Wade's Spring Thing reviews

I’ll be doing some Spring Thing 2022 reviews in my blog. My first review is for Confessing to a Witch by HeckinRobin:



This was the best thing to wake up to today, I was scared no-one would play mine :sweat_smile: thank you for the nice words!


My second review is for The Prairie House by Chris Hay and Kelsen Hadder:



I’ve made a correction to a mistake that was in my Prairie House review. Due to misreading some info on the itch.io page for the game, I said the soundtrack was partly original (i.e. not 100% the work of the composer from the ground up.) This was incorrect. The soundtrack is all the original work of Kelsen Hadder. And it’s really good work. My apologies to the authors of the Prairie House. The mistake’s been corrected in my blog.



My third review is for Hypercubic Time-Warp All-go-rhythmic Synchrony by Ben Kidwell and Maevele Straw:



My fourth review is for Bigfoot Bluff by By P.B. Parjeter:


My fifth review is for A Single Ouroboros Scale by Naomi Norbez:



[I could have said what I wrote here better, but I didn’t. I came across as an entitled dick, and that wasn’t right. That’s on me, and that’s why it is edited now. I am sorry about that, and to Wade, who has given to me and my creations in a lot of ways over the years. Especially to Wade, I needed to be better about this.

I’m updating this a few months later, and looking back, I was not in my right mind when I wrote my original post. The pseudodementia really fucked up my brain. I regret not having more self-control, and I’m sorry for responding in this way. I will do better in the future.]

Hi Bez,

When I opened the email, I saw a huge wall of text, and I’m afraid it’s what I expected based on past interactions. Overreaction, defense, interrogation, saying how offended you are by everything and everyone, basically making demands to explain this or that. The communication I’ve seen from on the forum, or in private, has broadly followed this pattern. In this sense, I don’t feel I owe any reply, because you don’t make reasonable communications. Nevertheless I’ll say a few things.

In the first place, I (as you) wouldn’t even put myself in this position where a single review has this much power over you. This is one review, my review. It’s been said a lot in history: don’t go personally fighting people who review your work. Someone offered it as advice on the board as to how to react in IFComp, too.

If I pretend we’ve had no prior communication, my reaction to your email would be, ‘Geez, why did I bother reviewing this person’s work.’ I actually chose to review your work next out of some sense of empathy. Even kindness. You’ve said you’ve felt overlooked. Repeatedly. Sometimes in extreme ways. People see worth in your work nevertheless and keep saying so in various ways, and you keep ignoring that and collate all the negatives. Your complaints are often about how your work is misinterpreted, but (a) I don’t think it’s being misinterpreted and (b) let other people interpret it, anyway! You have to expect a wide variety of interpretations of your work because of the subject matter.

I’ve shown my belief in the expected worth of your work by deliberately choosing to review it ahead of 40 other works; I don’t review in random order. What I got for engaging with your work at all and bothering to share my ideas in public was an email from you claiming deep offense and demanding a bunch of stuff. You see why this will drive someone away? Someone who doesn’t really want to be driven away? And what are you going to do, police the thoughts of people who play your game and whose opinions you don’t like but that you don’t get to see because they don’t write a review? Don’t you see what a losing game this is?

You seeing this as Algie participating in “a perverse form of mental masturbation”, saying that he had driven everyone away, that he is “in a social vacuum”. . . . On what grounds are you making that reading?

The grounds that ultimately he has no friends. As you said, they left him. He found out who his real friends were, etc. Friends before, no friends now, when one is without friends and writing a society-critical monologue, one can be said to be in a social vacuum.

(“so solidly bound up with his own assumptions as to share little of [the empathy Algie desires] specifically”), from sporadic posts, a few dozen tweets a year at most? Once again, I genuinely must know.

Sorry, this comment I don’t understand. Isn’t the point of the game that you’re trying to convey a lot about Algie through these bits of archive? You’re actively making the game about people judging him by reading only this stuff. The story is a concentrate of Algie. If it’s not, what’s the point? It’s a highly personal, ceaseless one man story about that man’s state of mind, with tons of both implications and facts about elements of that life. There’s no sign at all that Algie is bouncing these ideas off anyone other than himself.

Ah yes. To finish up, if you had read the ending note

I did read it. Saying it’s autobiographical, saying what’s going on, that’s all fine and good. Here’s the bit that annoyed me:

“This is not about that, and if you see yourself in this game, that means you see the reflective mirror I am attempting to hold up”

I always view this manoeuvre as pre-emptive, power-asserting nonsense. “Don’t try to say or think that things aren’t how they are in this work. All I’ve done is held up a mirror. You’re seeing the mirror. You can’t see something else” etc etc.

You wrote this. I get to interpret it. That’s art. We can converse about it during or after, but that’s generally not the format of a review. And it’s certainly not that the author of the review is obliged to deal with interrogation by the author, unless they’ve conspicuously done a terrible job. And sincerely, I don’t think I have.

If that is what you have truly taken from my game, then my only honest conclusion is that this is the biggest failure of my interactive fiction career.

This is fatuous. Do you see me saying this is a piece of crap? Absolutely not. The only person doing this in some weird way is you, now, to yourself. Stop it! And stop grilling or attacking everyone who makes any kind of effort to react to your work or say something about it.

I would try a really different tack. Don’t interrogate anyone – definitely don’t send an email like the one you sent to me to another reviewer. When Spring Thing is done, thank people who played and reviewed your game. Give more than you take.

I wish you well, personally, but I don’t want to communicate further. I see no point. Whether by review or personal message, I try to offer stuff, ideas, suggestions, alternate views, help of a sort. I made a point of reviewing your game this comp. Your habit, in return, is to post or send a rant demanding I or someone explain what they just said because you see insult in everything. Nobody owes you these explanations, especially people who moved in the direction of your work in the first place. And while what I write myself is often frank, I don’t think I’ve ever insulted you.



PS - The people who run this site pointed out my above reply was made as a post and not as a PM, and was that what I intended? It actually wasn’t. When I received Bez’s email, the content seemed very PM in nature to me and so I thought I was replying to a PM (when I hit reply to the email). I was actually replying to a public post. Well, this is a mistake I will try to never to make again. However, as it turns out that all the complaints about my reviewing were made in public, my reply to them can stand in public as well.