There is a very vocal gamer forumite who goes variably by UnrequitedThai and Four Willows Weeping. I have, in the past, been able to win over many of my more vocal detractors in the online gamer fanbase by contacting them, discussing their concerns, and correcting occasional misconceptions that crop up. In some cases, the person in question never ended up agreeing with an approach I take/took, but we both left the discussion with a sense of mutual respect. In many cases, taking this approach has improved the quality of later work. Four Willows is the first individual that I've encountered who seems utterly unwilling to participate in such a dialogue, and it's somewhat frustrating. I realize I shouldn't be frustrated. I realize his opinions appear to be a minority viewpoint rooted in a very acanonical approach to Exalted (and that's just going on his assorted forum posts). I realize that I'm probably never going to satisfy him and that all attempts to be amicable are doomed to failure. I get all that. And even so, it gets to me. I want to be able to reach him, or at least know I have exhausted every method I can think of to do so.
With all this in mind, after reading over comments he made here in a recent RPG.net thread, I decided to IM him. Here's what was said:
Nephilpal: Wow, I've just realized why you are not and probably won't be a fan of any contributions I ever make to the Exalted setting.
Auto response from unrequitedthai: brain for eat
not for think.
zombie day! yay!
Nephilpal: You don't want mortals to matter.
Nephilpal: Nor to have them addressed in any meaningful rules-supported way.
Nephilpal: Whereas I proceed from the operational model and developer outlines that it is to be a Bronze-age post-apocalyptic world in which demigods roam and fight and make power plays
Nephilpal: And yet, Exaltation only sets you above them a little ways.
Nephilpal: And it is precisely your proportion of awesomeness above them that degrades your humanity and ultimately leads to ruin and debauched tyranny.
Nephilpal: I write Exalted as a game of humanity, where for all the invulnerability you may have, Lois Lane is not.
Nephilpal: And you'll have to choose between stopping the demon incursion on the Blessed Isle and opposing the march of Juggernaut
Nephilpal: Wherever you aren't, people will die.
Nephilpal: Or more importantly, people will die.
Nephilpal: And when you march them into battle, your friends, your lovers, your followers: they're probably going to get sepsis and die.
Nephilpal: And the beauty of it is, when it comes to those heroic mortals, they weren't any less cool than you. Just not as lucky.
Nephilpal: They didn't Exalt. You did.
Nephilpal: And their deeds can ride up, but never catch up.
Nephilpal: And in the end, their end will be gruesome and horrible and unfair.
Nephilpal: In any case, those are my thoughts.
unrequitedthai: i think lois lane is the essential poison here. this fixation you have on imitating other things severely damages the integrity of the game.
Nephilpal: Condensed language,
Nephilpal: I could say "The mortal love interest who cannot protect him/herself.
Nephilpal: Or I can say "Lois Lane"
Nephilpal: And you immediately know what I'm talking about.
Nephilpal: As for homage, Exalted is rooted in it. It sells books.
unrequitedthai: this lesson of condensed language would be well applied elsewhere, in the world of pagecounts and finite sizes.
Nephilpal: It's also an integral part of both developers' visions for the game.
Nephilpal: My overwriting is using my condensed language, actually.
Nephilpal: I wrote 90K words for Alchemicals.
Nephilpal: I was contracted for 40K.
Nephilpal: I trimmed it to 73K for the first draft
Nephilpal: and 60K for the final.
Nephilpal: That's part of the process being invisible to you guys.
Nephilpal: You see the results, and you go "Damn, that's a lot of words!"
Nephilpal: And behind the scenes, we writers ruefully laugh.
Nephilpal: Unless, of course, your comment wasn't directed at my tendency to overwrite.
Nephilpal: In which case, I'll be better able to answer you with clarification.
unrequitedthai: you realise that my position toward you is hostile to the point that anything you say goes in my mental ridicule bucket, i hope.
Nephilpal: Actually, I hold out hope, however futile, that I'll win you over. I did it with StephenLS, and with other detractors in the past.
Nephilpal: At the very least, I lose nothing by trying to actively address your concerns and be polite.
unrequitedthai: aside from your time, i suppose. i do appreciate that you are making this effort in good faith, but i think that you are wasting your time.
Nephilpal: I'm a diplomat at heart. It doesn't offend me personally that you don't like my work. You are, as you well know, neither a developer, nor a peer writer, and so your opinion is, ultimately one consumer out of a vast sea. However, you are my most vocal detractor, so if you actually have any desire for open, courteous dialogue, I offer it.
Nephilpal: I pinged you earlier because of your RPGnet post.
Nephilpal: It struck me that your operational model might be irreoncilable with the stated vision of the developers.
unrequitedthai: this ex cathedra attitude of yours is not particularly, how do say, appealing
Nephilpal: I have to give you some fodder for labeling me arrogant. :-) I'd be remiss in my Nephly duties otherwise.
Nephilpal: The point is, you've got a beef with me, and you've been active enough in saying so that it's caught my attention.
Nephilpal: I don't read all the forums. I barely skim.
Nephilpal: So whether there are other folks out there or not who feel similarly (and obviously there are), they are invisible to me.
Nephilpal: You are not.
Nephilpal: You are quite visible.
Nephilpal: Thus, I'm happy to address your animosity and see what can be done about it, looking to you to do likewise.
Nephilpal: Selfishly, if you aren't willing, well, then I get to say I did everything I could.
Nephilpal: And that's nice for my conscience.
Nephilpal: See, I even share my inner thought process. :-)
unrequitedthai: i have a fairly simple solution for one aspect of this problem of focus
unrequitedthai: i simply remove or alter contaminated rules!
Nephilpal: Wonderful! I addressed that in great big bold in the core rules of X2.
unrequitedthai: but this does not alter the unpleasant reality that i am purchasing material laced with toxins
Nephilpal: Does the negative impact upon you reach levels worthy of such a label, or is this hyperbole?
Nephilpal: Not that you aren't entirely entitled to your opinion in either case, of course, but it helps me understand what I'm dealing with.
unrequitedthai: i find the phrasing to be pleasingly colorful. these things are items that immediately kill my fun.
unrequitedthai: poison is a good metaphor
Nephilpal: If you do not use them in a game, I trust you understand my confusion as to how they poison your fun.
Nephilpal: Or do you mean the fun of reading the product?
unrequitedthai: my not using them in my personal games does not exclude them from other games i play.
Nephilpal: Ah. I trust you are aware that we writers must try to accommodate as broad a cross section as possible in our treatment of rules and setting material, knowing it is easier to delete/modify on the user end (for those outside the "target" audience) than for the rules to fail to address such.
Nephilpal: And this is true of the industry regardless of the company and game.
Nephilpal: I want to make sure you know that as an operational foundation which I am subject to.
Nephilpal: Or, you can go idle. If something came up and you wish to resume the discussion, I'll be around. If not, well, sorry about that.
Nephilpal: Best wishes with your Exalted experience.
unrequitedthai: yes, unfortunately you are constrained by business, and i have pool to play
Nephilpal: Enjoy your pool.
Later on, he blogged this:
"So, I had a conversation with a certain distasteful White Wolf persona, who is still convinced that he can change my opinions by telling me how great his point of view is.
Don't try to "win me over." Don't try to convince me of things, especially when you are simultaneously acting like an overinflated prima donna who deserves to be punched in the mouth. Don't pretend that you have all the answers. Particularly, don't try to argue from your dubious authority.
This only inclines me to further discount your opinions and feelings. "Convincing" is not how I work.
Rather, you should learn from Jonathan: Raise an interesting question, and play the exploring ideas game! Make me respect your creativity and craft and it is possible that I'll look at your work in a different light, but there is no way that you can do that by telling me, "Oh, what I do is so important and great and your point of view is so prominent and well-articulated that it causes me discomfort."
Does anyone have any constructive ways of reaching him, or should I just give up? Please note I'll be screening any replies that are mean to him. I'm not trying to be mean to Four Willows. I think he's a fairly articulate fan of my favorite game.