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  • Usoki's IWT 10 Reactions

    In truth, I was not surprised by any of my scores. I picked the theme with the assumption that other people would come up with entertaining and amusing things. I also assumed that I would manage to come up with something which held my interest by December. Only one of these things turned out to be true. Writing all of these rooms over two/three days was excruciatingly painful and boring. I actively did not want to write this story. I didn't care enough. The decision to have 300-500 length rooms was just as much a choice for my sanity as it was a style choice.

    Something with a philosophical title sounds like its going to be boring, but as it turned out it was pretty amusing. Can't get much more overpowered than making the protagonist an outright god, but it was cool idea of how to make him "lose" without dying.

    I liked the way the "Infinite Looping" aspect was worked into the story as well.
    The 'Infinite Looping' aspect is really one of the few things I'm happy about, to be honest. Granted, it's very simple looping, seeing as how I ran out of time and motivation, but... I love the concept I used here. I love the Charlie Brown aspect that's employed here. He's never going to kick that football, but somehow his attempts are still adorable. He keeps trying.

    The ever-looping story idea has been done before. In a story like this, repetition is a given. The question is: how will the various iterations turn out? How many crazy possibilities will nonetheless take one back to the same starting point? With this question in mind, I found this story a bit disappointing. There wasnít ultimately a wide variety of creative destruction or ways in which this destruction was wrought. There were, however, some subtle nods to video game and movie tropes, the title is apt indeed, and Mage Arcanus is just about the best name ever. The writing is generally free of errors, the dialogue is snarky and the rooms of a manageable length. Thematically, the story certainly adheres very closely to the notion of the overpowered narrator. (Itís interesting that all these stories involve superpowers in a BIG WAY instead of narrating the awesomeness of the Baddest Bakeoff Brownies EVER, or something else likewise compartmentalized.) The overpowered narrator is outdone by his fellow-creator, who is just as powerful, not to mention a good deal more devious than he is. Thatís an interesting concept, even if the notion of petty gods bickering amongst themselves hasnít been new for millennia.
    The iterations are indeed disappointing. Had I allotted myself more time, there would have been more structure to the story, instead of the boring fan structure of "choice, sub-choice, reaction, ending" that I had to resort to. If I ever revisit this idea, the linear story pattern will be the first thing to go. I'd love to have multiple variations of the first room that appear given on the last choice that was made. And then, depending on the order of these choices, perhaps you'll discover... but, I digress. I'll get to this later.
    Originally posted by Ryan_DuBois
    Usoki, you're the crankiest asshole we know. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that you smell funny and are best left hidden in darkness.
    And it's embarrassing when you make any noise at all.

  • #2
    Writing Style: I've always liked your style of writing, but this time it just felt a tad bit rushed. I noticed a few spelling and grammar errors which I usually pass by with no second thought, but a few stuck out to me for some reason. Some of them in the choices themselves. I liked your descriptions of the different worlds and heroes, but I felt they were too brief.
    I agree, because it's absolutely true. They were brief due to time constraints, and due to my lack of motivation to put in more effort than I had to.


    Plot/Creativity: Two gods kind of warring it out with each other was an interesting idea for sure. I like the rules you set in place how the one god couldn't undo the powers of the other god and had to find ways to work around that. I loved your names for the heroes too. Muscleus and Arcanus. So lame it's awesome. I really felt this story would of benefited from an ending rather than an endless infinite cycle. I know we are on infinite story, but I guess I just like a good ending rather than constantly chasing the cheese on a treadmill. Also I'd like to have learned more about our main characters. They are just two powerful beings and we know nothing else about them except one constantly undermines the other. It's Tom and Jerry on a cosmic scale.
    I also like the rules I set in place for these characters. However, we'll have to agree to disagree about the need for an ending. As far as learning more about the characters? Yes, I agree completely. Granted, there isn't much more to learn about the characters, but all the same there is one very big aspect I wish I could have found a way to implement better. And, frankly, the fact that we don't have personable details makes sense to me. We know that God is all-powerful, and that's about it. If you're going to tell me that God enjoys long walks on the beach, writing pastoral poetry, and watching TV on the weekends with His son, Jesus... you've just ruined God.


    Enjoyment: I really wanted to enjoy this story. It was set up to be great. I would have to find a way to stop the evil god and have a persistent world or hero survive his onslaught. But there was no such option. Just constant and complete failure over and over again. It really drains you man. I was pissed off I couldn't get anything going before it was all destroyed. That evil god is a dick and he just can't be beaten. Really took out the element of choice. Places and people were different, but the outcome always remained the same.
    I can see where you're coming from, I suppose. But again, we'll just have to agree to disagree. Constant failure is the entire point, here. In fact, in an ideal version of the story, this element would become even more frustrating, as I would have less option branching, and more time spent developing the heroes or worlds which will ultimately be destroyed. There's a reason the evil god can't be beaten. There's a reason he's a huge dick.

    Theme: Well...yes the main character is an overpowered god. But he is an overpowered god who can't win anything. The other god has his number every single encounter. Maybe if the good god won at least half of the time I could say he fit the theme well, but he just simply loses. His destiny seems to be that of a loser. I can't call a consistent loser a great overpowered character, even if he can kill hundreds of people on a whim or create floating sky cities. This guy just needed one win. I'm rooting for him to kick that evil gods face in. The theme was definitely met, but I guess I just expected more from the main character. I went into a deep depression after realizing he would never be happy.
    Again... agree to disagree. Also, I fail to see why the main character constantly losing makes him any less over-powered. The point of the contest wasn't to have someone who won everything and who was totally perfect. The point of the contest was to have someone who was significantly more powerful than most traditional story characters, to the point of absurdity. I feel like I did that quite well. Satan's a loser, but you don't see anyone complaining that he's too weak. Charlie Brown's a loser, but people still love him and root for him.
    Originally posted by Ryan_DuBois
    Usoki, you're the crankiest asshole we know. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that you smell funny and are best left hidden in darkness.
    And it's embarrassing when you make any noise at all.

    Comment


    • #3
      Your spelling/grammar is, as always, impeccable. I doubt it will be a serious issue for anyone, but last year we had Threadkiller's entry: I suspect that part of the description will always be necessary. Your sections were spare, but technically good. I didn't notice any outstanding prose or description, but there wasn't space for it; your pacing was spot on for the story and the tone you set. I didn't feel "invested" in anything - and your characters were barely there - but I think that's partly by design, regardless of time/effort constraints. The structure became clear to me early on, but despite knowing more or less what was about happen, I stayed interested throughout.
      As much as everything was rushed due to time and laziness, I'm glad I can brush it off as being a style and pacing choice. I think it helps that I kept the word length and levels of description the same for each room. And, yes, the fact that the characters were barely there is a design choice, but the fact that you are not invested in the character's creations? That wasn't a design choice.

      If the score seems low to you, keep in mind that I haven't read anything else yet. I chose your piece to set the bar. That said, you might have expected to lose a few points here. There just isn't that much in the way of plot. Your story is highly structured, in terms of rooms/branches/pathing. From what I recall of your writing, that's always been true; you seem very organized. You value order and precision. Here, your formula gave away the entire plot after I'd read two or three branches.
      Heh, yeah. Not as much in my earlier stuff, but... yes. Especially in this piece.

      There wasn't a part of the story where I felt bored. You also never went deep enough that I felt intrigued. I can see the potential - and I can understand why you chose not to develop it - but that's my honest response; I can't think of anything else to add to this one.
      This is completely fair.

      This would be a couple of points lower, but I can't see the "other voice" as a separate character. I think - at the core of it - there was only one character, and he/she fully meets the requirements of the theme. I really wonder about your IRL philosophy, but that's beside the point
      Yes! This! I am so happy that someone was able to pick up on this, in spite of my piss-poor implementation of the concept! That's the exact reason that "the other voice" is not tangible. That's the exact reason he's capable of disappearing for long periods of time. That's the exact reason he has no name, and no personality save for being a complete dick.

      You can't call - let's just call them "God" and "the Devil" - playing with the fate of reality original, either (you pulled it off well for all of that, but this category doesn't take that into account). Most of what I really liked here was subtext. There's a subtle theme of "infinity" going on here, and to that point, I found it fitting that the story never ends.

      I also feel like the reader and the "other voice" are the same. You whole story screams it, starting with the title. Your (sole) character builds with one hand and tears it all down with the other. He keeps sabotaging himself - why? If this was longer and more fully wrought, you could have a lot of fun with this. The gradual realization - and what the reader decides to do about it - would seem to be the core of the story. Your stories tend to involve some unusual - dare I say "gimmicky" - themes, and I enjoyed that here, but I want to see it addressed more fully, and with more emotion.
      It... well, my intent was not that the reader and "other voice" were the same. My idea was that this Godlike being is so omnipotent that he's become bored with loneliness. Not only that, but senile as well. He wants to create a world that he can watch, and nurture. He wants this world to entertain him. But at the same time... he's done this all before. He's bored with it. In fact, he's so bored with it that his only joy comes in destroying it all. Who here could ever play the Sims without reaching that point where you kill them and make them miserable? He doesn't admit that to himself, but that's what he does. The other voice is a part of his psyche, the part that realizes that no matter what happens, these new creations are just as boring as the last, and the only joy to be had will come from killing them in new and creative ways.

      But then I ran out of time and motivation. It's not a mudkip piece, but it's definitely a cheap punt. Therein lies my biggest regret with this piece. I will freely admit it's a gimmick, but it's one I find amusing. Perhaps someday I'll come back to it, and give it a proper treatment.

      Overall - as it stands - this is a good, complete story, but I can tell how much you held back on it. As I said, I get that. There's going to be a limited audience (and more importantly) limited appreciation for whatever you write. All the same, and with plenty of hypocrisy, I hope that next time you throw down, you do it with your whole heart.
      I agree completely. Especially that last part. Hopefully the next contest will spark something good.
      Originally posted by Ryan_DuBois
      Usoki, you're the crankiest asshole we know. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that you smell funny and are best left hidden in darkness.
      And it's embarrassing when you make any noise at all.

      Comment


      • #4
        my intent was not that the reader and "other voice" were the same.
        The protagonist. Since the reader "plays" the protagonist, I tend to see those terms as synonymous.

        Who here could ever play the Sims without reaching that point where you kill them and make them miserable?
        The only time I played the Sims - with my cousin - that was all we did. His sister enjoyed it, but we always thought it was lame. We were bored, though.

        We created the most wasteful one-room house possible - the closest we could get to a slum - with two parents, a kid, and a live-in grandmother who had a semi-detached "guest house" in the back (it was just four walls and a roof, no plumbing or electricity, but that was where she had to live). There was no furniture or running water.

        The parents didn't work, and any money they had went to TV sets and other gimmicks, which was what they spent all their time doing, when they weren't asleep.

        The kid's name was Benjamin - he was the only one who had a name - and his job was to do all the work and clean up after the others. We kept it up for a surprising amount of time, until Benjamin was too exhausted to make the bus in the morning and got taken by child welfare services. He had been slowly going insane up to that point, because he had no time to sleep. His parents were up at all hours watching TV and urinating on the carpet, and Grandma needed feeding and cleaning, also. Ultimately, it overwhelmed him.

        Without Benjamin, Grandma starved to death. She got out of her room and tried to make it to the main house, but the walls were so fiendishly complex that her AI pathing didn't work, and she died alone in the yard.

        The parents were oblivious to everything and kept ordering pizza and watching TV until a fire started. There was no phone or fire extinguisher. They had no way of dealing with it. The woman died, and the house burned to the ground. The guy made it outside, and we left him there, staring at the ashes, contemplating the ruin of his life.

        That exhausted the entertainment value, so we never bothered with it after that. We did the same thing as young children, with ant hills (less structure, more violent death), so I guess it was progress.

        My idea was that this Godlike being is so omnipotent that he's become bored with loneliness. Not only that, but senile as well. He wants to create a world that he can watch, and nurture. He wants this world to entertain him. But at the same time... he's done this all before. He's bored with it. In fact, he's so bored with it that his only joy comes in destroying it all.

        ...The other voice is a part of his psyche, the part that realizes that no matter what happens, these new creations are just as boring as the last, and the only joy to be had will come from killing them in new and creative ways.
        So what happens when one "side" or the other starts to realize the truth, or when something they've created stabilizes, and results in a third entity - or surpasses them?

        I doubt you'll continue this, but there's more than enough potential.

        Writing all of these rooms over two/three days was excruciatingly painful and boring. I actively did not want to write this story. I didn't care enough.
        This. I hate this. I want to care about/enjoy something enough to really develop it, and I just don't. I don't know how to exorcise boredom from something I would otherwise value.


        This one is sort of niche in terms of genre, but too related not to link.

        http://ttapress.com/553/crystal-nights-by-greg-egan/
        Last edited by Locke; 03-09-2014, 08:00 PM.
        Last edited by Locke; 06-27-2014 at 12:16 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Locke View Post
          This. I hate this. I want to care about/enjoy something enough to really develop it, and I just don't. I don't know how to exorcise boredom from something I would otherwise value.
          It's worse when you're doing a lot of looping and pages that tend to repeat similar information. I'm not surprised Usoki got bored and it felt like a slog.

          The best thing you can do to avoid the boredom aspect is try to keep all the branches fairly different since it's feels more like actively creating something new rather than just "copy/paste." (Actually thought despite the looping, Usoki managed to keep the branches somewhat different even if they had a similar outcome.)

          Taking a break does help, but you can't let it go on too long or else it gets harder to be motivated. If you can at least write a whole page or hell even half a page a day, you might just get that second wind again and continue with the story with more vigor later.

          As for Usoki's story, one of the comments said the looping story idea had been done before, but to my knowledge it hadn't, since that contest theme got cancelled.

          Unless I'm forgetting a story that had it featured prominently before. (Probably)
          Writing: It's more fun than a barrel of Ebola ridden monkeys!

          Comment

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