Let's Sperg Jaimas Plays a Terrible Game (and analyzes it after): I Get This Call Every Day - David Gallant's Rosetta Stone of Failure

Jaimas

DUNMAGLASS
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Special thanks go out to @Dynastia, who encouraged me to work on this particular review, and @hood LOLCOW, who got me the *.rar of the game so I could actually review it. You two rock and without your insight this probably never would have happened.

So, before I begin, I want to get in-depth, for a moment, for how I intend to review this one. I'm getting this one out of the way well in advance because of several reasons: David Gallant is well-known for perusing this forum (and indeed, lately has taken to pulling the Nora Reed maneuver), and is likely hoping that this review absolutely savages him in a way that allows him to extort it to claim victimhood on Twitter. I regret to inform him that this will not be the case. I intend to review this with the same dispassionate analysis I gave to Revolution 60, and I do so for a very specific reason:

David Gallant may have actually given us one hell of a treat in this particular game.

It's a veritable Rosetta Stone; a window into the mindset of the current indie developer clique that's risen to prominence in the last five years, and more than this, an ideal example of why the games they keep making keep failing, both critically and commercially.

And with this in mind, let's begin our descent into madness.

Starting out, we don't get a title sequence; just an audio setting chooser and then we go right into it. If you choose the "No Audio" option, the game essentially tells you that audio is important and you should come back when you're able to hear it. A bit of a weird choice, but I digress. We choose our setting, and we're right in the thick of it - no title screen, no explanation, just a point-and-click interface and this.... Masterpiece.



I speak no hyperbole when I say that this is a perfect image, a great example of a major problem endemic in this batch of "indie" developers. Right out the gate, taking a look at the art style of this game, it looks like an MSPaint drawing - and not a good one, either. In fact, I had @KidKitty time me as I drew the following myself in less than 2 minutes with the line tool, box tool, eraser, and flood fill tool:



I bring this up because it's time to discuss the first big issue with these games, and that's visual style. I'll be getting into this in the follow-up post - it's one symptom of a bigger problem - but hand-drawing something that resembles Myth of the Legendary Warrior does not qualify as a "style." People can tell if something is minimal or even zero effort. If you look at Hackers vs Banksters, you see the same thing - virtually no effort put in whatsoever. Minor/Major has not an ounce of original thought put into it, but looks so much better than this game specifically due to the visual style working. Mermaid Swamp uses stock RPGMaker assets and likewise looks infinitely better. This style - which looks and more importantly feels lazy - is a great bit of insight into the mindset of its creator, as we shall soon see. But we'll come back to this in the post to follow. For now, courage.



After trying to click things randomly, I eventually click the green Square and am given a choice. Lacking any context, I decide to be Standard greeting. Politeness costs nothing and opens doors, after all.

To my surprise, the game has fully-featured voice-acting.



In this game, we're apparently playing as David Gallant himself, and he's on the phone with a client. The client, who appears to be the bastard offspring of Nora Reed and Butt-Head, wants to change his address. I'm given another choice, and I explain security, I guess.



At this point, David explains that he needs to know the Social Insurance Number of the client.

I had no idea what that is.

A Bing search later and I now know it's the Canada-equivalent of a Social Security Number. So I apparently need this for the change-of-address. David enters it into the computer, and it comes back invalid. Accordingly, I tell him such.

I'm actually reminded of this game I played on Newgrounds like 20 years ago, where you had to talk your way out of a ticket from a cop. In fact, that game is still up there, and you can play it now. It's about the same length as this train-wreck and is systemically more engaging.

.....Right, enough stalling, back to the review.



I choose full name. The guy says his name is Bill. Fuck it. First and Last it is. He neglects his middle initial, but I've worked phones before, and fuck it, that's close enough for my tastes. I then get his date of birth. Pretty straightforward so far.

We then ask for Address. We get this out of the way, and then get more security questions. Unfortunately the caller is not cooperating. We elaborate that this is the law. He elaborates on his previous residences, once again mandating that we needle him to get the information we need. This ultimately goes nowhere, and we wind up going for tax information.



This just spirals downwards from here. There's really not a lot to say, the guy just has no information and no real idea of what his account info is. To his credit, David does keep his cool through this for the most part, and eventually the caller runs out of security question options. At this point, David finally tells him what he needs to do, and the caller results to childish name-calling. We're not given the option of "ignore the idiot and hang up," and now we face the first entertaining choice in this entire thing:



I choose the option reminding him that he forgot to hang up. Looking like a dumbass, he does so.


....And the game ends. But not before throwing special thanks to Gallant's myriad buddies in the IGDA/Indiefund camp.


You know, the "this is not a game" accusation gets thrown around a lot on the Internet these days. I've seen it directed at walking simulators, text games, and more recently, crap like Depression Quest, but it's a hard accusation to dodge with this particular game; there's literally nothing of substance here. The game is a predictable ride with no variance and no player interactivity or engagement, with minimal variance allowed.

The asset flips that go on via Steam Greenlight contain more actual gameplay than this does.

But this game's failure segues beautifully into another segment. Follow me into the next post and I'll get right the fuck back into it.
 

Jaimas

DUNMAGLASS
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Let's get into the nitty-gritty. Thanks to David Gallant's little masterpiece here, I think I've managed to see beyond the veil: and uncover three major reasons that the "games" being put out by David and his clique just haven't been able to find critical or commercial success. It's a complicated issue, and worth discussing, so you all (especially you, David, because I know you've been reading this forum) might understand where you guys keep going wrong.

PART THE FIRST: Lack of Effort

https://kiwifarms.net/proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FJDbbSK2.png&hash=88ebc9484c4ac808c34b774afe830960

Look at this game. Look at its art style. That death-rictus grinning derpmonger in the corner, the MSpainted monitor, the desk rendered lovingly in MS Paint - all of these are the assets of I Get This Call Everyday. To say this looks bad is an understatement - as I showed in the review above, I did comparable artwork in MSPaint with two minutes of work. This is not "style." This is laziness, masquerading as style. And believe me, anyone who plays games can immediately tell the difference. This is far from the only game I've reviewed to do this. Hackers vs Banksters is another great example.

Now to compare:


Dead Gods


Homesick

Notice the difference.

For all of these games' many problems, these had actual work go into them, and it shows. They're flawed, they have issues, but they're infinitely better than anything shit out by Gallant's clique. It's not just visual style, either - Depression Quest infamously uses tell, not show, for its narrative, many of these indie cliquesters use Twine at the most, and most of these games don't show anything resembling quality writing, art design, or even narrative structure. And before you give me shit for talking down games using Twine: It's perfectly possible to make a good game using it. It'd have to be something like a browser RPG, but it's possible. Some of the earliest video were text based, and two of my favorite old games are Wizard's Castle and The Lurking Horror. These games can be good; the ones from the Indie cliquester crowd aren't.

This lack of effort is endemic among the indie cliquesters. For example, if you look at Queers in Love at the End of the World, or any of Nora Reed's "Games," you can see that they're zero-effort, no-graphics, no-gameplay click-to-advance text-fests. Depression Quest, Hackers vs Banksters, the list goes on. These games do not have effort put in. They are shit out as ego-projects. They are not designed as games, they are designed as footprints, things to declare that the maker is a "developer," in the same way that a Lion's Eye Diamond is like a Black Lotus.

Christ, now there's a reference that I feel old for making. Terrible references to old-school Magic: The Gathering aside, the point I'm getting at is that these games do not show care or quality. What they do show is something that I will discuss in the next section.


PART THE SECOND: Appeal Baiting

Almost every game put out by Gallant and Friends shows a unique trait, one that sets them apart from many other games: The focus. Almost all of them take place in a very personal, very deep thing that is of some importance to the game's maker. We saw this with Depression Quest (even as Zoe Quinn shamelessly used Robin Williams' death to promote it), we saw it with Hackers vs Banksters, we saw it with literally everything Anna Anthropy has ever made, and we've seen it now with I Get This Call Every Day. But the Grand Mother Bull Moose of these is, by a head and a hair, Cibele, a game that basically is only considered deep because Mina Freeman gets her tits out in it:


Did you notice the common thread with all of these games? They're all being used as a platform for the maker to show off how deep they are, to talk about some issue or another, but never in a way of consequence or that actually matters to the player. These games are being used in much the same way indie films used to be, as vectors for the maker to show off creativity and personal struggle, but in a way that doesn't really work - they don't take advantage of the medium and virtually never do anything with the premise. Instead, they focus on emotions and feelings, things from their own lives, counting on their buddies to declare it amazing and wonderful because it's based on actual events. And Mina Freeman got her tits out. So real!! Hell, even Sunset fell into this trap, believing itself to be a sure thing because it had a WOC protagonist and was ever-so-progressive.

I remember reading somehwere that David Gallant got fired because of I Get This Call Everyday. I don't know how true that is, but if it is true, it's another example of this mindset in motion; that quality (of writing, art, etc) is irrelevant as long as the game covers "REAL" subjects hard enough.


PART THE THIRD: The Cardinal Fail
Finally, the big one. The biggest reason these games fail. It's the reason IGTCED failed, it's the reason Depression Quest failed, it's the reason Sunset failed, and it's the reason Cibele failed. It's not that people hate narrative games; if that were the case, VNs and the Ace Attorney series wouldn't exist. It's not that these games cover topics people don't like to address; if it was, games like This War of Mine wouldn't have been successful.

No, the key with these games and why they failed is agency.

Now, this is an interesting subject; a core tenet of many people who espouse the identity politics-laden philosophies of Gallant's friends and tagalongs is that they don't believe people have agency (it's a major reason people hate so-called Social Justice Warriors). In games, however, these people pathologically refuse to give a player agency in their world, and thus, a reason to care. Giving a player agency - a reason to invest themselves and a way to influence things - is more than simply a matter of letting a player choose choices - they have to have an active part in the story. If they don't have this, you're not making the most of an interactive medium, and you'd be better off making a film than a video game.

Agency takes work. It's a combination of understanding and using the player's role in the world to your advantage, and making good use of clues - good writing is immensely helpful, as is carefully knowing what kind of story you intend to tell. If the player isn't invested, you've got less than nothing.


And there you have it: The three reasons this game (and every game from these people) failed. No hostility, no aggression, just undiluted facts.

This game was really bad though. Fawk.
 

Cynical

The world sucks? Good.
kiwifarms.net
The sad part is that Gallant can't even make the experience, brief as it is, amusing.

Fuck, even if it's a short kinetic novel, it's got a decent setup for a comedy script, so even if the gameplay is crap, at least we could be faintly amused at the moronic dialogue Dave is having to suffer through, that could have delivered a tiny speck of entertainment.

But nope, this "game" takes itself utterly seriously and fails to deliver even a chuckle .
 

SunLightStreak

Elite Illuminati Task Force Agent for Cow Control
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
I don't think David will be able to read this review. Remember this section is off limits to people who do not have accounts and have not posted and received a small but determined number of positive ratings.

I guess we could tell him to just post "Chris is fat and would not have sex with" post in disco but...

Anyway, @Jaimas , thank you so much for reviewing this game. I felt a bit bad tbh calling it shit from just going by the visuals. Thanks to you actually going through the effort to play it, I am very very relieved that it was as bad as I thought and more.
 

Randall Fragg

Spedfinder general
Staff Member
Moderator
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
I don't think David will be able to read this review. Remember this section is off limits to people who do not have accounts and have not posted and received a small but determined number of positive ratings.

I guess we could tell him to just post "Chris is fat and would not have sex with" post in disco but...

Anyway, @Jaimas , thank you so much for reviewing this game. I felt a bit bad tbh calling it shit from just going by the visuals. Thanks to you actually going through the effort to play it, I am very very relieved that it was as bad as I thought and more.
@Jaimas could put it up as an article on Lolcow News, if he felt like it.
 

0xDEADBEEF

True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
It always pisses me off that these kinds of developers exist. I don't know what this game is made with, but it looks to be either flash or a drag-and-drop editor. I decided I wanted to do game development as a teenager, and began to actually teach myself to code so that I'd be able to do it. These people just find some shitty engine or tool and let it do all the hard work for them. They're like people who only buy paint-by-numbers books and call themselves painters.

While the end users playing the games never really know or care about the internals of how a game is built, and engine-based games are more common than that from-scratch way I like to do it, it still angers me that charlatans like this guy claim a title that I've worked for years on without doing any of the real coding work. I spent eight months last year programming a game nobody bought, while this guy vomits into flash and claims he made close to $30k. Fuck him.
 

Dynastia

woman respecter
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
It always pisses me off that these kinds of developers exist. I don't know what this game is made with, but it looks to be either flash or a drag-and-drop editor. I decided I wanted to do game development as a teenager, and began to actually teach myself to code so that I'd be able to do it. These people just find some shitty engine or tool and let it do all the hard work for them. They're like people who only buy paint-by-numbers books and call themselves painters.

While the end users playing the games never really know or care about the internals of how a game is built, and engine-based games are more common than that from-scratch way I like to do it, it still angers me that charlatans like this guy claim a title that I've worked for years on without doing any of the real coding work. I spent eight months last year programming a game nobody bought, while this guy vomits into flash and claims he made close to $30k. Fuck him.
What game did you make?
 

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