Not-Quite-A-Review: The Baron (2006)

I wasn’t suggesting Pudlo be banned because he posted a negative review and you know it. I was wondering how many years he has to troll this place before you finally ban his sorry ass. Spam isn’t half as damaging as a troll who feels he can do whatever he wants because moderators aren’t prepared to do anything about him.

You have a point.

Aw common guys, I’d never shit in my own nest. Ask Adam Thornton or Dan Shiovitz or Graham Holden or Hanon Ondricek or anyone who’s tested for me and they’ll tell you I’m the perfect gentleman with my testers.

I think the implicit point was ban him for what?

I’m curious why people get so worked up. If you don’t like someone’s posts, and you see they posted something — don’t read it! Don’t respond to that thread! If you see they jump in to a thread that you are already reading – skip over their post! Empower yourself to not get worked up over it by not even reading it in the first place. Practice selective viewing and simply ignore that which you don’t want to see. This is good practice for some aspects of life.

The funny thing is, when I read this thread, I see other people acting worse than Jacek. I personally choose to see his responses as a bit of a “counter-cultural shot across the bow”, a bit tongue-in-cheek, and a bit of – as I said – a gadfly. Let’s say I even grant that this is all mean-spirited. Okay, but, if I don’t take all this too seriously, I actually see a lot of it as amusing and a good break from reading about other things on the forum.

So, ask yourself this: you chose to read a thread posted by a person you don’t like and wish would go away. Why did you start reading the thread in the first place?

Banning his account would only inconvenience the people who have added him to their foes list. I expect he is savvy enough that an IP ban would not pose much of a challenge.

The only way to keep him out would be to create a closed forum where new members had to be approved by moderators. That’s not the forum we have, though.

Then ban him again when he registers under a different name and then again and again and again. Are you really saying you haven’t banned him yet because he’ll probably be able to fake an IP address and sidestep the ban? That’s a bit like a bank manager saying they might as well leave the safe open because some bank robbers are smart enough to pick locks.

If you have objections concerning my behaviour, why don’t you simply take them up with me?

If I’ve insulted anyone and that someone demands satisfaction, I’m more than willing to accommodate. Select your online wargame of choice and we’ll battle it out like two honorable geeks.

No, I haven’t banned him because he’s not a spammer and he posts topical reviews of critically-acclaimed IF games.

The thing about spammers is that they move on to greener pastures once banned. Pudlo isn’t going anywhere. I’m not so hard-pressed for leisure activities that I want to engage in a pointless moderation war with a determined adversary.

The path of least resistance for you and least effort for me is to add him to your foes list. You may have to expand the net a bit to catch anyone who quotes Pudlo in reply. If you’re very unlucky, that might take more of your time over the next ten years than I spend dealing with forum spam in a single afternoon.

Well, nice to know that’s been cleared up anyway. Trolls are free to do as they please because it requires effort to ban them.

But, look at it this way: you are free to do as you please and ignore them entirely. You can immediately skip over their posts or avoid threads they start. On the other hand, you are also free to do as you please and keep worrying about it. At least you have options. Now just think if you had something serious to worry about like unemployment, losing your house, living out of your car, being unable to afford gifts for your kids, etc.

Can we ban bukayeva for that last stupid post?

This is Kafkaesque. Could you at least explain to me why you consider me a potential adversary?


I don’t have any concerns about your behavior here. Some of your raif posts were hilarious; others were rather shocking and hateful. That gives rise to a certain ambivalence.

On balance I’m glad you decided to join the forum and happy that you’ve found a way to tone down the vitriol. It’s a more interesting place when there are dissenting opinions.

Your reviews are harsh and unfair and tend to ignore the genuine merits of the work. But you target established authors rather than raw newcomers, and in doing so you offer an ironic commentary on the bulk of IF criticism. I happen to think that’s a useful function.

I don’t. I was attempting to deal with the question of banning trolls in the abstract, and evidently doing a poor job of it.

Established? In what way exactly are these authors I “target” established? Has any of them won the Man Booker Prize? Are they being published by Knopf? Do they have a movie deal with Paramount? Please do tell us how one becomes an established IF author. I’m sure this will be of great interest to many, not least to the raw newcomers.

If you believe that I have ignored the genuine merits of The Baron, tell me what you think they are. I’m not being combative. I really would like to know your opinion on Victor’s game.

Speaking of the spamfloods … would it be feasible just to put some kind of gentle barrier to board entry, along the lines of like a little three-question questionnaire, answer to be sent to a moderator? Name your two favorite text games, favorite TV show heroine, and how you like your eggs? :slight_smile:

There’d be no wrong answers since the goal wouldn’t be to filter out any people, obviously (I don’t think the Pudlos of the world need to be banned; they shoot themselves in the mouth everytime they open it), just the automata? Drop the responses into a queue of some kind, maybe have a small group of volunteers who could check that queue at any time to clear them?

I sometimes wonder just what it takes for someone to get banned from this forum. Don’t we have moderators who are meant to, um, moderate?

A question that I have also pondered, along with its corollary: How pointless does a review have to be before it stops being treated like a real review? I’m too much of a good citizen at heart to actually try posting “a very nice game FREE V1AGRA!!!” around the forums, so perhaps we’ll never know.

Emily Short, Adam Cadre, Aaron Reed and Victor Gijsbers are established in the sense that they have a reputation for creating IF of such quality that their future efforts are guaranteed to find an audience.

I think it is a very fine work of IF. Perhaps the finest yet produced.

When confronted by the existence of some human monster, I often wonder where their humanity ends and the monstrous begins. Part of me wants to believe I am an exceptional person with heroic qualities, but that has not been the lesson of my life. That part clings to the hope that I am at least not as bad as the worst of us.

Set against that is my axiomatic belief that people are more alike than different; that however messy, complicated, and infinitely varied their circumstances, they are interchangeable at some fundamental level. I do not see how it is possible to be a writer without feeling this to be true.

Hence my inner conflict, between the hero I know I am not and the monster I would rather not know. It seems to me that those two bounds encompass most of humanity, perhaps all of it. It may be that none of us is as good as he believes, nor so evil that we could renounce him with a clear conscience.

De Baron switches so frequently between heroic discourse and monstrous self-examination that it became for me an interactive exploration of that conflict. The fact that Victor was able to accomplish this is simultaneously reassuring - for at least I am not alone in perceiving such conflicts - and deeply upsetting, in that it reaffirms the fundamental sameness that binds us together.

I have not read Lolita and knowing the subject matter, I am unlikely to do so. De Baron may or may not cover similar ground in an inferior way, but its opening hook was so brilliantly effective that it drew me in unawares and ruined my day with thoughts like these.

I think Victor is a bastard for writing De Baron, but I admire the hell out of his courage. As a parent I don’t have it in me to gaze at length into that particular abyss. It terrifies me and gives me a small measure of hope that someone else does.

I don’t know what it cost Victor to write it, but it earned him my profound and lasting respect.

There have been a few on IFDB that are little more than “I like this gaim it is really gud so I gave it five stars it is exciting i n teh descriptions.”

You do realise that it’s impossible to verify what kind of audience an IF game is guaranteed to find? Once an IF game is released, it is cast into the void.

It seems to me that you are praising The Baron solely for its good intentions while overlooking its bad execution. So what’s so bad about the The Baron’s execution? As I already pointed out, the prose is execrable. Hardly a single sentence sounds like something a native speaker might write. It has been pointed out to me that Victor is not a native speaker. Well, neither was Conrad or Nabokov. As a non-native speaker myself, I find the notion that Victor deserves lenience insulting.

The two laziest opening scenes in IF are the Dragon and the Bedroom. It is a testimony to the poverty of Victor’s imagination that he has somehow managed to incorporate them both. That he has chosen to symbolise the struggle between the Luke Skywalker of the Self and its Darth Vader by a warrior battling a dragon is another low imagination-wise.

What about the implementation? As I already pointed out, The Baron is a game about a lumberjack who doesn’t know how to swing an axe. Unfortunately, the unintentional comedy doesn’t end here. The bedroom contains a wife object, which leads to the following odd interchange.

You curse the evil baron for all he has done to you.

If you know nothing about IF design, you might think something profoundly Freudian is going on here. But what is going on here is Inform grammar treating FUCK as a synonym of DAMN. It’s the author’s job to extend FUCK to its transitive meaning.

And then there’s the “dungeon.” This is where the The Baron lifts from being just another turgid morality tale and becomes a parody of itself. The symbolic vocabulary Victor employs in this section is so crude and infantile, I can’t shake off the impression that I’m playing a game written by a twelve-year-old.