Eternity’s Child Versus Destructoid

By Kieron Gillen on August 4th, 2008 at 10:58 pm.

1/10 is the new 7/10. That means nothing to anyone who hasn't read the games press obsessively forever, but I say it anyway, as it's probably meta. Am I drunk? I MAY WELL BE.

This is a bit of an internet road-gawk. I picked it up from John “Naked War” Pickford over at Rllmuk. In short, blog-combine Destructoid review fresh-on-steam platformer Eternity’s Child. Despite its $5 tag, both its reviewers give it an impressive 1/10 review-o-TWACK!

And then one of its creators turns up in the comments thread, has a go at the review, the reviewers and the people he was working with.

Well, the latter part’s a tad unfair. He does include an emoticon, but it strikes me very much like a “Your Mother gives great head ;P” when the other person knows the first person has received great head from the aforementioned mother.

This is that bit in question, where Luc Bernard after a series of posts rolling his eyes at the review, turns his eyes elsewhere…

“and i’m going to take the blame for it, even if I wished Joshua my programmer would of listened to me about how I wanted things done

I was always against gamepad controls

but still a 1/10 is too low, but that’s why I’m going to put up a demo and then let people decide

before everyone goes FUCK YOU FUCK YOU LUC :P

because if you read the review I did my part fine”

There’s lots more. Go to the thread and search for “Luc Bernard” to see what he says. The post is 300 and counting, as the home-turf Destructoid fans lay into Luc’s lines, so just search for his name and see exactly how terribly a developer with a misplaced desire to defend themselves can ruin their reputation. Because, frankly, this being the first we’ve really heard of the game, what else are we going to think other than “Oh yeah – that was the game with the guy who couldn’t stand someone thinking their work was shit”.

A creative’s response to criticism is a tricky one. A few years back I did a presentation to an Indie-Dev conference about how to best manipulate the press, whose notes I published on my blog. When I see things like this, I wonder if there’s room to write an article about basic guerrilla marketting, manipulation of comments threads and similar other nasty stuff. Because when I see a developer piss away all the good will you have from you status as an underground creator just to defend a sense of hurt feelings, it’s openly depressing.

(This is a complete case of doing it wrong. If you’re a name creator – Luc isn’t – you can just about get away with insulting a review source. And even then it takes a really careful hand to turn a fanbase against a critic without appearing to be a complete cunt. As an unknown creator, it’s virtually suicidal. However, when you turn against your fellow creators to avoid blame, even through a half-shield of irony, you are totally doomed. You’re the kid in class blaming their work-mate that their homework isn’t in on time.)

The saddest thing about creating something in the world is that occasionally someone who you don’t think is terribly bright and is demonstratedly wrong has a swing at what you’ve sweated over… and you realise that to actually retaliate would only undermine your position and support theirs. You justify them by entering proper discourse with them.

The main rule of net argument as a public figure: you are not arguing with the people who you’re arguing with. You will never change their mind. You are arguing with the silent horde of lurkers who are watching around the edge of this invisible ring, trying to decide what they think.

If you come across as reasonable, smart and likeable, even if your arguments are full of holes, you’ll probably win in their eyes. If you come across as a bludgeoning fanatic, even if you’re right, the crowd will despise you.

Indie developers, as much as they love their games, need to learn this. Be smarter.

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60 Comments »

  1. Lizard Dude says:

    I bought this when it hit Steam using my usual rule of “if I’ve heard of an indie game, that means it must be good”. O! How I was wrong!

    Destructoid is spot on. This game is miserable. I didn’t even unlock the “Purchased Game” achievement even though I was, you know, playing the game. That I had purchased.

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    I meant to say “Of course, I haven’t played the game yet, but there’s a demo shortly so…” in the post but I got distracted by the holy rant.

    KG

  3. Mo says:

    See also: Jeff Minter on Space Giraffe. I’m a huge Minter fan, but flipping out over a couple of reviews is just a bad idea.

    I’ve had a lot of people say really nasty things about my games, and a lot say incredibly nice things. Letting either group get to your head too much spells doom. The smart thing to do is give most of your attention to the people who present a well balanced argument. Obvious advice, I know, but as Kieron noted above, a lot of people don’t quite get it.

  4. RichPowers says:

    “Well, except the Linux Format one, but fuck’em.” Ha. Cool story about Introversion, too.

    Anyway, this article would be OVER 9000 times greater if you embedded this image at the end.

  5. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    P.S

    I’m drunk

    This explains much.

  6. Lorc says:

    I’d have sympathy for him if he hadn’t used the abominable construction, “would of”.

  7. Matthew Gallant says:

    It’s worth mentioning that Luc is a fairly active member of the Destructoid community. As such, there was a lot of localized hype about the game.

    (Your phrasing was a tad ambiguous on this, thought it might be worth emphasizing)

  8. Alex says:

    The first thing I thought while reading this post was “.. oh god no.. don’t comment on the review.. step slowly away from the keyboard..”.

    He didn’t step away, not even slowly!

    Although it could’ve been much, much worse – this reminds me of the recent Denis Dyack (of Silicon Knights/Too Human infamy) blowout on that 1up Yours podcast (direct download link!).. where Dyack actually brought along pages of notes to deliver one of the most frenzied, tangential essays I have ever heard.. and that wasn’t even about a review, it was about forum posters and the effect their forum postings have on the real world. He started with posters at NeoGAF and then blew up his theory to encompass the global internet community (if there is such a thing). It was insane.

    Dyack may be a name creator, like Kieron mentions, but that was just acutely embarrassing.

  9. darkripper says:

    Anyone who played the Too Human demo already knows there will be much drama and lulz when the first reviews will come out.

  10. Noc says:

    I’m drunk and why i take things personally is because its my baby

    There is a lesson, here.

    I have a hard time mustering distaste for this guy. He’s not a scumbag, like the Limbo for the Lost folks, and he’s not lashing out at the reviewers so much as he’s lashing out at, well, comment trolls. And I don’t like comment trolls either. I’m left, at the end, with the impression that he’s simply over his head: he’d probably work fine in the world of low-circulation free indie games, but the wide world of commercial releases where people demand to get their money’s worth is much harsher.

    There’s another lesson here, I think: your first attempt at anything isn’t going to be very good. Pouring your heart and soul into a single project isn’t a good idea, because that project will likely be terribly flawed, and you’ll need to learn from those mistakes in order to make something you can be proud of.

    So, yeah. I can shake my head at this fellow’s ineptitude, but I feel bad about it afterwards. Huh.

  11. Scandalon says:

    “Winning an argument on the internet is like winning the special olympics – win or lose, you’re still retarded.”

  12. Alex says:

    Yesterday I started Steam up again and I got the pop-up announcing this game was coming and I just stared at the picture.. I couldn’t for the life of me decipher the font the title was set in.

  13. Acosta says:

    Can you win an argument on the internet? News to me.

  14. LionsPhil says:

    Ah, drahmah. Gods Bless the Internet, and all who sail in her.

  15. Teknohed says:

    I’m certainly not sticking up for this guy’s bone head move, but I have to say I emphathize with him.

    I have (had) a community blog on Destructoid, but I stopped updating it becuase the commenters were all snarky assholes. That whole community went from being quirky and irrevrent to mean spirited and dickish. Once I started feeling that way, a lot of stuff bout Destructoid started to bother me. Their podcasts are either childish (podtoid) or sad wikipedia rehashes (retroforce go).

    If it was my game and Destructoid gave it a bad review I’d think, that game wasn’t for that lot anyway. I’d never respond in the comments…that’s just stupid. The worse part is throwing his fellow programmer under the bus. man what a jerk.

  16. Mike says:

    It’s true, composure and image is even more important for Indie devs because we feel more connected to them as people. For all of Will Wright’s fame, I think we feel more distanced from him than from CliffyB or Introversion people. This is… not good. Especially when he’s relying on this sort of internet crowd for sales.

    Bad review, sure, but talk about diggin’ that hole, eh?

  17. Jonas says:

    Ouch. I guess it might be worth it to pick out a person on the team who just cannot get mad and assign all PR to that person. If such a person is missing from the team, time to find one, I guess?

  18. fearian says:

    this is pretty spot on, and to be honest I would have thought that an indie dev would have a better understanding of the internet and how to take the higher ground – but I think here (and I hate to use the phrase) he nees to…

    lurk more, noob.

  19. fucrate says:

    I, and I think many others, didn’t know Denis Dyack until after he began ranting and raving. Is such publicity good for Silicon Knights? I think it’s actually hard to say. If Too Human ends up being really good, then Dyack will probably make a money hat and live in a money yacht, sailing around the world eating money steaks.

  20. Pace says:

    In general, the controls are more loose than a five dollar hooker the morning after shore leave ends.

    That’s from the review, not the comments! Yeeks. And honestly Luc Bernard seems only barely literate, judging by his comments. Hopefully English isn’t his first language. I don’t think I’ll be visiting that site again any time soon.

  21. Radiant says:

    So how do you feel about guerrilla marketing in these comments threads?
    It’s pretty suspect to me when an article about say…valve goes up and a hundred new logins come out of the woodwork.
    Conversely it is also suspect when a game gets an ultra negative review out of nowhere [breaking the "we're reviewing a game? 7 out of 10" mold].
    Back on point does anyone actually read Destructoid?

  22. Robin says:

    The only valid response to having a game reviewed on Destructoid is to laugh at the thought of Destructoid’s staff of creepy self-righteous manchildren assuming that their opinions have any authority.

  23. material defender says:

    @Alex: yup, it did have a delightfully unreadable title font for the steam popup.

    anyway

    When are we getting PC Braid?

  24. Kast says:

    I bought this on Steam today without hearing anything about it before hand. Quite frankly I feel a little bit dirty.

  25. Kieron Gillen says:

    Re: PC Braid. Apparently later in the year. Mr Blow said he was onto it after it launches on the 360 when I chatted to him at Develop. Which is – basically – now.

    KG

  26. Gregory Weir says:

    I only ever read Destructoid anymore for the “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playing?” videos, and even they are fleeing the sinking ship. I can’t even comment when Jim Sterling acts like a douche about the latest controversy, because you need to make an account to comment.

  27. Charlie says:

    Yeah my girlfriend couldn’t read the title at all

  28. Sum0 says:

    While I’m all for taking people down a peg or two if they deserve it, taking the piss out of someone on such a scale is not funny, it’s moronic. I sympathise for the commenters on Destructoid who have tried to put this view across, only to get a “fuck u lol” for their troubles.

    Thankfully we’re a sensible bunch on RPS. I just weep for the day when the internet is overrun by those who think spamming memes is the way to win arguments.

  29. The Hammer says:

    “The saddest thing about creating something in the world is that occasionally someone who you don’t think is terribly bright and is demonstratedly wrong has a swing at what you’ve sweated over… and you realise that to actually retaliate would only undermine your position and support theirs. You justify them by entering proper discourse with them.

    The main rule of net argument as a public figure: you are not arguing with the people who you’re arguing with. You will never change their mind. You are arguing with the silent horde of lurkers who are watching around the edge of this invisible ring, trying to decide what they think.

    If you come across as reasonable, smart and likeable, even if your arguments are full of holes, you’ll probably win in their eyes. If you come across as a bludgeoning fanatic, even if you’re right, the crowd will despise you.”

    This is all very true.

  30. Noc says:

    Also, it occurs to me to be thankful that RPS comment threads don’t allow image macros.

  31. sbs says:

    Teknohead: Pretty much my thoughts, although I didn’t even have a community blog. It’s just that when I joined the site, the comments section was actually interesting, and I read it often. I have not even bothered anymore in a long time, because it’s become terrible. Not just mean spirited and dickish, just… dumb.

    Noc: Absolutely.

  32. Jonathan says:

    I can understand his feelings of spending at least a year of his life working, possibly full-time, on a game selling at about £3 Then watching it get royally shagged by one of your favourite indie review sites. I mean as long as the game runs I don’t see any justification for a 1/10 score for any game, especially seeing as the reviews and comments were laced with compliments about ideas and the art style. Guess it shows how important that little number at the end really is to some people.

    OK Kieron how would you respond to the review of Phonogram on Undress Me Robot,

    There is actually a glossary in the back of the book for them, preceded by writer Kieron Gillen’s admission that no one will actually understand half the jokes. They’re just for him, I suppose, and everything in this book seems to be exactly that: about him. It’s like watching Gillen masturbate over and over again, thirty pages at a time. In fact, in regard to the final nail in Phonogram’s coffin, I think I might have actually rather looked at his dried spunk than flipped through the book’s pages.”

    Personally I’d put it on the cover of the second issue. The authors photo in the back would show me slightly hunched, grinning and covered in sweat. The mini biog below would explain how I was currently working on the third issue.

  33. Jetsetlemming says:

    Eternity’s Child is just about unplayable, and actually looks and plays considerably worse than game footage released a year ago of it. The 1/10 review is pretty justified. Destructoid makes a point to have somewhat lower review scores that most sources to try to “use the whole scale”.

    The Dtoid community is reacting so strongly in response for the game because most of them bought Luc Bernard’s hype. The dude kept posting blogs on his game and details and a lot of people were really looking forward to his game, including the first staff reviewer. There were even semi-positive previews of it posted.
    The comments got 100x worse as soon as he responded in the comments calling the reviewers personal and unprofessional and told people to ignore them in favor of people who have “bought the game”.

  34. Mo says:

    @Jonathan:
    Obviously, I can’t answer for Kieron but …

    Clearly that quote is a bit nonsense. I’ve read and enjoyed Phonogram. The whole thing was perfectly understandable, even with my so-so knowledge of britpop. When the reviews are that negative, I don’t think you have any choice but to ignore ‘em.

    A more personal example, I had a person tell me that it was appalling that I was selling Smiley (my game) and that “asteroids was made 20 years ago” and that I’ve done nothing new. What do you want me to do? Reply saying, “oh fair enough then, I’ll just close shop. Sorry to bother you with my horrible game.” Of course not! I ignore the “haters”, take the compliments I get in a humble manner, and listen to the criticisms I get from the reasonable/well balanced reviews (such as the one Kieron did for RPS). As I said above, if you let them get to your head they’ll destroy you. All creative people need to be able to just “let it slide” regardless of how much you love your baby.

  35. Jack Monahan says:

    well done. as a no-name developer myself it’s good to be reminded that this kind of thing can be critical, entirely outside of how good (or bad) your actual game may be. makes me proud that RPS is the only gaming news site on my blog roll.

  36. Ambermoon says:

    This game has been kicking around at least five years (originally as Angel’s Eternity, I think), I think more like seven, on indie game sites — I think I first heard about it years and years ago on the old Pixelation site. From the getgo, Luc was remarkably self-aggrandizing and obnoxious — it wasn’t just that he was making a game, it was also going to be a movie, and a book, and so on and so forth. Since indie game sites are full of comparable blowhards, no one took him very seriously, although his art, which has changed very little, was well-received.

    Now it turns out he actually made a finished, beautiful game; no one else on that forum ever finished anything. At all. Does the game blow? Yes. But still, he said he’d do it and he did. I’ve gotta give him a little credit.

    It also sheds some light on his continued posting habits. The important thing for him was always to get his name out; even in a bad way. The more publicity, the better. Even as a bete noir, he’s a celebrity.

  37. Rigley says:

    My, what insightful alt-text we have tonight.

  38. Naseer says:

    My biggest problem with Lucs response is actually this:

    “question, did you play with controller or keyboard?

    because controller is unplayable”

    Becuase when you as a developer know about this, you fix the problem before releasing your game. Or you just cut out controller support – since there isn’t any anyway.

    Other than that, I’ll try the demo before having an opinion of my own.

  39. Ian says:

    @ Lizard Dude: “Destructoid is spot on. This game is miserable. I didn’t even unlock the “Purchased Game” achievement even though I was, you know, playing the game. That I had purchased.”

    Well, you’d bought it, yes. But had you really bought it? Emotionally?

  40. Duncan says:

    I feel sorry for the guy TBH – it seems like he was already an active member on Destructoid so it must feel like a stab in the back for him… but at the end of the day, if you’re going to work that hard on your first (or first commercially released) game and invest so much personal pride in it, you really really REALLY have to make sure the basics (i.e. the controls and basic gameplay) are as solid as they can be before releasing it.

    And when the game I’m working on gets released, I might scan through the odd comments thread to get a feel for how “the internet” has taken to the game, but I sure as hell wouldn’t get involved and sure as hell won’t start throwing poo-poo at reviewers or trolls. That way lies madness.

  41. Alex says:

    Maybe you need to be drunk while playing and/or reviewing the game?

  42. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    And drunk to buy it, too.

  43. cliffski says:

    As an indie dev, I have to say that to even attempt to make a game with just one or two or a small group is such an uphill against-the-odds battle, punctuated by constant comments from friends and ex-colleagues that it will never work, you will fail, and that you are wasting your time, that a lot of the people who actually push through all that and keep going have a certain sense of

    1) arrogance and
    2) insane dedication and obsession about what they do.

    In other words, we are the worst possible people to try and stay calm about defending our work.
    Big companies have a PR department to insulate the devs from all that, and the devs can also blame each other (like this guy apparently does).
    The worst possible situation is a one-man-band indie dev

    This is why me and derek smart sometimes seem like rabid maniacs :D

  44. Dustructoid says:

    That was the first and last time I’ll visit the destructoid website.

    The review seemed justified, but the outraged rabble below turned my stomach.

  45. Paul Moloney says:

    “I’m a huge Minter fan”

    Arcade clones with hil-ar-i-ous-ly whacky (LOL) use of animals – I never ever understood the Minter phenomena.

    P.

  46. Oddbob says:

    Cliff, bang on. I have a golden rule that no matter how tempting it can be at times never to comment in comments sections on my own games unless it’s to say thanks to either the posters or someone who’s spotted a crippling bug in some way.

    Of course, I read them all anyway but more often than not, rabid detractors make me laugh or just shake my head depending on the insanity of it all. It’s all a larf.

    I’m not sure releasing a game for cash is wise if you haven’t got a thick skin or a level of nutter-ness to cope with it is a good idea.

    I also wouldn’t make Destructoid my first choice as a place to promote something if I didn’t want the world of shit that comes with such a move. But that’s just me.

    Sorta back on topic, the game did look *really* guff from the video on Steam.

  47. Mark-P says:

    RPS is one of those rare sites where reading the comments section on an article does not make me despair for the human race. Well, except perhaps the piracy related train-wrecks.

    There’s that classic saying – “Never argue with an idiot. They’ll drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

    Never post when you’re angry either ( or generally passionate ).
    Ever. Wait until the morning after then do it cool and calculated whilst sipping a cup of tea and adjusting your monacle.

  48. Raff says:

    @Paul
    Underneath that naff (IMO) facade Minter’s games tend to have a lot of hidden depth (for arcade games) and often have a some very clever design elements. Space Giraffe’s score keeping system, for example, is genius.

  49. Kieron Gillen says:

    Jonathan: If I ever do a comic that is proper controversial, I’d do a full on Wasp Factory and include the full range on the inner cover. Alas, Phonogram wasn’t that controversial.

    But generally speaking, I wouldn’t and – in fact – didn’t respond. McKelvie and I, being obsessive blogsearch.google.com and google/advancedsearch/24-hourers have read pretty much every single word that’s ever been written about Phonogram, so I’m well aware of that cheerily wank-obsessed review.

    I almost linked to that particular one in the thread actually, but didn’t want the post to be about me. It’s a review which, if I wasn’t following the smarter rules, I’d have piled on to. There’s much which is demonstratably iffy about it, not least the fact its synopsis goes no further than the first issue (i.e. the classic “OH GOD! HE DIDN’T GET OFF THE SECOND LEVEL!” whine of games developers).

    Doesn’t matter. I’d have looked worse if I’d gone for him, so sighed and carried on my way.

    What I didn’t do in this case – because they didn’t have an e-mail address for the writer – but did do generally to the (thankfully few) negative reviews PG got, was to drop a short line expressing that it’s a shame it didn’t work for them but thanking them for taking the time to write a review.

    Because that’s a far more effective way to manipulate a critic, frankly.

    KG

  50. Hexx says:

    This just reminds me why I dislike Destructoid.

    I remember seeing screenshots of this when it was destined for XBLA. I remember when he didn’t get approved for XBLA he made an excuse about size limitations and then announced a Wii version. At that point I knew the game probably wasn’t that good.

    I think I may check out the Steam demo though and do a comparison of that keyboard vs controller thing he’s talking about.