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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [King Rat] How much history?  (Read 2893 times)
Przemyslaw F. Szkodzinski
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Posts: 27


« on: February 25, 2006, 12:10:30 PM »

Hello everyone,

My Ronnies submission "King Rat" is steadily becoming bigger and generally more complex. Right now, not only the basic player character setup has become broader, the in-game economics less vague (although they still require a lot of thought) and all the non-player characters more in-depth, but also the game's now got a clearly defined setting (unlike the 24-hour RPG my signature links to). And, since it's set in 20th century post-World War II, post-Stalinist People's Republic of Poland, its prisons and Soviet gulags (after the year 1953), a problem arises.

To be honest, I don't think that this particular period of history is known in detail to many, especially when the history is that of Poland (even most Poles either have very simpleminded and belied ideas about it or none at all). Showing all of its faces and intricacies would require dozens of textbooks, not one sorry chapter of an RPG book, and describing it solely from the viewpoint of people contemporary to the post-1953 period could leave some false impressions in the reader. It wouldn't be a problem if there were, say, well-known movies and books that could be used as reference, but most movies are either a) belied, b) inaccurate or c) quite old and Polish and thus not really well-known, and I could name very few books that had been in popular circulation abroad (and they could be mite difficult to acquire).

Thus, I am facing the problem of information balancing. I don't want the game to become a history textbook, because only a tiny bit of the general information will be required to play, but then again, I don't want to misinform or baffle potential readers and players (I thoroughly despise misinformation and intentional omission of "certain facts", however unpleasant they may be). As for now, I'm planning to portray the general feeling and situation as it was shown in propaganda, how the propaganda was percieved and as it was popularly seen at the time, and include a portion of solid facts required to possess a general understanding of the period - interweaved within the game text, with an appendix or a commentary trying to outline what couldn't be included in the game text itself. The thing is that, although history obviously plays the most important role in a historical setting, I want to give the narrative produced in the course of the game (for the game is becoming constantly less gamist than the first sketchy design was) more of a literary, arty feeling - coming to terms with history isn't the goal of this game.

Is my solution to this issue any good? Are there any games that had to deal with such problems and did it succesfully (or failed, for the matter)? Any other ideas? Let's discuss.

Cheers,
PSz
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Is it not by means of the imagination one knows joy? Is it not of the imagination that the sharpest pleasures arise?
 - Marquis de Sade

Currently in development: King Rat; Your 120 Days of Sodom
Josh Roby
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Posts: 1055

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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2006, 12:22:25 PM »

As for now, I'm planning to portray the general feeling and situation as it was shown in propaganda, how the propaganda was percieved and as it was popularly seen at the time, and include a portion of solid facts required to possess a general understanding of the period - interweaved within the game text, with an appendix or a commentary trying to outline what couldn't be included in the game text itself.

Considering this is almost exactly what I would suggest, I think you're on the right track.
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stefoid
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2006, 06:36:22 PM »

only include history that has a direct bearing on the 'present'.
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Przemyslaw F. Szkodzinski
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2006, 05:41:03 AM »

only include history that has a direct bearing on the 'present'.

The idea is to show the 'present' in the way it was percieved by people living just then, in 'the present' (let's call it "time setting"). The thing I'm worried about is that it could make the game's audience unsure of how it actually had been, but that could be avoided by including solid facts as a form of a commentary or as an appendix (and a solid bibliography to boot). I think this could be pulled off. Also, I could post some articles on a website for those wanting to widen their knowledge.

Considering this is almost exactly what I would suggest, I think you're on the right track.

Great.
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Is it not by means of the imagination one knows joy? Is it not of the imagination that the sharpest pleasures arise?
 - Marquis de Sade

Currently in development: King Rat; Your 120 Days of Sodom
Malcolm Craig
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Posts: 263


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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2006, 07:53:48 AM »

only include history that has a direct bearing on the 'present'.

The idea is to show the 'present' in the way it was percieved by people living just then, in 'the present' (let's call it "time setting"). The thing I'm worried about is that it could make the game's audience unsure of how it actually had been, but that could be avoided by including solid facts as a form of a commentary or as an appendix (and a solid bibliography to boot). I think this could be pulled off. Also, I could post some articles on a website for those wanting to widen their knowledge.

I think a smattering of solid facts, enough to give 'feel', balanced with a bibliography, links to useful sites and so forth, would be a good way of going about it. Like you said, you don't want to burden the reader with textbook-level historical analysis but you want to give a good feeling for the era and what you're attempting evoke with the game setting.

Extra articles on a website would also be good for those who wish to immerse themselves further in the history of the period. That could satisfy the needs of most parties.

Quote from: Przemyslaw F. Szkodzinski
...and include a portion of solid facts required to possess a general understanding of the period - interweaved within the game text, with an appendix or a commentary trying to outline what couldn't be included in the game text itself.

I'd call this, from my point of view as someone interested in playing the game, pretty much the ideal balance.

Great to hear about the progression of King Rat.

Cheers
Malcolm
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Malcolm Craig
Contested Ground Studios
www.contestedground.co.uk

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