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Everything posted by Azarkon

  1. I don't see discussing romance and its implementation in games as a side track in the romance thread. Anyhow, I dislike the term 'wish fulfillment' precisely because it has a connotation of lacking in the player actually having to work at or towards a goal. The player wants it, so they're going to get it; this is true whether the wish is fulfilled in their wildest fashions or in a 'monkey's paw' sort of way to create drama. "You would never say that the action segments of a game being boring is the fault of the player not being able to put themselves in the character's shoes, so by that same argument, you should never say that romantic characters being unattractive is the fault of the player putting too much of themselves & their own standards into their character." Not finding a romantic character attractive or viable for the player character is inevitable, as its a function of character and no character can appeal to everyone. If I say I don't like Durance its either because (a) he's non-optimal for my party build from a functional standpoint or (b) I dislike him as a character. In the case of (b), should games not include a non-player character I don't like? If your answer is yes, then I disagree with the concept that NPCs have to be universally likeable (I'd also argue that it would be fundamentally impossible to create); if your answer is no, then I disagree that a distinction needs to be made in the subset of character that is romance. To me, if you're building non-player characters with the idea that any one (or all) has to be attractive to the player you're losing sight of the NPC as a character and as such, the NPC has lost any agency they might have had in the narrative. IMO, YMMV. I don't think requiring effort on the side of the player conflicts with wish fulfillment, since it feeds into the feeling of achievement which is what produces personal satisfaction. Being a hero would feel a lot less fun without overcoming actual challenges. The same applies to romance: it'd feel a lot less fun without there being obstacles. So I agree with the idea that it shouldn't be handed to the player, just as winning the game or getting the best ending shouldn't be handed to the player. On the topic of attraction - you can't ever appeal to everyone, but it's easy to see how you might appeal to most people. There's a more general problem, here, which is that modern Western CRPG developers tend to be too afraid of the 'wish fulfillment' criticism, so they put romance on a pedestal and utterly ignore how basic it is. Or they try too hard to be 'progressive' in their thinking, and end up like Bioware. Statements like 'romance is hard to get right,' or 'we don't do romance because it takes too much resources,' are evidence of this problem. Romance isn't that hard, and no one is expecting the love story of their life in a video game, so why so many excuses? As for the question, do you need attractive characters? The answer is, as always - it depends, but provided that you want player romances to be a component of your game, you'd be making it very hard on yourself to answer no. And this issue, here, is what I'm most worried about with respect to developers who exist in an environment in which they are constantly being told that conventional standards of attraction shouldn't matter, because they sure as hell do matter down here on Earth. Could attractive characters contradict narrative and character building goals? Sure. A game like Gears of War would not necessarily benefit. But then Gears of War does not expect the player to romance squad mates, either, so there's no conflict. A game that does expect its romances to be valuable content, however, has a different cost benefit analysis. You don't need to make everyone look like a celebrity, but the film industry wouldn't be able to operate without celebrities, would it? What I'm trying to get at is actually very simple: don't be so terrified or disgusted by conventional standards of attraction; don't try to make romantic love into more than it actually is; don't make romances that most people wouldn't find appealing. Of course, these are guide lines, not absolute rules. You certainly can and should experiment with characters that are exceptions, but remember: exceptions exist because there is a rule.
  2. I disagree; making the romance an explicit wish fulfillment is leading down the path of creating a feel good mini-game at the expense of your NPC. I think what needs to happen is that the game needs to allow the player to make a choice and have the game react to the consequences of that choice. How I'd approach making a respectable romance - Romance should not lock out the player from having an interesting traveling companion if they don't pursue the romance and should not lock players out of essential elements (ie items, xp) The NPC's goals and interests should not be subsumed for a romance A pursued romance shouldn't fail only because the PC ends it; the NPC should be able to end it as well Each romance shouldn't end in the same place It is okay to have the PC make a choice to pursue a romance with a character that will never end well The game should react to the romance in a way that makes the romance meaningful as a choice/consequence regardless of the ultimate disposition of the romance All rules are mutable with the right idea and good writing. In my opinion, which I will not elaborate too much so as to avoid side tracking, all games - but especially CRPGs - have a kernel of wish fulfillment. We experience CRPGs vicariously, and it is not an accident that people often emotionally identify with their characters. This is not to say all games should make you feel happy. Aristotle emphasized the importance of pathos and catharsis as functions of drama. Tragic stories can also fulfill emotional needs. But the central reason I bring up wish fulfillment with respect to romances in games, is that I want to warn developers against creating characters that no one wants to vicariously romance. There's that word again. As I mentioned above, romance is fundamentally a function of attraction, mostly physical, but also psychological and spiritual. You can't fake attraction, just as you can't fake excitement about a dramatic situation that ought to be exciting, but isn't because of the way it's presented, the competence of execution, etc. You would never say that the action segments of a game being boring is the fault of the player not being able to put themselves in the character's shoes, so by that same argument, you should never say that romantic characters being unattractive is the fault of the player putting too much of themselves & their own standards into their character. Thus, foremost in a romance designer's mind must be the appeal of the character of interest. Attraction is, unfortunately, a deeply personal experience for which general principles can only serve as guidelines. Nonetheless, I'd say that, unless your purpose is to troll the player base, being too flippant about the nature of attraction is a bad idea. Romances can be experimental. They can involve subversion. They should be original. But they should never take the player's interest as granted. You need to earn that interest, and Obsidian especially should be cautious, because they already have a reputation for being reluctant to introduce romantic relationships, which could become a self-fulfilling destiny should they fail to create compelling interests. That would reflect poorly on the company, and would also reinforce its negative association with romantic themes, to the detriment of all.
  3. I don't want to put romance on a pedestal. Romance isn't special. It's just another facet of human interaction. It's common. It's basic. Almost everyone will engage in it, and likely on several different occasions. There's little that is more base than sexual attraction. Little that is more crude than being captivated by the symmetry of a face or the fullness of a bosom or the broadness of a shoulder. Even when we extend that attraction to personality, it remains chemistry: instincts and hormones drive almost the entire process of looking for, evaluating, and committing to a mate. Of all the loves in the world, romantic love might just be the weakest, or at least the most fickle - quickly gained, easily lost, and always with conditions. Yet it is precisely because of the above, that there should be systematic agreement that actively avoiding themes related to romantic love can only weaken a development studio's ability to craft compelling characters, narratives, and interactions in the long-term. You can dance around the topic via side quests, elect to write only characters and stories for which romantic love would be inappropriate, concoct convoluted philosophies to justify your decision, but none of it can mask the artificial stiffness brought about by pretending that people don't want to bang each other bad. Romance is elemental, and universal; its exclusion cannot be justified, unless one's object is not to portray human nature but an ideological construct that has the face of humanity, but the heart of an alien. Beyond this basic agreement, opinions will differ. An argument can be made that since all video games are a form of wish fulfillment, romance in video games should also be wish fulfillment, and so we should follow the example of the Japanese, and proudly indulge in our deepest and most shameless fantasies. Thus, all romantic interests should be shaped according to the most lovely of forms, imbued with the most endearing of personalities, and coupled with the most emotionally gratifying of plots. The logic being, since it's all desire manipulation in the first place, why not be the most manipulative you can be? Yet a counter argument is that the more you indulge, the cheaper it feels. Harems of otherworldly beautiful women - or men, or both - throwing themselves at the player character over his or her pedestrian wit and all around mediocrity, feels... Wrong. Not believable. Like Agent Smith said, it breaks the Matrix. In this thread, Tigrane is Agent Smith, and his argument is worth repeating - how can you not cringe at the basic setup of most games that attempt this style of self-indulging romance? From a Western sensibility, or at least an Anglo-American one, it summons more bile than sugar. Maybe for a guilty pleasure, it can work, but for a more respectable company or game, it doesn't seem fitting. So then, how do you make a respectable romance? What, even, should be the goal? Presumably it still has to revolve around wish fulfillment, but of a more sophisticated kind. For the player to want to interact romantically with the character, the character must still hold a degree of attraction. But perhaps that attraction is not strictly carnal. Perhaps it could involve curiosity, by virtue of novelty - "how might one love an air elemental? or can love continue after one partner has been permanently polymorphed?" Perhaps it could subvert the cliche - "you profess your love, but are REJECTED"; though that might hit too close to home. Or maybe all it needs is a reasonably attractive character with believable standards for the time and circumstance, sufficiently developed and competently written. Not such an easy task, given the history of failures, but perhaps, ultimately, achievable.
  4. I have not posted on these forums for a long time - ever since Avellone left, in fact - but since you did not bring this issue up on the Codex, I will respond at length here. The naming system of Tyranny most resembles that of Dungeons & Dragons, and it is not a coincidence that you think it also resembles that of American cartoons, and I'll add American comic books, because that's the popular cultural environment from which early Dungeons and Dragons drew. Consider Greyhawk, the first edition Dungeons and Dragons setting and Gygax's brain child. The following is a list of names drawn from Greyhawk's Circle of Eight - the best known mages in the setting: Mordenkainen Bigby Otiluke Drawmij Tenser Nystul Otto Rary Now examine a similar list from Faerun, the most popular Dungeons and Dragons setting, drawn from the top of my head: Elminster Khelben Blackstaff Larloch Szass Tam Telamont Tanthul Halaster Blackcloak The Simbul Sammaster Manshoon No where in either of these lists do we detect a culturally and/or linguistically consistent naming system, or anything that can be attributed to a believable historical context, such as exist in Tolkien's, or even Pillars of Eternity's, world. Instead, names are chosen by a simple rule: because they sound cool. This is the well known rule followed by most comic books and comic book inspired settings, and comic books were the face of popular nerd culture, as people such as Gygax would have known it, in the 1970s and 80s. It establishes and reinforces the fact that Dungeons and Dragons was always a less serious and more comic book setting than, say, Tolkien's Middle Earth. The creators embraced the entertaining, tongue in cheek nature of their game system through the often ridiculous adventures that they then wrote for it, and the over the top characters that populated their settings. It was a time when inside jokes, silly wit, and bigger than life personalities mattered much more than the need to build historically accurate settings. Looking back, I can't help but think that this comic approach to fantasy helped, rather than hurt, games like Baldur's Gate, and that taking a more historically accurate and/or linguistically consistent path hurt, rather than helped, games like Pillars of Eternity. I am not saying that the market has no room for serious fantasy or historical settings, but developers who are trying to appeal to nostalgia should understand that the success behind Dungeons and Dragons was not very different from the success behind comic books. Names can be such a small detail, at times, that we often ignore their impact in establishing the feel of a setting and a game. But compare names like Engwithan, Cilant Lis, and Lle a Rhemen to names like Zhentarim, Baldur's Gate, and Candlekeep and it becomes immediately obvious what approach is being taken, and what atmosphere is being established. Many people complained about Pillars of Eternity having a dry setting, of dumping information on the player, of having too many details that were either not necessary or not welcome. But in many ways, their criticism could have begun with the names. For when you start with a name like Cilant Lis or Bîaŵac or Glanfathan, it is almost certain that you will have to information dump the player at some stage, because the name itself tells us nothing about what it is, and because any developer who comes up with such an elaborate system of naming, must have spent so much time on the details, so as to have no choice but to share them.
  5. The cultural problem isn't that we reject romance, but that we have a difficult time accepting romantic wish fulfillment as a valid indulgence. It's a problem of immersion, of becoming sufficiently emotionally invested in a video game character to actually enjoy interacting with him/her romantically. Such immersion is vital to effective romantic roleplaying, but is incredibly hard to achieve when you refuse - eg for cultural reasons - to become emotionally involved with a video game in that way. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about 'Aerie is my eternal waifu I no longer care about 3D people' obsession, but rather a middle ground between it and the 'I play for teh lelz' crowd who's never going to be immersed to begin with. And I'm not asking for as much as you think - because the fact of the matter is, we DO get immersed in games, and we DO derive wish fulfillment from them. Otherwise, you won't see people becoming so emotionally invested in, say, Ellie in The Last of Us, and for that matter a World of Warcraft raid boss drop. Provided that you accept this premise - that emotional investment is critical to the success of a romance - then the rest of this logic is straight forward. The basis of an effective CRPG romance is a character that is endearing to you, and the basis of such a character is an aspect of wish fulfillment that appeals to you. Whether the developer subverts this aspect later - ie for thematic effects - there's no way to avoid it in the beginning, because in order for the player to even be drawn to that character in a romantic way, there has to be a raw attraction, and that attraction isn't cheap, especially not when you're trying to effect it through a computer screen with pixels. It's not enough to simply have a compelling character, because there's no excuse for forcing a romance track just to develop a compelling character. It's also not enough to just have a 'romantic story,' because the narrative fails when there is no investment - it feels empty and cheesy. It's further not enough to just have an attractive model, because that only inspires sexual attraction, which is cheap and fleeting when it's through the computer screen. There has to be a wish fulfillment aspect involved. In fact, there's nothing unique about romance - as people have already said hundreds of times - outside the actual existence of romantic feelings, and it's inspiring those feelings without any hope of sexual fulfillment that is the hardest task for the game designer. Romantic feelings? For a video game character? Madness, but in fact, people fall in love with fictional characters all the time - from books, comic books, films, etc., and in lieu of interaction they write a lot of bad fanfiction. But just from the fact that I cringed while writing this post tells me that there is a deep-seated resistance against this sort of behavior, and that to the degree that the 'mainstream' gaming culture shares in this resistance, video game romances won't flourish.
  6. I don't oppose your idea, but at the same time, I don't think it's a matter of choice - ie 'bring it on!' vs. 'kill it with fire!' Badly executed romances are just bad, and it's the poor execution of romances that drives people to the other side. People who hate romances in video games weren't born that way. They were made that way by crappy execution, and I don't blame them, because the track record is terrible.
  7. You have to learn to walk before you learn to run. I think the problem with a lot of the well-intentioned promancers in this thread is that they've set such a high bar for romantic content that developers are liable to run away from it than embrace it.
  8. Western culture? We have been doing romances for centuries and include them amongst our most treasured cultural achievements. Aren't you being just a little hyperbolic here attacking an entire culture for a few people's opinions on RPG romances? Maybe instead of burning down a civilization in a bizarre bit of generalization you should just stick with the argument that wish fulfillment is what we are in the business of here. I was obviously talking about modern Western culture; it isn't necessarily a condemnation; and it isn't limited to video games. Romantic 'wish fulfillment' is derided in contemporary Western pop culture wherever it appears - simply look at the Twilight flak - and especially by men. But its cousin - sexual 'wish fulfillment' - isn't. In lieu of romance, what we get in Western made-for-male-consumption pop media is instead porn and soft-porn - ie the parade of scantily clad females in films, tv shows, and games whose only purpose there is to provide various states of undress. At the same time, other figments of wish fulfillment - especially of the violent, heroic sort - are ingested without a shred of introspection. Teenagers today grow up on games eg GTA, CoD, and Madden NFL, which speak to their 'power fantasies'; but when it comes to romance, all they get are GTA shack-a-hos and Bioware 'SJW progressivism.' A lot of it comes down to the sort of hyper-masculine ideal that is, in my opinion, intrinsic to modern Western culture's social standard for males, but that's precisely what makes it so hard to see when you don't have a foil. The purpose of my bringing this up is to think about why, after a bit of initial experimentation with romances in games, the video games industry in the US - and to a lesser degree in Europe - abandoned them altogether, while in Japan, for example, romantic wish fulfillment became a thriving industry for both male and female gamers. Promancers flock to RPG forums - and especially to Bioware's and Obsidian's - because interactive romantic content is basically only found in this increasingly marginalized genre, along with a handful of indie games. Yet, even among Western RPG developers, it is a dying art - as Gromnir has effectively argued. Bioware does a bang up job selling their romances, but in the end, even for them it's an afterthought. I'm all for debating the pros and cons of having romance in games, but at the end of the day - is there simply an insurmountable cultural barrier to romantic wish fulfillment in the US and Europe, such that promancers are forced to coat their arguments in a veneer of aesthetic respectability lest they get laughed out of the room? For gamers in the West, 'dating sim' is the sort of phrase you don't want to touch with a ten-foot pole, even behind the protection of anonymity. Hell, I've met Persona fans who were positively horrified when I floated the idea that it was a dating sim. But isn't it just our cultural proclivity? And does it hurt us to admit it? That's what I figured out after all this to-and-fro about the 'objective' value of romances in games - they're no different, at the end of the day, from all the other types of wish fulfillment that make up gaming.
  9. Video games in general are puerile sorts of adolescent wish fulfillment. Do you think games eg CoD, GTA, FIFA, etc. are any easier to take seriously when put besides RL? Games aren't life experience simulators. I don't think what people want out of video game romances is 'serious RL relationships,' just as I don't think what people want out of GTA is a 'serious simulation' of what it is to be an organized crime boss/inner city gangster. In fact, fantasy/sci-fi themed RPGs, even further so than games eg GTA and CoD, are all about wish fulfillment. Archetypal fantasy RPGs are variations on the Hero's Journey, while in counter-current RPGs, it's about being a gritty bad ass eg the fantasy equivalent of Noir anti-heroes. In both cases, the game world, narrative, characters, etc. revolve around the PC. Whether it's Commander Shepard, the Nameless One, the Knight Captain, etc., the PC's role is eternally that of the MVP, the alpha-protagonist, the axial-character. To this end, it's difficult - on the surface - to understand why there's a double standard regarding 'wish fulfillment' in video game romances vs. 'wish fulfillment' in video games at large. You're fine with being the hero who saves the world, but not the guy who gets the girl? <replace at will with personal gender preference>. Never mind the fact that in RL, a hero who saves the world is liable to have suitors tripping over each other, the disproportionate resistance people have towards 'wish fulfillment' in romantic relationships is quite illogical when you take into account how little resistance they have towards 'wish fulfillment' in other aspects of the game. Is it cultural? After all, the Japanese, known for their dating sims & wishful-thinking romances in games, do not look to be afflicted with the same double standard. Indeed, Eastern pop-media, on average, have little inhibition when it comes to fantastic 'wish fulfillment' romantic scenarios. But in that case, what is it about Western culture, exactly, that makes it so difficult for us to entertain such scenarios with a straight face? I ask this not specifically of you, but of all the people - including myself - who, over the years, have expressed the exact same distaste about 'wish fulfillment' in video game romances. It's not occurred to me till recently how fundamentally hypocritical - and culturally conditioned - such an attitude is.
  10. The DA series proved to me that 2D/isometric RPGs are a proper platform and not merely a nostalgic throwback. I am loath to tolerate this WoW inspired, Frostbite induced over-the-shoulder gameplay in a game that tries to be a classic RPG. For one, moving around is an absolute chore, and it doesn't help that Bioware has a passion for abusing elevated terrain. In the IE days, all you had to do to move from one area of the map to another was a click, pathfinding willing. Now? It takes me 10 seconds of WASD just to get around a fallen tree, not to mention the time wasted on getting past chairs, broken tables, boulders, and a horse that stops galloping whenever it uses collision detection. It's a chain reaction. Exploration is not fun because movement is not fun. Collection is not fun because exploration is not fun. Long treasure hunting chains eg the Astrarium quest, the Shards quest, the Bottles quest, etc. are not fun because collection is not fun. When you have a game where 99% of the gameplay involves moving around the map, poor movement mechanics simply destroys all enjoyment. It's not even worth talking about the rest of the game. The movement ruins it.
  11. I am in complete agreement as to the idea that romance is no different than any other deeply felt relationship. As to why people want them in games - I ought to hope it's not simply because they want what they lack in life! But that rather, it's because romance is a form of character interaction and critical to certain types of characterizations. Going back to the Annah example, the pathos of her story depends on the fact that the love she develops for TNO results only in a state of greater misery for both of them due to TNO's curse. There's no way to represent this pathos without romantic interactions with Annah, as there's no way to represent Deionarra's tragedy without her unrequited and ultimately futile attempts at trying to get the PC to love her - and thereby regret what his previous incarnation did. These two characters - along with Ravel - are depicted in PS:T as being tormented by their doomed romances, and their suffering are ultimately driving forces for TNO to 'change the nature of a man.' These characterizations work because romantic love is, at the end of the day, a powerful human emotion and therefore we're able to believe that it's capable of such grand tragedy. That, and not pandering, is why you ought to include romance in RPGs.
  12. It actually is harder to portray. The classic JRPG romances are made the way they are because it's easier. When you're writing romance, it's way harder, and much more expensive to deal with the changes that happens after the romance starts. The character development and the change in group dynamics etc is not easy to make credible. That's one of the reasons why most games with romances ends with some defining quest, event or battle after the shagging. I think you're putting romance on a pedestal, so to speak. Again, I go back to PS:T because this being the Obsidian forums, I reckon the bulk of people here know it: Morte vs. Annah - what makes you think the latter was harder to write, besides MCA's own proclivities against writing romance in the first place? Morte has, from what I recall, a greater quantity of lines, and a greater amount of interactions with the PC through the course of the game. The fact that Annah was in love with the PC did not result in her interactions with him being fundamentally lopsided vis-a-vis the other NPCs. Personally, I don't think there was anything wrong with the PS:T romances - ie they were not 'bad' / 'incorrect' - so I bring it up again and again as an example to counter the idea that romances are content++. Now, to take a step back, what DOES make romances content++ is the pedestal attitude for which Bioware is famous. See, when you regard romances as being extrinsic to the character - as a feature of the game, as extra content - then you get into all sorts of trouble with demographic inclusiveness. Make one such romance, and suddenly there is an outcry for a dozen others because the one romance you made did not fit XYZ sexual orientation and thus your game becomes discriminatory against XYZ group, and bam, your company's in the crosshairs of social justice warriors and has to devote a tremendous amount of resources to be inclusive every time you do romance. The way to avoid such ordeals is to not treat romance as extra content in the first place. Don't make it about 'romance vs. no romance.' Make it about character A vs. character B. Don't sell romance. Sell the story and the NPC interaction that just happens to have romance every now and then. I don't think Obsidian needs to be afraid of including romance in their games. I do think they need to be afraid of the attitude that romance is extra content, and that because it's extra content, it has to be equally distributed across target groups.
  13. Because there is no tomorrow? I think the answer is in Sawyer's statement. He said they didn't have the resources to do romances correctly. And he's probably right about that. Obsidian does not have a staff of Harlequin novel writers, like Bioware does. So any romances they would have attempted for PoE would have probably sucked ass, like they do in every Obsidian game. And that's, You know, the opposite of correctly. PS: there's no such thing as a platonic romance. If it's platonic, then it's a friendship. And Obsidian did not rule out friendships in PoE. It's a good bet they're in. As for PS:T, well... Take it up with Chris Avellone? He's not the lead writer for PoE. He's got a limited role in the game's development so any romance he would write for the game would have been minor and peripheral at best. (and a waste of talent, but that's just my opinion) Did I actually write that post only twenty days earlier? Yikes, felt a lot longer than that. I haven't had the time to return to it till recently, so sorry for the missed replies. In any case, I understand what Sawyer said, but my contention is that his statements about 'deep NPC interaction' and 'we don't have the resources to do romances' contradict each other. Romance IS a form of 'deep NPC interaction' and it's best that it's treated that way rather than as harlequin escapism. Romance is not added content onto a character; it is intrinsic to the characterization itself. It's fine that the NPCs in POE do not fit the bill. I don't want to end up with a game ie DA2 where every other NPC is a conveniently single bisexual in heat just because the developers felt the need to hit all their constituencies. But at the same time, I don't see why romance is so special that it requires so much additional resources to develop over other NPC interactions. Indeed, it's down that road that we get to DA2 in the first place - holding romantic interactions on a pedestal over all other forms of interaction. In life, as in art, which imitates life, there are a lot of complex, poignant, and deeply affecting relationships characters are able to have with each other. Examples that involve no romance whatsoever are plentiful, and recently in the gaming industry one of them - father-daughter - has been getting a lot of attention in games eg Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, Walking Dead. And in case you want to be less male-centric, then there's the equally popular sister-sister and mother-daughter pairings that Disney has recently made subversive. Are such relationships less resource intensive to get 'correct' simply because they don't involve romance? I'd say that's a gross misconception. All interpersonal relationships are capable of being profound, complicated, and messy. All of them are also capable of being simple and superficial. Look at the 'romances' found in your average Michael Bay vs. the 'friendships' found in your average Joss Whedon. It's not just romances that are hard to get 'correct.' It's all 'deep NPC interactions.' Therefore, there's no cause for why we need to single out romances for the extra effort ... unless we're already treating them as pandering features ala Bioware.
  14. I'm going to take issue with Sawyer's statement about not having the resources to do romance correctly. Romance is simply a facet of a character - and didn't Obsidian set as a design goal, highly reactive NPCs with their own unique personalities and developed story arcs? How does one distinguish, resources-wise, between an in-depth PC-NPC relationship and a romance? In my mind they are one and the same. It's though Obsidian completely forgot about their own experiences working on games eg PS:T, where love - both amorous and platonic - was not a mere appendage but a central conceit woven into the plot, the NPCs, and their interactions with TNO. I am disappointed, therefore, to hear that Sawyer thinks of romances in the same way Bioware thinks of them: as a *feature*. Does Obsidian not understand that the flak Bioware takes for their romances is precisely because they treat it as a customer requirement rather than an organic property of the characters? People ridicule Bioware because their process of romance design is akin to selling NPC /cyber with a spreadsheet. Bioware markets their romances as check-off boxes, tries to score with the LGBT community by intentionally making an issue out of how-many-sexual-orientations-we-support, and makes hideously awkward out-of-character, immersion-breaking sex scenes for media attention. They treat their romances and their characters as inside jokes, so it's only fitting that we do, too. Don't get me wrong, I don't think for a moment that Sawyer and co. are ever going to stoop to Bioware's level of pandering. Yet the very belief that romance is 'content++' - and therefore requires tremendous additional expenditure of resources - is wrong-headed. A NPC isn't either a major character blessed with a romance or a minor sidekick/mercenary. That's the way the worst of BSN treat companions. A company of Obsidian's caliber ought to understand that you don't need to build a dating sim to achieve an effective romance. Hell, Pixar was able to tell a poignant love story in 8 minutes of footage and minimal dialogue in Up. I get that to have today's jaded gamers care about a NPC in a game takes great time and effort, but I don't see why Obsidian believes this characterization challenge is limited to NPCs whose plots involve romance. I'd believe an excuse to the effect of - 'our writers hate romance and that's why we won't have it.' That'd be honest. But saying that you're not against romance, but won't do it because you don't have the resources, reveals a disturbing leaning towards the idea that romance is a 'special feature' and not simply an aspect of characterization. In turn, it makes me worried about the rest of the game's characterization. The decision's made and done, so I'm not here to crusade about it, and in fact I care little, ultimately, whether amorous love is central to PE - to each game their own. But the explanation given for why there won't be romance in PE: *that* I take issue with, and is what prompted this post. Don't put love on a pedestal. Love is basic. It is instinct. All else being equal, a complex character that is romantically involved with the PC is no easier and no harder to portray than a complex character that is platonically involved with the PC. In fact, as JRPGs show, it's frequently the opposite.
  15. Japan having nukes is pretty irrelevant in the scenarios they're in conflict over. Japan is not going to fire nukes at China because China took one of their offshore rocks; that's the sort of escalation that only happens in armchair fantasies. Nobody takes that sort of gamble when it's their existence on the line; MAD in this situation simply cancels itself out.
  16. Especially when it contradicts you right? That didn't stop you from using it to support your argument when convenient. LOL And I was not talking about a US food embargo but a food embargo by the US and it's allies. A quick note on food. Again. We aren't going to agree on the food situation. You can nitpick about which specific agricultural products are in short supply all you want but the problems extend into most facets of the Chinese diet. I would dispute that China is self-sufficient in wheat. Nearly self sufficient but not totally. I believe China imports about 7 to 8% of their total Wheat and projections differ on whether or by how much that shortfall will increase. Let's just drop it - we aren't going to agree no matter what. http://www.dawn.com/news/1036769/chinas-wheat-deficit http://www.newsmax.com/us/china-american-wheat-sales/2013/08/18/id/520943 http://www.forbes.com/sites/jackperkowski/2013/04/25/feeding-chinas-population/ I read the article by Collins and Murray at the USNWC. It's a good read but it's short on hard numbers and hard analysis, so I am not convinced that their conclusions are valid. They handwave (as do you) repeatedly over the claim that the Chinese can adequately utilize rail, truck and existing pipeline to replace most of the 3.3 million bbls of tanker oil per day. Yet they supply no hard numbers on rolling stock or rail transport capacity (which I did) which showed the magnitude of the problem. And their analysis is based on the premise that the Russians will help make up the shortfall which isn't a given. Their ignore the impact that Increased use of rail and truck transport will have on siphoning off energy resources from other sectors. And they seem to gloss over the increased drain on oil/gasoline reserves to maintain the Chinese armed forces in a heightened state of readiness. Further their analysis is based on extremely dated figures for Chinese oil imports which are now at over 6.3 million a day as opposed to their 3.3 million a day and the improvements in pipeline capacity have not kept pace. The CIS and Myannamar pieplines you reference won't be large enough to have a huge impact. The authors argue that Chinese diplomatic efforts may provide alternate supply sources they neglect to mention that opposing diplomacy may also cut off some existing supplies. Finally their blockade analysis is based on a single blockading state (country) when that isn't necessarily a given either. So while it's an interesting read, the article itself is short on analysis and very long on conjecture. So is much of this discussion, but then, this is the internetz. lol. I agree that "China's goal ought to be linear growth, not exponential growth, contingent on reducing inefficiency rather than maximizing output" but that's not what we have seen so far. While it's fair game to argue that exponential growth won't continue long term, even you won't argue that at least short term Chinese oil demand is going to continue to grow. We can argue about the future rate of increase until we're both blue in the face but Chinese demand is going to increase. Since China is not oil sufficient - that is not a problem that is going away any time soon. I will concede however the fact that Chinese industry is more heavily dependent on coal use than I thought. So all we are really arguing over is how much of an effect the embargo will have? Okay, fair enough. Let's leave it at that. Frankly I'm getting a bit tired of arguing about this. Edited for typos. Edit 2. Just found this interesting article on Chinese oil demands forecast thru 2030. http://eneken.ieej.or.jp/data/4648.pdf Murray and Collins is not just talking about 'trucks and trains'. They are also talking about the difficulty of maintaining an US blockade of the Chinese coast, which is necessary because a 'soft embargo' of the Malacca Straits does not prevent the Chinese from diverting oil tankers around the Malacca Straits and by subterfuge. Obviously, a full US blockade of the Chinese coast - which requires large scale naval involvement - stops oil, merchandise, and food from passing through - and is therefore regarded as a full act of war. Escalation is then certain. One of my big issues with this thread is that people are talking about embargoes casually, as though it's simply a button we get to press when China retaliates against us economically. A full embargo is a decisive act of war. In a war, I agree that the US is capable of shutting down China's industrial capacity, because then we get to attack their oil pipelines, hard pressure nearby countries into not supplying them, bomb domestic oil fields, etc. There's a lot you're allowed to do in war that you're not allowed to do in peace. But then, in a war the Chinese are also allowed to do moves that they're not allowed to do in peace, and pretty soon we're in the domain of ballistic attacks against carrier groups and nuclear escalation, which becomes a debate I'm not keen on having. The US and China are not going to escalate to that level, and because they both know that they're not going to escalate to that level, they're not going to implement full embargoes / make moves that are going to result in full embargoes. The concept of a casual embargo - the minimal type, in which the US simply wags their finger at China and puts a squeeze on the Malacca Straits to 'punish' the Chinese for, say, not getting along with the Japanese - is what I was responding to, not Tom Clancy esque world war scenarios. Fact is, even such embargoes are severe moves in international politics and are not going to happen because we had a fit over trade. But for the sake of theorycrafting, my argument is that China is not that vulnerable to casual embargoes, especially not over food. I have not looked in detail into the academic crunching about food embargoes against China, mainly because I never considered such strategies viable given that the Chinese, up to the end of the Cold War at the minimum, was self sufficient when it comes to food due to Beijing's paranoia about food security and the manta of Communist isolation. Indeed, that's one motivation for their one child policy - to ensure that China does not grow beyond its carrying capacity. But for the sake of argument, I went and looked at China in the Global Economy, a 2000 book, and https://crawford.anu.edu.au/pdf/pep/pep-304.pdf, a 2004 paper. These are two readily available sources on the web talking directly about a food embargo vs. China. Both conclude that food embargoes implemented by the US and its close allies are not practical and have minimal effect. Now, a counter argument is obviously that these articles are 'old news' and that China is now so intertwined with the global economy that they are vulnerable to food embargoes. But I have a difficult time believing that a country that is seeing declining birth rates, barely an increase in population from 2004, and which has plenty of overland agricultural neighbors - eg Burma and Thailand, two major exporters of rice - needs to worry about a food embargo for the next 5-10 years. Those rural cities that China is talking about setting up all over the country by 2020 - they're not built yet. Of course, you are free to do the math, but keep in mind that when the math involves specific types of food, and not food as a whole, that diets are capable of, and do, change. China is in fact the best example of this, as just 20 years ago the Chinese were consuming a lot less meat. In the end, I think that the only way to use food embargoes vs. China presently is to use it to exacerbate bad decisions; for example, the Chinese government makes an obviously aggressive move that their people are not happy about, then the US goes in and puts additional pressure via a 'moral embargo' that increases food prices, triggering mass protests from people who are otherwise on the fence. But in nationalistic scenarios, where China's population has little cause to side with the US - and in matters having to do with Japan, that's a given - the US is not going to, for the lack of a finer word, do **** with a food embargo.
  17. http://www.grain.org/media/BAhbB1sHOgZmSSIqMjAxMi8wNy8zMS8xMV8wNV80N18zMF9QaWN0dXJlXzIzLnBuZwY6BkVUWwg6BnA6CnRodW1iSSIJNjAweAY7BlQ https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSDMV_Lsg52Cn9PYV5mAtip7KjgE9bQP1MWfO_mbRJ9aQOiBQsd So China is NOT self sufficient and to make matters worse it's agricultural sector is notoriously inefficient. And in terms of arable land per capita, China for all it's size is far worse off that you might believe. Believe anything you want, but the numbers don't lie. None of this means that the Chinese are starving but it does mean that China is simply not a self sufficient country with respect to either energy use or food supplies. Citing China's propensity for luxury foods - ie pork - to support their lack of food independence is patently absurd. Do you actually think the Chinese today must eat pork to survive when their diet has consisted primarily of grain for thousands of years? Your entire argument in this post is built on the fallacy that the Chinese must import maize and soy because it's used in livestock feed. Sorry, when did voracious meat consumption become a necessity for life? This is a classic American blunder in projecting first world luxuries to basic human needs and needs no further rebuttal. I'm going to chip away at these one at a time starting with the self sufficiency in food. The livestock feed was just one example, Azarkon. Whether or not the rising use of meat in the Chinese diet is a luxury is open to debate, but the fact is that Chinese is not self sufficient with respect to food. Check out all of the graphs again. Better still, just listen to what the Chinese themselves have to say. http://www.agprofessional.com/news/China-no-longer-to-be-self-sufficient-in-food-188895761.html The Chinese themselves had admitted that they aren't self sufficient now nor are they likely to achieve self sufficiency. That begs the question of whether the Chinese people be persuaded to cut back in the case of an embargo? Maybe, but it's not a given. and two more just for grins. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/22/us-china-pollution-rice-idUSBRE94L17J20130522 http://ethanolbiofuels.agra-net.com/?p=710 Oil is up next. First off - the fact is you should never trust popular media. Whenever talking about strategic calculations, make an effort to cite papers, not what random journalists decide to sensationalize for their page views. Specifically for that article, don't just quote the two lines of 'official talk', especially when it comes to Chinese officials ie party mouth pieces. Instead, pay attention to the fine print: What is essential: cotton, sugar, and soybeans vs. rice and wheat? Also, understand that the Chinese don't need to get their food from the US, and we're talking about an US food embargo. There are a lot of other food producing countries out there willing to sell to China.
  18. http://www.grain.org/media/BAhbB1sHOgZmSSIqMjAxMi8wNy8zMS8xMV8wNV80N18zMF9QaWN0dXJlXzIzLnBuZwY6BkVUWwg6BnA6CnRodW1iSSIJNjAweAY7BlQ https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSDMV_Lsg52Cn9PYV5mAtip7KjgE9bQP1MWfO_mbRJ9aQOiBQsd So China is NOT self sufficient and to make matters worse it's agricultural sector is notoriously inefficient. And in terms of arable land per capita, China for all it's size is far worse off that you might believe. Believe anything you want, but the numbers don't lie. None of this means that the Chinese are starving but it does mean that China is simply not a self sufficient country with respect to either energy use or food supplies. You should google China car usage. It's not at US levels per capita but ownership is rapidly increasing in China - exponentially too. lol http://www.usfunds.com/media/images/investor-alert/-2011-ia/2011-10-28/COMM-NumberChinaVehiclesGrowingRapidly-10282011.gif The issue of whether China can withstand a short term oil embargo was answered a couple of posts ago. China has recently completed the second stage of their SPR (Strategic petroleum reserve with an estimated capacity 207 million barrels) that will provide a potential replacement for 30 days of imports. Longer term? Domestic Chinese oil production is flat, and has been for a number of years, at around 3.2 million barrels a day. Thinking that Chinese austerity measures can reduce domestic demand so that the 6.3 million barrels of imports are not needed is the only inane comment in this argument. That would require that Chinese production be brought to a nearly complete standstill since 77% of Chinese energy is consumed by the industrial sector. And if they shut down undustries how will they generate capital to pay for imported oil and food? As for chinese oil demand increasing exponentially, I suggest you simply look at the following graph. Ignore the extrapolation and look at the data thru 2013. That's not a linear trend bubba ..... A sustained 7% yoy increase is exponential growth. Is that trend likely to continue? Maybe, maybe not - but Chinese demand has been growing exponentially since around 1990 so I would bet that continued exponential growth in the short term is not unreasonable . I'm not advocating an embargo, but simply pointing out that China will NOT be able to survive a long term one. Edit: Sorry some of the images would not link using the image tag. Use the links to open them.. You're not answering my arguments, but simply repeating your own. Citing China's propensity for luxury foods - ie pork - to support their lack of food independence is patently absurd. Do you actually think the Chinese today must eat pork to survive when their diet has consisted primarily of grain for thousands of years? Your entire argument in this post is built on the fallacy that the Chinese must import maize and soy because it's used in livestock feed. Sorry, when did voracious meat consumption become a necessity for life? This is a classic American blunder in projecting first world luxuries to basic human needs and needs no further rebuttal. I've already answered your rationale regarding exponential oil driven economic growth in China: it's not going to continue. I know the figures; you don't have to cite them and act as though you're citing news. My argument is and has been that China is not going to grow exponentially; their energy consumption, which is woefully inefficient, is going to put a cap on that and the Chinese leadership is deluded in case they don't know it's coming. However, it looks to me that they already do know it's coming, which is why they've been restructuring their economy and lowering their growth projections. Ultimately, China's goal ought to be linear growth, not exponential growth, contingent on reducing inefficiency rather than maximizing output. But that does not change what you're arguing, which is whether China is able to survive a long-term oil embargo with the help of the CIS countries. You have argued, in this post, that China's oil consumption is vital to its industries. First of all, oil is not the primary source of energy for Chinese industries. Coal is. Over 70% of energy consumed by China is from coal. See the following chart: By contrast, Japan: The difference between China and Japan is stark. Yes, China is increasing their use of oil - because it's available and the risks of an US blockade are low. But do they need it, and in case they do, to what end are they able to secure oil from CIS and Russia instead of their present maritime sources? Peruse the following article, courtesy of Collins and Murray at the USNWC: http://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/22821a31-a443-4bc7-95a6-54527ad8924a/No-Oil-for-the-Lamps-of-China----Collins,-Gabriel-.aspx The authors conclude: "An energy blockade of China would not only fail to achieve its objective but also send destructive shock waves through the global economic and political landscape." They also make mention of the fact that "no blockade of China has ever succeeded without Russian acquiescence." Granted, this article was written in 2008, and since then China has increased its share of oil imports. However, their recent book, published by the US Naval Institute: China's Energy Strategy: The Impact on Bejing's Maritime Policies makes effectively the same argument: a maritime blockade of Chinese oil sources in the Middle East is incapable of shutting down China's economy because of two major shortcomings: the fact that China's economy is not based primarily on oil, but on coal, and the fact that overland routes via Burma, Central Asia, and Russia are capable of making up for the shortfall while China temporarily scales down its production. This is not to say that an US embargo won't have an effect. Stopping the flow of maritime oil to China IS going to have repercussions and drastically slow / halt their economic growth. But it won't lead to widespread economic collapse, and eventually the Chinese ARE going to build new pipelines through CIS and Burma. Go read the book, look at THEIR analysis, and then come back and argue why it's not valid and why you and Wals are correct.
  19. When talking about an oil embargo, you have a short term contingency and a long term solution. It doesn't matter how efficient it is in the short term; what you want to do there is not to have essential infrastructure shut down. In the long term, you build the refineries, the transport capacity, etc. to make the Russian/Central Asian option viable. Personally, I don't think the US wants to take the risk of China turning fully to Russia. The US worked hard in Cold War days to drive a wedge into the Sino-Russian alliance, and that remains the strategy. An Eurasian Sino-Russian-Iran-Central Asian zone is of much greater threat than limited Chinese control of the Pacific because it is THE option for bypassing the maritime advantage the US has built from WW 2. That bloc of countries have enough resources between them to be completely independent of NATO, which none of these petty rock squabbles is ever going to produce. On the food issue, I simply don't buy the idea that China is incapable of supplying itself with food. Whatever figures people think they have on Chinese food imports vs. exports, this was the country that was completely isolated from the outside world just 30-40 years ago. Sure, the population's grown and the farmland's shrunk, but agricultural technology has also improved - ie via the use of hybrid rice. It is way too naive to believe that just because China is importing subsidized US produces today, it is therefore incapable of switching back to its own.
  20. It is true that China could survive a maritime oil embargo if and only if Russia and Kazahkstan alter their current export distribution. Russia could supply the import shortfall by itself but would it do so with 78% of Russian oil exports marked for EU countries? Maybe. If China paid thru the nose as it would likely do. Kazakhstan only exports a total of 2 million barrels a day so that won't completely make up the shortfall. The pipeline to China is expected to double capacity to 400,000 bbl/d by 2014. Iran, which only supplies 555,000 bbl/day to China and could increase that to a max of 2 million a day but is land transport an option? Currently, Kazakshtan and Russia supply around a half a million bbl a day to China. Further, Russia's and Kazakhstan's oil exports have been static since 2009 at a combined quantity of about 9 million barrels per day. This value is assumed to remain constant for the foreseeable future. China's imports are growing exponentially and even conservative projections will have Chinese demand outstripping the capacity for Russian/Kazahkstan resupply by as early as 2020 if not before. You might want to read this article: Stranglehold: The Context, Conduct and Consequences of an American Naval Blockade of China http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01402390.2012.743885#.UqM4sWd3uUk The rest of Chinese oil imports REQUIRE tanker transport - trains and trucks are not an option for transport from most of the countries that currently export oil to China. Even the China-Myanamar gas and oil pipeline was designed to provide a southern offload terminal that bypassed the choke point at the Straights of Malacca. It still requires tanker transport to the Bay of Bengal terminal. China does have the short term capacity to withstand a 30 day oil embargo thanks to their petroleum reserve, which is being planned for expansion to a 60 day reserve by 2030 even with increased demand. Quick digression on Chinese oil imports: Oil imports China's crude oil imports have grown robustly in the past several years, and reached a record-high 6 million bbl/d by May 2012. China imported nearly 5.1 million bbl/d of crude oil on average in 2011, rising 6 percent from 4.8 million bbl/d in 2010. In the first half of 2012, imports rose even higher to 5.6 million bbl/d. Crude imports now outweigh domestic supply, consisting of over half of total oil consumption in 2011. EIA expects China to import about 75 percent of its crude oil by 2035 as demand is expected to grow faster than domestic crude supply. The Middle East remains the largest source of China's crude oil imports, although African countries, particularly Angola, began contributing more to China's imports in recent years. As part of China's energy supply security policy, the country's NOCs are attempting to diversify supply sources in various regions through overseas investments and long-term contracts. In 2011, the Middle East supplied 2.6 million bbl/d (51 percent). Other regions that export to China include Africa with 1.2 million bbl/d (24 percent), Asia-Pacific region with 173,000 bbl/d (3 percent), and 1.1 million bbl/d (22 percent) from other countries. Saudi Arabia and Angola ranked as China's two largest sources of oil imports, together accounting for almost one-third of China's total crude oil imports. Sudan and South Sudan became significant oil exporters to China until production was shut in at the start of 2012, following political conflicts between the two African nations over their oil resources. Exports from Sudan and South Sudan to China dropped from 260,000 bbl/d in 2011 to zero by April 2012. http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=CH That's the article I was referring to before. I agree with the analysis, though my issue with it is that it regards China, in an embargo situation, using the same quantity of barrels/day that it does normally. That's the problem with a lot of these analyses - they confuse normal operation with contingency. China certainly won't be unfazed by an oil embargo, but is it able to survive it - in the short term and the long term - without imploding? That's the argument no one addresses - mainly because they don't begin to know how to. The whole idea that China is going to exponentially increase their oil consumption is also pretty inane. China's oil consumption is driven by its industries, which are targeted for export; their oil usage there is only going to expand exponentially when there's exponential demand. Were the US to impose a maritime oil embargo, then Chinese exports are obviously not going to continue at the same pace to the US, to which end a lot of less oil is going to be consumed. Consumer level oil usage is also not going to reach US levels; two hours of highway driving, every day, per working age adult just not going to happen for a country of 1.4 billion.
  21. 1. Oil is also capable of moving by trucks and trains. Building pipelines is a long-term solution; cutting off oil creates a short-term crisis, one that China is capable of managing provided that the Russians are willing to sell. I believe I read this from a recent Stratfor release talking about exactly this issue. 2. Pretty sure the geographic distribution is 100% wrong. China was fundamentally a riverine agricultural civilization and the biggest continuous chunk of arable land in East Asia. It's why it was the center of the East Asia both economically and demographically. You see there that the bulk of cultivated land is in the North China Plain ie the traditional center of Chinese civilization. Don't get me wrong, environment degradation is a huge problem for them, but the idea of a Chinese food squeeze is exaggerated. Chinese agriculture isn't that efficient because they don't have the economic muscle to employ hundreds of millions of farmers in other jobs, and the fact that they're building tons of cities in the interior with the goal of making all the farmers urban workers tells me that they don't worry about food being a problem. Were the US to clamp down on food exports, there's plenty of other options both within and outside of China.
  22. Just don't tell them, they'll never figure it out on their own, like you said, they don't know anything anyway. And small issues turn into large issues if not nipped in the bud. If they don't keep buying bonds, we'll just print more money instead, making their bonds worthless. Plus they can't stop buying US bonds, that would make the dollar fall against the yuan and make their economic situation even worse. I'm not proposing public action, that would only push them against the wall and make any crisis worse. It needs to be more subtle, like let American companies privately know in no uncertain terms they need to cut back on Chinese investment and start looking elsewhere. Americans are pretty naive but they aren't that stupid. They're going to find out via their iphones and facebooks what's going on sooner/later when they see price hikes that affect their own lives. US companies are already looking elsewhere for investments. China is no longer the top investment choice: India is. But having the government regulate private investments for the sake of 'teaching teh Chinese a lesson' is bad for the economy. You invest to make a profit, and when companies are being forced to play the government's lapdog, they end up losing money on bad investments, resulting in bankruptcies, unemployment, etc. To this end, I have to go against the naive grain that at times the American media spouts about how the US transferred its wealth to China. Investments aren't wealth transfers. In the same way the banks don't loan you money to do you a favor, investments in China aren't freebies/gifts. They're designed to make us richer, a sort of coattail riding on a developing economy. Yes, we're responsible for China's rise - because we wanted to cash in on that rise. Yet that also limits our options when it comes to economic retaliation, because at the end of the day, it's our investments that are being hurt.
  23. Tanzania (German east africa, which reminds me...), Namibia, Samoa, Papua and Togo. Nowhere near France or the UK or even the Netherlands, but quite significant. Not so sure, Zor. China can cut off manufacture and 'investment'. The USA can cut off oil and food. Doesn't sound liek an even outcome to me. I've heard of this line of thinking before from strategy analysts, and the consensus is that without Russia's consent there's no way the US is able to cut off oil from China. Yes, China gets the bulk of its oil from maritime sources now, but were we to clamp that shut with a blockade, they're going to turn straight to Russia and Central Asia. That plays into Russia's hands and makes them the kingpins of the East. I think the US still rather deal with a rising China than a rising Russia. Food, not a dice in hell. Just because China is importing a lot of food now doesn't equate to them not being able to produce that food when they're forced to. The Chinese are getting fat on our burgers and high fructose corn syrup, but they don't need it. Their land is fertile enough to support their current level of population.
  24. It's not so easy. Imagine telling an average American that his next trips to Walmart are going to cost $25 extra because America is taking issue with China's ADIZ. You think Americans are up for this? That they're willing to pay extra $ in everyday life to send a message to China about its ADIZ? Of course not. The bulk of Americans don't even know what an ADIZ is, much less care that China put one up. Economic sanctions are useful when the country is currently providing you jack, but with China, they're the source of income for a huge amount of American companies and of lower prices for the American consumer. Hitting China financially hurts them, but it also hurts us. That's why it doesn't happen over small issues.
  25. I have no issue with your disagreement, but my German analogy was directed towards its European expansion, not its initial overseas expansion. The argument that Germany was gaining in strength vis-a-vis the rest of Europe during the 19th century is offset by the observation that its economy was, in fact, stuck in dire straits at the time it launched its European expansion in the late 19th/early 20th. That phase of the European past is well studied and therefore needs no repeating. A maritime colonial empire was not the brightest idea the Germans ever had, but an overland empire, which was what the Germans eventually embarked on, is a logical response to the vast imperiums of its rivals, from the British, to the French, to the Russians, to the Americans, all of whom were imbued with vastly greater territorial possessions and resources. In retrospect, the age of colonialism was ending, but there was no cause at the time to believe that the British and the French colonies were without recourse, while the Americans and the Russians never did lose their overland imperiums. The Germans did not foresee the age of European unity and American-led globalism, but then who, in continental Europe, did? The US was not such an almighty force back in the early 20th century, and from the German view America was both distant and peripheral to European competition. It was difficult to imagine, then, that the world was eventually going to be run by US trade and investments, further still because America's rise was precipitated by Europe's self destructive behaviour during the two World Wars. To this end, I do not disagree that trying to establish a maritime empire was a bad idea from the Germans. But I was also not talking about this specific design, but rather the larger design of expansion that the Germans became preoccupied with in the years following the simultaneous collapse of their economy and maritime empire. In China's case, their plan is simply to guarantee that they're able to deter rivals from casually blockading their sea lanes in the event of conflict. Again, a logical strategy for a country reliant on external trade for resources and export merchandise. Trusting the US for protection when you're not an US ally is irrational, and trying to become an US ally is impractical. Of course, I also disagree with your assessment that China has to take over other countries to secure its sea lanes. Here's a mental challenge: who's going to attack a Chinese carrier group out in the Pacific? There's only a few countries capable of doing so, and only one that's immune to escalation. The Chinese economy is reaching that tipping period where rapid expansion on cheap labor alone is no longer viable. Rising labor costs are moving manufacturing off their shores, and yet they're not rich enough to transition into a service economy. To keep being the world's factory, they need resources, and to secure resources, they need maritime trade and a blue water navy. Chinese investments in the US, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East all stand to benefit from the ability to project power overseas. It beats spending money on empty skyscrapers.
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