[Apocalypse World] The writing style bothers me

2

Comments

  • Troy, I felt very much the same way when I posted my thoughts about AW a few weeks back. There was a pretty similar reaction: stop reading, it's not for me. Felt like a copout then; feels like a copout now.

    I'm not sure what it will/would take to create a healthier environment for vigorous criticism, particularly of the most sacred cows.
  • edited February 2011
    Ry, I think it's at least possible to read Todd as saying, "Hey, neat game, I want to play it, but the writing style is an impediment to me doing so."

    I guess the question of how best to interact with that comes down to why we're all here chatting on the internet in the first place.

    Personally, I find this interesting from a perspective of "How should I write my game text? Which approaches have which downsides for which people?"
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarFor what it is worth* I struggled with the text too. It felt like it was written for somebody who already knew how to play. I'm glad there are people in my crew for whom the writing worked better, because it is an excellent game at the table.
    Word. I have two very different reactions to Apocalypse World the game and Apocalypse World the text, which underscores something I've argued (sometimes well and sometimes poorly) in the past: A game and its text are two separate yet interrelated things. It's quite possible to love a game and not the text, and vice versa. Go and read the rules for, say, Texas Hold'Em. They can be written in a lot of different ways.

    Perhaps my relationship with the Apocalypse World text reveals that I'm a stodgy, dry bore. I'll admit, I feel an underlying implication that I'm just not hip enough if I'm not on board with the voice Vincent chose to deploy in his work—where I get that idea is a whole other issue. What's important is this: Vincent actively, knowingly tried something with his text and I respect that even while I report that it didn't work right for me. Big deal.

    I'll refrain from commenting on this thread's commentary on the commentary of the text, except to draw attention to my abstinence, with this vapid loser of a sentence.

    Cheers,
    Will
  • If that was honest critique, I am a mushroom.
  • Guys, we're not talking about a cool, intellectual criticism here. The elephant in the room is that Todd devoted a lot of his opening salvo to a passive-agressive personal attack. See the references to self-indulgent architecture and Kevin Smith. Apparently Vincent's stylistic choice indicates "a lack of self-esteem, self-awareness, and lack of authority."

    Nothing in his post indicates to me that there's some friendly middle ground where he'll enjoy playing the game "beneath the style."

    So I think the people here who have said... "well, I guess it's not for you." have shown significant restraint.
  • Could we go to the text?

    Todd, could you post some examples of the Valley Girl vernacular in the first 14 pages of AW?

    I'm not asking this to throw down a gauntlet or call you names, here. I'm asking it so that I understand what bits you don't like.

    Also, could you mention some game-related texts that you love for comparison?

    But Judd, what do you really think?

    Thanks for asking, sentence in italics, I'll tell you. I think the AW text, by telling folks how to GM/MC/whatever, brings somethin' out in people and it came up in Paul's thread and in Will's blog posts. These threads/posts are always defensive right up front with loaded language from the get-go.

    And yeah, AW defenders aren't doing these threads any help but by the time we wade past the initial defensive posts, through the defensive over-defenders and get to what was actually happening at the table, the will to communicate on both sides is often gone and we're left with people-who-loves-them-some-AW-and-over-defend-saint-lumpley on one side and AW-crit-martyrs on the other with never the twain to meet.

    I think if we cut through 90% of Paul's thread, mentioned above, and got to what he wrote for his fronts that he had trouble connecting to, we'd have gotten somewhere.

    I think Will's problem with AW is linked tightly to his tweet in which he said something like, "I think I GM better than I do anything else."
  • 1) I just want to say that, on the basic moves summary sheet, Dave Berg and I added "Do they speak English in 'what'?!" to the list of questions you can ask the MC after you read a person.

    2) Thread of the year.
  • I will totally cop to starting out my own thing in a strongly defensive posture, because I knew -- I knew! -- exactly what would happen when I posted a critique. And it did. So is that a self-fulfilling prophesy? Would the AW advocates have been all "yeah, cool, I can totally see what you mean by that" had my own OP not referenced the inevitable circling-of-the-wagons? I guess we'll never know.

    I gotta say, it's just not that much fun to have to hitch up your knickers just to chat conversationally (and critically) in what is, allegedly, a Zen-enforcement zone. Hence my comment about creating a healthy environment for vigorous critique. I know I learned my lesson.

    Todd's OP? Pretty much trolling, yes. But does that invalidate his opinion?
  • edited February 2011
    I've gone on record as saying that I wrongly mistook various issues surrounding and involving my opinion of what Apocalypse World does well and less well. That is, I don't really agree with some of Vincent's creative choices. Big deal. I don't expect Vincent to write books for me.

    I was wrong to conflate that reaction to the voice of the text with anything else. My mistake. I was wrong.

    Edit: Honestly, though, I'm not crazy about the implication that people who aren't completely on board with AW need to be analyzed. If only we could find out what's wrong with me, we could get me liking everything about AW?

    Further Edit: Yeah, I rhetorically exaggerated what you're doing, Judd, to make a point about how it feels to be on the outside of AW. No hard feelings. I won't re-revise my argument, though, because that seems disingenuous.


    Cheers,
    Will
  • I was very impressed by how The Mountain Witch used an academic format, without the actual sentences bogging down into academic-paper-speak.

    Inspectres is written light and fun, as per the genre, without forced-giggles obstructing the rules.

    3:16 is an easy read.

    Fiasco is super-careful to be clear and accessible. But I would love to see a quickie version that risks misunderstandings in favor of brevity. On the other hand, I screw-up some detail of the dead-simple rules, every time I play.

    The game chef version of Crime & Punishment can nearly be played as-you-read-it.

    Zombie Cinema would be perfect, if it wasn't in tiny type in black-on-grey.

    Mechaton was casual, but no so much that I couldn't figure it out.

    DitV has some idiosyncratic wording, but it didn't get in the way.

    The Drifter's Escape is crystal clear. (Early free version.)

    Elfs must have been written by a different Ron Edwards. heh.

    Actually, there's a bunch of straightforward shortform texts: Lexicon, The Pool, Puppetland, Bedlam.

    What else? Moldvay Basic Set. Advanced Marvel Superheroes. The free rules-brief for Over The Edge-- dry but clear.

    I don't know if there's any pattern here...


    As for citing specific tidbits in the first 14 pages of AW-- I should really take a pass on that. Let my first impression stand FWIW and no more. Trying to 'prove' I'm right with 'evidence' seems like a bad idea at the moment.
  • Yeah it seems like the disconnect in these threads is when people criticize a text, that criticism is treated as a problem that needs to be solved. Well, if you tell us your experiences we can figure out where things went wrong. Whereas the critics want to discuss how they feel the text or the game could be better. Defenders want to discuss the gameplay and its players as objects of analysis and in need of improvement, whereas the critics want to discuss the text or rules as objects of analysis and in need of improvement.

    What's interesting is to see people shift positions on what should be analyzed/criticized based on which game it is.
  • Posted By: Todd L


    As for citing specific tidbits in the first 14 pages of AW-- I should really take a pass on that. Let my first impression stand FWIW and no more. Trying to 'prove' I'm right with 'evidence' seems like a bad idea at the moment.
    Todd, this isn't about proving anything. It is about stating your complete opinion.

    I think the big problem these threads run into is a defensive start, leading to defensive responses and then this right here, where folks stop short of actually stating their complete opinion.

    State it, man! Post the bits that were a disconnect for you, please.

    I'm not looking to agree or disagreee with what you write or the parts of the text you dislike. I'm only looking to be completely informed about what you really think and feel.
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: Paul BTroy, I felt very much the same way when I posted my thoughts about AW a few weeks back. There was a pretty similar reaction:stop reading, it's not for me. Felt like a copout then; feels like a copout now.

    I'm not sure what it will/would take to create a healthier environment for vigorous criticism, particularly of the most sacred cows.
    I don't know AW, at least at this moment. But it seems to me that you're being kind of unfair.

    If somebody tries a novel I recommend and subsequently returns it saying "I just couldn't handle the writing style"*, what is my best reaction? Is it to try and persuade him by some means that he is wrong? Or is it to say "Guess it's not for you"?


    *actual scenario
  • Posted By: Lulavalley girl playbook
    That is superb.
  • Posted By: Paul B

    I gotta say, it's just not that much fun to have to hitch up your knickers just to chat conversationally (and critically) in what is, allegedly, a Zen-enforcement zone. Hence my comment about creating a healthy environment for vigorous critique. I know I learned my lesson.
    Paul, what I'm saying is that in order to have a healthy environment for vigorous critique, there has to be vigorous critique.

    Zen-enforcement can't mean that everything everyone writes get's a high five with tasty punch and pie with an extra side of awesome.

    That said, I think there's room to criticize AW.

    But if we're going to dig into a text, we're going to dig into a text. Let's get to page and paragraph numbers.

    If we're going to talk about a disconnect between your characters and the Fronts, let's get the fronts and the characters up on the table and see what's going on.

    The vigorous critique needs to be vigorous and it also needs to be a critique.
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: LulaCommentAuthorLula
    James wins. Everyone else in this thread, we all lose, except Graham who gets a waza-ari for his endorsement without further judgement.

    Vincent, I know, it's your first time, but chin up. You'll just design another game and it'll be like this never happened.
  • Posted By: JuddThe vigorous critique needs to be vigorous and it also needs to be a critique.
    Yes, definitely. I'm not sure why we're dignifying Todd's post by calling it a critique.
  • I think the "it's not for you" response happens so much simply because it's the obvious thing to say.

    If someone tells you they ate a blueberry pie and didn't like it because of the blueberries, what do you say? You say, "Huh. I guess you should eat a different pie."

    When someone doesn't enjoy something fundamental about a game, it doesn't immediately put me in the mind of helping them enjoy it. I think, well, there are lots of other good games out there. Go play one of those, I guess.

    It's not that criticism is bad, or the game has to be "defended" or anything. It's just a perfectly natural reaction when someone is unhappy. You don't like X? Maybe try Y then.

    (crossposted with Droog)
  • I love the tone of the game. I don't get a valley-girl vibe, mind you, more an "everything has gone to hell, there are no schools, no polite rules of society and no manners" vibe.

    There has been an apocalypse, population is low and zero infrastructure of any kind (especially a social infrastructure) so of course things are blunt and crude. I think the conversational tone of the rules text conveys some of this.

    I love the deliberate tone the author has used in this and in his other games (kill puppies, dogs, iawa and storming the wiz tower all have unique voices). But maybe I'm a fan, blinded by love for all dvb.

    Cheers,
    Rusty
  • Posted By: droogI don't know AW, at least at this moment. But it seems to me that you're being kind of unfair.

    If somebody tries a novel I recommend and subsequently returns it saying "I just couldn't handle the writing style"*, what is my best reaction? Is it to try and persuade him by some means that he is wrong? Or is it to say "Guess it's not for you"?
    Ah, okay. Try this instead:

    Sandwich critique: "I'm not loving the spicy mustard on this sandwich. Rest of the sandwich is pretty good but I think I'll go with pesto next time."

    Sandwich defender #1: "When you refer to 'spicy' mustard, red flags go up for me and I start shaking my head. This sandwich probably isn't for you but good luck working it out."

    Sandwich defender #2: "Do you have a problem with all mustards? Or just spicy ones? Maybe you should try a mild mustard. Maybe you should mix the mustard with a little mayo. Maybe you're bringing too much old mustard baggage with you. Have you considered that maybe you're not enjoying the sandwich right?"

    Sandwich defender #3: "I need to see some Actual Eating to make sense of this. I'm not asking you to defend your position or anything, but could you spend the next half hour writing a bite-by-bite analysis of what eating the sandwich was like for you? Because without that I can't help you."

    Imagine the sandwich critic's frustration, when all he's doing is suggesting maybe the sandwich maker go easy on the mustard next time.

    Flurry of posts explaining the flaws in this metaphor in 3...2...1...
  • Well, for a start, the fucking sandwich fucking critic decided to post on the fucking Internet about his fucking sandwich instead of just shutting the fuck up and ordering a different fucking sandwich next fucking time. That is a little bit of a flaw.
  • Posted By: GrahamWell, for a start, the fucking sandwich fucking critic decided to post on the fucking Internet about his fucking sandwich instead of just shutting the fuck up and ordering a different fucking sandwich next fucking time. That is a little bit of a flaw.
    Yup, absolutely. People post opinions on the fucking Internet.
  • Posted By: Grahaminstead of just shutting the fuck up
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: GrahamWell, for a start, the fucking sandwich fucking critic decided to post on the fucking Internet about his fucking sandwich instead of just shutting the fuck up and ordering a different fucking sandwich next fucking time. That is a little bit of a flaw.
    I'm honestly not sure how to read this, Graham. Can you strip out whatever I should be inferring through and tell me straight up what you mean? I'm genuinely unclear on the signal you're trying to send.
  • Will, criticism is good, but let's not defend venting as valuable critique.
  • See, Graham, that is not what I got from your post. The discussion has moved onto a broader issue, I think, against which your comment felt an awful lot, to me, like "people who don't enjoy the sandwich should shut the fuck up." Your tone obscured your meaning.
  • edited February 2011
    In the words of Omar: Critics gonna get criticized.

    It is endlessly hilarious to me when a critic gets miffed by criticism of their critique.

    If you say you don't like the mustard, cool, fine, moving on. If you say the sandwich would be better without the mustard, then of course the mustard lovers are gonna take issue with it. Just because criticism is offered, that doesn't mean the choices of response are reduced to agreement or silence.

    I don't want anyone to stop offering criticism. I want you to engage even harder. Fight back, for fuck's sake. Like Judd said, almost every so-called "criticism" thread dies as soon as the real work of critique begins, because someone got their feelings hurt when everyone failed to agree with them. If you just want to vent (and that's fine, who doesn't?), post on your blog. A forum is a poor venue for venting.
  • I think the big problem these threads run into is a defensive start, leading to defensive responses and then this right here, where folks stop short of actually stating their complete opinion.


    Judd and John are right, but my reticence to further enumerate what-exactly bothers me
    comes from not knowing how deep my criticism goes, and wanting to stop short of
    crossing a line from valid areas of discussion: to criticizing Vincent as person.

    I am much more comfortable putting myself in the hotseat, and saying "I hate it when I affect
    a slang-y way of speaking, and garble or dumb-down my message for dubious reasons, so I don't
    like it when Vincent sounds like me in that mode."

    Yeah, it's bad when we self-censor prematurely, but there are functional lines that shouldn't be crossed, either.


    Graham isn't wrong to characterize me a 'venting', but he's wrong to characterize me as ONLY venting.
    I am looking in the mirror and scrutinizing what I see.
  • edited February 2011
    Todd: That's a totally fair and honest response.
  • Todd, I totally respect that.

    Thanks.
  • Posted By: Grahamvalley girl playbook
    That is superb.

    Ha!
    __get all the shoes. All of them.
    This is a beautiful thing, this playbook.
  • Posted By: Lulavalley girl playbook
    "I’m majoring in communications" is fucking brilliant.
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: John HarperIn the words of Omar: Critics gonna get criticized.
    I think this is a good and important point. A fine reminder.

    I wouldn't characterize oversensitive critics as the sole noteworthy reason that criticism threads tend not to thrive around here. But I'm an oversensitive critic.
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: GrahamI'm not sure why we're dignifying Todd's post by calling it a critique.
    This is true,
    Posted By: John HarperIf you just want to vent (and that's fine, who doesn't?), post on your blog. A forum is a poor venue for venting.
    This is truer,
    Posted By: Todd LGraham isn't wrong to characterize me a 'venting', but he's wrong to characterize me as ONLY venting.
    I am looking in the mirror and scrutinizing what I see.
    This is even more truer (!), and this:
    Posted By: Paul BI gotta say, it's just not that much fun to have to hitch up your knickers just to chat conversationally (and critically) in what is, allegedly, a Zen-enforcement zone. Hence my comment about creating a healthy environment for vigorous critique. I know I learned my lesson.
    is true. ish.

    My claims of Zen are all about "not shitting in cheerios". I don't see that happening here... much. I see a (surprise!) communications issue. The root of like 90% of all internet problems, right?

    Todd's opener is a BLOGGY POST, it's not a critique, as Graham rightly called out. The fact that he did it here rather than on his blog is because obviously (enforced by his much later acknowledgement quoted above which I bolded) wanted some kind of feedback. Of some sort (if he/whomever doesn't want feedback/challenge, well yeah then it's fair as John H notes to say "tell us what you are looking for, else take it to your blog"). He's not just shit-kicking to publicly flame a game and generate Crowd Reaction Points, but to get some contrary ideas and opinions. I've seen trolling, and although it may look like Todd's first post, it pretty much ends with an aggressive/trying reaction to every contrary response; and that's not happening here, he's listening.

    This goes back to that hurdle we all jumped a few years ago, and Judd kinda pointed it out. For those of you who were around for those flamewars/community discussions, we learned to ask: "What *is* the point of this thread then?" A question for both the original poster, or responders if the point isn't clear. Want to see a certain kind of response, or harvest a particular reaction? Then *state what you're looking for*. It's the Internet Conversation version of the Free and Clear rules - slash - Stating Intent in Conflict.

    It's not clear from the start, so there's a lot of flailing. Reaction. Once we get over that and get some idea of the intent and goal of the thread, then some real discussion happens (and that happened above, thanks to Judd and others pulling at it, and he's right: Now just gotta hope that folks are still interested once the dust settles and we figured what the thread was all about).

    In the future, I guess what I'd like to see more of (some people are in a real habit of this, others are not) is people clarifying what they want out of the thread, if it's unclear. If the intent of the thread is unclear to the responder, they should go ahead and point that out and ask what they want out of the thread.

    As there was confusion, the thread clearly could have ended by Ry's JD's or skinnyghost's (particularly poignant restatement of the perceived goal) thread.

    Public bloggy posts are cool, try to end them with What You Want from your replies. I mean, otherwise you'd just post on your blog, right? Reaction threads are fine, just try to end with a question or statement of what you're sincerely looking for, and all would probably progress further. That bolded part was just that, only pretty late in the game.

    If you see a reaction thread, and it's not clear what the author was looking for, feel free to come out and ask. The thread actually took some cool direction when people finally did.

    Everyone is a little at fault. Try to meet in the middle, folks. No zen harshed but little strains here and there.

    Anyway, just a little Ongoing Internet Social Dynamics, volume 107. Back to the thread.
  • edited February 2011
    Sorry, what? The valley girl was in the psychic maelstrom for most of that post.
    (edit: good post, best moderator)
  • Posted By: Will HindmarchEdit:Honestly, though, I'm not crazy about the implication that people who aren't completely on board with AW need to be analyzed. If only we could find out what's wrong with me, we could get me liking everything about AW?

    Further Edit:Yeah, I rhetorically exaggerated what you're doing, Judd, to make a point about how it feels to be on the outside of AW. No hard feelings. I won't re-revise my argument, though, because that seems disingenuous.
    Will, I don't think people who are not on board with AW need to be analyzed.

    However, we all have digital text all over the internet about our thoughts and ideas about gaming. To discuss our gaming and not take that into account, not be able to bring in other bits from other threads with other ideas that trace our development feels silly to me.

    This shit get's messy, though, doesn't it. Yeah, it totally does.

    I quoted something that, when I go back and look at it and look at the context of it, was something you were feeling raw about and I pulled it out here and used it like a club.

    I am sorry for that, Will. I never meant to make you feel like shit.

    However, since seeing that tweet, written in the midst of you wrestling with AW's text and posting about it, has felt like the elephant in the room. Every time you mentioned your discomfort with AW's MC advice being codified I have wanted to link to the tweet and say, "Of course this makes you uncomfortable, the book is attacking something that you strongly identify with."

    I'm sorry that I brought it up in a shitty way, Will but I'm glad that it is out on the table. Next time I will take more care with details that we all vomit everywhere on these internets. I know I have dropped lots of very personal details via blogs, forums and podcasts and if someone threw some detail of my brain-meats in my face I would have handled it with far less grace than you did.

    So, thank you for that.
  • edited February 2011
    No worries, Judd. You weren't doing anything villainous.
    Posted By: JuddEvery time you mentioned your discomfort with AW's MC advice being codified I have wanted to link to the tweet and say, "Of course this makes you uncomfortable, the book is attacking something that you strongly identify with."
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: I was wrong to take umbrage with AW's codification. I felt, for a little while, like Vincent was getting credit for something that lots of GMs do and have done, as if that was somehow taking something away and giving it to him. That was crazy talk, on my part. As if there's a limited amount of expertise to go around. Vincent Baker took some things that were on the tips of a lot of tongues and gave them names. That's praiseworthy, to be sure.

    I've also said before, and I'll say it again, that GMing is a skill, which means you can get better at it. But of course we don't get better at it by not codifying it. So, no, I'm all for the codification of GMing techniques. I'm all for GMs sharing and informing and swapping tales.

    That I have issue with some of the text of AW (and the context through which it reached me) is a separate thing—but I won't go into that now because it goes against what I'm trying to do on Story Games these days. Still, cats and bags, I continue to feel like an out-of-towner here and it's not just because I'm an oversensitive critic. So it goes.

    Anyway, no worries, Judd.

    (Edited to remove a subplot none of us needed.)
  • God, that playbook is just too good.

    Please put Ben's move in there, too. Fail a cool roll & mark xp is too vital.
  • Will, my take is that criticizing anyone is a recipe for trouble. (The nobility just have more people to defend them is all.) Better to just criticize games. I've criticized very popular games, and as long as I'm polite and actually have something to say, it hasn't been a problem.
  • Are games really meant to be criticized? At all?
  • Posted By: Lulavalley girl playbook
    "parenthetical eyes"!!! FANMAIL!!!

    Only one criticism: all builds should have +2 Cool IMO, 'cause, like, it's obviously a Cool based build.
  • This lurker is loving this thread. But now I'm off to my new Jersey Shore AW campaign with a bag full of spicy mustard sandwiches.
  • Posted By: Lulavalley girl playbook
    Awesome!
    For some reason this made me laugh the most:
    "__get all the shoes. All of them."
    Admittedly, I was imagining the bolded bit said the way Gary Oldman says "Everyone" here:
  • Posted By: Lulavalley girl playbook
    What the fuck man? You forgot to leave your phone number so I can call you when my character has sex!
  • That Valley Girl playbook is pretty brilliant.
  • Posted By: Todd Lwanting to stop short of
    crossing a line from valid areas of discussion: to criticizing Vincent as person.
    Ummm... Do you know Vincent as a person? If not, I don't think he'll take anything you say that way. If so, well, I imagine you can communicate with him directly to assuage his feelings.

    Also, have you ever read his reaction to KPfS hatemail? I don't think there's anything to worry about there.
  • We've seen this pattern dozens of times. Sometimes it arises around certain games, sometimes it arises around certain theory discussions, and its always characterized by defensiveness mixed in with legitimate commentary.

    My take is this.

    There's a certain set of gamers who think that the most awesome part of any role playing game is them...whether because they are awesome players or awesome GMs...the game is great because they are great.
    There's a certain subset of those gamers who take a great deal of pride in their ability to bring that awesome...even to otherwise crappy games.
    One pattern of these two things is a tendency by some to defend otherwise crappy games based on the fact that they actually experienced great play with them...mistaking their own ability to bring the awesome for an inherent quality of the game itself.

    Another pattern is that there is a certain sub subset of gamers who, because of their pride in their hard earned skill to bring the awesome, have a tendency to view various elements of theory or "how to play this game properly" advice in texts as a personal affront. Not all such advice or text: When its in an area that that gamer hadn't thought of or feels isn't their strong suit they are often eager for advice on how to get better. But when the text or theory is on an area they already consider a personal area of expertise, and it advises doing something different than what they normally do...and ESPECIALLY when the text advises or implies (or the culture around the theory / game advises) that to play "right' you have to let go of your "baggage" and the "baggage" being referred to is the very stuff that those gamers are super proud of...THEN you get threads like this one. Threads that demonstrate a heart felt desire to understand and learn and succeed, struggling against a background of defensiveness and offended sensibilities.

    As usual, Judd is spot on when he diagnosis that as half the problem, and the other half as responding defensively to the defensiveness. My first impulse when reading the OP, was "Fuck Off Todd." and that was just as much bullshit as the majority of the OP. People talk about the weakness of the internet as a communication medium, but that's not really true. The communication weakness is our human tendency to argue with patterns rather than actual issues. The internet didn't create that weakness, it just doesn't help to overcome it.

    Personally I find the text of AW to be a masterpiece. IMO its by far the most clear explanation Vincent has ever given on How to Play one of his games...in the actual rules text of the game. In that regard I think it even outshines Dogs which had to resort to some vague hand wavery because (I think) he hadn't yet figured out how to articulate fully what he wanted you to actually DO in the game. In a Wicked Age suffered mightily from that problem as did Poison'd. Folks may recall the many harsh threads around those games and how the text in the book didn't at all line up with the actual intention of how to play...at least not until after you learned the actual intention from another source and could then interpret the text better with that knowledge in place (which is what was necessary for me to have IaWA go from "meh" to one of my all time favorite games).

    No single text is going to appeal equally to everyone, but quite frankly, I find criticizing the text of AW to be somewhat laughable and somewhat puzzling. Its so far ahead of the fast majority of game texts out there in terms of actually telling you what to do to play successfully that bashing it for missing perfection rather than appreciating it for getting as close as it did seems rather ungracious.
  • edited February 2011
    Marhault,
    I met Vincent once in 2005 and again a couple weeks ago. He has influenced my life for the better. Listen to the Poison'd and Mechaton episodes of Ninjas vs Pirates if you want to evolve your gamedesignbrain way forward. But, you'll also hear a coyness in his speech that may be genuine or may be stylized, a bit contrived. It would be preposterous for me to say I'm certain which. And far from elevated discourse. Likewise, I can't say whether his dignified response to criticism is a public front of good manners, or the entireity of his reaction. But sparing-his-feelings isnt the only reason to steer clear. Me not wanting to be a petty person is reason, too.
  • edited February 2011
    I have some thoughts.

    Thought 1: Criticize away. Complain away, vent away! Like I say, that's what I sign up for when I publish. If I can't stand it, I have no business doing it. So it ever is and must be.

    Thought 2: When you make the leap from criticizing someone's writing to criticizing their person, it makes you presumptuous; you've overstepped both your own business and good grace. It's rude, it reflects badly on you. It makes perfect sense to me that Todd wants not to do it, no matter how well I'll take it (and I'm likely to take it pretty well, as Jamey says). (And Todd said the same while I was composing this. Hi Todd!)

    Thought 3: None of the complaints here are really addressed to me at all. You're talking to each other, as fellow readers. This is fine! It's an essential, inevitable conversation and this is a good venue for it. The venue for direct reader-writer feedback isn't public posts on Story Games, it's, y'know, direct. It doesn't demand an audience.

    I do find these conversations informative. They do affect the way that I'll write my next book. Watching while readers have a conversation about your writing is different from getting direct feedback, but it's also valuable. Every bit as valuable! Conversations like this, I learn equally from every side; I pay close attention to the whole lot, complaints, praise, questions, answers. My usual rule is to not participate at all, just to watch and learn, unless someone asks me a direct question or requests a valley girl playbook.

    Thought 4: I know that some of you have probs with it, but I'd really recommend the Forge as a place for higher-quality critical discussion. Todd, you might try a post like your opening post in the Forge's publishing forum. The various tones and writing styles of games' texts is a great topic for a publishing discussion, and the Forge would take it seriously as such. I'd be delighted to answer questions there about the choices I made. ("Vincent, were you trying to sound tough?" "Hm. Kind of. I know better than to try to sound tough, but I was trying to sound kind of scuzzy or something, yes. It's a lot like the voice in kill puppies for satan - allied with the PCs, of their world, but with a clearer view than they have.")

    -Vincent
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