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How important is historical and geographical accuracy?

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alandor
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How important is having the facts right in games? The game I’m working on takes place on the volcanic island Krakatoa, Indonesia. I’ll be honest though and say that this particular detail was decided when much of the game was already developed (before that it was just an unnamed island with a volcano). My aim has never been to create a game that would increase people’s knowledge of the island Krakatoa or the historical eruption that it’s known for. I just decided that this was a good name for the game (after a suggestion by someone here on BGDF). Most people that play the game accept that this is just a game and follow the rules and get immersed into the theme. A few people however have been making remarks on inaccuracies with regards to the theme and I’ve been wondering if I should take their criticism seriously or not worry about it.

Some points that have been raised:
• The island has different terrain types: plains, forest, mountain, marsh and lake. One person said that lakes and marshes aren’t to be expected on a volcanic island. I wouldn’t know but it sounds reasonable.
• Players will encounter wild beasts on the island. Monkeys (in mountain territories), tigers (forest), snakes (plains) and crocodiles (marshes). One person pointed out that a small island like Krakatoa probably did not harbor any bigger animals?
• The game board is just a circular island with hexagonal territories (similar to the Settlers of Catan map). Krakatoa had a different shape than this before it perished in 1883. I have made a second map which looks like the real island of Krakatoa, my idea is that it could be printed on the back side of the game board and that players would choose which one to play. It hasn’t been play tested yet though and unforeseen issues may arise (it’s more difficult making an unevenly shaped island well balanced).
• One of the tools is a flash light. While it is not stated exactly when the game takes place it must be before 1883 since that’s when the eruption took place. The flash light wasn’t invented until 1899 (close enough IMO, but others may disagree).

As a player I wouldn’t be bothered about these things and therefore I’m feeling like I can ignore them. But I’d like to hear what you think when theming your games. Are things like historical and geographical accuracy important to you or do you just accept that a game is a game? Would the errors mentioned above bother you as a player or prevent you from buying the game?

mcobb83
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Historical accuracy etc can

Historical accuracy etc can be a sticking issue for lots of people. I find personally that historical accuracy is very important when making a game with overt historical themes. My own current design (Defenders of Wessex) is based around an actual historical event and references that event frequently in the rules. In addition, being a formally educated historian, anything that happens within the era of my expertise gets ripped to shreds for inaccuracy. The eruption of Kratatoa is not within my umbrella of expertise.

What I'm saying is, if the game claims to be a simulation of that eruption and th en is wildly inaccurate, it would bother me a little (as in, the game is set in 1883 and you've got airplanes). The things you mention in your list don't bother me, since I don't know better. The flashlight thing, even if I know it's wrong, probably serves a mechanical purpose and therefore would probably not ruin the experience for me.

let-off studios
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Is It Worth It?

Ask yourself: "Will name-dropping Krakatoa help my game?"

If you don't plan on selling it, obviously the name doesn't make a difference. If you do plan on selling it, then you ought to come correct. The amount of backlash you've already received for the name but lack of historical accuracy should be a clue that something doesn't match up. Should your game garner online reviews, I suspect the lack of historical accuracy can mostly be seen as a negative unless you "spin it" differently.

To increase your chances of success in publishing (or at least having people buy your game), I recommend you consider one of the following options:
- Develop a fantastical/made-up name for you volcanic island
- Do more historical and geographical research to more closely align your game to the historical account of the volcanic eruption at Krakatoa
- Increase the humor, reduce the seriousness of the game

The third option is likely the most drastic and would put the most strain on the game as it is now. It would be like saying the Titanic had been sunk not by an iceberg impact, but by cybernetic squids. The second is likely what you will do to keep the name intact and resist criticism for lacking historical accuracy. The first option seems the easiest, since it doesn't seem like your game really needs the name Krakatoa to be successful. Technological/historical/ecological issues can be ignored if you go the first route as well.

As always, the choice is yours. But I recommend you only hang on to the name "Krakatoa" if it's best for the game - not just because you personally like it. As you describe it right now, it doesn't seem that there will be a net positive for using that specific name for your project.

GeordieY
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For me, a game's historical

For me, a game's historical accuracy should be relative to its branding. In other words, if a game is branded as being historically accurate, then it had better be!

Using "Krakatoa" as a title does lend itself towards at least some semblance of a historically accurate game. However, something like "Tales of Krakatoa" along with fantastical art would be something that I wouldn't be inclined to hold under a microscope.

Hope my 2 cents was helpful in some way.

Cheers,

Geordie

Soulfinger
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I feel that your title is a

I feel that your title is a liability more than an assset for several reasons. The inaccuracies in your game feel trivial because you are far removed from the setting, both in time and space. Imagine instead a game set in the jungles of 1980s Sweden that features tiger attacks and tablet computers. The discrepancies are comparable but far more apparent. Fictional settings eliminate our inherent tendencies toward chauvinism, which is why errors about foreign lands seem so unimportant.

alandor
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let-off studios wrote: As

let-off studios wrote:

As always, the choice is yours. But I recommend you only hang on to the name "Krakatoa" if it's best for the game - not just because you personally like it.

This is not how I've thought about it before, which probably means it's good advice!I like the name Krakatoa and it's begun to stick. But after reading your post I can see that that's not reason enough to keep it.

alandor
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Soulfinger wrote:I feel that

Soulfinger wrote:
I feel that your title is a liability more than an assset for several reasons.

Good point.
Soulfinger wrote:
The inaccuracies in your game feel trivial because you are far removed from the setting, both in time and space. Imagine instead a game set in the jungles of 1980s Sweden that features tiger attacks and tablet computers. The discrepancies are comparable but far more apparent. Fictional settings eliminate our inherent tendencies toward chauvinism, which is why errors about foreign lands seem so unimportant.

I've actually been thinking along the same line. What if someone made a game about southern Sweden, where I live, which featured a totally inaccurate map. Would that bother me? Yes, it would. As would jungles and tigers in that game. However, lynxes and reindeers are probably a better comparison. They live further to the north, but are still animals that are related to my country, (the same applies for tigers and Indonesia). And to be honest, if I'd encounter lynxes and reindeers in a game about southern Sweden I don't think it would bother me.

To most people who will play this game (if it is ever published) Krakatoa will be considered foreign to the point of almost being fictional. It means it will be easier to get away with inaccuracies. But does that justify it? Probably not. At least not the ones that are blatantly wrong.

alandor
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The lost island

GeordieY wrote:
For me, a game's historical accuracy should be relative to its branding. In other words, if a game is branded as being historically accurate, then it had better be!

Using "Krakatoa" as a title does lend itself towards at least some semblance of a historically accurate game. However, something like "Tales of Krakatoa" along with fantastical art would be something that I wouldn't be inclined to hold under a microscope.


mcobb83 wrote:
What I'm saying is, if the game claims to be a simulation of that eruption and th en is wildly inaccurate, it would bother me a little

The full name is Krakatoa – the Lost Island (because the island sunk after the eruption). I think it sounds a bit fantastical. Also I have used the slogan "Explore the island, exploit its riches, escape the rage of Krakatoa." Not sure I'll be using that but I think it signals more of fiction and adventure than historical reliability.
I uploaded the cover art (which of course is by no means finished). Do you think it conveys fiction or history or something in between? image

adversitygames
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Depends who you're trying to

Depends who you're trying to sell the game to. People look at the title and art and form expectations from that, if the actual experience doesn't match the expectations it's a disappointment.

Tie it to something real (as you have) and some of the people who find it appealing are going to be people who actually know the real facts about. When they look closer and find it doesn't come even close to reality, they're let down. You've told them you're giving them A+B, but they find they're just getting A.

Call it "Volcano blow up disaster" and no-one will expect historical accuracy so no-one will care about realism. They'll just expect something exciting but not particularly thematic.
(and of course, fail to follow through on the exciting with a title like that and your game will tank because that's all you've got...)

lewpuls
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Given the vast number of

Given the vast number of games that claim some tie-in with reality, but are actually entirely abstract; and the vast number whose title doesn't supply ANY information about the game; then using a title that at least tells you its related to volcanoes isn't a bad thing. Just make it clear that it isn't actually Krakatoa you're depicting.

radioactivemouse
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reality vs fanatsy

Reality doesn't bend itself to fit with game mechanics, it is always the opposite.

Buying a game because the facts are inaccurate is almost never a deal breaker and if it is, the number of people that do are scant and probably don't buy games.

I wouldn't worry too much about "facts". It's all about perceived reality.

theboss.bhg
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Imagine...

Imagine developing an map based on the country you live in, modifying the size/shape if the geographical divisions, and then renaming cities, capitals, and other places with the names of the neighborhoods, communities, streets, businesses, and apartment complexes of your hometown.

You would then be able to not worry about geographical/historical inaccuracies, but you could still keep other elements like stereotypes, cultures, places, events, and even people relatively the same.

Don't limit yourself. Unless of course you're making a game about WWII, that MUST BE CORRECT, simply because that is an historical game, and there's so much information available about it.

In many games, I look for creativity, not restrictions or regurgitated info.

Soulfinger
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alandor wrote:The full name

alandor wrote:
The full name is Krakatoa – the Lost Island (because the island sunk after the eruption).

The simplest solution is that the island sunk, rose again years later, and bears a scientific treasure trove with an extraordinary ecosystem. Explore, gather, but the ominous rumblings suggest that the island will sink again. Instant fantasy version.

Squinshee
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Soulfinger wrote:The simplest

Soulfinger wrote:
The simplest solution is that the island sunk, rose again years later, and bears a scientific treasure trove with an extraordinary ecosystem. Explore, gather, but the ominous rumblings suggest that the island will sink again. Instant fantasy version.

I was thinking more the plane crash, smoke monster, and over a hundred hours of wasted investment route. I guess your idea works too.

let-off studios
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Game Name

Soulfinger wrote:
The simplest solution is that the island sunk, rose again years later, and bears a scientific treasure trove with an extraordinary ecosystem. Explore, gather, but the ominous rumblings suggest that the island will sink again. Instant fantasy version.
KRAK IS BACK!

Soulfinger
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Squinshee wrote:I was

Squinshee wrote:
I was thinking more the plane crash, smoke monster, and over a hundred hours of wasted investment route. I guess your idea works too.

Except that this game has a plot.

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