Gaylesaver on the Dagilis Review

We are made immortal by our works. Andrew Dagilis has been made immortal. After leading a long and productive life, Andrew Dagilis’s bright light had dimmed and doused itself. Yet in the long span of time between its creation and its extinction, he had managed to produce a great deal of work, work that ought never to be forgotten. It is my hope that you will understand it and learn from Andrew Dagilis. Every reader that nods his head in agreement after reading Dagilis’s reviews gives Dagilis his due. I have chosen to write this essay to help you understand him and learn from him.

If one reads a Dagilis review and compares it to reviews written before he came, one will see that Andrew Dagilis was an expert at reviews. I suspect that he is one of those people who only undertook projects in which he was sufficiently skilled to be able to perform them to the apex. Much to my surprise, he was criticized by a great deal of readers who suspected that he was a professional. It was crystal clear from reading his text that he knew how to analyze art – and still there were criticisms of his work. Some demanded that he step back, others that he step down altogether. Some disgruntled readers demanded that the review system be dismantled altogether, never noting that reviews were the only quality assurance for fan missions!

A Dagilis review began with general comments about the mission in question. These comments were always directed constructively. This constructiveness, an aspect of Andrew Dagilis’s reviews with which my inner voice wrestled for a good while, was all too often neglected by his critics. Excepting the worst missions, Dagilis didn’t begin reviews by attacking a work. He was aware that time had been invested in the construction of a work – a fact I had overlooked when I had done my first review. While I am not Ivan Teague, I suspect that my harsh criticism was a byproduct of my unusually high standards, standards to which I could not possibly hold user-made missions. Andrew Dagilis’s standards were determined only by two things: the quality of the gameplay and the attention to detail. With regards to both of these, he was unwaveringly exigent. His constructive remarks reflected on these qualities, but they did not dwell on them.

He proceeded to enumerate the good qualities of a mission. This part of his reviews was also neglected by his critics. The praise he gave was based on the same standards that his criticism was based on. Many, if not most, of his readers failed to see that Dagilis was more impartial than many published reviewers. The reason for this? Andrew Dagilis wrote reviews because he wanted to turn the Internet-dwelling, computer-nerdy, part-time designer club at TTLG into the most qualified and best respected amateur level designers in the industry, and not because he was paid to do it. I only regret that he was driven off, frustrated by the resistance he was encountering. In any event, because “Good Stuff” was praise and not flattery, it was extremely motivating to the author himself and to his fellow level designers.

In contrast, the section that followed the praise drew an excess of attention. Critics lined up in queues to bash Dagilis’s criticisms. Was it any surprise, then, that Dagilis left? In spite of the equality of standards, the readers of reviews attacked Dagilis’s criticisms like bloodhounds. Why didn’t they criticize his praise as being too liberal? It is easy to claim that the artist is defenseless, and that art must not be judged – when the artist desires to be left at the bottom of the food chain. Dagilis wrote excellent criticisms that helped more than one designer improve his work. A case in point is our Spanish friend, whose production “Saturio Returns Home,” finished long after Andrew Dagilis had left, showed an astonishing degree of improvement. There were many subtler cases of improvement, as well. Attacks on Dagilis’s “Not So Good” section were baseless and immature. With his death, fan missions are left to fend for themselves.

I cannot leave this discourse without mentioning “Calendra’s Cistern” by name. Reviewed by Alexandria Thomson, “Calendra” was judged by the Dagilis method. When it was released, there had been an unreasonable expectation that it would receive the highest score. This expectation stemmed from the amount of man-hours put into the production. To this argument, I have one simple retort: the amount of man-hours put into the making of Wild Wild West does not make it better than it would have been if it took less effort. I strongly suggest that critics of the Calendra review who have not made peace with the score yet do, in fact, do so, because Andrew Dagilis assisted Alex in judging Calendra as he would have judged any other mission: impartially.

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