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ninnisinni
05-01-2012, 04:56 AM
So I can't remember whether this has been answered somewhere already, but I was just wondering if there will be one or more romances available with characters?
I usually enjoy them in games like Dragon Age, but it would be kinda nice to see something a bit different, wouldn't you say? :)

belamoor
05-01-2012, 05:27 AM
Is it even established that we will play as a character instead of, for example, a caravan ? One of the clans, perhaps ?
Well, probably not, i imagine that would be difficult to make player influence things in a meaningful way. How would you resolve an issue (e.g. romances) in a family if you do not directly control one of it's members, but family as a whole ?
But i think it would be cool to make you feel for the whole group instead of one character. Players would be less biased and decisions would be harder.

balnoisi
05-01-2012, 05:51 AM
i hope not. as an example: in the mass effect trilogy there are one or maybe two romance options that work throughout the game, all the others feel ridiculous and rushed. a bit of chat and they get on to it, the lizard, the blue, the thin, you can make your choice in a pokemon get'em all kind of way. i didn't like it.
i wouldn't like "love express" simulator to be a feature in this game, or any game... except maybe a love express simulator game. a good love story should be part of the main script. just my two cents.

ninnisinni
05-01-2012, 06:08 AM
i hope not. as an example: in the mass effect trilogy there are one or maybe two romance options that work throughout the game, all the others feel ridiculous and rushed. a bit of chat and they get on to it, the lizard, the blue, the thin, you can make your choice in a pokemon get'em all kind of way. i didn't like it.
i wouldn't like "love express" simulator to be a feature in this game, or any game... except maybe a love express simulator game. a good love story should be part of the main script. just my two cents.

Yeah, I would also like it to be woven into the story itself if it's to feature at all. I can also agree with you to a degree on the Mass Effect romances, it ends up feeling kinda awkward. So I suppose I'd rather there wasn't any romance if it wasn't done in a good way in the Banner Saga...

Skitnik
05-01-2012, 06:34 AM
I hope not, too. No need for dating sim.
"Romances" that I've seen in videogames were there as a feature, to cater to a young crowd,fulfilling social and sexual needs with half-backed virtual relationships, not to explain a character's action or personality, or to be a pillar, a pivotal moment of the story.

Torgamous
05-01-2012, 06:45 AM
Yeah, I would also like it to be woven into the story itself if it's to feature at all. I can also agree with you to a degree on the Mass Effect romances, it ends up feeling kinda awkward. So I suppose I'd rather there wasn't any romance if it wasn't done in a good way in the Banner Saga...

I disagree! I think the Banner Saga should be a pile of poorly-handled cliches with only the barest of narratives holding them together, and flat romances are conducive to that goal.

Of course any hypothetical romance needs to be handled well. This game has more than the average potential for making it well-handled, too: as some kind of political leader, a lot hinges on your credibility, so randomly deciding to bang the blue chick could have disastrous consequences in that area (or highly positive consequences, or a mix depending on the faction), and since you're a father there's going to be at least one other person who feels entitled to some input in your love life. Just those two things alone would let the Banner Saga have more interesting romances than Mass Effect.

Kaffo
05-01-2012, 07:26 AM
Exactly, I agree there should be romance options if possible, but it may not be the best route. After all, I'm sure there was a certain way of doing these things in Viking culture, not just going ahead and getting busy. If there are any romances, maybe they should be stretched out over the course of all 3 chapters, rather than rushed to fit a conclusion in the first one.

Shonen Hero
05-01-2012, 07:33 AM
I personally think interpersonal relationships of all kinds will be explored in the Banner Saga, up to and including romantic ones, but how it's handled is another matter entirely. I have a feeling it'll be something akin to slice of life or Harvest Moon games, where you choose a wife/partner and maybe who you choose effects the parameter of your caravan in some way (depending on the partner), with the dramatic approach to romance that we see in Bioware games maybe being more low-key.

Kimberly
05-01-2012, 07:39 AM
The Banner Saga is inspired in part by King of Dragon Pass. In King of Dragon Pass, you don't play a particular character; you lead the tribe. Romance events are common and allow you to make a decision. For example, one of your warriors may want to marry a girl from the tribe you are feuding with. You can forbid the marriage, allow the marriage, outlaw the warrior, or allow the marriage and send gifts to the feuding tribe. Your choice in the matter can affect future events: if you forbid the marriage, the warrior may steal some of your goods and join the other tribe, instead. Allowing the marriage might lead to an offer of peace from the other clan.

I think that's the sort of thing that would work perfectly in The Banner Saga. Romance plays an important part in people's lives, and has a lot of cultural impact. Managing romance in the tribe properly is a challenge that's part of being a good leader.

As for a main character getting in relationships with others, I'm not so sure about that. It always ends up being written for you, rather than allowing for a lot of choice on your part, and it sometimes feels a little restricting. (Why can I have a relationship with X, but not Y?)

CottonWolf
05-01-2012, 08:07 AM
So you're essentially arranging political marriages? That would be a pretty interesting dynamic, balancing whether or not a character (ideally an important one, so you care about them) wants to marry and whether or not it would benefit the tribe.

With the main character, I don't really mind either way. If the team think that it helps the story, then sure, but if not, no. I trust that they'll do what's best for the game.

prototype00
05-01-2012, 08:40 AM
I think it would be cool to have one of the events be an ongoing romance saga, i.e. a heroic young lad of your tribe/group wants to make woo to the daughter of a rival clan, and basically you can make decisions that alter the course of the romance, for good or for ill.

Maybe the disgruntled father wants the lad to perform some heroic tasks (some would say cynically, impossible tasks) before he would even countenance letting him have the hand of his daughter, which could lead to fights! (TM) against mythical beasts and suchlike. That would be in keeping with heroic sagas if I'm not wrong?

On the subject of main character romances, I must admit to having a soft spot for them, as Bioware has spoilt me so. Maybe make it a choice, to gain the aid of one of two factions? I know that sounds slightly, well, done, but it could work so well, if the guys at Stoic can make it sing (and I know they can, as aren't they ex-Bioware themselves?)

But I do agree, don't force it.

prototype00

Neveryield
05-01-2012, 08:44 AM
Kimberly hit it out of the park. Pretty much what i was about to add, and this is what i assume any "romances" will be like in The Banner Saga. Like everything, it will likely be from a management point-of-view.

As for the main character, there may come events that suggest the option of "political" marriages, or the wedding of one clan to another for some reason or another. I could see that providing a significant amount of difficult choices later on down the road, but as for traditional video game romances, i don't mind so long as it's well done... which, really, goes for anything Stoic decides they want to include.

Skitnik
05-01-2012, 09:07 AM
Emotionnaly engaging cinematic : Shepardson meets Bannerdotir.

Dialogue :

Bannerdottir : Hi, I'm Bannerdottir, I have personal problems that you must resolve, and I
love you, Shepardson !

Shepardson -> dialogue wheel :
:o Engage in torrid romance with Bannerdottir.
:D I want to be a viking !
:mad:Extreme collar-grabbing time !

Blistig
05-01-2012, 09:17 AM
I especially agree with Kimberly on the following point:

As for a main character getting in relationships with others, I'm not so sure about that. It always ends up being written for you, rather than allowing for a lot of choice on your part, and it sometimes feels a little restricting.

It is hardly possible to create romance options that would satisfy each and every player, considering the (I assume) vast amount of different, interesting characters the protagonist will come in contact with.
I personally would be completely OK with the protagonist not having any romance "options" at all. In fact I'd rather have him/her already have a family with relationships that have to be managed and nurtured, instead of some casanova who simply has to find a way to get it on with some more or less random character.

In that regard I also do agree with Kimberly and CottonWolf on the aspect of political marriages arranged and guided by the player. The idea of not only basic and material, but also deeply personal matters being a huge issue in the context of the story (moving towards an unpredictable future/the tenseness and distress of everyone involved) fits right into the overarching atmosphere of the game.

Robert_V_Frazier
05-01-2012, 09:34 AM
Kimberly, your description is just what I understood the game to be all about. Choices which affect the survival of the tribe. And yes, I would expect that the norm would be arranged marriages, and I would expect that all parties affected would firmly believe That Is The Way Things Are, and so it would be very abnormal for any two individuals to insist on the right to choose a mate. Any viking who did so insist would probably be viewed as insane, and treated accordingly. But the scenario of tribe A wanting to arrange a marriage between one of its own and a viking from tribe B is very realistic, and would lead to lots of choices with lots of possible outcomes, both good and bad, and mostly unpredictable. I'm all for that! Not at all in favor of any role-playing of romance as one main character.

Kaffis
05-01-2012, 10:15 AM
I personally would be completely OK with the protagonist not having any romance "options" at all. In fact I'd rather have him/her already have a family with relationships that have to be managed and nurtured, instead of some casanova who simply has to find a way to get it on with some more or less random character.

In that regard I also do agree with Kimberly and CottonWolf on the aspect of political marriages arranged and guided by the player. The idea of not only basic and material, but also deeply personal matters being a huge issue in the context of the story (moving towards an unpredictable future/the tenseness and distress of everyone involved) fits right into the overarching atmosphere of the game.
These are the lines I was assuming (and am hoping) the game would approach such matters. Marriage and family as matters of duty are a pretty mature theme, especially in contrast to the Bioware formula of "game the right dialogue options to get the suggestive cutscene!" romance, which is "mature" in only an ESRB sense of the word.

In fact, some of the footage from the Kickstarter video seemed to imply that the character identified as Rook has at least one child as the Stoic team was showing him faced with how to explain the answer to those difficult philosophical questions children seem so adept at raising innocently. I could be wrong, here, but it would surprise me if the scope of the game is intended to cover several years for the player to build a family from the ground up.

So, yes. I'd like to see relationships such as marriages approached from setting-appropriate themes of political considerations moreso than a shallow courting standpoint.

Finally, I also suspect that Stoic intends to deliver a vast spectrum of relationships of many different types that are equally important to familial and/or romantic ones. I wish them luck in accomplishing the subtlety in treating them that they appear to be striving for.

stelly
05-01-2012, 10:25 AM
Political marriages, I like it, maybe it would merge 2 tribes together, more powa! :D

Stelly

Kaffo
05-01-2012, 11:49 AM
I know everybody might disagree and bludgeon me to death with sticks...but maybe Rook is in a political marriage of his own? I dunno...I kind of like the idea of working through a romance plot which has already been ongoing for years, between two middle aged (or at least not youths) who have a life/children etc. Could be that all these disasters are putting the marriage under strain? Idk..might be an interesting change of pace, and if the game decides your character and children for you, why not your wife ( I am assuming here that Rook is always male)? However, how you resolve the marriage issues might lead to different things, and you could maybe be unfaithful, though of course that could have dire consequences.

JokerAR
05-01-2012, 12:34 PM
Working through a romance plot, as Kaffo suggests, is the only current way I see to have such a story arc in the saga successfully. If there has to be a romantic element then I'd rather it was fixed and crafted than optional and poorly implemented (ala Mass Effect). Of course optional and well made is the best scenario- but the gaming industry has shown time and again that it's not so good at that.

Torgamous
05-01-2012, 01:42 PM
Of course optional and well made is the best scenario- but the gaming industry has shown time and again that it's not so good at that.

Fortunately, this isn't made by the game industry.

I think that, potential preexisting spouses aside, it should be optional, but not in the way that most games make it optional. There should be consequences for staying single beyond not experiencing the additional storyline. Clans whose proposals you've turned down start spreading the idea that you're not fit to be running things, the warriors start wondering what kind of guy they're following if he can't get laid every now and then, the people more involved with supplies appreciate that there's no apparent conflict of interest, you're more energetic in the morning than you would be otherwise, stuff like that. Treating the chastity path as if it's either impossible or the default would be disappointing.

Kenrae
05-01-2012, 02:32 PM
The Banner Saga is inspired in part by King of Dragon Pass. In King of Dragon Pass, you don't play a particular character; you lead the tribe. Romance events are common and allow you to make a decision. For example, one of your warriors may want to marry a girl from the tribe you are feuding with. You can forbid the marriage, allow the marriage, outlaw the warrior, or allow the marriage and send gifts to the feuding tribe. Your choice in the matter can affect future events: if you forbid the marriage, the warrior may steal some of your goods and join the other tribe, instead. Allowing the marriage might lead to an offer of peace from the other clan.

I think that's the sort of thing that would work perfectly in The Banner Saga. Romance plays an important part in people's lives, and has a lot of cultural impact. Managing romance in the tribe properly is a challenge that's part of being a good leader.

As for a main character getting in relationships with others, I'm not so sure about that. It always ends up being written for you, rather than allowing for a lot of choice on your part, and it sometimes feels a little restricting. (Why can I have a relationship with X, but not Y?)

You beat me to it.

The more I know about this game, the more anxious I am. I'm looking at my box of King of Dragon Pass right now :).

Is it sure there will be a main character?

ninnisinni
05-01-2012, 02:34 PM
I haven't played King of Dragon Pass, but from what I've heard about it, I'd really love romance treated like that. Romance on a more personal level however, as I have said before, should in my opinion probably be treated more carefully... we've seen some really poor examples in recent years of so called "mature romances".
It's great discussing these things here!! :D

Kimberly
05-01-2012, 02:43 PM
You beat me to it.

The more I know about this game, the more anxious I am. I'm looking at my box of King of Dragon Pass right now :).

Is it sure there will be a main character?

As far as I know, no particular statement has been made about having a main character. The video shows Rook talking to someone and the player selecting his response, though, so at the very least you're going to be controlling someone personally---whether that'll be the One True Main Character, I don't know.

Speaking of King of Dragon Pass, I would be very happy if my vikings get to meet talking ducks, who practice a corrupted version of viking ways. (Driving them quacking from their tulla is optional.)

Kenrae
05-01-2012, 02:57 PM
As long as they don't add a romance that feels like a 21th century romance I'll be ok. I want my vikings to be vikings, their society was extremely different than ours, their concepts of good and evil were completely different and the way they approached sexual relationships and courtship is not the way we do (they weren't influenced by monotheist religions, you know). I don't want them to act like 21st century people.

An essay on vikings weddings, mariage and sexual practices: http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/wedding.shtml

opifex
05-01-2012, 05:48 PM
As long as they don't add a romance that feels like a 21th century romance I'll be ok. I want my vikings to be vikings, their society was extremely different than ours, their concepts of good and evil were completely different and the way they approached sexual relationships and courtship is not the way we do (they weren't influenced by monotheist religions, you know). I don't want them to act like 21st century people.

I'm going to respectfully disagree here. I thoroughly hope that any romance options will at least have a dose of 21 century morality injected into them. Viking culture made more provisions for women's rights than some of it's contemporaries, but women still ranked far below men in social status, and were still more or less the property of their fathers or husbands. I'm not really interested in playing a game where that sort of attitude goes unquestioned. If they do go for a full Viking culture interpretation of women and relationships, then I hope they at least bring the modern perspective of it being problematic.

Dark Jedi Dave
05-01-2012, 06:44 PM
If agree with what others are saying: if romance is evolved, it should be woven into the story, and not awkwardly done like a Mass Effect one night stand.

balnoisi
05-01-2012, 06:55 PM
for those discussing morality, it's a low-fantasy game in the developers words, so is still fantasy. not a historic game. there are centaurs, people with arm-long horns on their heads and who knows what else. i also read they were creating some original mithology not using real nordic sagas.

so i think the game won't be implementing all the real viking culture habits, and if we start digging through those we might be going further deep than stoic will ever go for this game (i hope my english is good enough).

so i'm quite sure there will be no female submission, no armies mass raping over conquered lands .. etc. i get the feeling that on these subjects political correctness will prevail. not that i'm particularly fond of it though.

GorillaGrod
05-01-2012, 07:07 PM
If there is Romance, I would like the options to be kept small so that it could be woven well into the story. As long as it is keeping the theme of the games deep story, I am all for it.

Suzie Q Sailaway
05-01-2012, 08:36 PM
Though I loathe real world politics, I love the idea of accepting or rejecting marriage proposals for the benefit (or to the detriment) of the tribe. It's a really neat idea.

As for the whole "women as property" thing- I could stomach it in a game where it is more of a "It's generally accepted that women are subservient to the will of men, but our tribe makes its own decisions and has its own moral compass/hierarchy" sort of thing... It could make for a really interesting dynamic, ne? If the person in charge commands a woman/girl to marry someone she abhors - who's to say she won't creep into that person's tent one night and slit his throat or cripple him/her in some way? Possibly she'll run away, join an outlying tribe and become a person of significance in one of the future Banner Saga games... a person with a grudge. Or, if the person in charge sides with the girl/woman- a whole other series of paths are opened up. Another tribe sees you "bending to a woman's will" and, figuring you're weak, attacks. The woman may become a person of significance in this timeline as well but rather than being an enemy, she's a champion for your cause...

I dunno- there's so much possibility in this game. It's really exciting! :)

opifex
05-01-2012, 08:39 PM
so i'm quite sure there will be no female submission, no armies mass raping over conquered lands .. etc. i get the feeling that on these subjects political correctness will prevail. not that i'm particularly fond of it though.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure you're right. I don't think Stoic will go there. I'm pretty sure the Kickstarter trailer showed footage of a woman on the battlefield, for starters. It's just that someone mentioned a preference for more period accurate romance, and romance such as it existed in the Norse world I can happily do without. I see getting to leave out the shitty parts of the culture that inspired you without being accused of misrepresenting history as one of the perks of fantasy. I would much rather have a less true to viking culture story and women who are treated as capable of determining their own future without having to consult a brother or father for permission. Viking style warriors I like. Viking style romance does not fill me with excitement so much.

amycus89
05-01-2012, 09:40 PM
I just hope they don't make it like a side quest where the ultimate quest is to get into an NPC's pants, I will be happy (I'm looking at you EAware). The only games I can remember that did it "right" were games were it was integrated to the story (like prince of persia), or more subtly hinted on (like planescape:torment's fall-from-grace).

Though I will be more than happy if they skip "romances" completely and simply concentrate on the non-romantic ones. Like the relation to your family members (if you have one?) and friends (or rivals in our group?).

Blistig
05-02-2012, 05:32 AM
I hadn't really thought about the role of women in this particular setting. I can see the problems which a faithful adaptation of viking culture would bring.
I would think that Stoic would go down the route opifex and balnoisi described, with a, let's say "revised" version of the (actually extremely grim and depressing) viking/northern way of living.
I can also see the appeal of Suzie's example, with a number of strong female characters struggling against oppression (or swatting it away like an annoying fly, much like Marie Curie did).

Kimberly
05-02-2012, 06:42 AM
Forgive me for bringing up King of Dragon Pass again, but:

In KoDP, you usually had the option of letting the bride decide whether she wanted to marry X, or which of the available suitors she wanted to marry. Doing so would be seen as highly eccentric and would be met with the disapproval of most of the clan, but it was an option nevertheless.

I think that would work in The Banner Saga. Being able to choose a more woman-friendly way of doing things, at the risk of causing discontent. Over the course of the game (or the entire trilogy), various events involving women and people disapproving your untraditional stance could lead you to caving and going back to the old ways, or persevering and forging a new social standard for the clan. (Certainly, ragnarok is the best time to start rethinking business as usual.) That way, you present romance/the position of women in a way which fits the theme, but it is not a settled matter, and with hard work you can bring change. It adds an extra layer of plot.

elykar
05-02-2012, 09:28 AM
In my own opinion, I think romance should be handled as ancillary to the main story. King of Dragon Pass is an excellent example of how to handle marriage, as well as Crusader Kings 2. While I agree it's good to be tasteful, I think it's important to have a period setting take on romance/marriage to fit the setting, with traditional Norse views on the matter. I still think you can handle exceptions to the rule, but they should reflect as exceptions.

I think the best inspiration could come from the Eddas. Maybe having a quest related to the Banner Saga's equivalent of Freyja. She was the deity associated with beauty and fertility but also war. She received half of the fallen slain warriors along with Odin and could fight and is a good example of a strong female in Norse mythology. She'd be a good choice to invoke in the name of marriage/births/romance.

opifex
05-02-2012, 11:15 AM
While a do like all the ideas for ways to handle Viking age sexism in a way that is mature and interesting others in this thread have mentioned, my preference would still be to bypass the gender politics, give women equal status, and let the tension in any romantic plot element come from other sources, such as group dynamics, desires verses responsibilities, or the stress of keeping a relationship functional at the end of the world. It's not that there aren't other good options, this is just what I would personally have the most fun with.

And because I realize that I haven't actually weighed in on this, I do think romance for any main character there might be should be optional. Not in a, "I didn't play that side quest way", but in a choosing to remain single is a way to play through the game that will effect the outcome way.

Deviija
05-02-2012, 05:40 PM
I'm definitely with Opifex on having a preference for bypassing gender (and sexuality) politics, giving women equal status, and letting tension of any romantic plot element come from other/outside/internal turmoil conflicts and keep it on point. I rather see a game that is created with everyone invited to join in than a game that brings too much modern or faux-historical politics and persecution/oppression into play. Not all of us are straight white men playing games, and playing games with constant reminders of how unequal you are for being born a certain way, or how your gender is nothing more than a bargaining tool or object is not fun at all to me.

Also, it's a low-fantasy game with obvious fantasy elements. Like has been said, it's not a historic sim, and I'm very happy about that. Saying women are subservient because of *reasons* and *realism* in one breath yet having centaurs and mythic elements frolic around your camp in another just hurts my brain. I rather eschew all that and stick to a focus on the multitudes of other ways drama and interpersonal issues and management problems can arise from romance that don't delve into sexism and homophobia and other such social baggage issues.

Moreover, on this topic of real Viking/Norse history, if we're going to touch on that at all in relation to this topic, then they were a very egalitarian people. Women held great social status and power in society. They had the right to marry (and in political/economical marriages that didn't require permission, fathers often consulted with their daughters about the marriage) as well as the rights to divorce at any time they wished, hold and own land and property and inheritance, and more. It is also being discovered more over time that wives and women accompanied the Viking men on their trips and war invasions, like in the British invasion parties. Burial remains thought to be all men are being found to be at least half women, with DNA skeletal testing. Many of these women are buried with artifacts once commonly thought to be 'only for men' -- such as warrior armaments, swords, axes, spears, etc. Yes, it can be a sign of great prestige and symbolism, but it can also very well mean some women were out there waging war alongside men**. Crossing the gender divide wasn't unheard of. In fact, some men are found to be buried with typically 'female items' -- like brooches and necklaces and keys -- and a few were discovered in Holland to be buried in women's clothes.

**As for warrior women specifically, aside from just the Sagas mentions of women warriors like shield maidens and Valkyries and such, we have some historic accounts like the Saxo Grammiticus: History of the Danes speaks of "There were once women in Denmark who dressed themselves to look like men and spent almost every minute cultivating soldier's skills..." Greek historian Johannes Skylitze speaks about the battle of the Byzantines vs. Scandinavian ruler of Kiev and how women warriors were found among their fallen. And the Red Maiden, documented as leading the last warring Viking fleets against Munster in an Irish history book.

My point is that whether in romance, politics management, or the battlefields, I hope the game pulls more toward egalitarianism and diversity in roles for women. All of which I'd welcome and enjoy seeing in-game.

opifex
05-03-2012, 09:15 AM
Moreover, on this topic of real Viking/Norse history, if we're going to touch on that at all in relation to this topic, then they were a very egalitarian people.

At the risk of veering off the main topic, I don't agree. While women in Viking society had it better than many of their contemporaries, the bar was not set high. Vikings used to expose infants, and in some places this lead to a shortage of women. Their scarcity may be what lead to their social power, but the fact that they were more likely to get rid of female babies means that women were the lesser social class. Vikings also used both effeminate and a rough approximate of gay* as an insults, and and the frustrating double standard about female promiscuity being problematic while male promiscuity being normal existed. Viking women had the right to divorce, but they didn't have the right to refuse a marriage in the first place, and her father or brothers could refuse a suitor. Egalitarian is not a word I would pick for their society.

Other than that I agree with you wholeheartedly. Gender politics just are not fun for me.

*Something more like someone who is the passive partner in male homosexual sex as the idea of homosexuals as a separate class of people didn't really exist. There is zero talk of lesbianism, so it's kind of hard to gauge how Vikings felt about that topic.

jyng89
05-03-2012, 09:53 AM
On the subject of romance, I'm all for it. Romance when well woven into the story serves very much to improve and expand on the narrative to create a deeper, more emotional experience. Furthermore, the repercussions of such a romance can be explored in part 2 and 3, which would contribute to a very diverse and thought provoking game.

In general, I'm all for romance, if only it is well done and not thrown in like an extra feature for fanservice.

I think that we should not only consider how mass effect did it. The Witcher and The Witcher 2 also had elements of romance and the approach was very different from that of the Mass Effect series. I'm personally in favor of romance as it can be used in a variety of ways to further the narrative (i.e. political marriages, real romances, romance for ulterior motives). All these can be woven into the story to give it greater depth and variety.

Skitnik
05-03-2012, 11:25 AM
And this thread is 4 pages already...Are romances the most important thing in this game ? What about gameplay ? Or, if the "social" side is so important , some other story dynamics between characters, like hate, friendship...?

Sorry to rant a little, but I'm a 33 years old man, so romances and other virtual dolls...

Kimberly
05-03-2012, 11:33 AM
And this thread is 4 pages already...Are romances the most important thing in this game ? What about gameplay ? Or, if the "social" side is so important , some other story dynamics between characters, like hate, friendship...?

Sorry to rant a little, but I'm a 33 years old man, so romances and other virtual dolls...

I think romance can make a big difference in a society, and I'm all for other story dynamics like hate and friendship. It's not about virtual dolls (as much as I like dolls), it's about themes in the game.

Personally, I think gameplay is actually less important than the storytelling, anyway.

Skitnik
05-03-2012, 12:16 PM
Personally, I think gameplay is actually less important than the storytelling, anyway.

I have to disagree, Kimberley, but I consider gameplay to be the base of a good game, and everything else must be built around it. It's not only a question of taste, but to tell a story, videogames have to stop emulating books, or, like nowdays, Hollywood action movies. They have to find their own way, and I think that gameplay itself, combined with our imagination, could tell a story better than the most expansive "emotionnally engaging cinematic experience".

Aaron
05-03-2012, 01:09 PM
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.

Torgamous
05-03-2012, 01:30 PM
I have to disagree, Kimberley, but I consider gameplay to be the base of a good game, and everything else must be built around it. It's not only a question of taste, but to tell a story, videogames have to stop emulating books, or, like nowdays, Hollywood action movies. They have to find their own way, and I think that gameplay itself, combined with our imagination, could tell a story better than the most expansive "emotionnally engaging cinematic experience".

That won't be an issue. Stoic's said they're making the gameplay and story to complement each other. Of course, if you want to talk specifically about the gameplay, you're welcome to make a thread about it.

opifex
05-03-2012, 01:49 PM
Sorry to rant a little, but I'm a 33 years old man, so romances and other virtual dolls...

I can appreciate that story might not be the dealbreaker for you in a game, but uh... RPGs are pretty much playing with dolls (or action figures if you prefer :rolleyes:), maybe with some chess thrown in. You create a persona and then decide all the things that that persona does. In an RPG it will be the game that decides the repercussion of those actions rather than your friend who owns the other doll, but game-play is remarkably similar. Folks are going to want to talk about what story elements there might be, because navigating the story is part of the game-play. And romance is something that I've seen screwed up more often than I've seen it done well.

Skitnik
05-03-2012, 01:56 PM
Of course, if you want to talk specifically about the gameplay, you're welcome to make a thread about it.

Rest assured I will.
By the way, in my post,that you quoted, I was trying to explain my point of view about said complementarity...

Skitnik
05-03-2012, 02:05 PM
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.

opifex
05-03-2012, 02:16 PM
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.

TheLepperKing
05-03-2012, 02:34 PM
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

starchasr27
05-07-2012, 01:24 AM
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.

Alex
05-07-2012, 05:51 PM
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.

lamaz
05-07-2012, 06:24 PM
I was worried for a second at the start when you mentioned this:
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. Fortunately you covered the matter more than that.

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/vikings/women_01.shtml

Kimberly
05-07-2012, 06:36 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.

Skitnik
05-07-2012, 07:15 PM
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 !

Jozape
05-07-2012, 08:00 PM
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.

Hehe, I don't think that really matters anymore(where you guys came from). People were begging for romances in Wasteland 2 from the start, and those guys aren't BioWare. Obsidian's had to fight to lower the amount of romances available in their games too. Everyone is romance crazy with their RPGs these days.


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.

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.

balnoisi
05-07-2012, 08:46 PM
People were begging for romances in Wasteland 2 from the start, and those guys aren't BioWare. Obsidian's had to fight to lower the amount of romances available in their games too. Everyone is romance crazy with their RPGs these days.

yeah, well i don't get it. with full respect to those who like it but as i said before i can understand if you play a love/romance simulator game, or dating and flirting in a SIMs kind of game (i don't like the Sims either hehe). but outside those... why would i want to do ingame the things i do in my normal everyday life ? will the next rpg craze be about cooking, or tying your shoelaces ?

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.

Jozape
05-08-2012, 01:08 AM
yeah, well i don't get it. with full respect to those who like it but as i said before i can understand if you play a love/romance simulator game, or dating and flirting in a SIMs kind of game (i don't like the Sims either hehe). but outside those... why would i want to do ingame the things i do in my normal everyday life ? will the next rpg craze be about cooking, or tying your shoelaces ?

Who your character flirts with and romances is an important part of their personality and story to a lot of people. Romances are a great feature, as long as they don't take away from other more important aspects of an RPG anyways(which will vary from title to title). But on average, I don't think they're particularly worthwhile either. The only one I really like is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic's romance with Bastila, because the game made a big deal about the code of the Jedi and passion. Thus it added a lot to the game. But for every Bastila romance, you have 100 Liara romance's...absurd, forced, rushed, and not really adding anything to the game.

Blistig
05-08-2012, 07:02 AM
yeah, well i don't get it. with full respect to those who like it but as i said before i can understand if you play a love/romance simulator game, or dating and flirting in a SIMs kind of game (i don't like the Sims either hehe). but outside those... why would i want to do ingame the things i do in my normal everyday life ? will the next rpg craze be about cooking, or tying your shoelaces ?

The premise of TBS, the aspect that defines it as a game and a story experience, is the fact that it deals with problems and situations which the player can relate to (as far as we know at least) on a personal level.
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!

Mudfly
05-08-2012, 04:27 PM
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.

ninnisinni
05-08-2012, 06:28 PM
Ok, what Alex said is pretty much how I hoped they would handle the whole romance thing. Sounds great! :D

balnoisi
05-08-2012, 07:24 PM
The premise of TBS, the aspect that defines it as a game and a story experience, is the fact that it deals with problems and situations which the player can relate to (as far as we know at least) on a personal level.
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...


i wrote two paragraphs, on the first i reacted heavily to the previous comment by Jozape, in which he talked about the current "trend" of flirting NPCs in RPgames. i don't like how it sounds as a new addition to the "casual gamer satisfaction formula" big companies use to produce blockbuster games.

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.

ScottMBruner
05-08-2012, 11:57 PM
now enough with my incoherent ramblings. i think i let myself go there, sorry.


Ha! Good thoughts - all. I think we probably all agree that when romance is done maturely and not condescendingly, or as a "makes it more true to life" add-on, it can be complementary to a game's lore.

Sadly, it's rare that games get it right.

ryan1000.miller
05-09-2012, 12:16 AM
I also think that a romance aspect, or arranged marriage aspect could be an interesting addition to a multiplayer game. When you watch a show like Game of Thrones you see how big of a role individual relationships play even in the running of a kingdom, and thus I think emphasizing these relationships/romances in a multiplayer game would be cool.

Avantre
05-09-2012, 01:16 AM
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.

Wait, you mean to say you can't bang an alien in this viking game? That's it, I'm out of here (sound of walking feet, followed by door slamming shut).

opifex
05-10-2012, 11:29 AM
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.

I've taken some time to write this up, because I wanted to make sure that I came across clearly, and without sounding angry or accusatory, but this passage worries me a bit. I apologize for veering significantly off the topic of romance, but I wanted to respond to this and I wasn't sure if making a separate thread would preserve coherence.

Over and over again I have seen fantasy worlds that have halfhearted attempts at showing gender equality, and I find them disappointing. Frequently I see the cultural set up remain the same patriarchal standard, while simultaneously seeming to have no actual effect on female main characters. This is at best internally inconsistent, and at worst a disgusting sort of white washing of the effects of gender coded roles. I haven't played a lot of King of Dragon Pass, but what I have seen so far in the game hasn't exactly thrilled me. The gods of the game fall into the same old, same old gender stereotypes. The battle gods, the god of law, the god of knowledge, men. Healing, the earth, women. It is apparently legitimate to sell a woman into marriage for 20 cows, and yet women hold positions of power within your clan without anyone questioning them, or having had to struggle unduly to reach that point. I have yet to encounter a female chief, and the default gender for warriors seems to be male, with a few exceptions.

Another example of this same problem is Dragon Age: Origins. Play as a female human noble, and you are apparently the only noble woman not expected to wear skirts and marry a nice young man of sufficient wealth. No attempt is ever made to reconcile your status to the apparent status of every other woman. Morrigan makes comments to the effect that exceedingly sexist attitudes are prevalent in the setting, and yet somehow the only effect this ever has on your party are a few throwaway lines at the beginning of the game if you choose to play as a female human.

I find these sorts of representations of gender relations tired and poorly thought out. If you can convince me that a society with creatures more or less uniquely from Greek myth (centaurs) wandering around in it is a Viking one, then it can't be that much of a stretch to say that a culture that doesn't have expectations of societal roles based on gender is a Viking one. Heck, for all it's goofiness the movie "How to Train Your Dragon," almost nails this. There is almost no indication that women are expected to behave any different than men in that world; the only failing point is that men make up the overwhelming bulk of the characters with only two female charters with a name.

For the most part I am totally on board with your ideas about romance. I think the less popularly explored familial relationships and long term established relationships are likely to be more rewarding than a quick thrills of "winning" a romantic partner. But something about the term "overtly oppressed" set my teeth on edge, simply because I have seen settings that seem obviously geared to favoring men completely fall down in their method of addressing how that affects the women in that world out of a desire not to come off as sexist.

kmean
05-10-2012, 11:53 AM
I second opifex here. I feel that either the women need to be equal to begin with or, since Stoic is fully in charge of the story, they need to be treated consistently in the story with regards to how the culture treats them. In fact, I think there is a lot of storyline possibility in regards to the evolution of the culture in regards to gender roles.

This is essentially an end of the world setting. Why not start with a society that is truly viking in terms of male/female roles. As the story evolves player choices can impact whether women become equals or not. This would allow you to show the struggles women would go through as well as investigate how the end of the world changes the culture and the idea that everyone has equal value when society breaks down.

JokerAR
05-10-2012, 01:45 PM
This is essentially an end of the world setting. Why not start with a society that is truly viking in terms of male/female roles. As the story evolves player choices can impact whether women become equals or not. This would allow you to show the struggles women would go through as well as investigate how the end of the world changes the culture and the idea that everyone has equal value when society breaks down.

While a nice idea there's an inherent danger in condensing issues as historical and massive as womens' rights into a 6-10 hour adventure. The risk of undertreating the issue- coming across as condescending is all too clear and what's the alternative? Have said rights be the main focus of the story? That's not the style the trailers have painted and probably wouldn't make for all that interesting a story progression unless a Holywood blockbuster condensing of the issue was undertaken.

As ever, I'm happy to be wrong and for Stoic to really nail an interesting story with an irregular focus- but I'm also happy and expecting a more traditional tale with cultural values as an interesting counterpoint to the main focus of the end of the world.

Skitnik
05-10-2012, 01:53 PM
Opifex, equality doesn't mean uniformity, so warrior gods and fertility godesses are not necessarily a bad thing.
And for any author, it would be extremely difficult to depict a believable world where men and women share the same rights, because we, humans, do not create something out of nothing, we reshape our own reality.

opifex
05-10-2012, 02:09 PM
While a nice idea there's an inherent danger in condensing issues as historical and massive as womens' rights into a 6-10 hour adventure. The risk of undertreating the issue- coming across as condescending is all too clear and what's the alternative? Have said rights be the main focus of the story? That's not the style the trailers have painted and probably wouldn't make for all that interesting a story progression unless a Holywood blockbuster condensing of the issue was undertaken.

This is pretty much how I feel about this too. A patriarchal society isn't realistically going to become a society where both genders are treated equally in a short space of time based on the decisions of a few key members of that society. Crisis might force a tacit acknowledgement of women's ability to fill traditional male roles, but the cultural shift in thinking needed for a more lasting equality will not happen overnight. Women worked in factories during the world wars for example, but society never really changed it's opinion that that was men's work and when the men came back, women lost their jobs to have them handed back to the men that originally filled them. I'm not saying the game couldn't tackle these issues, but I am unconvinced that it would be an effective use of the game's resources.

And if I am totally honest the game will be more fun for me if gender issues are not a focus. I like gaming for a bit of escape and I would just as soon not have to play about women's rights.


Opifex, equality doesn't mean uniformity, so warrior gods and fertility godesses are not necessarily a bad thing.
And for any author, it would be extremely difficult to depict a believable world where men and women share the same rights, because we, humans, do not create something out of nothing, we reshape our own reality.

Except that it does. Or at least the overlap is very large. Equality means everyone gets the exact same opertunities in life. Everyone has the same chances to make the same choices. That means women are not more associated with bringing life into the world then men are. Last time I looked it takes both genders for baby making to happen. And men aren't any more responsible for fighting to defend a home than women are. The problem isn't that these are tropes, it's that they are tropes that tell us what sort of person we should be based on our gender. In a world that embraced gender equality it would be no more unusual for a woman to pick up a sword than it would be for a man to take on the primary care giving role in child rearing. Minor accommodations for physical differences aside, separate but equal has never worked.

And people can imagine a society to be whatever they want it to be. Fantasy writers made dragons up right out of thin air. At no point in time has there ever been a big flying lizard that breaths fire. Women having equal opportunity to men is surely no less fantastic.

ETA: I realize I have made this post ridiculously gender binary, and I apologize. Equality for anyone who doesn't fit neatly into a binary gender model would also be ideal.

Skitnik
05-10-2012, 02:46 PM
But, as a man, I cannot be pregnant, and I'm more shaped for physical violence than a woman. That does not mean that I consider women to be inferior. Again, equality does not mean uniformity.

Oh, and dragons have nothing to do with lizards, snakes, birds or dinosaurs, that's true.

And to demonstrate what I meant about art and creation, just try to imagine a color that does not exist, a form that you have never seen.

JokerAR
05-10-2012, 02:56 PM
"Equality" in a Viking world is going to be a difficult pill to swallow- a culture of warfare dominated by physical strength- it's a man's world. Mages and other spellcasters can certainly even up the potential for some gender equality on the battlefield but to what end?

opifex
05-10-2012, 03:01 PM
As a woman I cannot be pregnant without a man's help, and I am well designed to be maneuverable and agile which can win fights just as easily as raw strength alone. And frankly in a world with magic or guns the playing field gets leveled pretty fast even on that account.

Dinosaurs, birds, and lizards might inspire dragons, but it's not like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I, Marie Curie and the countless other women who managed to be strong, intelligent, and successful in roles that were deemed more fit for men are figments of my imagination.

A society that doesn't tell people who they should be based on gender isn't something that has no realistic start point. I don't have to envision an ultra-violet what-nots to imagine what it would be like if women didn't have to fight tooth and nail to be treated as equals.

JokerAR
05-10-2012, 03:14 PM
I may be starting to lose the thread of this discussion, I don't think anyone's trying to argue that women can't be strong physically and emotionally and that they don't have the capacity for excellent leadership. What is being said, for better or worse, is that the Banner Saga's storyline is not the venue I look to see the debate further undertaken, I don't see videogames as the stage for any real serious debate. Which is perhaps a failing of past titles' unwillingness to tackle such issues- but I'll take a fantastical story as opposed to one that aims to tackle 'real issues' nine times out of ten.

Edit: and that the above reads in a fairly condescending manner is why I haven't really any desire to see videogames branch out into such areas. They'd likely come across as insensitive or ill conceived- the exact concern around the potential for romantic sub-plots that's been discussed at length earlier in the thread. In brief: you can't explain an emotion fully in words- and I don't feel art and music, pretty as I expect the Banner Saga's to be, are additions enough to allow you to do so. They can certainly illicit an emotional response but nobody but me can tell me how something makes me feel- a point I'd imagine is true individually for most of us.

opifex
05-10-2012, 03:25 PM
I may be starting to lose the thread of this discussion, I don't think anyone's trying to argue that women can't be strong physically and emotionally and that they don't have the capacity for excellent leadership. What is being said, for better or worse, is that the Banner Saga's storyline is not the venue I look to see the debate further undertaken, I don't see videogames as the stage for any real serious debate. Which is perhaps a failing of past titles' unwillingness to tackle such issues- but I'll take a fantastical story as opposed to one that aims to tackle 'real issues' nine times out of ten.

Actually, that is what I have been saying more or less as well, it's just that I think in order to avoid dealing with gender roles, both genders should be treated as equals. Any fictional work that depicts specific roles tied to specific genders is, whether it wants to or not, making a statement about what gender should be.

Alex
05-10-2012, 03:28 PM
The gender debate continues to be interesting and thought provoking! One of the challenges we face is that (as is apparent even between a handful of people) there's no consensus on the best way to approach the issue. Some want a more authentic old world society, some want more modern and comfortable moral values. And as some have mentioned we don't want social issues like gender equality to take center stage within a story that really has little to do with it.

To further complicate the issue, a lot of people really do prefer the established gender roles that persist throughout history; men prefer action heroes and domination, women prefer emotion and relationships. Fight Club vs Dowton Abbey, for example. At the same time, some people seethe with rage against these stereotypes. Personally, I can appreciate almost any genre, but I really enjoy stories that do both. Identifying what motivates different characters transcends genre in my opinion. The Wire, for example, has characters who are hardened criminals, marriages that go bust, fatherhood, gay relationships both male and female. The point is that the social issues are driven by the characters, not the other way around.

I do think we're doing some things that you may find interesting. We don't have an "Odin" type father/warrior god. The primary god of creation is female, and she doesn't really fall into the "earth goddess" category. The centaurs, who are pretty foreign to the human and varl cultures, have a matriarchal society. One of the most important and powerful characters in the game is a woman (Juno - you can see her in the animation cel prize from the Kickstarter campaign).

Having said all that, we haven't written it this way as an effort to be politically correct and balance the amount of male to female importance, we came at it from the approach of what would be a cool idea, or a fresh angle, and what makes sense within the context of the story.

Can't wait to really start getting into the story!

Skitnik
05-10-2012, 03:37 PM
opifex, I see that this is a sensible topic for you. I share my life with a woman for six years now, and we're equals. I could not live with someone who is not my equal.

What I wanted to say, is that we're not clones, we're not snails. If someone runs faster than me, it doesn't mean that I consider him superior. As humans, we're extremely similar and diffrent in the same time, that's our paradox and our nature.

Women like Marie Curie were exceptions, born in a men's world. They're proof that women aren't inferior, but they lived in patriarcal societies.

And we' re not really creators, we re-create our reality through the lens of ourselves. And our reality was never been an utopia.
So, it is not impossible for an author to depict a world based on equality that is more than just vague words, but it would be extremely difficult. He would have to use some "workarounds" to overcome human limitations, like for exemple the black box (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_box).

lamaz
05-10-2012, 05:20 PM
Alex, the setting sounds really interesting! I'd say you are coming from a quite fresh angle, which is nice. What is even nicer is to hear that the decision is based on the fact of what's good for the story and not because you feel compelled to do something different and something that a big publisher might not do just because you can.

I feel that you guys are tackling these questions that come up in the forums really well - and frequently, kudos!

Torgamous
05-10-2012, 10:47 PM
That sounds interesting. It's always nice to see some creative theology.


Actually, that is what I have been saying more or less as well, it's just that I think in order to avoid dealing with gender roles, both genders should be treated as equals. Any fictional work that depicts specific roles tied to specific genders is, whether it wants to or not, making a statement about what gender should be.

If you want a male fertility god, you need look no further than the Vikings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freyr). If you want female warriors, they apparently had (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shieldmaiden) some of those (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie), too. Women weren't represented in all aspects of life (as far as I know, there weren't any female chiefs, for example), and the male warriors in the sagas far outnumber the females, but when the exceptions did show up, there wasn't any sentiment that the women should get back into the kitchen.

starchasr27
05-11-2012, 07:56 PM
It would be interesting though if some of the female characters would have a conversation about how the end of the world has changed things for them. If that's the way they take the story line, why not have a group of women look around and realize just how different things have become. In my head, this hypothetical conversation would start with them doing something atypical like sharpening swords or making arrows around the campfire. One of them looks down at sword or arrow in her hands and laughs out loud. The others look at her in surprise and ask what's wrong. She smiles ironically and says "You know, a year ago my father would never have let me or my sisters near anything like this. It took goblins raiding the village, killing both my uncles and seriously wounding my brother to change his mind." The other women then could tell their own stories with maybe a few flashbacks.
The whole game doesn't have to be about women's rights or equality. But maybe some acknowledgement that their society ISN'T perfect or equal and how it's literally taken monsters at the door to change things would be a good compromise on a touchy subject.

Kenrae
05-17-2012, 03:24 AM
Over and over again I have seen fantasy worlds that have halfhearted attempts at showing gender equality, and I find them disappointing. Frequently I see the cultural set up remain the same patriarchal standard, while simultaneously seeming to have no actual effect on female main characters. This is at best internally inconsistent, and at worst a disgusting sort of white washing of the effects of gender coded roles. I haven't played a lot of King of Dragon Pass, but what I have seen so far in the game hasn't exactly thrilled me. The gods of the game fall into the same old, same old gender stereotypes. The battle gods, the god of law, the god of knowledge, men. Healing, the earth, women. It is apparently legitimate to sell a woman into marriage for 20 cows, and yet women hold positions of power within your clan without anyone questioning them, or having had to struggle unduly to reach that point. I have yet to encounter a female chief, and the default gender for warriors seems to be male, with a few exceptions.

It's equally legitimate to "sell" a man into marriage for 20 cows. It's not "selling" though, you're looking at it from a 21st Century worldview. Who is "sold" depends on who has the higher status, not on gender. Besides, KoDP portrays only one culture from Glorantha (the orlanthi), there are other cultures were females are the leaders (Uz, Esrolia), and male-dominated cultures, of course.
In fact, I'd say the real orlanthi leaders are the women, the men ar just rowdier. And the difference between them is the mythological difference between "Air" and "Earth", not gender.
Sorry for the rant, I just love that world :P.

Surtr
05-17-2012, 05:27 AM
Romances and friendships definitely add to a game's story and can make it feel more real and believable, if they are properly written and implemented. However, nothing should be forced on the players. In some games, you almost have to struggle to avoid romancing some NPCs.

Eberict
05-17-2012, 06:45 AM
In some games, you almost have to struggle to avoid romancing some NPCs.

Hahaha, DA2. I barely spoke to Merrill, and every time I did I castigated her for her idiot magic, but for some reason the game then auto-paired me with her and she disappeared in the sunset with me? I was so confused by that ending. Also never-mind the time I could only turn down Anders' advances by insulting him. EXCUSE ME. I have more tact than that. Damn dialogue wheel.

Kimberly
05-17-2012, 07:28 AM
Hahaha, DA2. I barely spoke to Merrill, and every time I did I castigated her for her idiot magic, but for some reason the game then auto-paired me with her and she disappeared in the sunset with me? I was so confused by that ending. Also never-mind the time I could only turn down Anders' advances by insulting him. EXCUSE ME. I have more tact than that. Damn dialogue wheel.

Yeah, DA2 really messed up with that. Being able to romance characters is great, but if there is some tangible benefit that comes along with that, or a lot of game events are affected by it, there needs to be a benefit to choosing to stay single as well---otherwise you're forced to play your character a certain way to experience the game fully. Mass Effect 2's romance detector was a little oversensitive, as well, deciding that you'd been in a relationship with Ashley even if you'd only had a few friendly conversations.

Eberict
05-17-2012, 08:08 PM
Yeah, DA2 really messed up with that. Being able to romance characters is great, but if there is some tangible benefit that comes along with that, or a lot of game events are affected by it, there needs to be a benefit to choosing to stay single as well---otherwise you're forced to play your character a certain way to experience the game fully. Mass Effect 2's romance detector was a little oversensitive, as well, deciding that you'd been in a relationship with Ashley even if you'd only had a few friendly conversations.

That's why I took a save editor to my old ME1 clear save and made sure that the romance flag was OFF. I'd love for there to be a balancing element for choosing to remain single and dedicated to the task at hand in those kinds of games. Maybe now that Bioware is making a poll of opinions for DA3, I'll mention it when they begin talking systems (along with how the gameplay needs to improve, the enemies need to stop spawning from the air in the safe corner I've already fortified, etc etc a million things).

As it stands, I'm still trying to create a DA2 clear without Merrill in the mix. The best solution I've come up with has been to romance Isabelle instead. Sigh.

Surtr
05-18-2012, 04:16 AM
Actually, I was thinking of DA2 when I wrote my post. I had the same experience with Merrill as you, Eberict. That lass can't take a hint, no matter how blunt. :D

I agree completely with Kimberly. Staying single should be just as viable an option as romancing somebody. Mass Effect sometimes feels like the Love Boat in space. :)

THE_Spearman
11-19-2012, 02:34 PM
Arranging marriages would be a good touch, especially with the strong political overtones and undertones of the Banner Saga story. There definitely would need to be variety, of tribal creeds and beliefs that could clash. If you allow a marriage between a warrior from you clan and a girl from another, but her clan's beliefs crap all over the beliefs of your clan, that could lead to both clans being torn apart from the inside. At that point, it may be better to forbid the marriage for the sake of both your clans. Doing this in important so you don't develop Mass Effect/TOR Paragon syndrome, where you just keep clicking "1" for every single dialogue, knowing that the right thing will always happen because it is the "good" thing to do. No, that isn't how life works. Being too nice gets a dagger in your back or poison in your mug, especially in a grim world like we see in the Banner Saga.

And as odd as it sounds, marriage and romance could provide as a resource. Renown from sewing peace between clans, willpower boosts from the celebration, and perhaps a 5% change a Mender will be born from the union. Yes, people are resources. The bigger the Clan, the longer it survives, why do you think people in the ye olde days had as many kids as they bodies could handle?

Rymdkejsaren
11-20-2012, 12:02 PM
Just caught up on this thread.


You should make a decisions because you want to protect someone you love, not because you want to bang an alien

This made me laugh so hard.

There are a lot of good points in this thread. I have read a lot of fiction, watched a lot of movies and TV series and played a lot of roleplaying games (both computer and "real"). I also write stories and roleplaying games. In my experience (and opinion) it boils down to this: Any story in any medium is about the characters: how they develop and their relationships to each other. Everything else is window-dressing.

Obviously I am cutting it straight to the core. It does not mean that you cannot have awesome windowdressing in the shape of pretty graphics or special effects or a massively detailed background lore. But without a good plotline involving convincing characters and their emotions and relationships, all of that falls flat.

Arguably, part of almost any character development over a long time will inevitably include romance of some sort. So a storytelling game completely lacking thereof runs the risk of feeling like it is missing a vital component. That being said I would rather have romance missing than poorly done, as many of you have stated is the case with most big computer game titles today.

One of my absolute best experiences in computer game storytelling is Planescape: Torment (http://www.gog.com/gamecard/planescape_torment). It made me forget my hatred for the D&D system and immersed me deeply into the plotlines, both the meta plot and the smaller plotlines involving the party members.

Rymdkejsaren
11-20-2012, 12:05 PM
As for the gender debate, it is one of those subjects where there are very varied and often strong opinions. I am glad to see the debate has been civil here so far.

My own opinion is simple, I believe that man and woman are born biologically and emotionally different for the purpose of handling different tasks at an early stage in our evolution. Modern society reinforces these roles, often in a negative and exaggerated way which leads to unnecessary conflict. Modern society has also taken natural selection out of play which means we are not going to evolve in any way to adapt to this completely different society where our genes, brains and hormones very often work against us.