Player Comments on Paper Slingers
All right, I see some improvement here. This storygame has some legitimate branching, some oddly distinctive endings, and a set of problems that the reader can try and reason through. It is at times preposterous... but given M.P.'s past stories, I'd be surprised otherwise.
Sure, much of this story is "much ado about nothing." Literally, it's kids getting bent out of shape over newspaper routes. (No one today makes money off of newspapers.) The premise is implausible, as are the two "Uncle Ben" endings, but then I wasn't reading this as a literal interpretation of modern childhood conflicts. These kids thing they're gangsters; sometimes they do business with each other, and sometimes they give each other the business.
I'll admit, I skimmed over large sections of the text. There was a lot of space given over to characters debating percentage, as well their perceptions of each other's manliness. But there was the core problem (another gang muscling in on my territory) and the various ways I can try and overcome it. There are issues of leadership style at stake, as well as the long-term consequences of my decisions. Unlike some of the previous stories, this one didn't go straight for shock-value territory.
Were the murder scenes over the top? Sure. Will this be a runaway CYS hit? Probably not. The dialogue is a bit clunky, and it seems like my "friends" are never happy with what I choose. (They can't decide for themselves, but they get pissed when I decide for the group.) But there is a consistent approach to the subject matter, there is an attempt to see multiple points of view, and there is some indication of effort. I gave this one a 4/8.
on 7/7/2020 5:24:31 PM with a score of 0
on 7/29/2020 7:46:46 PM with a score of 0
I quite liked the idea of having teenagers squabble over their paper routes, however some of the choices you could make (e.g. calling Uncle Ben) seemed much too harsh, and unrealistic.
There were lots of grammar and spelling errors, which isn't surprising considering the short space of time you had to do it in. And, like Avery Moore pointed out, the connection to the theme is quite weak; it seems as if you've written the story, then just added one sentence about a jungle as an after thought. There was also too much cursing for me.
However, the idea interested me a lot, and if you edit it a bit, it could be improved massively!
on 7/8/2020 4:41:10 AM with a score of 0
Paper Slingers is a simple, enjoyable click-through of a game that I might go through occasionally during rainy days or conveniently enough, quarantine. There’s not so much substance that derails it and it’s appropriate for the length. A few things I’d like to see improved, of course, is grammar, plot, and description. A bulk of the story heavily leans on dialogue which sort of turns every page into short bursts of sentence-long statements, followed by a paragraph break that’s followed immediately by someone else talking. While the grammar, for the most part, is pretty average, there are a few spelling errors throughout the story (i.e. Angel/Angle).
Overall, it’s not bad—but as I stated before, it lacks a lot of true substance. It’s fun to click through and just absorb, but at the beginning it’s confusing over what the plot is, what “territory” means to the characters, and who they are. I’d prefer if you didn’t have to make an entire page dedicated to character backstories (that aren’t ever mentioned again) and instead written it into the stories. The characters, though rather 2-D and flat, are enjoyable at times and seem real enough for the reader to get a grasp on basic personality. Lots to improve on here but it’s understandable seeing the time period you’ve written this. Good job, looking to see some more work in the future.
on 7/7/2020 5:03:46 PM with a score of 0
... What the fuck did that have to do with jungles?
Other than the game having nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of the contest... I kind of liked it. The premise was pretty cute. I mean, it feels like a massive cop-out that in order to win the game I essentially had to do nothing... But as an extremely lazy person, this tactic definitely appeals to me. ^_^
on 7/7/2020 12:59:43 PM with a score of 0
By the way, there are some spoilers in the text below to give examples of my criticisms.
You can tell very clearly this story was rushed. After the first page, I didn't even know whether one of the characters was called Angle or Angel. In terms of character development, the characters are relatively archetypal. It definitely doesn't help that the majority of what the reader can learn about the characters is essentially an exposition dump at the start of the story.
It also exaggerates the situation so much that it could seem to break the reader's suspension of disbelief, which could work if you were going for a comedy - but based on the fact you set the genre as modern adventure, I doubt that's what you were going for (along with the fact that you seem to present these hyperbolic representations of a newspaper route and it feels like you're trying to push a moral lesson through your story).
Now do not get me wrong, people do things that are way out of proportion for the situation, but it feels like the choices you give the reader for Ted seem so unrealistic for how he's represented in the codex/character exposition, and that's not even considering the uncle he has is perfectly fine with committing a violent crime, just cause of a little grudge a highschooler had - kind of broke my suspension of disbelief there.
If you really wanted to go that route, I feel you could have went more with a slow introduction of some gang characters that Ted hangs out with or somewhere where the power dynamic is a bit more balanced (which is not something commonly seen in older relatives-younger relatives especially older relatives that based on what the narrator says does not seem that important in Ted's life).
It just generally felt really off how it seems like this random new character shows up that is just willing to go along with any of the reader's choices and willing to harm anyone. I'd understand this if he had some character development, but we don't see anything told about him apart from the assumptions that Uncle Ben is seen as a disappointment in some way (probably due to criminal tendencies) to his family.
Also some lines really feel like they should have been cut in editing.
I know you didn't have time to edit, but there are some scenes that I can tell what emotion you're trying to give off, but the prose itself just feels really dull. For example you mentioned in one of the scenes how Ted was a high schooler and not even a murderer, which I feel is kind of a pointless line. (There are more examples of course, I'm just giving a specific one I remember of the top of my head).
If you wanted to convey him being shocked at his lack of regret, instead of outright telling the reader (which is what you did), you could have shown the reader. Maybe mention how whilst he saw her die, how his thoughts focused more on being caught than the murder itself (of course, this is just an idea off the top of my head, but my point here is you seem to tell so much over showing especially when characterizing Ted).
I mentioned before, but it felt like based on the pacifist route you were trying to tell a moral lesson somewhat anyway (If I'm wrong about your intention feel to correct me, but that's the tone I got from the pacifist endings anyway). If this was your intention, one of the biggest flaws here would be showing the reader how easily (despite them knowing it's a bad thing based on being shocked at not feeling regret) it is to get away with killing anybody that gets in your way.
Of course, even if this wasn't your intention - I still felt like you were giving small reasons for big choices. I do not think that the choices you get were on a similar scale to what was going on. For example, Kyle calls you out for... well as he puts it 'being a pussy' and choosing not to fight, however the option you get is to either call Uncle Ben (which if you went through the scene with Stephene, you would know he can kill people) or leave him alone (I think that was the second choice anyway).
As harsh as I'm being, though, this is definitely not that bad for a first story game. Characterization whilst it's far from good and very two dimensional, at least you maintain their trope throughout consistently and not adjust it just when it fits the story and make them pull a full 360 all of a sudden when it's convenient. You manage to at least pull of the 'friend' character dynamic between the characters relatively well, and don't exaggerate them as constantly friendly and having no problems with their relationship (which I have seen some really bad writers do). It has some okay branching, I suppose and it's not almost absolutely linear which I see on some lower-rated stories here.
Now I'll probably leave it at that, I rated it 3/8. Like I said, it's not good in my opinion but it's not utter garbage. For a first story, it's better than what I expected. Keep it up, and I'm sure you'll be able to write better storygames with time.
on 7/6/2020 11:37:11 AM with a score of 0
on 7/6/2020 2:06:32 AM with a score of 0