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Changeling

An Urban Fantasy visual novel that explores romance within a dangerous paranormal community · By Steamberry Studio

Concern about dialogue usage when game was included Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality Locked

A topic by Jemini1510 created Jun 11, 2020 Views: 1,731 Replies: 7
This topic was locked by Steamberry Studio 95 days ago

Preemptively locking as Steamberry has already explained the situation with the updates, stated their stance on the situation, and has indicated they are still working on a potential solution. Heated responses are completely understandable and valid but we would rather stop it here before it potentially becomes an argument. Thank you all for your understanding. <3

Viewing posts 1 to 5
(+17)(-17)

Hello, I have just started playing Changling and I have just entered Chapter 2 of the game (arriving at school) and I have already encountered two instances of the the racially inappropriate term "slave driver" used in the game.  This term has deep  historical roots to slavery and should not be perpetuated vernacular.  It feels especially problematic when the protagonist of the story who is using the language is white herself.   

I would urge you to change the dialogue, particularly if you are going to continue to have it offered through this bundle.

Developer(+18)(-1)

Jemini - thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. 

You're totally right in that this term has terrible roots and it's a term that is so common in a lot of vernacular that we used it without any consideration for its history and usage. It didn't cross our minds at all when we put in the game, but we recognise it's a term we absolutely have to remove from our vocabulary.

We want to apologise for the lack of sensitivity involved on our part with this particular language.

We're not sure we'll be able to make this update before the bundle is over.

Due to the journal in the game and the way it's coded - and handles persistent data (which is something we had to hire someone else to do for us - as neither of the Steamberry devs is adept enough at coding to manage it ourselves) - updating the game can cause issues with erasing all save data and progress. We had a lot of issues with this during beta testing, and even a small update to change two uses of a phrase will require testing to make sure we can safely make that change!

I'll take a look at it today and see what can be done. If it's possible to safely make the change, it'll happen ASAP.

If necessary, we'll take a more in-depth look at how to fix this as quickly as we can, even if it takes a few days.

Thank you!

~Esh

Developer(+12)

Just wanted to post a quick update that we're definitely running into some more significant issues than we expected when it comes to building an update. There are multiple issues at play - including the fact that version of the game engine that Changeling was built in is severely outdated. We started coding this project over four years ago and the engine has gone through multiple massive updates. Trying to rebuild the game in the current version will require us to make some more substantial changes to just basically update the game code.

But we're currently struggling to even get the game to launch in the old versions of the engine.

All of this to say that we're working on it and will continue to try to find a workable solution to let us update. We've already corrected the text itself (as well as an additional use of the same phrase in William's route).

It's just about getting the update live and working around the fact that this 4+ year old code from back when I was...really bad at coding! And I'm currently a one person operation as the other half of Steamberry Studio is on a hiatus. I did want to make sure you knew that I'm definitely working on it.

<3

~Esh

(+4)(-6)

Thank you for the update!  I can understand if coding/age of the game ends up being a roadblock that becomes too hard of a challenge to overcome.  I appreciate the work and effort towards addressing my concern.  

Addressing the Maulth's comment of not being able to please everyone, while yes this is true  that literature evolves and you can't please everyone in language choice, I felt it important to point out especially when then the Studio has donated the game to the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality.  Such a language choice goes against the work of racial justice and equality which the studio is obviously striving to work towards or else they would not have donated their work.  

Developer(+5)

;A; 

So far only a few people have tested the possible update but it's essentially wreaked havoc on the save data for everyone so far. I think the issue is stemming more from the conflict between the version of the Ren'py engine in which Changeling was originally built and the current one.

Ren'py went through several massive changes during the course of Changeling's development. At one point we had to stop updating the engine because it kept completely devastating our code and breaking the game. And at the time we just didn't have the budget to be able to pay someone to overhaul the code every single time Ren'py updated. Because of that, the version of the engine the original builds are done in is just really out of date compared to what's available now.

We did find the old versions and tried downloading and building the update in those old versions but it didn't work and, for some reason, we couldn't get the game to launch. So we were stuck with trying to build the distributions in the current version of Ren'py. The problem is that it required us to fix the glitchy parts and try to update the code so that the game is playable and not buggy. That part was a little tedious (one of the issues required me to make an edit to every single choice menu in the game - of which there are 307! LoL).

But the issue is that saves are just completely messed up now, with many of them completely crashing the game if you try to load them. While overall progress is preserved, it's clearly the update would completely destroy everyone's saves. 

As such, we're just trying to decide what to do next! I'm also waiting to hear from a few more testers because right now there have only been 4, which isn't a huge test group and we definitely need to make sure there aren't more significant issues with this build than just broken saves. Even so, with at least 7000 new downloads of the game in the last week, we definitely can't push an update we know would actively destroy everyone's save files. There are still options available though and, at the moment, we're just trying to confirm the save files are the only casualty.

So yeah! That's an update on what's going on! <3

~Esh

(+15)(-19)

This is absolutely not worth the effort to change. Visual Novels are (typically) literature-based, and you're neither promoting nor employing racism or slavery. This is someone who *really* wants to be offended by something picking a bone for literally no reason. You know how many printed works have that exact word usage in them? Hundreds of thousands, and the people decrying insensitivity and racism in those scenarios are just as wrong. The written word is protected for a reason - this exact circumstance, actually - and it's so that people don't try to white-wash artistic works. If you were to remove everything that could give offense, every novel would be bland, repetitive, uninspired fodder for uselessness. Only someone with an incredibly weak mental constitution would take issue with this. Your VN is fine as-is.

Developer(+12)(-2)

Maulth - thank you for taking the time to post here and share your thoughts. <3

We totally realise that this will be a non-issue for some people. It's gone without comment for well over a year. But we can also see how it could be very jarring and confronting for some at this point in history and as a part of this particular bundle with its particular purpose.

Language is always evolving, and certain phrases with problematic roots may have grown beyond those roots in their general usage - while other words and phrases remain problematic. To complicate matters, what's problematic and what's not isn't going to be the same for all people, not even within the same community or group.  I've really come to dislike the phrase "grammar nazi" - do all Jewish people feel that way? Not by a long shot. And I think that's totally fine. There are tons of people who use that phrase in a totally non offensive way and I don't really point it out or say anything about it.

You're totally right that we cannot sanitise language. It's a task that's too big - and you're right in that trying to remove every word that might possibly offend every individual on the planet would leave us all in silence.  We completely agree that we can't strip language of all that makes it unique and beautiful  and nuanced - in an attempt to make it as utterly non-offensive and non-confronting as possible.

That said, we do feel that if someone finds something confronting or tone deaf or out of keeping with a message that our studio is trying to send, then we want to seriously consider what can do about it - if we can do anything at all.  Sometimes we might not be able to fix it. And in some cases, we might disagree that anything needs to be done to fix it in the first place. We might disagree with the general sentiment or feel that something serves a greater purpose in a story and deserves to stay.

Every situation is different.

For this moment and this phrase, we'd like to try to correct it if we're able to do so without destroying everyone's progress and save data because we do think it's a valid observation! And it's something we're willing to put effort into doing right now. But we're still testing to see if that's possible, so we'll have to see!

Again, thank you for taking the time to comment.

~Esh

(+12)(-7)

> someone who *really* wants to be offended by something

This is the always regurgitated line of someone who can't bother to think for themselves or to have empathy for others and *really* wants to be offended by someone speaking up about their personal experience.

> how many printed works

Yes, we should never change anything, ever. So many people are used to the status quo and therefore people should shut up and stop being a bother.

> the people decrying insensitivity and racism

Yes. People speaking up against intolerance are JUST AS BAD as the racists and bigots they oppose! You are very clever.

> If you were to remove everything

Wheeeeee, slippery slopes are fun!

> Only someone with an incredibly weak mental constitution

"Unlike ME who is SUPER MAD about a small, polite word change request in a VN!"

Go ahead and kill that high horse you rode in on. It's unearned and you've abused it to death already.

Developer locked this topic