Topic: Forum Games /
[Game over] CURSIVE - And the winner is...
Ah, the great ethical crisis. So simple, so devilish. You see, as of this writing, if I want to win, I post nothing (or vote for someone other than AN or Lem). In that case, AN’s algorithm breaks to my advantage. But, if I vote for either AN or Lem, it either resolves against me, or never activates at all. Decisions, decisions…
Let’s get down to business. (EDIT: I was doing individual evaluations on every single entry by every writer, but I’m running out of time, so I’ll do more general assessments for now. I do have a lot of the single entries written up, and I’d be glad to send you that or review an individual piece if there’s something you’re curious about. Please note that there’s likely to be a lot more criticism in those reviews than below, as I’d be evaluating the specific pros and cons of a given work)
AdeebNafees: Previous reviews have mentioned your ability with descriptions, but I think that’s really a subset of your attention to detail: and it needs to be brought up again, because it’s what makes your writing work. Your most notable entries for me were the three short stories and the game, and in each of those cases specificity either lent to the gravity of the situation, or (in the case of the game) helped me to visualize exactly what was being proffered. I loved your game, which seemed fully realized, benefiting from the conventions of its genre while actually introducing new ideas and mechanics. The Beast of the Wind was my single favorite entry of this competition; there was a sincerity to their interactions as children that’s really hard to get across. It also recalled a type of prose/style appropriate to the setting, which again lent it an air of authenticity. I appreciated the magical realism of your first story, although the prose was a bit scratchy in places, and the curse probably could have carried more symbolic weight. Overall, your attention to detail helped make your works distinct pieces, which was appreciated. There were a few times when your descriptions became too wordy and bogged down your writing, but that’s a minor criticism (particularly when it’s one I’m frequently guilty of).
Behemoth542: I enjoyed your poem; the direct address at the end lent emotional weight. I wish my real name was Epitaphiolicious von Metrocide. The typos actually did become a significant issue at one point in your short story, as they made it unclear what was happening when Garrett learned his family was still alive. The descriptions early on were strong, although the characters lacked emotional heft and the ending was anticlimactic.
CalmWaters: I liked the general conceit of your poem, as well as the imagery. The rhyme scheme seemed a bit forced. I really liked the detail in your story; apocalypse is best served by either visual imagery or the grim weight of specificity, since both serve to emphasize the reality of the situation. I was a little distracted by all of the sentence fragments, since they seemed more inadvertent than a deliberate stylistic choice. I apologize if I’m wrong about that. I was also a bit distracted by the improbably nature of some of the events and several plot holes, although the strength of the ending helped. I laughed at the 2-7 full house in-joke; I still remember. ;)
Coolo2011: When I write poetry, I frequently embed some sort of political or thematic message, so I appreciated your concept. The overall product was kind of rough, though; forced rhyme can be restrictive.
Hamuka: I liked your poem; it evoked the idea well. I enjoyed the opening to your story because I could identify with it; when I take walks through my neighborhood, a lot of the reason is simply so that I can drink in the scenery of the area. I would have liked more of a human interest element, though—more stuff the character saw, more quirks. I though the idea of your game was neat, but it would have benefited from a more focused title. I definitely enjoyed your dialogue, which was my favorite of your pieces. The reveal at the end was clever, and the whole thing fit the topic very well conceptually. Your show was interesting, although slightly unfocused. I liked your blog post a lot; it felt like something you’d really see, and the images were chosen well. (I don’t have any problem with the seizure picture, that stuff can’t bother me.) I liked the ending to your sequel—it worked well as a denouement—but I was a little confused by your theme story. I didn’t really understand the reason/motivation for the mustard attacks. Overall, I like the ideas you tried to get across in your stories, as well as the detail, which lent a sense of realism even amidst all the action. I think adding a little more verbal flourish would help the type of stories you write.
LethalMutiny: Your poem didn’t really do much for me, but, like everyone else, I loved your short story. The humor actually added to the overall effect, because it helped ground the tragedy. What was most impressive is that is that it really managed to convey a sense of being there; you managed to really evoke the experience of the war, from the tedium and slice-of-life elements to the real horror of the idea and the actual events. Farm Takeover made me laugh; what’s more, though, is that I can see it actually working as a real game. Your dialogue was excellent; as ridiculous as it was, I could almost see it actually happening. The humor was very sharp. I also enjoyed your Ramsay parody. I can only conclude that we have fairly different tastes in games, because ICHMBF is the only one of those games I actually like. In any case, it was a pretty solid imitation of the linked style, although the overall effect was kind of underwhelming. I think Mike and Maria need counseling at this point. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with your final story, per se, but the similarity to Saw was so readily evident (I think even some of the traps were the same) that it was kind of distracting. Overall, I was very impressed by your portfolio; you managed to convey a lot of different ideas successfully.
Occooa: For the most part, you stuck with one theme throughout the entire event, which as a concept I actually like. Building an idea across so many genres and formats really provides the opportunity to explore an idea in detail. The problem was, you basically went for shock value the entire time, which was particularly uncomfortable when everyone knows the real versions of the characters involved. Making someone uncomfortable can have actual literary merit, but here the whole exercise felt kind of tongue-in-cheek, which basically just leaves everyone a little grossed out. The original version of the Cocoaverse—from GLITCH, I think—was more effective as a story, because setting aside the immediacy of the fictionalized versions of you and Blizz, it was less prurient and more…I don’t know, honest, I guess. If you were absolutely committed to this idea, I think you would have benefited from either a more reserved approach, or a more absurdist one.
S_98: I liked your poem. The lyrical and sonic qualities of Matchmaker’s were well executed. If we do something like this again, I’m hoping you’ll participate again and will have time to do some more entries.
SilentSand: I liked the format/structure/idea of your poem. Your story was really interesting; the straightforwardness was a little off putting for the first couple paragraphs, but once you understand what’s going on, it really builds up the narrator as a heartless, pragmatic force of evil. I enjoyed your advertisement; it reminded me of the deliberately uncomfortable, uncanny valley-straddling faux ads they made for Cyberdyne at the Universal Studios Terminator show. Like Ham’s dialogue, yours deliberately undermined the formula of the RPG-ish quest, which was entertaining. Your TV show was fantastic. It was tonally perfect, and plotted meticulously. I also really liked your blog post, which I think was the best entry for that category. The self-impressed, heartless nature of why you didn’t really backstab him was great, although the reversal of the situation at the end felt kind of rushed and uneven. It’s hard to evaluate your last story in an unfinished condition. Overall, the quality of your work was very high; it was polished, creative, and focused. If not for the missing entries, I’d probably be voting for you.
Spector29: Your poem was a bit generic, but your short story was absolutely fantastic. Along with Lem’s, it was the highlight of the round for me. You’re clearly comfortable writing in first person and inhabiting the characters you create, and it really succeeded in evoking that unfocused, stream-of-consciousness contemporary tone. I liked your game as a concept. I want to like your dialogue, but I clearly cannot drink the wine in front of me. In any case, you had some nice submissions; it’s a shame you didn’t get to finish the game.
Woon1957: I liked your poem. Whereas almost everyone chose their poems as a round to avoid humor, you weren’t afraid to be funny, and the multisyllabic near rhyme added texture that was missing in a lot of other poems. I also liked your short story quite a bit. The contemplative yet ridiculous yet dire feel was captured well. Your later rounds were obviously a bit clipped; it we do this again, hopefully you’ll have time to do more with the event.
In the end, [Vote: AdeebNafees].