Player Comments on About Darius and the Desert God

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. I do think this storygame is better than what a lot of the other reviews would have us believe, but at the same time I agree that the characters are underdeveloped and the dialogue is clunky.

<<<< BEWARE OF SPOILERS! >>>>

In terms of the characters:

The main one, of course, is Darius, but he struck me as being three different people in each of the three main branches. First, he's doing whatever it takes to win the favor of slave girl... including getting some time alone with her under false pretenses, and then converting to monotheism when it turns out that's the secret to getting her in the sack.

And elsewhere he's telling Tirvah how much he despises his father's depravity... after the reader chooses not to sack the city with who you just signed a peace accord.

But in between these two morality plays lurks the Salome branch. The Biblical Salome did a seductive dance to persuade her father to behead John the Baptist; this one enables Darius to become even worse than the father he supposedly despised. It would be unfair to blame Salome for Darius's descent (bitch that she is) because Darius dives into this new lifestyle head-first and eyes opened; Salome is just the tour guide.

Only Ashtich plods along consistently throughout all three branches, serving as the moral center of the storygame. The other two women, Tirvah and the slave girl, aren't so much characters as they are expressions of faith... a faith that comes easily, I might add, when your God intervenes in ways that are plain for all to see. Therefore this story does not even provide them the opportunity to have a crisis of faith; they know they're right, and they'll make worms come out of your wretched body to prove it.

As for the dialogue:

The author clearly has an infatuation with the early 16th century -- the era that gave us Hamlet, Henry V, and the King James Bible. At least in this story (unlike the awful "Hell is Empty") there is no outright plagiarism of Shakespeare, aside from one "Lend me your ears." (The "live long and prosper" really didn't belong here at all.)

But still, there is a clear attempt at imitating Shakespeare's syntax, with no understanding of why Othello and Lear and Macbeth speak the way they do. Shakespeare was writing poetry, so the demands of his iambic pentameter required him to put words in odd places. There is no need to do that in prose, so yes, I wholeheartedly agree the spoken words in this storygame are not naturalistic.

There were a few scenes in "Darius" that also seemed inspired by scenes in Will's plays: Ashtich's encounter with the dungeon master, who was a poor copy of Hamlet's grave digger; and the meeting of Darius and Tirvah, which had notes of Henry V wooing Katherine of France, another defeated princess.

On the other hand, the siege of Tirvah's city was nothing like the siege of Harfleur, so perhaps the lessen should be to focus on Shakespeare's ability to create dramatic tension, and less on imitating the perceived peculiarities of his speech patterns. After all, Will was able to recreate an entire war within the confines of his "Wooden O," carried entirely on the strength of his words and the skill of his actors.

Finally, the epilogues in this storygame were... strange. Most of them just recapped the previous page, adding little of value. One was clearly an attempt to mimic a passage from the Old Testament ("so-and-so begot so-an-so") and one was an awkward imitation of a Psalm.

Otherwise, despite a large number of minor spelling errors (haste in the writing process, I presume) and inconsistent paragraph spacing on every page, there was nevertheless a commendable level of skill inherent in the writing, and I did find the three stories (with a Darius for every occasion) engaging. I gave this one a 6/8.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 9/3/2019 7:43:02 PM with a score of 0
Alright, I finally got around to reading this, and, well, I guess there isn't too much that I can say that hasn't already been said.

The dialogue was off. The premise was odd. And there were many things that were simply underdeveloped.

Now I'm saying it was bad, but it certainly wasn't anywhere near as good as it could be. Steve covered most of the big stuff, but I'm just going add a few quick things.

Immersion: Perhaps one of the greatest things about CYOA's is their immersive capability. They can, and will, make the reader invested in the story which will make it better overall. The primary vehicle in which I think this is accomplished (others may disagree) is through second person. Second person stories make the story about the reader which makes us feel involved, as if we were in the story itself. Here, I wasn't immersed at all. I was reading about some guy doing some thing. It wasn't me, so why should I care what happens to him. Look, I have, can, and will continue to say this. Second person is the superior way to write CYOA's. IT just works a heck of a lot better than any other POV. Of course there are some instances where using another POV is fine like the first page of Eternal,If you aren't good at it, then get good. but as a general rule, I suggest using second person. If you aren't good at it, then get good.

Title: Cut the 'about.' It makes me feel like I'm reading some non-fiction title that will put me to sleep in a few minute. Just call it 'Darius and the Desert God.' Looks AND sounds much better.

Writing Style: It's been said before, but I think it deserves repeating. Don't be so formal. Write how you would talk to some random stranger, not how you would if you were acting in a Shakespearean play. Not much else needs to be said, but just make sure you improve your style. Otherwise your stories will sit in a perpetual state of 'below a 6.'

Overall it was fine. Could be better, but it wasn't bad.
-- EbonVasilis on 3/25/2018 11:08:24 AM with a score of 0
Well, time to review this. It was grammatically fine and all that, but I'm not going to waste time praising the basic tenants of writing, because that's a waste of my time and won't benefit you. You have the confidence in writing that I don't need to bother praising you a shit ton for what you did right, instead, I'm just going to slam you on what you did wrong.

To start, the dialogue was terrible. I mean, it's always been a pet peeve when people seem to think that because they're writing about people in another time, they need to do so like you did, in a manner that was harder to read and understand. Even if I can understand it all, it's far more of a slog to get through, and I just don't want to go through it. The people weren't speaking English, so you had to translate what they were saying, so why would you translate it halfway to old English rather to the contemporary English people would actually understand? To me, I think people just have a habit of using Shakespearian drivel to appease twats who think that if something is harder to understand, it works as more foreign, even though the dialogue spoken was as foreign to what they would've been speaking as modern slang. Hell, the only example I can think of that did this well was the Witch, and that was because it used actual language and quotes from the time of witches to best demonstrate that viewpoint. Other than that, it's all pretentious shit that just makes the work a lot more boring and more of a slog to read.

Next, the premise didn't make sense. A huge plot point was that you had to show your wife to the King to get him to say you'll inherit his crown. could've made the protagonist anything. The leader's son in a system that has nepotism, but isn't necessarily inherited. The protagonist could've been a prince, in a system where the prince isn't necessarily the heir. But no, for some retarded reason, he was the Crown Prince, a title that specifically refers to heir. Rather than just call him prince, you give him a title that says he's heir, and then make him becoming heir the main goal of this whole thing.

The actual "depravity" involved was just... eh. Like, it wasn't a game-changing, shock and awe type shit like August Underground, where it stands on it's own. It was just kind of like a beginner's look at gross shit. Even then, the depraved shit was described in such a boring manner, with a lot of it, like the stabbing with swords to get off bit, being off screen, with other bits, like the rape of your sister, being described as "I lie with both thirty and thirty-five, and thirty-five has her way with thirty as well." It's like playing with the kind of shit that could easily get in HBO, except you don't even go into it, you just mention it. It's like you just kind of read a bunch of depraved topics and popped the titles in here. Rather than being actually gross, or even depraved, it's like Ben Stein reading out some scat erotica.

The moral, "Don't fuck everything" path of it was a lot shorter, but was also just kind of "eh". Whilst it didn't suffer from trying to be depraved when that's clearly not your area as a writer, the whole thing just kind of seemed to be "Follow the rules." There's only two choices in this path, and they're both just "Disobey God and he murders you" or "Obey God and he lets you win". It seemed like a bizarre robbing of agency that this path was just "Do what you're told or die".

Hell, looking at it, we didn't even get any real interesting characters. Everyone just kind of falls into "Depraved" or "Holy", given your path. There's no depth to these characters other than "35 is evil and depraved" or "Tirzah was moral and holy". The whole setting just felt too fossilized and archaic for me to ever really feel a part of it, and we don't get much look at it beyond the few glances we get as the plot marches.

Ultimately, even though I quite enjoy your writing, whilst it's clear there was a lot of work put into this, I'm sorry to say the whole thing just kind of ended up in this strange place where the characters didn't get much focus, the setting was too flat and archaic, the dialogue was too much of a slog to be any good and the plot just seemed like an instrument to sell me some depraved scenes which weren't even depraved. The piece as a whole just felt stale and boring to read.
-- Steve24833 on 3/10/2018 8:16:31 PM with a score of 0
The premise is interesting, however, that terrible dialogue makes any enjoyment of the game impossible to me, I am not native and you added a extra difficulty that only it does is make it clunky and unrealistic. The story is slow paced and with barely no interactive content maybe divided the pages could help with that.
-- poison_mara on 11/6/2019 6:03:10 PM with a score of 0
It was It was a bunch of well put together Bible stories.
-- Dan on 10/16/2019 3:14:08 PM with a score of 0
I was very use to the stories having lots of choices so this one was quite boring as it only had two choices. Fairly well written and a good "biblical" story.
-- Robert Harrison on 2/22/2019 3:32:25 PM with a score of 0
Nice
-- BOBBBBBOB on 5/23/2018 6:54:34 PM with a score of 0
Highly Recommend It!
-- Ember on 5/23/2018 6:51:21 PM with a score of 0
Loved it.
-- Victim on 4/3/2018 3:19:15 PM with a score of 0
It was pretty good, the dialogue was too formal and chunky most of the time.
There weren't really too many real options either though, as most of them led to an alternate ending.
Other than that I liked the story though.
-- corgi213 on 4/1/2018 6:36:59 PM with a score of 0
Pretty good but lacks the choose your own story aspect
-- EpicFirebird on 3/7/2018 6:42:27 PM with a score of 0
This was a great story, especially for the Christian here and there.It was a very interesting story, though I do admit it could of been much longer.But it did do much better with the endings, each choice was a chance closer to a different ending.While it was to short for an emotional stance to take place, like maybe Eternal for example,it still had that level descriptive writing, as for it being for a competition entry, I’m expecting it to do close to great.I still stress, if it was a bit longer it would probably have either honorary or a place in the top 3 places.

I would hope that maybe you could, make a sequel, though that would be hard with the multiple endings.If you found a way through this loop-hole you could have yourself a great series, maybe you could take off from a specific ending of you choosing.It was also a concept not used as much as others, religious.A religious concept is especially diverse as there are multiple, but since Christianity is the biggest it would probably do have the best performance.It also followed the starting dilemma sort of stories, throwing your audience right into the heat.Including a bible verse here and there was a great way to show it was a chrisitian storygame, you even used Ancient Of Days which shows you researched a cheat sheet, or took the time to do your own.

Now I know this is a romantic type of story,but I must stress again.Length.I didn’t get in enough to grasp their romance, their wasn’t enough time or space to get comfortable in the world you created with just a words.If you made it a bit longer you could of definetly make the emotions flow, or you could make a sequel and slowly raise their own story.Depends on your style of writing I guess.I should probably end it here.Altogether great story game and concept, If it was longer it would’ve even greater.-6/8

(Good job)
-- Mistery on 3/7/2018 5:04:39 AM with a score of 0
Great work. Love the metaphors and the biblical tongue. Fun storylines, romances, and variety. Congrats!
-- lkiriakos on 3/6/2018 10:49:08 PM with a score of 0
Nice game, Wibbons. Noticed a few typos, but those are par the course for all stories. Definitely a great addition to the site and a solid entry into the contest. 7/8.
-- Chris113022 on 3/6/2018 2:24:22 PM with a score of 0
Oh, and thank you to lkiriakos for being my beta reader! I'll add a more formal thanks into the storygame description once the contest is over.
-- WouldntItBeNice on 3/6/2018 11:20:31 AM with a score of 0
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