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Mature themes you'd like to see in the game

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What exactly makes something mature?

 

Context is important.

 

In the context of this thread's topic, I'd argue that "mature" means both handling topics in an adult, reasonable, rational and thoughtful way as well as topics that are a bit more cerebral, more graphic, or more controversial. It's the combination of those two - you could have a mature conversation about bunnies or playing hopscotch, and you could have a very immature exploitation of sex, drugs and violence.

 

So, to sum up - mature examinations of mature topics.

 

A considered and grown-up inclusion of subject matter that is considered not suitable for minors and juveniles (the not-adults, or immature.)

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Personal conflict and aguish of the main character made parallel with the conflict and anguish of the environment.

Pick up a central theme and then reflect it in as many ways possible. BG2 did this with heroism and divinity (and the cost thereof), Torment did this with (im)mortality and identity. What will be the cetral theme of Project Eternity?

 

This is an excellent question, and I'm suprised this is the first time I have seen it.

 

The only two things I can use to guess the game's main theme is the name and the discussion of souls; shattered souls, unbroken souls etc. So perhaps it has to do with reincarnation and a battle that continues across time and through countless generations (see my avatar :))? There's definitely potential there. I think the mature theme would be 'Do I continue the struggle like I have in my previous lives? Do I try to find a way to end the cycle? Or, if I think the cycle will continue no matter what I do, go the hedonist route and get as much out of this life as possible'? (tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TakeAThirdOption)

 

The idea with reincarnation sounds pretty intressting and with the main theme of the story with souls it would lend itself in that direction.

Maybe the supernatural event that you witness has something to do with regaining memories of a past live/ other person.

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I would like to see just a greater narrative awareness that violence is unpleasant. We expect to kill things in RPGs, whether monsters or people or something in between, and usually do so in great numbers. Even if killing is sensible and justified in the character's circumstances, it is still pretty upsetting to have a bunch of guys/things try to kill you and to end the encounter covered in blood and with chunks of limb scattered all over the place. Adventurers in RPGs tend to kill more people over the course of their careers than viral outbreaks do, but don't show much emotional fatigue from the violent lives they live. I'm not asking for a fantasy examination of PTSD through the eyes of some jaded, self-hating goblin slayer, but still I should like to see a narrative deal with it a little more closely.

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Racism, sexism, facism, all the "ism's." I'd like to see them all represented, and even if they're castigated in our world, presented in a good light by the adherents who cling to them as enlightened principles in Eternity.

 

Yeah, I actually agree with this. I don't know if every single one needs to be included, but having these things rear their heads isn't a bad idea. Along the same lines, I think some of the adherents might just sound like ignorant bastards, but some of them will have convincing arguments. In real life, there have been people who could make really good arguments for really bad policy. Also, I would like the 'isms' presented to, maybe, depending on how it works into the story, to show how wide-spread and mutable they are. For example, having lived for some time in the pacific and Asia, I can say that judging someone by how light or dark his skin is wasn't created by white Europeans. There has been skin color/tone based discrimination for a long long time. I don't know, but putting viable arguments in the mouths of wide-spread beliefs sounds like a dose of realism we don't normally encounter in these games. I'm with nonek on that count.

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Yes it makes for a truly frightening villain when he can make obscenities sound positive, and twist the best of people against their own natures.


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The only two things I can use to guess the game's main theme is the name and the discussion of souls; shattered souls, unbroken souls etc. So perhaps it has to do with reincarnation and a battle that continues across time and through countless generations (see my avatar :))?

Certainly an interesting main theme for an RPG and, come to think of it, a great way to reconcile a lot of the topics that have been mentioned earlier. Like mercy for instance - to have the concept of the soul as a focal point extends this theme even beyond death. Kill an enemy with a vengeance but will you have mercy on their soul? Or do you extinguish their very being for all eternity?

Interesting indeed.


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I'm sure you don't want 'Everything' related to psychology and metaphysics. I mean, they can't throw in everything considered to be 'mature' content. I don't mind folks using the term 'mature' per se, but you have folks wanting all sorts of crazy things to play a major part in the game. The devs have to use some discretion in including mature themes if they want to treat any of those themes with maturity.

"Everything" in the context of setting and story. Not literally everything. And yes, mature themes are often misrepresented, especially in gaming industry.

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The most important thing to me is that this game not have those ridiculous saccharine make-everyone-happy endings to major quests and the game itself. That makes a story seem fake at best and moralizing at worst. There should always be trade-offs and sacrifices for major decisions.

 

For an example of a good mature setting, I don't think you have to go any further than Game of Thrones. It doesn't shy away from sex and violence, no character is perfect, bad things happen to good people and bad deeds often go unpunished. But it isn't ALL doom and gloom either. There are moments of levity, justice, and kindness in a fundamentally selfish and unfair world. That's exactly how I want this game's tone and style to be.

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The most important thing to me is that this game not have those ridiculous saccharine make-everyone-happy endings to major quests and the game itself. That makes a story seem fake at best and moralizing at worst. There should always be trade-offs and sacrifices for major decisions.

 

For an example of a good mature setting, I don't think you have to go any further than Game of Thrones. It doesn't shy away from sex and violence, no character is perfect, bad things happen to good people and bad deeds often go unpunished. But it isn't ALL doom and gloom either. There are moments of levity, justice, and kindness in a fundamentally selfish and unfair world. That's exactly how I want this game's tone and style to be.

 

Better example: DA:O. For a game that prizes itself in its C&C (best quest design its one truly great feature), it botches replayability with third options or stupid dilemmas. For one, due to circumstace in a major quest you're prompted to choose between killing a child or allowing his mother to sacrifice herself to save him.

 

Alas, there's a third option without any bad consequence at all.

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The most important thing to me is that this game not have those ridiculous saccharine make-everyone-happy endings to major quests and the game itself. That makes a story seem fake at best and moralizing at worst. There should always be trade-offs and sacrifices for major decisions.

 

For an example of a good mature setting, I don't think you have to go any further than Game of Thrones. It doesn't shy away from sex and violence, no character is perfect, bad things happen to good people and bad deeds often go unpunished. But it isn't ALL doom and gloom either. There are moments of levity, justice, and kindness in a fundamentally selfish and unfair world. That's exactly how I want this game's tone and style to be.

 

Better example: DA:O. For a game that prizes itself in its C&C (best quest design its one truly great feature), it botches replayability with third options or stupid dilemmas. For one, due to circumstace in a major quest you're prompted to choose between killing a child or allowing his mother to sacrifice herself to save him.

 

Alas, there's a third option without any bad consequence at all.

 

Lol, as I was writing my post I was thinking of that exact quest as an example of how NOT to do it. What a cheap copout it was for what should've been one of the better dilemmas we've seen in a game.

 

That and the sex scenes in underwear. If you're gonna show sex, show nudity. Doesn't have to be gratuitous, but for god's sake don't make it look ridiculous like in DA.

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I'd love to learn more about the OP's idea regarding characters with disabilities. Potentially very interesting.

 

Good ideas that have also been brought up are in my opinion the subjects of mercy and surrender (the latter especially in the case of the PC), and the notion that violence is unpleasant. In general, those parts of fighting that are usually forgotten. If fighting is gonna play a role in a game (and it usually takes one of the front seats in RPGs), the authors should adress them. I sincerely hope Obsidian will take care of this traditional CRPG shortcoming.

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I would like to see

-Substance abuse. For example: powerful mage abusing dangerous drug that boosts his abilities for the sake of the community. If you make him stop his city won't grow much but he'll live long enough to do some significant magic research if you don't his city will grow to be a major power in the region but certain branch of magic will never be discovered because of his premature death

-Black magic used in noble goals. For example a certain tribe sacrifices their own people to gain power form demons to fight off the invaders. The sacrificed people are agreeable

-Witcher like dilemmas when someone is going to get hurt, possibly a person you like

-Situations when it's better to support evil people for long-range goals. Like doing quests for evil organisation in order to gain it's support in an upcoming battle and saving many people in the process. The quests should require player to do things that are clearly morally wrong (like murdering a good priest) without a third option where player may fake doing quests like telling people to go into hiding and reporting that they are dead.

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What exactly makes something mature?

 

Context is important.

 

In the context of this thread's topic, I'd argue that "mature" means both handling topics in an adult, reasonable, rational and thoughtful way as well as topics that are a bit more cerebral, more graphic, or more controversial. It's the combination of those two - you could have a mature conversation about bunnies or playing hopscotch, and you could have a very immature exploitation of sex, drugs and violence.

 

So, to sum up - mature examinations of mature topics.

 

A considered and grown-up inclusion of subject matter that is considered not suitable for minors and juveniles (the not-adults, or immature.)

 

I guess. It's just I knew right away that there were going to be suggestions for things like rape, incest, and basically anything that is kind of considered taboo.

 

The most maturing thing that ever happened to me in life was the death of my brother when I was 13 years old. Yet death of someone you care about isn't mentioned. Or at the very least, death of someone that a character in the game cares about, since many of the people will be like "i want to not care about things if I don't want to."

 

The other thing I'm wondering is, does it really just boil down to escape vs interpretive writing?

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There seemed to be a lot of gossip on the Facebook page that Eternity will be based on the Wheel of Time.... that would explain the souls theme. The series bored me so much I felt physical pain trying to read it after a few books in, but there is a lot of sound lore and stuff that could be used well by better writers.


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Anyway, we can all safely agree that swearwords, gratuitous sex and violence and anything BUT mature themes. It may make the game unsuitable for 8-year olds, but any early teenager would instantly appreciate it...

 

Which leads me to define mature themes as "themes that take a certain level of maturity to really appreciate". For instance, Kreia was an epitome of a character that was mature, ambiguous, and, well, not very appreciated because she was she was talking about choices, consequences, chaos theory, moral relativity, and was an old lady with no nipples pushing though shapeless her robe (that she wore instead of armored bikini).

But some, including me, sees her as the best character in RPGs of all times, even outstripping PST companions... well, stands to reason her being one of Ravel incarnations really.

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Gotta say that I don't like the "isms" checklist at all.

 

There's a quote by William Gibson that I really like, something about the how the last thing that he wants is to be a didactic writer. That is, he doesn't want to lecture his reader, or limit himself by trying to convey a specific message. Ever since I heard that, I've been terribly afraid of being creatively didactic in any way. Dealing with contemporary issues (abortion?) could easily fall into that trap. Even if the message is "it's complicated," there's still the hand of the developer behind it trying to tell you how they think the world works.

 

As for themes, my desperate hope is there will be as many opportunities as possible to resolve conflicts without violence. Or at least that the world will be one in which violence has real consequences, that NPCs will have a convincing sense of self-preservation, and that the use of violence will never be an option of first resort.

Edited by Alex Sherman
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Honestly I'd love to see some of the darker sides of romance. For instance Cullen from Dragon Age: Origins. There was a joke going around how he stalked and was obsessive over the female mage origin. People thought it was creepy and it's frowned upon while I, love it. I love creepy/twisted/dark romances. Bring on the jealousy, possessiveness and all. A form of that in japanese term is yandere (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/yandere). Thinking about my romance option obsessing over me and killing what they believe is a romantic rival and being possessive just lights my fire! Mmm, yea~

 

Aside from that, I think possibly along the lines of sacrifice your companion for say like the health of a child or such. That also reminds me of a good decision in Fable 2 is where:

 

At the end after the tower is finished and Teresa gives you one wish you can; a) wish for all the thousands of people to come back at the expense of your sister and your faithful and loving dog. b) wish for your sister and dog to come back at the expense of all those thousands of people or c) chose to sacrifice all for personal greed.

 

 

All of those are morally grey in some way and end up with a sacrifice in some form. Your either lonely, selfish or greedy. I personally liked the decisions and chose B myself.

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There's a quote by William Gibson that I really like, something about the how the last thing that he wants is to be a didactic writer. That is, he doesn't want to lecture his reader, or limit himself by trying to convey a specific message. Ever since I heard that, I've been terribly afraid of being creatively didactic in any way. Dealing with contemporary issues (abortion?) could easily fall into that trap. Even if the message is "it's complicated," there's still the hand of the developer behind it trying to tell you how they think the world works.

I don't want the devs to be didactic. It's unbecoming in a young girl and men *loathe* it. Anyhow, I would like to see some themes treated in the game, but I don't want the design team to morally instruct us in regards to those themes in any way. No good/bad meter. No dark/ligth meter. Here's the situation, what will you do?

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Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
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Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

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There's a quote by William Gibson that I really like, something about the how the last thing that he wants is to be a didactic writer. That is, he doesn't want to lecture his reader, or limit himself by trying to convey a specific message. Ever since I heard that, I've been terribly afraid of being creatively didactic in any way. Dealing with contemporary issues (abortion?) could easily fall into that trap. Even if the message is "it's complicated," there's still the hand of the developer behind it trying to tell you how they think the world works.

I don't want the devs to be didactic. It's unbecoming in a young girl and men *loathe* it. Anyhow, I would like to see some themes treated in the game, but I don't want the design team to morally instruct us in regards to those themes in any way. No good/bad meter. No dark/ligth meter. Here's the situation, what will you do?

No morality meter any more. Just in case some of you haven't read th interview below with Cain and Sawyer, there are quite many morality/culture related info there.

From Lots more Project Eternity information and a tentative spring 2014 release date

"While there are social concepts of good and evil," he added, "the game does not track an alignment for the player. Instead we will use a reputation system to keep track of what different groups in the world think of you. Consequences of your actions will matter in Project Eternity."

 

Further about Cain talking on moralitiy

Cain is excited about developing mature themes for Project Eternity. "To me, a mature game deals with some issues of a serious nature," he elaborated. "Moral choices are a perfect topic. For example, is killing always evil? Is the act of sacrificing someone for the greater good a good act in itself? Does doing good things make a person good? Torment explored these ideas in exquisite detail, and we'd like to do the same."

 

Cultural varieties

Sawyer continued: "Within even the recognisable races (including humans), we are creating a variety of ethnic subtypes and nationalities. This world's races did not all spring forth from the same place, and millennia of independent development have resulted in distinctive and unconnected groups. For example, the dwarf ranger [concept art - posted in this article] is originally from a southern boreal region that is quite different from the temperate homes of her distant kin to the north.

 

"Additionally, Project Eternity's world contains some isolated races and ethnicities, but transoceanic exploration and cultural cohabitation have heavily mixed many racial and ethnic groups over time. This mixing is not always... peaceful. At times it has degenerated into genocide and long-standing prejudices are ingrained in many cultures."

 

And how these cultural/ethical differences can be unfolded as personalized experience through PC-NPC interactiaons

"In Project Eternity, companions exist for both narrative and mechanical purposes," Sawyer explained. "Companions are designed to have a driving interest in the player's central conflict. Their personalities and motivations open plot branches and generate conflicts for players to resolve over the course of the story. They are highly reactive to the player's actions and to the world around them.

 

Jefferson with the twist of Planescape: Torment - It appears to be going to right direction to me.

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Gotta say that I don't like the "isms" checklist at all.

 

There's a quote by William Gibson that I really like, something about the how the last thing that he wants is to be a didactic writer. That is, he doesn't want to lecture his reader, or limit himself by trying to convey a specific message. Ever since I heard that, I've been terribly afraid of being creatively didactic in any way. Dealing with contemporary issues (abortion?) could easily fall into that trap. Even if the message is "it's complicated," there's still the hand of the developer behind it trying to tell you how they think the world works.

 

As for themes, my desperate hope is there will be as many opportunities as possible to resolve conflicts without violence. Or at least that the world will be one in which violence has real consequences, that NPCs will have a convincing sense of self-preservation, and that the use of violence will never be an option of first resort.

 

It's possible to support a side of an argument without neccesarily promoting it or lecturing, as long as the counter-argument is properly given some spotlight time as well.

For example, in my opinion Fallout has generally thrown "the end justifies the means" into the "evil" category. The Master was defeated, the Enclave was defeated, and I highly doubt Caesar's Legion winning the Second Battle for Hoover Dam becomes canon (simply because so many hate the hell out of the Legion). Nevertheless, they all provide good arguments, Caesar's Legion in particular. I don't support the Legion, but I STILL agree with many of their points and would argue the NCR is more evil. Still, the game pushes you in the direction of supporting the NCR far more than it does supporting the Legion.

 

In that sense, if a dev supports an ideology or a stance over another, I don't think they should be afraid to show it in game, as long as they can admit merits of the other side of the argument aswell. As long as the game can simply spark debate amongst users with it's events being points of citation, then it does it's job, imo.

 

But you're right about abortion, I agree entirely. Certain themes in this thread just simply don't fall into "mature" the way they mean the word. Abortion is one of them.

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In that sense, if a dev supports an ideology or a stance over another, I don't think they should be afraid to show it in game, as long as they can admit merits of the other side of the argument aswell. As long as the game can simply spark debate amongst users with it's events being points of citation, then it does it's job, imo.

 

But you're right about abortion, I agree entirely. Certain themes in this thread just simply don't fall into "mature" the way they mean the word. Abortion is one of them.

 

You're absolutely right, and certainly we can trust Obsidian to do these ideas justice in whatever way they see fit. I guess that I find it offputting when a controversial topic is proposed as if it should be dealt with for its own sake, and I like contributions that suggest a conflict inherent in the theme, like BasaltineBadger's post above, rather than the theme itself. My bias is unfair, though, since the game will deal with the inherent conflicts beautifully and I really have nothing to worry about. But I still think that the discussion here could be more productive, since the idea of a game treating us like adults is a rare and thrilling one.

 

I just wish I had more to contribute. Hmm. Something that I've been thinking about since Josh's Update #5 is how interesting the time period is relative to the setting. An "early modern" or "culturally renaissance" society is going to be very different from our own if souls, magic and deities are provable science. Where the Renaissance in Europe moved toward a more open and secular society when scientific methods challenged church doctrine, an enlightenment society in this world may become more religious and more fanatical if use of the scientific method actually confirms and reinforces existing religious dogma. I find this idea fascinating since it scares the hell out of me, as in a brutal religious inquisition that can justify its actions, no matter how horrible, with provable, empirical facts.

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In that sense, if a dev supports an ideology or a stance over another, I don't think they should be afraid to show it in game, as long as they can admit merits of the other side of the argument aswell. As long as the game can simply spark debate amongst users with it's events being points of citation, then it does it's job, imo.

 

Longknife, this is true, however we all have different feelings towards our own boundaries of expression. What if a dev decides to showcase a view that they disagree with strongly? In most role-playing games they gloss over contradictory viewpoints as if the opposing side is a big joke.

 

But you're right about abortion, I agree entirely. Certain themes in this thread just simply don't fall into "mature" the way they mean the word. Abortion is one of them.

 

Abortion cannot possibly be the subject of further discussion. It's done and over with, for that child of a topic is dead. Let's go on with our lives.


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