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The least interested I've been in the antics of an eel

  • Sooz
  • 10/16/2016 12:30 AM
  • 11810 views
So I'm super into weird shit. Even really amateurish weird shit- Ratboy Genius is one of my favorite web series, which, if you're familiar with it, says a lot about what I will tolerate in terms of low quality. I genuinely enjoy listening to the Most Unwanted Song. I say all this to show my credentials as someone with a really high tolerance of- and interest in- what this game is trying to be. Also, its protagonist is an eel, which is one of the cutest and most delicious animals ever, so I was already more than ready to meet it halfway.

G is advertised as a surreal/art game, but it really doesn't stand up as either. This is a disappointment, because the splat on the gamepage sounds super interesting- a floody land? Mysterious and sudden disappearances? Unfortunate gifts? Heck yeah! Unfortunately, the game just doesn't have anything outstanding to it.

The art- simple, Gameboy-style, low-detail blocks- doesn't exactly make one excited to play. Its setting is incredibly dry and pedestrian for a game intended to be “surreal”- normal buildings, normal dirt, normal mines. No evidence of the regular floods, unless one counts the uninspiring lack of anything other than building, ground, and character sprites. There's a tedious amount of space, given that the gameplay involves so much walking (slithering) around. It feels empty- not in the lonely and desolate sense, but in the “art director couldn't be bothered to add any details” sense.

The art is also just not that good to look at. The grass is random pixels. The dirt is random pixels. The sea is random pixels where the tiling is still obvious. Everything is square. It's often hard to tell what land features are supposed to be, because the random pixels all blur together in a visual mush.

The character sprites are unclear- not an asset in a setting where things are intended to be strange. I assumed one sprite was supposed to be some kind of toilet before I learned it was intended to be a hand. Its portrait did not really contribute to the clarity; I learned this from its dialog.

Speaking of dialog...

The art issues wouldn't be much of a problem if the writing were great. OFF, for example, is pretty great despite some weak pixel art, partly because the writing is so brilliant. G is not brilliant. It relies entirely too much on telling, rather than showing; all the characters simply and straightforwardly inform you of one thing. Sometimes, it's a weak joke. Mostly, it's exposition:

I made a wish to have the hand of the G man. You can see how that worked for me.

I know a guy who worked himself to the point of death in that mine. He was as pale as a ghost by the time they found him. We all know who controls the mine; the G man. How is it fair that one person can decide who lives and who dies?

Deep underground in this very city is a rebel gang planning to push the G man out of office, but you didn't hear it from me, no sir.


This is all stuff that could be really interesting if the player could see it play out, rather than just being told what's going on.


This was a pretty good line, though. Got a laugh out of me.

The writing also gives no real indication of who the player character is or what he is supposed to be doing. I know from the menu that his name is Sir Eel, which is just offensive on multiple levels, but he has no apparent existence outside of being a sprite on the screen. Why am I helping this eel on his journey? Because he is the one that responds to my input, I guess. I'm not even sure what his journey is supposed to be, beyond wandering around several screens and interacting with characters who give no interesting responses. I pushed a guy, and brought a guy to help another guy, but I have no idea why, or what repercussions there might have been if I'd refused to do either. The game is an exercise in wandering, a walking simulator lacking the interesting scenery that is that genre's entire purpose.

Through the exposition given by several NPCs, I guess this was supposed to be some kind of religious commentary. (Here I must admit that I did not bother to complete the game; I couldn't bring myself to care enough to wander around and re-talk to every NPC until I stumbled on whatever I was supposed to do next, especially since it'd require continuing to hear that dreadful music.) What I saw from it was tepid, very much Babby's First Religious Criticism, with nothing to distinguish its subject matter from any of the flood of similar works before it. It brings no new views on the subject, no truths about the human condition, just a bunch of “these are things people have said about this,” presented in a format that's extremely unengaging.

I mentioned the music in passing. It is abysmal: a single, slow, tuneless track of random vibraphone tones, incessantly repeating. In a way, it's almost brilliant, in that its lack of any kind of direction, sense, or aesthetic value perfectly reflects the feeling of the game itself. The tedium of the notes- plonk...... plonk...... plonk...... plonk......- as I slooooowly slithered around an uninteresting island talking to uninteresting characters served to push me even further from any engagement with the game.

G fails on every front to be what it intends to. It has the beginnings of something that could be an interesting game, but suffers from a complete lack of development of these ideas.

Posts

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Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7874
author=unity
author=Corfaisus
author=unity
author=Corfaisus
author=unity
author=Corfaisus
And I respect you more than Sooz or anyone else for saying that. I also feel like it would've sacrificed the feeling of a game if I had approached this journey any differently. If walking around and learning more about the world and its people wasn't engaging to someone, that's really just too bad. The only way I could've addressed this was to have the player be on a rail from beginning to end so that none of the extraneous stuff would come into effect.
So, that's it? If you really feel that there was nothing you could have learned, nothing you could have done differently, or nothing about games or game mechanics that you could have used to improve the experience, then you are missing a fundamental element of what it means to make something to communicate with others and I am done following you as a developer.
For this game? Absolutely.
Then that's that, then. I won't be following any of your future developments. I can't respect a developer who thinks his work is beyond criticism.
Beyond criticism? Absolutely not. That'd make me some sort of dick. This game, however, is beyond saving.


"But if the game itself is bad, fixing those things won't really do much in the long run."
That's a hell of a lot different than refusing to listen or take criticism. Goodbye, Corfaisus.

Now you're refusing to listen. I hope you can see that.

This is just starting to sound like some sort of dramatic "you need me" thing. I'm not going to allow myself to get swept up into such abusive tactics. I don't owe you anything. Bye, "unity".

To think I said I respected you.
unity
You're magical to me.
12540
I wanted to give you one last chance to admit that maybe, just maybe, you handled this wrong. I see that was a mistake.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7874
author=unity
I wanted to give you one last chance to admit that maybe, just maybe, you handled this wrong. I see that was a mistake.

If you continue to comment, I'll have to report you. You're just baiting at this point. This behavior isn't welcome.

Would a mod or admin come and lock discussion in here, please? This incessant pestering isn't something this community needs.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
author=Corfaisus
If walking around and learning more about the world and its people wasn't engaging to someone, that's really just too bad.


As I expected, you didn't bother listening to any of my criticism, you just focus on "You don't get it, maaaan!"

My criticism:
"(I am)* someone with a really high tolerance of- and interest in- what this game is trying to be."

"This is a disappointment, because the splat on the gamepage sounds super interesting- a floody land? Mysterious and sudden disappearances? Unfortunate gifts? Heck yeah! Unfortunately, the game just doesn't have anything outstanding to it. "

"There's a tedious amount of space, given that the gameplay involves so much walking (slithering) around. It feels empty- not in the lonely and desolate sense, but in the “art director couldn't be bothered to add any details” sense. "

"The art is also just not that good to look at. "

"The character sprites are unclear- not an asset in a setting where things are intended to be strange"

"The art issues wouldn't be much of a problem if the writing were great. . . . G is not brilliant. It relies entirely too much on telling, rather than showing. . . . This is all stuff that could be really interesting if the player could see it play out, rather than just being told what's going on."

"The tedium of the notes- plonk...... plonk...... plonk...... plonk......- as I slooooowly slithered around an uninteresting island talking to uninteresting characters served to push me even further from any engagement with the game."

In summary:

"The game is an exercise in wandering, a walking simulator lacking the interesting scenery that is that genre's entire purpose. "


This is the important thing, what you are missing when you focus on how people did not "get" your artistic vision: if your game is supposed to be about wandering an area and getting an idea of what's going on, then the area should invite wandering on its own. The information being dispensed should be interesting. There should be a reason for the player to keep going, beyond "Welp, I guess I need to because the game seems to want me to."

If you want people to wander in your game, you CANNOT make the setting as small, empty, and uninviting as you have in G. You CANNOT write NPCs with one line that's just the most basic exposition with no writing finesse or real hint of character. And it is absolute IDIOCY to add on top of this beige laziness a single track of the least interesting music possible.

I am ALL ABOUT wandering around and learning more about worlds; I love Yume Nikki, which is explicitly that. I commonly ignore plot in games solely for the joy of exploring and seeing what the devs have done to build the world and develop NPCs. Shit, I have obsessively mapped the town of Silent Hill because that setting is so fascinating and appealing.

You have not failed because your audience "doesn't get it" or "doesn't want to play a walking simulator." I am your intended audience, and you have failed at making a game that I was already inclined to enjoy engaging on any level.

*Dang BB code makes it hard to elide things properly. Please assume parentheses are brackets.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7874
The administration has been alerted. Stop.

If no action is taken and this discussion is allowed to continue unhindered, I'll be forced to remove this gamepage from public access, which would be a open detriment to the greater game development community regardless of how you feel about this game's existence or execution. Its blood will be on your hands.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
author=Corfaisus
The administration has been alerted. Stop.

If no action is taken and this discussion is allowed to continue unhindered, I'll be forced to remove this gamepage from public access, which would be a open detriment to the greater game development community regardless of how you feel about this game's existence or execution. Its blood will be on your hands.


LOL
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7874
Zeigfried_McBacon
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
3820
Enough is enough corf. Sooz is well within her right to criticize your game, and the fact the review had to be approved more so tells me it was within bounds. Youre within yur rights to remove the game, but I think your issue is handling criticism but having no problem dishing it out. Just stop and go away for a few weeks for Ill start giving you REAL warnings.

Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7874
EDIT: Youtube videos should also be considered image macros.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7874
It's been half a year and I've decided to go ahead and write out a spoilery explanation of this game. It can be found here.

Just letting you know, it's a big one.
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