That ain’t a Shepherd

Yesterday was a… slightly unpleasant day. First there was the Rock, Paper, Shotgun review which, like the Auntie Pixelante review before it, really depressed the hell out of me. With both reviews I actually feel that the problem is more one of a mismatch of expectations and tone than anything else; sometimes we approach something we’d normally like from the wrong angle, and end up hating it. That’s certainly happened to me a number of times, and the RPS review contains a whole bunch of points that make me think the writer expected something rather different. I do wish people would have a closer look at the prose, sometimes: it’s not just walls of text or rambling nonsense. You may dislike it, of course, but there’s a great deal of thought behind every sentence, and there’s more layers to the story and the concepts behind it than just a bunch of puns and silly names (though those matter, too). That’s one reason I liked Gregory Weir’s review so much – because it mentions the darkness that hovers at the edge of the story.

Anyway. Then there was the bit where someone on Twitter accused the game of being a rip-off of Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure, which is a game that means absolutely nothing to me and that I wouldn’t imitate if someone put a gun to my head. I suppose anything hand-drawn is the same now, is it? I suppose making money off your 5-year-old’s game (and the shop that it spawned) makes you a serious artist, but trying to tell stories with their own unique tone and style counts as a cash-in? And the graphics in The Book of Living Magic lack authenticity, because they don’t look like they were drawn by a real 5-year-old, as if they were ever intended to look that way. (What were they supposed to look like? They were supposed to look exactly as they do. Colourful and detailed and textured. They’re not meant to ape reality, and the game would suck donkeyballs if they did.) Yes, the people who said that have now apologized, but I’m bothered by the sheer hatefulness of it all. You know, some of us are putting a whole lot of effort into this whole game-making thing, taking the form seriously, trying to create interesting and original works. I’ve been making games for a decade now with very little recognition and even less money, and this kind of comment just pisses me off. Seriously.

On Kongregate, The Book of Living Magic has sadly been displaced by BadgeMaster and BioGems in the weekly contest, which is a shame. Why is it a shame? Because making the kind of cash-in games that we make means that $250 would have been a lot of money. Yes, food for quite a few days. Hand to mouth, folks – that’s what happens when your games don’t get picked up by the national media because of their authenticity. Maybe we should have our cat design our next game, I’m sure some animated smudges and mouse organs will give it that level of artistry that our imitative works just lack.

Oh well. I’m not really complaining about the Kongregate thing, it’s great that the game got the attention that it did. Whatever some people may have to say about it, players are liking the game, and it’s players that I make my games for. Oh, and also wrote about it.

I really need to make the links more visible on this blog. And update the link list. And so much other stuff. But first I need to work on Catroidvania.

(If I’m grumpy, I blame my headache. And my headache is because of Captain America. A mediocre-to-bad movie turned into brain torture through the cunning use of 3D. But it did have Chris Evans in it, so we had to see it.)

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