Hello all. My name is Joel (AKA Bourbon Dingo) and I’m a fairly avid reader of interactive fiction.
I’ve been thinking of ways to contribute to the CoG community, and I previously had dipped my toes into lukewarm waters with Beta Testing. This wasn’t the best experience, as I’m fairly good at finding errors and only mediocre with how to express something in English (and that’s my first and only language!).
I’ve always got story ideas floating around, but not much motivation in getting them parsed into a text file for your pleasure (or pain).
So, I’ve settled on something that will give me some direction, but allow me to provide something back to the community in the meantime. I want to review and rank all officially released titles.
I intend to introduce myself a little further, and explain what my process will be. These will be reviews, so they will be inherently subjective. This means that it may be helpful to know a little bit about me to understand where my perspective is coming from.
Cisgender and heterosexual male just shy of 40, born and raised in the US south. Family was Catholic, but never really latched onto any form of organized religion. Nerdy kid more interested in Final Fantasy 7 and tabletop roleplaying than the ever popular football culture. Joined the military for 8 years while trying to figure out my life and my thoughts. Graduate level college, focused on sociology and criminal justice theory. Currently work in academia.
All of the above to say I’m a weird mishmash of liberal and conservative. I know I’ve got internalized biases that I try to recognize. Not ignore, because being blind to it is almost as bad as letting it influence me.
That out of the way, I’d like to review all the CoG, HG, and Heart’s Choice games. I’ve played a large chunk of them, but I intend to play them again. My preparation and process is listed below:
List all games in a shared Google Sheets file, and find a way to randomize them.
a. Games that are in a series will still be played in order. For example, if Samurai of Hyuga 4 is my first title, I will play the released series back-to-back. Generally these reviews will likely come out faster, as well.
b. Titles that release while doing this will likely take priority to ensure that this project is as helpful to the community as it can be.
Play each game.
a. I play through each title the way I normally do. One time blind as a self-insert if possible. Replay that character with the code open to try and maximize and get my canon run (Power-fantasies, am I right?). And then I usually play as something completely different, but pursue something that interested me in my previous run. I recognize this isn’t the exact way other people play, but I hope to still have enough in my reviews to be useful to anyone.
Review each game.
a. Though I won’t be able to provide every metric, I can talk a little about what makes a game ‘exceptional’ in my opinion. Story, format and grammar are often going to be what draws me into a title and keeps me there. If I can read without interruption, or needing to stop to parse something, this is usually good. Gamification, however, is important. I don’t want to be reading a story with just a bunch of fake choices and no impact. Stats, variability, and choice is something I want a plethora of.
b. I will always include the three most positive and three most negative things I end the title with. I can already think of some previous titles I’ve played, and what I would say. However, I can also say that this will be subjective and sometimes the thing that stayed with me through a title may not matter as much to you.
c. I play on Steam or the web fairly consistently. Reviews will also be on Steam, officially. I may use a specific TLDR section or something more punchy for the Steam reviews though.
Rank each game.
a. This is going to be purely subjective and about as unscientific as it can be. It might not be difficult in the first 5 titles to decide where I’ll place something, but 200 titles in? Yeah, going to be completely gut-related.
b. I also intend to review my rankings and make some changes based on new information at certain milestones. I may even keep separate rankings based on different things, like CoG and HG titles ranked separately.
Talk about each game.
a. Finally, I plan on keeping one master thread in the CoG forums, and I’ll probably add one on Reddit. But each review will get its own thread for conversation (as long as this is okay with the moderators, let me know if not!). Maybe you can change my mind on something, or enlighten me about some meaning I missed. I love to learn about cultures, and am more than willing to admit that I know about social theory, not social practice.
Here is the randomized order: Dingo's Review Order - Google Sheets
Remember that new releases will have priority and series that release new entries will mess this all up, but I’ll keep it updated.
Teahouse of the Gods will be completed by 2022-11-27T00:00:00Z pending release.
Just set up a twitter account to make announcements, you can follow me at @Bourbon_Dingo on Twitter, if you like getting notifications that way. If any of the authors want me to pin them, or add their @ to the post, let me know.
I hope all of this is either exciting for you, or is enough to let you know that my reviews won’t be for you. If you have any questions at all, let me know. Thanks all, and happy reading.