Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

A steampunk RPG
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SpectralTime
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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by SpectralTime » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:38 pm

...Called it on the cowboy! Though you DID tell me I'd called it WHEN I called it, so...

Also, a red-headed Russian? Half-breed, or am I just phenotypically ignorant?

Hmmm. Well, I know a little about... Ling? Yu? Which one's the surname? Anyway, her and Miss Ruskaya from the intro thingummy from a while ago, though I didn't get the impression that she'd be angry with Steel for something. Maybe Miss Ling framed him after knocking him out?

Still stupid to kiss her Roger. What are you, fourteen?

Speaking of Roger, I'm a mite curious as to why his name's in the title. Is this a sorta... Hobbit deal, where whichever sibling you pick is a supporting character in a larger plot centered on him?

Finally, if you've ever mentioned what the other two British characters (the family friends, I think?) are like, I've never seen it anywhere. Guess I could just be forgetful and ignorant.

Also, reading the rest of the topic... Yup. Just going to stay clear out of this one. Probably. I *guess* I might be drawn in if someone tries to justify slavery.

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jack1974
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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by jack1974 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:23 pm

Haha yes now is hard to remember a specific character since the info is not well organized. I think the best would be to start separate thread, one for each character, until we get the artwork. Is easier to associate a face to a name.

As for the hot-topic of discussion I don't want to post about it simply because I've realized that is very hard for me to express exactly what I have in mind in English. Every time I tried in the past (in other situations) I made a mess :lol:
Let me just say three things:
1) As someone correctly said, I'm WW, not Bioware... I'm here to fix their mistakes 8) OK, jokes apart, I don't NEED to be politically correct or follow any specific "guideline" (within reason of course). So I have no problems if my writers want to talk about very hot / delicate topics as long as they do it "properly"
2) which brings to point 2, one thing I've learned is that you need to leave freedom to writers. I've never forced a writer to change something, unless we discussed about it. I'm not planning to do that with Fen either :)
3) I think discussion is great, but as I often say to my writers who panic and say "but how we can make everyone happy?" the answer is simple... we can't. All we can do is TRY to make the best game possible, both in gameplay and in the story. I hope many people will like this one, but for example if you don't like the latent homosex thing, simply don't pursue those characters with same sex protagonist. Freedom of choice is good !

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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by FenCayne » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:13 pm

ChaosMorning wrote:
FenCayne wrote:Christina - F - Welsh - Latent Bi (Character identifies as heterosexual but can be 'seduced' by a persistent and sincere Ann)
Neville - M - Welsh - Latent Bi (Character identifies as heterosexual but can be 'seduced' by a persistent and sincere Arthur)
While I am glad these characters now are open to more than one gender identity (someone was kind enough to show me the original chart), I have a slight problem.*
REALLY love the idea that you can 'turn' two of the characters with sincere persistence!
You see, there's a problem here. Queer identified people are often subject to a vicious myth that they are constantly trying to 'convert' straight people into their 'lifestyles,' and the idea of 'seducing' or 'persuading' them to be 'bisexual' feeds into another stereotype that bisexual people have been 'corrupted' from their 'natural state' by the influencing of other people.

There are an infinite number of other ways of going about a similar story (of a presumed heterosexual person realizing they harbor feelings for someone of a similar or same gender identity) without falling into such tried, tired (and untrue) tropes - for example while I am not a huge fan of the 'Only if its You' idea, it can have some truth in it, without falling into the uncomfortable idea of seducing/'sincerely' badgering someone into 'turning.'
I appreciate where you're coming from, ChaosMorning, but I think I owe everyone an explanation about the origins and development of Christina and Neville's homosexual story arcs.

Background

A while ago, j20019 posted elsewhere on these forums
“Remember Jade Empire (One of Bioware's best IMO)? In it, the Yuri path had a unique spin to it: As usual, the PC was the initiator, but the love interest was straight (or rather, she never was interested in women before meeting the protag).

It was (to me) wicked hot, as my female character seduced a straight woman (and a normally dominant straight woman at that). It was sad that Bioware never went down this path again. I was hoping for Ashley in Mass Effect 3, but the door was slammed shut on that one :p”
(viewtopic.php?f=20&t=2449)

Although I never found this particular storyline in Jade Empire (having the digital dexterity of a three-toed sloth on Prozac tended to make my progress slow and painful on that one, despite loving the art direction and setting), I too thought this was quite a neat idea. And honestly, before I looked it up to make this post, I thought the original poster was a regular here voicing some significant homosexual (or at least lesbian) body of opinion. But perhaps they mostly lurk, and posted this siren call to lure me to my doom. Or something.

Development

So I had j20019's post in the back of my mind, and from the original design doc I inherited from Jack's original Roger Steel writer we had Christina and Neville. Now Christina and Neville were always going to be foils to those sassy go-getters Ann & Arthur, because that's the way buddy stories go. At least in my experience. But then, what the heck do I know?

Anyways, when I came to write the script, they emerged as grounded, rather serious, down-to-earth characters who (because opposites attract, right?) had somehow forged firm friendships with the Trevelyans which had survived numerous long-duration and long-distance separations. As reserved, shy people – even, in Neville's case, a kind of high-functioning autistic – they were never going to make the first move romance-wise. Not heterosexual, not homosexual. No way. No how. Not ever in a million years. They value Ann and Arthur's friendship too much to take the risk of spoiling it by coming out with their feelings and risking rejection which would taint what friendship might remain.

And coming from the deeply traditional backgrounds they do, it's quite possible that they never even considered there were any other kinds of sexual relationship beyond that between man and woman. Whatever desires they have towards their same-sex friend have been sublimated into deep and abiding friendship.

Also, wearing my storyteller's hat (which is really quite fetching), I didn't want Christina and Neville to emerge as default romance choices. They are the only party members for the first couple of Episodes, there was a risk that players might feel 'pressured' to deepen the relationships with Neville/Christina to a point where, once the other party members appeared, it might smack of betrayal for them to begin exploring other romance options.

And, finally, I know that there are players out there who just want to play Roger Steel as a straight (no pun intended) explorin', fightin', lootin', craftin' steampunk RPG with a party of buddies without the mushy romantic stuff spoiling the whole thing. So they certainly don't want Neville or Christina coming on to them hot'n'heavy in the first few scenes of the movie, er, I mean game.

So those are the structural reasons why I made the Neville and Christina romances as I presented them above. To make it crystal clear, in story terms the homo and hetero story arcs for these characters are functionally identical. Ann or Arthur are always going to be the front runners on these guys. If you want to romance them, you have to chase them.

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Sylrissa
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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by Sylrissa » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:19 pm

jack1974 wrote:All we can do is TRY to make the best game possible, both in gameplay and in the story
Hit the bulleye right there Jack, in the end that is exactly what you should be striving to do above all else, and the rest should fall into place when you release an awesome finished game with great story to the public and we get to enjoy it.

Don't let the debates get to you too much, I'm sure we all very much appreciate how much you communicate with people here, rather then hiding behind PR and being standoffish like many companies.

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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by Maelora » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:31 pm

>If you want to romance them, you have to chase them.

Ooh, I like to chase, Fen! :)

But seriously - agree with every word. The game sounds completely awesome and I think everyone will agree it's in safe hands!

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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by Sylrissa » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:32 pm

That explanation was incredible Fen, thank you very much for sharing your thought process like that, and explaining the situation further, you've got my trust in handling this story.

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jack1974
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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by jack1974 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:12 pm

Well after this post by Fen, you'll probably all understand why I feel completely safe letting him handle the delicate matters of this game 8)

FenCayne
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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by FenCayne » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:02 pm

I agree with ChaosMorning, the latent Bi entries made me worry as well. There is a ton of trainwreck potential in that setup.
Trainwreck?! We're talking about a game set in a colonial era, with colonial protagonists, various ethnic characters who are going to be no more than stereotypes and Mary-Sues for my various hobbyhorses and psycho-sexual kinks, dealing with themes of imperialism, sexuality and gender roles with side-servings of religion and orientalism. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
The political correctness discussion takes the cake though. That buzzword has no place in a serious discussion. Issues like national stereotypes or tokenism are important if you want to do more then a thin vernier of pluralism. Washing them aside with pc is not okay.
Whereas I believe ChaosMorning is using my statement against political correctness to assume that I take that as carte blanche to create offensive characters without comeback, I think it's impossible for me to write a game like Roger Steel and not offend someone's sensibilities, whether it's the way I represent a character's sexuality, nationality, or general behaviour.

We know our audience is composed of many people who feel rejected and judged by society as a whole because of their sexuality, and crave some entertainment which speaks to them with more than platitudes, condescension, or judgement. Jack and I are more than happy to have the game beta-tested by people of diverse backgrounds and sexuality to ensure we don't end up “insulting or inadvertently discriminating against another group”, but that doesn't mean we are going to release a game developed by committee which offends no one and probably would interest no one either.
Avoiding tokenism and stereotypes usually also lets people focus on the characters as agents in the story
Well, that's what I am trying to do ...
instead of on their ambassador functions if they are the singular character of their group.
I'll have a word with Jack. Maybe instead of a nice little steampunk fantasy, we can do a Cecil B. DeMille epic with a cast of thousands who can represent humanity in toto and satisfy every opinion and proclivity.
Or to say it different, if you only have one character of a group he becomes a stand in for the whole, pars per toto.
Pars pro toto (and totum pro parte) can be imprecise, controversial or even offensive. One example is the UK. Many people of the United Kingdom are unhappy with the generalization as England for the United Kingdom, partly because those not in England want to be referred to individually, and partly because those in England don't want to be thought of as the only people within the United Kingdom.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pars_pro_toto)

Consider me offended. And so are the rest of Roger's gang. :evil:
It'd be quite reassuring if instead of simply proclaiming that all characters are only standing for themselves Fen would think about how to enable people to see them as that.
I must try harder ...

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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by jack1974 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:14 pm

...and I was thinking that the slavery theme in Loren could have been problematic and in future was better to avoid such topics... :lol:
Jokes apart I think probably Anima misunderstood the point or maybe he would have said it differently after reading your previous post. Anyway, I'll only add that yes, probably some people will be offended by some aspects of the game, exactly like some people were offended by Loren's beginning about the slavery theme... I remember some guys writing comments like "being forced to follow a nazi-bitch like Loren" (seriously! maybe was Greenlight though, so in that case the mental insanity applies :mrgreen:). But you need to read a whole book or watch the whole movie before judging it completely.

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ChaosMorning
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Re: Sneak Preview #18 – Spies Like Us

Post by ChaosMorning » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:47 pm

I'm bisexual (I came out in 1988, when it certainly wasn't trendy to do so), and I most certainly don't need well-meaning straight people getting offended on my behalf. I don't see the 'latent' gay characters as being 'those evil gays are stealin' our wimmin!' but two characters making a connection that one wouldn't have initially expected. Fen said you had to be 'sincere' after all. For various reasons, some people don't acknowledge their own sexuality until they meet the right person - I was pretty lucky in that I always knew I was attracted to other girls as well as guys.
I do not mean to insinuate that you are referring to me by saying a 'well-meaning straight person,' but if you are I just want to clear that up - I am not straight.

Furthermore I did not mean to intend that 'latent' characters themselves carry such an implication - rather I meant that the way the post I was speaking about had some unclear connotations. Aside from that I certainly agree with the rest of your interpretation of the post :)
Yes, it _could_ be a train-wreck as Anima puts it, but I have faith that the WW will make it awesome. The games have touched on hot-button issues like slavery (Loren, Heileen) and they have been sensitively done. I really don't want the games made anodyne and lowest-common-denominator just because someone somewhere might be offended.
Definitely, I have full faith in Winterwolves producing a great game and handling various issues well; I simply wanted to give some personal feedback.
Maelora wrote: We fall in love with _people_, not genders!
I agree!
So I had j20019's post in the back of my mind, and from the original design doc I inherited from Jack's original Roger Steel writer we had Christina and Neville. Now Christina and Neville were always going to be foils to those sassy go-getters Ann & Arthur, because that's the way buddy stories go. At least in my experience. But then, what the heck do I know?

Anyways, when I came to write the script, they emerged as grounded, rather serious, down-to-earth characters who (because opposites attract, right?) had somehow forged firm friendships with the Trevelyans which had survived numerous long-duration and long-distance separations. As reserved, shy people – even, in Neville's case, a kind of high-functioning autistic – they were never going to make the first move romance-wise. Not heterosexual, not homosexual. No way. No how. Not ever in a million years. They value Ann and Arthur's friendship too much to take the risk of spoiling it by coming out with their feelings and risking rejection which would taint what friendship might remain.

And coming from the deeply traditional backgrounds they do, it's quite possible that they never even considered there were any other kinds of sexual relationship beyond that between man and woman. Whatever desires they have towards their same-sex friend have been sublimated into deep and abiding friendship.
Thank you so much for the clarification, FenCayne, this is the sort of thing that I was hoped you had in mind for their romantic subplots! I'm really looking forward to exploring their character arcs - potentially a Arthur/Neville playthough first!
Also, wearing my storyteller's hat (which is really quite fetching), I didn't want Christina and Neville to emerge as default romance choices. They are the only party members for the first couple of Episodes, there was a risk that players might feel 'pressured' to deepen the relationships with Neville/Christina to a point where, once the other party members appeared, it might smack of betrayal for them to begin exploring other romance options.
Interesting, I suppose it might seem as though they could be defaults - though wouldn't the title character himself seem like a potential default?

(I applaud not having a default character, by the way, games such as Rune Factory always annoyed me in that aspect)

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