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Default Dragon Commander - Pitfalls of Politics and Ethics in Videogames

July 9th, 2013, 02:22
In a lenghty post on his personal blog Larian's Swen Vincke explains the studio's approach to the political and ethical quandaries present in Divinity: Dragon Commander.



If there is one aspect of Dragon Commander that has generated frequent discussion among the team at Larian it is the topic of politics and more specifically: the political, moral and ethical choices you can make in the game. When you are aboard your command ship, the Raven, a broad spectrum of political and moral issues will be brought before you by a variety of characters and inevitably, these characters will vehemently disagree with one another at all but every junction.

Our inspiration for these political conundrums we derived from newspapers, news websites and news broadcasts the world over. We ended up with a host of current issues that – to use a whopper of a euphemism – create debate wherever they arise. It is these issues that we translated into a fantasy context, though they remain quite recognisable.

To do so we created a host of fantasy characters that represent people or philosophies of a certain political persuasion in an almost commedia dell’arte manner. They are stock characters in their way, with their own eccentricities and conflicting ideals, but their masks are those of lizards, imps, elves, dwarves and undead rather than the literally masked prototypes of the theatrical genre.

These characters speak plainly. They speak forcefully. They hammer home their viewpoint, often eschewing all nuance. In their own exaggerated manner they bring to bear their opinions, and even though it should go without saying, we’re saying this anyway: this doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with their opinions at all.

This is important to keep in mind, because by creating characters that often exceed individualism only to become certain ‘types’, we noticed that their opinion regarding various political statements were amplified to such an extent that they became quite frankly shocking.
I also have a couple of video previews courtesy of gamebanshee.


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