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So I'm hanging out on the coder channel and a new guy shows up.  He goes through the basic introductions.  Played around with Flash, decided to try making a game, wants some feedback.  "Well, Peter is a professional video game reviewer, ask him," was the general response.  So I drew the short straw and said I'd check it out.

I get the game and I start it up.  I'm greeted with a title screen showing a team of four sparkledogs looking as fierce as sparkledogs can while surrounded by shadowy mystical dogs.

I sez to myself, Oh, Jesus, I'm dealing with a furry.  Shit goddamn.

The game is actually pretty typical of 2D fighters under Flash.  Flash games cannot do regular fighting games like Mortal Kombat, so they...downscale the action.  Combat is turn based like an old RPG.  The two characters are on the screen.  You choose your attack.  A power meter then appears, going from low to high and then resetting.  Whenever you click on it, it freezes the meter and that determines the strength of your attack.  It calculates critical hits but not misses.  And like almost every game since Pokemon, it takes strengths and weakness into account.  You have your four sparkledogs, and can choose between them at any point before you attack, so you can choose who is more effective against whichever agent of darkness you are combating.  If you think the game is lame, you ain't kidding.  I beat it my first time through in less than five minutes.

By now, some of the others on the channel had gotten the game and were trying to play it (it's not that it wouldn't run, it just couldn't keep their attention).  "So what do you think?"

How long did you spend working on that?

"Eight months."

No, I just mean the programming, not the design.

"Yeah, eight months."

I just blinked at the screen.  It took you eight months to program THAT?

So I told him the truth.  The story was non-existent.  The characters were uninteresting.  The game mechanics were boring.  The challenge was AWOL.  I suggested he scrap the whole project and start over with a more solid mechanic and fundamental design.

And the guy flipped his shit.

"I wanted feedback!  I didn't want criticism!"


"I worked hard on that!  You have no right to criticize!  You're just looking for an excuse to be mean!"

No, I was just being honest.  If you want me to be mean, I can show you mean.

"You shouldn't be mean to me!  I'm autistic!  I'm more sensitive to criticism than other people!"

He might as well have held up a sign saying, "Victim here!"  Half the channel dogpiled him.  He left, saying he'd never come back because we were assholes.  One of the guys hit his machine with a virus for good measure.

It used to be you did something because you enjoyed it or it was your personal vision or whatever.  And there would be detractors.  People would make fun of you for your subject matter or would say it wasn't good or whatever.  When this happened, the responses were predictable.  If you were interested in feedback, you took what they said, figured out if you could incorporate it into your project or if you rejected it because it would detract from it, and that was that.  If you disagreed with the feedback, you had a list of responses.  Bite me.  Kiss my ass.  Suck my dick.  Eat shit.  And, of course, the ever popular fuck you.

But at some point, the people creating things for public consumption had a change.  They were following their muse, and the most important consideration was if they were true to their vision, not if they necessarily made something good.  This started in the 50's with the "natural" artistic movement, decrying any training or grounding because the raw talent was the important thing (and who were the biggest proponents of this?  People without training or grounding, natch).  Combine that with the vague platitudes of the Dr. Spock generation, where affirmation is more important than achievement ("Winning isn't everything."  "But losing SUCKS!"  "Winning isn't everything.").  Advancement and recognition were no longer the result of getting better and improving yourself and your skill, but the result of your stick-to-it-tiveness.

This happens a lot.  I saw it all the time with small press comics.  Those are the ones where people run off their comics on a photocopy machine and sell maybe ten copies, most of them to friends.  The pissing matches I would see spring up between these "gods" of the small press were mindboggling, because outside of their single digit readership, no one gave a shit.  Nowadays, this happens with furries, who actually use the term "soul rape" without irony.

When I got hate mail from furries about Stress Puppy, my reaction was to go, "These people don't get it," and disregard it.  I didn't care what they thought a "proper" "furry" comic should be.  I even turned their criticism into a running gag in the strip.  But at no point did I start screaming they had no right to criticize me.  They said their piece, I said mine, and that was it as far as I was concerned.  I'm man enough to take criticism and even insults.  (This is why I tell people to be as brutal as they like when reviewing my stuff.  NOTHING they come up with will ever match the level of stupidity the furries displayed in critiquing my strip.)

The whole "You can't criticize!" movement is born of arrogance.  They are basically saying that you have a right to their opinion, but you don't have a right to your own.  Your opinion is wrong, because it is not theirs.  It's attempting to control what can't and shouldn't be controlled, namely, what other people think of you and what you do.  And these same people have no problem criticizing or making fun of others or being mean because they know who deserves to be made fun of, and it's usually anybody but them.  There's a person I work with who I make fun of for having no artistic taste because she loves Twilight.  She makes fun of me for having no artistic taste because I hate Twilight.  It's opinion, not fact!  Grow up and deal with people doing what they like and think is right instead of your judgment.

As George Carlin said, "Life is tough!  Get a helmet!"


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
"I wanted feedback! I didn't want criticism!"
LOL. Yeah I know the type. They're strictly looking for a stroke-fest, not for honest constructive criticism that could help them improve.

I think it's pretty mean of you to rape furries' souls, though ;-D
Jun. 27th, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can't stand that. I'm constantly on the lookout for things I can do to improve. I don't like the idea of reaching my limits, I want to keep pushing. This is the reason learning something new like playing the drums is so frustrating -- I keep thinking, "I know I can do better than this! How do I get there?!?"

As for raping furries' souls, yeah. Writer, cartoonist, programmer, soul rapist...how do I handle it all? ;-)
Jun. 27th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
It used to be you did something because you enjoyed it or it was your personal vision or whatever.

That is the key. In today's world people put things out into the cyberverse with the messed up thought that people are going to immediately bow down before their awesomeness. *shakes head*

Any sort of artistic undertaking should first come from a place of self-enjoyment. Do it only if you love it. Period.

Just my two cents. :P
Jun. 27th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
I agree. If you are just after ass pats, don't ask for feedback.

I put Stress Puppy out expecting to get hammered (the web comic field is full of people who, if your stuff sucks, they will RELISH telling you how much it sucks). Nobody is more surprised at lack of negative feedback than me. But I was ready for it. If I didn't want to try, I would simply be drawing the strip and putting it in my drawer or whatever where no one else would see it. (I know some people who write strictly for themselves in that way.)

When I first started learning to draw, I did some sketches of Alice from DDR that, frankly, look horrible. Barring unusual circumstances, no one else is ever going to see them. But notice I'm not putting them on the 'net and saying, "AREN'T I AWESOME?!?"

I'm a lot more comfortable with people critiquing my current art. Susan van Camp, a truly fantastic artist (she paints for Magic The Gathering cards), said she would look over my stuff one time long ago. I was nervous, but excited. She had a couple of positive comments, like how I understand how important fundamentals and basics are, and how expertly I was conveying mood and emotion. Everything else needed work, and she was telling me things that wouldn't exactly fix them but would get me on the next step to learn what I needed to.

Part way through, she looked at me.

I said, What?

"Oh. You ARE listening."

One of my girlfriends who really paid attention to my body language (it was unnerving how much she was figuring out about me) said I have an "examination mode" -- when someone is telling me about something and I'm really paying attention, my body settles in and my head, instead of being on top of my neck, leans in and tilts a bit to the side. I noticed I was in that pose at that moment.

Apparently, van Camp doesn't really review people's work because there are too many that, when she says the things she says, flip out and storm off. She clearly had faith that I wouldn't do the same, but I guess she was surprised by the level of interest I was showing. After all, I had told her I was doing it for fun. The interaction and questions I was asking reinforced it.

She isn't the biggest fan of my work, but she still has fun (the pantomine with Sandy the mermaid at the start of Sound Waves #7 is a particular favorite of hers). And all because I'm looking for honesty, not "SOMEBODY PRAISE ME, GODDAMMIT!!!"

And doing it because you love it is the key. If Sound Waves had failed, I would have taken it because I still did something that I could look at and go, "It didn't work out, but I did my best." It's weird because the very thing some people criticize Sound Waves for also nets it praise. Some go, "You draw a comic with mermaids? What's wrong with you?" Others go, "You draw a comic with mermaids? How do I get one?"

And the colored birdies sing, "Doo doodoo doo doodoodoo...." ;-)
Jun. 27th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
Wow talk about fucked up. There are times when I'd like some criticism of at least the constructive kind.

I think that people like the guy you mentioned feel so great about their product that they want others to say it's great as well.
Jun. 27th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah. They think their stuff is automatically equal to whatever else is out there.

And to some extent, they are correct.

I play a lot of fan games and indie projects and such. A lot of them are simple and straightforward and barely qualify as games. They are just simple timekillers. Most of them, if I already had the art I needed and could use my stock music library, I could knock out in a weekend in I wanted to. However, these games don't get anyone's interest. People that are really into games will pick things where real effort was invested.

I firmly believe the key to any art, from writing to drawing to programming, is you have to adapt. You have to be able to see when something either isn't working or when something might work better. This is why I haven't even tried making a Sound Waves computer game yet -- the only ideas I come up with have been done, there is nothing really unique or special to them. I don't want to take some generic game that I can slap my characters into and say, "Hey! It's a Sound Waves game!" I want something that, if you replaced the characters, the experience wouldn't be the same.

My original idea behind Sound Waves was a lot different than how it is turning out. And it's still evolving as I write new stories. Stress Puppy spent a lot of time in testing until I got the characters and their interactions just right, including changing Justin around completely because it added to the conflict and the jokes (before, he was just kind of there, there were no jokes or situations that could only be done by him). It's all about adjusting and getting better.

The movie Overboard was an okay flick, but there is one scene in the movie that always busts me up. After Goldie Hawn returns to her life of luxury, she asks for a beer. She opens by putting the cap in the handle of a window, yanking it down, and starting to chug. Not much to it, and similar gags in other movies don't really get a reaction out of me. But in the context of the movie and how her character is supposed to behave, it reduces me to hysterics every time.

It's all about context....
Jun. 27th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
Because most everything on the net is crap?

I believe another key to art is to know your limits. I can't do programming, so I won't even attempt to make a game, and if I did, I'd be expecting "this is a piece of shit" type of critique. I like to think that I'm decent at drawing, and writing; but I've found out that I can not do the 'typical comic coloring style' without it looking bad.

As for the original ideas for Sound Waves, and Stress Puppy; color me not surprised. I think that all ideas evolve, they grow. I know that when the idea for Revelation Awakened came to me back in 2006, it was a lot different than it is now. Granted there are still similarities, but there's been some dramatic changes as well.

and context, I've found myself laughing at certain things, because of the context. There's this "band", a black metal band that's bad. Go to Youtube type in "Worst black metal band" and you'll probably find it. While the music itself isn't too bad, the lyrics are just outright stupid, the video is stupid, yet I like it, because I know the context. It's making fun of the serious black metal.

So, yeah, context, context.
Jun. 27th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
I think I found the video. I'm going to ask you to let me explain my comment after I make it.

It's like the Spinal Tap of troo kult.

I say "Spinal Tap" because, if you really give their stuff a good listen, you can tell it is an affectionate but still deadly accurate satire of the major movements of rock and roll in general (the first time I heard Stonehenge, I was laughing my ass off because I got what they were goofing on). These guys seem to be doing the same thing -- they are fans (they have to be), but still having some laughs. Just like Guest And Company.

It's sort of like A Mighty Wind -- Guest And Company were goofing on folk music. The problem is, they play it so straight (and actually do pretty well with the music in general), a lot of people didn't realize there's a joke going on.
Jun. 28th, 2010 05:36 am (UTC)
Damn, I hadn't thought of that before 'the Spinal Tap of troo kult' but that does make a hell of a lot of sense.

I find that those who can make a satire with a straight edge are brilliant. On the other hand, it's also amusing when people take something like that seriously.
Jun. 27th, 2010 03:20 am (UTC)
I love singing. The feeling I get from singing is why I sing. It is something I enjoy doing. I post vids of my singing to share my joy with others. At the same time, I am known for insulting my singing. But I am being light-hearted about it. If someone says that my singing sucks, I might agree with them. If they say they like it, I will thank them (and suggest they get their hearing checked). But that is the whole point. I don't look for acceptance, I am just doing what makes me happy. If other people don't like it, they are not being forced to listen. If they like it, and want to make a suggestion that might make it better, I'm willing to consider it.

Regardless, I'm still going to sing.
Jun. 27th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Ah, but there is an important detail you are missing here, and it's what separates you from the ass hat I was writing about.

You accept criticism or disregard it.

You aren't saying people have no right to say or think what they want, and sometimes you agree with it.

It's not a question of warranted or unwarranted criticism. It's about control. Big difference.
Jun. 27th, 2010 09:15 pm (UTC)
I don't think it is arrogance, Peter. It's fear. Some creative people meld their creation with themselves to the point they become One and the Same. An attack on something they wrote, drew, sang, painted, hocked up and took a photo of, it's who they perceive themselves to be.

I do have the right to criticize, and you have the right to ignore me or listen to me. You do not have the right to tell me to stifle myself. If you do, I am gone.

That is my reaction to people like your Professional Victim.

And after reading this, I feel more comfortable about the review I owe you...
Jun. 27th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Well, I can certainly see your point. A lot of stuff when people are starting out (not just furries, but fanfic writers, actual novelists, etc.) tend to use self-inserts or idealized versions of themselves for their initial projects. Whether or not this can work is not my point. My point is that, because they are literally injecting themselves into their creation, it makes sense that a critique could be viewed by them as an attack on their self worth. Especially when you consider we create what we like.

What, you really thought you could write a review that cheeses me off? (Especially given that I've been begging you to rip my stuff up and down, since that's what I learn from most?) Even without the furry critiques, I'm hoping I've shown I'm enough of a sport that you don't have to be afraid of being yourself around me.

There's an upcoming Stress Puppy strip where I not only goof on "furries don't like the strip", but I specifically address the very first complaint I heard from them about the strip. Stick around, it's gonna be funny....
Jun. 27th, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
Well, when the first line of the review starts, "Peter G.'s art will certainly never win any awards...."

I wasn't worried about cheesing you off, I was more concerned about your feelings. When we create, we do invest some of ourselves into it, so taking critique personally at some level is a bit understandable. You're too well balanced to get angry over anything I might right about Stress Puppy.

When does the next collected edition come out?
Jun. 28th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
I gotta tell you -- reading your first line made me laugh.

If you like, I can do some drama bombing like the devianTARDs do. It's real simple, I just go like this -- "BUT ITS MY STYLE!!!" ;-)

Actually, given that the studio is still figuring out what to do and I'm sensing that I'm now closer to the end of Stress Puppy than the beginning, I'm going to hold off on an actual strip collection until I get the whole thing done and make one giant omnibus (including one storyline I did that never got released). I'm also thinking of another Stress Puppy comic book (I don't think it'll be long enough to be a GN), a satire of artistic types and modern art done within the context of a parody of The Fountainhead. When I get started, I'll be letting everybody know. Believe me, I want to do it. Thinking of some of the gags gives me gigglefits already....
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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