Player Comments on Sabbatical Report Presentation
All right, Gower. Here you go.
I need to start off by saying how hilarious this story is. The intense passive aggression--so unsubtle, that I don't know if it can be called that--shown off by such statements such as this,
"“address how the afrosaid (sic) goals or objectives (backing away from the demand for both) were met as evidenced by the assessment of your goals and objectives (no, they want both)”"
really starts the game off right. The contempt Greg Gower holds for administration and the math department and, well, almost everyone is one of the highlights of the story.
There are other parts that had me laughing throughout too. One of my favorite portions of the story was the section with Pritha and the letters, particularly the bribery part.
The ass counter was pretty great too, as is the "research slideshow" and most of the story really.
One of the best parts about the story was how it managed to paint people you might meet in real life in such ridiculous. I read this, and I thought the way things were so over the top was funny, but then I realized that I knew people just like those in the story. It's generally less that they are absurd and more that Gower describes them in such a way as to make them SEEM absurd.
The one professor's obsession with his cows and constantly going on about his farm and thinking he is best buddies with Gower is humorous, but if I think about it, I know a lot of people exactly like that.
Like, a lot.
Perhaps a bit cleaner.
These lines here are another good example:
"“I love you / like a pickle in a shoe!
I love you / like a pickle in a shoe!"
The lines are ridiculous, and Gower points this out in the story, but they are just the sort of thing someone could be overheard saying to a child as they play with them.
In some portions of the story, things get weirdly melodramatic, but it fits Greg Gower's personality as being someone who views things through a lens that is just a bit warped. If some people's characteristics can be described in an over the top, comedic way, it makes sense that others can be described melodramatically.
It also fits with Gower's general weirdness throughout all his stories. (On that, fun to read after "Private Game For Natalie" and think of each end and what they would imply for THIS story.)
The branching is interesting. There's a lot of it, and it takes a while to get through it all. This is partly because of the way it is set up. There is a lot of delayed branching and effects going on. This gives the story a high re-readability, but someone might miss how high if he tried to reread it like a time cave story.
It can be a bit difficult to find all the branches, but there are un-clickable choices in various places that help give clues as to when you are still missing something.
Without that, I probably would have been pretty frustrated with finding all the endings, or I would have thought I found them all when I didn't, and I would have missed half the story. Either way is not ideal, but the un-clickable links solved those problems.
Anyway, the "Sabbatical Report Presentation" is an all around good game from Gower that I would recommend.
on 12/6/2019 10:27:01 PM with a score of 2
I was thinking of starting this review with either a snarky comment that plays into the metanarrative, or praise for the novel way the branching narrative slowly reveals more and more of the story as the player finds new endings; however, like with your previous stories, I expect at least 10 more writers to show up and find far deeper insights that I ever could. The prose which gushes personality, and the amorphous reality of the narrative had been talked about in Gower’s previous stories. So, I decided to take on the story from a structural approach, by trying to flowchart the story on a whiteboard (emphasis on try, there are probably a few errors).
https://imgur.com/7ikEgzB (pls I spent 3-4 hours on this)
(Squares are pages, lines are links, the blue lines mark when a bunch of branching in the faculty route gets “pinched”, the large black circles are endings, and the blue-green circles mark parts accessible only by Whitney)
And yes, my final exams are tomorrow. No, I haven’t begun reviewing. Also, minor SPOILERS ahead if that wasn’t already clear.
At first, I thought that the narrative played out like a sorting hat, where in the beginning you chose between 3 choices and get “sorted” into fairly linear narratives all separate from one another. In truth, I was correct to a certain degree. What I got wrong however, was that after being sorted the narratives would continue with more or less no branching. There is a LOT of branching, in the 3 (4?) different “routes” I’ve identified, all with their own possible endings (about 20 in total). There’s the administration route, the student route, the faculty route, and the Whitney route depending on who you decide you are in the beginning.
I’d like to go over them in detail, but alas, my notes on Chi-Square Tests beckons. Instead, I’d just like to comment on the overall design of the storygame. A recurring pattern is for a large number of choices to appear, but only to get pinched into one route a little later. While this does seem to take away some of the “agency” of the reader, it’s actually quite common. “Delayed branching”, as the COG-ites put it, is when instead of giving choices weight by having long routes diverge into their own narratives, the writer has them tie back together and the only lasting difference is that a variable as been changed. This variable then helps to determine the ending later. In this story, there’s 4 different variables: Fire, Kind, Love, Whitney. On some paths, the final ending and the decisions of the narrator is determined by the first 3, the others are hidden if you don’t have the correct “stats”.
The effect is that you often feel immersed in the story, as the narrator addresses “you” and like how he has his own clear identity, so do “you” which is something many storygames get wrong. While, you may not actually be Whitney the loving descriptions that the narrator helps you to shape an image of her in your mind. And when you reach an ending with one person, you go on to look for another ending. Each time, you get to see another side of Professor Gower’s personality, like his hatred of the school’s administration, or his compassion for his bright students.
But this personality can differ depending on your choices, so like Gower’s earlier games, reality doesn’t always seem to follow a set mold. But unlike a fever dream, there is sense in the madness. A cohesive picture can be formed of the plot, and its structure grasped. While, you control certain parts of the story not everything is at your whim. The most important plot elements stay constant all around.
I wish we could discuss this more, but I don’t have much time left. You see, I’m driving west. Still, I think this was an outstanding sabbatical report presentation. It moved me, and I think it set a flame ablaze in my heart.
P.S. There is a glitch with the “You finally just signed it muttering under your breath.” Link where you just loop back to the “You went in there and told Leonardo in gentle terms to keep it down.” page.
on 10/13/2019 3:54:55 AM with a score of 2
What a great game! I loved the humor, and I loved the parts with deeper meaning. Especially that bit about ghosts of living people. That hit me pretty hard.
on 2/13/2020 3:06:47 PM with a score of 2
So yeah, this is well written, with a witty prose and sharp characterizations. But there was a key element that seemed to be missing:
I mean, really, the only hook getting me to first read this story and then continue past the first confusing, self-referencing pages is the reputation of the writer; there is a joke lurking at the end of this, and all I need to do is be patient through the set-up and continue until the punchline. (And by "joke" I don't mean a literal chicken-crosses-the-road thing, but a post-modern genre deconstruction where my perception of the previous pages is cleverly upended.)
But the opening sequence, establishing the fiction of the report presentation, was not terribly compelling, and it was perhaps not the best vehicle to introduce what follows: vignettes describing the fictionalized Professor Gower's relationships with his favorite students, other faculty members, and the administration.
By the time I go to the middle of the story, in which I was expected to choose someone to read about, the only person I was interested in knowing more about was the acting dean, based on the internal merits of the story. This is because I had just finished reading the "acting dead" gag, with all of the passive-aggressive insinuation that the dean was legally prohibited from driving near an elementary school.
But when it came to the students, I didn't really care one way or another whether I read about Belle, or Meg, or Jules -- because I didn't have the slightest clue who any of those people were. I chose Belle, only because my dog is named Bella, and I had to choose *something*, somehow. Nothing in the pages leading up to this choice gave me any indication that any of these people existed. And while Belle seemed like an interesting character, she posed no narrative problems and answered no questions.
And this was my impression of the storygame as a whole: there was no narrative tension to compel me through even the first read-through. "Kelly Unicorn Strider" and "A Private Game for Natalie" had building senses of unease as you continued reading, telling a story that introduced flawed characters and worked toward endings that were satisfactory or unsettling.
But here there is no central narrative, just the gimmick that all of these character sketches are linked together in the sabbatical report. As a result, the best I could do was admire the writing quality while lamenting the absence of a story.
on 12/5/2019 9:17:21 PM with a score of 0
on 12/3/2019 11:32:22 AM with a score of 2
I am very confused about this story and will need some help in understanding it, in any case, TL;DR can I have a recap
on 11/29/2019 8:47:35 AM with a score of 1
This story is very well-written. You've got a distinctive voice that makes the text quite pleasant to read. I particularly liked the wide diversity of choices; I reached three endings during my playthrough, and observed many other possible pathways. I liked how the last page included non-clickable links, to demonstrate alternative endings one can try to obtain by changing their previous decisions.
Your premise itself is also quite interesting. The fact that the game itself comments on the fact that this is a game, and acknowledges the presence of the reader, makes for an interesting meta-narrative. I liked how the player's choices could influence the characterization of the protagonist, as well.
One way to improve this story might be to increase the length. Though there are several pathways to follow, reading through any individual pathway only takes about ten minutes. (However, I can recognize that since the story is supposed to be about a time-limited presentation, the short length of any individual route is understandable).
I've rated this a 7/8 overall.
on 11/20/2019 9:24:11 AM with a score of 0
Gower strikes gold with his hot-blooded irreverent humour and commentary on the whims and woes of academic life.
on 11/12/2019 9:37:04 AM with a score of 0
-- Ollie on 11/5/2019 8:12:53 PM with a score of 2
My esteemed colleague Gower,
I am not sure that you remember me—I am the first one you let out of the room after our last 3 day weekend. If not it is Shadowdrake27, professor of modern calculus 6 in the department of strictly theoretical mathematics. Since you are a stickler for the rules I shall quote the Faculty Handbook exactly: “it is our comment (sic) to accurate sabbatical reporting that allows our university to flourish.”
That being said, I wished to provide the following feedback for your report:
-The intentional errors (marked with “sic” as is proper) were hilarious! I couldn’t read the “who are you” page with out laughing out loud.
- very funny and whitty!!
- there were very few spelling errors, most were words mistyped as the wrong word. Some examples are listed below.
- Pg - you were accosted by VP...”screwing around on school time”- 1st para “could” should be “guess”.
- Pg - “you smacked him...”- 2nd to last para. “Curing” should be “cursing”.
- Pg- book club - there is an “(“ in the second paragraph with no “)”.
- Pg - backstage in dressing room “go” should be “so” in 3rd para.
- In the Meg branch if you pick the sipping tea branch it creates a confusing discontinuity—basically there is no first suicide attempt, and no reason for a second (the oral report its the an option on this path). This makes it so you just see something like “your second attempt was successful and you died”. That really confused me my first play-through, until I took the other branch to find out what happened.
- both the belle and Meg branch had an ending I could not figure out how to unlock (despite trying): “let them out” for Meg and “forget them and come bring me back” for Belle. This may be my fault, but I thought I tried every combination staring at the student choice...
Hopefully these comments help! Oh, and I ran your entire report though my machine, it spat out a 7. Oddly enough, it said something about “mostly-credit”. I don’t know what that is, but if the machine gave it to you then you must deserve it.
on 10/31/2019 12:41:01 AM with a score of 0
this is very good story
on 10/25/2019 8:40:13 AM with a score of 1
Normally, when I write my reviews, I review the characters, the plot, the setting, and the background details. However, this structure fails me, so I will do something I don't like to do—I will wing it.
To begin this review, well, this Sabbatical was beautiful. It was amazing to read every individual path—and before I realized it, I have read through every single path, lost in this writing.
It was, by all means, interactive, and it is clear that effort was put into this work; it shows. I couldn't pinpoint any grammar or spelling errors, and even the word choice was flawless.
Even the emotion conveyed didn't stray from each path. All in all, this is a truly good work. Just about perfect, if such a thing exists.
on 10/13/2019 6:31:56 PM with a score of 0
Okay seriously, how does a Gower keep turning out quality storygames so quickly? Written from the same character’s point of view as Kelly Unicornstrider and Private Game for Natalie, Sabbatical Report Presentation starts off innocent and normal, and quickly descends into a darker and creepier tone. Gower writes the characterized version of himself so well, to the point that the line between truth and lore begins to blend. I really enjoyed reading yet another of Gower’s amazing works, and I’m very excited for whatever he puts out next.
on 10/11/2019 12:44:24 PM with a score of 1