Sunday, September 14, 2008

Open Letter to Zero Punctuation

Yahtzee, your review of Silicon Knights' Too Human was pretty fun, except for one thing.

You said it "stinks of the auteur".

Please do a little research. There are parties out there who are actually trying to shift power in the industry out of the hands of the suits to those of the creators. Flippant remarks like yours damage our work.

If you did your research you'd realize that Silicon Knights is the antithesis of a place in which the "auteur" is supported. It is very much a groupthink company. That makes far more sense in hindsight. Only in a groupthink environment would nobody object to that crazy valkryie death sequence. After all, to criticize - to say "I don't think this works" - would inject dis-resolution and untidiness - those classic elements that groupthink environments cannot stand but creators thrive on. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. No one wants to get hammered down - so for me to not get hammered down I'm not going to mention that this Valkyrie sequence is just fucking stoooopid, I'm sorry!!!

A real auteur wants criticism. Not tolerates it - wants it. Wants good feedback. Wants to serve the project he's working on. Wants to look at things hard and is hard on himself. I think you're using the term "auteur" in its common connotation - that of somebody who wants attention in a pretentious manner. But that connotation is just a piece of emotional baggage. It's not reality. How do I know? All I have to do is show one good auteur and it collapses. I'm sure you can fill in that blank.

But here's the most telling sign it isn't an auteur game: Who's the auteur? D'uh... If it "stinks of the auteur" where is this auteur's name?

At the end of the day Too Human was a bad game. That's it.

There have been some good games made in the auteur manner. For example, Civilization and The Sims.

But the final irony, Yahtzee. You're an auteur.


Anonymous said...

At the end of the day Too Human is a good game with some flaws-cry moar bitch.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't he have his own message board over there?

Anonymous said...

Are you actually a game developer or a guy who sits in his bedroom writing a blog?

Grassroots Gamemaster, said...

I'm a game designer.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure he is referencing autuer as the subject of "The Autuer theory", that is to say, a theoretical single person from where the essential quality of the art comes from.

There have been three major historical circumstances where a single person has so much power that they could lay claim to being an "autuer" - When the production of the art is cheap (Painting, the beginning of most art forms), the designer is able to generate substantial hype, or the person is either the person with the money or related to them.

As the first case rarely ever comes up in commercial gameplay development, "autuers" are usually associated with the second or third case, which usually leads to pretty bogus designs.

In any case, "The Autuer theory" is essentially antithetical to accepting feedback during production - if such feedback was valuable, someone besides te main creative force would be given *some* kind of authority in the creative vision.

Grassroots Gamemaster, said...

Last commenter, you're just making bald declarations based on idols. Assumptions that you haven't tested.

First, "Civilization" was made by Sid Meier in exactly an auteur manner. (

Second, the auteur method is almost never used in game development.

Third, any good auteur works collaboratively. Truffaut, Hitchcock, whomever. They aren't tyrants - they're just leaders.

But last, even if he works collaboratively a good auteur isn't a masochist. If he knows he has talent but he is being ripped off or suppressed that things are plain wrong in the system.

So your statement declaring that the auteur leads to "pretty bogus designs" seems pretty baseless.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. So you're still doing your schtick.

And the hilarious part is, the only reason this blog seems to exist is not as an actual blog but to repeat your ramblings from somewher else "before they get deleted"... which really just means you want somewhere to put them where people with more knowledge and experience than you can't tell you exactly how and where you fail.

Sure, you're a Game Designer. Much like I'm a car designer.

Grassroots Gamemaster, said...

(Good old ad hominem stuff. Easier to attack the messenger than make a coherent point.)

Sorry, does this mean you agree or disagree with the idea 'Too Human' is an auteur work?

The CronoLink said...

Just finished reading your whole blog; good thing is short for a quick read, bad thing it doesn't have more. It's made me ponder a lot about game design and development and I have found myself agreeing with you a lot. Hope you can come back some time again to blog one more time.

Anonymous said...

Well... that's interessting but to be honest i have a hard time determining it... I'm wondering what others have to say....

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