Alfred Packer

Off Again
42 Badges
Jun 3, 2007
2.279
324
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
Okay, I've never messed around in here, but I read GtA in the AARLander and read through the last entries, so, while I doubt I could guess who wrote what, I will take a stab at some commentary (plus, I like voting for stuff)

I'm going to try and be critical (although I am still uncomfortable doing so on this forum), but I want to say right off I liked all three, they were all very original and clever takes on 'a moment of horror,' and I enjoyed each offering. (but since I have to vote for a favorite, I'm going with author #3 on this round)


Author 1 -

Okay, this make me think of Lovecraft's Dream Cycle stories, which I like a lot, on the second reading it all made sense, but the first time through I admit it, I was totally lost.

On the first time through I thought the moment of horror came at the very end when Mattius is killed, but on the re-read, I've decided that it is when Marcellus realizes he is a monster and that, while his mind is still his own, his body is moving on it's own.

While I liked the tone and the very original concept, I think you might have given away too much in the first scene by mentioning that Mirian Hills was totally overrun. That kind of fortold Marcellus' moment of horror a bit early and I think you might have been better served with a more ambiguous report about the goings on at Mirian Hills and maybe ending it with something like "well, Marcellus is in charge up there, he always finds a way to survive."

I like the way you switched back and forth with the perspective, that did set up Marcellus' realization quite well and on the first reading, I was very surprised (in truth, maybe it was the second reading that spoiled the surprise rather than the tell in the first scene, but I still stand by that recommendation).



Author 2 -

Okay, I liked this story, although I thought it was more 'sad' than 'horror,' I mean, I felt sorry for the protagonist but there wasn't any single moment I would call 'horror.' You can tell you are struggling a bit with dialogue, the monologue of the sergeant flow much better. There were a few obvious typos and you clearly love commas as much as I do :) but nothing that really broke up the story.

The moment off horror wasn't really a moment, since it was spread out over about 2/3 of the piece (and I don't think you had to actually use the phrase 'moment of horror,' but again, I don't think it hurt things.

Francis was an odd name choice. I don't know, maybe it is a common French name, but it kept making me think of Francis from the movie Stripes.

I liked the odd details, like the felt coats and cardboard boots and I even liked the contradictory nature of the protagonist's monologue (ie: he talks about being too cowardly to kill himself, but also claims to be unafraid of death) just because people really are contradictory in nature. I don't know - it seemed realistic to me.



Author 3 -

Okay, I like the internal monologue. The opening line sets the scene up rather well and the story flows well right into the ending. Giles thinks he is off to heaven or will be rescued in life by the devil and instead he winds up a minion of Hell, which is a good twist.

There was a good presentation of the mindset of, not just Giles, but medieval nobility (after all, he was only arrested after he held a Bishop hostage - he'd been suspected of the peasant murders for years without anyone of note caring).

Since he is such an awful monster, I would have liked his moment of horror to have been more, I don't know? Horrific? He describes it all with the same intensity one might describe a well enjoyed turkey sandwich.

I didn't quite understand the Joan of Arc references. I couldn't decide if he was claiming to have won her to Satan, deflowered her, driven her insane or was involved in her capture by the English. (or some combination)

Granted, it is clearly implied in the end that this isn't stream of conciousness, but rather he is reflecting on his 'betrayal' by the Church, so the detached air is explaned once I reached that point.

I thought it was interesting that he doesn't blame Barron, who also betrayed him...but then...it is also natural that he would target his bitterness at the ones he will get to hurt (at armageddon) rather than at the devil he is forced to serve.
 
Last edited:

Stuckenschmidt

Deus Vult
50 Badges
Jun 25, 2004
3.733
1.934
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • BATTLETECH
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Rome Gold
I`m not a religious man so I don`t believe in criticizing stories that are so short. On the other hand I`m as much attracted by voting for things as Alfred. So let`s get down to business:

Rank 3: Author 2 (Private Ryan in the Wehrmacht)

In a certain meaning this is the best piece because I had a horrifying déjà vu with the movie "Saving Private Ryan". I don`t mean the really great first 30 minutes (D-Day, Omaha beach) but the whole rest (Hanks + Damon playing do-gooders and tons of pathetic cliché). And when these stories begin to get on my nerves I start to find bugs in them:

1. How come Francis is Francis and not Francois ?
2. How come it seems that Francis was ordered to ask the Sergeant to close the darn door and he doesn`t ?
3. How come the Sergeant doesn`t tell a story of all the bloodshed he`s seen instead of this endless "OMFG-I-lost-my-love-in-a-tragic-way-10-years-ago" ? Well, maybe the girl committed suicide just to avoid a marriage with this guy ?
4. How come this guy (a US-citizen) is situated in a SS-Division (THAT would have been a story) ?
5. "Kriegsmariners" ?!

If this sounds a little bit rude and unfair it`s because I don`t like the story. It`s simply SO Hollywood. Could have been better with more storyline and less drama.


Rank 2: Author 3

I like this story. First because of the medieval setting. But mostly because I`m a sucker for these "Inside a Madman"-stories. And the character`s depiction as sick and sociopathic beast was very good and consequent.

Finally I have to say, that the author`s style is to my taste. Such as this line:

...but she broke well and, in the end, she burned well.

It was at the end of the story that I realized he was talking about Jeanne d`Arc and I had to laugh about it. Very well made, indeed.

I had nearly made this piece No. 1, BUT......as Alfred stated, there is not much horror. So I`d like to say: Good story but a little bit off topic.

EDIT: I`d like to agree with Avernite, that this story was probably written by Peter :)


Rank 1: Author 1

This piece is difficult to rate. Mostly because of the story, that`s kind of "EU:Rome meets Stargate meets Dawn of the dead". It`s as if I`m watching an experimental movie, I`ve missed the first 70 minutes and now I`m right in the action and have to understand the whole thing. Legions ? Cultists ? Portals ?

You see, I`m quite indecisive if I should like the story or not, BUT....

You did really meet the topic. A roman legion confronted with strange enemies who are using superior technology (Magic ?), turning dead people into zombies and let them fight against their former comrades. A roman commander realizing, that his former friend might have been transformed into "something":

Mattius yelled as he saw his friend, a mess of cuts and infected wounds. Was he even still alive?

And finally the dead himself, maybe realizing that he is already dead, still conscious for some reason but deprived of his free will and forced to serve as undead puppet, killing former friends.

The author`s writing style was good, except the first sentence in the last paragraph. A good balance between action and description (yes, I don`t like too much descriptions).

So, apart from the rather uncommon setting, this is my favourite in this round.
 
Last edited:

Peter Ebbesen

the Conqueror
57 Badges
Mar 3, 2001
16.748
2.591
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Majesty 2
  • The Kings Crusade
  • King Arthur II
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • BATTLETECH
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Victoria 2 Beta
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
Right, I will come up with a proper criticism of the stories as stories with comments on writing etc. sometime later (which is what we are ranking primarily), but it was interesting to see three very different takes on horror, that I would like to make some initial comments on them in order as it struck me while reading the first time.

First, though, my apologies for possibly misunderstanding exactly what it is that the author meant as the real horror - only #2 was truly clear on that* - while #1 and #3 both had many possible interpretations in the horror department.

EDIT: *) Unless, against all odds, Rensslaer's weird theory below should hold truth - that the Sergeant is an unreliable narrator. In this case an evil bastard who, having no obvious motivation for it, decides to be tell a story that at its core is a lie, in response to a situation where he could answer anything and didn't even have to answer in the first place. In such literary cases, however, it is conventional to drop significant hints building up to a clear "could this really be true?" near the end, leaving the reader dangling. Something like "he thinks she's going to heaven and himself to hell" when talking about an American in an SS division requires a mental jump of frightening gymnastics to interpret as support for him having killed her damned himself. That said, it would be truly funny if that was the effect intended. :D


Author the first: Betrayal of friendship
The horror of something terrible happening to a friend coupled with unwilling betrayal by same. It is really hard to say which of the two M's is suffering the bigger horror and even more, just how horrific it is - that depends much on what has gone before, how much of this is new to the characters.

The story doesn't give any clear answer as to whether this is just one more incident of a type that is well known in a war entering its last phase (in which case it is the specific human feelings involved, and perhaps not all that horrific compared to what the participants are used to in war) or whether it is something genuinely new (in which case the horror is not only in the specific people involved, but also in experiencing the new, the unexpected).

However, while I don't know what the author intended, to me it reads like the end of a war rather than the beginning (due to knowledge of what the enemy is fighting with, talking about the "last horseman", having an idea of how to counter a second great Preacher, and this being perhaps the last chance to save the world). These people know what they are facing, they use some of the same tools (e.g. portals), and they are able to plan against it. They may be on their ropes, but they are not, in general, surprised by what is happening - the use of the living dead (if that is what they are), while it might be a new weapon brought to the front at the edge of victory... probably isn't. This, to me as a reader, reduces the horror of what is happening as it turns the two M's horror into more of a "I don't believe this happened to me/you" situation.


Author the second: Unexpected death
This is in many ways the purest human horror - the unexpected it-just-doesn't-make-sense strike that crushes dreams and hopes through the death of a loved one treated to a standard b-movie wrapping. It is probably the easiest horror to understand of the three - we can all imagine our reaction if subjected to a similar scenario - even as it is likely the one that affects the readers the least, as he's seen or read that particular story in a hundred movies or stories already. It is a crying shame, but repetition dulls the impact on those unaffected except when extraordinarily well delivered.


Author the third: Betrayal of self
This is the least explained horror of the three even if it superficially has some likeness to one of the horrors of #1, the life beyond death in an unexpected way, but I think I've got it (nearly) right.

This one is the intellectual horror of somebody who is in generally in control, has planned for all outcomes, and is utterly betrayed by himself. He has one surefire deal: confessed & absolved (the latter only implied) with the clergy hence going to live on with all good Christians come the day, so, though he wouldn't mind being rescued or going out with a final bang to punish those who deserve it (or even going into nothingness), if die he must, he's got it covered. He's not expecting to be helped by Barron though it sure would be sweet. [Now, a good theologian might think otherwise about his deal, but that's another thing - presumably none was present :D]

Things just don't go that way - rather than awakening in good company, he awakes alone and in the earth in who knows what state, and he has not just been proven wrong in his reasoning, he is a servant rather than a master "forever after". It is hard to say how horrific this is to him as he doesn't say much on the topic, saving his time for grudges real or imagined (see the clergy and the perfect deal - it was probably the clergy not giving him the straight deal rather than him making a mistake, right?), but for a person used to be in control and intellectually arrogant, it has got to be pretty horrific.


-------

Well, something like that. :)
 
Last edited:

Rensslaer

Strategy GuidAAR
26 Badges
Jun 24, 2004
7.720
3
www.orinthia.net
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Field Marshal
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Victoria 2 Beta
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Crusader Kings II
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III
I'll do the first two stories first.

Author #1

While if I'd been immersed in the story to begin with -- if I knew the background -- I think this would have been a very interesting story. It reminded me (interesting different people are reminded of different stories) of a variant of the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time stories, with the mages and portals, etc.

I did have difficulty following it. In many ways, I think the many short scenes contributed to a confusion. I didn't really understand it until re-reading AND reading other peoples' comments. I think if I had more background, or more depth per scene, I'd have been okay. But the scenes were too short to convey enough of what was going on for me to grasp the story.

Aside from that, it was a well written and relatively well organized story. It just needed background. The story you tackled could be a great story -- it just doesn't fit the GTA format, because you're trying to fit too much into a short story. Honestly, this isn't criticism of your writing -- you did a great job. Just expand it, and it will be quality stuff!


Author #2

This was a technically well done story, and well-written. I was somewhat confused by the way it was presented, but I have a suspicion I know why, and I'll let you tell me later if my suspicions have any basis in fact.

If the goal is to show "a moment of horror" this story didn't do it. Not if it was told straight. Their situation is horrific -- not the moment, but the whole situation. The experience the Sergeant imagines (he didn't see it, right?) is horrific. But that's in the past -- maybe that's what you meant. Their moment of horror is coming, but they're not there yet.

But WHAT IF... What if the story cuts off right before the punchline? What if the moment of horror goes completely unstated IN the story?

The beginning of the story was really good. The description (unlike some others I thought the description of the situation with all the foreign legions, collaborators, etc.) was great. Francis is wondering how this American handles the likelihood that they're going to die. Then it got kind of schmaltzy, and it's like we diverted off into the Sergeant's strange world, strange story. None of it really made sense to me. I can sympathize with such a story, but it didn't seem to me to fit with the hardened character you're describing. I don't know -- maybe if I had a bit to consider, I'd change my mind, but my initial reaction is that the story didn't fit the character. It was almost bizarre. Altogether, yes it makes sense. And yet.... Something wasn't right.

But WHAT IF... What if...

About 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the story I began to wonder if the Sergeant's whole story was wrong. Imagined. What if it was a cover story? What if the Sergeant knew those intimate details not just from imagination, but because...

WHAT IF.... What if the "moment of horror" was when Francis realized that the Sergeant was telling a "IF I killed her" story, and was actually remembering details that he knew for a fact because he was there!???

I may be totally off. There's little evidence provided that this is what's going on. Maybe I'm just completely confused and completely imagining this. But I did get that suspicious inkling partway through the story, and I'm still not completely convinced I imagined it.

I'll look forward to seeing whether I might be right. If I'm not, sorry -- forgive my strange tangent! :rolleyes: :p

If I'm wrong, I'll just say that the story was well done, except it got lost in a somewhat strange story for no apparent reason, and at the same time I don't think it really met the assigned task. Good writing, good storytelling, wrong story (I think).

As a parting compliment, I'll say that the atmosphere you set was very well done, with the details of their desperate position and the historical background you set by way of hints.
 
Last edited:

Avernite

Field Marshal
74 Badges
Apr 15, 2003
6.761
3.532
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Deluxe edition
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Season pass
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
I saw the AARlander, so i read this, and after reading I had the idea I could guess one of the authors, so I figured I should comment too. :)


I think story 2 was written by Rensslaer, but it is a feeling. His commentary somewhat suggests otherwise, but after all, it's GUESS the Author, not 'make a good case why it must be the author' ;)

And, for the pick for the AARlander, I'll go with nr 1, with the reasoning following at the end of my commentary. Putting it here for easy reference :)


Story 1

The story is a bit short, which I think is largely the result of it taking place in some non-existing world. The other two stories manage to place the story in history, thus allowing a lot of the background to simply be assumed, and allowing tangents that make sense. The story seems rather focused on getting the moments of horror in, which works out, but it does make it a bit ending-focused.

Oh and I agree with Rensslaer, that final part seems like a re-imagining of the greatest mystery of the Wheel of Time.

about the authorial quality: I'm hardly more qualified than Rensslaer or PE, but I think it lacks a bit of soul. It gets the story across, to be sure, but it hasn't got that feel of 'I want to know the end'. Maybe that's just the length, or the limited background.


Story 2

The story is immediately placed into context, which makes it quite obvious what's happening. The nasty thing is that it makes the flow a bit weird, it's really a seperate introductory paragraph, but it helps set the scene. Still, it seems a bit like a movie start rather than how I imagine a story.

The story itself works towards a bit of an obvious conclusion (it was painfully obvious that he didn't get the girl), but the reason seemed like a decent twist. I, at least, didn't think it was her death that made it impossible.

The story is well-written, too, but I can't relate to the guy at all. It just doesn't get me thinking I'd want to die if that happened, although maybe that's just my general lack of suicidal tendencies.


Story 3

Maybe it's my EU2 obsession, but it was nice to have an intro that made me (after a while) know exactly where we were, without being seperate. The story definately does that best of the three.


The rest of the story also flows naturally from all that, but it does leave me wondering, what's the horror? It is exactly what he deserved, it is exactly how it should be, and it's fun to see it happen to the bad guy.


Conclusion

I think number 3 is the best story, in most senses, as it finishes the story, and starts it, all in one go. It does require a bit of obscure knowledge to fully appreciate, but then, who HASN'T had the event 'the trial of Gilles de Rais'?

However, this was an assignment, and I don't fully think it had a real moment of horror. More of, as they say in German, Schadenfreude. The second story didn't really make me think of horror either, more of despair, sadness, or just the world hating someone.

So, story 1 wins my vote, having two moments of horror, even if it is a bit unclear (as Peter Ebbessen said) how horrid it really is.

As an aside, at this point I'm guessing also that story 3 was written by PE. The lack of following what you expect, while writing a good story, seems rather like what I know of his stories.
 

Rensslaer

Strategy GuidAAR
26 Badges
Jun 24, 2004
7.720
3
www.orinthia.net
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Field Marshal
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Victoria 2 Beta
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Crusader Kings II
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III
Author #3

Okay, I did really enjoy this. It had many points against it on a personal level -- I generally dislike pure monologue (and I was trending toward more intense dislike by the time his monologue covered his death!), the character was genuinely dislikeable and that made me question why he was the subject of the monologue, and I'm not a huge fan of vampire/zombie type stories.

But I must admit, I was surprised and impressed when I came to the end, and understood why it was written the way it was, and why my reaction against the monologues' describing his death was improper and premature.

I'll have to say this is my favorite of all of them.

It was well-written, well-conceived, and kept my interest (I did get turned off by how vile the guy was, but so long as there's a point to his vileness, I can always forgive that). It also adhered to the challenge topic, which I believe is important now that these will be featured in print for an audience which doesn't yet understand GTA (it might not be best if our winner for the first round didn't even meet the challenge!).

I was prepared to think that the story missed the challenge -- lacking a sharp moment of horror -- until the very end when I understood the man's horror was more than mere death.

Very well done! Thanks!

A good and thoughtful selection this time around! Thanks to all the authors and commenters!

Rensslaer
 

The Yogi

Evil Genius
37 Badges
Dec 16, 2002
3.283
25
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • For The Glory
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Darkest Hour
  • Diplomacy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
OK, will be adding my critique one author at a time to this post. This was a good round!

Author #1

I’ll start by saying that this piece has tremendous potential for a gripping longer story which I’d devour given half a chance. But when I first read it, I had some trouble understanding what I was reading, and that can never be good. The main problem, I believe, is in the dialogue.

Consider the first lines;

Author #1 said:
'Captain Venerat, what brings you here? The lady said,' a lieutenant shouted as the cohort rode into the encampment, but Mattius cut him off 'Whatever she said, it's over.' Shocked, the lieutenant stood frozen at the spot, while Mattius rode on to the command tent.

First I thought The Lady asked Captain Venerat what brought him there, then there was a lieutenant shouting something but being cut off by a Mattius. Four people speaking in one sentence?

What I think the author meant to write in this case was roughly this;

The cohort rode into the encampment. A lieutenant approached the commander at the head of the column.

'Captain Venerat, what brings you here? The lady said--'

Mattius Venerat cut him off in mid sentence. ‘'Whatever she said, it's over.'

Shocked, the lieutenant stood frozen at the spot, while Mattius rode on to the command tent.

This is a recurring problem with the piece. I have real troubles following who says what. I’m not 100% certain about the format rules for dialogue but I usually make a new paragraph whenever someone says something new.

As for description, there isn’t much. This keeps the action going nicely, but a short piece like this, I think could afford more description. One reason for the lack might be that the author has too much going on into each sentence, which doesn’t give him “room” for descriptions, or the sentences would become monstrous. Use of shorter, more clearly defined sentences with only one thing going on in each would provide the space for more description. In the above example, once we have the cohort marching in their own sentence we could add some description to it, like this;

A cohort rode into the fortified encampment, their mounts weary, their armour matted with dust, their eyes downcast. A bright red cloak flowing behind him, a lieutenant approached the commander at the head of the column.

‘'Captain Venerat, what brings you here?’ he asked, frowning deeply. ‘The lady said--'

It might be a matter of taste, but to me some description makes a scene come alive and helps me create a mental image. This is doubly important when the writer introduces a brand new world like here – we need to see it.

Another, smaller problem is the issue of perspective and “show, not tell”. From what POV is the story being told? If at some point it is Mattius, then a sentence like

Suddenly Mattius felt the urge to die, to have his soul leave this world for another, any other.

is good. From Mattius’s point of view we can see what is going on in his head.

But unless the POV is the lieutenant in the following sentence;

Shocked, the lieutenant stood frozen at the spot, while Mattius rode on to the command tent.

is not so good, because we can’t see except from his POV that he’s feeling shocked – the author tells us, he doesn’t show us.

Consider instead
Hearing this, the lieutenant’s eyes opened wide and he brought a hand to cover his mouth, as if to stifle a scream. He stood frozen on the spot while Mattius rode on to the command tent.

Finally, as has been remarked before, the second paragraph gives away a little too much of the twist.

On the positive side, this was a highly imaginative story, leaving me wanting to know more about this strange world where portal-using cultists and undead fight the Legions (of Rome?)! The use of words and names (Legions, cohorts, the Roman-sounding names) goes a long way to make up for the lack of description, since they create images of their own in our mind.

I don’t know how much horror the piece conveyed, although both Marcellus and Mattius suffer their apportioned share of horror. In any case, I enjoyed reading it!


Author #2

Technically, this piece is very good, with just the occasional blemish that proof-reading could have avoided, like the over-use of “well,” at the beginning (would fit well in dialogue, not so much in narration, and is repeated). But overall, and in almost any detail, excellent technique!

There could be some small nitpicks about details (a Frenchman, surely, would be named Francois, not Francis?). Kriegsmarine personnel were drafted into the Heer in the end, but perhaps not into the Waffen SS Charlemagne Division? Either way, it’s a very small thing. There could perhaps have been more description, but the setting is so well known that to us that I still got pictures in my mind from reading it, and didn’t miss the descriptions. Perhaps the two main characters could have received a little more description though.

The problem I have with the story is characterisation. Francis is sent to have the American close the door, but instead starts sucking up to him in a bad way. If he doesn’t know him, he sure knows a lot about him – it’s quite creepy actually, not only the fact that he knows this but that he tells the sergeant the details he already knows, like what year he won decorations and so on. More likely would have been a less verbose, more informal approach; “Sergeant, I hear you never show any fear in combat. How could I learn to be like that?”

Even more unlikely is the fact that this tortured, angst-ridden NCO would be willing to spill his guts and retell his life’s tragedy to a completly unknown private – when he obviously never has confided in anyone before, not once during the at least seven or so years of service he shares with the other veterans from the Foreign Legion. If he had, surely, the rumour mill which told Francis when the Sergeant won his medals etc would have warned him – “Whatever you do, don’t ask the Sergeant about his past! You see, this is what happened…”

Of course, for the story to work, the Sergeant needs to tell his story, so perhaps an inner monologue or something would have been better. Or Francis is not a newcomer to the unit, but an old and trusted comrade in arms, who finally learns the American’s story now that they seem to be heading for their final fight: “All these years we’ve known each other, all the battles and campaigns we’ve been through; how is it that you were never afraid? I have seen your eyes, mon amí. Don’t tell me it is experience, I’ve been fighting for as long as you, and I’m nearly pissing my pants every time we go into action against the Russians…”

To sum up; the execution is beautiful, but the story is flawed with unbelievable characters. And that ruins the story for me. Sorry!


Author #3

This is easily my favourite of the three. The first person narrative is expertly carried out, and the odd perspective of Gilles de Rais brought to life; yes, he’s a demon-worshipping serial killer of children, but he’s also a XV century French aristocrat and a XV Century Christian (in a way). That legalistic medieval approach to the Christian faith, so alien to us, the author has pat down, just like the savage contempt for the lowborn typical of the medieval French aristocracy. Gilles really thinks that once he has confessed, he’ll be home free, even though he “pisses on their God”. He has gone through the motions, and is so certain that will be enough to let him “dine in glory on the day of the resurrection of the Lord.” That genuine regret is required for absolution never occurs to him, and obviously the clergy never told him.

There is humour here too, regarding Joan of Arc. She burnt well, indeed. The only thing lacking here, perhaps, is a bit of horror – Giles looks on to his execution with equanimity, and fear only materialises post-mortem, so to speak. But that fear is Gilles’s and not the reader’s – if anything we snicker a bit at him finally getting his just desserts.

But that is all well, the assignment was “A moment of horror”, and a moment of horror there was in the story, so no gripes there really. To my mind, this is writing of a professional level.






All in all, I’d say we had three good entries this time, with differing qualities – the fantastic and imaginative setting of the first, the skilled execution of the second and the third which is just brilliant. I was a bit surprised that there were not any attempts at traditional horror, given the subject matter, but like comedy, it's extremly hard to pull of successfully.

Kudos to the writers for stepping up and offering their work for merciless analysis and critique!

Now if we could just get some more comments…
 
Last edited:

comagoosie

Perennial Dreamer
53 Badges
Apr 14, 2007
8.761
44
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Surviving Mars
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
Author 1: On the first quick read through I was totally loss, but on the second reading it begun to come to me. Some sentences are worded perfectly, which I really much enjoyed. “Mattius yelled as he saw his friend, a mess of cuts and infected wounds. Was he even still alive?” This sentence represents that. However, overall, you dropped me, the little fish, into a big battling ocean and I am left to wonder, what in the world is going on? I realize that this may be a fantasy world and explanations aren’t needed but I would have loved some clarification in all the action. But in the length that you did it, the story was great. I did have to keep re-reading your story to find the moment of Honor, but then it dawned on me that it was moment of horror. :D

Author 2: In the very beginning, I became excited for the possible carnation of a battle scene and I was highly disappointed when the dialogue started off horrible. How can one soldier just waltz up to a sergeant and talk normal, yet within himself he feels scared. In no way does he show it or the sergeant notice. Might as well as said, “Tell me a story.” My point is that it was extremely awkward and inhuman like; something that Francis wouldn’t be saying and acting like in 1945 when talking to a sergeant about dying. That said, I truly appreciated the story that the sergeant told. It may have been a little cliché, but nonetheless I could relate. Sometimes you just meet a girl that literally lights up the world with her smile. It makes you just want to curl up and regurgitate all the sins you committed in the world. Every time you look at her, you know that you are not enough; even if she returns your yearning, you think to yourself that there is a better guy out there for her. The interruptions in the story, though needed, were again, kind of awkward. And again, the ending had some awkward dialogue, but if we just look at the storyline from the sergeant’s history this piece was brilliant.

Author 3: That was one epic last line, which seemed to brighten this piece. Overall, I didn’t like it. I didn’t find the unique spark, which clearly defines a story. It may be that I found it a bit boring. I don’t think I ever got to know the character. Right when he started to reveal himself, he died. A bit disappointing. That said, I do like the down-to-earth take. I had the feel of seeing the normal execution of a criminal. Flinging rotten vegetables only made it more believable. This is the most believable and simple story out of three (and I don’t mean it as a bad thing. Most of the time, the simpler you aim for the better the story is)

Ranking:
Author 2: For the love story, which touched me.
Author 1: For the sheer horror of the story.
Author 3: For the down to earth

The Yogi: Statistically wise, it would be the most prudent voting method to give each ranking a point. Such that Rank 1 gives 3 points, 2 gives 2, 3 gives 1. The story with the most points gets to be featured in AARlander. This prevents from split sides developing, such that 4 people love a story but 6 utterly hate it, but still the 4 win because it has 4 rankings of 1. This has been proven the most fair method of voting. Just a suggestion.
 

The Yogi

Evil Genius
37 Badges
Dec 16, 2002
3.283
25
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • For The Glory
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Darkest Hour
  • Diplomacy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
The Yogi: Statistically wise, it would be the most prudent voting method to give each ranking a point. Such that Rank 1 gives 3 points, 2 gives 2, 3 gives 1. The story with the most points gets to be featured in AARlander. This prevents from split sides developing, such that 4 people love a story but 6 utterly hate it, but still the 4 win because it has 4 rankings of 1. This has been proven the most fair method of voting. Just a suggestion.

Hmmm... You do have a point. On the other hand, I'd hate to see one unambigous looser annointed. The writers are ballsy enough to step up here and risk the litteraly equivalent of rotten tomatoes thrown at them without having to risk the humiliation of being picked last out of three or four.

We'll complete this round with current rules (most favourite picks wins) and then we can have some discussion on the matter during the wait for the new submissions.
 

Stuckenschmidt

Deus Vult
50 Badges
Jun 25, 2004
3.733
1.934
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • BATTLETECH
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Rome Gold
We'll complete this round with current rules (most favourite picks wins) and then we can have some discussion on the matter during the wait for the new submissions.

To start the discussion I think it`s all about priorities. Should the stories be criticized (and ranked) as stories or assignments. I vote for the latter, otherwise the chosen topic doesn`t make sense at all. It doesn`t seem logical to me to let the people write about a certain topic and let the guy with the off-topic story win just because his technique was a bit better.

Don`t get me wrong. Of course I like well-written stories better, but then it should be "Write about anything you want".
 

Peter Ebbesen

the Conqueror
57 Badges
Mar 3, 2001
16.748
2.591
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Majesty 2
  • The Kings Crusade
  • King Arthur II
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • BATTLETECH
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Victoria 2 Beta
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
To start the discussion I think it`s all about priorities. Should the stories be criticized (and ranked) as stories or assignments. I vote for the latter, otherwise the chosen topic doesn`t make sense at all. It doesn`t seem logical to me to let the people write about a certain topic and let the guy with the off-topic story win just because his technique was a bit better.
Ranked as a weighted whole by each individual willing to participate criticising with his own personal weighting of quality of story, how well it fits the giving theme, how much he likes it, and the square root of the shoenumber of the assumed author. Much better than trying to set up some rigid rules.

For most people, I'd assume that being completely off topic would be a significant drawback and hence affect their ranking, but if there are some for whom it isn't a problem, so what?

That's taken to extremes, I will admit, but consider the more general case: people understand topics very differently; As an example, consider the current topic, "A moment of horror" - some commenters seem to treat this as if it was a "write a horror story" assignment (in other words, the reader should feel a moment of horror, and they rank on the basis of whether this is the case) as a result of which you even have people detracting from the horror value of an action because the person it happened to deserved it*, whereas others focus on whether the story contains a moment of horror for one of the characters in the story (as a result of which whether they personally felt any horror at all can be irrelevant to their ranking).

I don't think I've ever seen a GTA story that was considered off topic by all or even most commenters, though I have seen many that have been considered off topic by some - I have no particular reason to believe that a ranking system will change that.


* The classic "stuff a puppy in a blender for INSTANT DEATH BY SLICING!" (HORRIFYING!) vs. "slowly torturing a villain to death by chopping him up bit by bit over an extended period of time" (he had it coming)


No, to my mind, if the GTA is to be treated to a ranking system at all (a good idea for publicity, perhaps, but a guaranteed source of disputes and possibly acrimony over time), it is best to treat it exactly the same as how the criticism has hitherho been dealt with: some people focus on the internal structure of the story, some on grammatical errors, some on common storytelling dos and donts in their criticism, some prefer this, some prefer that, and some (many) give advice, but there's no preconceived idea of what's the right way to do it or how much each individual part is worth to anybody - ask people to pick their favourite by the criteria they think appropriate knowing what the topic is, and abide by their choice in evaluation parameters.



--- My absolute favourite example of the "misunderstood topic" issue is from real life, however, and thereby hangs a tale:

...For my written final examination in Danish in primary school many years ago, I picked (from a group of four or five) the "Write a future story" topic. Now, for those who don't know (presumably the majority of you), "future story" (fremtidshistorie) was at that time code for "science fiction" in Danish education since the union of Danish teachers (responsible for the tests) did not accept science fiction as a Danish expression and did not have a reasonable alternative. I promptly wrote a reasonably good time travel story, turned it in at the end of the four hours we had for the assignment, and expected an 11 (second highest mark at the time, only beaten by the 13 that required you to be considerably better than could reasonably be expected - something I was only occasionally worthy of due to mostly not making an effort).

Imagine my surprise when I got the result of the examination - a 9. Sure, it was above the official average mark (8), but what the hell could have gone wrong? There's no way I could have written something so shitty as to be merely "above average". As my teacher explained and apologized to me, the problem was that while he had wanted to give it a 13 (which it didn't really deserve, says I), the censor had wanted a 5 - the third lowest mark possible (above the 00 for not turning anything in and the 03 for turning in your signature), 5 being the obligatory mark for having misunderstood the topic completely - after all, the story took place in the past. Since they were unable to resolve their differences and my teacher knew that I had absolutely no need of good grades in any exams and would rather pick his fights for the students who did, they compromised by choosing the average which pleased none of them. :D

Which makes for a pretty good story in itself even though it did feel remarkably stupid at the time and has given me a certain aversion to the whole "misunderstood topic" issue since then. :)
 
Last edited:

The Yogi

Evil Genius
37 Badges
Dec 16, 2002
3.283
25
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • For The Glory
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Darkest Hour
  • Diplomacy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
To start the discussion I think it`s all about priorities. Should the stories be criticized (and ranked) as stories or assignments. I vote for the latter, otherwise the chosen topic doesn`t make sense at all. It doesn`t seem logical to me to let the people write about a certain topic and let the guy with the off-topic story win just because his technique was a bit better.

Don`t get me wrong. Of course I like well-written stories better, but then it should be "Write about anything you want".

Well, yes. But if you refer to story #3, there certainly was a moment of horror in it. It was in fact all about that moment, even though it didn't come until the end, so I'd say was very much on topic. If anything I find story #2 had the weakest link to the topic or assignment.

But on the other hand, GtA has always been about the individual interpretations of intentionally vauge topics. The degree to which it conforms to the topic and how important that is for preference is up to each person giving critique. Let's be clear about one thing; the important thing about GtA is authors recieving useful, constructive and honest critique of their work - useful for them, and useful for other writers reading the critique. It's also important that we have fun doing this. Least important is winning the spot in the AARlander - that is just marketing.
 
Last edited:

Rensslaer

Strategy GuidAAR
26 Badges
Jun 24, 2004
7.720
3
www.orinthia.net
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Field Marshal
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Victoria 2 Beta
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Crusader Kings II
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III
Well, I'll admit that my assessment of #2 may have missed the mark.

There was, definitely, a "moment of horror" -- when the sergeant discovered the love of his life had been murdered (and another moment of horror every time he thought about it, surely. It's just that the story wasn't so much "about" a moment of horror, but rather about remembering a moment of horror. Which, all in all, is a small quibble.

In my experience, most authors do try very hard to stay within the topic.

Rensslaer
 

Stuckenschmidt

Deus Vult
50 Badges
Jun 25, 2004
3.733
1.934
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • BATTLETECH
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Rome Gold
Hey guys,

all I want to say is, that if GTA shall have "winners" from now on, I think there should be some kind of rule to determine them. Otherwise it would be complete arbitrariness.

Oh, and did I say I work in the public service for 20 years and like to have some nice, complicated laws around :D

So don`t take my suggestion too serious (yes, Peter, I`m talking to you ;)). It`s just an idea.

Greetings, fellas.
 

Peter Ebbesen

the Conqueror
57 Badges
Mar 3, 2001
16.748
2.591
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Majesty 2
  • The Kings Crusade
  • King Arthur II
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • BATTLETECH
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Victoria 2 Beta
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
all I want to say is, that if GTA shall have "winners" from now on, I think there should be some kind of rule to determine them. Otherwise it would be complete arbitrariness.
Ooh, ooh! I have a suggestion for a simple yet ample rule, covering all possible entries without exception: "Choose your personal favourite, given knowledge of the topic". :D


After all, the more complex you make the rules, the less need there is for humans to be involved, yet GTA has been - at least until now - about subjective evaluation and criticism. At the far edge where there are rules to determine "winners" by enforced constraints on the individual criticism/evaluation process, there's really no reason to have anybody but drones performing the criticism - but I suspect that's taking just a couple of steps too far, and that you never, ever, intended anything but minimally obstructive rules. :)
 
Last edited:

unmerged(83622)

Zealous Firebrand
11 Badges
Sep 7, 2007
1.530
1
i-wellington.blogspot.com
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
I won't deny that I'm a bit intimidated by posting here. I don't regard myself a marvellous writer so it always feels a bit wrong giving critique to others, but I've been lurking here long enough. Time to make a contribution, and hope that it is of some use.

Hi, world. Hi, Guess-the-Author. :)

Author I
Now this sure is an interesting setting. Fantasy intermingling with the "real world" is generally my cup of tea, but the situation is still an interesting one -- are those Romans defending themselves and, as they say at least, "the world"?

Moving on, it actually took me one and a half re-read before I understood exactly what was happening in the scene. This is the major disadvantage of the piece: a slight lack of organisation in the dialogue -- which Yogi has highlighted better than I can -- makes it hard to tell who is saying what, and the short paragraphs appear insufficient to cover all that is happening. What is the timespan of the story, from start to finish? A minute? A few hours? I have a hard time telling.

The shifting narrative perspective is a neat touch that can make for a very interesting tool when telling stories. However, when used in a piece of this length, the risk is that you confuse the reader more than you help him understand two sides of a story. As stated, it's a good tool to handle and you should keep on using it, but I'd advise you to keep it reserved for longer pieces.

It feels like I'm only picking on things here, but there are of course good things too. The setting is an imaginative one, although I feel that the lack of knowledge that I as a reader have about the world is a bit intimidating. Cultist? "The blessings failed"? It is a bit too in medias res. Likewise, it does give your world an interesting touch and personality. Also, the scene where Marcellus turns into a walking dead was nice to read -- when I understood it, that is. ;)

To summarise, I think the weak leg of the story is the structure. With clearer dialogue and perhaps only one narrator I think it would have been very nice to read. An idea would be to focus the story on Marcellus, with the end being him looking at his rotted arms whilst walking towards the battle, but that's just me fabulating.

Author II
Now here's a setting that appeals to my taste -- World War II, and in Germany!
Author II said:
The darkened trains ran east into Pomerania, towards oblivion. Inside, the only light came form the lucky few who had cigarettes.
I adore this opening, it immediately sets a very dark and sombre tone. The detail about the "lucky few" with cigarettes adds a nice touch of gritty WWII-movie. Also, some reflections on the last lines of the paragraph:
Author II said:
They were being sent to die. For the 1,000 volunteers who had fought for years against the Soviets in the French Volunteer Legion, well, this was nothing new.
Either it is a mere mistake, and you meant that they were used to being sent to decisive battles. Fair enough, that happens. However, I prefer reading it as that the volunteers feel like they've been sent to their death oh-so-many-times and therefore are used it. That makes for some black humour in the dire situation; then again, this might just be my imagination working.

If descriptions and setting moods is a strength of the piece, the dialogue sadly isn't: given that Francis -- why is a Frenchman named Francis? -- doesn't seem to have spoken to the Sergeant before, his opening line feels like a catastrophical ice-breaker. And I do not mean to be harsh, but it also feels gravely unauthentic. After all, if you were convinced of your impending death, wouldn't you sound a bit more worried? In this instance it feels like he's basically asking how to paint a house. "So, I haven't painted a house before. How should I do?"

The Sergeant's answer comes of as a bit over-dramatic too -- it just doesn't sound like a discussion two men in their situation would have. Francis' following tirade of mixed praise and amazement at the Sergeant's accomplishments as well as state of mind makes it sound like he has been stalking the Sergeant. If he is so fascinated at the Sergeant's character, why didn't he ask him before?

Now, the piece does not fall here as most of it is a monologue, so I will turn my attention to that instead. I have no idea why a person as seemingly secretive as the Sergeant chooses to confide in a randomly spawned private right before his death, but the story he tells is interesting and above all, it sounds genuine. You manage to make it sound like spoken language and that is not always easy. I do think that it could benefit from a few more interruptions in the flow though; those interruptions mark that they are still in a different environment. You do use them, but often they focus at short, concise things ("he smiled", "he pointed at Francis"). This is just me making suggestions, but you could quite easily involve their environment more. For example:
Author II said:
"Of course, I fell in love with her, who didn’t?"
could be re-written as:
Author II said:
"Of course, I fell in love with her," he said. Momentarily, a nostalgic expression rested on his face, in stark contrast to the dark, unwelcoming scenery that he and Francis were a part of. Then he gave a short laugh: "Who didn't?"

I like the way he tells his story, and I like to see the initial nostalgia turn into loving memory, that itself turns to bottomless sorrow. You manifest his feelings well and the story is a beautiful one and to be honest, haven't we all known a girl like that at some point in our lives? It all feels very real.

Now, for the end:
Author II said:
Two Kriegsmariners huddled in the back shivering in their cheap felt great-coats. “So, Francis, will he close the damn door?”

Francis shook his head, “no, and you two’d probably best not bother him about it.”
If that was what Francis was supposed to ask him, why didn't he? It's a small plothole, but noticable as it is at the very end of the story. However, disregarding the beginning and looking at the paragraph on its own, I think it's a very good ending.

My final comment then: the highlight of the piece is no doubt the Sergeant's story which I think is well-written and feels genuine. However, in this context it feels very, very cliché. The Sergeant spontaneously decides to tell a story about the demise of the love of his life and the sorrows that followed to a reruit he doesn't know, when on the way to his death. Sorry, but it all reeks too much of Hollywood for me. If the sergeant's story somehow could be extracted and placed on its own however, you could be on to something very good.

Author III
Author III said:
Say this if nothing else, say he was an evil man.
A good opening line always sets the tone, and this one makes the literary centre of my brain dance mazurka. Magnific.

As for the story itself, I've never been very fond of monologues. Initially, as the narrator appeared to literally be walking towards his death, it also appeared mightily puzzling. Luckily for the reader, the narrator's more eloquent than sympathetic, so it becomes a good read anyway.

I find this entry to be the hardest to critique, as I can't say anything in general about it. That'd be the format, yes, but that is a personal preference of mine rather than real criticism. I could say something about the language seeming a bit too formal or complex, but given that this is an aristocrat of past times that might be a directly invalid statement.

As much as it irks me, I don't -- presently -- have anything more to say about it. Sorry about that.

---​

As for my favourite, I'd say it's a fairly tight race between II and III. Given how much I like the Sergeant's story, my vote will go to Author II.

...this wasn't too hard actually. Hope something I wrote was of some use.

Ta-ta.
 

Peter Ebbesen

the Conqueror
57 Badges
Mar 3, 2001
16.748
2.591
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Majesty 2
  • The Kings Crusade
  • King Arthur II
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • BATTLETECH
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Victoria 2 Beta
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
I won't deny that I'm a bit intimidated by posting here. I don't regard myself a marvellous writer so it always feels a bit wrong giving critique to others, but I've been lurking here long enough. Time to make a contribution, and hope that it is of some use.
Welcome to posting in the most awesome thread in AARland, and stick around. There's always room for one more willing to express his opinion and take a stab at criticism: We all learn something from it. :)
 

The Yogi

Evil Genius
37 Badges
Dec 16, 2002
3.283
25
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • For The Glory
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Darkest Hour
  • Diplomacy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
Author III said:
Say this if nothing else, say he was an evil man.
A good opening line always sets the tone, and this one makes the literary centre of my brain dance mazurka. Magnific.

Indeed! This one reminds me a lot of the famous first line of "Alatriste" -
Arturo Perez Reverte said:
He wasn't the most honest or the most pious of men, but he was a brave man.

:cool:
 

Storey

StoreytellAAR
7 Badges
Mar 16, 2001
5.975
4
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • For The Glory
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • 500k Club
Since I'm at work I don't have much time for this but I'm going to make time.

Some writers use the technique of matching their style of writing with the substance of the story to create an atmosphere that sucks the reader in, if the reader is willing to make the effort. Author #1 gives us a disjointed, staccato delivery jammed with confusion and chaos with a dash of intense but abrupt dialogue to produce ‘tension’ by word and deed. Was I lost the first time I read it? Hells bells I sure was but on the second go through I found it an interesting read and worth the effort. Could I point out a few grammatical errors? Sure but that would missing the enjoyment of getting caught up in a story where we don’t know what’s going on, who the characters are and what they are trying to do. So with these seemingly insurmountable weaknesses how is it that I liked it as much as I did? Well I don’t like to be spoon fed when it comes to plots. I like to have to hack my way through and find out what the hell is going on and boy I had to do that in spades for this story. Seriously at first glance this looks like the weakest of the three stories but I think I liked it the most. It has an unpolished feel that should be worked on but all in all I liked it a lot.

I will try to make time to post on the next two authors. Oops I see my boss, goodbye

Joe