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Forums > Contributor Zone > THE WINNING PRETENTIOUS BASTARDS...

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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 09, 2009 (02:42 AM)
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Welcome to this pompously themed thread, complete with hilariously self-indulgent commentary and Edge-style scoreboxes.

So, the results are in, and the most pretentious bastards are about to be announced. As I write, I have no idea what the scores are. I haven't looked at the other judges' votes when compiling this, as I hadn't quite finished off my own, and I wouldn't want anything to cloud my judgement. Not even the numerous death threats from literally everyone involved. Including myself!!!!

Seriously, though: thank you to everyone who contributed in some way to this competition. In essence, the most pretentious bastard here is me: this was totally a self-conscious experiment to see how people approached this sort of editorial writing, and to try to get more people doing it - 'cause I think it's a very healthy thing indeed. That this many people bought into it is lovely. You all deserve stickers and stars.

The following is brought to you by myself, along with esteemed judge-fellows ZIPPO and ZIGATRON, who flew down from furthest Jupiter to be with us today, and to make me look lazy by writing around three shitloads more than me for their feedback.

***

So I've just compiled the scores. The other two seemed a little harsher than me with their lower marks, but it hasn't really affected the overall placings. Interestingly, there's a pretty significant jump between second and third place. This isn't to say anything against those with a lower placing - I enjoyed reading pretty much every one of these articles - but it is testament to the fantastic quality of the top two. Either of them would have been deserving winners, and both are better than the standard I expected. Kudos.

I've talked enough. It's been fun, people. It's been fun.

PS. Further amusement as I notice that I'm not the only one to attempt to steal someone's entry for another publication. LULZ!

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

Aschultz - Deathlord
ZIPPO!
Argument: uhhh... Deathlords should... get respect...?

I really like the IDEA here. Taking a game and reviewing it from within the confines of a novella is pretty awesome.

Itís also really hard to execute.

In your case, this fiction needs a lot of editing. Not just on the occasional spelling error or missing word... it needs to be cut down to about a quarter of its current length. The problem is, you say the same thing, the same joke, about ten times. Pick out which of those times is your favourite, and discard the others. Donít worry. They wonít be missed. They were just stepping stones on the one true path.

The other thing that hits me here is that thereís not a lot of variety in how the Deathlord laments his position. My interest was held for the first couple of paragraphs, but then he didnít stop speaking and I got bored. I would have him move around the room more, look at things... interact with his surroundings. Adding some movement to break up the monotony of inner monologue would help a lot.

Either that, or just make it really short and sweet, as I said before. I wrote a similar piece which had similar problems: click if youíre interested... indeed, we seem to have similar tastes in style and subject. Iíd like to read more of your work.

In any case, as far as this contest goes, Iím not quite sure this really fits the subject. It doesnít overtly say anything about gaming in general and comes burdened with the usual pains of fiction, which requires a lot of editing and redrafting to be solid. I wouldnít give up on this piece, but I wouldnít have submitted it to this contest. [35]

DENBO!
A tricky one. Can't really say much about it. I had to read a couple of times to make much sense of it. I'm going to take it as a cheeky rant about the sloppy development, or similar. Am I correct? I'm not familiar with the game, and I think this is kind of exclusive of people like me. It looks like it could be quite a nice in-joke. You get the benefit of the doubt for that. [55]

ZIGATRON!
I'll be curious to see how this one scores in the other judges' eyes. Fiction would *appear* to go against the premise of this contest, because it wouldn't appear to put forth any type of personal commentary. However, I disagree. You and I come from the same age of gaming. We've both played through RPGs with endless stats and nameless characters, we've both envisioned stories in our heads. Sometimes adding a personality to a hollow shell is the best way to make a point!

This is a great way to poke fun at old-time RPGs... and many of the practices herein pertain to modern RPGs as well. I liked the mention of ridiculous town architecture/mazes... things that no sane lawful human would dream up, so it must be the work of the DEATHLORD! (Even though the Deathlord is really supposed to be confined to his dungeon. But somehow he MUST have influenced such ridiculous designs.)

But then you also address what Deathlord did RIGHT (and it does sound very imaginative), and how other later games failed to capitalize on its concepts... while retaining the silly genre staples that don't make much sense when viewed objectively.

Mentioning the Doom Golem was brilliant. I didn't realize how brilliant until I Google'd it. That would probably be my main criticism here; some of the bits that are Deathlord-specific are not necessarily self-evident. The dungeon that's all doors, yes. The stairs and sinkhole dungeon, no. It might be very cool, but based solely on the words you wrote, I'm really left without any mental image at all. I haven't actually played Deathlord, you see.

I also liked the mention of Tarjan's gimmick as a way to FORCE players to use a sucky character class. Ha! I actually knew that one! And I was so shocked -- in a good way -- when I finally played a dungeoncrawler that dispensed with the 16x16 square and used irregularly shaped dungeons (surprisingly, it was a Japanese game).

All of this points out the closed-mindedness and adherence to nonsensical mechanics of RPG developers. But the fact that you wrote a piece of fiction, for what is now such an obscure game, demonstrates a love of the genre staples that you mock.

This was a nice piece that made me smile and feel a personal connection to a game I've never played. And it makes a ridiculous number of clever references to other games of varying levels of obscurity. In a year, after playing through a few more oldschool games, I can probably read this again and get even more of the references. Sweet.

PS -- Be the Deathlord! Buy a PSP and purchase "Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman!" when it comes out. [85]


bloomer - Resident Evil
ZIPPO!
Argument: Resident Evil taps into the horror genre by a focused fascination with the death and physical suffering of the main characters

Where to start? How about... this was an excellent article AND a wonderful review. Not only did it present quite clearly what the feel of Resident Evil Remake is, it also managed to tie the whole thing into a broader (but still localized and focused!) point about survival horror in general.

You do everything right. You jump right into your point without fussing about with general introductions. You immediately understand what point it is you are trying to make and you jump to evidence that supports those points. You use a lot of personal experience and some well placed personal pro-nouns to bring the audience in. Itís great stuff.

Or at least it is until about half way through. Then we start getting lines like ďThe artifice involved is moving in a way that a degree of reality much beyond this ceases to be.ď or ď...to apprehend the animus of your character at such multifarious length. ď Címon, man... thereís more human ways to say those things. Though I like ďapprehend the animus.Ē Thatís got a nice ring to it. But donít disengage your audience by over speaking. Itís weird, because you start off with simple language, but then you resort to technicalities. Iím not an advocate of technicalities. Knowing how to use them is great, but you rarely should. It ultimately alienates.

You also start to get more sloppy in your sentence structure, using run on sentences and taking the personal pro-noun to lengths it probably shouldnít be brought to. Telling us what you experienced is one thing. Thatís good. Telling us straight out your personal opinion on the horror genre or on Davidís interview is a bit heavy handed and doesnít fit with the more modestly written first half.

You even start dropping words, ending up with lines like ďThe concerns of the horror genre found in RE an ideal gaming form...Ē Itís like you stopped editing after the half way point.

I actually hope you come back to this and rewrite it. I think the first half is near perfect, while the second half lowers the score quite a bit. The second half is overly lengthy, overly wordy, and doesnít flow near as well as the first half. If you rewrite this, let me know. I would feature it in The Examiner.

Thereís no denying this is a solid effort. Itís the HG review Iíll be sharing with all my RE friends... though they probably wonít know what half the words mean and they might stop reading half way through. [82]

DENBO!
So I've been playing Fahrenheit recently, and I'd make a similar argument about some of the filmic elements of that. It's perhaps easier to spot in something like that, where all it is is the filmic elements, really, but... oh, basically, this:

I was plodding along with this one, quietly disagreeing but enjoying the read, until I reached the "games as art" paragraph. It's a subject that's been tackled so much, not least by myself, that I groaned a little. But then you went and pulled out a hugely original take on the matter, one that totally makes sense and lent your overriding argument enormous weight. And it sort of clicked.

I've never seen this argument before in games journalism, and now that I have, I can't understand why it's not been used more. There's loads of academic stuff on this, about what defines an artistic product. About whether it can be interactive. About whether it needs to be static, and the artist's vision. About whether art is in the reading, or in the creating, or in the creator's vision.

The flow of this piece isn't always remarkable, and your register sounds ocasionally forced - as if you're writing for an academic journal or something - which, as the piece went on, began to grate a bit. But when it all comes together, this is fascinating and enlightening. Most of all, I reckon it's convincing enough to make me see this HORRIBLE GAME SERIES in a new light. Which has gotta be worth a reasonable mark, eh? How's 90 for reasonable? [90]

ZIGATRON!
This is an interesting one. People could easily interpret it as a "review of the Resident Evil series", but this is more than that. It's a celebration of effective design, including "limitations by choice"... because believable limitations are what make horror gripping. The paragraph on camera angles does a great job of contrasting players' desires (3D camera) against effective presentation (fixed angle).

You then segue into an explanation of why video games do not produce the same response as art, which casts an interesting new light on the series' stodgy, reviled controls. The controls and game structures force a player to linger; that's critical for players to soak in the full scenario and achieve anything close to an artistic experience.

Resident Evil 5 is nothing like what you've described here.

Anyways, this is more than I expected from this contest. I expected articles that reveal how games influenced people or genres on a personal level. This does that, but it's also an instruction manual on how to create an effective horror game. I hope some upstart indie developer stumbles across this piece someday. [95]


HAMMER-time - Lost Odyssey
ZIPPO!
Argument: Living forever sucks

Iím not sure whether to applaud you for picking a philosophical topic or to berate you for choosing a topic so unrelated to gaming. I think Iíll do both.

My praise comes from the way you use this topic to broach the game and focus on its story and character. You paint an interesting view of the setting that makes me want to play the game.

Despite this, you have a bad habit of repeating the same point over and over in a different way each paragraph. You basically say Kaim is lonely... because he lives forever. Iím not minded to mark you down too much for this, since it sounds like thatís what the game itself says over and over. However, if that IS what the game says, I fail to see how that will hold peopleís interest enough to warrant giving this game a 9.

I know this contest was meant more as an essay-rather-than-review contest, but even so I think your entry couldíve benefitted from a bit more review. For instance, you mention ďThousand Years of DreamĒ stories, but you donít give me a clear sense of how that works in the game. Is it side quests? Is it a fancy name for the plot? Is it a free roam system? What makes them so awesome and accesible?

If you wanted to steer away from mechanics, then you could at least have given us a more detailed walkthrough through one of the stories, to give us an idea of what itís like. Instead you try to cover the feel of the game as a whole and actually leave us with very little. Indeed, the whole thing comes off a bit like a half review... you even end at a weird place, in the middle of telling us more about the story. I can tell you struggled to fit the feel of the game in. Itís like what I told Bside... start micro, then go macro.

As for structure, you have a formula that becomes old quickly. You start out each paragraph saying ďwhat does a man who lives forever do?Ē Then you say one thing he does (twice using the same set up of ďhe goes from... to....Ē). Then you conclude: ďhe is lonely.Ē

Ultimately, I donít get a lot out of your argument. [50]

DENBO!
This is a really interesting piece that attempts to engage with the core themes of the game. Much of it is hugely successful. I love the pondering of loneliness, tapping into Kaim's mind and the inevitibility of all his life. It's really nice stuff.

Which is why it feels so awkward how suddenly your register shifts (I sound like an English teacher today, don't I?) on a couple of occasions. To go from "a real bummer, dude" to "a certain poetic nature" so starkly destroys the ambience you've strived so hard to create. Maybe it's a British thing: I don't like your use of the word "guy" in the last paragraph, either, but I'm almost certain that wouldn't sound out of place at all to you lot across that giant swimming pool we call the Atlantic Ocean. Whatever. I like this. Not a bummer at all, dude. [80]

ZIGATRON!
This was a nice review. It picks an interesting aspect of the game to focus on; there's not a lot of attention to what we'd expect to read about, but there's a ton of attention to what we wouldn't expect to read about. I am far more interested in the game now than I was before.

However, this contest is not for reviews. It is for deeply personal writing. This review does get across that Lost Odyssey had an effect on you -- the writing has a strong emotional sense that belies a powerful grip. But the experience is never related to anything outside the game's world. It isn't related to your personal desires/fears, your own struggles in the real world, or your own feelings were you to live in Kaim's world and walk his shoes. Even though this review treads the boundaries of mankind's wish for immortality, it stops itself and doesn't leap and give in to the true despair that wish could bring.

As it is, this is a completely acceptable review. But as a personal article, it reads more like a prelude. I wish I could give this a better score, because I did enjoy reading it and the writing shows tremendous potential, but I really can't. What I will say is that what you did here -- finding the element that struck a personal chord -- will serve you well in future contests. [40]


wolfqueen001 - Mother
ZIPPO!
Argument: Emulation isnít piracy
Secondary argument: Nintendo totally shouldíve ported Mother and a bunch of other games, the wankers

WQ, thank you for reviewing Mother. The Earthbound series is one of the greatest series to grace the console market, and the main reason Iím consistently looking for a decent emulator for the Mac. Iíve yet to play Mother or Mother 3. Earthbound Iíve played so much on the SNES that I can no longer enjoy it. I have the damn thing memorized.

Anyways, enough about me.

I wish you had gone more with your secondary argument than your first. Mother is the perfect game to launch a bitching rant at Nintendo for never porting their cream-of-the-crop titles and for bashing their numerous stupid reasons for not doing so. You mention it little, but mostly you spend a lot of time talking about emulation... and then you throw that argument aside and leap into a review.

Now, your review is solid. You manage to tell me everything I need to know about Mother in a couple of paragraphs without so much of a mention of the battle system or plot. But the piece as a whole wouldíve been stronger with an argument that tied in more to your conclusion.

Instead, your piece comes off a little rushed, more like a blog post than a proper essay or review. A good blog post, mind you... but a blog post nonetheless. [72]

DENBO!
This one takes a little time to get going, but I do like the slight controversy of the opening. And once it's there, this is incredibly strong.

It's funny. I expected something really, fiercely argumentative from you. There are a few games that you've become feverishly involved in heated discussions over, and I was surprised to see you not tackling one of those. Instead, you hold back quite a bit. And it really, really works.

I can imagine this sitting towards the front of a UK mag like PC Gamer - one of those pieces that's a bit nestled away, but actually a really good read. Informative, opinionated and thorough, it's the sort of editorial I'm dead into - even if it's not the sort of thing I was expecting to see much of in this contest. I'm glad you wrote this, and snuck in just in time. My joint-favourite entry, methinks. Bravo!

(It's also the sort of thing that would totally fit in with the Food For Thought section at Reso. So you might want to expect an email about that.) [90]

ZIGATRON!
Upfront, I disagree with your statement that downloading ROMs isn't piracy. I'm not going to say I'm vehemently opposed to downloading ROMs -- but I wouldn't say "perfectly OK", either. When I download a game to play, I know that I'm harming someone. I'm harming the reseller who gambled and put forth personal expense in an effort to bring an obscure, old, Japanese game to the North American market. The prices may seem high, but how else is someone going to get a legitimate copy of Jimmu Denshou? And honestly, how many people are likely to even want that game? I could sit on a copy of it for two years before finding a willing taker. Downloading ROMs harms the people who actually try to provide those games.

And yes, the prices are sometimes higher than people would like to pay. The alternative is flying out to Japan, scouring the bins at Akihabara, and paying "too much" at the store. Then flying back home.

That being said, I don't generally take issue with pirates unless they're proud of it or unless they claim they're actually *doing the world a favor* by taking money out of resellers' pockets. There are a lot of reasons for choosing to download. It could be financial inability to purchase (although I'd suggest those people find a more productive way to spend time), it could be because they know the game will suck and just want a laugh, maybe their legit copy got damaged beyond repair, maybe they know the game is short and they'll be done with it in two hours, etc.

So when you talk about "strict personal use", I can buy that even though I do see the harm.

Now, what's interesting is that you end up pointing your argument specifically at TRANSLATED downloadable ROMs. I can't tell you how many times I've heard stuff about "the original developers make no money", "resellers charge too much", "it's my right to enjoy art for free", etc etc. You'd think that people would play the "translated ROMs are a way to share one's love for obscure old games" card more often, but they don't.

And when they do, it's not in the form of a tribute to Mother. (Although it's not exactly the same kind of "translated ROM" as Just Breed or Ys 4 or somesuch).

Tying it to a specific game is what makes this article work. You almost make something illegal sound noble. Contrary to the contest's expectations, I think this would have worked even BETTER if you had spent more time discussing the actual game. As it is, I'm not convinced enough that Mother is sooooo different from the games that we Americaners did get to play. Sure, there are some wacky things going on, but there are lots of games with some wacky elements. Instead of describing moments, get at the heart of Mother. Explain why Mother is an undeniably unique experience.

Do that, and then you'll truly demonstrate why emulation is an integral aspect of "world peace through shared pop culture". [90]


Felix_Arabia - Metal Slug 3
ZIPPO!
Argument: Felix doesnít like paying for ports

I think this is a fairly weak entry, which I mean as no offense to you, Felix. I respect you as a writer and reviewer. I can easily see how this review wouldíve come about, too. You had an idea and went with it, only to realize itís a difficult subject weighted down by an argument which is hard to fit into reviewing a single game.

What you end up with is sortíve a washed out argument thatís basically centered around personal opinion. As a review, it doesnít really cover Metal Slug. As an essay, itís not backed up by any real evidence.

As usual, youíve got a fun casual style of writing that lends itself well to this topic. But you really donít crack the nut to get at the juicy insides. Or maybe you did crack the nut, but a squirrel had already made off with all the goodies.

Enough with the metaphor. Itís a weak argument, is all Iím saying. Itís more fitting for a rant than a review, and I am sorry you didnít go off on a huge rant. Your rants are funny. This is more of a mash up of ďthoughts of the moment.Ē Thereís no real through line here, no real argument.
[38]

DENBO!
I can't rationalise you owning it across a load of platforms, either. I can rationalise someone buying it 'cause they have no access to the original. Not everyone has a Mac, or similar. Which seems to undermine your point a bit, unless I've missed it. Which is extremely possible.

I quite like this, though. I'd have liked to see something a bit longer, but, y'know. It's straight to the point, and nicely cohesive, so all is well. Probably not the most memorable thing you've written - well, certainly not. That was your excellent Fallout 3 review - but not a bad effort by any means. Collect a tentative "well done" sticker. [65]

ZIGATRON!
This article is clearly in opposition to superfluous ports. Your second sentence appears to define "superfluous ports" as games that are repeatedly released on successive console generations. That doesn't really fit Metal Slug 3, since when the Xbox version came out, it was the only readily-accessible version (for North America). It might be pointless to purchase today (since there are now several ports of Metal Slug 3 out there), but this game's existence alone does not serve as an example of why ports are bad.

The article then turns into a brief review of Metal Slug 3. You never really get back to explaining why ports are bad, although you do touch on why you'd rather emulate the game than play this specific version.

The end of the article sounds like you're not necessarily opposed to ports, you'd just rather play games for free. But it doesn't address any of the pro's or con's to emulation, aside from being free.

Basically, this is a really uneven piece. It assumes two conclusions: it assumes that people will agree that free emulation is superior, and it assumes that people will agree that ports are bad. When writing it, you may have believed that you were saying something controversial. But by not providing evidence, it *sounds* like you believe these stances to be self-evident. As a review (and it does read like one), you score the game a 5 even though it sounds like you love it.

More length was needed here. [50]


bside - Pass Your Driving Theory Test
ZIPPO!
Argument: the Nintendo Wii has failed to capture and hold an audience, despite being aimed at a crowd no one else is really interested in.
Secondary argument: the DS is becoming a non-gaming platform

Bside, I think splitting this piece into two separate arguments hurts your case. You start out with the Wii, but that in itself is a complicated topic to topple. Thereís a lot of different angles that you have to approach that subject from. Your argument about it seems very rushed and not entirely supported by fact. Like, despite your arguments, how do you explain that the Wii is STILL the best selling of all the consoles, even with the PS3 having several hundred dollars over it, and the Xbox several years?

Your real argument lies with the DS and it being turned away from a gaming device. This is a much stronger argument since you are reviewing a DS game. Your final paragraph is ten times stronger than anything in your opening. In fact, one of your earlier paragraphs contradicts your conclusion. You say the DS has gained middle ground, but then you rave about it losing the middle ground. The second one is the better argument. It feels like you came to this in the course of writing your review and simply never went back to change the opening.

I can see why you thought the Wii might make a grand general sort of opener for this piece, but in reality an essayist should always steer away from general points and get straight to the microscopic. ďGeneralĒ is best left for later, if you can find a way to tie the micro into the macro.

Thereís also the matter of your sentence structure being overly confusing. Especially this paragraph: ďBelieve the rumours, and the DS was...Ē I had to read that paragraph over, like, ten times. Your first sentence is exactly 99 words long. Thatís a mother of a run-on sentence.

Next time, focus in on your argument a little more and try to cut the fat off your sentences. Kudos for picking one of these crazy test games, though. Your last couple paragraphs say it all. Itís just too bad it took you that long to get there. [58]

DENBO!
So I'm critiquing the work of someone who, for all intents and purposes around these parts, is my boss. That's a bit weird. So yeah. 95%.

...Oh, no, wait. I'm not allowed to do that. He didn't take me out for dinner in exchange for an exclusive review.

It's too long. But that's not disastrous. It's nicely worded, often very amusing, and rather interesting. I think it's important to separate Ninty's current-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft's efforts, because it's a totally different demographic. That in mind, there's a tendency for this article to stray into "it doesn't appeal to me, so it's rubbish" territory - which is always dangerous ground to tread.

And, y'know. Really, the Wii isn't stagnant at all. It's outselling all competition combined - just not to "us".

Comes across rather closed-minded. But then, I pretty much feel the same way on all accounts, so you're saved by my own blinkers. [70]

ZIGATRON!
"Somewhere along the line, someone decided that handheld consoles weren't really meant as gaming machines anymore."

That line, coupled with the subject/example of this article, leads me to believe this was originally intended as an editorial against the transformation of handheld gaming into handheld... something.

The initial paragraphs read very anti-Nintendo in general, which weakens the impact of the (initial) argument that Nintendo is ruining what handhelds were meant to be. Sure, they do have a track record for releasing horrible consoles like the Gamecube and Wii, but there's not much sense in pulling out the high-precision sniper rifle after you've already fired a few shotgun blasts.

It would actually work better in reverse -- show how they've ruined handhelds, and then lambast Nintendo for spreading their vile, leprous ambitions into the console market. Sniper rifle to the head... then shotgun blasts to the prone, twitching corpse.

The timeline of the Wii's shenanigans/success is also a bit off. This article makes it sound like Nintendo regrouped and licked their wounds after the abysmal failure of Twilight Princess. Two problems there: Twilight Princess was successful (at least on this side of the ocean) and the Wii was already selling really well from the get-go.

When the article does get around to talking about handhelds, it almost turns around and says that Nintendo has done okay with the DS. But then turns back towards attacking Nintendo's master plan, which is... not very clear, actually.

This one lacks focus. It's decidedly anti-Nintendo, but doesn't focus that hatred into a sharp, meaningful point. There are some nice bits (like the beginning and end references to the color printer), and the spelling/grammar is almost impeccable (I did notice an it's that should be its), but it needs some restructuring to really perform well as an article. [65]

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

At the end of the game, what are the scores, George Dawes?

[Insert drum roll here. Anyone?]

6. FELIX_ARABIA [153]
5. HAMMER-TIME [170]
4. ASCHULTZ [175]
3. EMP(WEALLKNOWWHOYOUARE) [193]
2. WOLFIE-Q [252]

THE MOST PRETENTIOUS BASTARD IN THE WHOLE FUCKING SWEARY WORLD IS....

BLOOOOOOOOMEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRR! [267]

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

Congratulations to Bloomer, who wrote an incredibly effective and convincing piece. And congrats to the rest of you, even though you WERE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

I'm going to crawl back into my hangover now. Goodbye!


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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: May 09, 2009 (05:31 AM)
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The best two review for this finished were they certainly should have. Congrats and well done to Bloomer and WQ.

Vile hexes to the judge staff who seemed to have overlooked the fact that I lambasted the Wii's softwares sales and mentioned how the hardware sales left everyone in the dustThanks for taking the time to read and coment on mine. The original idea I had went off on a bit of a tangent at the start and I figured I might as well try and ride it home. This was a good idea for a tourney and it's a shame more people didn't get on board.


For us. For them. For you.


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Author: bloomer
Posted: May 09, 2009 (08:51 AM)
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Thanks a lot guys. You wrote a lot on everyone's, and I was surprised after I went through all the commentary how many screens I'd just read without noticing it. Zigfried also said stuff about the Deahtlord fiction I hadn't noticed. And thanks to the writers for all the other pieces.

This comp gave me motivation to write something like what I normally go towards in horror, but with various parameters removed that would normally hold me back in some areas (actually, there were almost no parameters..) so it was inspiring like that.

Zipp said a lot about my editing but still gave me 80. This is good as I now want to talk back about that. I've been having an arrogant week, and now I also have a crown that says 'pretentious' on my head, which is like having a huge novelty microphone!

At the word for word level, I've rarely spent as much time proofreading and editing any one piece of game-related writing as this. It went for weeks. The whiches and thats are right, the numbers and tenses and cases etc. for some very complicated sentences all match up, and the pronouns are no denser than in a Ruth Rendell novel.

'The concerns of the horror genre found in RE an ideal gaming form' isn't missing a word.

The problem with the 'multifarious' sentence is that it manages to convey what I mean with precision. To say the same thing with other words, I'd have to unpack them and use more of them, and then the sentence just gets longer and klunkier, and maybe needs to be split into two sentences, and the idea can lose clarity. But I agree that the sentence just sounds too clotted cream thick, and I have accused others of doing that many, many times. Best policy is to just chuck a word or two.

On the other hand:

'The artifice involved is moving in a way that a degree of reality much beyond this ceases to be'

is perfect :)

I'm surprised anyone dared question my academic tone. I mean, if you can't write pretentiously in the 'Pretentious Bastards' writing competition, when can you?


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: May 09, 2009 (09:50 AM)
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'The concerns of the horror genre found in RE an ideal gaming form'

Whether or not it's missing a word depends on the inflection provided by the reading mind. When reading, my brain applied "subject sound" to "the concerns of the horror genre", "primary verb sound" to "found", and then continued from there. All cool.

When Zipp read the sentence, his mind provided "subject sound" to "the concerns of the horror genre found in RE"... which left his mind searching for a verb.

In the US (can't speak for other areas), "found" is more often used to establish a descriptor than as the primary verb. Proper reading of the sentence also requires a pre-emptive mental leap to personify the horror genre's concerns enough for them to be finding anything. In addition, "concerns" is being used in a non-common manner.

The sentence is technically sound, but its intent is sabotaged from the start for a number of reasons, none of which are easy to solve. Perhaps it would be easier to digest as "The horror genre found in Resident Evil an ideal gaming form" ? That still requires a mental leap, but it eliminates the uncommon usage of "concerns". I normally would suggest turning it all around (Resident Evil embodies the horror genre's ideal gaming form...) but then you'd be starting two sequential sentences with "RE" as well as providing a different shade of meaning.

//Zig


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: May 09, 2009 (12:41 PM)
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@ Bloomer: quiet you ^_^

Zigfried said it best about the one sentence. The other... eh, take it or leave it. The point is, I thought this review was good enough to actually post on a press website and get it out to wider audience as a message about RE and survival horror in general. HOWEVER! Once I start looking at something at that level, I expect a little more out of it. Being pretentious is one thing, but you also want people to be able to understand what you're saying, unless you intend for your articles to sit around as dusty tomes in libraries and have college students bitch about having to read them.

Also, I stand by my comment that your second half is much weaker, and I'd love to see you rewrite it. The article as a whole is worth the rewrite. That's my opinion.

@ Aschultz: Click here.

This is the correct link.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: May 09, 2009 (12:54 PM)
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Unusual words thrown around to look smart is one thing, but sometimes a word like "artifice" is the most concise and most precise way to present the writer's exact thought.

It's true that some people might wince at having to look up the meaning of certain words, but it's also true that some people -- having looked up said word -- would feel good about having added a new item with a new shade of meaning to their vocabulary. Of course, some people would know the word's meaning from the start (or could surmise it well enough from context to move on without dwelling).

Outside of this pretension-endorsing contest, we shouldn't promote pretentious writing, but we should promote precise writing. I found Bloomer's piece to be far more precise than pretentious. There's always room to tinker and make an article more accessible, but at some point we have to say "enough's enough" and if someone doesn't want to read it, then to heck with them!

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 09, 2009 (01:25 PM)
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"The concerns of the horror genre found in RE an ideal gaming form" is a garden path sentence. Many people will read to the end before they realised they'd organised it incorrectly in their heads. Fix with a rephrase:

"In RE, the concerns of the horror genre found an ideal gaming form."

Not that it matters. Your piece was excellent.


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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: May 09, 2009 (03:45 PM)
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Ah, brave HAMMER-time, you fought well, but were not pretentious enough to win a pretentious competition. Now you shall be relegated to penning angry, unprofessional 1/10 reviews of popular games that your more well-known persona deems a bad idea to promote under his name.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle


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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: May 09, 2009 (03:50 PM)
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Poppycock! I post them under my main name!


For us. For them. For you.


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Author: bloomer
Posted: May 09, 2009 (06:36 PM)
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Oh finally I can see what you're talking about in the 'found' sentence!

Re: HOWEVER! Once I start looking at something at that level, I expect a little more out of it.

I actually expect less of capital J Journalism than what I wrote. That is to say, if I was thinking of this in terms of typical commercial press, this to me is already too much. Words you baulked at (Zipp), others would baulk at. Ideas are longer than the average reader expects. It's more like the literary review section of the newspaper, but for games, except that doesn't really exist yet. That was the whole point of this competition to me. So if anything I would go more in this direction, not less. We didn't develop sophisticated writing so that we would never use it for fear of what some college students would think along the way.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: May 09, 2009 (07:38 PM)
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I think you can write in a sophisticated manner without it becoming a draining read, though. Your piece stayed just on the right side of the line to work extremely well, but it was certainly close to the line - and I think you could perhaps have delivered the same argumentative strength by toning it down a little.

You can stick within the "careful criticism" genre without checking your thesaurus every sentence. Not that you did that, at all. Just by way of example.


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: May 10, 2009 (01:01 AM)
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Thanks for the comments, everyone. I'm glad this went over remarkably well, considering I wrote it in about the span of a few hours after writing that first half which was revised quite a bit anyway. This certainly does my satifaction with it justice, so I'm quite pleased.

I'm going to argue a little here, though, and say that if I went any further into that secondary argument I think I would've committed the sin of repetition, and that ultimately would be worse than anything wrong with it now. I mean, I could only argue so much about how Nintendo are all dunderheads who don't listen to the public, but it'd really just be the same argument over and over with different games as examples without any other points made within that same argument. Further, I was afraid of broadening it too much because I'd loes focus. I really feel the thing works better short like it is now, but I will admit that maybe a little more expansion wouldn't hurt, though it's too late to do anything now with how it's structured and still have it reading well. So better as it is now, I suppose.

I pretty much agree with everything Zig and Lewis said, except with Zig's stance on piracy. In regard to that, though, I do see where you're coming from. But even so, especially with games that are no longer produced, like the really old retro games, and with how rare actual physical working copies probably are, I still think emulation has really opened that up to people who really wouldn't have it before. I'll say that it may be a shame for the average (well, not so average to be owning it) person who owns a super rare copy of some game they can't sell because it's just easily emulatable, but, really, I'm sure there would be game collectors out there willing to buy it, since those people are more interested in just owning the game than actually playing it.

And, well, if companies or other people really wanted, they could make emulation profitable by requiring a fee for it to be downloaded or some such. Though the nature of emulation may mean that some files could be found underground regardless of such practices. I personally hope such a time doesn't happen. But, then, I'm just a person who uses ROMs to play games I otherwise wouldn't be able to (or able to again), and intends nothing else with them but to enjoy my own experiences with them, and then maybe review them.

Though I do think that some emulatable things should be left alone for now. Like PS2 and Xbox emulators out there is a bit overboard, especially since they're still such recent platforms. But eh.

Anyway, enough about that, lol. To Lewis I say: this was the review / argument I was talking about with that mail all those weeks/months ago. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to rewrite it and still have it come out as well as this, but then, if I wrote for Reso I might just expand the argument anyway depending on your thoughts on the matter. But that all depends on time right now anyway. I'm glad you enjoyed this, though! Very glad I got this in on time, even if I did cut it super close.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: May 10, 2009 (02:49 PM)
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Bloomer, there is a thin line you walk in your review. The first part walks the right side of that line. Using big words is fine when they make your point clearer. There were parts where they only complicated matters without vadding to you point.

Don't get me wrong. I spent six years of college studying literature. I thought your review, when on spot, was amazing. But it's not perfect, and I think the point is valid enough that it deserves to be. Once again, I urge you to do a rewrite. This isn't "just another review."


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: May 10, 2009 (04:21 PM)
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Bah. I was too tired and busy writing a post that was longer than the results one last night to remember adding this in I guess. Sorry.

Congrats to bloomer for winning and the rest for participating. Kind of surprised EmP's wasn't as well received as I'd thought it'd be, but third is still good.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: aschultz
Posted: May 11, 2009 (12:12 PM)
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Thanks to each of the judges for your comments. I was hoping for a wide range since you guys seem to have a wide range of gaming experience.

Lewis--yeah, I needed to establish the in-jokes a bit better, but on the flip side I didn't want to telegraph them. I don't think I established, overall, that Deathlord is a flawed game that has so many great ideas for puzzles that I don't care about the stupid silly details, which are worth mentioning. For instance, people don't [T]alk, they [O]rate. Yeah, the game used keyboard commands. But it did clever stuff like allow for Macros, and (I forgot to mention) it was incredibly efficiently compressed into 2 5.25" disks(280k) for the towns, terrain etc. And I think that if I had enough quality etc., it could have compensated for your lack of knowledge of olds-chool PC RPGs in general.

Zippdementia--I noticed some stuff which was doubly-written and agree that if I take a risk at this, I better root it out. If I had to rewrite it, I might have the Deathlord reading his Slam Book re: Dreax and those other guys, or maybe running through Hell and making observations, trying to keep ahead of the adventurers. Thanks for sharing your piece with me, and I see clearly what you mean, being on the other side.

One thing I would ask, when you say "overtly..." isn't fiction not supposed to be too overt? I think the gist of the piece is that there is a hell of a lot that can be done with abstract puzzles that ISN'T. It should have been explicitly stated in a sentence, such as "evil guys who give out participation ribbons to good guys and offer them easy level ups, pff, that's not evil." Of course the "that's not evil" strophe can be overused, but I think that is the idea. And I know that one problem I find with my writing on rereading is, I really could've done a bit more here and there--but it can take me some time to realize it.

And I think what you said folds into what a lot of Zigfried mentioned, about the ordinary details not needing to be there. I was worried about mixing too many lists with the narrative to slow it down, but now I think they would break it up. I can't have the Deathlord walking around his cramped room reading them, but at the same time part of what I liked about the game was, given how the map was laid out, the Deathlord sacrificed even space, in the end, to create one final big annoying maze.

Zigfried--thanks for the nice words and for still pointing out things that can be made better. I'm glad you got--and enjoyed--the name dropping. I was worried that this might seem weighted towards old school gamers. It was supposed to make old-school gamers smile and I know my work generally isn't directed towards that, so I am glad to be able to do that.

In general...I recognized the risk I was taking by looking at an obscure game, that I had to be exact. And it seems in some cases I wasn't. Even though HG fan fiction is mostly de-linked now, I've still recognized stuff I could've proofread & anything that gives me the desire to do that is a good thing. A lot of points where I wanted to be extra-subtle was too subtle & I think that is the wrong sort of pretentious. At any rate, I got good different feedback from all 3 judges which is what I was hoping for and I think you guys did a good job of working independently on my piece and in general.

The novelty of fan-fiction was a lot of fun. It got in the way of wanting to change things ASAP, but that's just another reason to get to writing what I -really- want to that much earlier. I don't think I quite achieved what I wanted to, but a lot of that was probably down to my not putting in all the time I could have, while others did so and were rewarded accordingly.

Enjoyable reads from everyone here & the judges' insight on all the people's writing was also a big boost. I think Wolfqueen's idea touched on giving me ideas of things to write about there and Bloomer had a lot of good stuff on what makes a good game a good game. And as the judges said, everyone else had something worthwhile.


My principal said, 'Emo, Emo, Emo.'
I said 'I'm the one in the middle, you lousy drunk!'
-- Emo Phillips


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