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Lar_q Offline OP
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Hey all,

I've been warming up with the blog I mentioned over the last week, writing some general industry stuff, which surprisingly attracted quite some attention if I can believe the counter thing, and also got me some invites to write in some magazines, which I thought was cool. I started writing about Dragon Commander also, specifically , about the topic of how far we should go with the politics that we're putting in the game. Specifically it's about - are we allowed to put political and culturally sensitive topics in a game like Dragon Commander and attach consequences to it that can reward things which certain population groups would most certainly view as political incorrect. I'm very interested in your opinions, so have a look at Lar's world and let us know your thoughts.

Cheers

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I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Then again I'm a fan of Tropico 4, a game in which you play as the dictator of small banana republic.

It's a game in which you can:

Legalise same-sex marriage (pleases the Intellectual faction and helps if you have problems with providing sufficient housing - apparently only people who are married can share an apartment in Tropico)

Outlaw contraceptives (pleases the Religious faction and improves population growth)

Institute martial law (pleases the Militarist faction)

Commit voter fraud or outright ban elections (pleases the Loyalists)

Randomly murder foreign immigrants (pleases the Nationalists)

And the list goes on.

Now, granted, Tropico 4 is a city-builder game, so everything is a lot less personal and always played for (sometimes dark) humour. But I still wouldn't call it offensive. You play as a dictator (admittedly, a potentially benevolent one). This is the sort of thing dictators do.

To shy away from it is to deny reality. And... well... gaming will never grow as a medium if all it wants to be is nice, safe, escapist fantasy.

'Course, I'm not saying Dragon Commander should be some significant Art Game or whatever (unless you want it to be, it's your game), but to make it completely toothless because you're afraid of what people might think? No. That does not sound like the right thing to do.


And that turned out a bit more rambling and incoherent than it sounded in my head. But I'm sticking with it.


EDIT BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO DOUBLE POST: Just out of curiosity, what was that bland, inoffensive first batch of political suggestions anyway?

Also, I think you got deaththreats over Ego Draconis' ending not just because it was abrupt, but also because it was a huge middle finger to the player, totally out of line with the tone of the rest of the game and improperly foreshadowed (until the very last fight, maybe).

Last edited by WotanAnubis; 14/12/11 01:06 PM.
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Yeah, why not? Try to deal with everything. I suppose this is where there will be more seriousness to Dragon Commander when making choices that affect your Kingdom and your people. I'd certainly be interested to see how Dragon Commander handles with these different issues and how YOU the player can handle with them.

Political decisions makes one group happy and another angry. So I guess the player will either be aiming to please their people (and reap the benefits of doing so) or to simply make choices which are beneficial straight away.

In any case, I say go for it.

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Allow me a deeper note. I dont know the design process here but according to Lar's blog it seems like you may be a little too much inspired by modern-day problems. It won't work in fantasy world. First you need to set the society and religion in Rivellon at the time of the game. Some modern-day problems are out of place there, because now we live in COMPLETELY different society, we have much bigger centralized government and social systems (schools, hospitals etc.), much bigger access to info (!), bigger intelligence, different style of live etc. In fantasy world most people have to work hard and dont have time and intelligence and info to think about some philosophy themes or euthanasia etc.


So my notes on Lars topics:

- Euthanasia - out of place. Rivellon is not land with modern hospitals when you could masivelly nourish patients for years. Even if someone could do it by magic its very rare. The point is that this is NOT some wide and common problem that would cause attention in the world. Poor people accepts the circle of life and death.
Of course I can imagine situation like this - "some preacher start to tell the people that they could live longer by magic means, mages are too secretive and dont help people as they could. So solution is revolt and force mages to give more... etc. - What will you do with this preacher? Put him in jail to prevent more chaos in the society? Let him kill (I will be more feared as tyrant, people will shut up and work for me)? Do him some secret support (because I agree with the preacher that mages/mage guilds should give more support for me grantly and this is fine opportunity to push them)? Or support him officialy (may be more efficient than secret support but it may cause diplomatic problems with other rulers and angry mages in other lands)?" So yes, I can imagine problem that partially deal with this topic, but euthanasia as some wide problem is out of place.

- Abortion - its ok, all races have to deal with unwanted children/too young mothers, rape etc. Ask yourself - what religion/god should deal with this kind of problems in your world?

- Illegal immigrants - if you type "illegal immigrants" it sounds like problem of modern world, out of place. But it could be very fine if you mean this - "I allow members of different race/clan to settle in area habitated by older culture (because they will pay taxes and give me soldiers). But now arise problems between the old and new settlers...".

- Healthcare - ok, but there is hardly any centralized medical system in Rivellon. I assume it works on local level - in towns and villages there live some herbewomen, healers, priests of some god are healers etc. Or there can arise some order of healers. Its ok, but its still not equivalent of modern-day hospitals.

- Same sex marriage - out of place. Too minor problem, heavily "resolved" by culture. There is no independent, informed and rich (!) gay community that would publicly vote for this when all the people have common problems with taxes, or thieves, or goblins etc. Poor villagers and commoners have to work hard, pray and especially obey to earn for a living. See gays debating and organising some revolt for same sex marriages seems like nonsense here. Sorry.

- Drugs - ok, some herbs can be drugs.

- Religious tolerance - ok, but be carefull. Polytheistic world is generally more tolerant than modern-day "one true god" religions. Also its not wise to design religions fighting each other vigorously. If there will be too many gods and too big fanatism the world will be in almost contant war. Its not much plausible in the long terms because no ruler would allow this. All rulers would try to bring peace in own land and solve the religious intolerance officially. So it could be fine in game with proper design.


So its my view of the problem.
Quick summary - design it to FIT THE FANTASY WORLD and dont try to bring it there for "we can finally have some controversy in games" or because "its cool and common problem nowadays" or "I like drugs so I want it in every game/world".

Last edited by Farflame; 17/12/11 05:56 PM.
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In fantasy world most people have to work hard and dont have time and intelligence and info to think about some philosophy themes or euthanasia etc.

There may be a lot more people today with the time to devote to a formal education, but that does not equate with being more intelligent (especially with many of today's universities). Not that I follow the topic closely, but a lot of what passes for philosophy today is pretty shallow compared to various historical sources (same with political debate, etc).


- Euthanasia - out of place. Rivellon is not land with modern hospitals when you could masivelly nourish patients for years.

What does that have to do with euthanasia? You can certainly have that debate if someone is being kept alive by artificial means with little chance of recovery and no means to communicate their wishes, but that is not the only case, or the most morally troublesome one.

Even if someone could do it by magic its very rare.

No, it isn't. Up until just before the events of Divine Divinity healers had access to the source, which could be used to easily heal grave wounds and sicknesses. We don't know when they first discovered the source, but even if it was after the time of Maxos, herbs to make healing potions are all over the place.

The point is that this is NOT some wide and common problem that would cause attention in the world.

There have been various times and cultures where babies with birth defects were put out of their misery and old people were expected to take a one way walk into the woods rather than become a burden on their families.
There doesn't need to be widespread political debate on a subject for it to come up in the game, merely one instance of different cultures or ideologies meeting.

Poor people accepts the circle of life and death.

Unlike rich people, who would never pressure or encourage a parent (etc) to kill themselves, or decide to withhold medical treatment, even if it meant they would receive an inheritance faster.

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Originally Posted by Farflame
- Same sex marriage - out of place. Too minor problem, heavily "resolved" by culture. There is no independent, informed and rich (!) gay community that would publicly vote for this when all the people have common problems with taxes, or thieves, or goblins etc. Poor villagers and commoners have to work hard, pray and especially obey to earn for a living. See gays debating and organising some revolt for same sex marriages seems like nonsense here. Sorry.


Welcome to the marriage of convience. In the olden days, which Dragon Commander is loosely set in, sort of, kinda, marriages weren't about love or anything. It was about money or power or land. Especially amongst the upper classes (which our Dragon Knight is probably going to be part of).

Allowing same-sex marriage opens up whole new ways (actually, very, very old, traditional ways) of forging alliances, expanding territory and gaining wealth which are closed off if the powerful classes are only allowed to marry people of the other gender.

So it might be a point worth debating.

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Very old, traditional same sex marriages? I don't think I've been reading the same history books as you have. Especially for marriages used to forge alliances, a key part of the process is the production of an heir, to solidify the connection between the companies (if it is a family business), regions or countries. Historically I think the prospects for a straight political marriage dropped off significantly if someone was believed to be infertile. How many people would arrange a marriage for a child to strengthen a company or country, knowing their legacy or family tradition / family rule would come to an end? Even with extended family members, or third or fourth children, where an heir might not be relevant, the statistical probability of one group having an openly gay member wanting to form an alliance with another group also with an openly gay member seems pretty small. It isn't like straight arranged marriages start off with hundreds of prospects.

It isn't known if the main character's gender will be an option yet (currently it is male and there are princesses to marry). If Larian does add that option and a bunch of princes, that will double up on that section of the game, and make testing more complex, etc, using resources that IMNSHO could be better used for other features. Allowing a choice of sexuality for the main character would greatly increase the amount of work required, unless they just assumed everyone in Rivellon was bisexual.

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Originally Posted by Raze
Very old, traditional same sex marriages? I don't think I've been reading the same history books as you have. Especially for marriages used to forge alliances, a key part of the process is the production of an heir, to solidify the connection between the companies (if it is a family business), regions or countries.


No, no. I meant 'traditional' as 'designed for some kind of gain'.

And you make a good point with the reproduction thing. On the other hand, Rivellon has magic, so I'm sure something could be worked out. If nothing else, adoption is an option (Ceasar Augustus, anyone?).

Also not unimportant, the Dragon Knights are damn near immortal so the production of an heir would be somewhat less high on the list of priorities.

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Now that you mention it, having kids waiting around for hundreds of years to inherit anything might not be a good idea, since eventually at least a few will turn out both greedy and impatient. I guess it would depend on how likely the child of a dragon knight was to develop magical abilities and have an aptitude to become a dragon knight, as well as how many dragon knights were actually needed to rule over the available lands. If the children of dragon knights were generally powerful, it could cause problems with either limited opportunities to become a dragon knight, or limited opportunities for advancement once they were dragon knights. On the other hand, if magical abilities were not fairly hereditary there would be a limit to how many children dragon knights would be willing to have, if a significant portion would be limited to the much shorter life span of a normal person.

Elves in Rivellon have much longer life spans than humans (mentioned, but not expanded on significantly in Divine Divinity), which may have been part of why they were chosen to be the first dragon knights.

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Originally Posted by Farflame
Allow me a deeper note. I dont know the design process here but according to Lar's blog it seems like you may be a little too much inspired by modern-day problems. It won't work in fantasy world. First you need to set the society and religion in Rivellon at the time of the game. Some modern-day problems are out of place there, because now we live in COMPLETELY different society, we have much bigger centralized government and social systems (schools, hospitals etc.), much bigger access to info (!), bigger intelligence, different style of live etc. In fantasy world most people have to work hard and dont have time and intelligence and info to think about some philosophy themes or euthanasia etc.


Modern-day problems? Fantasy universe? That's just it. Divinity is set in a fantasy universe where the problems of our world can easily be problems in their world. Dragon Commander is set during a time where magic knowledge is in the increase and where technology is steadily growing. As for your later comment, do we really live in a different society from people in the past? We are ruled by tyrants, crime is on the increase and people are STILL dumb otherwise they would join and overthrow the corrupt governments instead of taking it like sheep.

The best philosophers were from the past. Today's philosophers are nothing. Likewise, the best scientists were from the past. The different between us and people from the past? We have resources to build the things that they imagined. That's all.

We don't know much about the era that Dragon Commander is set in. All we know is that there are flying fortresses, cannons, jet packs, intelligent dragon knights flying about (one philosopher in Divinity 2 who had learned how to live for ONE THOUSAND years said that Dragon Knights were lucky to have such wisdom) and lots of magic. We know that "Maxos" is a name still muttered by many which either suggests that he's around during Dragon Commander or that it's set a few years after his disappearance. Either way, Dragon Knights were made such by Maxos and probably shared in much of his great wisdom and knowledge of the magical arts.

From Divinity 2, we know that Dragon Knights were great rulers with minds more advanced than than of ordinary humans. So why can't they be dealing with topics that others wouldn't think about?

Euthanasia was present in Divinity 2. The healers never even let the wounded soldiers die. It was evident that the healers didn't believe in Euthanasia. They put a man who was losing his flesh inside a basement and locked him up in it, rather than kill him. Abortion could easily be a topic that comes up too. Illegal immigrants? Is it modern? If people come from The Kingdom of Laq into my kingdom and start setting up tents in my land, it's ******* illegal! Especially when they don't inform me that they are in my kingdom in an attempt to avoid taxes. Healthcare can easily make it into the game. Remember that there's a group of healers in Divine Divinity and Divinity 2 who draw upon "The Source" and make health potions from it. A Dragon Knight could make it so that the healthcare system of his kingdom is like the NHS or where people must pay.

Same sex marriage? Why not? Surely gays exist in Rivellon. Though it's a topic that has never been discussed in any Divinity game. I wonder what the attitude of The Church of the Seven Gods is on homosexuality? If it's negative, then legalizing same sex marriage isn't likely to go down well with The Church. Remember that homosexuality existed in ancient Greece and it was even accepted and said to be the "greatest of love" so saying that the topic is "out of place" in Dragon Commander is nonsense. It's been a subject of great debate in our world for thousands of years, so why couldn't this be the same for Dragon Commander? If the Dragon Knight suddenly shacks up with some gay prince, I'd imagine that many would be against this and that includes The Church. So if you were to play a gay Dragon Knight (if it's even possible), it would be weird if no one protests. I'd imagine the traditionalists, religious people and cultured people wouldn't be too happy whereas people of a secular nature would. And then you'd have the party that doesn't give a damn.

Religion? Again. It's another topic that has been discussed and debated since humanity began. Why can't it be the same for Dragon Commander? I'd imagine the ruler would have to choose the state religion or risk having people fighting and debating with each other. I do know that there are the "Seven Gods" in Divine Divinity. In Divinity 2, everyone seems content on worship of The Divine One but gods such as "the dragon god" are mentioned. I'd imagine that everyone in Dragon Commander has different beliefs. In another instance, you could encourage people to worship you which would probably make many others angry.

Most of the things that we debate about today were debated about thousands of years ago by philosophers in Ancient Greece and Rome. Divine Divinity and Divinity 2 are set during periods where war has claimed much. Dragon Commander is set during a time where magical knowledge was on the increase along with technology. Being set in a fantasy universe, Larian can add whatever they want really. It's a cyberpunk setting.

Sexism and racism should also be covered. I remember Dragon Age: Origins did this nicely. In fact, the elves of DA:O had a name for the humans which was "Shem" and quite frankly, when it was said, it was said as though it was an insult. Meanwhile, humans called the elves "Knife ears" and mocked them for their ears and city elves were also forced to live separate from humans. In Divine Divinity, I do remember racial tensions between races. I don't see why it wouldn't be in Dragon Commander.

Dragon Age: Origins covered many topics. Religion, racism, philosophy, drugs (lyrium was used on Templars to make them addicted to it so that The Chantry could control them as they controlled the lyrium supplies) and politics all made it into Dragon Age and actually made everything a more immersible experience. If Dragon Commander covers everything well in the same way, I'd be amazed.

Games are progressing. It's not about putting in something controversial to draw attention. Games are growing up and are covering different topics and grounds. If films cover these things, why not games?


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