[SPAG] #59 Now Available

Hi, there!

The latest issue of IF’s journal of record, SPAG, is available at sparkynet.com/spag/backissues/spag59.html. Thanks for bearing with us while we straightened out the transfer of editorial oversight! Everyone’s been extremely kind, and deepest thanks to our reviewers this issue, whose time and thoughtful writing made this possible during an otherwise frenetic last quarter(s).

For those who would like to contribute to the forthcoming SPAG #60, by all means begin drafting your essays, musings,and observations. I’d love to hear what you’re working on, and if you want to be involved but aren’t sure how, shoot me an e-mail and we’ll find the inspiration!



Thanx for keeping SPAG alive after all these years :slight_smile: (this goes to all the maintainers right from the start :slight_smile: )…

Hi SPAGgers. Thank you for SPAG.

For IFComp authors, this SPAG may largely remind them/us of the aggravations of being in the comp and watching reviews roll in, just because it is again another set of reviews of the comp games.

So here are my capsule reviews of the SPAG reviews. I don’t mean to review them just by whether I agree with what they say about any game, but whether I think they’re good work for the cause of reviewing, which was the authors’ primary gripe about many reviews written in haste in blogs during the comp:

Aot, Chronicler, One Eye Open, Following a Star, Warbler’s Nest, Flight of the Hummingbird, Gigantomania, Lost Sheep, Mite, R, 12:54 to Asgard, Under in Erebus, Blind House, A quiet evening at home: Thumbs up!

Divis Mortis: Mostly thumbs up, but many complaints about ‘lack of originality’ grow wearying. I find tropes and originality studies unhelpful, since total originality is so extraordinarily rare. Was this game obviously the author’s particular delivery? Yes.

The same trope-watching is going on in the Pen and Paint review.

Oxygen, East Grove Hills: Sure it’s only 1 paragraph long, or in danger of being underdeveloped, respectively, but thumbs up.

Rogue: Thumbs down! I don’t think the opening paragraph about playing some other unnamed TADs game is relevant, or demonstrated to be relevant in hindsight. Re: The complaint about ‘there is nowhere near enough prose’… I think the game’s consistent style shows it has the amount of prose the author intended. There aren’t inherently correct amounts of prose in these games. The more I hang on IFDB, the more I see this kind of criticism, where terse and perfectly arranged prose which also succeeds in paying everything off is unreasonably described as, ‘Well, it wasn’t awful…’ … A high word count for its own sake is not a good goal. Whatever serves the story best via author intention and logistics will be best.

Heated: Thumbs down. Opens with a paragraph saying the game is doomed because of the expectations of ‘the community’. No thorough description of why the game is actually as terrible as all that follows. There’s a valid para about the undernourished heatometer, then one saying ‘the tech is solid’, then one bug description. Conclusion paragraph: ‘Will go down like a lead balloon.’ Speculation on author’s motives and knowledge, etc., follows.

Leadlight: My game. I got a lot of reviews I placed on one pile which featured the combo of: ‘We’re trying to move IF forward these days’ (what, was I trying to move it back?) paragraphs of speculation on my motives for various things, and dotted line drawing to separate the lovely modern IF from the horrible old IF.

What I like about Junana’s review was that she didn’t speculate on my motives or google me. She did evoke the dotted lines and ‘moving forward’, though… buuut she also admits to not being au fait with horror games, and I think that may be one of the most important things you can say if you go to review a horror game - or more generally, to declare your au faitness with the general attributes of any particular game you’re reviewing if it’s new turf for you. So thumbs up.

Isn’t Juhana a dude?

Yes he is :slight_smile:

I’d also like to clarify that the “moving forward” part referred to technological advancements. It’d be hypocrisy to claim that IF couldn’t advance as an art form or as games when using decades old technology, but on the other hand technological advances do open wider possibilities (not necessarily deeper). I can also see why people would think that the game was meant to be a tribute or the old-school look and feel was the main point. I thought that myself, too, but apparently this isn’t the case–sorry for jumping into conclusions without better knowledge.

It should also be noted that when people sign up to the SPAG review pool the games are assigned randomly. Sometimes you get a game that you know you’re not the best person to review and you have to try not to bash the game when it’s obvious that you and the game just aren’t meant for each other.

Hahaha… that’s priceless!

Juhana: “Junana” could be your drag name… You know, if you ever went down that path… :slight_smile:

Haha… I’m sorry Juhana. You may wish to examine SPAG #59, where your name appears as ‘Junana’ every time. And that’s where I got it as I hadn’t met you before.

Thanks for your extra clarifications on my own game. I obviously can’t expect anyone to know my motives unless I state them (I did on the game website, but clearly many did not read it at the time) but it was the reviews that decided what my motives were for sure, acted confidently in the knowledge - and got it wrong - that really irked me. Yours definitely had no relation to such stuff.

My intent with my SPAG post was to mobilise talk on various reviewing issues. Some things kept coming up over and over again during the review explosion of IFCOMP, but the authors weren’t allowed to talk about any of them.

Your comment about the review pool designation of SPAG is relevant to IFCOMP time as well. In IFCOMP, many players are inevitably going to be playing games they normally might not try. But for those who double as commenters on everything in their blog, we saw a lot of hasty work done as they rushed to get through all the games. So instead of considered reviews, you get opinionated first responses, sometimes not with much consideration and often with no fact checking.

Some weren’t even reviews… yknow, for my own game, Yoon Ha Lee’s entry paraphrases to ‘My eyeballs exploded so I couldn’t stand to play the game, 5/10’. The review actually stopped where the game started, but only after giving a blow by blow account of all his/her (I’m not gonna make that mistake twice in one topic!) emotional state changes. I dialed up this review on my friend’s iphone when we were having some drinks at the Bavarian Bier Cafe and we all rolled around in hysterics.

But this got linked up as a ‘review’ at ifwiki, etc. As it turns out later, I still liked Yoon Ha Lee’s set of comments more than others I received :slight_smile: My overall point is - IFCOMP certainly exposed the diference between considered reviews and a lot of rush jobs, but the rush jobs nevertheless follow the games around afterwards I think it was Hannes who pointed this out.

From Irfon-Kim Ahmad’s “Rogue of the Multiverse” review in SPAG #59:

I wish to point out that this bug is entirely my fault; the game has nothing to do with it. I shipped QTads 2.0.1 Mac binaries that were created using a faulty version of one of the base libraries. As a result, the bug described above can occur with all games and not just RotM.

My apologies for this screw-up. I will replace the released 2.0.1 Mac applications (both the Intel as well as the PPC version are affected) with corrected ones as soon as possible. Note that only the Mac versions are affected. The Linux and Windows versions don’t have this problem.

I’ve just uploaded the corrected Mac builds.

Seriously? Wow. I don’t want to mess with a successfully long-standing tradition or anything, but this sounds to my ears like an awful system.


SPAG #59 as an ‘IFmag’ (Z-Code)