Paradox takes a stand against unrealistic chainmail bikinis and boob armour.
By Tim Colwill on August 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm
The traditional image of the viking is one of excessive manliness, and indeed the promotional art released so far for Paradox’s War of the Vikings features a very manly viking with a very manly beard glowering in a very manly, er, manner — so you may be surprised to learn that War of the Vikings will, actually, feature female fighters.
“Well in the the Norse culture, a woman could choose to be a viking,” says senior producer Gordon van Dyke to me during an interview session yesterday. “They’re very pragmatic, very practical about things.”
“If you can fight and kick somebody’s ass, and you’re gonna help me with my excursion — if you’re gonna kick ass for me — you can be with me. I don’t give a crap if you’re a woman or a man. It doesn’t matter. That was how they were.”
Van Dyke stresses that the inclusion of women in viking combat was based on actual research.
“We met with a viking archaeologist, and her specialty was in viking combat,” he says. “Now if it was like, okay, you can’t fight very well, you’re tiny and you’re frail, but you’re smart so… you’re a merchant. Or you’re working with technology. You’re a blacksmith, whatever.”
“Whatever it was that you fit better, you did that. You didn’t pretend to be who you’re not, which happens a bit more now in our society and culture. They were very much like that. There weren’t rules against women taking on these roles. They had a choice.”
The inclusion of women in a highly competitive multiplayer game could be fraught with danger (and derision) if playing a female character changed your statistics, or affected your ability to fight in some way. However, van Dyke told us that character gender choices only affected the face and voice, and made no difference to your fighting ability or your hitbox.
In the future, however, van Dyke is looking to add at least one female-specific character class based on actual Norse practices.
“I’ve talked about these base archetypes, the light, the medium and the heavy. What we’ll do is we’ll probably start adding new, more unique archetypes, and one of them would likely be a shield maiden,” he says.
“We have several obvious choices and one of them is a shield maiden, and having a counterpart on the saxons side. Another option is berserker, that’s very common, everybody knows about that. Another is that.. the saxons would hire viking mercenaries. There were mercenary groups of vikings, that’s what they did to make money, they would go and fight for people because they really liked to fight.”
Given that female characters are being included, I have to ask: will they be dressed in unnecessarily revealing chainmail bikinis or unrealistic boob armour?
“Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever,” says van Dyke. “Ever. In my document that I wrote for myself, when I was writing down possible future archetypes I was like: shield maiden – NO BOOB ARMOUR EVER,” he says, making underlining gestures in the air as he speaks.
“I just really don’t like that. They were athletes. They’re not going to do something that’s going to basically create a… a nice perfect channel to slide the sword right up into the jugular. That’s just stupid. They were athletes, and just like female athletes now, in whatever sport it is, they will actually wear gear that’s going to make them succeed the most. And that’s what they would have done. “
“They’d have taken the same gear as the men, putting that on, not dressing up in some fancy made-just-for-girls kind of thing. They were warriors. We’re going to treat them that way.”
War of the Vikings will also feature what van Dyke describes as “an extensive beard customisation system”, with the team putting in extra effort to make sure that the beards use the Apex Clothing system and move realistically as you stomp around the battlefield. However, he’s not sure about letting players put these wicked beards onto women characters, ala Saints Row.
“I, er, hrm. That’s kind of immersion breaking,” he says. “I’ll have to think about that.”
When it comes to beards, van Dyke is very enthusiastic. He pegs the number of beards in the game at approximately “as many as goddamn possible”, and says “we want a massive amount of beards, especially for the vikings. They braided them, they had jewels in there, different colours, they’d bleach their beards blonde, maybe have some that are a bit streaked.”
Unfortunately, it turns out that this hasn’t affected the amount of beard-growth around the development office.
“Actually in Sweden you always have a lot of facial hair,” he says. “Guys tend to have beards. Girls like beards out there. It’s really easy to grow a beard and nobody looks at you weird if you have this overly grown-out beard.”
“You’d fit right in,” he says.
“Thanks, Gordon,” I reply.