[Comp99] My Reviews

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L. Ross Raszewski

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Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
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Like before, I'm posting my thoughts on the competition and specific
reviews in short form (though perhaps longer than in the past)
I've refrained from putting down the specific scores I gave out, but
I'll say this much: I gave out no 10s and only one 1.

I also have refrained from saying things like "I hope this author
will keep writing, because (s)he shows promise for future endeavours",
because I feel this way about most of the authors this year,
so it would only serve to point out the (very) few about whom I'm not
so optimistic.

Overall impression:

Well, it's not good. In years past, I have hated a few games, and had a
definate favorite --- a game I really just loved; Babel in '97 and
Photopia in '98. This year, I didn't give out any 10s; no game really
inspired any great love in me. Only a few games inspired any great hate
either; I just wasn't interested in most of them. Quite a few games were
unplayably buggy. Thsi is nothing new; I've already ranted that
"If you feel the need to note that you write this game just to learn
the language, you shouldn't be entering it." What I saw this year was a lot
of games that were just plain dull.

Side note: A couple of inform games this year used color. This is cool and
all, but I'm not sure if any interpreters can regenerate the color on a
restore. However, you can trap the return from save to tell if a
successful restore just happened -- this is a good place to reinitialize the
colors, screen model, etc.


1: "Guard Duty"
Okay, look. If you're going to write a game with a standard IF programming
language, don't use a beta version. Okay, look. If you're going to write
a game with a beta version of a standard IF language, make sure it works.
Okay, look. If you're going to writer a game with a standard IF language in
beta and you're not willing to test it, don't enter it in the competition.

I wanted to play this, I really did, even though, quite frankly, I'm
not usually excited about a .Z8 comp game. But within the first few moves,
I found the game utterly unplayable.
The game has the air of "This is my big project, and it's not quite done,
but what the hell, maybe I'll win a few prizes if I enter it." Don't.

2: "Death To My Enemies"
Fun, but not fun enough. Lots of awkwardness about the puzzles and writing.
More in-jokes than substance.

3: "Strangers in the Night"
After two not-very-memorable games, I got to this one. It was good.
It was fun. It was not great, but I liked it. My major gripe is that a
time limit was imposed, which was plenty big enough aside from the fact that
it had such an annoying stretch of geometry to navigate. I don't draw maps
when I play a game, so a game where the map is too big for me to keep straight
in my head has got some geometry issues.

4: "L.U.D.I.T.E."
After about 10 moves, I ran out of thigns to do. Rybread's writing was
surprisingly well done, in a technical sense, but there didn't seem to be
anythign to this game.

5: "On The Farm"
Fun. Some of the puzzles were annoying, and I'm not thrilled with the
built-in hint system -- seems that in light of HTMLTads, better could be
done. Still, I liked it, but it wasnt' tremendously memorable.

6: "Outsided"
You know, cyberpunk writing just doesn't do it for me. Seems like story
after story is just so much nuyen, street-samauri, and amazingly complex
means of killing people. This is a cyberpunk game. It had good moments,
but the plot was sort of thin, the puzzles were sort of thin, and
a lot of things didn't make much sense.

7: "The HeBGB Horror!"
The engine for this game was so awkward that I really couldn't get anywhere,
and the game didn't inspire me enough to stick with it. I assme this was
meant to be some sort of lovecraftian-horror thing, though I didn't really
get far enough to be sure. I have most of the same issues with lovecrafitan
horror that I do with cyberpunk.

8: "Stone Cell"
Didn't grab me. Nothing really wrong that I noticed, just not really
noteworthy.

9: "Exhibition"
This game, I liked. At least, I liked the concept. The utter lack of plot
and generally "stateless" nature of it made me wonder if this wasn't really
a poor use of the interactive medium. Could have been done just as well
as static fiction.

10: "Skyranch"
Bored me silly. Seemed to have some planetfall-knockoff element to it.
I felt uninspired to perform the actions that the game wanted, and then
uninspired to perform any actions in the game.

11: "Thorfinn's Realm"
Kind of neat. Has a lot of the old-school element to it -- random items
thrown together despire their poor-fit in the environment (though this
is explained to some extent by the game itself) Also, eeagh! limited
battery puzzle!

12: "Spodgeville Murphy and The Jewelled Eye of Wossname"
Yes! The climax of an indiana jones-style adventure. Really liked it, but
there were more than a fair number of technical flimsy-points, most notably
guess-the-verb puzzles.

13: "For A Change"
This was a neat little game that centered around the unorthodox language
in which it's written. The thing about writing in exceptionally flowery
language for an effect is that the effect might well be "annoyance". Still,
my only real problem with the game was how random the puzzles seemed.

14: "Beat the Devil"
Outright fun. Smacks of Mimesis, Fire Witch, and any number of other
hell-based games. It's pretty schlocky in terms of implementing things
not nessecary to the beatign of the game. If it's here, it's part of a puzzle
is the underlying philosophy. Still, it's well worth playing.

15: "Hunter, in Darkness"
Not fun. Compass directions are disabled for the sake of mimesis, I think,
and that pisses me off. I died qutie a few times, and was unable to work out a
solution to the early puzzles of the game. SO I gave up.

16: "Music Education"
Um. Left no real impression on me. Seemed to be your average school-romp,
without anythign really exciting.

17: "The Water Bird"
Unplayable buggy.

18: "SNOSAE"
Random puzzle game that made no sense. Awkward, often sarcastic parser. No
fun at all.

19: "A Day for Soft Food"
Just didn't care for it. Nothing wrong per se, just didn't get me. But then,
neither did ABNO at the time.


20: "Pass the Banana"
One big IFmud injoke. But it didn't pretend to be anything else. I liked it.
By the way, where the hell did all these Giant Faming heads come from this
year?

21: "King Arthur's Night Out"
Wretched parser in a game that is silly, but not in the fun way.

22: "Four Seconds"
I liked this game mostly. Toward the end, it seems to descend into stock
sci-fi-horror motif, but it's still a good game. Most major annoyance was
the poor spelling.

23: "Jacks or better to murder, Aces to win."
Oh, this was fun. I managed to work through most of the puzzles with no
help, and there was just about enough backstory to make be "believe" the world
I was in.

24: "Calliope"
This was a pretty good game. If I can fault it for a single thing, it's
just that there wasn't much to it.

25: "Chicks Dig Jerks"
Um. This game started off as a fairly straightforward hit-on-the-opposite-sex
game, but halfway through, it changed, for no apparant reason, to a
lovecraft-style horror thing. If this was resolved at the end, I don't know,
since there was some really bad technical problems with the event triggers --
some went off twice, some not at all. I wasn't able to solve it by starting
with the walkthrough when I got stuck, since the triggers had all misfired,
and I was in no mood to replay from the beginning for that. Lots of
important objects in the text were not implemented (or, more likely, not
mvoed to their proper locations due to the broken triggers).

26: "Bliss"
Started out okay, but at the end it turned into some sort of philisophical
statement. THe ending was unpleasant for effect, but then, I play games
for enjoyment, and if the ending I get has been successful in its attempt to
make me unhappy, it's still made me unhappy.

27: "Halothane"
I liked Halothane, though it did have a few technical problems.
The explanation for why the last scenes were prompted by the first was
sort of fuzzy.

28: "Lunatix"
First, writing about people suffering from mental disorders in this way is
probably going to insult a lot of people. Fortunately, I'm not one of those
people. The interface was sort of neat-looking, but it seemed to be so much
work to get anything done. I gave up after a while. This game especially
has the feel of belonging to Ye Olde Days of IF.

29: "Lomalow"
I just plain didn't like it. It sts itself up like a puzzle game, though the
author says from the outset, it's just a game of asking X about Y, which is
roughly tantamount to one long guess-the-verb game.

30: "A Moment of Hope"
Okay. Confession. About a year ago, I went absolutely out of my mind for
reasons fairly similar to what the protagonist of Hope goes through, so
I could empathize with the hero. On the other hand, it's something that I
really really don't like being made to relive. I declined the offer to
betatest this game for exactly that reason. I also have a special affinity
for this subject, and so I get a rather pointed impression that no game could
really express this subject adequately.

31: "Chaos"
Great SuperVillain style game, but the SuperVillain doesn't... irm... do
anything SuperVillain-y. This was essentially a playing-with-things game,
and it was pretty good at it. The whole game is written in the third person,
but I don't have any sense of "why".

32: "Remembrance"
Web-based game... Hum. Because of the style of narrative, it turned into a
guess-the-word game early on, and playing the game seemed to be a matter of
fidning the right verb (you're given a choice of no more than three) and
typing the right object. Not a bad story, but is it IF?

33: "Erehwon"
A little way into the game, I had to shut down the interpreter to free
up some memory for somthing else. I felt no compulsion to start it back up.

34: "Life on Beal Street"
This isn't a game in the IF sense. It's essentially a story written by
a random number generator. Not a bad story, but definately a bad game.

35: "Six Stories"
Six stories was fun. However... Well, first, compass directions are
disallowed. A good reason is given eventually, but it doesn't make my having
to navigate by relative direction any less annoying. Also, as a result,
directions aren't very useful; in one point, I foudn htat waling forward
and backward repeatedly eventually got me to soemwhere new.

Also, this game isn't too substantive; it seems like it's just one long stream
of "Look how neat multimedia is!!!!" It's essentially a game written as
an excuse to show off HTML-Tads's capabilites. On the other hand, they
are some pretty neat capabilities.


36: "Only After Dark"
Um... What to say. The game is basically three pretty linear scenes, with
about a puzzle a piece. Might be interesting as a scene in a longer game
(I kept thinking that it might work as a flashback in a Gabriel Knight-style
game) but as a standalone, not too impressive.


37: "Winter Wonderland"
This was a good game to end on; after so many games I didn't like early on,
I all but lost faith. Winter Wonderland is a fun game. Even the puzzles
were fun. I only have one real complaint:
Mazes.
There are two in Winter Wonderland -- one named as such, and one not.
The first, I wasn't bothered by; it was essentially a puzzle to find the non-
wandering-around-the-maze solution.
The other was a series of almost identical rooms in which the automapper was
totally useless. It took me quite a while to find a key location in the maze,
and I was usually lost. This maze just plain bugged me. All the points I
docked from Winter Wonderland's score were due to this maze.


--
"The sun has gone down and the moon has come up, and long ago somebody left
with the cup. But he's striving and drving, and hugging the turns, and thinking
of someone for whom he still burns." -- Cake

Mike Snyder

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Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
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>28: "Lunatix"
>First, writing about people suffering from mental disorders in this way is
>probably going to insult a lot of people. Fortunately, I'm not one of
those
>people. The interface was sort of neat-looking, but it seemed to be so
much
>work to get anything done. I gave up after a while. This game especially
>has the feel of belonging to Ye Olde Days of IF.

If at some point you want to give it another go, try LUNATIX /T (text-only)
or even LUNATIX /B (text-only black & white). I wanted to accomodate people
who felt that graphics mode was cumbersome.

Thanks!

Mike.

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
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Just want to point out that "My Reviews" is a particularly ambiguous
choice for a subject line. Heh. Make them distinctive, folks.

--Z

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

Joe Mason

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Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
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L. Ross Raszewski <lras...@hal.suse.de> wrote:
>30: "A Moment of Hope"
>Okay. Confession. About a year ago, I went absolutely out of my mind for
>reasons fairly similar to what the protagonist of Hope goes through, so
>I could empathize with the hero. On the other hand, it's something that I
>really really don't like being made to relive. I declined the offer to
>betatest this game for exactly that reason. I also have a special affinity
>for this subject, and so I get a rather pointed impression that no game could
>really express this subject adequately.

I think this game would have made me run screaming if I'd played it two
years ago (which was a year after MY amazingly-similar-experience happened).
Last year I probably wouldn't have appreciated it very much. This year I
seem to be in a position to enjoy reading about the situation.

Hope that doesn't change any time soon...

Quick poll: anybody like A Moment of Hope who ISN'T the kind of person who's
ever gone nuts because they can't believe the girl of their dreams could
actually like them?

Joe

Craxton

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Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
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> Greg Cooksey <gcoo...@students.wisc.edu> wrote in message

<snip>

0_o

Greg? Greg Cook? Greg "GFS"Cook? Izzat you?


-Craxton
--
"All men are sexual. You'd better get used to it." -May Club
Long Live the Hentai Game!

Greg Cooksey

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Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
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On Tue, 16 Nov 1999 08:41:12, jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) wrote:
>
> Quick poll: anybody like A Moment of Hope who ISN'T the kind of person who's
> ever gone nuts because they can't believe the girl of their dreams could
> actually like them?
>

i enjoyed it, and such a thing ahsn't happened to me. it did a very
good job of getting across the feelings i think i'd have were i in
such a situation.


Craxton

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Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
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Greg Cooksey <gcoo...@students.wisc.edu> wrote in message
news:ikdoKqOFys5C-p...@t-9-180-175.dialup.wisc.edu...

> On Thu, 18 Nov 1999 04:17:01, "Craxton" <cra...@erols.com> wrote:
>
> >
> > > Greg Cooksey <gcoo...@students.wisc.edu> wrote in message
> >
> > <snip>
> >
> > 0_o
> >
> > Greg? Greg Cook? Greg "GFS"Cook? Izzat you?
> >
>
> um, not that i'm aware. i might have been sleep-typing or something i
> suppose.
>

Oh, sorry. Just that I know someone else named Greg Cook.


-Craxton

Adam Cadre

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Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
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> Oh, sorry. Just that I know someone else named Greg Cook.

Am I missing something? This guy's name is not Greg Cook. It is
Greg Cooksey. No?

-----
Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA
http://adamcadre.ac

Greg Cooksey

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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On Thu, 18 Nov 1999 04:17:01, "Craxton" <cra...@erols.com> wrote:

>
> > Greg Cooksey <gcoo...@students.wisc.edu> wrote in message
>
> <snip>
>
> 0_o
>
> Greg? Greg Cook? Greg "GFS"Cook? Izzat you?
>

um, not that i'm aware. i might have been sleep-typing or something i
suppose.

-greg


Marnie Parker

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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>Subject: Re: [Comp99] My Reviews
>From: jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason)
>Date: Tue, 16 November 1999 03:41 AM EST
>Message-id:

>Quick poll: anybody like A Moment of Hope who ISN'T the kind of person who's
>ever gone nuts because they can't believe the girl of their dreams could
>actually like them?

Yeah, me. I am a female. Never asked a guy out for a date.

I wish I had put this in my reviews, I think next year I may hold off on
reviews until I have read some others first, because so many thoughts hit me
later.

My take on A Moment of Hope: it was a daring baring of soul. Truly one of the
more experimential pieces of IF in a long time, because it is so close to real
life. AND... like this or not, I think some of you "guys" out there hated it
because it made you wince because it was TOO REAL LIFE. Recalled past
experiences. I, on the other hand, see it as one of the few pieces of IF that
actually packs an emotional punch.

If it hadn't had a few technical bugs and weak spots I would have rated it
higher, since I tend to look at the work as a whole. But I definitely thought
it was very good puzzleless IF and because of its TRUE emotional honesty, a
much better piece of puzzleless IF than Photopia (the interactivity level being
similiar).

Phew. Said it. Over and out.

Doe :-)


doea...@aol.com -------------------------------------------------
Kingdom of IF - http://members.aol.com/doepage/intfict.htm
Inform Tips - http://members.aol.com/doepage/infotips.htm
IF Art Gallery - http://members.aol.com/iffyart/gallery.htm


Adam Cadre

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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Marnie Parker wrote:
> I definitely thought it was very good puzzleless IF and because of
> its TRUE emotional honesty, a much better piece of puzzleless IF than
> Photopia (the interactivity level being similiar).

I have no problem if you thought A Moment of Hope was better than
Photopia. Takes all kinds, etc.

However, this sentence, as I read it, implies that Photopia was
emotionally dishonest. That I, perhaps, don't have the right to
the emotions expressed therein.

I take serious exception to that.

Am I misreading? Please explain.

Eric Mayer

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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On 19 Nov 1999 10:19:06 GMT, doea...@aol.com (Marnie Parker) wrote:

>
>If it hadn't had a few technical bugs and weak spots I would have rated it

>higher, since I tend to look at the work as a whole. But I definitely thought


>it was very good puzzleless IF and because of its TRUE emotional honesty, a
>much better piece of puzzleless IF than Photopia (the interactivity level being
>similiar).


A little quibble here, possibly just because it is a kind of
hobbyhorse of mine. But I'm not sure what is meant by "true" emotional
honesty. I very often run into the idea that somehow a piece of
fiction gains its legitmacy from how closely it sticks to the facts of
the writer's life, often expressed in terms of "it has to be good
because, well, that's the way it really was." But fiction really is a
contrivance. The writer can draw on the elements of his/her life but
usually has to do a lot of manipulation to make personal experience
accessible to those who didn't share it. The question really isn't
whether it is true or not true, whatever that means, to the writer but
simply whether it feels true to the reader. If it feels contrived to
the reader, well that is another issue entirely.
--
Eric Mayer
Web Site: <http://home.epix.net/~maywrite>
=====================================================
co-author of ONE FOR SORROW
A "John the Eunuch" mystery from Poisoned Pen Press
<http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/html/sorrow.html>
=====================================================
"The map is not the territory." -- Alfred Korzybski

edr...@my-deja.com

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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In article <19991119051906...@ng-fw1.aol.com>,

doea...@aol.com (Marnie Parker) wrote:
> >Subject: Re: [Comp99] My Reviews
> >From: jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason)
> >Date: Tue, 16 November 1999 03:41 AM EST
> >Message-id:
>
> My take on A Moment of Hope: it was a daring baring of soul. Truly
> one of the more experimential pieces of IF in a long time, because it
> is so close to real life. AND... like this or not, I think some of
> you "guys" out there hated it because it made you wince because it
> was TOO REAL LIFE. Recalled past experiences. I, on the other hand,
> see it as one of the few pieces of IF that actually packs an
> emotional punch.

I'll tell you why I wasn't all that crazy about "Moment of Hope."

It is, indeed, very Real To Life. I had no trouble at all relating to
the protagonist, since I myself have been down that road more than
once. (And probably farther down it than he has; I noticed no incidents
of public drunkenness in "Moment," which is, I'm tempted to say, a damn
shame. Hey, there's nothing like getting smashed on tequila and
screaming your unrequited love into the night sky to clear out the old
dating angst.)

So, uh, like I said, I've been there.

But I've also grown up since then. So, I wager, have a lot of people on
this newsgroup. Other people may still have these sorts of problems,
and I do sympathize with them, but that doesn't change the essential
fact that what those people need to do is grow up.

I know it isn't ever easy. It wasn't for me. But there it is.

What this essential fact meant for me, playing this game, is that
although I could readily identify with the protagonist, I was unable to
take his plight very seriously. It just didn't bother me at all. I
think I would have liked the game a lot more if it HAD bothered me.
There was no emotional punch, just a sort of bemused sympathy and the
wish that I could communicate with this poor kid. I kept typing things
like LIGHTEN UP, GUY, and WHY DON'T YOU GO SEE A MOVIE?, and SEE, IF
YOU'D JUST LEARN TO DEAL WITH YOUR FEELINGS HONESTLY INSTEAD OF
TRUSTING THIS CYBER-EQUIVALENT TO 10TH-GRADE NOTE PASSING, YOU WOULDN'T
BE IN THIS FIX. But the poor sap just kept punching his pillow, and
wouldn't listen.

It was no trouble understanding why the protagonist was so scared of
dialing the phone, or writing an e-mail, or whatever, but in no way did
the game make *me* feel scared of it. It was hard to even play along. I
gleefully typed KISS GIRL when he walked by that gaggle in the hallway
by the gym, thinking, "Hee-hee, this'll freak him out! Probably do him
some good, too."

In the end, what kept me from really enjoying this game was the fact
that, for all his whinging, there was nothing really at stake for this
boy other than a certain amount of emotional embarassment, which is a
lesson he's going to have to live through sooner or later anyway. The
resolution, when it came, brought no sense of satisfaction or
accomplishment -- our hero discovers that, by pure luck, he managed to
avoid the embarassing consequences of a situation that his own
immaturity got him into in the first place. Gee, close call. Next time
try passing notes.

So, I'm not taking issue with the assertion that this game strikes
close to home. It undoubtedly strikes *very* close to home. But I
didn't dislike it because it made me uncomfortable. I disliked it
because it *didn't* make me uncomfortable. I disliked it because its
subject matter just isn't worth getting uncomfortable over, anymore.

If this work is, as many people are theorizing, autobiographical, I
would advise the author of an old writing saw: just because it's your
life, that don't make it interesting. (I should know; not only have I
been down that road, but I've also tried writing about it. Trust me,
friend, it ALWAYS sucks.)

And: I don't know who Anna really is, but writing an IF-comp about her
is a lousy way of getting her attention. And she'll probably miss the
point.

-Mike Gentry


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

Fraser

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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paene lacrimavi postquam re...@adamcadre.ac scripsit:

>Am I missing something? This guy's name is not Greg Cook. It is
>Greg Cooksey. No?

Touching on that Australian theme again, not that it's particularly
relevent. A characteristic of Australian slang is the art of turning
perfectly reasonable names into names with an 'ee' sound and an
exclamation mark on the end.

Hence, Boon goes to Boonie!, Warne goes to Warnie!, Farnham goes
to Farnsy! and Cook would quite frequently go to Cooksey!

My last name is Wilson, so my brother and his wife are referred
to by certain friends as "The Willows." That's a slightly upmarket
version of the same idea.

It's not necessarily something we're proud of.

Fraser.

Mike Snyder

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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<edr...@my-deja.com> wrote in message news:814df0$8gh$1...@nnrp1.deja.com...

> But I've also grown up since then. So, I wager, have a lot of people on
> this newsgroup. Other people may still have these sorts of problems,
> and I do sympathize with them, but that doesn't change the essential
> fact that what those people need to do is grow up.
>
> I know it isn't ever easy. It wasn't for me. But there it is.

---- spoiler space ----
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I played "A Moment of Hope" for the first time last night. Like you, there
was a time when I could relate to the PC too, although her name was Kandi. I
was probably about the same age as the PC. Understanding why he does what he
does is very easy. It's easy to have low self esteem (and that's what it
boils down to) and feel uncomfortable around the opposite sex (are they
staring at me? are they laughing about me? will anybody *ever* like me?)

I'm a totally different person today (in my late 20's). Now I feel
completely the opposite. I don't worry about "will I ever get a date"
because I'm almost jaded on the subject. This didn't stop me from enjoying
the game though. I think it might have packed more punch if it had been
written in the 1st person instead of 2nd, because of its nature. I would
rather help the PC than be him. Still, I really enjoyed the game. I didn't
see the PC as a loser (as some have indicated) -- just a lonely, insecure
guy hoping for a lucky break.

Unfortunately, the PC missed the point about Anna. She doesn't care that
she's still confused on who "likes" her. She's probably damned near ecstatic
that so many *do*. To the point, she's very shallow. She has a lot of
growing up to do. There are people who could have explained to the PC what
had happened without making him feel like a creep, and Anna isn't one of
those people. I do think, farther down the road, she'll grow up and express
her thoughts with more tact. She might think the PC is a toad and that's her
right, but a little maturity would help her.

Like many, this has the markings of a true story. If it's completely
fictional (and especially if the author is nothing like the PC) then this
game could be considered (at least by me) *extraordinary* instead of just
pretty good. If it's a true story, I wish the author much luck, but do your
best to look past Anna. She's not the one.

Mike.

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
On Fri, 19 Nov 1999 20:54:58 GMT, edr...@my-deja.com <edr...@my-deja.com>
wrote:

>
>It is, indeed, very Real To Life. I had no trouble at all relating to
>the protagonist, since I myself have been down that road more than
>once. (And probably farther down it than he has; I noticed no incidents
>of public drunkenness in "Moment," which is, I'm tempted to say, a damn
>shame. Hey, there's nothing like getting smashed on tequila and
>screaming your unrequited love into the night sky to clear out the old
>dating angst.)
>

You know, I'd have thought that I'm the only person who would ever say this,
but you're damned right.

>
>What this essential fact meant for me, playing this game, is that
>although I could readily identify with the protagonist, I was unable to
>take his plight very seriously. It just didn't bother me at all. I
>think I would have liked the game a lot more if it HAD bothered me.
>There was no emotional punch, just a sort of bemused sympathy and the
>wish that I could communicate with this poor kid. I kept typing things
>like LIGHTEN UP, GUY, and WHY DON'T YOU GO SEE A MOVIE?, and SEE, IF
>YOU'D JUST LEARN TO DEAL WITH YOUR FEELINGS HONESTLY INSTEAD OF
>TRUSTING THIS CYBER-EQUIVALENT TO 10TH-GRADE NOTE PASSING, YOU WOULDN'T
>BE IN THIS FIX. But the poor sap just kept punching his pillow, and
>wouldn't listen.
>

Which, come to think of it, is exactly what the majority of people in that
situation would have done if you'd said it to them in real life.

>
>So, I'm not taking issue with the assertion that this game strikes
>close to home. It undoubtedly strikes *very* close to home. But I
>didn't dislike it because it made me uncomfortable. I disliked it
>because it *didn't* make me uncomfortable. I disliked it because its
>subject matter just isn't worth getting uncomfortable over, anymore.

Lucky fellow. As you said, you've been in this place before, and if you
managed to get out of it purely by a force of will, you're a person of
a much more powerful will than I am.


--
"It's a strange world; it's a very strange world, that leaves me holding on to
nothing when there's nothing left to lose." -- Sarah McLachlan

Adam Cadre

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
I wrote:
> However, this sentence, as I read it, implies that Photopia was
> emotionally dishonest. That I, perhaps, don't have the right to
> the emotions expressed therein.
>
> I take serious exception to that.
>
> Am I misreading? Please explain.

Marnie Parker wrote:
> Yes and no. Wanna corknut? Awwk!

So let's see here. You accuse me of emotional dishonesty -- knowing
nothing of my life, mind you -- and then when I am wounded by your
accusation and ask you to please explain why you've randomly decided
to hurt me, you mock me with nonsense.

Wow, you're a splendid human being.

Adam Cadre

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Fraser Wilson wrote:
> My last name is Wilson, so my brother and his wife are referred
> to by certain friends as "The Willows." That's a slightly upmarket
> version of the same idea.

Right, right, but you're not registered at your university as
"Fraser Willow". This wasn't a case of a guy signing his message
"Cooksey" -- it's a case of his login being gcooksey and his chfn,
which is usually determined by the registrar's office, saying his
name was "Greg Cooksey".

Adam Cadre

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Anson Turner wrote:
> Am I misreading? Please explain.

Fine. An explanation.

Marnie Parker wrote:
> But I definitely thought it was very good puzzleless IF and because
> of its TRUE emotional honesty, a much better piece of puzzleless IF

> than Photopia [...]

If A Moment of Hope is contrasted to Photopia because of its TRUE
emotional honesty, it stands to reason that Photopia stands accused
of UNTRUE emotional honesty, or rather, emotional dishonesty. That
the emotions expressed don't come from the heart.

I've been accused of being "deliberately manipulative," whatever that
might mean. If it means that I set out to elicit certain feelings,
then yes, I did. That is, in large part, what art is.

I've been accused elsewhere of "sucker-punching" the audience, by
inventing a situation where strong emotions are too easily evoked,
and this angers people.

Why?

When words like "manipulative" and "manipulation" get tossed about,
I can only conclude that people feel like they've been toyed with,
that I have them at some sort of disadvantage. But if you don't want
to feel, why experience art? Again, I look at the situation, and at
terms like "honesty" being batted about with the implication that I
am deficient in this arena, and I can only conclude that people feel I
don't have the right to those emotions, that I'm poking around in
people's hearts for my own amusement.

I do have a right to these emotions.

My little sister died for no good reason, and it was entirely
preventable but for the irresponsibility of certain people.

I think about this every hour of every day.

I write a letter to her every night. I have thousands of the things.

I could have written a game about this. But I'm not looking for
sympathy. I didn't want people to say, "Aw, too bad for that guy."

I was looking for empathy. I wanted people to feel a little of how
I feel.

Conveying emotion -- not describing it, but making others feel it,
even through a different mechanism from the way you came to feel it --
is a big part of what art is.

And the best engine for this is often not straight autobiography.
If I didn't feel that fiction can often tell the real truth better than
non-fiction, I wouldn't write it.

So tell me that you're uncomfortable with the emotions expressed, or
that they're inartfully conveyed, or what have you. Heck, these are
things I said about A Moment of Hope. That's fair.

But don't you DARE tell me that they're not true. Don't you DARE.

And don't drop this sort of emotional bomb on me, and then when I
summon up the reserve to ask for clarification rather than simply
lashing back, make fun of me and tell me to lighten up.

Don't watch this emotional bomb get dropped on me, then condenscendingly
chime in that I'm having a bad day.

Most of you don't know me. Only a small handful of people even know
more than a tiny sliver of my work, and most of them aren't reading
this message. But there's a natural tendency to extrapolate out from
what you know, and think you've got me figured out.

I am not your extrapolation of me. I am a person.

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
>Subject: "TRUE emotional honesty"? (was [Comp99] My Reviews)
>From: Adam Cadre a...@adamcadre.ac
>Date: Fri, 19 November 1999 08:54 AM EST

>Am I misreading? Please explain.

Yes and no. Wanna corknut? Awwk!

Doe :-)

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Comp99] My Reviews
>From: edr...@my-deja.com
>Date: Fri, 19 November 1999 03:54 PM EST
>Message-id:

>What this essential fact meant for me, playing this game, is that
>although I could readily identify with the protagonist, I was unable to
>take his plight very seriously. It just didn't bother me at all. I
>think I would have liked the game a lot more if it HAD bothered me.
>There was no emotional punch, just a sort of bemused sympathy and the
>wish that I could communicate with this poor kid. I kept typing things
>like LIGHTEN UP, GUY, and WHY DON'T YOU GO SEE A MOVIE?, and SEE, IF
>YOU'D JUST LEARN TO DEAL WITH YOUR FEELINGS HONESTLY INSTEAD OF
>TRUSTING THIS CYBER-EQUIVALENT TO 10TH-GRADE NOTE PASSING, YOU WOULDN'T
>BE IN THIS FIX. But the poor sap just kept punching his pillow, and
>wouldn't listen.

Nice to see you around again, Mike.

You weren't bothered, it had n-o emotional punch and you were yelling at him TO
LIGHTEN UP and GO SEE A MOVIE?

Just out of curiosity, what do you do when you ARE bothered?

Hehehe.

Doe :-) (Way to go, Simmon.)

Joe Mason

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
>Marnie Parker wrote:
>> Yes and no. Wanna corknut? Awwk!
>
>So let's see here. You accuse me of emotional dishonesty -- knowing
>nothing of my life, mind you -- and then when I am wounded by your
>accusation and ask you to please explain why you've randomly decided
>to hurt me, you mock me with nonsense.
>
>Wow, you're a splendid human being.

Ok, rgiffers, lets all be very quiet and try not to disturb Adam. He's been
having a bad day.

Joe

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
>Subject: Re: "TRUE emotional honesty"? (was [Comp99] My Reviews)
>From: jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason)
>Date: Sat, 20 November 1999 12:13 AM EST

Sheesh, Adam (this is to Adam). Now you are definitely reading things into
things.

Okay, I said last year I found your game deliberately manipulative. Why would
my opinion have changed since then?

Whereas Simmon bared his soul.

Now as Mike wanted to yell at the character in A Moment, LIGHTEN UP.

Or eat a corknut.

Doe :-) Sorry I broke my cardinal rule of ever referring to any of your games
even in passing ever again. I just felt Simmon seriously bothered a LOT of
people and that emotional impact got discounted.

Dan Schmidt

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
doea...@aol.com (Marnie Parker) writes:

| > I kept typing things like LIGHTEN UP, GUY, and WHY DON'T YOU GO
| > SEE A MOVIE?, and SEE, IF YOU'D JUST LEARN TO DEAL WITH YOUR
| > FEELINGS HONESTLY INSTEAD OF TRUSTING THIS CYBER-EQUIVALENT TO
| > 10TH-GRADE NOTE PASSING, YOU WOULDN'T BE IN THIS FIX. But the poor
| > sap just kept punching his pillow, and wouldn't listen.
|
| Nice to see you around again, Mike.
|
| You weren't bothered, it had n-o emotional punch and you were
| yelling at him TO LIGHTEN UP and GO SEE A MOVIE?
|
| Just out of curiosity, what do you do when you ARE bothered?
|
| Hehehe.

Capital letters are often used to denote player input, and don't imply
yelling, I think.

--
Dan Schmidt | http://www.dfan.org

Russell Wallace

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
Adam Cadre wrote:
> I've been accused of being "deliberately manipulative," whatever that
> might mean. If it means that I set out to elicit certain feelings,
> then yes, I did. That is, in large part, what art is.
>
> I've been accused elsewhere of "sucker-punching" the audience, by
> inventing a situation where strong emotions are too easily evoked,
> and this angers people.
>
> Why?
>
> When words like "manipulative" and "manipulation" get tossed about,
> I can only conclude that people feel like they've been toyed with,
> that I have them at some sort of disadvantage. But if you don't want
> to feel, why experience art?

With that, I agree as far as it goes. Any work of art with any depth
tries (whether consciously or unconsciously on the author's behalf) to
manipulate the reader's emotions one way or another.

(I've been known on occasion to criticize authors for doing things like
"killing off characters purely for the tear-jerk value" - Melanie Rawn
and Terry Goodkind are at the top of my list of offenders on that one.
But my intent when I make that criticism is that the author is trying to
do it too cheaply - essentially asking us to take his word for it that
something is worth getting upset about, rather than showing us why it is
so.)

I think I'm the only person who actually hated Photopia, but it
certainly wasn't due to perceived lack of emotional honesty - on the
contrary, I'd put it in the top 1% of works of art in terms of emotional
content. It's simply that I found the value negative rather than
positive. Like everyone, I want to feel some things and not others; and
people differ in what goes in which category. I agree with you that
terms like "honesty" and "manipulative" aren't very useful in this
context; Photopia is no more or less manipulative than, say, the ending
of I-0, which is one of my most treasured moments in IF.

> My little sister died for no good reason, and it was entirely
> preventable but for the irresponsibility of certain people.

I'm very sorry to hear that.

(I didn't realize Photopia was that close to autobiography, though it
was obvious to me that you had encountered those emotions at some point,
in some situation.)

--
"To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem."
Russell Wallace
mano...@iol.ie

Elise Stone

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
edr...@my-deja.com wrote:

> But I've also grown up since then. So, I wager, have a lot of people on
> this newsgroup. Other people may still have these sorts of problems,
> and I do sympathize with them, but that doesn't change the essential

> fact that what those people need to do is grow up..

.
.

> So, I'm not taking issue with the assertion that this game strikes
> close to home. It undoubtedly strikes *very* close to home. But I
> didn't dislike it because it made me uncomfortable. I disliked it
> because it *didn't* make me uncomfortable. I disliked it because its
> subject matter just isn't worth getting uncomfortable over, anymore.
>

I've been trying to think of a way to phrase my reaction to this game that
didn't sound like a put-down of youth. Thanks, Mike, for saying if for me.

--
Elise Stone | mxw...@attglobal.net

"And the sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep
brings dreams of home." - Christopher Columbus

Quentin.D.Thompson

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
In article <38365D...@iol.ie>,

Erm....pardon me if I sound like a stiff-upper-lip snob, but I think that's
reading just a _little_ too much into one slightly thoughtless word. I've
seen that happen quite often, and nothing constructive ever comes of it. For
all we know, A Moment of Hope might not include a single element of
autobiography, in spite of its "Anna" dedication: he could merely have chosen
the name because it meant something to him. I do the same thing all the time
(with my pseudonym, some of my NPC names, etc.) Anyway. I don't think one
sentence can be construed as a personal attack on all you and/or Photopia
stand for.

- Quentin.D.Thompson
(who was roasted for insincere writing as well :-D)
Lord High Executioner

Adam Cadre

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
Ravi Rajkumar wrote:
> For all we know, A Moment of Hope might not include a single element
> of autobiography

No, the author spent an awful lot of time telling us all about it on
the MUD as it was happening. The game came later. So far as I can
tell, there are no divergences between the real story and the story
in the game.

I suppose it's possible that the pre-game angst sessions were some
sort of performance art meant to make half a dozen of us think his
upcoming work was non-fictional. I find this really unlikely, though.

Suzanne Skinner

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
Let me see if I can calm down long enough to sum things up...

Adam:

>However, this sentence, as I read it, implies that Photopia was
>emotionally dishonest. That I, perhaps, don't have the right to
>the emotions expressed therein.
>
>I take serious exception to that.
>

>Am I misreading? Please explain.

Doe:

>Yes and no. Wanna corknut? Awwk!

Joe Mason:

>Ok, rgiffers, lets all be very quiet and try not to disturb Adam. He's been
>having a bad day.

Doe again:

>Sheesh, Adam (this is to Adam). Now you are definitely reading things into
>things.
>Okay, I said last year I found your game deliberately manipulative. Why would
>my opinion have changed since then?
>Whereas Simmon bared his soul.
>Now as Mike wanted to yell at the character in A Moment, LIGHTEN UP.
>Or eat a corknut.

Here's a quiz, boys and girls. When someone is upset about something you
(or someone else) said, do you...

A. Dismiss this person's feelings via sly, oh-so-cool ifMUD in-jokes?
B. Act condescending?
C. Lay on more of the same?
D. Actually try to understand *why* what you said was upsetting?
(HINT: read the Photopia FAQ or Adam's last posting) Or would that
require too much thought and be too uncool?

IT'S CALLED TACT. The net does not obviate the need for it.

-Suzanne, fuming

Frisco

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to

>
>Here's a quiz, boys and girls. When someone is upset about something you
>(or someone else) said, do you...
>
> A. Dismiss this person's feelings via sly, oh-so-cool ifMUD in-jokes?
> B. Act condescending?
> C. Lay on more of the same?
> D. Actually try to understand *why* what you said was upsetting?
> (HINT: read the Photopia FAQ or Adam's last posting) Or would that
> require too much thought and be too uncool?
>
>IT'S CALLED TACT. The net does not obviate the need for it.
>
>-Suzanne, fuming

I appreciate your sentiments, and it's certainly not that 2 wrongs make a
right, but the reality is that some of the "elder statesmen" around here
(including Mr. Cadre) have no problems being viscious when it comes to other
people's works.

And you know what, I don't think there's a problem with being candid about
the way you feel about a certain piece of IF. If you're willing to release a
game publicly, then you should be willing to deal with criticism (even the
harsh stuff) in a professional and mature manner. The sad truth is that even
if you produce something as technically sound as Photopia, not everyone will
enjoy your game.

I just think that if you can dish it out, you should be able to take it too.


Sending you all a peace-and-love vibe,


Francesco

Adam Cadre

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
> I just think that if you can dish it out, you should be able to take
> it too.

Sure, but here's the thing. There's an old saying I've heard every
now and again about having one's work critiqued: "Remember, it's just
your work that's being criticized. It's not your soul." I'm reasonably
thick-skinned so long as people confine their comments to the work.
Tell me it fails on any number of levels, tell me it's the worst pile
of crap you've ever encountered, tell me it fills you with indescribable
loathing, tell me whatever you like -- I may disagree with you as to its
merits, but I won't get too upset. You're just attacking the work,
after all.

But tell me that I have no right to feel what I feel, and you're no
longer critiquing my work. You are, explicitly, critiquing my soul.

And that's another matter entirely.

Russell Wallace

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
Frisco wrote:
> And you know what, I don't think there's a problem with being candid about
> the way you feel about a certain piece of IF. If you're willing to release a
> game publicly, then you should be willing to deal with criticism (even the
> harsh stuff) in a professional and mature manner. The sad truth is that even
> if you produce something as technically sound as Photopia, not everyone will
> enjoy your game.

To be sure. (My views on Photopia are on record.)

On the other hand, harsh comments about the author as opposed to the
work are overstepping the line. And IMO someone who posts something of
that nature - or something that can reasonably be misinterpreted that
way - should follow up with an explanation and apology, not dismissal,
when the author is justifiably offended.

Neil Brown

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
In article <816i85$p10$1...@news.igs.net>, Suzanne Skinner
<URL:mailto:tr...@host.ott.igs.net> wrote:

> D. Actually try to understand *why* what you said was upsetting?
> (HINT: read the Photopia FAQ or Adam's last posting) Or would
that
> require too much thought and be too uncool?
>
> IT'S CALLED TACT. The net does not obviate the need for it.
>
> -Suzanne, fuming

I couldn't have put it better myself. Though I was more disappointed
than angry.

--
Neil Brown
ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk
http://www.highmount.demon.co.uk


Matthew T. Russotto

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
In article <816i85$p10$1...@news.igs.net>,

Suzanne Skinner <tr...@host.ott.igs.net> wrote:
}Let me see if I can calm down long enough to sum things up...
[...]

}
}Here's a quiz, boys and girls. When someone is upset about something you
}(or someone else) said, do you...
}
} A. Dismiss this person's feelings via sly, oh-so-cool ifMUD in-jokes?
} B. Act condescending?
} C. Lay on more of the same?
} D. Actually try to understand *why* what you said was upsetting?
} (HINT: read the Photopia FAQ or Adam's last posting) Or would that
} require too much thought and be too uncool?
}
}IT'S CALLED TACT. The net does not obviate the need for it.

The tactful thing to do is to change the subject -- none of the above
apply.

Besides, consider your audience. The net may or may not obviate the
need for tact, but it is also well known for its deficiency thereof.
Complaining about it is pointless.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

LucFrench

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
Adam Cadre wrote:

>But tell me that I have no right to feel what I feel, and you're no
>longer critiquing my work. You are, explicitly, critiquing my soul.
>
>And that's another matter entirely.

She wasn't criticizing your soul.

She was criticizing the fact that Photopia is far too manipulative to be taken
seriously emotionally.

Now, this is all IMHO, but Photopia works initially, but rapidly loses its
power due to its heavy handedness; in other words, no matter how much you, the
author, put into, it can be said to lack depth.

Moment of Hope, from what I can tell of Doe's reasoning, is more "Truthful" in
that its manipulations are all shown up front. From about twelve turns in, you
know you're in for a train ride. And, if I may add in my own interpretation,
Moment could be considered more honest because it sets its ambitions lower.

If I may insert my foot in my mouth, I'd say that Photopia seeks a particular
emotional response; Moment of Hope seeks nothing more then to tell a story and
a reaction. The difference is more important then you might think. I can go on,
if you want, but I don't think you're going to like it much.

Again: Nothing to do with actual emotion, merely to do with method, which
taints the (perceived) honesty of the work.

All right? I'll go back to my hole.

Thanks
Luc "Truth" French

Second April

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
On Sat, 20 Nov 1999, Anson Turner wrote:

> In article <383625...@adamcadre.ac>, re...@adamcadre.ac wrote:
>
> :[Adam Cadre of Sammamish, WA] wrote:
> :> However, this sentence, as I read it, implies that Photopia was


> :> emotionally dishonest. That I, perhaps, don't have the right to
> :> the emotions expressed therein.
> :>
> :> I take serious exception to that.
> :>
> :> Am I misreading? Please explain.

> :
> :Marnie Parker [a.k.a. Doe] wrote:
> :> Yes and no. Wanna corknut? Awwk!
> :
> :So let's see here. You accuse me of emotional dishonesty -- knowing


> :nothing of my life, mind you -- and then when I am wounded by your
> :accusation and ask you to please explain why you've randomly decided
> :to hurt me, you mock me with nonsense.
> :
> :Wow, you're a splendid human being.
>

> Interesting. She failed to put your question in context when she responded
> to it, while you yourself fail to quote the very sentence at issue, in
> which she allegedly accuses you of "emotional dishonesty". And not only
> have you abandoned the possibility that you could have misunderstood her
> (despite her ambiguous answer), you are now willing to assert that she is
> mocking you, when she may simply be trying to change the subject.

Okay, then, I'll quote the sentence, in case anyone really thinks Adam was
trying to distort anything.

Doe wrote:
"But I definitely thought it was very good puzzleless IF and because of
its TRUE emotional honesty, a much better piece of puzzleless IF than

Photopia (the interactivity level being similar)."

There we go. Any light shed? Doesn't seem so. Clear import: Photopia was
not TRULY emotionally honest, for some reason.

> The inclusion of the phrase "randomly decided to hurt me" is a nice touch.
> However, the flaw in your logic is that if her actions were in fact
> random, no explanation of them would be possible, so why did you expect
> one?

One can decide on a course of action randomly. Roll a six-sided die where
the numbers correspond to (1) taking a walk, (2) reading a novel (etc.),
(6) hurting Adam. Bang. Decision made at random.

The effect of Photopia, I think, depended on its emotional impact. For
some, experiencing the story didn't trigger much more sadness and anger
than reading a bare-bones account in a newspaper. (As it happens, I'm
among those.) Why is that? Some might say it tried too hard, hit the
player over the head; I'm not among those. But even if I were, it wouldn't
be fair to say that it wasn't heartfelt; even amateurish, heavy-handed
fiction with an army of cellos playing can be sincere. And whether the
events reflect anything in the author's life doesn't make anything more or
less sincere. I mean, if I'm appalled and angered by drunk driving and I
don't know any victims, why am I disqualified from writing about it? You
can criticize me if I write _poorly_, but that's not the same thing, and
the product can be just as "sincere," if by "sincere" we mean that the
author wants the reader to understand the horror of the act and the pain
of the victims.

People talk of smarmy tear-jerking Hollywood fare like Stepmom as
"insincere," which is true in a sense: the filmmakers care more about
getting viewers to cry and tell their friends how wonderful the film
was, thereby engendering big profits, than actually getting people to care
about the real-life injustice involved and, maybe, do something, when
applicable. (I haven't seen Stepmom, admittedly, but it's a recent example
of a film attacked as insincere. Yes, yes, I'm as bad as Zarf.)

Unless someone has some reason to think that Adam's motives weren't what
he says they were, I don't think it's fair to say that his intentions in
Photopia weren't sincere. And there's no reason that I can determine to
think that. You may or may not care about anything significantly more
as a result of experiencing Photopia, but that doesn't say anything about
sincerity or manipulation. Let's try for a bit of consideration here.

Duncan Stevens
d-st...@nwu.edu
773-728-9721

Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from her hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring you, calling out as children do,
"Look what I have!--And these are all for you."

--Edna St. Vincent Millay


Robb Sherwin

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
On 20 Nov 1999 19:15:29 GMT, lucf...@aol.com (LucFrench) wrote:
(semi-spoilers for Moment of Hope and Photopia... you may wish to
eject now.)


>Now, this is all IMHO, but Photopia works initially, but rapidly loses its
>power due to its heavy handedness; in other words, no matter how much you, the
>author, put into, it can be said to lack depth.
>Moment of Hope, from what I can tell of Doe's reasoning, is more "Truthful" in
>that its manipulations are all shown up front. From about twelve turns in, you
>know you're in for a train ride. And, if I may add in my own interpretation,
>Moment could be considered more honest because it sets its ambitions lower.

Personally, I found that Moment of Hope clouded whatever emotional
response I was supposed to have because gameplay was, oftentimes, so
damn irritating. I've never been a big fan of text games that require
you to do the same action over and over again, even though they appear
futile (the shovel puzzle in Zork 1 is probably the worst part of that
game). Granted, Simmon makes it pretty clear early on that that sort
of thing is going to be required (he was fair with us) but that didn't
stop it from -- in some places -- doing it's best "Annoyotron"
impression.

I was also rather unimpressed with the lack of a clear emotional focus
in A Moment of Hope. Personally, I think that it is a serious
challenge for an author to say, "OK. I want my audience to truly feel
awful about the death of a little girl and totally not see it coming
the *first* time they play the game, yet have them see it take shape
the second time they go through it." That's an incredible feat and the
best way to implement it is the way Adam did it: by making the
inherent "gaminess" of Photopia approachable. The gameplay itself is
clever, yet easy. He sets us up with exactly the right phrase to get
us to take off the spacesuit, for instance.

I found myself shouting at A Moment of Hope, though. I would input a
command, and the PC wouldn't do it all the way. So I had to keep
typing it in. By the time I got to the end of the game I had about the
same care for the PC as I do the brain-dead troops running around a
"Command & Conquer" mission.

Lastly, I should say that although A Moment of Hope is a couple fixes
away from being as approachable as Photopia, the thing is, Photopia's
scope still mattered more to me. I can go to any club in Fort Collins
for 15 minutes and come to grips with the fact that girls can be
unfair. I've been lucky enough to not have to death with sibling death
in my life. However, having played Photopia, I at least know
*somewhat* it's like for someone my age to go through it. No, it's not
the same was experiencing it first-hand -- I get that -- but the
emotions involved got through pretty well in a subsection of video
games that normally just has us hacking up trolls and turning on
lamps.

If that's me being easily manipulated, I can accept that because the
*game* of Photopia was so good. Solid games affecting me doesn't shame
me; that's what I look for in this hobby. If Trotsky came out with
"Proliteria" tomorrow and had scenes as memorable as the weather
salesman, well, maybe then I'd give going red a shot. And *that's* all
I'm sayin'...

--Robb


>
>If I may insert my foot in my mouth, I'd say that Photopia seeks a particular
>emotional response; Moment of Hope seeks nothing more then to tell a story and
>a reaction. The difference is more important then you might think. I can go on,
>if you want, but I don't think you're going to like it much.
>
>Again: Nothing to do with actual emotion, merely to do with method, which
>taints the (perceived) honesty of the work.
>
>All right? I'll go back to my hole.
>
>Thanks
>Luc "Truth" French

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Robb Sherwin, Fort Collins CO
Reviews From Trotting Krips: http://ifiction.tsx.org
Knight Orc Home Page www.geocities.com/~knightorc

tls

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
Okay, really, I was not going to get into this, it's why I separated my
other comments, but this is really starting to bug me.

In article <19991120141529...@ng-bg1.aol.com>,


LucFrench <lucf...@aol.com> wrote:
>Adam Cadre wrote:
>
>>But tell me that I have no right to feel what I feel, and you're no
>>longer critiquing my work. You are, explicitly, critiquing my soul.
>>
>>And that's another matter entirely.
>
>She wasn't criticizing your soul.
>
>She was criticizing the fact that Photopia is far too manipulative to be taken
>seriously emotionally.

I heard "emotionally dishonest". (Read. Whatever.) I can understand how
Adam could take it the way he has. I think I would have.

I, personally, as I have now stated elsewhere, did not find /either/ game
emotionally dishonest. But I /did/ like Photopia (perhaps not as much as
some people, but obviously more than a lot of the posters in this thread)
and did not like A Moment of Hope. My reasons for disliking A Moment of Hope
are now on record in another thread.

Since this is continuing, let me go on to comment about Photopia.

I can, I will admit, understand how someone might have felt it came on
heavily and was manipulative. But let me say what has already been said
(why not? everyone else is) and note that, in fact, it is often the
purpose of art to be artificially manipulative, to emphasize things and
draw them into a more intense view than the situation itself might have
'naturally' warranted. (I believe that A Moment of Hope /also/ did this,
and that was not what in the game I objected to, after all.)

So -- I would say it was fair to say "I believe the author tried too hard
to make me feel what he thought I should feel." We are all, individually,
going to view that differently. I have felt that way about games, myself.
But I personally -- and apparently others as well -- think that saying
"this game was emotionally dishonest" is a /far/ different statement.

Let me try an analogy of sorts.

I am the type of person who really, really enjoys buying presents for her
friends. I get a kick out of picking something I know they will truly
enjoy and watching them open the present and seeing them be glad someone
knew they wanted it and got it for them.

If someone observed this who knew virtually nothing about me, they might
conclude one of two things. First, they might conclude that it's just
what it looks like: I really get a kick out of buying presents for
friends. Or, alternately, they might conclude that I am doing it for
ulterior motives, such as wanting to be liked.

Were someone to conclude the latter, I would be deeply offended. In fact,
I would react much the same way Adam has reacted to having Photopia
dismissed as emotionally dishonest. Hence the reason I have made this
parallel explanation.

What I guess I'm saying is that calling Photopia 'emotionally dishonest'
merely because you felt manipulated by it is, in my opinion, attributing
a cause to your feelings that is completely unfair, as it fails to take
into account the /author's/ intentions, which is the only standard by
which one can /truly/ judge the honesty of a particular piece.

(That's the generic "you" up there, not Luc or even anyone else in
specific.)

And the other thing I guess I'm saying is I think Adam being offended and
hurt by this is completely understandable.
--
ti...@ripco.com - you...@foad.org - help, I'm stuck in a bottle

Michael Gentry

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to

Marnie Parker <doea...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:19991120000435...@ng-fx1.aol.com...

> >Subject: Re: [Comp99] My Reviews
> >From: edr...@my-deja.com
> >Date: Fri, 19 November 1999 03:54 PM EST
> >Message-id:
>
> >What this essential fact meant for me, playing this game, is that
> >although I could readily identify with the protagonist, I was unable to
> >take his plight very seriously. It just didn't bother me at all. I
> >think I would have liked the game a lot more if it HAD bothered me.
> >There was no emotional punch, just a sort of bemused sympathy and the
> >wish that I could communicate with this poor kid. I kept typing things

> >like LIGHTEN UP, GUY, and WHY DON'T YOU GO SEE A MOVIE?, and SEE, IF
> >YOU'D JUST LEARN TO DEAL WITH YOUR FEELINGS HONESTLY INSTEAD OF
> >TRUSTING THIS CYBER-EQUIVALENT TO 10TH-GRADE NOTE PASSING, YOU WOULDN'T
> >BE IN THIS FIX. But the poor sap just kept punching his pillow, and
> >wouldn't listen.
>
> Nice to see you around again, Mike.
>
> You weren't bothered, it had n-o emotional punch and you were yelling at
him TO
> LIGHTEN UP and GO SEE A MOVIE?
>
> Just out of curiosity, what do you do when you ARE bothered?
>

Usually I just sit very quietly and try to ride it out without sliding into
a spiral of depressing self-referentia or snapping at my wife. Sometimes I
go take a long, hot shower. Call me a sap, but "What Dreams May Come" did
that to me. "The Book of Sorrows" by Walter Wangerin Jr. had me holding back
tears for a week. Precisely one I-F game has ever elicited this reaction
from me, ever, and "Moment" wasn't one of them.

(The cap letters were meant to distinguish player input, not to denote
yelling, by the way.)

-M.

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
doea...@aol.com (Marnie Parker) wrote:

>>What this essential fact meant for me, playing this game, is that
>>although I could readily identify with the protagonist, I was unable to
>>take his plight very seriously. It just didn't bother me at all. I
>>think I would have liked the game a lot more if it HAD bothered me.
>>There was no emotional punch, just a sort of bemused sympathy and the
>>wish that I could communicate with this poor kid. I kept typing things
>>like LIGHTEN UP, GUY, and WHY DON'T YOU GO SEE A MOVIE?, and SEE, IF
>>YOU'D JUST LEARN TO DEAL WITH YOUR FEELINGS HONESTLY INSTEAD OF
>>TRUSTING THIS CYBER-EQUIVALENT TO 10TH-GRADE NOTE PASSING, YOU WOULDN'T
>>BE IN THIS FIX. But the poor sap just kept punching his pillow, and
>>wouldn't listen.
>
>Nice to see you around again, Mike.
>
>You weren't bothered, it had n-o emotional punch and you were yelling at him TO
>LIGHTEN UP and GO SEE A MOVIE?

<snicker>

I thought it was a well-done piece of emotion manipulation. It
really communicated to me.

I also thought it was lousy IF.

>Just out of curiosity, what do you do when you ARE bothered?
>

>Hehehe.
>
>Doe :-) (Way to go, Simmon.)

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Comp99] My Reviews
>From: "Michael Gentry" edr...@concentric.net
>Date: Sat, 20 November 1999 05:31 PM EST

>Usually I just sit very quietly and try to ride it out without sliding into
>a spiral of depressing self-referentia or snapping at my wife. Sometimes I
>go take a long, hot shower. Call me a sap, but "What Dreams May Come" did
>that to me. "The Book of Sorrows" by Walter Wangerin Jr. had me holding back
>tears for a week. Precisely one I-F game has ever elicited this reaction
>from me, ever, and "Moment" wasn't one of them.
>
>(The cap letters were meant to distinguish player input, not to denote
>yelling, by the way.)

Okay, never sure about that one, too many chat rooms on my part I guess.

ALSO CAPS FOR player's input seems so... 80's or something.

Later, Doe :-)

TenthStone

unread,
Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
On 20 Nov 1999 20:15:58 GMT, ti...@ripco.com (tls) wrote:

>Okay, really, I was not going to get into this, it's why I separated my
>other comments, but this is really starting to bug me.

Really, I was not going to get into this, and I'm still not.

All the better, then.

----------------
The Imperturbable TenthStone
mcc...@erols.com tenth...@hotmail.com mcc...@gsgis.k12.va.us

Neil Brown

unread,
Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
In article <s5CZ3.531$Eh5....@monger.newsread.com>, Matthew T. Russotto
<URL:mailto:russ...@wanda.vf.pond.com> wrote:

> }IT'S CALLED TACT. The net does not obviate the need for it.
>
> The tactful thing to do is to change the subject -- none of the
above
> apply.

Changing the subject is what caused this thread to develop and go on
as long as it has, as far as I can see. Avoiding the issue doesn't
always help.

> Besides, consider your audience. The net may or may not obviate the
> need for tact, but it is also well known for its deficiency thereof.
> Complaining about it is pointless.

I disagree. Using this argument, you could suggest that all
complaints are pointless, and therefore, your posting is too. Just
because something happens a lot[1] doesn't mean that you
can't/shouldn't complain about it. Especially something like this, in
a fairly friendly newsgroup.

[1] And before anyone says, I don't include spelling and typos as
part of that.

Quentin.D.Thompson

unread,
Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
In article <816mdv$n0s$1...@pumpkin.pangea.ca>,

"Frisco" <fb...@pangea.ca> wrote:
>
> >
> >Here's a quiz, boys and girls. When someone is upset about something you
> >(or someone else) said, do you...
> >
> > A. Dismiss this person's feelings via sly, oh-so-cool ifMUD in-jokes?
> > B. Act condescending?
> > C. Lay on more of the same?
> > D. Actually try to understand *why* what you said was upsetting?
> > (HINT: read the Photopia FAQ or Adam's last posting) Or would that
> > require too much thought and be too uncool?
> >
> >IT'S CALLED TACT. The net does not obviate the need for it.
> >
> >-Suzanne, fuming
>
> I appreciate your sentiments, and it's certainly not that 2 wrongs make a
> right, but the reality is that some of the "elder statesmen" around here
> (including Mr. Cadre) have no problems being viscious when it comes to other
> people's works.
>
> And you know what, I don't think there's a problem with being candid about
> the way you feel about a certain piece of IF. If you're willing to release a
> game publicly, then you should be willing to deal with criticism (even the
> harsh stuff) in a professional and mature manner. The sad truth is that even
> if you produce something as technically sound as Photopia, not everyone will
> enjoy your game.
>
> I just think that if you can dish it out, you should be able to take it too.

Erm, that's not exactly true. After all - I'm going to be brutally honest
here - I was, review-wise, in Adam's C list, with a three. A three. And this
was after people had mailed me and told me they loved the game and stuff like
that. (I'm not making that up :-D). However, I held my peace for two reasons:
one, because I know that different reviewers like different kinds of games:
Adam tends to prefer the literary, the experimental, the focussed, and
Halothane wasn't really any of these. Secondly, because (except for the fan
puzzle in the beginning) not one incident had any relation with my own life,
much less my emotions. My verdict on soul-baring works is still pending, but
I think we have to give Adam a hand for having done Photopia without crying
on the player's shoulder (which Moment seemed to do too often). Don't get me
wrong - Moment was a great game - but the two are _not_ the same. I don't
mind my game taking a few bumps, because I haven't invested too much emotion
in it. So I don't think we should consider it our "right" to dish it out to
Adam. The cracks about cork nuts, etc. were in pretty poor taste in my
opinion, but (after doing a bit of historical research) I think the whole
'manipulative' thing was brought up rather maliciously by the original
poster. If Photopia is manipulative, so's almost every great work of
literature that works on a non-cerebral level, and that's a pretty wide
field. Anyway, Adam, sorry I spoke without reading the provocative messages,
and, as Taro Ogawa said, "noli illegitimati carborundum". Finally, to the guy
above: if Adam's reviews sound vicious to you, that's your opinion. But that
sure as hell doesn't give you the excuse to say we have to pay him back in
his own coin. That's not only bad ethics, but bad economics, as J.B.Priestley
once said. So what am I saying, finally? Stop razzing Adam about the
'manipulative' charge. Stop saying 'cork nut' - it's annoying. And stop
trying to deify A Moment of Hope just to satisfy your own grudge against the
author of one of IF's better games.


--
Quentin.D.Thompson. [The 'D' is a variable.]
Lord High Executioner Of Bleagh
(Formerly A Cheap Coder)

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
>Subject: [Comp99] My Reviews
>From: lras...@hal.suse.de (L. Ross Raszewski)
>Date: Tue, 16 November 1999 01:29 AM EST
>Message-id:

I am only using this message to post to this thread.

After Adam Cadre got mad, I apologized to him by letter (the next day, I think)
and stopped reading this thread. I wasn't up for a big argument/whatever. But
seeing the thread is still going, I will apologize publically.

Adam, I am sorry you felt attacked.

I don't always express myself well and my words which mean one thing to me
often mean something to someone else. I feel it is because I usually use sort
of general words, like true instead of contrived. Just not that good with
words.

I probably shouldn't have compared the games in the first place, but it was
almost irressitable to me, because I saw so many similiarities. And I liked one
and didn't like the other. But I was mainly trying to praise A Moment of Hope,
not knock Photophopia. So that, in addition, to other reasons, is probably why
I should not have compared the two.

Anyway, if I had said one felt contrived to me and one didn't, that I felt I
was hearing the author's real emotions in one and in the other I didn't... if I
had said one was, to me, up close and personal and the other was at a remote
controlled distance -- used very careful and disspassionate language maybe I
could have compared the two.

Or maybe not, we all like different things and comparision in a group of people
actively interacting is probably not a good idea. I am used to doing it with
books and movies, but this situation is really different.

Anyway, I apologize. I think it probably did sound mean. And the other part,
the cork nut part was just, obviously, a very bad attempt at a humorous
deflection.

The rest of you have fun with this thread, I am done. But I am glad some others
liked A Moment of Hope.

Joe Mason

unread,
Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
Marnie Parker <doea...@aol.com> wrote:
>>(The cap letters were meant to distinguish player input, not to denote
>>yelling, by the way.)
>
>Okay, never sure about that one, too many chat rooms on my part I guess.
>
>ALSO CAPS FOR player's input seems so... 80's or something.

I would recommend using >CAPS for player input, to distinguish it
from yelling, or even ">no caps" if you don't want to seem 80's (but then
you have to quote it to set it off from the rest of the sentence.

The only problem is, if you're not careful you could end up with all your
>PLAYER INPUT ending up at the beginning of a line and looking like a quote.

Joe

Greg Cooksey

unread,
Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
this is bizarre.. i'd never have expected to see a discussion of my
name in a newsgroup...

-greg


Michael Gentry

unread,
Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
Marnie Parker <doea...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:19991120214313...@ng-fx1.aol.com...

>
> ALSO CAPS FOR player's input seems so... 80's or something.
>

Yeah, yeah, go tell it to my Pet Shop Boys collection.

-M.

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
>Subject: Re: [Comp99] My Reviews
>From: "Michael Gentry" edr...@concentric.net
>Date: Mon, 22 November 1999 03:22 PM EST
>Message-id:

>> ALSO CAPS FOR player's input seems so... 80's or something.
>>
>
>Yeah, yeah, go tell it to my Pet Shop Boys collection.
>
>-M.

Hehehe.

Doe :-) I'm a 70's gal, myself.

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
>Subject: Re: "TRUE emotional honesty"? (was [Comp99] My Reviews)
>From: anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com (Anson Turner)
>Date: Sat, 20 November 1999 01:12 AM EST

>I haven't played the game (_A Moment of Hope_), but I get the same
>impression. Some reviewers seemed to suggest that the author of the game
>must be a "loser" and seemed emotionally threatened by it.
>
>"These feelings aren't really mine, they belong to that loser, which I am
>not."

I felt I noticed this a lot with A Moment's reactions. You put it better than I
could have. Lots of reviews/comments didn't seem to be about HOW the game was
crafted: the interweaving of scenes, bugs, prose, what worked, what didn't.

They seemed instead to be, reactions to the character.

Paraphrasing:

"loser"
"young love/angst is so tedious"
"been there, done that, way past that now"
"grow up"
"drop Anna"

Also, did some of that myself. :-)

I would say the strong reactions to the CHARACTER says something right there.

>Follow-ups to alt.amateur.psychology.int-fiction.reviewers.

Yup.

Doe :-)

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
>Subject: Re: "TRUE emotional honesty"? (was [Comp99] My Reviews)
>From: doea...@aol.com (Marnie Parker)
>Date: Mon, 22 November 1999 04:12 PM EST

>I would say the strong reactions to the CHARACTER says something right there.

Hmmm, guess that could be misinterpreted.

Meant "says something" as in: character was well written, author conveyed what
he intended to convey.

As in character seemed real or to be interchangeable with the author himself.

Trig

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
>Yeah, yeah, go tell it to my Pet Shop Boys collection.
>
>-M.
>

Yes, Anchorhead was quite creepy, and Little Blue Men more than a little
unsettling, but this... this scares me.


Trig
--
"This may look like a slab of liver, but really, it's an external brain pack!"

edr...@my-deja.com

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
In article <19991122204415...@ng-cn1.aol.com>,

doea...@aol.com (Marnie Parker) wrote:
> >Subject: Re: "TRUE emotional honesty"? (was [Comp99] My Reviews)
> >From: doea...@aol.com (Marnie Parker)
> >Date: Mon, 22 November 1999 04:12 PM EST
>
> >I would say the strong reactions to the CHARACTER says something
right there.
>
> Hmmm, guess that could be misinterpreted.
>
> Meant "says something" as in: character was well written, author
conveyed what
> he intended to convey.
>
> As in character seemed real or to be interchangeable with the author
himself.
>

(This isn't so much a response to Doe herself as it is a response to
assertions that have popped up here and there on this thread, which
this comment of Doe's sort of typifies.)

I'm curious.

Why is "character seemed interchangeable with the author" equivalent
with "character seemed real"? Why, particularly, is it equivalent
with "character is written well?"

Why do so many people seem to equate "emotional honesty"
with "autobiography," whether of the frank variety or thinly disguised?

Has anyone here read, for example, "Sophie's Choice?" (Not the movie,
the book. I haven't seen the movie, I can't speak for the movie.)

Would you consider the characters in it well written? Would you
consider it an emotionally honest piece?

-M.

edr...@my-deja.com

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
Hmm... you know, I responded to this a while ago. I don't know why it
didn't show up the first time. Then again, I'm using DejaNews, so
really there's no telling WHAT I'm really looking at.

Anyway...

In article <814lce$3c1$1...@love.loyola.edu>,


lrasz...@loyola.edu wrote:
> >like LIGHTEN UP, GUY, and WHY DON'T YOU GO SEE A MOVIE?, and SEE, IF
> >YOU'D JUST LEARN TO DEAL WITH YOUR FEELINGS HONESTLY INSTEAD OF
> >TRUSTING THIS CYBER-EQUIVALENT TO 10TH-GRADE NOTE PASSING, YOU
WOULDN'T
> >BE IN THIS FIX. But the poor sap just kept punching his pillow, and
> >wouldn't listen.
> >
>

> Which, come to think of it, is exactly what the majority of people in
that
> situation would have done if you'd said it to them in real life.

Possibly. But then again, in real life I might have tried a more
sympathetic strategy. One of the side-effects of the author's strange
use of the "zero-feedback" noninteractivity (those moments where he
took the parser off the hook altogether) was that it simply added to my
bemused detachment. When I typed LIGHTEN UP, what I was really thinking
was LIGHTEN UP, THIS IS CLEARLY JUST A GAME.

> Lucky fellow. As you said, you've been in this place before, and if
> you managed to get out of it purely by a force of will, you're a
> person of a much more powerful will than I am.

I wish I had an inspiring story to tell people, but I don't. I don't
know if you could even call it an effort of will. I just survived. And
when I came out the other side, I managed to salvage a bit of
perspective.

- Mike Gentry

Paul O'Brian

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 1999 edr...@my-deja.com wrote:

> Has anyone here read, for example, "Sophie's Choice?" (Not the movie,
> the book. I haven't seen the movie, I can't speak for the movie.)
>
> Would you consider the characters in it well written? Would you
> consider it an emotionally honest piece?

Yes, yes, and yes. (Although that last "yes" is a qualified one because I
don't care for the term "emotionally honest" and am mentally substituting
my own less fuzzy definition, which more or less corresponds to "effective
at conveying emotion.")

Care to expound on its relation to Styron's real life? I know he wrote THE
CONFESSIONS OF NAT TURNER, which seemed to have its parallel in the novel,
but beyond that I'm not sure how autobiographical it is.

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@colorado.edu http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian
"Sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears."
-- Paul Simon


Adam Cadre

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
Michael Gentry wrote:
> Why is "character seemed interchangeable with the author" equivalent
> with "character seemed real"? Why, particularly, is it equivalent
> with "character is written well?"

Well, this particular text brings this issue to the fore. Like I noted
in my review, the Cleanth Brooks school would eat me alive for going
outside the text, but those who insist that it's the power of the
writing that's making everyone think that the game is autobiographical
are being disingenuous -- compare the reply to >X ME with the author's
web page, or the plot of the game with the author's lamentations on
#traevoli-angst, and it becomes clear that the difference is academic.
Which doesn't mean it isn't worth discussing -- I mean, this is what I
worked on when I was an academic -- but it does mean that, in this case,
"character seemed interchangeable with the author" does *not* translate
into "character is written well."

Note that *that* doesn't necessarily mean the character *wasn't* written
well.

I keep meaning to discuss the ethics of casting an autobiographical
story into the second person, but not now.

> Why do so many people seem to equate "emotional honesty"
> with "autobiography," whether of the frank variety or thinly
> disguised?

It seems to be part of our culture that one must have some special
investment in a particular emotion or experience before one is allowed
to be associated with it, whether it be by incorporating it into one's
work or what have you. I remember that after Mark McGwire donated a
million dollars to start up a child abuse prevention foundation, he
was hounded by the press and peppered with questions about how he was
abused as a child, and when he replied that he'd had a perfectly happy
childhood and just thought it was a worthy cause, he was viewed in some
corners with suspicion. As Duncan Stevens pointed out upthread,


"if I'm appalled and angered by drunk driving and I don't know any

victims, why am I disqualified from writing about it?" It's annoying,
to say the least.

Not that it's entirely incomprehensible: if a writer tries to describe
an experience or feeling that that writer has never had before, it's
liable to miss the mark and thus irk those who *have* had that
experience or feeling. Hence the dictum Write What You Know and all
that. But I'd humbly submit that if you take the time to learn about
people and develop some empathy, you can expand the range of things you
can write about well beyond the story of your own life.

> Has anyone here read, for example, "Sophie's Choice?" (Not the movie,
> the book. I haven't seen the movie, I can't speak for the movie.)

The movie has its weak points, but is, on the whole, pretty damn great.
The climactic scene from which the story draws its title gets most of
the ink, and it's a masterpiece, but the scene I most often find myself
reflecting on is the one with Emmi Hoess. I found myself thinking
about it a few days back while reading this very thread.

But I digress.

edr...@my-deja.com

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
In article <Pine.GSO.3.96.991123...@ucsu.Colorado.EDU>,

Paul O'Brian <obr...@ucsu.Colorado.EDU> wrote:
> On Tue, 23 Nov 1999 edr...@my-deja.com wrote:
>
> > Has anyone here read, for example, "Sophie's Choice?" (Not the
> > movie, the book. I haven't seen the movie, I can't speak for the
> > movie.)
> >
> > Would you consider the characters in it well written? Would you
> > consider it an emotionally honest piece?
>
> Yes, yes, and yes. (Although that last "yes" is a qualified one
> because I don't care for the term "emotionally honest" and am
> mentally substituting my own less fuzzy definition, which more or
> less corresponds to "effective at conveying emotion.")

I think you've just hit precisely at one of the main problems I'm
having with people throwing around the phrase "emotionally honest."

> Care to expound on its relation to Styron's real life? I know he
> wrote THE CONFESSIONS OF NAT TURNER, which seemed to have its
> parallel in the novel, but beyond that I'm not sure how
> autobiographical it is.

That was my point. With the possible exception of some of the details
of the young struggling writer who narrates the story, "Sophie's
Choice" has absolutely nothing to do with Styron's life. It isn't in
the least bit autobiographical, insofar as Styron has never been
Polish, has never been a woman, and did not experience the holocaust
first hand. This was apparently the source of some controversy for a
while, with the book being attacked by critics who seemed to think that
writing not drawn directly from the author's personal experience was
not a valid form of expression.

Which is what some people seem to be implying -- or at least are coming
dangerously close to implying.

(I think Styron caught the same sort of flak with "Nat Turner," but I
haven't read it yet and I don't know much about its body of criticism.)

-M.

Fraser

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
paene lacrimavi postquam ofd...@aol.compost (Trig) scripsit:

>Yes, Anchorhead was quite creepy, and Little Blue Men more than a little
>unsettling, but this... this scares me.

Truly! Pet Shop Boys are much more than an 80s band. Have you heard
New York City Boy yet? First single off 1999's _Nightlife_ and it rocks.

Oh, wait, that's probably not what you meant. Darn!

Fraser.
"... you'll never have a bored day!"

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
>Subject: Re: "TRUE emotional honesty"? (was [Comp99] My Reviews)
>From: edr...@my-deja.com
>Date: Tue, 23 November 1999 09:38 AM EST

>(This isn't so much a response to Doe herself as it is a response to
>assertions that have popped up here and there on this thread, which
>this comment of Doe's sort of typifies.)
>
>I'm curious.
>

>Why is "character seemed interchangeable with the author" equivalent
>with "character seemed real"? Why, particularly, is it equivalent
>with "character is written well?"

Okay, character seemed real is what I was focusing on. Find it hard to say what
I mean the first, second, third and even tenth time out.

I said true. Emotional honesty, was again, probably not the best choice of
words, not sure I can find them even now.

How about emotinally real?

>Why do so many people seem to equate "emotional honesty"
>with "autobiography," whether of the frank variety or thinly disguised?

I don't. I think A Moment was successful, very successful in what the author
was attempting to do, because people did react to the character as if he was
real. ("Grow up"). Or as if the character was the author, a pretty big
assumption to make. And, in essence, characters are never more than words on
paper. So reactions to this character as if he was real, means it was done
well.

People certainly can convey what feel like real emotions in
non-autobiographical work.
I think the inside perspective of what the character is actually feeling
probably works best for this. But there is something else involved, not sure
quite what it is because I am not a literary critic, that sets-up the character
as believable first before you can even relate to this character as having
these emotions.

>Has anyone here read, for example, "Sophie's Choice?" (Not the movie,
>the book. I haven't seen the movie, I can't speak for the movie.)

Too long ago since I read it.

>Would you consider the characters in it well written? Would you
>consider it an emotionally honest piece?

Probably. Hard hitting anyway, IIRC. But I really don't remember well enough.
And, in fact, I am sure if all I did was see the movie.

edr...@my-deja.com

unread,
Nov 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/24/99
to
In article <19991123164523...@ng-ce1.aol.com>,

doea...@aol.com (Marnie Parker) wrote:
> >Why do so many people seem to equate "emotional honesty"
> >with "autobiography," whether of the frank variety or thinly
> >disguised?
>
> I don't. I think A Moment was successful, very successful in what the
> author was attempting to do, because people did react to the
> character as if he was real. ("Grow up"). Or as if the character was
> the author, a pretty big assumption to make.

First off, from what I understand from others' posts, this was not a
big assumption at all. For many, I gather, it was a forgone conclusion.

As for myself, I realized right away that "Moment" was almost certainly
autobiographical. It much too meandering to be good fiction, but it was
much too detail-oriented and self-consistent to be bad fiction. And the
SweetHartz Website, or whatever he called it, was too complex and
contrived not to be transcribed directly from a real-life experience.

> And, in essence,
> characters are never more than words on paper. So reactions to this
> character as if he was real, means it was done well.

I don't think this follows. I didn't react to the character as if he
were "real", and I'll bet neither did many people who didn't like this
game. I reacted to him as though he were simply a direct reflection of
the author -- which is not the same thing.

Knowing that the game is not a story, but rather a confessional,
radically changes the perspective from which I can view and judge it. I
cannot be moved in any way by the author's skill at portraying emotion
in a believable, sympathetic character, because the author is applying
no such skill, and I'm well aware of it. Instead, I am asked to be
moved by the author's personal testimony of his own emotional distress.
It's a direct plea for personal sympathy, from a real person whom I
have never met, in a situation where I would never otherwise expect
such a thing to be asked of me. Which, to be blunt, strikes me as far
more emotionally manipulative than any piece of fiction could ever hope
to be.

Thus, when I type >GROW UP, I may be typing it into the game, but for
all intents and purposes I am saying it to the author. I am not
reacting to the "character" at all -- because I know that the
protagonist is not, in fact, a character. He's just a mouthpiece. That
is certainly not what one shoots for when trying to write a character
well.

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/24/99
to
>Subject: Re: "TRUE emotional honesty"? (was [Comp99] My Reviews)
>From: edr...@my-deja.com
>Date: Wed, 24 November 1999 09:13 AM EST

Oh, goody, goody, you replied. Because I did have more arguments.

>> I don't. I think A Moment was successful, very successful in what the
>> author was attempting to do, because people did react to the
>> character as if he was real. ("Grow up"). Or as if the character was
>> the author, a pretty big assumption to make.
>
>First off, from what I understand from others' posts, this was not a
>big assumption at all. For many, I gather, it was a forgone conclusion.

I said as if the character WERE the author.
Not that it was autobiographical, that was sort of implied and not a big
assumption to make.

>As for myself, I realized right away that "Moment" was almost certainly
>autobiographical. It much too meandering to be good fiction, but it was
>much too detail-oriented and self-consistent to be bad fiction. And the
>SweetHartz Website, or whatever he called it, was too complex and
>contrived not to be transcribed directly from a real-life experience.

Okay, your original question was about emotional honesty, we/I rephrased to
emotionally real.

>> And, in essence,
>> characters are never more than words on paper. So reactions to this
>> character as if he was real, means it was done well.
>
>I don't think this follows. I didn't react to the character as if he
>were "real", and I'll bet neither did many people who didn't like this
>game. I reacted to him as though he were simply a direct reflection of
>the author -- which is not the same thing.
>
>Knowing th