Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coming Up On A&E: Blog Wars

I really had to fight the urge to write this post, and in the end I lost. Mainly because the topic is referring directly to me, and I can't just let things lie. It's just not in my nature.

What I'm referring to is this blog post from our friend Mykal Lakim, of Dark Phoenix Chasing the Entertainment Publishing Darkness. He's decided to come up with a wit-filled rebuttal to my Makers review from RPG.Net (actually, an edited and slightly more coherent version is here).

Exhibit #1: "When a review isn't a review because it's reviewing something we didn't ask them to"
In case this wasn't plain, he's referring to me. Because mine is the only review of this product in the whole wide world. The problem with this is - he doesn't get to say what's a review or what isn't. Unsolicited reviews don't disqualify them, and intimating that only handpicked reviewers are worth considering is the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and going "LALALALALALALA". In fact, as was pointed out to me, it's kind of like he is confusing reviewing for proofreading. I can totally see how this model works:

1) Send out a "finished" product to reviewers
2) Let them do the legwork of finding all of the problems
3) Update the book with all of the free error finding and other advice you've received
4) Put out a new, improved version of the book!

Seriously. They're called proofreaders and editors and not reviewers for a reason.

As for the attempt at a "only his friends are listening to him" jab, I'll just leave this here:

Who needs friends when one can have visitors?

Apparently he's learned to use Snag-It. Congratulations! Of course, his critics started taking screen grabs of his things because he keeps changing things - namely deleting and editing posts and comments, or claiming that things never happened. I'll give you a great example of this in about 30 seconds. 

He left out the video games. How could he forget those?

Anybody who's read my blog, or my Google+ posts, knows that I'm a pretty sarcastic person. Not as sarcastic as +Eric Franklin - there's not enough room in the world for two people who are that sarcastic. Anybody who's followed any of my posts knows that in particular any of the Dark Phoenix reviews are part review, part comedy. It's the shtick. Missing the snarkiness and sarcasm behind crossing out "Publishing" or jamming a bunch of terms together is really the heart of Lakim's post. Dense like neutronium, as my grandpappy used to say. It really makes his post a bunch of whinging rather than a commentary on reviewers. As such, I think it's pretty clear the quoted portion of my review was a jab at the fact that Mr. Lakim spins off more sub-organizations for his little company that the Cloverfield monster drops Parasites.  If it's not, then I should stop trying to write funny reviews.

"It's a whole world of desperation" is the most fitting description of it ever.
Seriously, nobody aside from him can keep all of these things straight and I'm not sure even he knows what he's going to be calling things next week. And remember that changing things after the fact and why we take screenshots thing I mentioned?
Also included for good measure

I should just stop right here - I really can't go on with responses to anything else in that paragraph. So, apparently, he went and changed the price on Scribd and then wrote his post. Really? REALLY? How absolutely childish does someone have to be? Three months after the review was written you're going to come along and say that the review isn't valid because the price you just changed is different than the one in the review? From three months ago?

Lookit, I'm not going to defend my review, the reviewing style, or anything else. I stand by it and it stands on its own. But responding in the way that you did - passive aggressive, whinging, obtuse - makes it sound like you're just a little pissed off. And completely unable to detect sarcasm. You should watch some Big Bang Theory, Sheldon has been getting pretty good at detecting it.

I always take my advice from jovial jurists.
So we'll move on to his next example of needing to be struck with a clue-by-four. I don't care how many cereal-box lawyers he's consulted, his copyright notice is near worthless. Fair use invalidates pretty much everything after the first sentence, including the grammatically incorrect "its'". This is evidenced by the fact he's DMCA'd precisely nobody who has reproduced portions of his writing or art. The mere fact that I took a snapshot of that paragraph from the book and coupled it with commentary about being fair use...makes it fair use - which was kind of the punchline of the joke. That he missed. Again.

Also, while you can't copyright a word (or a name), it can be trademarked. cf Heroquest and Gamezone. Odds are if he got any letter, from anyone, regarding the use of the term "vampire" it was over trademark and not copyright.

Who's the one missing their Firebird here?
And...the grand finale. I'll take this one point by point, and type slowly for Lakim's benefit.

1. Buy yourself a sense of humor. It helps prevent you from looking like a  clueless moron when you miss the punchline.

2. Try to write a game that's playable. And original. I don't really know what else to say about that.

3. Most. Ironic. Thing. Ever. Seriously, how can someone who is trying to market a third (or fourth) rate knock-off of one of the most successful RPGs of the 1990s even talk about looking back at the past? Huh?

4. Buh...I don't even. So they only listen to people that they sent review copies to? That explains, well, a lot. Look, you don't have any say over reviews of any kind. In fact, as most real industry professionals will tell you, it's your best bet to simply not respond to any reviews at all. Barring attempts to correct real factual inaccuracies, it's just in your best interests to  let things lie. And coming back and commenting on the review three months later? Simply makes you look petty and a little desperate for attention.

5. You want to see a rant? This is a rant. <rant mode>If you put a product up  for sale I give exactly zero fucks if your production was rushed, or you made a mistake, or you had to actually spend time on creating a new product because the old one sucked so bad that you had to claim it was a "preview" edition in attempt to justify why it was so shitty. And you know what else? You remind me of a used car salesman, and I think that you are either putting up a front for some reason about being a "game publisher", or are actively running a scam. If neither of those things are the case and you are serious, why don't you try earning the trust and respect of the gaming community instead of demanding it? No one owes you shit, especially when you come across the way you do. Trying to place the onus on someone else because they reported on your shitty products isn't going to make them look bad.</rant mode>

In closing, in the spirit of Lakim's recent habit of quoting other people's endorsements, I have one of my own. Chris Knowles of wherever the hell he is in Japan had this to say about Lakim's point #5: "Own your shit, get a clue, arrive at a new place with something that is worth laying down money for."