Apr 26

2010

Further Thoughts on Villeneuve

Posted by: Heather Albano | Comments (12)

“Villeneuve is way cooler than any of the boring boys at the dance! We made such a good team.”

Quoth my friend Becky, explaining her surprise that it was not (at that time) possible to pursue a same-sex relationship with Villeneuve. A common sentiment, as it turned out.

“I think there’s such an interest in this aspect of the story,” wrote Spider in a comment to an earlier blog post, “because Villeneuve is the best-fleshed-out character. You don’t have the same level of interaction with the three marriage interests, and relationships with them feel rushed…”

And Spider is quite right about that. We didn’t design the possible spouses to be less interesting than Villeneuve… but the fact that many players viewed them that way says something about modern (visceral, not intellectual) reactions to 19th century courtship rituals.

Nowadays, we tend to want partners for our spouses. We seek out a member of our preferred gender with whom we share values and interests, with whom we can talk and upon whom we can rely. “We make a good team” is something you expect to be able to say of your spouse. Nowadays.

This is not the case in a Jane Austen comedy of manners, because it was not the case for gentry of the early 19th century of whom Jane was writing. The Season, as ridiculous as it sounds to us now, was a real thing. Upper-class young men really did meet young ladies at balls, court them under strict supervision and in highly artificial circumstances, and propose marriage after three to six months’ acquaintance. The spheres of men and women were so profoundly divided that for a wife to have full partnership in her husband’s world would have been an absurd thing to contemplate. It’s an unfortunate side effect of putting women on a pedestal: it’s kind of hard to be partners with them afterward. When they’re all the way up there and you’re not.

So of course most players were going to have a more genuine emotional reaction to Villeneuve than to the boys at the dance. Villeneuve is like them (like their characters, I mean, and of course depending upon choices made) in a way that the boring boys at the dance just aren’t. It’s possible to have a full partnership with Villeneuve.

The trade-off appears to be (again) between genre conventions and instinctive emotional resonance. A more modern relationship between the PC and his/her spouse might have been more emotionally satisfying… but then again, might have felt less true to the feel that Broadsides was attempting to evoke.

12 Comments

  1. John says:

    Yes! I had been thinking that this was one of those not-modern-homosexuality things, wherein rigid gender roles and separate social lives lead people to have far more in common with members of the same gender who can actually *understand* you and share fully in your joys and sorrows. :)

  2. Faye says:

    So if for some reason you guys did another period piece (or any piece set in a time with different romantic mores than our own), what would you do in this situation, stick to the time or go for emotional resonance? This is an interesting topic; I hadn’t really thought about the romances in that way before. (I guess you can tell I’m not a period romance reader, ha ha.)

    I very much did like Villeneuve more than the others. I think you are spot on as for why.

  3. Spider says:

    Mm, you know, but this makes the illicit homosexual relationship all the more wonderful. The ancient Greeks were all over the idea of ‘love a man, marry a woman,’ and I really liked the options in the original game to be of, ahem, not exactly you see, inclined in THAT manner when Bryce mentions marriage, and then the option of “ah, but it COULD be useful to marry the right woman…” And with that attitude, the stilted sort of courtship of the era makes perfect sense to my modern mind. I was actually almost a smidge disappointed that having a lasting, meaningful relationship with Villeneuve meant marriage for its benefits was off the table. But only the smallest smidge. I was much happier having a lasting, meaningful relationship with Villeneuve.

    I think it’s excellent that you’re really trying to stay true to the time period as well as create an entertaining game. The amount of work and research put into your more realistic games must be astounding. That being said, I still check every day for any sort of update. You’ve already got me hooked. ;)

  4. Adam says:

    I also view the issue as about what the focus of the game is. The core of Choice of Broadsides is a naval adventure. Therefore, people who are part of the naval adventure are the core supporting characters. The potential spouses are by design one vignette characters–they need to be meaningful, but they can’t have the depth that recurring antagonists/supporting characters who appear throughout the game need to have. Put another way, while Persuasion influenced one scene heavily, the game as a whole is much more Hornblower than Austin.

    My chief regret with regard to this is that we didn’t end up having any effective Bush character–while you can pick your first lieutenant eventually, and there are small snippets of character for the various choices, there isn’t a terribly meaningful “fellow Royal Navy officer” character. In a perfect world, the various midshipmen who can then recur as lieutenants would be better developed.

  5. rei says:

    Ah! How sad that I had to ‘kill’ Villeneuve in the game! And after all we’ve been through! If only there were more options during the battle…. Perhaps if we could actually select our maneuvers that would be more interesting?

    • Adam says:

      Rei: There are ways to avoid killing Villeneuve. Some of them require sufficiently good stats, and some of them can lead to “bad” endings for the player character, but there are happy endings where you don’t kill Villeneuve possible.

  6. Jared86 says:

    This comment seems to be about more than just the game – what you’re making amounts to a “rational choice” argument in favor of homosexuality. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and I actually think the current tract of “oh, I can’t help being gay, I’m born with it, its like an inborn illness like sickle cell anemia” doesn’t do much for gay rights. Far better to say “Yes, i choose to be gay, and im proud of my ch0ice. Dont like it? Then choose different choices.”

    For the record I dont believe homosexuality is genetic – but that doesnt mean its purely a choice either. Rather it has to do with what desires are going to be satiated by your needs. If your needs are to have a “full partnership” and you live in the 1700′s you might get more out of a same sex relationship. This same argument can be made about gender roles , too: out of norm gender roles are often stigmatized as homosexual even though gender norms are changing all the time. Something else is going on here.

  7. Communist Sam says:

    i disagree with all of you, I hated Villeneuve. The first time i played i didnt let Villeneuve have his parole because the game said i didnt have enough men, But i did give him his medical supplies. Then when i played cards with him at the party, that stupid idiot called me a cheater when i didn’t cheat.
    I loved shooting villeneuve at the duel and I loved killing him even more…

  8. Celestia says:

    I find that Villeneuve is very likeable.
    Is there a revive button?
    … Oh… such a distant wish
    Since I find it impossible to play a Navy-based-ish with a female character, I don’t exactly know the story there.
    However, I think it would be more interesting with a ‘betray your country and Join Villeneuve’ or ‘let him kill you’ or ‘surrender to him’ just for the fun off it.

  9. not this time says:

    Hmm… well, my stats in hand-to-hand were very low, and when I had to fight Villeneuve, I thought “Oh, since we had an affair, I don’t think he’ll hurt me.” Next thing I know, “You are dead”.
    FAIL. >.<

  10. Trey says:

    How do you get in a relationship with Villeneuve? i really want to know please

  11. A player says:

    I want to know how to maintain a relationship with Villenueve. I tried so hard and repeated the game a lot of times but I can never have a happy ending with her. :( Does someone know how?

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