The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

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The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:32 pm

Reason I’m writing this (or rather, the occasion) is a discussion I had last night with Marco A. Breddin, writer of The Atari ST and the Creative People, on Twitter.

This is not about this book specifically, but about a situation I feel has formed around productions in the retro scene in the last few years. Namely, judging new releases with increasingly rose-tinted glasses and not providing honest feedback to creators.

The past few years have seen a multitude of releases in hardware, software or print. Some are awesome (for instance the Commodore Story, or the Sensible book), some are decidedly mediocre (like a certain author who put out a series of books within a few short months from KickStarter to delivery, so hastily put together they even contained MobyGames screenshots), to downright awful (Atari, Inc: Business is Fun).

Now, I’m one of those who will buy almost everything, even in case where I know I’ll regret it. However, when I regret it, especially when the creator has obviously put in tons of work into his opus, I’m very hesitant in reviewing it negatively.

This, is wrong.

Also, it’s especially common in scenes like the Atari 16-bit one or the Amstrad CPC one (of which I’m a member of sorts), where new productions are rarer than in other scenes like the Commodore or Sinclair ones. In private I’ve often had discussions with other ST fans (in the case of this book, three times, on FB and Twitter) who don’t have good things to say about a product; but who invariably fail to air their opinions publicly, fearing it will insult the creators or inhibit further developments.

This fear is not unfounded, because in the past there have always and everywhere been people who have been rude or needlessly negative and who have indeed caused problems.

However, that’s part of life. I don’t think that the fact that there are bad or insensitive or whatever people out there should prohibit the rest of us from giving honest, constructive feedback. So I’m writing this in the hope that other people/fans decide to speak their mind and help make what we get, either for free or at high prices alike, better.

Coming to this book here that spurred these thoughts, I feel really saddened that the author sees nothing wrong with the first volume. This could be the end of it, however what saddens me is that it seems that the second (and the third?) volume(s) will contain the same mistakes and drawbacks. And it saddens me the most because otherwise the book is an obvious product of love and passion, is gorgeous in its presentation, tremendously let down (well, according to me) by its writing style and lack of editorship.

That’s my two cents… I’d be interested to hear your own two cents, but most of all, I feel people should speak up, not only in cases where a book (or other product) is an obvious cash-grabbing exercise, but (even more, probably) in cases of products where things could and should really be better.

Cheers!
T.

PS My reviews on the aforementioned books, for anyone who’s interested enough to read them:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/355 ... earch=true

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/7 ... iew_page=1
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Atarieterno » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:44 pm

I would have appreciated an edition in Spanish.
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby ICS » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:41 pm

Was it not someone else (as in not Marco) who was responsible for translation to english?

I too, was surprised that some of the captions were not translated from german, but then as
I am german myself it was no problem to me :P

I do not mind the storytelling or writing style, it might be hard to follow or get into it if you
know nothing about the scene beforehand, but then the book was likely written for an audience
that knows about these things already before starting to read this book.

What I think is, the book could use a little more "polishing" for the second volume.
A third person should check translation and possibly forgotten captions or typos and
grammatical errors and stuff. Ideally a native english speaker.

Otherwise I'd rate the book as 9 out of 10.
Would buy Volume 2.
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby keops » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:41 am

Gryzor wrote:to downright awful (Atari, Inc: Business is Fun)

I actually enjoyed reading that book, it's not perfect, it's not the best book about Atari but I read it entirely and I appreciated it despite its issues

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby mikro » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:15 am

I second Keops. Your opinion isn't the universal truth.

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:51 am

ICS wrote:Was it not someone else (as in not Marco) who was responsible for translation to english?


Oh, I don't know, but I don't think I said he did it himself? But, it doesn't really matter in the end, except that I'm now wondering, if someone else (who is, I think due to the translation style, German as well) translated it, what the original is like...

ICS wrote:I too, was surprised that some of the captions were not translated from german, but then as
I am german myself it was no problem to me :P


I do understand a little German so for the most part it was not a problem for me; what the problem is, I guess, is the lack of proof-reading.

ICS wrote: but then the book was likely written for an audience
that knows about these things already before starting to read this book.


Perhaps, and I think you are right; but then he should've said so in his campaign instead of taking it 'mass'.

keops wrote:I actually enjoyed reading that book, it's not perfect, it's not the best book about Atari but I read it entirely and I appreciated it despite its issues


"not perfect" is like saying "hurricane Irma was not calm" :D

The thing is, I'm a bibliophile. I read a few dozen books each year and my home shelves house a few thousands of them. I mostly read history and sci-fi, but everything goes, really. I have developed a certain level of demands from a book when I spend my dough (and both those Atari books were not cheap).

Most of the times I'll soldier on even if I don't like a book, but some times I've abandoned books midway through because I don't judge it to be worth my time. Well, in the case of this book, it was like a train wreck - I couldn't stop watching. As I say in my review, there's really not much to learn if you have been reading retro stuff in general, and as for the writing, I really, honestly doubt it would get a passing mark if it was a high school essay (and assuming high school essays were 800 pages long). I do accept that some may have liked it, sure, and I do like books others despise so there's that, but if you take a red pen an underline all the mistakes in the book - and I mean strict, objective mistakes and errors - you'd end up wasting a lot of red ink. As such, at the very least I felt angry, because someone thought it ok to just start hitting a keyboard and then selling the result to me with no reviewing whatsoever, no proofing, no effort.

mikro wrote:I second Keops. Your opinion isn't the universal truth.


*insert Dilbert joke about being blinded by the obvious* :D
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby junosix » Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:40 am

I absolutely agree. Loved the book, very stylish, but it definitely needed a double-check and edit, it would have benefited from someone else reading it before it went to print. Even daft stuff like in the interviews listing someone's ST as having 512MB (rather than 512KB). A shame because the book looks great on my shelf. You're right about the problem being endemic in the self-produced retro book scene though, it's not just this one.

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby dhedberg » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:18 am

I agree with your review as well. The book was a great initiative and I do like it and I'm glad I bought it, but there's definitely room for improvement.
I found several passages hard (actually more or less impossible) to follow as well. Some of them just appeared to be nonsense, such as the example you give in your review.
Maybe the original German text made sense in these places, but in that case it was lost in translation. I can only speak for the English version of the book.

My opinion is that the presentation is great, but the overall quality of the book suffered because of the lack of editing and poor translation. I sincerely hope this will be improved in volume 2 and 3.
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:19 am

@junosix : the book is *very* stylish and beautiful if you ask me (you dind't, but anyhow :D ). I think I did see the 512MB myself. Yes, the problem is endemic, but I refuse to accept it as normal. Surely everyone has a friend who can provide a second pair of eyes, don't we? Heck, last year I participated a bit in the creation of a text adventure for the Amstrad CPC; I think it took four persons to edit the texts before the release version was compiled. For a game. A *free* game. When you're committed to publish a book, not at least going over the pages you're submitting for printing is not just amateurish, it's pure laziness and lack of concern for the end product. Which is obvious for many books, but in this case I just can't understand it.

@dhedberg: unfortunately, from the discussion I had with him it appears he thinks that everything is A-OK and things should stay "consistent" between the books. That was what prompted me to write my OP. What's more, I had an email exchange with him a while back and in our back-and-forths I asked him if he was interested in some constructive feedback. I got no answer. Pity.
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Sturm » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:43 pm

I just read your review :This is wrong. And unfair.
I'm sure Marco put a lot of effort in his book. English is not his native language, but he decided to publish it in English, to reach a wider audience. And we should be thankful. If it had been written in german, i'm sure you would have been one of the guys blaming him.
It might not be perfect, but who cares? Would you prefer a perfect german edition you would not understand at all, or an english one with a few typos?

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:54 pm

Erm...no, no, no.

Just because someone has put a lot of effort in it (which I have acknowledged); just because English is not his native language (did he use another translator anyway?); just because. It doesn't mean the result is good, or that I *should* enjoy it just because he's doing me/us the favor of releasing it in English, or that the bads and wrongs of it are to be ignored. That's the whole problem with the scene, precisely as I describe it in my OP: "oh, a new release, better love it or keep my mouth shut".

Absolutely not. Perhaps if the description in the campaign was "look, the translation's probably gonna suck, and I'm probably a bad writer and what I write you won't understand unless you were there, but please pay north of €40 for it" then I might have judged it more leniently.

Thankful? As in, what, be thankful for a bad product? Or as in, "yes, I'm thankful therefore I'm not entitled to have or air an opinion"? How on earth are we to move forward and have better releases, better products, better memories? By settling so low standards? Absolutely not.

If I play a game that's bad, but is released for free, then I may say "haha, man, this is silly fun! Thanks for it! Maybe you could improve it here or there!". But for something I *buy*? Nope.

As for the "few typos", obviously you didn't even read what I said...
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby keops » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:45 pm

I don't expect Lord Of The Rings English grade when reading Atari Inc Business is fun or Breakin' The Borders.

2 stars out of 5 basically means that it's a bad book. 1 star out of 5 means that it's utter crap. I suppose I will have to disagree with both reviews then. However, feedback can be given without giving an openly bad review, that's probably not the best way to motivate people to produce an improved sequel.

I'm glad some people create those books, even with their flaws.

"be thankful for a bad product?" -> Maybe you should write a book to show them how to make a good one since you seem to know about both content (Atari) and style (English) ;)

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Sturm » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:56 pm

English is not my native language, but i noticed a few typos of course. But it did not prevent me from appreciating the book as a whole. The author might not be a writer, but it's a well documented & interesting book.

Please do understand that english is not everyone's language. We use it by mutual agreement on these forums, and because it's supposed to be the most spoken in the world.

I'd prefer to be able to speak french on these forums, it would certainly be easier for me to express my point of view, but, i have to speak english & I try to do the best i can.

You should be merciful to those trying :-)

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby catmando » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:36 pm

From the point of view of the producer it just comes down to money and personal standards.

Personally if I didn't have the money to produce something in a second language that contained a good translation then I wouldn't do it for fear of poor feedback.


And from the point of view of the consumer if a product (no matter if it widely commercially produced or homebrew kickstarter type) is not up to the standard it was sold at then it is only right that an honest review is given.
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby mikro » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:41 pm

Gryzor, now I read your reviews -- to quote, "Erm...no, no, no." The typical "I know everything because I'm so into books so I can judge and tell you why your product suck." This is what you call a constructive critics? I'll tell you what you could have offered to Marco -- the proofreading. Instead you're writing here, showing us how superior your language skills and standards are and to what outcome? You really think, even if Marco or Marty or anyone else bothered to read it, that this will improve something?

Did you even consider that there may be like one thousand of circumstances you know virtually nothing about? That maybe he did try to get someone to proof read it and as soon as the person realised he is going to make money on this, asked for an unrealistic fee for such a service? Or that he was under unbelievable time pressure from the publisher? Or just WHAT-EVER.

But no, you know better. You know how Atari books should be. You realise that even though you paid for it, it's still an amateur work by single individuals, doing that just out of love for the platform and you knew this before clicking 'Buy', right?

Yes, both books could be better. If somebody else offered a help instead of whining on a forum.

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby penguin » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:27 pm

Marco's book was published in English because there are a lot more people able to read English vs. German. A Kickstarter for a German-language book would've most likely failed. Despite some flaws, both books - Marco's and Marty's - contain a lot of research and passion for the respective subjects. A lot of work went into the production and there are very few people willing (or able) to devote that much energy for a platform that's not really the most popular retro system.

I'm pretty sure that the whole book was proofread. But this is a huge book, and there's not an army of proofreaders available willing to read and correct. I write and publish in my native language, but even with all the proofreading, there are still errors slipping in. At some point you have to deliver a product to your readers, subscribers or people who preordered your product.
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby AdamK » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:16 am

Gryzor, there is very limited information in your post on what is wrong with The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People and Atari, Inc: Business is Fun. Could you please enumerate any serious mistakes you found in those books?
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:35 am

keops wrote:I don't expect Lord Of The Rings English grade when reading Atari Inc Business is fun or Breakin' The Borders.


Me neither. But a basic standard is needed in all things.

keops wrote:2 stars out of 5 basically means that it's a bad book.


Yup.

keops wrote: 1 star out of 5 means that it's utter crap.


Yup.

keops wrote:I suppose I will have to disagree with both reviews then.


As is your right. My OP however is NOT about my reviews about the books, or I'd just have copied them here. So hard to grasp?

keops wrote:However, feedback can be given without giving an openly bad review, that's probably not the best way to motivate people to produce an improved sequel.


What is the opposite of "openly bad review"? Because a review can be either good or bad. Should I withhold my bad review? Should I say "it's bad" but still sing its praises? My review was honest, well-meaning, and detailed.

And you know what? Before I posted it I TRIED to give feedback to the author, but he didn't care. He either insisted on "consistency" as I wrote before, or, when I asked him through email if he would be interested in some constructive feedback... well, you can guess that his answer was not "absolutely, go ahead". So seriously, what should I do?

keops wrote:"be thankful for a bad product?" -> Maybe you should write a book to show them how to make a good one since you seem to know about both content (Atari) and style (English) ;)
[/quote]

Dear god, that's the silliest argument ever when criticism appears, and I do wonder how it survives to this day. So I supposed that if you go into a restaurant you are either thankful that they included a fork and a knife, even if the food was awful, OR that you'll think it's ok if the chef comes out and says "I'd like to see you try and make something better"???

And no, I can't write a book, and I'm not interested in doing it. So?
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:37 am

Sturm wrote:English is not my native language, but i noticed a few typos of course. But it did not prevent me from appreciating the book as a whole. The author might not be a writer, but it's a well documented & interesting book.

Please do understand that english is not everyone's language. We use it by mutual agreement on these forums, and because it's supposed to be the most spoken in the world.

I'd prefer to be able to speak french on these forums, it would certainly be easier for me to express my point of view, but, i have to speak english & I try to do the best i can.

You should be merciful to those trying :-)


But... I don't understand what you're trying to say, honest. Are you comparing a book that you can buy, to a forum 'written' by dozens or hundreds of people for free?

What's more, I don't know why people are replying to me about 'typos', as if that was my problem :D
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:38 am

catmando wrote:From the point of view of the producer it just comes down to money and personal standards.

Personally if I didn't have the money to produce something in a second language that contained a good translation then I wouldn't do it for fear of poor feedback.

And from the point of view of the consumer if a product (no matter if it widely commercially produced or homebrew kickstarter type) is not up to the standard it was sold at then it is only right that an honest review is given.


Thank you for putting is to simply and clearly. For me it's pure logic.
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:48 am

mikro wrote:The typical "I know everything because I'm so into books so I can judge and tell you why your product suck." This is what you call a constructive critics?


Where in my review do I say that? Please, be serious.

I'll tell you what you could have offered to Marco -- the proofreading.


What. The. F.

First of all, who told you I have the will, time or skills to do it?

Second, did he ask for it? Are you going around on KS campaigns and offer your skills to make their products better?

But, here's the thing - people go on about how English is not his native language and what not, but I'M SURE that had he asked for help, people (perhaps me, as well) would JUMP at the opportunity to help. Did he? No, seriously, did he? I don't remember seeing anything. Should I offer my skills AFTER reading it???

Instead you're writing here, showing us how superior your language skills and standards are and to what outcome? You really think, even if Marco or Marty or anyone else bothered to read it, that this will improve something?


Complexes aside, please read my OP.

Did you even consider that there may be like one thousand of circumstances you know virtually nothing about? That maybe he did try to get someone to proof read it and as soon as the person realised he is going to make money on this, asked for an unrealistic fee for such a service? Or that he was under unbelievable time pressure from the publisher? Or just WHAT-EVER.


SO? Seriously, WHAT ARE YOU ON ABOUT???? He sold a book. I didn't like it. I reviewed it. Period. When you buy stuff and feel you don't like them, do you stop to think about whether the producer's wife left him or if his cat died???

But no, you know better. You know how Atari books should be. You realise that even though you paid for it, it's still an amateur work by single individuals, doing that just out of love for the platform and you knew this before clicking 'Buy', right?


Way to raise the standards. Of course I don't know "how Atari books should be" (putting words into another's mouth is.. ok, let's not get into it). I do have a pretty solid idea of what good books usually contain, and I know when I read a bad book. Yes it was an amateur effort, yes he loved what he was doing, but no, I feel he failed in so many aspects. And you want me to just move on and pretend I liked it, right?

Yes, both books could be better. If somebody else offered a help instead of whining on a forum.


I did offer help, smarty, in the form of feeback, twice, before posting my review. I like how you are accusing me of not thinking about the poor author blahblahblah, but you think you know it all. Had he opened up the effort, let people freely help him, it'd probably be a fantastic book. But he's not even interested in feedback. But in any case, where on the tin does it say I only have the right to "whine" if I help with the project? Flash news, mate, I PAID FOR IT IN HIS CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN. If that's no help I don't know what is.
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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby FedePede04 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:54 am

Gryzor wrote:
catmando wrote:From the point of view of the producer it just comes down to money and personal standards.

Personally if I didn't have the money to produce something in a second language that contained a good translation then I wouldn't do it for fear of poor feedback.

And from the point of view of the consumer if a product (no matter if it widely commercially produced or homebrew kickstarter type) is not up to the standard it was sold at then it is only right that an honest review is given.


Thank you for putting is to simply and clearly. For me it's pure logic.


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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:00 am

penguin wrote:Marco's book was published in English because there are a lot more people able to read English vs. German. A Kickstarter for a German-language book would've most likely failed. Despite some flaws, both books - Marco's and Marty's - contain a lot of research and passion for the respective subjects. A lot of work went into the production and there are very few people willing (or able) to devote that much energy for a platform that's not really the most popular retro system.


True down to the letter.

penguin wrote:I'm pretty sure that the whole book was proofread.


Very superficially so, perhaps. I mean, when you have quotes in German hanging in there in big letters, you probably didn't pay much attention to it...

penguin wrote: But this is a huge book,


Nope :) Not even in page count - it's an average book. Take away the gazillions of scans and screenshots, and how many words are you left with? Well, the count tool I have (no idea about its accuracy) says:~34k words. Which is like a very, very short novel I think.

and there's not an army of proofreaders available willing to read and correct.


Probably true (did he even try to get any, though?), but still, I don't feel it's relevant.

I write and publish in my native language, but even with all the proofreading, there are still errors slipping in. At some point you have to deliver a product to your readers, subscribers or people who preordered your product.


Someone in this thread said something about typos and I guess it stuck :D My issue was not with the occasional mistake, I can live with that. There were much, much more fundamental problems in it, although the translation and editing should have been much better.
Reality is that, which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. --P.K.Dick

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby Gryzor » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:02 am

AdamK wrote:Gryzor, there is very limited information in your post on what is wrong with The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People and Atari, Inc: Business is Fun. Could you please enumerate any serious mistakes you found in those books?


Yes, because my post was not a post about how or why the book(s) was/were bad. My post was about the scene's reaction to bad products. But at the bottom of it I have links to the reviews - if for some reason you can't reach them though let me know and I'll maybe copy/paste them for you :)
Reality is that, which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. --P.K.Dick

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Re: The Atari ST (and others) and the Creative People

Postby FedePede04 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:25 am

Hi Gryzor.
i agree with you on this matter.
Atari will rule the world, long after man has disappeared

sometime my English is a little weird, Google translate is my best friend :)


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