Sunday, February 24, 2013

head in the sand

The other month, I released "The Next Day," a short art-y game. Now, it does several experimental things and has sort of odd emphases for a text adventure, so I was logically prepared for ambivalent responses. Knowing that, I should be pretty happy with its reception so far, as it has gotten a lukewarm-to-somewhat-warmer reception, but mainly, I am just reminded how much I hate getting criticism, no matter how helpfully constructive.

I mean, I do want to get better as a designer so I should want to hear what people have to say (and my games have been improved by things I've been told), but on the other hand, all I really have to keep me moving forward in this hobby is my enthusiasm and people-not-enjoying-your-vision is a severe enthusiasm dampener, to the point where I wonder if I should try to release games as secretly as possible.

I'm a big hypocrite, too, since when reviewing other people's games, I don't hold back on weaknesses, and I hate to think how many people's enthusiasms I have dampened. Emily Short (wow, mentioned her 2 or 3 posts in a row!) started a blog the other month called Shiny Happy IF Reviews- or something like that- where the rule is, you can only say nice things about any given game. It's funny, because it's a great idea yet there's still some part of me that makes me think that only saying nice things is kind of insincere. I think I'll have to eventually rewire my brain on this one.

It's also a reminder that I probably work best when I cut myself off of all sorts of distraction- not just criticism, so there's that, too.


  1. The thing about the all-happy IF reviews (for me) is that I actually find it freeing to review for. When I'm writing reviews most of the time I am contemplating all of these things -- like, I liked the pirate king NPC a lot, but maybe not everyone in the audience will share my liking for all things piratical, and I can't not mention the implementation glitches, etc. etc. etc.

    And while it's useful to write that kind of review -- the kind that thinks about what the player might like and tries to lay out everything that might be a problem or an impediment to enjoyment -- sometimes I also really like being free to write a review where I just say, you know what, this thing gave me a lot of pleasure. I thought it was enjoyable or funny or cool in some respect, or I really respect the author's virtuosity, or I felt like there was a great voice behind it, or *whatever*, without having to hedge that enthusiasm all around while I worry about whether my recommendation is giving enough information for a player to make an informed playing decision.

    Anyway. That's the deal. I know some people think it's a dumb project and/or bound to be full of nonsense, but it's totally sincere, at least on my end, and I find writing for it to be surprisingly freeing at times.

    1. Well, I think it's great, and I would guess that nobody thinks it's dumb. People (and especially internet people) can easily get defensive, and they may perceive such a site as a response to their own opinions. Personally, I'd love to contribute to it as soon as I start handling my time and defining my projects better.