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SeaFall» Forums » General

Subject: Colonialism, soapboxing and railroading; a question about tone rss

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Fito R
Argentina
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After being, like most I think, hotly anticipating Seafall for over a year I saw my expectations tempered by initial impressions and early reviews. But nothing was as much as a cooler as hearing about the heavy handed colonialism theme.

Rob Daviau described this game as "Indiana Jones in the Age of Sail", but impressions of the Captain's Booke seem to point to "Heart of Darkness but in the Caribbean this time".

I'm not saying that having a strong political theme or bias is wrong for a game, but this is certainly not what was described. Not every game need to be Freedom Railroad. I have not bought this game nor played it yet (cause there were no English copies at Essen...), but I'm starting to sway.

My question, then, is what do you think? You, who have played Seafall. You who are still playing Seafall. You who have not yet played, but wish to do so. How strongly are you beat over the head with anti-colonialism in the game? Is this even an issue? Am I just being overdramatic?
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gary g
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Doesn't matter to me, it's really only flavor text not really Tales of Arabian Night random consequences, but I'm only 5 games in and it's been a pretty even split on natives hating you or them joining your side.
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Ben Rubinstein

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To be honest, Freedom Railroad is one of the only games in existence that take a critical eye toward its historical theme. I'm not sure where you get off saying that "not every game" needs to be like it. If anything, I appreciate games having more nuanced approaches to their theme. That said, I haven't played the game yet.
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Jean-Philippe Thériault
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Joou wrote:
How strongly are you beat over the head with anti-colonialism in the game?


Seriously? That would be a problem?

If anything I would say the likely issue with the theme is the inherent glorification of colonialism implicit in a theme of glory given to "exploration"... of islands that already have natives living there.
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j n
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Joou wrote:
How strongly are you beat over the head with anti-colonialism in the game? Is this even an issue? Am I just being overdramatic?


I'm two games (plus prologue) in and no sign that this is even a thing.

I mean, maybe some of the "native superstitions" that we're currently scoffing at are going to come back and eat us with tentacles, but I don't think that's the kind of "beating over the head" you're talking about?
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David desJardins
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Joou wrote:
But nothing was as much as a cooler as hearing about the heavy handed colonialism theme.

How strongly are you beat over the head with anti-colonialism in the game? Is this even an issue? Am I just being overdramatic?


I'm pretty confused by your questions. Are you concerned that the game glorifies colonialism or concerned that the game attacks colonialism?

Personally I would say it's too light to do much of either. Indiana Jones sounds about right. Does Indiana Jones take a stance on colonialism?
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Timothy Young
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DaviddesJ wrote:

I'm pretty confused by your questions. Are you concerned that the game glorifies colonialism or concerned that the game attacks colonialism?


I was left wondering the same thing.
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Ben Rubinstein

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DaviddesJ wrote:
Joou wrote:
But nothing was as much as a cooler as hearing about the heavy handed colonialism theme.

How strongly are you beat over the head with anti-colonialism in the game? Is this even an issue? Am I just being overdramatic?


I'm pretty confused by your questions. Are you concerned that the game glorifies colonialism or concerned that the game attacks colonialism?

Personally I would say it's too light to do much of either. Indiana Jones sounds about right. Does Indiana Jones take a stance on colonialism?


Pretty sure he's worried that the game attacks colonialism.
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j n
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epilepticemu wrote:
Pretty sure he's worried that the game attacks colonialism.


I mean, I mentally inserted "in a preachy, self-righteous way" but basically yeah.
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In service to the Imperium of Man
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XDarkAngelX wrote:
Joou wrote:
How strongly are you beat over the head with anti-colonialism in the game?


Seriously? That would be a problem?

If anything I would say the likely issue with the theme is the inherent glorification of colonialism implicit in a theme of glory given to "exploration"... of islands that already have natives living there.

Yeah, it's really hard to interpret SeaFall as being critical of colonialism. It's practically "Manifest Destiny: The Game".
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Mark Bigney
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All the narration is told from the colonialists' perspective, which leads to some pretty dull narrative.
"We disembarked and the local savages were doing [something potentially interesting], but who cares about that? We took some wood." Ooh, story.
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Becq Starforged
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Out of curiosity, what did you expect to get from the Captain's Booke narrative, and what led you to that expectation? The information that Rob and JR gave out via interviews and blogs seems to me to have reasonably reflected what I'm seeing in the game. I'm fairly sure I wouldn't want to read a novella every time I explore a site...

And given that the player factions are imperialistic colonialists, I guess I'm not sure what people expected from the perspective, either. If there's a story from history of colonization that resulted -- with a year to a decade or so of hindsight -- in both sides being ecstatic about how things turned out ... I'm not aware of it!
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j n
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Becq wrote:
Out of curiosity, what did you expect to get from the Captain's Booke narrative, and what led you to that expectation? The information that Rob and JR gave out via interviews and blogs seems to me to have reasonably reflected what I'm seeing in the game. I'm fairly sure I wouldn't want to read a novella every time I explore a site...


This is basically how I feel. Most games where I've been told to expect amazing (or even good) story from the game's own writing fall flat for me.

Seafall on the other hand is more about the stories you create in game with your friends, with the Booke entries providing some setting/mood/theme in the background (and a mechanism for filling out a world that will end up unique per playgroup), which just works better for me*.

*Disclaimer about not having finished the game, might still be disappointed later, yada yada...
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Casual Tryhard
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A couple of video reviews were very harsh on the writing in the Captain's Booke, which I don't think is fair.

The entries aren't riveting, but they do add color and set the tone for the story that comes later, which I think is all they're intended for. My playgroup often...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
My playgroup often chuckles at the deliberately schlocky "natives are restless" stuff, and we enjoyed the gradual realization that the spice we're all trading in is not oregano or cinnamon but something with a little more power to motivate a reluctant workforce.


The criticism of the story I do agree with is that it starts too late. Most of the major events seem to be compressed into the campaign's ending sequence rather than being woven into the gameplay from the beginning. The...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Pirate King should be a known antagonist from a much earlier milestone -- something plausibly unlockable in the first game, and there should be much stronger hints about the Society from early on (perhaps event cards could refer to them before they're encountered for real, the way it is with the Pirate King now).

Our game conquered Ker and Tortosa back-to-back, and the hints after the conquests of Ker ("Some of our men are talking about some kind of Society...") seem intended to be read before Arados was discovered, but at that point we'd already been using the Light of Truth for several games, so it fell completely flat.

I'm curious though -- did others conquer Ker before finding Arados? Was our group an outlier in that?
 
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