If we're going to bring up the Witcher games, make sure to look at how the second game did it. The first game's collectable card game mechanic is something we can do without.
Writing is 5% talent and 95% not being distracted by the internet.
And, opifex, I understand what you're saying, it's just that for me gaming is mostly about strategic decisions, and in the case of RPG, choices and consequences. Paperdolls and how you dress them, not so much.
I think most of the discussion here though has revolved around the hope that the romance elements of the story will not play out like you are winning some arm candy for your character though. I think pretty much everyone here has been interested in seeing a romance option that will actually effect plot and outcome, not just a side quest for some cheep thrills.
We can weave romance, gameplay and plot. Maybe the choice of partner gives more options in clan management. If you marry a sorceress, you get magic effects, more magical units / spells and magic-related plots and sidequests, if you marry a noble/wildling/giantess you get different options, bonuses and difficulties.
This way, people who want to enjoy romance for the sake of romance can choose the partner they like most, people who love plot will get a romance with interesting implications and more stories, and people who are into it for gameplay get more choices ("marrying X will get me extra armoured huskarls, but if I marry Y instead I can unlock aelfar archers, choices, choices!")
my two cents
If it really is the end of their world, then they are probably past the point of most of their culture's more restrictive conventions and doing what it takes to survive. Instead of women being inferior or just property, the day comes when it's all-hands-on-deck despite age and/or gender. If you've got a useable limb you get a sword or 2 working hands you get a bow.
As for romance, the end of the world scenario throws all kinds of things out the window. Depending on how far gone their world is, when, why, how, or even if one gets married or involved with each other can be radically different.
Just my thoughts on this.
Lots of really interesting opinions on this, and part of what is fascinating about it is I think nobody would have mentioned "romance" in a viking strategy game if we hadn't come from BioWare.
Let me first be up-front and say that I find few things more out-of-place, awkward and distracting than an unnecessary romance in a game. There aren't many games that have done it "right" (in a way that I felt added to the game instead of detracted from it). Shadow of the Colossus was a love story, and the best example I can think of.
Anyway, to come out and say it: you can't convince other characters in your party into sleeping with you. In fact, there's no sex in the game, forced or otherwise. At the end of the day, the story isn't about shacking up before some big finale.
Something we haven't talked about much is the character that you play. You can't create your own main character but we're doing something uncommon in that you hop around between a few major characters throughout the course of the game when coming across key points in the story, like a miniseries such as Game of Thrones, or in games like Final Fantasy 3 (The US #3 - with Locke and Terra). You'll experience the major events going on from different perspectives, and you'll play both male and female leads, which may inspire you to deal with situations differently depending on who you're playing.
On that note, we do have some love themes throughout the game that are pretty prominent to the story: love between father and daughter, grief over the loss of loved ones and the traditional romantic love. But we really want these to be just a part of the characters' motivation, not the driving force behind playing the game. You should make a decisions because you want to protect someone you love, not because you want to bang an alien, if that makes sense. I'm not against sex in a mature story, we're just not going that route for TBS. It's never an easy thing to get right, but we're pretty dedicated to approaching it from an angle people can relate to in their own lives and hope that resonates. Here's another take: you may find, for example, that one of the characters in your party is romantically interested in your aforementioned daughter. How do you advise your daughter or confront the suitor? That to me is a more interesting scenario than talking to someone repeatedly until they finally agree to sleep with you. All the romantic themes throughout the game will be an important part of the main story, not a tacked-on achievement. That's the goal, anyway!
To address a few specifics that have come up: relationships won't be very strict in terms of emulating viking culture. While I'm not offended by the idea that there once existed a male-dominated society with arranged marriage, we're making a game that we want players to enjoy on a personal level as well, and have characters that they connect with is an important part of that. I'm a huge proponent of having strong female characters and I think there are ways to include a believable viking culture without the female population being outright oppressed. Look at King of Dragon Pass, I think they walked that line perfectly.
As for marriage, don't be surprised if it does come up, but again, as mentioned by others we're taking a King of Dragon Pass approach to it. People in you caravan may wish to get married, there may be political intrigue involved, but its not the main characters top priority with doomsday on the horizon and honestly it's not very relevant to the game in general.
Last edited by Alex; 05-07-2012 at 05:56 PM.
I was worried for a second at the start when you mentioned this:Fortunately you covered the matter more than that.Let me first be up-front and say that I find few things more out-of-place, awkward and distracting than an unnecessary romance in a game.
The love themes can be great motivators for characters and they bring a lot of depth to stories. On gameplay point of view they can offer a lot of interesting choices(if you need to decide who to save for example) and sometimes even gameplay mechanics(alliances for example). All in all I think Alex's post covered the bases quite well and I feel that they have the right idea on how to do this.
On the subject of Norse women I think that by the standards of that age they had it better than in many other cultures. The women "--were often left in charge when their husbands were away or dead", which I think is more than what can be said in most cases. Here's a good read on the matter for those interested: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient...women_01.shtml
Last edited by lamaz; 05-07-2012 at 06:26 PM.
Alex, thank you for providing information on that. I think your approach to the game makes a lot of sense--I agree that most games fumble with romance, and that it often becomes about sex or some kind of material reward instead of actually caring about the characters. Thanks for explaining the switching perspectives, as well; that sounds like it will certainly color some of my story decisions.
As for the position of women in society, I think that no matter if you present the role of women as strong (or go for the "Gender? What's that?" approach) or go for a realistic viking setting, as long as it's written well it will be fun to play And I've got full faith and confidence that you can deliver on that.
I think that the multiple perspectives approach is interesting, both for gameplay and for story development. And I can't say enough how I'm pleased to hear about KoDP's influence. An thanks Alex, Arnie and John for making a mature game !
Last edited by Skitnik; 05-07-2012 at 07:20 PM.
Awesome. Will you be revealing who these characters are and what positions/situations they're in before the game releases? I'd like to start planning some personalities for them all ASAP before we get to play.Something we haven't talked about much is the character that you play. You can't create your own main character but we're doing something uncommon in that you hop around between a few major characters throughout the course of the game when coming across key points in the story, like a miniseries such as Game of Thrones, or in games like Final Fantasy 3 (The US #3 - with Locke and Terra). You'll experience the major events going on from different perspectives, and you'll play both male and female leads, which may inspire you to deal with situations differently depending on who you're playing.
of course i'm not against romance embedded in the story, but against flirting with every NPC as a feature of the game. i guess it works for the big companies because the majority of their gamers are teenagers. the problem is they develop games with the dumbest of those kids as their target audience. much like big cinema producers, and probably big everything in business.
By that I don't mean that you should be able to put yourself in the shoes of a trek of humans, centaurs and giants who have to hack, slash and worry their way towards an uncertain future. How could anyone attempt to relate to such an abstract setting?
It's the core aspects of the experience which fascinates the player and draws him/her in, the personal matters that need solving and the troubling decisions that need to be made. I believe that the devs will do their best do try and cover as much of these aspects as they can in order to provide the player with an engrossing experience that is as relatable as it is abstract.
You mentioned that you don't want a game which provides you experiences which you already know from your everyday life. Aren't exactly those experiences the only thing that could possibly connect you with the story? Not the killing of countless baddies, but rather the relatable (and thus exciting!), human interactions.
That of course includes one of the most important and defining facets of human interaction - love. I think you might misunderstand the way that this (most likely?) will be implemented in the game. The term "love simulator" that you use indicates that. Think of the implementation more as a natural part of the game, not something that it tries to force on the player, or which it accentuates as a "feature", so to speak. Also try to free yourself from the idea of pursuing some virtual love interest on a railway, which leads to a (predictable, and solely sexual) outcome. Instead think of the other aspects of love, such as the love for siblings (which a lot of people don't like to admit :P) and parents. According to what I understand from Alex' post, that's the experience Stoic is going for.
And lastly, most importantly, remember - it's a game. Games with an emphasis on story, just like novels, aim to engross the player/reader in the situation displayed on the monitor/pages. In my opinion (which I don't claim to be universally true at all), it's not about imagining oneself in the shoes of the character(s), but rather relating to them from a separate, though nonetheless compassionate standpoint.
I hope that I got my thoughts across, kinda struggling with English today...
Also: Thanks for the input Alex, what especially excites me about this is the revelation about having more than one playable character. So many possibilities and interesting viewpoints. Looking forward to it!
First off, Great thread! I did not think it was going to be nearly as interesting as it was, so thanks for a grate read everyone!
Secondly I have to say the yellow post pretty much gave me all the answers I was hoping for in terms of love/relationships. Personally I’ve never really cared for the “suggestive cutscene” take on relationships that is usually the case in computer games. Having a slightly broader perspective on these themes and what they are about is a great. I mean, a relationship between two friends can be as interesting, or even more interesting, than one between two lovers.
The only thing I got a bit nervous about was splitting the narrative between different characters. As long as I don’t have to interact with other characters that I normally control I’m perfectly fine, but if I’m speaking to a character that I usually control and he/she makes choices/says things that I definitely would not do in that given situation I will be very… well… disappointed I guess. This is by no means any criticism though. If the Dudes at Stoic can make these sorts of things work im am all for it.
Ok, what Alex said is pretty much how I hoped they would handle the whole romance thing. Sounds great!
on the latter (and also in other posts from before) i believe i made it clear that i'm much of the same opinion you expressed. and others have commented here in the same vein, or with a very similar opinion at least.
also i don't misunderstand the way this will be implemented in THIS game, i'm pretty sure they'll do it right. i wouldn't have put money in if i didn't have good expectations; but on this thread we were talking about how for every romance well done in a game nowadays, there are probably ten that we all can label as plain cheap.
now for something completely different ..or rather not. i was thinking that most videogames like these have two parts: the game per se which needs nothing else, take Pong as an example. just pure game.
and then the everything else part, which could hopefully consist of some good literature to back up the game part. i want my romance to go in the literature, not in the game part. probably because i have not yet seen much good romance in the game parts until now. one day maybe.
also i may be wrong (sure i am) but this "everything else part" seems as if it's dangerously growing in size in VGs lately, to the point where some RPGs and FPS are blending together into a watch-hours-of-cutscenes-peppered-with-some-lame-gameplay genre. of course this has to do with money, and people who invest money in videogames for the same reason they could invest it on frying pans, or cars, or movies: to gain more money while not really caring about the medium.
and it's only fair you know, that big companies mass produce games that feel "samey" for the people who watch "samey" films, listen to "samey" music etc, for those are most of the consumers.
and i suppose this will happen even more frequently, since the VG industry surpassed music and film in terms of revenues this is where the money is.
as i said, i've got nothing against that. not my cup of tea but that's the way the world is. luckily for me it's a big world and there are more options where i put my money and my interest, and i assume most of the fellow backers who felt attracted by stoic's offer and promises share my opinion.
now enough with my incoherent ramblings. i think i let myself go there, sorry.
see i struggle with my english too, not today but everyday on every message. this makes for great language practice though i lived in london for a few years, but since i came back to Spain i don't get to practice it so much.