Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
A Handy Glossary of Yahtzee Terms

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 26 Oct 2010 16:00
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"Spider-Man actually gets his web from cartridges that he makes I think. I'm pretty sure the film got it wrong."
- Steve5513

No, the film did not get it "wrong." They got it "wrong" in the same way that the comics got it "wrong" - in the sense that both depict things that do not exist in real life and never will except in various mass-produced forms of merchandise.

I have a concern. After the inevitable apocalypse and however many centuries needed to bring humanity back up to a broadly speaking civilized level, I'm concerned that the archaeological evidence of Spider-Man merchandise will show precisely the same patterns as objects used in deity worship. And this led me to a second thought: has this happened before? Have we misjudged, say, the ancient Vikings because we mistook their mass market science fiction for a religion? And this in turn led me to the third thought: could this same mistake have been made with a religion that is still practiced? Is every Muslim in the world making pilgrimages to what was originally intended to be a comic book convention?

But that's not what I wanted to talk about this week. The Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions review made me wonder: do I always express myself clearly? Do I use understandable language? I know I have a tendency to employ a mix of international slang, which can confuse some people. On one of these columns I wrote the word "Botty," a colloquial and uniquely British shortening of the word "Bottom," but Russ seemed to think I had mistyped "Booty," and edited it so the whole text sounded like it was performed by Destiny's Child.

But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about when I use reviewer-isms, or normal words used to give an impression of a larger picture that might be difficult to explain in detail. I normally do it when I'm giving a broader gut feeling of the work as a whole. For example, at the end of the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions review, I described it as unfocused. And almost as soon as the floaty arty critical ponce side of my brain typed the words, the more grounded, rational side asked me what on Earth I was blithering about. Was I playing it with my glasses off?

And it's not the first time I've done this sort of thing, so I thought it might be a good idea to devote a week's column to a small glossary of such terms. Not that I wish to imply that you're all a bunch of unread thickypoes who don't know what the words mean (although you've definitely never heard the word "thickypoes" before because I just made it up). The fact is, this is for my benefit as much as anyone else's. I'm not even sure I know what the hell I'm talking about when I describe games in ways like these.

Unfocused

A game that is focused keeps its attention narrow. It has a small number of core characters who behave consistently and ideally enjoy appropriate developmental arcs, while its levels, encounters and set pieces follow a logical progression. Therefore a game that is unfocused splurges itself out over so many pies that it would be swiftly asked to leave the bakery. See also: "Arbitrary," "Thinly spread," "All over the dang place."

Usage: "What a very focused game ICO is. Only three characters and it all takes place in the same castle, but nonetheless a breathtaking emotional thrill ride. It's the complete antithesis of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which is so unfocused you can go to sleep in 1930s Chicago and wake up in a circus on Mars."

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