The whole Jeff Minter Space Giraffe thing

In the October issue, I gave Space Giraffe a very low score, 2 out of 10, and its creator, Jeff Minter, posted several strong reactions. It was the first review out of the gate, and I simply don’t think he was ready to hear negative reactions yet, let alone one that strong. I’ve since been accused of everything from incompetence to conspiracy, with a lot of nasty names thrown in for good measure. There’s even this surprising item, which a friend spotted on the official Llamasoft CafePress site. I may be demonized, but I guess my review is still good for a laugh…and making Jeff Minter a buck or two!

I’ve been reluctant to say anything about it even though there is a lot of assumption and misinformation out there. It’s a Catch-22: If I speak up to defend myself, I’d be called unprofessional. If I stay quiet and try to let my work speak for itself, then I’m clearly guilty of all charges because I’m not disputing them. It’s been tough. I’m not used to be painted as the villain, but I gotta take my lumps for my work just like everybody else. If you don’t want to be criticized for what you say, don’t say anything, right?

Meanwhile, I found it really interesting that almost nobody contacted me directly about it. I’m pretty accessible, I think. A few people let me know that there was a big forum discussion about it, but other than one guy trolling the OXM forums and parroting everything I said back to the Llamasoft forum, there wasn’t much interest in my side of the story.

For the record, there was a private email exchange between Jeff and OXM. Nothing was really resolved — I tried to respond to his points in my reply, but he didn’t address any of those points in his response. We invited him to be on our (or a neutral) podcast to discuss it, and we invited him to state his case in a special letter in Message Center, but to date, neither invite has been taken, and I don’t really suspect they will be. He’s chatted about me to Major Nelson, but doesn’t seem to be interested in chatting with me.

Despite assumptions to the contrary, I take my responsibility very, very seriously. I don’t say anything in print I wouldn’t expect to have to defend in person, or even repeat to the creator’s face. I don’t hide behind my reviews, and I don’t see them as weapons. But I don’t feel it helps either the creator or the consumer if I gloss over problems so as not to offend anyone. Reviewing a game by saying “I didn’t like it but I guess you might, maybe” is really, really not what critique is about. Without honest and specific feedback, a review is worthless. And in this case, the honesty is brutal.

I really do stand by my review. Space Giraffe is unique, which is to be applauded, but hostile to the player, which is not. It took a while to understand the game — really, even after taking the tutorial twice and fiddling with the game for a week, the game simply didn’t give me the feedback I needed to learn how to play it. And once I did get a bead on it, I didn’t like it for all the reasons stated in the magazine. No matter what else is said, that doesn’t change. And several people have come forward in user reviews and forums to disagree, and several others have come forward to agree. It’s a strongly polarizing game.

All I really want to add at this point is that a lot of the allegations and assumptions made about me are incorrect. For the record? I don’t hate Jeff Minter, Llamasoft, indie game developers, or classic arcade games. Before even playing the game, I wanted the review assignment; I was really looking forward to the game, and I spent a week with it before coming to a conclusion. I did learn how to play the game, albeit slower than I’d hoped, and when I finally figured it out, I strongly didn’t like it for very specific reasons. Before coming out with such a strong opinion, I asked three people to play the game and they all happened to agree with my conclusion; it was not a decision that was reached in haste. Pretty much everything else people have said about my methods of and motivations for reviewing Space Giraffe is conjecture.

Also, this is a minor point, but I did get one Achievement — nothing to brag about, but the fact that I got none has been a popular shot at my credibility, and my PartnerNet account has a July timestamp to the contrary. “Screenshot or it didn’t happen”? Okay, here’s an updated image straight from the debug. Anyone with PartnerNet access is welcome to confirm this if they really want to waste the time:

Meanwhile, I’m really glad to see that Jeff posted this on his blog:

Next time out we’ll put extra work into the tutorial mode. The underlying design of the next game is just as richly complex and rewarding as SG, and I wouldn’t want people to miss out on enjoying it due to an overly sparse tutorial mode.

He didn’t want to hear my criticisms when he read them, but I’m really glad to see that, as other people have brought up similar points, he’s taken the feedback as it was intended: constructively.

23 thoughts on “The whole Jeff Minter Space Giraffe thing

  1. I stayed silent during the whole Penny Arcade/Enchanted Arms thing for much the same reasons you stayed quiet about Jeff Minter’s various tirades. It simply didn’t seem as though rational argument was going to have any positive impact on the situation.

    I, like you, am pretty easy to find. If anybody had wanted my side of the story (The Escapist, say), they could’ve easily gotten in touch, and I would’ve been more than happy to speak to them. That nobody even made a token attempt indicates to me a lack of interest in hearing both sides of a particular story, and just reinforces the notion that anything I could’ve said in my own defense would’ve fallen on deaf ears.

    That Jeff Minter won’t speak with you directly, but sees no problem with calling you names in public, and creating t-shirts about you, says infinitely more about him than it does about you.

    One of the sad things for me as a gamer is that I was always a big fan of Tempest. I played the hell out of it in the arcades when I was a kid. (And I’ll go ahead and note here that I wrote my OXM review of the XBLM release of it before all this Space Giraffe drama sparked up.)

    Unfortunately, I think this whole mess is a large part of the reason why readers see so many deeply flawed games receive average scores. Just about the only time a reviewer is excoriated is when he or she scores a game lower than a particular segment of readers believes it deserves. You simply don’t see this level of vitriol heaped on a writer who scores a game higher than the rest of the pack. Naturally the lumps are harder to take than the sugar, and taking criticism gracefully takes practice and self-exploration, but I think we can all at behave as professionals, even if only publicly. Personally, I think you’ve taken your lumps with dignity. I would not say the same for Jeff Minter.

  2. I stayed silent during the whole Penny Arcade/Enchanted Arms thing for much the same reasons you stayed quiet about Jeff Minter’s various tirades. It simply didn’t seem as though rational argument was going to have any positive impact on the situation.

    I, like you, am pretty easy to find. If anybody had wanted my side of the story (The Escapist, say), they could’ve easily gotten in touch, and I would’ve been more than happy to speak to them. That nobody even made a token attempt indicates to me a lack of interest in hearing both sides of a particular story, and just reinforces the notion that anything I could’ve said in my own defense would’ve fallen on deaf ears.

    That Jeff Minter won’t speak with you directly, but sees no problem with calling you names in public, and creating t-shirts about you, says infinitely more about him than it does about you.

    One of the sad things for me as a gamer is that I was always a big fan of Tempest. I played the hell out of it in the arcades when I was a kid. (And I’ll go ahead and note here that I wrote my OXM review of the XBLM release of it before all this Space Giraffe drama sparked up.)

    Unfortunately, I think this whole mess is a large part of the reason why readers see so many deeply flawed games receive average scores. Just about the only time a reviewer is excoriated is when he or she scores a game lower than a particular segment of readers believes it deserves. You simply don’t see this level of vitriol heaped on a writer who scores a game higher than the rest of the pack. Naturally the lumps are harder to take than the sugar, and taking criticism gracefully takes practice and self-exploration, but I think we can all at behave as professionals, even if only publicly. Personally, I think you’ve taken your lumps with dignity. I would not say the same for Jeff Minter.

  3. Hi there.

    “If I speak up to defend myself, I’d be called unprofessional. If I stay quiet and try to let my work speak for itself, then I’m clearly guilty of all charges because I’m not disputing them.”

    How about speaking up and defending the review? This here doesn’t really address the points that have been made. Or, not the half-decent ones, anyways.

    Basically, the main point has been that you can actually see what’s going on. Bullets, enemies, pods, all visible. So, when going on about poor visibility, it kind of seems that you’re either wrong, or you believe that having “seeing what’s going” part of the challenge (obviously, it’s not always easy, seeing everything that happens, telling what’s the most immediate threat and so forth) is terrible game design.

    The review doesn’t touch upon anything else much. It briefly mentions some of the gameplay mechanincs, and I don’t think it’s too fond of the sound effects. Other than that, well, there’s the final score. 2.0 puts it in the “Broken” category, no? Making it a game “No gamer of any stripe should bother [with].”

    Personally, I’m far more interested in reading your defense/explanations of those things, rather than just noting that you “stand by” the review. Like, what is it all us folks enjoying the game, competing against each other on the leaderboards and such, don’t get? (Polarizing game or not, it’s a review score, not some rating of how much some fairly random guy likes the game. 2.0 shouldn’t mean that “It might be really brilliant if you’re into that kind of thing.”)

    I dunno. Internets-spies hunting down super-secret achievement and score info and coming up with awesome theories aside, to persons an awful lot like me, you not actually having “gotten it” seems the more likely option. That’d explain the review’s low score, and it’d sort of explain why it doesn’t even mention the powerzone (and much less how maintaining said zone makes up a pretty core gameplay mechanic) or the starting bonus system and what that adds to the game. So on. So forth. Then again, the review isn’t a long one. So, like said, to people not believing everything posted by Angry Internets People, it’d be more interesting to hear something on the actual review than hearing that you’re not actually on some crusade against Jeff or trippy graphics or arcade games or whatever :)

  4. It’s very frustrating when people fail to understand the concept of opinion, and start pointing fingers at what they perceive to be the shortcomings of a reviewer or magazine in order to justify a poor review. It’s so incredibly childish, and all it does is polarize the situation.

    Speaking of ignorance: Take a recent Kotaku post about our interview with Fran, who got the chance to write the first Halo 3 review. The post is fine, but the comments are incredibly ignorant (like how Microsoft pays the editors at OXM…), or they’re baseless judgmental bullshit and personal insults… based on, either, random conjecture, or something someone else said.

    I have no problem with Kotaku, but their readership is the epitome of what I dislike the most about games websites. If you don’t like a magazine or a website, or a reviewer, or whatever, that’s fine, say so if you want to. Give me a million critiques about my writing, I’ll probably agree with some of them. But don’t call me incompetent because you don’t agree with me, and if you’re going to seriously investigate my Gamerscore, or claim a bias, or criticize my writing, or whatever you think will prove your point, make sure you have the facts right before you make allegations.

    And I know I shouldn’t let it bother me. And it’s not that I’m personally offended when someone calls me a douchebag. It’s kind of fun, actually, to get people all upset over something I wrote. Hah, but it does bother me that the attitudes become so polarized, that people become idols and others targets. It’s the same in sports, music, politics, etc. But when it’s closer to me, I guess it feels more real. And I don’t like it, I don’t like that there are people who would go after my credibility without even trying to contact me. Rational debate – no such thing, apparently.

  5. It’s very frustrating when people fail to understand the concept of opinion, and start pointing fingers at what they perceive to be the shortcomings of a reviewer or magazine in order to justify a poor review. It’s so incredibly childish, and all it does is polarize the situation.

    Speaking of ignorance: Take a recent Kotaku post about our interview with Fran, who got the chance to write the first Halo 3 review. The post is fine, but the comments are incredibly ignorant (like how Microsoft pays the editors at OXM…), or they’re baseless judgmental bullshit and personal insults… based on, either, random conjecture, or something someone else said.

    I have no problem with Kotaku, but their readership is the epitome of what I dislike the most about games websites. If you don’t like a magazine or a website, or a reviewer, or whatever, that’s fine, say so if you want to. Give me a million critiques about my writing, I’ll probably agree with some of them. But don’t call me incompetent because you don’t agree with me, and if you’re going to seriously investigate my Gamerscore, or claim a bias, or criticize my writing, or whatever you think will prove your point, make sure you have the facts right before you make allegations.

    And I know I shouldn’t let it bother me. And it’s not that I’m personally offended when someone calls me a douchebag. It’s kind of fun, actually, to get people all upset over something I wrote. Hah, but it does bother me that the attitudes become so polarized, that people become idols and others targets. It’s the same in sports, music, politics, etc. But when it’s closer to me, I guess it feels more real. And I don’t like it, I don’t like that there are people who would go after my credibility without even trying to contact me. Rational debate – no such thing, apparently.

  6. Gnarf: My review has much the same wording and concepts that other negative reviews, pro and user-generated, have noted — poor visibility, a lacking tutorial mode, and a general confusion when the player picks up the game. Some people like that confusion; I didn’t. So when I say I “stand by” the review, I mean I don’t want to repeat myself — many people have read that review and said “Yeah, that’s what it felt like for me, too. I died for reasons I don’t understand, and I couldn’t see enemies because the grid was folding over itself, and it was too noisy to be fun for me.” The wording of the review did explain the experience to a large section of the audience who then tried it for themselves.

    However, if the problem is that the published review was too short or incomplete to justify the score for other readers, that’s a criticism I can respond to and try to elaborate on.

    Actually, since I wrote some of that in a private email to Jeff in hopes that I could make my position more clear to him directly, I’ll cut and paste a segment of it here, because I think it addresses what you’re asking:

    My performance in the game was poor. This is being brought up like it’s a secret shame, but I don’t see it as one. I followed those step-by-step instructions in the tutorial, twice. I repeated the tutorial after it was clear that I was not grasping the game’s mechanics and getting its nuances – clearly, for the first day or so of the week I spent playing and thinking about the game, I was crap. So I went back for deeper understanding. But both times, I did not get that achievement. Both times, I saw it was promised, and thought, okay, all I have to do is get this right. But I did it wrong, apparently. I didn’t think the achievement was the point of the game, but I did see, from the tutorial, how bulling enemies raised the multiplier, and how that was actually what the game wanted me to do. Lesson learned, achievement notwithstanding. I knew how to play the game, and I still didn’t like it.

    I scraped forward with continues to see level 31 to see if the rest of the game’s structure was going to be similar. When I was at the upper levels, it was sticking my head through a doorway to peek, not to run around and play. He’s spot-on that there’s no other way I could have 6 million and reach level 31 unless I was dragging myself through them, one clumsy continue at a time. The higher levels offered new, harder enemies and even more distracting visual noise. It’s not a linear narrative, like a movie or an RPG, where the plot twists and turns and sometimes redeems itself in the third act. It’s an abstract blaster, where the mechanics and presentation ARE the game. And I didn’t enjoy the mechanics or the presentation.

    So…I can accept that I didn’t “play it right” or I didn’t “get” the game the way I was supposed to. The question is, why didn’t I play it right? Why did the game not give me better feedback as a player, why was I left to fend for myself with a thin tutorial mode? I didn’t have the luxury of someone standing nearby who could explain everything, so I took the game at face value, as the download that it was. I only learned what it was willing to teach me, and while I clearly failed as a student, I certainly did try to learn, but I do not feel the game welcomed me to learn how to play it. I really felt sent into battle unarmed, and the tutorial – twice – was not enough. The game simply didn’t teach me how to play it, and/or its design choices worked against each other (enemies that are masked by video noise, auto-fire in a game that rewards you for not shooting enemies). At the core, that is my problem with the game: I felt it was hostile to me the whole time, and I did not enjoy overcoming its confusing obstacles. That’s my criticism of the game’s design choices.

    Obviously that says a lot more than the magazine’s small word count enabled me to say, and it was in direct response to a question Jeff posed to me in his mail.

    With tight space in the mag, I focused on the elements that stuck at to me as the strongest and having the most negative impact on the game experience. I apparently focused too much on explaining what I didn’t like about the A/V presentation and not enough time explaining what I didn’t like about the mechanics, or the counterintuitive goal of rewarding the player for physically bashing enemies in a game with autofire. But if my published writing was not efficient or clear in supporting my view, well, that’s my fault as a writer, and I can take that criticism constructively, too.

    Hopefully, that helps explain a bit more?

  7. Gnarf: My review has much the same wording and concepts that other negative reviews, pro and user-generated, have noted — poor visibility, a lacking tutorial mode, and a general confusion when the player picks up the game. Some people like that confusion; I didn’t. So when I say I “stand by” the review, I mean I don’t want to repeat myself — many people have read that review and said “Yeah, that’s what it felt like for me, too. I died for reasons I don’t understand, and I couldn’t see enemies because the grid was folding over itself, and it was too noisy to be fun for me.” The wording of the review did explain the experience to a large section of the audience who then tried it for themselves.

    However, if the problem is that the published review was too short or incomplete to justify the score for other readers, that’s a criticism I can respond to and try to elaborate on.

    Actually, since I wrote some of that in a private email to Jeff in hopes that I could make my position more clear to him directly, I’ll cut and paste a segment of it here, because I think it addresses what you’re asking:

    My performance in the game was poor. This is being brought up like it’s a secret shame, but I don’t see it as one. I followed those step-by-step instructions in the tutorial, twice. I repeated the tutorial after it was clear that I was not grasping the game’s mechanics and getting its nuances – clearly, for the first day or so of the week I spent playing and thinking about the game, I was crap. So I went back for deeper understanding. But both times, I did not get that achievement. Both times, I saw it was promised, and thought, okay, all I have to do is get this right. But I did it wrong, apparently. I didn’t think the achievement was the point of the game, but I did see, from the tutorial, how bulling enemies raised the multiplier, and how that was actually what the game wanted me to do. Lesson learned, achievement notwithstanding. I knew how to play the game, and I still didn’t like it.

    I scraped forward with continues to see level 31 to see if the rest of the game’s structure was going to be similar. When I was at the upper levels, it was sticking my head through a doorway to peek, not to run around and play. He’s spot-on that there’s no other way I could have 6 million and reach level 31 unless I was dragging myself through them, one clumsy continue at a time. The higher levels offered new, harder enemies and even more distracting visual noise. It’s not a linear narrative, like a movie or an RPG, where the plot twists and turns and sometimes redeems itself in the third act. It’s an abstract blaster, where the mechanics and presentation ARE the game. And I didn’t enjoy the mechanics or the presentation.

    So…I can accept that I didn’t “play it right” or I didn’t “get” the game the way I was supposed to. The question is, why didn’t I play it right? Why did the game not give me better feedback as a player, why was I left to fend for myself with a thin tutorial mode? I didn’t have the luxury of someone standing nearby who could explain everything, so I took the game at face value, as the download that it was. I only learned what it was willing to teach me, and while I clearly failed as a student, I certainly did try to learn, but I do not feel the game welcomed me to learn how to play it. I really felt sent into battle unarmed, and the tutorial – twice – was not enough. The game simply didn’t teach me how to play it, and/or its design choices worked against each other (enemies that are masked by video noise, auto-fire in a game that rewards you for not shooting enemies). At the core, that is my problem with the game: I felt it was hostile to me the whole time, and I did not enjoy overcoming its confusing obstacles. That’s my criticism of the game’s design choices.

    Obviously that says a lot more than the magazine’s small word count enabled me to say, and it was in direct response to a question Jeff posed to me in his mail.

    With tight space in the mag, I focused on the elements that stuck at to me as the strongest and having the most negative impact on the game experience. I apparently focused too much on explaining what I didn’t like about the A/V presentation and not enough time explaining what I didn’t like about the mechanics, or the counterintuitive goal of rewarding the player for physically bashing enemies in a game with autofire. But if my published writing was not efficient or clear in supporting my view, well, that’s my fault as a writer, and I can take that criticism constructively, too.

    Hopefully, that helps explain a bit more?

  8. Thanks. Yeap, that does explain a bit more.

    “I apparently focused too much on explaining what I didn’t like about the A/V presentation and not enough time explaining what I didn’t like about the mechanics, or the counterintuitive goal of rewarding the player for physically bashing enemies in a game with autofire.”

    Yes. Might be wrong now, but I don’t think the review mentions the tutorial, or anything about a steep learning curve or any much such. So it comes off more like, “you can’t see what’s going on, and it’s rubbish”. Either way, yeah, now I can sort of see where you’re coming from. Course, I still believe you’re horribly wrong and that :) But now it more or less* comes down to different opinions on what is good game design. Easier to agree to disagree on such things than on something that seems to be claiming that, no, really, you can’t see what’s going on, when I like, can. Fair enough.

    *Lacking tutorial and learning curve aside, that is. I’ve been interested in the game before release, reading about it and watching a couple of gameplay videos, getting a vague grasp of the gameplay mechanics pre launch. So, although I haven’t had “the luxury of someone standing nearby who could explain everything” or anything such (and traditionally, I haven’t been that much into arcadey shootey games, but rather “stuff with turn-based combat”), it’d be pointless of me to argue on whether the tutorial is aces or not and such — hardly needed it.

    Oh, and I just beat level 100! :D That’s not relevant!

  9. Thanks. Yeap, that does explain a bit more.

    “I apparently focused too much on explaining what I didn’t like about the A/V presentation and not enough time explaining what I didn’t like about the mechanics, or the counterintuitive goal of rewarding the player for physically bashing enemies in a game with autofire.”

    Yes. Might be wrong now, but I don’t think the review mentions the tutorial, or anything about a steep learning curve or any much such. So it comes off more like, “you can’t see what’s going on, and it’s rubbish”. Either way, yeah, now I can sort of see where you’re coming from. Course, I still believe you’re horribly wrong and that :) But now it more or less* comes down to different opinions on what is good game design. Easier to agree to disagree on such things than on something that seems to be claiming that, no, really, you can’t see what’s going on, when I like, can. Fair enough.

    *Lacking tutorial and learning curve aside, that is. I’ve been interested in the game before release, reading about it and watching a couple of gameplay videos, getting a vague grasp of the gameplay mechanics pre launch. So, although I haven’t had “the luxury of someone standing nearby who could explain everything” or anything such (and traditionally, I haven’t been that much into arcadey shootey games, but rather “stuff with turn-based combat”), it’d be pointless of me to argue on whether the tutorial is aces or not and such — hardly needed it.

    Oh, and I just beat level 100! :D That’s not relevant!

  10. sigh. i had a lot of disconnected thoughts about this since i first heard about it rolling up toward now, but i am not sure what to say. but i feel like i want to say something…

    i guess what’s funny to me is that the super hardcore fans of the game want to take you down. but they’re the other side of the same coin, or maybe that explains their arguments. essentially, they’re biased FOR the game, so they assume that you must be biased AGAINST it. i think this is instinctual and would possibly even be denied. but i think the strong feelings reviews like this engender in people often come down to this.

    the funny thing is that when i am skeptical of something — and i was deeply skeptical of space giraffe — what i would like is nothing more than to be proven wrong. i thought it looked like an acid casualty’s took a shit on the 360, and when i found out it was just regurgitated tempest, i was verging on mortified. but were it a good game, i would have been eager to see that for myself. instead, i take a 2/10 from a dude who i think is really savvy (and, for fuck’s sake, spent a ton of time at california extreme this year for the love of classic arcade games) and think “man, uh, not so much, then!” and that’s that, as far as i’m concerned.

  11. sigh. i had a lot of disconnected thoughts about this since i first heard about it rolling up toward now, but i am not sure what to say. but i feel like i want to say something…

    i guess what’s funny to me is that the super hardcore fans of the game want to take you down. but they’re the other side of the same coin, or maybe that explains their arguments. essentially, they’re biased FOR the game, so they assume that you must be biased AGAINST it. i think this is instinctual and would possibly even be denied. but i think the strong feelings reviews like this engender in people often come down to this.

    the funny thing is that when i am skeptical of something — and i was deeply skeptical of space giraffe — what i would like is nothing more than to be proven wrong. i thought it looked like an acid casualty’s took a shit on the 360, and when i found out it was just regurgitated tempest, i was verging on mortified. but were it a good game, i would have been eager to see that for myself. instead, i take a 2/10 from a dude who i think is really savvy (and, for fuck’s sake, spent a ton of time at california extreme this year for the love of classic arcade games) and think “man, uh, not so much, then!” and that’s that, as far as i’m concerned.

  12. I find it quite depressing how seriously people take a number. They look to you for advice, not as a sole-source of all information… Though that would be TOTALLY AWESOME. It’s a number, and on top of that, a personal opinion. It’s YOUR take on a single game that people may or may not be interested in, and fans of the game have reacted fairly negatively, though I guess it’s expected. Still, I can’t help but wonder why people can’t simply go “Oh, Dan didn’t like it… Oh well, I do…”

    I had no interest, but tried the demo after all the XBOX.com/OXM Board shenanigans and found that yes, this game is “tenchnoslop”. It’s an attack on the eyes and nearly incomprehensible, even after a tutorial. Sad, really.

    Take care.

  13. I find it quite depressing how seriously people take a number. They look to you for advice, not as a sole-source of all information… Though that would be TOTALLY AWESOME. It’s a number, and on top of that, a personal opinion. It’s YOUR take on a single game that people may or may not be interested in, and fans of the game have reacted fairly negatively, though I guess it’s expected. Still, I can’t help but wonder why people can’t simply go “Oh, Dan didn’t like it… Oh well, I do…”

    I had no interest, but tried the demo after all the XBOX.com/OXM Board shenanigans and found that yes, this game is “tenchnoslop”. It’s an attack on the eyes and nearly incomprehensible, even after a tutorial. Sad, really.

    Take care.

  14. I was a fan of Minter and Llamasoft for decades. One day I made the mistake of daring to suggest that his new game (Space Giraffe) looked a bit like Tempest and that I hoped I was wrong. I was actually hoping for something along the lines of Unity.

    The way he responded was just shocking. Nasty, rude, condacending- I don’t have the words to sum it up. Not to mention the way his posse rounded on me on his boards, or the way he went after me with his gang for a good few months of character assassination- all, my God, for daring to suggest it looked like Tempest. The place is far from fluffy.

    I’m just happy to see that in the long run I was vindicated anyway, and finally a lot more people have gotten to see what a nasty piece of work Minter and his partner is. Vastly overrated and not willing to take the slightest bit of criticism…heck, not even that, I was barely commenting on what I *hoped* would be his next game. On his SG forum I’ve seen people told to get lost, go play something else for daring to suggest there might be a slight bug with bullet collision detection on the rim.

    In all honestly, the game is just boring, there’s no depth to it, nothing interesting. I’m actually amazed at just how he ever thought it would actually get a good review these days? It’s just nothing like what he thinks it is…some masterwork or reference piece on the shoot-em-up. Which genuinely is a shame…but then, I’m happy in a way. People like me who did actually care about his games got a vicious smack in the mouth very early on in its development, the master was at work and HOW DARE anyone question his judgement?!

    His arrogance has bitten him in the ass this time and I’m glad- it was misplaced, earnt standing on the shoulders of giants like Eugene Jarvis. The guy has never written an original game in his life, and no, Minter I don’t mean totally original, I mean an original idea of YOURS, everything has been a rip off of Jarvis & Co hasn’t it really?

    And the guy who wrote the 2/10 review has a point, Minter will never actually address any points you raise, it’s much easier for him to rally his clan and drag you through the mud. It’s just so ugly the way he deals with anyone who doesn’t worship him.

    2/10? I think you were being generous.

  15. I was a fan of Minter and Llamasoft for decades. One day I made the mistake of daring to suggest that his new game (Space Giraffe) looked a bit like Tempest and that I hoped I was wrong. I was actually hoping for something along the lines of Unity.

    The way he responded was just shocking. Nasty, rude, condacending- I don’t have the words to sum it up. Not to mention the way his posse rounded on me on his boards, or the way he went after me with his gang for a good few months of character assassination- all, my God, for daring to suggest it looked like Tempest. The place is far from fluffy.

    I’m just happy to see that in the long run I was vindicated anyway, and finally a lot more people have gotten to see what a nasty piece of work Minter and his partner is. Vastly overrated and not willing to take the slightest bit of criticism…heck, not even that, I was barely commenting on what I *hoped* would be his next game. On his SG forum I’ve seen people told to get lost, go play something else for daring to suggest there might be a slight bug with bullet collision detection on the rim.

    In all honestly, the game is just boring, there’s no depth to it, nothing interesting. I’m actually amazed at just how he ever thought it would actually get a good review these days? It’s just nothing like what he thinks it is…some masterwork or reference piece on the shoot-em-up. Which genuinely is a shame…but then, I’m happy in a way. People like me who did actually care about his games got a vicious smack in the mouth very early on in its development, the master was at work and HOW DARE anyone question his judgement?!

    His arrogance has bitten him in the ass this time and I’m glad- it was misplaced, earnt standing on the shoulders of giants like Eugene Jarvis. The guy has never written an original game in his life, and no, Minter I don’t mean totally original, I mean an original idea of YOURS, everything has been a rip off of Jarvis & Co hasn’t it really?

    And the guy who wrote the 2/10 review has a point, Minter will never actually address any points you raise, it’s much easier for him to rally his clan and drag you through the mud. It’s just so ugly the way he deals with anyone who doesn’t worship him.

    2/10? I think you were being generous.

  16. I don’t think anybody with a brain takes your review and review of yours seriously, Dan. You work at OXM, a magazine with a questionable reputation at best. Then again, that entire IGN Inc. complex in Brisbane, California is filled to the brim with people who shouldn’t be running any websites, printing any magazines or giving out reviews. I don’t know why Fox News Corporation wanted to buy a company like yours.

    I understand. Living in the worst city on Earth can fry a brain. I’ve been to San Francisco several times and I’ve never seen a worse excuse for a city in my life. If there’s any justice, the entire city is destroyed in an earthquake with you among the casualties.

  17. I don’t think anybody with a brain takes your review and review of yours seriously, Dan. You work at OXM, a magazine with a questionable reputation at best. Then again, that entire IGN Inc. complex in Brisbane, California is filled to the brim with people who shouldn’t be running any websites, printing any magazines or giving out reviews. I don’t know why Fox News Corporation wanted to buy a company like yours.

    I understand. Living in the worst city on Earth can fry a brain. I’ve been to San Francisco several times and I’ve never seen a worse excuse for a city in my life. If there’s any justice, the entire city is destroyed in an earthquake with you among the casualties.

  18. A clarification: Fox bought IGN, not the company I work for, which is Future US. That’s the American division of Future PLC, based in the UK.

  19. A clarification: Fox bought IGN, not the company I work for, which is Future US. That’s the American division of Future PLC, based in the UK.

  20. Pingback: Insider Interview: Dan Amrich, Official Xbox Magazine - nukoda.com

  21. Sorry to go raking up old mud, but I only just stumbled on this.

    One of my friends also hates SG, an he also got the Arkleseizure acheivement alone. I think it’s THE indicator of not understanding the game, because it’s the only achievement you can get by firing indiscriminately – shoot everything, including incoming bullets, end the level, catch all the bullets.

    Whereas, “Boi Bumba”, “Get Bonus Multiplier up to 9x in one Bull Run” is practically handed to you on a plate really early on (the “valley of the bulls” level, since you ask).

    So you must have missed the core mechanic, which is to allow enemies to collect on the rim, shooting just enough to maintain power zone, then bull through them all for massive multipliers. That’s the fun part of the game. If you weren’t doing that, for most of the time, I’m not surprised you didn’t enjoy yourself.

    I think that element was explained in the tutorial. If not then, well, that’s a shame — although there’s plenty more games with separate instruction manuals.

  22. Sorry to go raking up old mud, but I only just stumbled on this.

    One of my friends also hates SG, an he also got the Arkleseizure acheivement alone. I think it’s THE indicator of not understanding the game, because it’s the only achievement you can get by firing indiscriminately – shoot everything, including incoming bullets, end the level, catch all the bullets.

    Whereas, “Boi Bumba”, “Get Bonus Multiplier up to 9x in one Bull Run” is practically handed to you on a plate really early on (the “valley of the bulls” level, since you ask).

    So you must have missed the core mechanic, which is to allow enemies to collect on the rim, shooting just enough to maintain power zone, then bull through them all for massive multipliers. That’s the fun part of the game. If you weren’t doing that, for most of the time, I’m not surprised you didn’t enjoy yourself.

    I think that element was explained in the tutorial. If not then, well, that’s a shame — although there’s plenty more games with separate instruction manuals.

  23. Hi there.

    “If I speak up to defend myself, I’d be called unprofessional. If I stay quiet and try to let my work speak for itself, then I’m clearly guilty of all charges because I’m not disputing them.”

    How about speaking up and defending the review? This here doesn't really address the points that have been made. Or, not the half-decent ones, anyways.

    Basically, the main point has been that you can actually see what's going on. Bullets, enemies, pods, all visible. So, when going on about poor visibility, it kind of seems that you're either wrong, or you believe that having “seeing what's going” part of the challenge (obviously, it's not always easy, seeing everything that happens, telling what's the most immediate threat and so forth) is terrible game design.

    The review doesn't touch upon anything else much. It briefly mentions some of the gameplay mechanincs, and I don't think it's too fond of the sound effects. Other than that, well, there's the final score. 2.0 puts it in the “Broken” category, no? Making it a game “No gamer of any stripe should bother [with].”

    Personally, I'm far more interested in reading your defense/explanations of those things, rather than just noting that you “stand by” the review. Like, what is it all us folks enjoying the game, competing against each other on the leaderboards and such, don't get? (Polarizing game or not, it's a review score, not some rating of how much some fairly random guy likes the game. 2.0 shouldn't mean that “It might be really brilliant if you're into that kind of thing.”)

    I dunno. Internets-spies hunting down super-secret achievement and score info and coming up with awesome theories aside, to persons an awful lot like me, you not actually having “gotten it” seems the more likely option. That'd explain the review's low score, and it'd sort of explain why it doesn't even mention the powerzone (and much less how maintaining said zone makes up a pretty core gameplay mechanic) or the starting bonus system and what that adds to the game. So on. So forth. Then again, the review isn't a long one. So, like said, to people not believing everything posted by Angry Internets People, it'd be more interesting to hear something on the actual review than hearing that you're not actually on some crusade against Jeff or trippy graphics or arcade games or whatever :)

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