Judith’s Reception

I have to say, I’m a little surprised at the amount of attention that Judith has gotten! The reception has been pretty interesting, to say the least… There are some people who got the point of the game right away, saw what we were trying to do with it and liked it for what it was – but then there were others (quite a few others) who absolutely detested it. I can totally understand people not liking this – it’s naturally something which isn’t going to appeal to everyone… but I guess I don’t really understand the sheer amount of anger directed at it.

I think, maybe, some of the writeups and more positive comments led to people having very unreasonable expectations for it. Expectations that it can’t really live up to – after all, it really is just a sketch of a game, flawed and rushed in all sorts of ways.

In particular, a lot of the complaints I’ve read seem to be terribly concerned that it’s not even really a game – because it’s so linear and non-interactive. I feel like this isn’t really what these people are annoyed about, though – Judith doesn’t lack interactivity – hell, it’s about interactivity; what it lacks is gameplay.

And that’s fair enough! We did consider adding more complex puzzles to Jeff’s side of the game, but ultimately it wasn’t really what we were interested in doing with this. Perhaps we could have expanded the gameplay side of things without impacting on the real point of the story, I don’t know. In any case, I accept that it’s a valid reason not to like the game. I guess I just wish that people weren’t so angry about it…

Anyway. I’m a little tired of all the drama just right now. Thankfully Ludum Dare is this weekend – I’m looking forward to maybe doing something a little less serious.


31 Comments so far

  1. Mike Kasprzak on April 15th, 2009

    Yes, Ludum Dare always loves you. πŸ˜‰

  2. darrin on April 15th, 2009

    First time poster… Subscribed to this feed after “Don’t Look Away”. Loved that and loved Judith.

    These titles are fresh, unique, fun, and as a business programmer with near zero art talent, these are wildly inspiring. I had an elaborate dream about this game after I played it. With crude graphics that even I could draw, this game delivered far more of an emotional impact than most big budget titles ever could.

    No, these don’t have elaborate gameplay, and there’s a million other things that these games are not, but they are their own unique thing and they are awesome.

    These are like technical novelties mixed with interactive stories. I am eagerly anticipating future works from the developers involved.

  3. Christopher Armstrong on April 16th, 2009

    Keep it up, Terry. By the way, thanks for the recommendation of Stephen’s game Mirror Stage. I’ve been playing through some of his other games, too. I love the schizophrenic feeling that his games evoke.

    Anyway, I hope you take the angry feedback with a grain of salt. I’m sure anything you do will have more than enough fans to make up for it.

  4. Josiah Tobin on April 16th, 2009

    I must belong to a marginal third group; I didn’t understand the game at first and still absolutely loved it. πŸ˜€


  5. Glyph Lefkowitz on April 16th, 2009

    It was awesome. It doesn’t really matter if you call it a “game” or “interactive art” or an “expermental idea space” or whatever; it created an emotional impact, and the impact was heightened by actually driving the character(s) around. Without the level of interactivity it did provide … well, the art style would have gotten away if this had just been a movie :).

    So please don’t get discouraged! Make more stuff like this! (And more stuff not like this. Just more stuff!)

  6. Deacon Lowdown on April 16th, 2009

    Judith was great. Some people may claim that there is a lack of gameplay, and there is no way to change the outcome of the game, but they are missing the point.

    We have been spoiled by “open world” games that promise complete and total freedom, but that freedom is only a well-constructed facade. The truth is, no matter how many options those games have, the player is still limited toward doing what the designers have allowed him to do. The true unique quality that games have over all over mediums is not interactivity, but immersion.

    There have been films, plays, and operas constructed out of the Bluebeard story. What is it that sets Judith apart from all of these things? They all portray a wife discovering horrible secrets about her mysterious new husband. What makes Judith stand out is that, instead of viewing a woman who discovers those secrets, the player becomes the woman, and discovers the secrets themself.

    This is a game that made me feel paranoid. I would often stop walking down a hallway right in the middle of it to make sure that the footsteps I heard were mine alone. Each time I turned around a corridor, I felt apprehension and fear. with each secret i discovered, I feared what the husband might do to me the next day, but I still perservered. My own curiosity took over. This is what all art is meant to do: instill a powerful emotion into the person who observes it. Judith made me feel emotions in a way that a film could never do: not a better way, but a unique way, and this is what I think the future of gaming depends on.

    Anyway, overall opinion on Judith: not bad.

  7. Jazmeister on April 16th, 2009

    I liked it. I felt glad to finish it, and glad that I’d played it. But… how was it about control? I felt like, as the game started giving me fewer options and doing sections for me, that it was making a point about games and the illusion of choice you really have, but I don’t think it was fully articulated, and whether that was yous guys’ss’s goal or not, I don’t know.

    Still, gg!

  8. Shane on April 16th, 2009

    The anger comes from lazy, stupid people with no real investment in it and no real emotional attachment in their lives. They feel no love so they just spit bile on anything and everything. The anonymity of the internet compounds this. Just ignore the assholes.

    Also, be sure to separate real (though perhaps overly harsh) criticism from simple nasty pessimism. Sometimes people who get TOO emotionally involved can be a bit overbearing.

    Judith is a wonderful little “game.” It has potential and could be expanded. But yeah, as for gameplay – there’s another indie title that has gotten alot of attention and has very little gameplay in it, The Path. Atmoshpheric and interactive stories have an audience. The twitchy FPS people who want “gameplay” already have tons of what they want on XBOX, PS3, PC, etc.

  9. Jellyfish on April 16th, 2009

    Ok… you shouldn’t even apologize for something like this!!
    The game is an awesome piece of interactive supernatural experience, it’s not supposed to be like Pokemon or Street Fighter!
    If people don’t like it, it’s ok. But it’s not on their right to judge this like that. If you’re bald, a virgin or just a plain asshole does not have anything to do with the game! Put you’re frustrations elsewhere.
    If all that frustration is because you didn’t know what you were downloading then… Surprise!

  10. Pacian on April 16th, 2009

    It is interesting how there seem to be people who actively seek out any game that they deem ‘artsy’ so they can post angry screeds against it. They might be similar to the people who flame magazines and sites for giving games a vastly different review score than their competitors.

    There’s such an emphasis on unanimous opinion when it comes to games – sucks vs awesome, instead of liked vs disliked – that I think some people who identify strongly as ‘gamers’ inevitably have a powerful reaction when they see people praising something that really isn’t their cup of tea. See also: vitriol directed at any game that appeals to non-gamers.

    PS. If Judith isn’t a ‘game’ because you can’t win or lose, then Watchmen isn’t a ‘comic’ because it’s not funny.

  11. mirosurabu on April 16th, 2009

    I think some people get angry because the positive feedback this game receives questions their understanding of what constitutes a game. It’s natural to act like that, but certainly not preferable. I was in a similar situation before; for example, I was a bit irritated by IGF nomination of “You Have to Burn the Rope”, but shortly after I realized how useless, destructive and dumb my reaction was.

    Further – your games are reaching wider audience now, so what did you expect?

  12. Terry on April 16th, 2009

    Thanks πŸ™‚ It occurs to me that I’m being a little oversensitive in general lately; I’m sorry about that!

  13. Dan on April 16th, 2009

    That is stirs people up at all is a good thing! It’s definitely making them think. Bad games are the ones that no one talks about.

  14. Mike Kasprzak on April 16th, 2009

    Yeah man. The intense discussion caused by your game is nothing to shake a stick at. After all, you made something worth debating, which is a pretty big deal for any game.

    I love the image above BTW. I saw that before actually playing it. Altered my expectations for sure. πŸ˜‰

  15. Donald Futers on April 16th, 2009

    Terry, you shouldn’t worry about it – the debate has been a good thing, really.

    Also, most of the arguments made against the game have been really awful and, well, fairly lacking in intelligence. I’m not suggesting that none of them were valid – personally, I agree with the complaints that the ending (or, more specifically, the final line) fell flat – but you still shouldn’t read too far into the vast majority of them.

    As usual, I love the stuff you and Stephen have been getting up to recently!

  16. PC on April 16th, 2009

    Don’t worry about the angry responses – just shows people are taking it serious and watching for new stuff from you. Keep it up.
    PS See you soon.

  17. Jellyfish on April 16th, 2009

    “PS. If Judith isn’t a “˜game’ because you can’t win or lose, then Watchmen isn’t a “˜comic’ because it’s not funny.”

    Sir, you absolutely rule!

  18. Andy on April 17th, 2009

    This game was awesome! I can’t believe that I felt a little bit scared by the mood and graphics of it all. It definitely sparked emotion. Straight after playing it, I knew I had to thank you for making it πŸ™‚ So thank you!

  19. dock on April 17th, 2009

    I’m sad to hear that it has caused some angry comments, but unfortunately I can totally imagine that from certain types of gamer. It’s regrettable that in order to do something out of the box it will always disrupt people that are comfortable within the box, hibernating like a tortoise!

    I had a fun discussion about the meaning and flow of emotion within this game with another person just yesterday. Just the fact that I was able to have such an enjoyable conversation means that you’ve succeeded.

  20. Zacqary Adam Green on April 17th, 2009

    In many other cases, I’d probably be one of those angry people complaining that it has no gameplay. Much like how early movies looked like stage plays, never taking advantage of the unique qualities of the medium, I’ve thought that most games these days aren’t using their interactivity to aid with storytelling, making them effectively movies with shooting galleries in between scenes to interrupt your movie-watching experience. Usually, I have the same contempt for “interactive stories” which only use interactivity to make the story take longer. I thought the only solution was to create multi-linear stories where the player’s choices matter deeply.

    Judith proves me wrong, in that purely linear stories can benefit wonderfully from being interactive. The spine-tingling suspense just wouldn’t have worked as well if it were not up to me, the player, to keep things moving. The only challenge is to continue, which, in Judith, is sometimes genuinely difficult due to the unsettling feeling I got thinking about what lay ahead. But that too made it so compelling, and in another medium, like film or text, I doubt the story would’ve stuck with me as well.

    How to apply such a technique to other genres, like a romantic comedy, still baffles me, and I’d be very interested in seeing something like that.

  21. Bradley Rose on April 19th, 2009

    …funny. Very funny.

    er, the game wasn’t funny. This is what I meant:

    My professor let the class know about this game called “Judith”. This is the same class where I had previously discovered, while surfing the net within that class for games to inspire me for a game project I wanted to start, the games “Don’t Look Back” and “Pathways”. Having two titles that instantly were a hit with me made me think that I must be a fan of yours. Possibly! Could be coincidence.

    So, anyway, on that same coincidence wave, my professor on a later day talked about not Left 4 Dead this time at the beginning of class (while getting started and waiting for students to come in), he mentioned this cool game he found on indiegames.com. “Judith”. He played a little bit of it, and I absolutely loved it.

    So, just when I didn’t think my own little world of discovering “Don’t Look Back” and “Pathways” would cross over with the world of the professor discussing whatever games, …there came “Judith”.

    …funny. Just when I thought I had finished appreciating your games, you go and have a third game smacking my face with much fantastic-ness, without much of either of our controls.

    I can’t help but be a super fan of your work.



  22. Denis on April 19th, 2009

    To escape the ‘angry mob’ just answer every criticism with ‘Gudluck’. Sorts a lot of irritants out.

  23. agj on April 23rd, 2009

    Hey, Terry. Yeah, I’m surprised at the people clamoring ‘not a game!’. Since I got the same for my Ludum Dare entry (though without the anger, luckily, and with better reason in my case), I might write a blog post about the subject when I release the finished version. It is something worth thinking about.

  24. Anthropoid on April 26th, 2009

    It seems to me that the ending of Judith hasn’t been getting its due appreciation, so I just wanted to note that it is indeed a great ending. With the sense of foreboding in the game, the ending is a surprise, but in retrospect, it fits. If one interprets the final room as a symbol of fate or inevitability, then I cannot imagine a better ending than Jeff reuniting with Emily at that room.

  25. Maxim on May 24th, 2009

    The internet gives people the feeling that they can be jerks. They think they can say whatever they want and they completely forget social rules. People love hurting other people so they can feel superior, now internet is giving them this change because there are no consequences (everything is anonymous).
    In ‘The real world’ when you show someone your new painting and they don’t understand what it is, they’ll say: “oeehhh…that’s intriguing” or: “yeah, yeah, very…modern”. But usually they won’t say: “oeehh…that’s utter crap you got there, mate”.
    Now that there is no-one (that matters) who can tell them their assholes they think they can say whatever they want. And the more hurting it is, the more fun it is for them.
    I guess you already new all of this, But still I wanted you to know that comments on the internet can be a lot more unrealistic and less valuable then comments made in ‘the real world’.

    Other than that, I absolutely adored Judith! So, keep up the great work! ^^



  26. Taco on May 24th, 2009

    I don’t know Maxim, there’s something to be said for the honest vitriol that you receive on the internet, compared to the less honest approach that people frequently use in daily life.

    I was moved by Judith.

  27. Maxim on May 24th, 2009

    But Taco, if we all said what we really meant everyone would end up hating everyone.

  28. Terry on May 24th, 2009

    Er, I guess I was just feeling a bit touchy when I wrote this. I really don’t have a problem with criticism!

  29. lithio on May 25th, 2009

    you have to doit in spanish…its a great story…

  30. […] Terry Cavanagh discussing the idea of adding puzzles to the Jeff/Emily sequence: https://distractionware.com/blog/2009/04/judiths-reception/ […]

  31. […] Terry Cavanagh discussing the idea of adding puzzles to the Jeff/Emily sequence: https://distractionware.com/blog/2009/04/judiths-reception/ […]

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