Froge puts his Ashes Out!
And coming out from the sewers of the Great Abyss comes in the scrappy can’t – do – no – wrong contestant with six triple – barreled shotguns, a mean motor – mouth running off like hot fire spitting out from a twenty – one Gatling gun volley assault, and a self – preservation instinct like a nuclear warhead dropping over Nagasaki, comes the slime man himself, the man with the power in his hand who makes the master plan happen, the slipshod and barely – cohesive construction of a human being, the most resolute, the most rockingest, most go – fuck – yourself boy to grace this great nation: the notorious, the Degenerate Prime Minister — FROGE!
And in this corner… Brianna. That’s all I know about her.
It was the slums of November. I had posted an opinion in 2017. I was attacked for it — one by some emo chump who had their hands in my cookie jar and who responded to my closing arguments with “Good bye, do better, and fuck off”. The other would be Brianna Lei, who I give a shit about because she was an accomplished developer by the time she posted her rebuttal. Also, there were at least five different blokes who downvoted my comment (soon to be more!), though I don’t have any words for anyone who’s too afraid to express their opinion and decides to just leave drive – bys on smart people’s reviews.
As I said in my Butterfly Soup review, this really is the pettiest of petty beef. I have better things to do with my time than to worry about whether or not some random assholes dislike work that they didn’t bother to understand before casting judgement on it in the most inconsequential and content – free way they possibly can. I don’t know any of these people personally, they haven’t done enough in their lives or in my profession to make their opinions worth listening to, and their opinions of me on a single Itch.io thread of a single Itch.io game that nobody cared about before or after the publication of my review has no effect on the reputation I’ve earned through the eighteen months worth of work that you see before you now.
The only reason I even replied to those comments is because I thought I might have a positive influence on anyone who happens to see the thread, maybe even convincing my opposition that I have some valid criticisms of the game in question and isn’t someone just trying to stir shit up on the Internet. I used to stir shit up all the time in my younger days, and I know the techniques. Posting on some obscure indie game that I didn’t expect anybody to read, especially not that particular type of overly – defensive audience member who is as enjoyable to converse with as a member of the Conservative Party, is not an effective technique. Neither is trying to break the fall gently by notifying a developer of what I thought of their review in a polite manner, because I was taught to never say bad things about people behind their backs. If I’m trying to be a dickhead, then I’m not a very effective dickhead.
Posting rebuttals to every Tom, Dick, and Harry is not something I’m interested in, because that would imply everyone who walks through the Louvre is entitled to criticise the artwork and to argue with the curators about what is worthy of inclusion. I’m above that pissing contest by several orders of magnitude. They are not worthy of my attention. The most effective technique when somebody says some dumb shit to you online is to, simply, ignore them to death. John D. Rockefeller, the richest man to ever grace our Earth, would never reply to his critics. In a discussion with his friend about why he never did so, he pointed to a caterpillar on the sidewalk. “If I step on that worm, I will call attention to it. If I ignore it, it will disappear”. The majority of armchair critics are worms with ignorant opinions. The only proper response is no response at all.
This purpose of this article is not to call attention to worms. If anything, Brianna is the most notable person who has ever criticised me, which is really sad when you think about just how small – time we, respectively, are. I respect her as an author, and I respect her as a person. I am not disparaging her because she posted a poor opinion of me. I am posting this rebuttal to her criticisms because, for the profit of my audience, I will deconstruct and call attention to every one of her flawed statements, provide suggestions on how to create better criticisms, add in some perspective on who I am as a person and how she so boldly misrepresents me, and continue to provide that same confidence, that same level of quality, that you all know and love me for.
I will start my rebuttal with another quote from Rockefeller: “It is one thing to stand on the comfortable ground of placid inaction and put forth words of cynical wisdom, and another to plunge into the work itself and through strenuous experience earn the right to express strong conclusions”. To those on the Internet who lack this strenuous experience: may Froge help you.
The assassination begins
Brianna: “Unfortunately, the review was so long and boring that I didn’t make it to the end.”
Froge: The complaint starts out with a limp foot and an unconvincing facsimile of a rebuttal by not only referencing my opening line of the Oblige review in question in a way that makes it clear Brianna is not here to be friendly with me despite how friendly I am, but also showcases her own sloth by not only implying she does not have the capacity to read a 1,700 word article without leaving partway through (a length that Firefox tells me takes ten minutes to read and which I can finish in six), but that she, a notable writer, did not have the attention span to read even that paltry amount without finding it “boring”, despite how blatant my displays of humour and personality are. If I’m “long and boring”, then the rest of us writers are doomed! Doomed!
This also shows a special type of ignorance as to just how long my works can be, meaning Brianna did not do even a cursory amount of research into either my previous history or the history of Kratzen, leading to a critical research failure in suggesting that a mere 1,700 words is in any way a long article for the man who had written, just a week prior to the posting of your comment, a 6,200 word scrawl about Heartbound, and the day before that, 2,700 words about my concerns regarding Kratzen.
When you go further back, it gets even sillier: 8,100 words about the Spongebob Squarepants movie game, 2,900 words about dreams, autism, flags, and memory, the 11,700 word review of the Beginner’s Guide that got the developer to read my blog, my 21,000 word series on Haruhi Suzumiya season one, and the legendary 20,000 word Industrial Steamworks article I took just seven days to write.
And if you want books? Why not check out the 9,000 word “visual” novel I wrote in three days (and I have to give huge shout – outs to SheepishGamer, once again, for making it a reality, and I apologise again for making you work so hard on the novel), or the 23,000 word non – fiction tome that I also did all the typography, graphic design, and level design for? But I guess, considering how you couldn’t be bothered to even look at my Itch.io projects, you wouldn’t have cared much about the extensive length of all of them, given how a review with just 10% of the words was too intimidating for you.
I’m not expecting everyone to be a voracious reader like yours truly. I woke up this morning listening to the CBC about whatever international trade agreements were happening, mostly about car parts. I kicked the morning off reading and replying to developers who commented on my own previous night’s comments. When doing research for what I was going to say in this rebuttal, I came across a few insightful articles linked on RationalWiki, including “The Nationalist’s Delusion” and “The Warlock Hunt”, not to mention the articles on RationalWiki itself. Before that I had read about a dozen short editorials on Dead Homer Society, mostly those on the 23rd Anniversary Yellow Jubilee and Animation Alley tags — because, I swear, Dead Homer Society is one of the most readable and insightful websites about animation culture online today.
Do you know why I bring all of these experiences up? It’s not to brag; I’m not big enough to brag, and people who attempt to bolster their ego in lieu of creating great work are the most boring people. It’s because, as the old mantra states: “never trust a skinny chef”. If a writer is not willing to go deep into their own medium, read insightful commentary and opinions from those who have earned their opinions, digest a great deal of information in an attempt to categorise it, think about it, and develop your own opinions you may spread onto the world, then they will not be a very good writer, and what they create will end up born into ignorance. I read a quote from David Foster Wallace replying to a stranger about how he got so smart. His answer: “I did the reading”. I have took his example and, for each day of my life, I have also done the reading. I hope Brianna takes my example and continues to read work that provokes her thought as her work has provoked mine.
Oh, and while it would have been physically impossible for you to know at the time, I also ended up doing an 11,300 word review of Butterfly Soup — the novel you’re famous for. I guess I won’t be getting a comment about that review, now will I?
Brianna: “The amateurish writing style read more like someone talking to himself for than an actual review.”
Froge: I’m not sure if this has slipped you by, but not only have I been doing this writing thing since I was twelve years old scrubbing Friendship is Magic fanfiction and has been doing games – related shit since I was fourteen (in a series of stories and articles that are forever lost and were probably very cringeworthy), I’ve already gotten high praise from developers and artists who are influential in their respective fields just from the shit I’ve been doing since The Degenerates, and I have quite literally been paid for the content I produce. The only thing stopping me from making mad bank is a clickbait blog title and a marketing budget with fat stacks to burn. This may be a hobbyist website, but by all reasonable definitions, it sure as hell is professional in its design and execution — though you wouldn’t think that because of my “amateurish” writing style.
It’s true that I write like an amateur, and it’s true that I write like I’m talking to myself. But I’m a writer. That’s what we, you know, fucking do. If you’re asking me to make my prose more professional by neutering it to the point where it loses all of its distinct personality and you can no longer recognise it as what I, and I alone, have written, then I’m sorry. It’s not going to happen. I’m going to keep making jokes, I’m going to keep peppering my words with naughty words, I’m going to keep making absurd reviews that talk about whatever I want to talk about, and I’m going to make the work that, most of all, I want to see in this world. And if it sounds like I’m writing to myself? Fuck. Who else am I going to write to? Because it’s certainly not going to be for prissy nerds like you.
Brianna: “This indie game reviewer has somehow has never heard of IndieCade, a major, well known indie games festival, and instead of googling it like a regular person with common sense, he called it ‘full of shit,’ demonstrating that he is incapable of doing the basic research required to be a game reviewer.”
Froge: Alright, you got me there. I didn’t look up IndieCade because for the fourteen or so months that I’ve been writing about video games on the Degenerates enterprise you see before you, not once have I ever heard of IndieCade, ever had a situation where my knowledge of IndieCade would have been relevant, or even covered any games that were featured at IndieCade. IndieCade isn’t like Ludum Dare or E3 where not knowing about them would show a reviewer who is unaffected by the whims of the world and decides to march on regardless. It’s just another easily – ignorable video game awards show circlejerk full of the same type of people who, if they were musicians, would think the Grammy awards are a big deal, as opposed to appearing on the Rolling Stones year – end “best of” list.
My review of Oblige was what I felt about the title personally, not what some random assholes who have the privilege to be a part of a show with a lot of money thought about the title, and I think it would be dishonest to base my opinion of a work solely on how much screen time it’s gotten on these bumfuck nowhere ceremonies. Overwatch, as the box art says, has gotten “over 140 game of the year awards!”, but I still don’t give a shit about Overwatch and my frog friend considers it to be an incredibly poorly – designed game on every conceivable level. I think the Smash Brothers games are shit, but it’s one of the most popular series ever made. And if Oblige did get that type of positive press, what does it matter what some random asshole online says about it? I’m writing for the purpose of entertaining my audience. The Oblige developers have their audience, and clearly, they enjoy it!
I think if we’re going down the path of saying that I’m not a real critic because I haven’t heard about so and so, done research about such – and – such, and haven’t bothered to learn about every subject under the Sun that could possibly have to do with indie games and the criticism thereof, then we’re going to be part of a never – ending contest of arbitrarily setting higher and higher standards for a medium that, by its very nature, invites anybody with a reasonable opinion and a depth of knowledge to come into it and post opinions based on what they, personally, pride as a human being. Criticism may be an art form in itself, but it’s not one that requires so much training as the other arts. If you can express your thoughts well, and hold the interest of your audience: congratulations. You’re already better than the majority of critics, and are well on your way to being taken seriously.
I don’t think it’s a productive or germane mindset to say that, because I haven’t heard of this arbitrary event, this particular developer, or this specific engine, I’m not entitled to my own opinion. It’s true that such knowledge can inform your opinion of the industry and even the work in question, but I find it incredibly exclusionary to go into every review throwing around just how much random stuff you know, and expect your audience to keep up. That’s one of the reasons why I can’t read, for instance, Film Crit Hulk: I have no idea what he’s saying the majority of the time, and I have zero interest in hearing the opinions of someone who doesn’t strive to make his work more understandable to his broad audience. If you have to start an article off with a dictionary definition of a concept that most people have never even heard of and will never be relevant to their lives, you lose.
Also, I may be a critic, but I also tend to make jokes. You know. As human beings do. Writing about IndieCade by saying “I don’t even know what that is, and I already think they’re full of shit” is so obviously a joke that I shouldn’t even have to explain. Like, the joke is that I have an extremely strong opinion on something without even understanding what that thing is! That’s literally the fucking joke! You’d have to be absolutely daft to miss out on that!
Brianna: “This combined with other uninformed opinions including his belief that Unity is an abysmal engine (a common myth believed by normies with no background in game development)…”
Froge: I found this remark about Unity especially strange because, running gag aside, it is absolutely a shit engine that has been responsible for more trash being uploaded on Itch.io than even the “shit” engines like Game Maker Studio and Panda3D have ever put out. Comparing the 2D capabilities of Game Maker against Unity is like comparing Itch.io to Gamejolt: the former is so many orders of magnitude ahead of the latter that one wonders why the hell the latter is used at all. But Unity and Game Maker are proprietary engines, so comparing them is meaningless because no proprietary software is ever legitimate, and it is immoral on several levels to even consider using them. Might I recommend using Godot instead? Here’s hoping 3.0 turns out bitchin’!
Me and my frog friend agree that Unity is absolutely a shit engine, and I think it deserves all the shit it gets from me no matter how facetious and jokingly I make fun of it. Not only is Unity proprietary and getting any Unity game to run on Linux is a ritual involving prayer beads and more Wine dependencies than is healthy for any workstation, but when the engine does try to run a 3D game better – looking than, say, Spyro the Dragon, it chugs along at a whopping ten frames per second and bends my $1000 workstation to its knees. What the fuck? 3D is supposed to be your shit, Unity, and you’re going to bold – face tell me that you can’t run 3D games on a 3D engine? And for that matter, why do you even support 2D games? Not only are you trying to do two entirely separate things at once, but you don’t even have the gall to do one of them well.
For reference, every Unity game that tries to have current – generation graphics on current – generation consoles runs like absolute bollocks, and those that don’t run like bollocks look like they were developed for the GameCube. The most popular Unity game of 2017, Cuphead (yeah I was fucking shocked too), runs at a crisp, clean, forty FPS on my machine, and a whopping fifteen frames per second in more action – packed quarters. Part of this can be thanks to Wine being forced to interpret Unity’s bullshit for a Linux architecture (which it shouldn’t have to do in the first place, thank you proprietary crippleware), but another part can be attributed to the Cuphead developers taking the piss when it comes to optimising their title; even in a game that prides itself on so much animation, there should be no reason whatsoever why Cuphead does not get 60FPS at all times given the simplicity of its levels.
Should the developer have to compensate for the wrongdoings of the engine, or should the engine have the privilege to dictate what it can and cannot do well enough to ship products on? Trick question: Unity does nothing well, and I am awaiting the day where it’s deader than Build.
Brianna: “…suggests that he’s a…a normie. Oh no…”
Froge: Yes, the Stoic autistic furry weeaboo plushophile socialist fuck who writes thinly – disguised free culture propaganda on a free culture hosting platform, discussing everything from video games to digital art to Web security to animation to even books of all things, who used to spend his entire teenage years addicted to Valve games, Tumblr, and questionably – legal salacious pornography regarding pretty pastel ponies who graduated from Brony to Furry in the span of just a few years, whose contradictory interests of gangster rap, house music, ancient history, and modern politics all come up in in increasingly obscure references in my reviews, all comes together to paint a portrait of a man who, as Brianna so puts it, is a… a normie. Oh no…
I don’t know how much more obvious I have to make this, but that normie thing? That was a JOKE. It was meant to make you LAUGH. I don’t know how the statement, “I also have this creeping suspicion, this spooky and scary notion, that the developers of this game, instead of being developers… are normies! Boo! Bwah!” could be construed as anything other than a humourous remark on the patheticness of my character for bringing attention to developers for being normies when, by definition, the vast majority people are normies and criticising someone for being a boring human being requires more words than what the word “normie” contains.
This goes beyond failing even cursory research of my online persona (which you accuse me of not doing? really?) and dives straight into the pool of almost totally misinterpreting my text at hand. If you have to explain satire to someone, you’ve already lost. I do think that normies are boring human beings and are ignorant of many of life’s strange and beautiful mechanisms, choosing to go about their lives as autonomous robots with little independent thought. But if I’m going to make a serious point about the condition of being a normie, then it’s going to be in much more certain terms than a sarcastic off – hand remark about the developers being normies. Why am I explaining this? I thought Brianna was supposed to be a comedy writer. I thought she would recognise, you know. Comedy.
Brianna: “Yet another major turn – off in the review was his section equating expressing gratitude toward critique to being a ‘mainstream shill’ instead of a sign that a person actively listens to feedback and strives to improve.”
Froge: Brianna, that was… You know… oh, fuck it.
It’s one thing to not find a person’s particular brand of humour funny. After all, there’s no accounting for taste. In my younger years I used to enjoy YouTube Poop a hell of a lot more than I do now, because nowadays I prefer a more sophisticated wit than the endless stream of references, memes, in – jokes, bizarre non – sequiturs, clever editing tricks, and fantastic examples of audio splicing than what exists in the modern generation of Poop. Hell, there is a huge amount of people who enjoy the work of “Weird Al” Yankovic, even if I never saw the appeal of his work myself. I can’t blame someone for adopting a different preference in entertainment than I have. I just think we should all ascribe to be the best people we are physically and mentally capable of, and that involves taking a trip into all types of comedy. Lowbrow and highbrow humour are diametric, but if the jokes are funny? What’s the big issue?
It’s another thing entirely to not understand when an attempt at humour was made, and it’s especially disappointing when the attempt was telegraphed to the point where it’s actually surprising that one did not understand it was meant to be a joke. If you’re looking at the phrase “equating expressing gratitude toward critique to being a ‘mainstream shill’”, and you think I would have to be batshit insane to do something like that, then congratulations. You got the joke. It’s Poe’s Law in action: I didn’t think that my punchline “Smiley faces? There’s nothing smiley about being a mainstream shill, jocelyn!” could ever be construed as a legitimate criticism of someone’s online conduct, but here we are. Welcome to 2017, where satire is dead and we’re all Very Serious People.
Seriously, even though I think shows like Family Guy, Zombie Simpsons, and 90% of contemporary Western adult animation are some of the least funny and most tasteless pieces of shit to ever grace the airwaves, I can at least understand that they are attempting to be funny. Even in an abysmal, inexecrable clusterfuck like Epic Movie or Movie 43, I can at least see where the attempts at humour lie, even if the only people who could enjoy such work would have an artistic palette worse than insects who eat their own mothers after birth.
Now, I am nowhere near as adamantly unfunny as any of these examples, but even so, I don’t expect everyone to enjoy my particular style of writing. After all, I have mostly written for myself and anyone who would like to improve themselves to match, and there are few people with that description who enjoy my work. You can call me whatever mean insult you like, never look at my work again, and live the rest of your lives blameless, because I wouldn’t expect you to like my work in the first place. But to fail to understand one of the most basic tenets of writing, which is to recognise when someone is trying to be funny? That shows a reading comprehension failure so basic that it goes past a matter of personal preference and invalidates anything you have to say about English idiom before or since.
It is a fundamental failure, a failure so embarrassing that even pointing it out is pedantic and awkward, and I am personally stunned that I even have to explain myself in this manner.
Brianna: “It’s clear through the review’s quality that this bizarre mindset has stunted the reviewer’s growth as a writer and as a human being.”
Froge: Fuck, she sure read me like a book! I’m totally a developmentally damaged human being who has a deranged state – of – mind and who constantly suffers in his daily life because of the subjective level of quality of one review I did for one game that nobody cared about, didn’t affect me in any way until I posted the review on the Oblige Itch.io page, and which has severely diminished the quality of the twenty – eight articles I’ve posted since that review came out to the point where I am unable to continue as a reviewer, a writer, and a human being because of this one negative review I gave to a game I didn’t personally like. Also, I know you have trouble with this, so I’m just going to say the last sentence was sarcasm and save you the trouble of interpreting it. You’re welcome.
It’s already been established that Brianna’s complaint has failed to do even basic research about who I am before making these types of far – reaching, arrogant, and patently untrue assumptions about my personal character, but this is just outrageous. The assumptions that Brianna makes here are so insulting to everything that I’ve done within the past two years, ignorant of the type of person I was before that time, and disingenuous to everyone who ever had to struggle with that type of self – improvement journey that I have written extensively about with the hope that it will inspire all my fans to make them better people, to make it so they don’t have to make the same mistakes that I did when I was younger, that it felt like a slap in the face to every single one of the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve published up to the point, and a slap against the tens of thousands more that I haven’t.
Even just looking on the main page of my Degenerates collective, which is on my fucking Itch.io profile of all places, meaning all she had to do was go to my Itch profile and click on my website link, shows just how much I have evolved ever since I first created Froghand on May 20th, 2016. Since then I have been a Web security blogger, a designer, a media critic, the manager of a collective, an amateur flag – maker, an amateur artist, an art critic, an indie games reviewer, a novelist, and a non – fiction book writer, typographer, and level designer. I have developers who looked at the work I created, and they’ve come to me asking to collaborate with them on projects. I didn’t go to them — they came to me. The assumption that I am in any way stunted my growth “as a writer and as a human being” because of one single review, which doesn’t even take up a quarter of a percent of everything I have ever published under the collective, is provably, demonstrably, just fucking wrong.
Even the broadest of the broad strokes of what I have created can be shown to be part of a consistent, systemic improvement in both quality and tone just by looking at the design of each work. Froghand: source code was shit, typography needed work, and layout was unintuitive to navigate for modern audiences. 10kB: Source code significantly improved, site structure is more organised, the typeface fits the content, and the design is much more navigable. Kratzen: Source code now includes semantic structure, the typography is the classiest it’ll ever be, the index page is the best one I’ve ever done, the graphic design has more pulp than any other website, and it is the perfect type of website to showcase the sole type of content I put on it: daily reviews and articles about indie games. All of this, I remind you, was done solely by yours truly. This was all my evolution as an artist. No – one else’s.
And this is not even talking about the content. Who, here, remembers the old days of Froghand, where I could not even write down a sentence without making an off – colour joke, and where I could not discuss subjects such as this without going off on a wild tangent about something else entirely? Who remembers my farcical, outlandish stories on 10kB where I would relate my life to the piece as was being presented, where I would hardly even post an opinion on the work in question in favour of talking more about myself? And who remembers the old days of Degenerates, with a rigid structure resembling more a bureaucracy than a collective, where I was called a cult leader for having the courage to create an honour club, as the Degenerates once was, in an age where there is no honour whatsoever? I am a changed man, a more learned man, whenever I have created a new project. This is my most learned project yet, and I have evolved to be learned.
Need I bring up how I have improved on a personal level? Back before I did Froghand, back before I got into fitness, arts, and education, all I did, I kid you not, was play Team Fortress 2 and DOTA 2, watch speedruns on YouTube, mindlessly browse Tumblr, and chat with what few friends I picked up along the way. The extent to which I interacted with the arts involved watching the occasional popular anime (Lucky Star, Nichijou, Cowboy Bebop) and reading about video games. If I wasn’t playing DOTA, that’s all I ever did. I have dumped more time into my defunct Steam account than most people do into learning entire languages, and if I did not lose the password to that account in the faithful eve of 2015, I would probably still be wasting my life today.
I have told the story of Froghand’s formation many times, but I keep telling it because of how important it is to my life to finally be able to do something constructive with it and not just be subject to the whims of a malicious multi – billion corporation such as those of Valve, Google, and Yahoo. In the very first months of 2016, I started a personal blog, much like that of Seth Godin’s, where I wrote about any topic that crossed my mind, about anything, in the same sort of inspirational and minimalist way that Seth writes to this day. I am disappointed, in that bittersweet way, that I have nuked the blog… the few drafts I have left from it showed that I was on to something special even in those tender years.
In March and April of 2016, I worked on a small space shooter indie game with a massive plot focus, a large sci – fi world, and three great characters I created who still survive in my head to this day, and who I have never published anything about because I feel I can only do them justice when I have the fiction – writing skills to do so. By all accounts, aside from those who played the thing and enjoyed the gameplay and writing despite the very primitive art, it was a total failure. It sold nothing, was never notable, and — despite how much I knew about design and how it applies to gameplay — it looked like shit. The sound design was cheap, though frosty, and there was no music to speak of. I have worked the hardest I have ever worked on anything in my entire life on that project, waking up from six in the morning to midnight every single day in order to work on it, learning everything I could about the engine that made it work, and it still failed.
I learned a very valuable lesson over those months: you can try your hardest, your damn hardest, and it can still end up not being good enough if you don’t have the talent to make it happen. I have contacted many artists to do guest artwork for special worlds (they all declined), and I had contacted many publishers to see if they could put my game on their platform (they all declined). I had eventually settled on putting it on Itch.io for forty dollars, with the theory that exclusivity creates value, without even having a product that was worth paying for in the first place. But, you see, no matter how much I cared, it was still a piece of shit. I admit that now. I am detached enough from it to admit that. And it’s in this experience that I base so much of my critical philosophy around. People need to know when the work they make is a piece of shit. If I didn’t realise that, I would have never made Froghand.
And that May, just a few weeks after I launched the game, I had an idea for a blog, I found Neocities willing to make that blog happen, I designed the website, I wrote the very first article into the built – in site editor, and I called it… Froghand. I named myself Froge, after a dead meme, and ever since then I’ve just been the type of guy who’s making the type of work that I most want to see in this world. I may not always be successful, and I don’t claim to be perfect, but to say that I have not evolved as a human being? Neither before, nor after I created Froghand? That’s just… that’s just disrespectful. That’s disrespectful to assume so much about someone you’ve never even met.
Brianna: “Overall the review is unappealing,”
Froge: I understand this is your opinion, though to state that the review is, objectively, unappealing, without showing some level of understanding in regards to the honesty, charm, and ludicrous nature of the thing, aspects that are typically seen as appealing, shows that this complaint was designed for the sole purpose of being a complaint instead of trying to be an actual communication or exchange of ideas. Even with games I consider hot garbage, I don’t come out and say that the game itself is objectively unappealing.
It can be said that Oblige is objectively unappealing because of the long stretches of time you have to spend doing menial work such as walking and typing simplistic phrases, because having a game with such little action as what Oblige has is not considered to be good game design by any critic worth his salt — and those who consider it good design are being disingenuous in an attempt to protect their hoity – toity reputations because they don’t have the conviction to call a spade a spade, a bad game a bad game, and so mindlessly praise pseudo – artistic trite to appease their pseudo – artistic mindless audience. But that is my opinion.
It’s funny, too, how strongly this complaint states its points, as banal as the points are, while being a complaint against my post which said: “So I gave it a disappointing review on Kratzen, but I do think your collective talents are able to make even better titles in the future”. The tone of your post against my own post doesn’t really fit; where mine is fair and delicate, yours seems to be a series of ad hominem attacks that have very little in the way of actual points or rhetoric. As to why you were fucking with me in this ineffectual manner, I know not.
Brianna: “unnecessarily long,”
Froge: By the way, if you’ve read this article up to this point — and I know you haven’t, because online commentators love to complain but hate to explain, never putting their thoughts into a form that can be effectively criticised and discussed and so refuse to improve their discourse through reading criticisms such as this — , I would like to thank you for proving me wrong and showing that you do have the capability to read longform prose without getting bored and scampering off. Though I have to ask you to no longer reply to my works, because based on the quality of the reply you’ve posted, it would be a waste of our collective talents as human beings.
Brianna: “and lacks even images to make the experience more bearable for potential readers.”
Froge: Oh, sorry, let me just post a screenshot real quick:
Did that do anything for you? Did the redundant, unexciting, obvious, and pedantic inclusion of that image do anything to help you inform your opinion of this decent – looking, though unacceptably redundant and unexciting video game, which is a video game only in the sense that it technically resembles a game? Are you now a more fulfilled human being because I decided to waste the precious time I could have used to write a better article for the sake of including a screenshot that you could have gotten by going to Oblige’s profile page, while at the same time doubling the bandwidth required to load this article? Or are you just not familiar enough with the art of criticism to be able to handle reading even a moderately involved review — a review that should take you no more than ten minutes to read — without getting distracted and staring at the pretty pictures that I provide?
This is such an infantile criticism of my work that I feel it’s beneath me to even give this response. In the eighteen months that I’ve been publishing work online, not once has somebody complained to me that my work would be improved if I included pictures with it. I agree there are times where they would have been germane, such as with the Bioshock Infinite review (watch out! it’s 6,000 words!) where I discuss the graphic design being too obtuse and cluttered for what is allegedly a hardcore shooter, and compared it to the much sparser art style of games like Quake and Counter – Strike.
I could have added in images and compared and contrasted the different art styles across the ages — in fact, I did that in the Tao of Mario. But why bother? Sometimes I’m a publisher, and sometimes I do talk at length about the visual arts such as what I have done with The 10kB Gallery. But the vast majority of the time, I’m a writer, and I make work that is meant to be read. If someone doesn’t have the attention span required to read my work which usually takes, at most, fifteen minutes to read, then I’m not going to placate them with near – worthless pictures.
I review games. I review how they play, what they talk about, and even how they look. The reason I don’t include pictures in my games criticism is because the majority of human beings have lizard brains who will focus on how a product looks — how it makes them feel in this base, biologically hard – wired way — before using their higher – order brain functions in order to discern its quality beyond how its æsthetics brainwash them. People, as can be scientifically proven, are idiots. They make decisions based on the first piece of information they see, and if the first piece of information in my review is how something looks, as opposed to how something is, I will have to spend a portion of my review saying how you shouldn’t trust how a game looks, and I will have to repeat that on every review.
It’s a logistical clusterfuck, it means you don’t think your audience is smart enough to handle your writing, it means you think you’re not talented enough to hold their attention with your writing, it has the potential to get me sued for bullshit “copyright infringement” claims, and if despite all of that I decide to include images in my work, it will actively damage what I’m trying to accomplish with Kratzen: reviewing games that are worth your time. Playing a bad game because you thought it looked good is a waste of your time. If someone looks at my review, thinks “wow, this is a great game!”, and they look at the box art and thinks it looks fine? That’s alright with me. Not cynically manipulating our basic instincts. That’s against everything I create.
The only place images have on Kratzen is for the identification of discrete titles that would be difficult for the eye to recognise if the titles were text alone. If you see a Kratzen favicon? That means I’m talking about Kratzen. A Twitch emote? That means I’m taking the piss. Some anime girl? Also the piss. A picture of a game’s character? That means it’s a good game. But if I have a game review and it’s a screenshot of something entirely different? Then the game is shit. It got one star, it’s a bad game, you don’t even need to read the review. In fact, that’s why I have Slark’s picture on the “Oblige” section under 2017 – 11 – 03. The game doesn’t deserve to have its real picture put there. That’s why I put in Slark: he’s a cute fish boy and it makes for a stealthy “much obliged” pun.
So, pictures on Kratzen? Not happening. That’s one itch I’m not going to scratch.
Brianna: “I’m unsure why ‘Kratzen’ was so proud to present this (as proclaimed at the top of the review)…”
Froge: Because I’m a one – man operation whose ability to design, write, publish, and advertise his own online enterprise to the point of notability within my community would be a point of pride for any reasonable man? Because I’m at the point in my career where I can write a review such as my Oblige one in the broad side of an hour? Because despite all the wanna – be armchair critics floating around on Itch.io, I’m one of the only ones out there who is actually a critic, who has actual writing talent, and is prolific enough to make the most of those talents and become an acclaimed figure in the eyes of the very same developers I connect with? In contrast, Brianna, you have been very successful in your own enterprise, and it is obvious you have your talents, but I am by no means the one – hit – wonder that you’re making out to be, and my reputation comes from having earned it, instead of having it come through luck as it has for you.
Also, I’m not sure why you put “Kratzen” in “quotation marks”. That is literally the title of this blog. I’m not “TJ ‘Henry’ Yoshi” over here where my identity is being called into question; it literally is Kratzen.
Brianna: “…because I would have been truly embarrassed to be associated with such an uneducated, diarrhea – like stream of consciousness.”
Froge: Actually I would be more embarrassed for a significantly more successful and profitable author such as yourself, with her hundreds of dedicated fans coming from one of of the most popular visual novels of 2017, to start an Internet Fight with someone who posted on a title that you didn’t have a hand in developing, and for that someone to have a total audience across his career that is just a fraction of the total audience you have gotten out of your measly two titles. I thought once you graduated to the Big Boys Pool, you were supposed to be above fighting the rats that hop in and try to gnaw at your protein – providing flesh.
I didn’t even solicit you for criticism. I didn’t even know you existed as a person before you came to me with this poorly – constructed diatribe and made me look like a complete fucking dipshit because I shared a different opinion about some random – ass game on the Internet that I only took a look at because I liked the concept. For you to come at me like this about somebody else’s work is so petty on your part that I wonder how you’re going to handle anybody giving negative reviews of your work to you personally? The mainstream gaming press is so averse to giving negative opinions to independent artists, even when they deserve what little shit they get, that it has caused artists to become delusional and think they can do no wrong because they had the fortune to create something popular if not something that’s good in spite of its popularity. If nobody has ever bothered to shit on you before, it’s because nobody important cares about the work you’re doing.
Brianna: “I hope the author learns to do research, discovers how to write more concisely, and realizes that if he ever wants to write anything worth reading, he should drastically alter his way of thinking.”
Froge: You too, thanks.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, what you have just witnessed is a deer running straight towards the headlights and having its life torn asunder from this mortal coil. You’ve just seen a character assassination as executed by a professional hitman, having gone from birth to death dedicated to the pursuit of getting rid of all that bullshit that exists out there in the world. You’ve just seen the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of Brianna’s reputation, and the allegorical bullet in the gun that lights up her glass heart and shatters every stone she’s thrown at me. There is no competition; She pulled a Takeover, I pulled an Ether, and at the end of it all, I am the one who fucked with her soul and made that shit burn slow.
But that’s all braggadocio. In the real world, this beef is squashed, it’s fucking done as it’ll ever be, and I’m never going to take this girl’s opinion seriously ever again, because she has proven, line – by – line, play – by – play, that she cannot even reach the bare minimum amount of discourse necessary to take down a man who takes himself down every day of his life, who beats himself up over the pettiest of things, ironically or otherwise, and all she had to was kick me while I was down and make me tap out of this silly, pointless, Internet fight. But she couldn’t even do that. No wonder I stanced up right then: it’s one thing to say some dumb shit online. It’s another thing to say some dumb shit about a guy who says dumb shit online. I just couldn’t stand for that. I was the easiest target she could have possibly picked to ruin, and she whiffed it harder than Jim Joyce’s faulty first base call at Armando Galarraga’s near – perfect game, June 2nd, 2010.
Now, for all the kids out there who want to replicate the success of what I have just accomplished here, I have to remind all of you some very important things. First off, if somebody comes along and disses you and your reputation, and they’re not somebody you would look up to personally? The best thing to do is to not even give them the time of day, because if they haven’t bothered to be somebody worth consulting on in their own life, they’re not someone worth listening to when they make bad assumptions about someone else’s life. There is nothing that kills idle complaints more effectively than ignoring them, because most of the time, if someone is speaking ill of others, all they want is attention for their dumbass opinions because they don’t have any opinions worth giving attention to. If it won’t matter five weeks from now, don’t spend more than five minutes thinking about it.
Second of all, if you find yourself in situations where you think you have to lay someone out on a regular basis, you should take a look at yourself and wondering what you’re doing to get that negative attention. Now, undeniably, there are particular types of people who do not agree with the opinions of reasonable men, and they are always going to disagree with you, always shuffle their feet, piss and moan, and do nothing in their lives but try to hack at the ankles of giants. They are like worms on the sidewalk; not even worth it to step on them. These people are not worth your time. If they persistently harass you, go for the scorched earth policy: block everywhere, deadname them, and do what you were going to do anyway. Always act as confident as you passively are.
But if you get consistently good criticism from respectable people whose work you can admire and agree with? If you’re being criticised for entirely fair points instead of whatever churns out of the Internet Hate Machine? You should reconsider what you’re doing in your life to cause so much interest and to see if you can improve yourself to match. All the good criticism I’ve gotten is in private, on my e – mail address, and from my friends, not to mention how much self – reflection I do on a daily basis to bring the steady stream of higher – and – higher quality work as you see before you. All the bad criticism? All the pissing and moaning? All of that I’ve gotten from the low – risk, no – reward infrastructure of the public Internet, where a downvote is a substitute for a point, and nobody needs to risk any part of their online reputation, because they are cowards who have none.
And, third, comes the public character assassination of the target in question. Deciding who, out of all your detractors, you’re going to bind to the stocks and parade around town as an example of who not to be, is a topic that should be considered carefully. While the safest and most pragmatic policy is to be a stone wall and have your opponents shadow box with nobody, there is a lot of benefit to bolstering your reputation with your own audience, and certifying your own reputation as someone who is not to be trifled with, if and only if you choose the right target, and the execution of your rebuttal is as pitch – perfect as it possibly can be. No errors can be made, unless they are pedantic errors, then you may counter – attack when your opponent predictably points then out. The points must follow logic and they must apply emotional torque to your audience so they may rally behind you. Your goals involve persuasion, education, and bolstering your character. Retribution, and making a fool out of your opponent, is a secondary aim against the main goals.
When writing your rebuttal, never assume that your opponent is reading it. They aren’t. They are not interested in your opinions of them, because they are like pigeons playing chess. It is impossible to “win” an argument against someone who does not follow the basic rules of acceptable polite conversation, and if you’re laying someone out online, you have gone far past conversation and are now attempting to, in no uncertain terms, decimate your opposition in a way that leaves zero room for any retorts, no opportunity for any comebacks, and comes out with you as the decisive victor, the King of your own domain, against anyone who even dares to touch you. In sum, you simply cannot win an argument. If you lose, you lose, and even if you win, you lose for wasting your time and energy. You must write in a way where there is no argument. You have won by default, there is no contest, and the only reason you are even writing is to remind us of these inalienable facts.
The acquisition of your target is one that occurs after much patience and deliberation. The perfect target is one that is not only completely and utterly wrong in every portion of their complaint against you, but they are also arrogant in their complaint, and has posted at such a length, and in such a public, off – handed manner, that your procurement of them comes incidentally to everything else that you do. They are, ideally, popular enough to the point where their assumptions about you is so beneath them that it’s extraordinarily petty of them to even talk to you. You must remind your audience that you did not come to them looking to start shit — they came to you, they took valuable time out of their day to start shit with you, and you were just chilling, going about your business, before they came up to you and tried to stance up in your own damn house.
In rhetoric, as in war, the home field advantage means everything, your squad means everything, and the circumstances of your attrition means everything. It is for this reason that you never start beef — you finish it. You don’t go around to the domains of developers and artists trashing their work. When you post on their page, you do it politely, with respect, with the understanding that you’re just expressing your opinion. If they take it personally, that’s their business — you’re not responsible for their actions. If they want to talk, and you want to clarify your opinion, go ahead. But you are never obliged to. You don’t come into a man’s house and insult his interior decoration. Express your opinion, do it honestly and with class, and speak of it no more. That’s what it means to be a gentleman.
But one has to be a man before he is a gentleman, and must be willing to fight against someone who has sullied his honour. In your house, you do whatever you please, and you can say whatever shit you like. Every time someone complains about your work, it becomes harder and harder for them to be taken seriously the longer and longer you keep on doing you. If you are a good person, then be a good person, and good people will follow you. You have your fans, you have your squad, and they will defend your actions so long as your actions are reasonable. And if you aren’t reasonable? Then the best thing to do is apologise, but to never backlash at the fair criticisms you have received for your unreasonable actions, and to never call anyone out.
It is these principles which show you must never make your rebuttal of your target on their domain, on their profile, or even, ideally, on their website. Remember, the goal isn’t to make them see your complaint. They don’t care about that. You can post a link to the rebuttal on your profile if you’re a daring sort, but only post it, and if they reply, invite them to talk to you on your own profile, on your own e – mail address, and on your own website — where you have the undeniable advantage. Do not be arrogant. Do not insult your target. Everything about your target must be verifiably true based on what they have said in their initial rebuttal; I advise against digging up shit from the past, because it goes from a rebuttal of their complaints, to a criticism of their entire character, which is not a good look, and not a look you ever want to be associated with.
The goal, once again, is to defend your character in a way that shows your audience that they’re in the right to support you, because not only are you above the petty beef that lesser artists find themselves dragged in to, but you can also pick and choose whatever arguments you want to, systemically destroy them, and come out just as unscathed as you were coming into it. You must never stoop to the level of your detractors. You always were above them, and you will always remain above them. But you must not be so above them that your rebuttal is cruel, unnecessary, or just plain sad. This is why it’s important to choose a target who is more successful than you, so as to embarrass them for even bothering to stoop down to your own level. Everyone loves an underdog. Be that underdog.
This is not a task for amateurs. There is an extremely delicate balance of discourse that you have to maintain in order to make sure that each and every point you make is fair, accurate, relevant to the complaint at hand, and showcases a man who has an opinion worth listening to and isn’t just blathering on about nonsense. And not only do you have to maintain this balance, but you have to do it in a way that is persuasive, emotionally engaging, and is of higher quality than anything you have ever worked on. If you have created both the rational and the emotional appeals of your rebuttal, then all that is left is to bolster your own character, and you must be aware of every single persuasive, charismatic, and psychologically – proven technique that you can use in order to bolster this character, and to have yourself come out on top. If have not yet mastered your Logos, Pathos, and Ethos, then you are likely to simply make a fool out of yourself.
If you are somebody who is reading articles on rhetoric such as this, and you are not somebody who is writing these types of articles, then you are not experienced enough of a writer or a debater to properly argue against your detractors, and so will have to argue to yourself about why their individual arguments are wrong, what few ones they possess that are correct, and allow yourself the patience to hone your skills, after years of research and hard work, before attempting such a stunt as I have pulled here. It really is a stunt, you see. If you fail, you are a buffoon. But if you succeed, it is amazing. And like all stunts, you only pull those you know, with certainty, you are going to succeed.
Do I think, at the conclusion of this article, of Brianna as a worse human being than when I had started this rebuttal? My opinion, as I have stated at the beginning, is the same: I continue to respect those who are willing to put themselves out there and make good work, those who can enjoy the fruits of their labour without going overboard on an ego trip, and those who are, most of the time, pleasant people to be around and to read up on. Brianna happens to be one of these people. I hold nothing against her, now that all is said and done, any more than anybody else.
But at the same time, I am forced to admit that, on this particular occasion, she had shown an extreme error in judgement in criticising one of the Internet’s most accomplished writers, a writer who is already in good graces with the publishing platform she has put her projects on, and who has that particular type of writing style that, line – by – line, allows me to look at every one of her faulty complaints, and execute them in a line – up like the Israelis against the Palestinians in the Khan Yunis Massacre — only this time I had some cause to execute, as opposed to decades of systemic racism against a backdrop of a millennia – old territorial pissing contest over sand. She was, in RationalWiki terms, an inverse stopped clock. She seems to me a charming woman who is going to make more money and fame than will ever be good for her, but on November 25, 2017, she was off her fucking goop.
No, I am not inviting more detractors to blow up my inbox and place bad opinions that I’ll probably reply to, at most, with a sentence – long response two weeks after the fact, because I’m too busy writing e – mails two thousands words long to the very pleasant friends I’ve made along the way with Kratzen, and who I would like to see if I can get them anything for Winter Solstice despite them living thousands of kilometres away. I am finished with this rebuttal, I am done with discussing any more of Brianna’s work for a very long time, and I am not interested in hearing even more poorly – formed and ignorant opinions about someone who, for some reason, defies even basic research of his character.
I am interested in, as I always have been, the finding of those particular types of artworks that makes one understand what it means to be human: to think, to feel, and to be inspired to be the best person you can be given the circumstances you’re in. I will continue to find the highest – quality games that I can, to write about this topic as I have dedicated this website to doing so, and to give a fair shake to every developer who I meet, understand that they, too, are human, and to appreciate all their goodness in spite of all their flaws. As this was the pettiest of petty beef, this article was the pettiest of petty victories. I need not have written it, and I did so solely for my fans, but I still feel that all the information that this work contains is worthwhile enough to allow to keep up, without irony, as an indication of my character and what I value most out of this silly life I live.