
- Ted (Red Meat)

Adam Cadre

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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I wrote:
> The name on my birth certificate is Muhammad Adam Dahlan al-Kadri.

Ben Hines replied:


> So, if Arabs portrayed as, well, arab, the author is a racist? What
> would you have preferred, his name be "John Smith"?

No, no. I'm not talking about the PC of the game. I'm talking about
*me*. My brothers' names are Ahmed Raihan Kadri and Rabie Jamil Kadri.
My sister's name is Abeidah Fatima Kadri. My father's name is Sheikh
Muhammad Zain ud-Din Kadri. Just trying to establish some background
so you know where I'm coming from.

> As far as i know, you are not Arab or African-American.

You don't generally get a name like "Muhammad al-Kadri" without having
some Arab ancestry.

> I think you are getting a bit politically correct here, Adam. I saw
> this with your Futz Mutz review as well. Get over it.

As to the FUTZ MUTZ review: it's one thing to render dialects in a
story -- obviously it would be absurd to portray everyone as speaking
like an Oxford don. But it seemed perfectly clear to me that the "do
he be friendly" line in FUTZ MUTZ wasn't just a matter of rendering
dialect as heard; instead, it was played for laughs. "'Do he be
friendly'? Ho ho ho! What a silly negress!" I mean, c'mon, that
character might as well have been munching on a slice of watermelon.
What you call "political correctness" I call not being amused by, yes,
a racist caricature.

DESERT HEAT wasn't as egregious, but like I said, I did find myself
turned off at seeing the Arab world reduced to harems and seraglios.
Obviously I'm not saying that the author set out to slam anyone's
ethnicity. But the game did strike me as belonging to the same vein as
stories that depict Africa as full of spear-chucking savages or the
South Pacific as full of cannibals waiting to toss explorers into a
pot. Are these caricatures made up from whole cloth? Maybe not, but
they're still caricatures.

Kaia Vintr

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
to

Adam Cadre wrote in message <3A139D...@adamcadre.ac>...

>like an Oxford don. But it seemed perfectly clear to me that the "do
>he be friendly" line in FUTZ MUTZ wasn't just a matter of rendering
>dialect as heard; instead, it was played for laughs. "'Do he be
>friendly'? Ho ho ho! What a silly negress!" I mean, c'mon, that
>character might as well have been munching on a slice of watermelon.
>What you call "political correctness" I call not being amused by, yes,
>a racist caricature.
>

I didn't sense any ill intent in the line, just a misguided and clumsy
attempt
to use a dialect. It still really turned me off the game though.

>DESERT HEAT wasn't as egregious, but like I said, I did find myself
>turned off at seeing the Arab world reduced to harems and seraglios.

I read it as an imaginary world based on cliches of the Arab world,
rather than an attempt at an accurate historic depiction of the real
Arab world. There are plenty of fantasy stories that do the same
thing to medieval Europe. Again, I didn't like the game much, but
it was the cliches themselves that offended me (among other things),
not their political incorrectness.

Perhaps I'm less sensitive to these sorts of things because I'm not
of a visible minority or distinct culture. I think basically I'm more
inclined to attribute them to stupidity and bad taste than to poor
moral character.

- Kaia


Tina

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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In article <3A139D...@adamcadre.ac>,

Adam Cadre <re...@adamcadre.ac> wrote:
>DESERT HEAT wasn't as egregious, but like I said, I did find myself
>turned off at seeing the Arab world reduced to harems and seraglios.
>Obviously I'm not saying that the author set out to slam anyone's
>ethnicity. But the game did strike me as belonging to the same vein as
>stories that depict Africa as full of spear-chucking savages or the
>South Pacific as full of cannibals waiting to toss explorers into a
>pot. Are these caricatures made up from whole cloth? Maybe not, but
>they're still caricatures.

I think that rather than 'caricature', the word you should be thinking
is 'archetype'. It's true that it's an archetype that is based on a
world vision that is not entirely accurate. It's also true it's based on
one people find romantic and adventurous. In other words, I doubt there
was any prejudice behind the Wild Arabian Archetypes; I think that it
wasn't meant to be terribly realistic, but rather to capture a certain
once-very-popular style.

Richard Bos

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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ti...@eniac.stanford.edu (Tina) wrote:

> In article <3A139D...@adamcadre.ac>,
> Adam Cadre <re...@adamcadre.ac> wrote:
> >DESERT HEAT wasn't as egregious, but like I said, I did find myself
> >turned off at seeing the Arab world reduced to harems and seraglios.

[snip]


> > Are these caricatures made up from whole cloth? Maybe not, but
> >they're still caricatures.
>
> I think that rather than 'caricature', the word you should be thinking
> is 'archetype'. It's true that it's an archetype that is based on a
> world vision that is not entirely accurate. It's also true it's based on
> one people find romantic and adventurous. In other words, I doubt there
> was any prejudice behind the Wild Arabian Archetypes; I think that it
> wasn't meant to be terribly realistic, but rather to capture a certain
> once-very-popular style.

Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?

Richard

Kaia Vintr

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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Richard Bos wrote in message <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>...

>Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
>were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
>hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?
>

That would be hilarious! Please, someone, do it! All of the above!

- Kaia


Tina

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
to
In article <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>,

Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
>were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
>hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?

It would depend on the presentation. People like that do exist, despite
the fact that people in this country like to pretend they don't at all.
If it looked like it was a literary attempt to evoke a specific sort of
mood, I might well enjoy it.

There are plenty of movies in which certain segments of US culture (and
no, that's NOT a contradiction in terms, so stop laughing, you damn
Europeans ;>) are portrayed as archetypcial to the hilt, but that I
have found thoroughly enjoyable. There is a time and a place for such
characters when one is trying to evoke a specific mood. It can be done
with the intent to simply portray a specific legendary (or infamous)
Type, or it can be done out of ignorance.

In this specific case, I believe it was the former. I don't think there
was any intent to accurately portray the full range of culture. I could
be wrong, of course, but I suspect the author is aware that there are
other aspects to the culture that weren't covered.

I won't go so far as to say that Adam is not entitled to feel disgusted
by such a portrayal, because he is entitled to any opinion he wants, and
I even understand the reaction. I just wanted to offer a different
perspective, as I felt that there was no intent to be prejudicial.

Jake Wildstrom

unread,
Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
to
In article <MjVQ5.90665$x6.20...@news20.bellglobal.com>,

Kaia Vintr <ka...@xoe.com> wrote:
>Richard Bos wrote in message <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>...
>>Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
>>were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
>>hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?

>That would be hilarious! Please, someone, do it! All of the above!

As 3 separate archetypes, or as a single character?

Mmmm.... Amish beer-guzzling hippies.

+--First Church of Briantology--Order of the Holy Quaternion--+
| A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into |
| theorems. -Paul Erdos |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+
| Jake Wildstrom |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+

Kaia Vintr

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
to

Jake Wildstrom wrote in message
<3a1425ce$0$57...@senator-bedfellow.mit.edu>...

>>That would be hilarious! Please, someone, do it! All of the above!
>
>As 3 separate archetypes, or as a single character?
>
>Mmmm.... Amish beer-guzzling hippies.
>

*gun-toting* Amish beer-guzzling hippies.

And they are constantly at war with a northern race of igloo-dwelling,
French-speaking lumberjacks who's eerily understated battle cry echoes
through the barren wilderness: "Eh?"

- Kaia
(a Canadian)

Jonathan Blask

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
to
On Thu, 16 Nov 2000, Richard Bos wrote;

> Maybe not, but OTOH, how would
you react to a game in which all USAliens
> were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
> hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?
>

Sounds like Revenge of the Killer Surf Nazi Robot Babes from
Hell... I love that game!
-jon
"If I got stranded on a desert island (with electricity)/
And I could bring one record and my hi-fi/
I'd bring that ocean surf cd (Relaxing Sound of Ocean Surf)/
So I could enjoy the irony." - Dylan Hicks


Muffy St. Bernard

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
to

But, due to religious beliefs, the *gun-toting* Amish beer-guzzling
hippies are unable to brawl during their hockey games, so they always
lose when they challenge the Northerners to a game.

Muffy (also Canadian)

Kaia Vintr

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
to
Muffy St. Bernard wrote in message <3A144977...@hotmail.com>...

>> And they are constantly at war with a northern race of igloo-dwelling,
>> French-speaking lumberjacks who's eerily understated battle cry echoes
>> through the barren wilderness: "Eh?"
>
> But, due to religious beliefs, the *gun-toting* Amish beer-guzzling
>hippies are unable to brawl during their hockey games, so they always
>lose when they challenge the Northerners to a game.
>
> Muffy (also Canadian)

Damn, I'd actually forgotten that hockey existed! Well, with that, on top
of the fact that my French is terrible, trees run away from me and I can
barely even make a snowman, I'm truly terrible at being a Northerner.
Maybe they'll trade me to the Indians for a moose pelt.

- Kaia


Muffy St. Bernard

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
to
Kaia Vintr wrote:

> Damn, I'd actually forgotten that hockey existed! Well, with that, on top
> of the fact that my French is terrible, trees run away from me and I can
> barely even make a snowman, I'm truly terrible at being a Northerner.
> Maybe they'll trade me to the Indians for a moose pelt.
>
> - Kaia

Hmmm. I do my best to forget that hockey exists. My French is
terrible. Trees don't exactly run away from me, but I bet if they
could, they would. And I can't stand the cold long enough to make a
snowman either.
So you're not alone! I wonder if there is a two-for-one deal for that
moose pelt?

Muffy, in Canada all my life and still disturbed by the national
sport.

okbl...@my-deja.com

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Nov 17, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/17/00
to
In article <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>,

in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl (Richard Bos) wrote:
>
> Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all
USAliens
> were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
> hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?

Ever see "The Big Lebowski"?
--
[ok]


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

papillon

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Nov 18, 2000, 12:02:45 AM11/18/00
to

>The name on my birth certificate is Muhammad Adam Dahlan al-Kadri.
>It occurs to me that part of the reason DESERT HEAT got my hackles up
>a bit is that it does trade in many of the usual caricatures of the
>Arab world. I can't say I was actively offended, but yeah, it did make
>me bristle. Though I guess I should be happy that the author at least
>refrained from tossing some terrorist hijackers into the mix...

I do apologise if the overall effect irritated you.

What most people wouldn't notice unless they were hentai geeks was that
while the setting was intended to play on "Arabian" stereotypes enough to
make the whole desert-harem surroundings feel familiar, the derivation for
almost every name is Japanese. ('Amir' and 'Yasmin' being obvious exceptions
I can think of offhand, the first because I couldn't find a Japanese title
to use that wouldn't be too obvious about its origins, and the second just
because I like the name.)

I don't have the list here with me, but some of the etymology I can
remember:

'Aika Sabakan' - sad song of the desert?
'Hajima' - beginning
'Toshi' - town
'Nijin' - I think there was a very very tenuous connection to some word for
either wicked or vizier, whereas 'Atsui' should mean something like kind,
which would be the clue for which was the bad guy if you managed to get that
far without stumbling across any clue at all

No, no one was supposed to pick up on the Japanese roots, but it's no more
intended to be a realistic Arabic world than it is Japan or Gor - just
suggestions to bring up associations.

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Nov 18, 2000, 2:22:47 AM11/18/00
to
In article <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>,

Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
>were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
>hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?

"Dude! Got ID? *r0cked*!"

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

Joachim Froholt

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Nov 18, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/18/00
to
> DESERT HEAT wasn't as egregious, but like I said, I did find myself
> turned off at seeing the Arab world reduced to harems and seraglios.
> Obviously I'm not saying that the author set out to slam anyone's
> ethnicity. But the game did strike me as belonging to the same vein as
> stories that depict Africa as full of spear-chucking savages or the
> South Pacific as full of cannibals waiting to toss explorers into a
> pot. Are these caricatures made up from whole cloth? Maybe not, but
> they're still caricatures.

Don't forget all the stories which depict the vikings as barbarians who,
when they were not dead drunk, spent all their time maiming and mangling
each other (and unfortunate bystanders, such as the poor europeans), when
they were, in fact, skilled craftsmen, traders and artists.

Hmm.. come to think of it... I don't really find that these stories turn me
off at all... ;-)

Sure, I see that they don't give a proper image of my ancestors, but I
realize that this is what most people associate with the Vikings. Just like
harems are something which most people associate with the Arab world. When
an author decides to write a fantasy story involving Vikings or Arabs,
he/she will have to pick some aspects of the selected culture which he/she
wants to use in his/her story. As long as the story is not supposed to be a
serious portrayal of the culture (and the fact that there's magic in Desert
Heat should tell most players that "if you're interested in a realistic
view of the Arab world, look elsewhere"), there's no point in drowning the
story in lots of details which most readers would find boring anyway
(that's not to say that I find ancient cultures boring, but I'd probably
like to concentrate on the story instead of the culture).

As for Desert Heat, I found it to be lots of fun, and if I were a judge in
the comp, it would probably have received an eight from me.

Joachim

Richard Bos

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Nov 20, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/20/00
to
ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:

> In article <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>,
> Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
> >Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
> >were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
> >hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?
>
> "Dude! Got ID? *r0cked*!"

Did it? Hm, beg to disagree.

Richard

Adam J. Thornton

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Nov 20, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/20/00
to
In article <3a193405....@news.worldonline.nl>,

Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:
>> In article <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>,
>> Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>> >Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
>> >were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
>> >hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?
>> "Dude! Got ID? *r0cked*!"
>Did it? Hm, beg to disagree.

I guess, really, I agree with your disagreement, but it *is* pretty much
"a game in which all USAliens etc."

Marc Valhara

unread,
Nov 21, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/21/00
to

Adam J. Thornton wrote in message <8vcdss$6iu$1...@cnn.Princeton.EDU>...
>In article <3a193405....@news.worldonline.nl>,

>Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>>ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:
>>> In article <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>,
>>> Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>>> >Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all
USAliens
>>> >were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
>>> >hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?
>>> "Dude! Got ID? *r0cked*!"
>>Did it? Hm, beg to disagree.

God, I need a beer, or there's no way my hands will be steady enough to
shoot any hippies tonight...


mv/em/ph

>
>I guess, really, I agree with your disagreement, but it *is* pretty much

>"a game in which all USAliens etc."

Richard Bos

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Nov 21, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/21/00
to
ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:

> In article <3a193405....@news.worldonline.nl>,


> Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
> >ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:

> >> In article <3a141c2e....@news.worldonline.nl>,
> >> Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
> >> >Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
> >> >were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
> >> >hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?
> >> "Dude! Got ID? *r0cked*!"

> >Did it? Hm, beg to disagree.
>

> I guess, really, I agree with your disagreement, but it *is* pretty much

> "a game in which all USAliens etc."

Yup. And IMO, it wasn't funny. If I'd been a USAlien, I might have been
insulted; not being one, I can't tell.

Richard

Stephen Rogers

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Nov 26, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/26/00
to

Richard Bos wrote:
>
> ti...@eniac.stanford.edu (Tina) wrote:
>
> > In article <3A139D...@adamcadre.ac>,
> > Adam Cadre <re...@adamcadre.ac> wrote:

> > >DESERT HEAT wasn't as egregious, but like I said, I did find myself
> > >turned off at seeing the Arab world reduced to harems and seraglios.

> [snip]


> > > Are these caricatures made up from whole cloth? Maybe not, but
> > >they're still caricatures.
> >

> > I think that rather than 'caricature', the word you should be thinking
> > is 'archetype'. It's true that it's an archetype that is based on a
> > world vision that is not entirely accurate. It's also true it's based on
> > one people find romantic and adventurous. In other words, I doubt there
> > was any prejudice behind the Wild Arabian Archetypes; I think that it
> > wasn't meant to be terribly realistic, but rather to capture a certain
> > once-very-popular style.
>

> Maybe not, but OTOH, how would you react to a game in which all USAliens
> were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
> hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?
>

I'd laugh.

Alexander Deubelbeiss

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Nov 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/27/00
to

Stephen Rogers schrieb in Nachricht <3A219D55...@home.com>...
>
>
>Richard Bos wrote:
>>
>>[...] how would you react to a game in which all USAliens

>> were portrayed as either gun-toting, booze-guzzling rednecks, or as
>> hippies straight from 60s California, or as Amish?
>>
>
>I'd laugh.

Tee hee hee. I just saw "Mars Attacks" on tv yesterday - is that about what
you're thinking of?


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