Khalifate Era

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Xalzar
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Xalzar » November 11th, 2014, 3:26 pm

Quetzalcoatl wrote:To put this in somewhat more western oriented context: Watican being raided by orcs, pope conquering hobbiton or pope's and sauron's armies battling together. That would be the flavor of fantasy we going to explore. I think its fully understandable that it makes good amount of people anxious.

So as we going cross that river either way, lets hope they don't call it Rubicon.
I see you insist with sarcasm, but we have already made some steps beyond.
I don't know if you have skipped all the recent posts, but I can assure you there is no need of sarcasm anymore. Now we have discussed a bit, someone proposed some alternatives, and we only need the last decisive opinion (Noy's one) and then the solution could be at hand.
At least this matter hopefully will be set, then if anyone wants to criticize something else will express his doubts on that other matter.
But for now I think we all should focus and don't return to previous discussed topics or new ones. Let's keep the discussion tidy. ^_^
Mabuse wrote: in any case i dont join the discussion about changing the name because of rl-stituations.
never. that would also mean that wesnoth-developers bow down and change names accordingsly to the current rl-political-situation.
We are not surrendering to anyone.
We are changing the name essentially because:
alpha1 wrote: The faction had been causing controversies from the very beginning. Controversies are not good for the community, especially if these controversies are fuelled by real life implications. Many people perceive khalifate as a problematic faction alltogether, the naming being just a part of the problem. Others disagree. So if we can't remove the main source of controversies, which is initial faction design, it would be wise to remove at least the real life component of it.
This sums up the situation very well I think (also, someone rightfully pointed that the name "Khalifate" for the race gives less space of creativity for campaign-makers - but I couldn't find the post to quote).
I consider myself among the people who have no particular problem with the faction but sees the controversy of a name which relates too directly to rl.

So, did someone hear anything from Noy or close friends? :whistle:

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Wintermute » November 11th, 2014, 8:07 pm

I fear I have gotten people's hopes up. Let me be clear: Stuff is usually in the game unless the person or people who put it there are persuaded to take it out. For better or worse, that is largely how our system works. Myself and others have already made all the points in this thread to noy ages ago. I doubt very much he is persuaded by anything in this thread. Personally, I would be indifferent to this whole debate, except that...
jb wrote:It reminds me of the Washington Redskins debate. At some point it might be a good idea to just change the name.
I never had the patience for these threads but since I am the point person for the Khalifate these days I don't feel good letting them rattle around either. As such, I'd like to change the name but this isn't my baby - it's a child I am caring for.
Quetzalcoatl wrote:To put this in somewhat more western oriented context: Watican being raided by orcs, pope conquering hobbiton or pope's and sauron's armies battling together. That would be the flavor of fantasy we going to explore. I think its fully understandable that it makes good amount of people anxious.

So as we going cross that river either way, lets hope they don't call it Rubicon.
And *this* is exactly why the name has not been changed yet IMO. Every time we have a somewhat rational discussion this melodramatic talk about hypothetical and hard to imagine "problems" emerges from some corner, and if there is one thing that developers hate it's bowing down to this kind of drivel as a reason to change anything. In fact, it often has the opposite of the desired effect and unites a large group of developers against WHATEVER the proposed change is (for reference, see every previous iteration of this thread). So if you really want to change the name, then do these three simple things.

1) Stop talking the snark.
2) Wait until stable hits, and there is lots of buzz about this faction.
3) If at that time a critical mass of people really want to change the name and/or make reasonable and respectful arguments, the name will change.

Finally, keep in mind that when changes that are often well thought of by developers and many other folks are made (*cough* removing the AoH era *cough*), then sometimes people come out of the woodwork to write in about how much they loved it and it gets put back in. A polite critical mass is what is needed here - not snark.

In any case, nothing will be changed before the stable release because we have been string frozen for quite some time (hence why I already made my case on this a long time ago), and translators have done their thing. At best, we're talking sometime down the road.
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by zookeeper » November 11th, 2014, 9:02 pm

For those who might be expecting a comment from Noy: I asked if he'd care to reply to this thread and he said no.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 11th, 2014, 9:54 pm

Quetzalcoatl wrote: To put this in somewhat more western oriented context: Watican being raided by orcs, pope conquering hobbiton or pope's and sauron's armies battling together. That would be the flavor of fantasy we going to explore. I think its fully understandable that it makes good amount of people anxious.
And what exactly is so bad about this? To put things in perspective -- another well-known game which Dave says was one of his influences for this game is Civilization II. In this game, it is indeed possible to create a fantasy world in which you ally with the pope and launch nuclear missiles at the Zulu and the Sioux, etc. etc. And such continues to possible in all of the many, commercially successful, sequels. I guess it's possible that Sid Meier is spammed with hatemail everyday because of it but somehow, I doubt this.

If we're all willing to say "okay, these are non-religious Knights and Paladins", why are we not willing to say "this is a non-religious Khalifate".

(Note that, I don't know for a fact that Noy doesn't have a secret notebook full of unreleased lore in which they are explicitly Islamic in-universe... but even if he does it seems that "non-religious Khalifate" is entirely consistent with what canon and descriptions will be released in 1.12.)

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Pentarctagon » November 12th, 2014, 12:13 am

iceiceice wrote:And what exactly is so bad about this? To put things in perspective -- another well-known game which Dave says was one of his influences for this game is Civilization II. In this game, it is indeed possible to create a fantasy world in which you ally with the pope and launch nuclear missiles at the Zulu and the Sioux, etc. etc. And such continues to possible in all of the many, commercially successful, sequels. I guess it's possible that Sid Meier is spammed with hatemail everyday because of it but somehow, I doubt this.

If we're all willing to say "okay, these are non-religious Knights and Paladins", why are we not willing to say "this is a non-religious Khalifate".

(Note that, I don't know for a fact that Noy doesn't have a secret notebook full of unreleased lore in which they are explicitly Islamic in-universe... but even if he does it seems that "non-religious Khalifate" is entirely consistent with what canon and descriptions will be released in 1.12.)
A couple reasons come to mind:

1) The Khalifate is the name of a faction, Knights and Paladins are single units and not the most common given that they are a level 2 and level 3 unit respectively.
2) Knights especially, but Paladins as well have never been particularly reflective of a real life religion (to me at least). Knights are just guys in armor riding on horses that die annoying fast to pikemen in pretty much every game in existence. The first thing I think of when I hear Paladin is D&D, where they are certainly religious but that is simply an archetype aligned to any random god that happens to exist in the scenario. I know of no other meaning or connotation for Khalifate other than the religious/Islamic one, and to say they are non-religious Khalifate seems somewhat contradictory at first glance.
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 12th, 2014, 2:21 am

Okay, well, based on my very limited reading, it seems that the term "Paladin" may be roughly analogous to the term "Mujahideen", in broad strokes of course... Mujahideen is definitely a loaded term today, but at least they both describe "religiously-motivated fighters in the historical Christianity vs. Islam conflicts".

Now I have to admit, I now find it not a little disturbing that the creators of D&D chose to appropriate this term and say "instead of fighting the moors & saracens they will be fighting orcs and undead monsters."

But now that they did this 20 - 30 years ago, you consider it completely sanitized and not possibly offensive to muslims? Do you think that if D&D had a character called "Mujahideen" it would today be completely sanitized, and today children would be amused by connecting ISIL with D&D players?

In short, using a term like "Khalifate" is not really inappropriate, but we'd just be more comfortable if someone with more chutzpah did it first?
Pentarctagon wrote: I know of no other meaning or connotation for Khalifate other than the religious/Islamic one, and to say they are non-religious Khalifate seems somewhat contradictory at first glance.
I wonder if there's not some component of bias here. Not racism of course, but a Eurocentric view of history. Let me quote one of Pyrophorus' objections to when I said this before:
Pyrophorus wrote: Yes, kings and emperors have all been in the past related to religion. But this means nothing because in these times (and still nowadays in some places), everything was related to religion which standed more or less in the place we have now science.
Why does this "we" seem to apply only to Western Europe. Why is it that we seem willing, when we look at depictions of figures from Medieval Europe who historically had strong religious roles, to excuse and sanitize this and think of them as secular, i.e. "fast-foward to the Enlightenment", when it is convenient to do so, but we seem unwilling to do the same for depictions of historical Arabic figures.

Anyways, "non-religious Khalifate" is surely a contradiction if you go strictly by the dictionary, but I think this would hardly become the most contradictory thing in wesnoth. There's a reason we have to keep repeating "Wesnoth is not real life, Wesnoth is not realistic, Hexes are possibly miles across..."

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Pentarctagon » November 12th, 2014, 3:28 am

iceiceice wrote:Okay, well, based on my very limited reading, it seems that the term "Paladin" may be roughly analogous to the term "Mujahideen", in broad strokes of course... Mujahideen is definitely a loaded term today, but at least they both describe "religiously-motivated fighters in the historical Christianity vs. Islam conflicts".
That's kind of the point isn't it? One has been more or less assimilated into popular/secular culture and the other one has not. Saying "they're basically the same because hundreds of years ago Paladin meant more or less the same thing" will convince no one.
iceiceice wrote:Now I have to admit, I now find it not a little disturbing that the creators of D&D chose to appropriate this term and say "instead of fighting the moors & saracens they will be fighting orcs and undead monsters."

But now that they did this 20 - 30 years ago, you consider it completely sanitized and not possibly offensive to muslims? Do you think that if D&D had a character called "Mujahideen" it would today be completely sanitized, and today children would be amused by connecting ISIL with D&D players?
I haven't the slightest idea what Muslims think of the word "Paladin", but I doubt D&D using the name did much of anything.
iceiceice wrote:In short, using a term like "Khalifate" is not really inappropriate, but we'd just be more comfortable if someone with more chutzpah did it first?
I think the meaningful piece of the debate has not been about whether "Khalifate" is appropriate in general and rather if it's appropriate to have a faction using an explicitly religious name in wesnoth. "chutzpah" is irrelevant.
iceiceice wrote:
Pentarctagon wrote: I know of no other meaning or connotation for Khalifate other than the religious/Islamic one, and to say they are non-religious Khalifate seems somewhat contradictory at first glance.
I wonder if there's not some component of bias here. Not racism of course, but a Eurocentric view of history. Let me quote one of Pyrophorus' objections to when I said this before:
Pyrophorus wrote: Yes, kings and emperors have all been in the past related to religion. But this means nothing because in these times (and still nowadays in some places), everything was related to religion which standed more or less in the place we have now science.
Why does this "we" seem to apply only to Western Europe. Why is it that we seem willing, when we look at depictions of figures from Medieval Europe who historically had strong religious roles, to excuse and sanitize this and think of them as secular, i.e. "fast-foward to the Enlightenment", when it is convenient to do so, but we seem unwilling to do the same for depictions of historical Arabic figures.
Because we aren't arguing about what it was defined as centuries ago, we are arguing about how it is defined now. In the present time, "Caliphate" is defined as an explicitly religious government associated with a real world religion, while "King" is defined as just whoever happens to be leading a particular type of government.
iceiceice wrote:Anyways, "non-religious Khalifate" is surely a contradiction if you go strictly by the dictionary, but I think this would hardly become the most contradictory thing in wesnoth. There's a reason we have to keep repeating "Wesnoth is not real life, Wesnoth is not realistic, Hexes are possibly miles across..."
It still seems weird to try to redefine an existing word than just make up one ourselves. What's the point of using it at all if we're going to ignore what it means? Other than starting all these thread I mean.
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 12th, 2014, 7:09 am

Pentarctagon wrote:
That's kind of the point isn't it? One has been more or less assimilated into popular/secular culture and the other one has not. Saying "they're basically the same because hundreds of years ago Paladin meant more or less the same thing" will convince no one.
I don't know what you mean here by "assimilated into popular/secular culture". When I say "sanitized" I just mean that people apparently think it's PC because it appears in D&D and Diablo. No, the meaning is the same today. You can look it up in the dictionary if you like, this is not the "hundreds of years old" meaning, it's not the "archaic" meaning, it is the modern meaning. D&D and other fantasy games have just all decided to use this word anyways. And no one seems to care, just like no one will really care too much about Khalifate.
Pentarctagon wrote: I think the meaningful piece of the debate has not been about whether "Khalifate" is appropriate in general and rather if it's appropriate to have a faction using an explicitly religious name in wesnoth.
Hmm, that's exactly what I refer to also. Let's be clear, this began with Quetzalcoatl and alpha1 suggesting that naming a faction "Khalifate" is insensitive and that it should be changed for this reason, and they have continued to do so roughly every other page of this thread.

http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php ... 43#p577421
http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php ... 45#p577484
http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php ... 3&start=60
http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php ... 60#p577596

(IMO it would be a lot easier for this all to wind down if they would stop doing this, especially since this view seems to be out of the mainstream. For instance Xalzar seems to express a similar sentiment in most recent post.)
Pentarctagon wrote: Because we aren't arguing about what it was defined as centuries ago, we are arguing about how it is defined now. In the present time, "Caliphate" is defined as an explicitly religious government associated with a real world religion, while "King" is defined as just whoever happens to be leading a particular type of government.
Okay, but context matters. Wesnoth is not just any old kingdom, it's a kingdom with large stone walls that look like this:

http://downloadhaus.com/wp-content/uploads/wesnoth2.jpg

Peasants that look like this:

http://units.wesnoth.org/1.10/mainline/ ... asant.html

Farmland in the countryside that looks like this:

http://s153.photobucket.com/user/CrocPa ... e.jpg.html

Soldiers that look like this,

https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... bowman.png
https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... earman.png
https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... weddry.png

Knights that look like this,

https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... an-mad.png

And this:

https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... errick.png

And this, complete with crosses on their suits of armor:

https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... aladin.png

And kings that look like this:

https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... ric-ii.png
https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... ii-old.png
https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... rad_II.png

(For fun here's some stills from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Tkq3trGd7fw/T ... _crowd.png
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/t2c-X8HiBng/maxresdefault.jpg
http://athenacinema.com/wp-content/uplo ... ginal1.jpg)

So it's all a pretty fricking explicit reference to Medieval Europe e.g. in Britain, France, Germany or nearby countries.

Now you're going to sit here and tell me "oh but actually I think all of these people might be secular humanists, and read Richard Dawkins regularly."

Uhhhh... come again? This is a case of, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck, even if it isn't carrying paperwork from the official registry of ducks. Unless you have a very good reason to think otherwise.
Xalzar wrote: If it is not written we simply don't know.
I've got an idea, why don't we make a historical game which depicts, in great detail, 1940's Germany in a historically accurate manner, with historically accurate clothing, hair styles, speech patterns, surrounding area, buildings and technology, etc. etc., except that in the background story, we'll just delete all references to Nazism, pretend that everyone who historically was a Nazi wasn't, and declare that it just doesn't exist in our game. Then when someone points out that the game is basically about Nazis, we'll say "uhhh we never said these people were Nazis.... what in the world gave you that idea?"

Sorry for being *very* snarky here, but since I have repeatedly failed to convey my point in any other way it seems, I'm now disappointed in my communicative abilities and I'm just trying to be very blunt now.

That being said, I fully intend the analogy here, that trying to excise the religion from medieval europe is like trying to excise the Nazism from 1940s Germany. Even if you fully intend to do it... you have to anticipate that you know, your audience will be literate, and they might, you know, read between the lines a little bit. There's no mystery what's behind the fig leaf.
Pentarctagon wrote: It still seems weird to try to redefine an existing word than just make up one ourselves. What's the point of using it at all if we're going to ignore what it means?
Well, one reason might be that taken in proper context it conveys things that we want. Context is very important here, because as was pointed out earlier Khalifate doesn't just refer to just one thing, it can refer to many different things -- just as Islam doesn't mean just one thing, there are many different varieties of Islam. So we need context to clarify.

If you had a faction called Khalifate, with units that look like, a guy riding in a pickup truck wearing a bandana and holding an AK47, like this:

http://previous.presstv.ir/photo/201406 ... itants.jpg
http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/upload ... une-30.jpg

then I would say" hmm this is a blindingly obvious reference to ISIL / Al Qaeda / [insert radical Islamist group]".

If you have sprites that look like, a guy wearing silk clothes carrying a bow and arrow riding a horse, like this:

https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... e/rami.png

or these,

http://imgur.com/a/VPALw#46
http://imgur.com/a/VPALw#47
http://imgur.com/a/VPALw#50

and he has an Arabic name and he's part of the "Khalifate", then I would say "hmm this strongly suggests a warrior from ancient / medieval Persia or thereabouts".

And Persia in that time was a pretty awesome place -- modern historians basically credit them with preserving (and vastly building upon) the mathematics, science and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, which was otherwise lost during the Dark Ages in Europe. Using the word Khalifate in *that* context, strongly connotes "this is not just a group of desert bandits, these are actually members of a highly cohesive and culturally refined group of people, not just subsisting but rivaling the other major cultural centers in Europe / Wesnoth, and who also happen to be accustomed to the hills of an arid landscape."

It's hard to get the connotation right if you don't use the word they use for themselves -- if you use "saracens" or "moors" or any of the other words the Europeans used, you carry all that baggage along. "Sultanate" or "Emirate" just isn't as specific as this, IMO.

That doesn't mean those aren't better names all things considered, I'm just saying I can see some merits in the name "Khalifate".

By the way Pentarcton, you skipped over this point, which I feel is very much substantive:
iceiceice wrote: Why is it that we seem willing, when we look at depictions of figures from Medieval Europe who historically had strong religious roles, to excuse and sanitize this and think of them as secular, i.e. "fast-foward to the Enlightenment", when it is convenient to do so, but we seem unwilling to do the same for depictions of historical Arabic figures.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by zookeeper » November 12th, 2014, 9:02 am

I really can't understand this "kings and paladins mean christian medieval europe" thing. Seriously, who sees a paladin in a fantasy game and thinks "wait, how did a christian medieval european knight get from Earth to that world?" rather than "oh, it's stock fantasy, of course it has paladins"? No one. The common western fantasy tropes which Wesnoth is based on have a life of their own independent from actual historical fact they were inspired by, and because of that no one's suspension of disbelief is disturbed by kings, castles and paladins, at least if they're at all familiar with western fantasy as in are likely to ever play Wesnoth in the first place.

If tolkienish western fantasy had never existed and Wesnoth would be based around an analogous islamic/arabic tremendously popular line of fantasy, and now there'd be a new faction called "Holy Kingdom" featuring kings and knights which in everyone's mind would only conjure up actual historical medieval europe and Jesus and popes, then I'd expect to see the exact same counterarguments against it: that it doesn't fit, because it's based more on the real world than the fantasy world it's being put in.
iceiceice wrote:I've got an idea, why don't we make a historical game which depicts, in great detail, 1940's Germany in a historically accurate manner, with historically accurate clothing, hair styles, speech patterns, surrounding area, buildings and technology, etc. etc., except that in the background story, we'll just delete all references to Nazism, pretend that everyone who historically was a Nazi wasn't, and declare that it just doesn't exist in our game. Then when someone points out that the game is basically about Nazis, we'll say "uhhh we never said these people were Nazis.... what in the world gave you that idea?"

Sorry for being *very* snarky here, but since I have repeatedly failed to convey my point in any other way it seems, I'm now disappointed in my communicative abilities and I'm just trying to be very blunt now.

That being said, I fully intend the analogy here, that trying to excise the religion from medieval europe is like trying to excise the Nazism from 1940s Germany. Even if you fully intend to do it... you have to anticipate that you know, your audience will be literate, and they might, you know, read between the lines a little bit. There's no mystery what's behind the fig leaf.
But the point is that in Wesnoth, we haven't excised religion (well, christianity, anyway) from medieval europe because Wesnoth is not medieval europe in the first place, whereas your alternative history Germany is Germany in the 1940's. No one thinks "oh this is depicting christianity" when they see Wesnoth, whereas everyone does think "oh this is depicting nazis" when they see your alt-Germany.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by pyrophorus » November 12th, 2014, 10:17 am

I second what Zookeeper says...
It's not a matter of historical sense, but of what a name suggests today. The name "paladin" have been redefined and means today a pure white knigthy person and very few people knows exactly who they were (not people exclusively devoted to war against the Saracenes) . Reusing old names in fantasy is OK since they're more or less meaningless today: for instance, I guess very few people know what a "vidame" is. You can use it to name some kind of monster, or someone more related to the ancient meaning. This word will not conflict with anything. The name Khalifate is not meaningless today, so you can't merely state by yourself what it should mean, even in some particular context like Wesnoth.
iceiceice wrote:and he has an Arabic name and he's part of the "Khalifate", then I would say "hmm this strongly suggests a warrior from ancient / medieval Persia or thereabouts".
BTW, Persian people are not arab and their names are not arabic. And, AFAIK, Persia never had a Caliphate of it's own.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Xalzar » November 12th, 2014, 12:37 pm

zookeeper wrote:For those who might be expecting a comment from Noy: I asked if he'd care to reply to this thread and he said no.
That could be mistaken for arrogance, in other contexts. :hmm:
I see why he wouldn't want to intervene in a hot discussion, however there are many ways to say a word without soaking hands with the "mud". But ok, fair enough.

Various people expressed very valid concerns but apparently we didn't manage to change anything right now because of strong opposition.
A few words about it:
Iceiceice, your argumentations are on the same level of Quetzacoatl. No offense given or taken, but in that way a discussion cannot improve, remember. I know you can do better than this. ;)
Wintermute, thank you for your clarity and politeness. I still don't understand why you have no possibility to change anything in the faction, since you are mantaining it. It seems paradoxical, but I understand it is not your fault. :hmm:
Noy, since you apparently are still in command, I hoped to hear a few word in defense of your project. It could have been very illuminating and you could have dissipated some doubts. :(

I think I can wait.
I say, let's see if they surprise me positively with the background given to the faction. Let's see if it is convincing, if all the "real life" elements are effectively cut and they manage to invent a "fantasy caliphate". Let's see if all is explained and integrated in the Wesnoth world or in reality it was only a provocation (and everyone knows provocations create tension, if that's the case I really couldn't excuse at all this operation).
If the objections are not satisfied, I think the topic will resume soon (and I will be there :P ).

I am finished for this, for now. Good luck everyone. ;)

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Wintermute » November 12th, 2014, 2:31 pm

Xalzar wrote: Wintermute, thank you for your clarity and politeness. I still don't understand why you have no possibility to change anything in the faction, since you are mantaining it. It seems paradoxical, but I understand it is not your fault. :hmm:
My position is nuanced, but I'll try to just reiterate the main two reasons. First, the game is translated into a lot of different languages, and before every release the developers have a "string freeze" where no one can write any new text (for example, changing the name of something). This is because it's not fair to the MANY people who translate the game into other languages for them to do that work and then have people constantly asking them to re-translate things. If you would like that explained in more detail come find me or someone else on IRC. In the case of a stable release, that string freeze has been in effect for a long time now, as each release is not about producing new content but just about squashing bugs. Basically, we're ACTIVELY trying not to make new changes. And if someone needs to change something, there are a great many other developers who will be annoyed/impacted. It could mean extra work of a kind that no one wants to do for people who already volunteer a lot of hours toward making this game. In short, it's just not good practice. So any changes would have to wait until the development branch anyway, and so there's no rush (and thus it only makes sense to let the stable user base see the faction as is and comment before rushing into anything).

Secondly, I like the name. I don't want to change it, I just don't want to be constantly defending it. Some people enjoy defending arguing in threads like this, but I'm not passionate about fluff to care about it (but I'm writing because I have some responsibility to do so, IMHO). Once stable hits and/or some additional background or a campaign is developed I have a strong hunch that this will either die away as an issue or it will grow to such an extent that everyone agrees to throw in the towel and just change it. As such, I'm not out there asking for the name to be changed, I'm just saying I don't mind a name change. So just know that your issues have been listened to, and let's check in again when we can take the pulse of the stable community in the not too distant future. If at that point I am convinced that we need to change the name for the good of the game then you could expect much more action on my part.
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 12th, 2014, 4:45 pm

zookeeper:
But the point is that in Wesnoth, we haven't excised religion (well, christianity, anyway) from medieval europe because Wesnoth is not medieval europe in the first place, whereas your alternative history Germany is Germany in the 1940's. No one thinks "oh this is depicting christianity" when they see Wesnoth, whereas everyone does think "oh this is depicting nazis" when they see your alt-Germany.
Hmm, I think you might be intentionally missing my point. I don't have to show people goose-stepping, or depict concentration camps, etc., for people to realize "oh this is depicting Nazis". I can just show people wearing a certain style of clothes, walking in and out of houses that look a certain way, driving cars that look a certain way, reading newspapers that say "1940"... You can't attempt to communciate "Daily Life in Germany in 1940" without making the reader think of Nazi Germany. Similarly, I just don't think you can reasonably expect to put all these images in the game and other references to Medieval Europe without the reader realizing who you are talking about or drawing other connections.

I think the issue is not as much whether the kingdom of wesnoth is implicitly "christian" or "crypto-christian", or what faith you attribute to them at all.
My argument is that putting all of this in the game is the same making a not-so-subtle political reference to real-life people, and this leads the reader to make assumptions. Many of them are convenient for our purposes, but of course you get all of them.

I also don't know what exactly you mean by "stock fantasy". It sounds like a place where many assumptions may hide, so it would likely be best if you explain.

If it means to you that, when I see a white mage (https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... e-mage.png) holding a staff with an Ankh affixed on top, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankh), that I'm supposed to pretend that I don't know what that is, or that I'm not supposed to think of it as a "religious symbol"... I think that's basically incoherent. Now, I can accept that the Ankh is not of particular significance to the wesnoth universe, and that most likely it is placed there just to give a generic veneer of spirituality. But the reason that it contributes a generic veneer of spirituality... is that it is indeed an obscure religious symbol. It's like a word, either I read it or I don't. When someone places explicit literary references in their work, it's never by accident -- perhaps it's a symbol they know intuitively but don't understand explicitly. When I see the ankh on the white mage, it comes off as appropriate that we use the traditional "symbol of life" on a healing unit with special powers to destroy the undead -- it seems it would be an incredible coincidence if this wasn't intended. I would never say to myself "oh wait this is just stock fantasy, all literary references are unintended / not to be considered". Without any of the references and cultural assumptions that ground it, wesnoth wouldn't make any sense, literature can't be interpretted in isolation.

Not only that, but particularly with high fantasy I think many readers will be on the look out for subtle political references, because Tolkien famously did this in LotR. If wesnoth had closely followed Tolkien, then I guess the Dwarves are supposed to stand for the Jews, etc. etc.
Tolkien c.f. wikipedia wrote: The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
It clearly doesn't have to be, but in many subsequent cases, Fantasy and especially Science Fiction have been used quite successfully as vectors for social commentary.

The point is not that wesnoth is doing this or has to do this, the point is that the *reader* will make up their own mind whether we are or aren't based on what symbols we use and how we arrange them. You can't credibly tell the reader "Hey! Forget everything you know, this is just stock fantasy! Nothing to see here!"

It would be like if you held an art exhibition, and at the entrance everyone is handed a pamphlet that says "Preamble: None of the art in this exhibition has anything to do with genitalia." Then you enter, and there are many paintings of nudes with fig leaves placed awkwardly over their privates. When I leave that exhibition, I'm still going to say to myself "hmm the artist seemed quite preoccupied with genitalia."

Similarly I dont think you can reasonably expect me to look at D&D, Diablo etc. and just ignore the crypto-christian aspects to the whole thing.

If you try to depict "generic medieval western european people" but crudely censor out all of the churches, priests, crosses, etc. and perhaps replace them at random with other symbols... well that's exactly what it's going to look like at the end, and that's what you are going to communicate to your reader. I'm never going to be confused about who you are depicting and what you did, "stock fantasy" or not. It's the same reason why you can't rename Konrad as "Adolf Hitler" and expect me to believe "this is a completely different Adolf Hitler, in a fantasy world with no connection to reality", as Sapient pointed out earlier. It's an obvious and unmistakable reference, and I'm certainly going to consider it and see if I can make sense of it in context, "stock fantasy" or not.

---

I just think that people shouldn't be intentionally thick when talking about this putative "unofficial no religion in wesnoth" policy. It might be more productive IMO if we just tried to state the desired policy in a more clear way that we might agree on, such that it doesn't apparently forbid things that we currently have. Clearly many people want some form of this and think that we have some form of it, so maybe we could figure out what that is, and replace the fake and selectively enforced "line in the sand on religion" with something more clearly thought out. Perhaps it could become an official policy, and then we could stop having debates like this. Here's some brainstorming:

1.) No historical or political commentary in wesnoth

Wesnoth is meant to be set in a fantasy universe which stands on its own without reference to specific historical persons or events from real life. While some of the figures in wesnoth may be historically-inspired in broad strokes, we won't allow "historical reenactments" or not-so-subtle commentary on specific persons or events from real life in the mainline distribution.

2.) No proselytizing in wesnoth

Wesnoth is meant to appeal to a wide audience, and while religious or spiritual themes may be present in campaigns, they certainly should not be oriented towards or advocate a specific real-world faith or denomination.

3.) NPOV

Wesnoth is meant to appeal to a wide audience, and while religious or spiritual themes may be present in campaigns, official content must assume a neutral point of view on these.

4.) No theology or depictions of God in wesnoth

Wesnoth's universe does not contain a supreme being or god. It may contain very powerful creatures who are worshipped as gods, do battle, and so on. We are not interested in establishing any kind of explicit theology for the mainline universe, or in including depictions of a god or gods that are too close to real-life religions.






pyrophorus:

During the point in time that I referred to (a scientific and cultural zenith), Persia, the Levant, and indeed much of North Africa and Turkey was indeed controlled by a single Caliphate:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age

Indeed I haven't studied this history in many years, which is why I hedged with "Persia or thereabouts". But in this case as well I think you'll find my remarks are accurate.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by kiss » November 12th, 2014, 6:56 pm

I agree, all this noise should stop and dev team have to find a clear statement about what is allowed or not.
I was about to post just before you because, even I don't care Khalifate is or isn't suitable, I dislike the way it is discussed and, most of all, I read words and ideas that should never appear in a game forum.

I've spent nearly two days to search and understand why there is so much noise around Khalifate. And what I've found about the way it was introduced and defended is a little scary.

"WINR - Wesnoth Is Not Realistic" is a strong statement I think. Isn't this clear enough, or is it only a fake?

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by zookeeper » November 12th, 2014, 7:36 pm

No, I'm really not intentionally trying to miss a point, I really just don't see it (or how anyone can not see mine). I think our brains are just wired completely differently. :doh:
iceiceice wrote:zookeeper:
But the point is that in Wesnoth, we haven't excised religion (well, christianity, anyway) from medieval europe because Wesnoth is not medieval europe in the first place, whereas your alternative history Germany is Germany in the 1940's. No one thinks "oh this is depicting christianity" when they see Wesnoth, whereas everyone does think "oh this is depicting nazis" when they see your alt-Germany.
Hmm, I think you might be intentionally missing my point. I don't have to show people goose-stepping, or depict concentration camps, etc., for people to realize "oh this is depicting Nazis". I can just show people wearing a certain style of clothes, walking in and out of houses that look a certain way, driving cars that look a certain way, reading newspapers that say "1940"... You can't attempt to communciate "Daily Life in Germany in 1940" without making the reader think of Nazi Germany. Similarly, I just don't think you can reasonably expect to put all these images in the game and other references to Medieval Europe without the reader realizing who you are talking about or drawing other connections.
The point I was trying to make is that if you're depicting Germany in 1940 then you're depicting Nazi Germany. There's no way around that, it's a fact. But if you're depicting a fantasy world which is materially awfully similar to medieval Europe, then you're not necessarily depicting medieval Europe; I'm sure that most people who choose a stock fantasy setting (see below) don't have any particular interest in depicting medieval Europe as such, but instead they're choosing a fantasy setting they like because of wizards and dragons, a convenient level of technology and a massive trove of tropes to draw from.

I don't know how to explain it any better, I just think there's an obviously massive difference. Germany is real, a fantasy world is not.

On the other hand, if your story was historical fiction about a non-nazi Germany in 1940's, then yes, I do agree it'd be unreasonable for people to insist that your story is "about nazis". Of course, it'd still be about Germany (rather than a fictional Germany-like fantasy country in a fantasy world) and your story probably wouldn't be very interesting if the audience didn't know anything about nazis.

I do expect that when you play Skyrim or read Dragonlance, you might end up thinking of medieval Europe and other things that those works are ultimately rooted in, but that there is no difficulty in suspending disbelief while not thinking about them. Or in other words, you can play Skyrim and not think about medieval Europe if you want, whereas you can't really read about "Daily Life in Germany in 1940" without thinking about Nazi Germany. The former you can mentally compartmentalize away and disassociate it from the real world entirely and pretend like the real world doesn't exist while you're happily hacking at weremammoths or whatever, but in the latter you can't, as the connection and associations to the real world are too strong and indeed unavoidable.
iceiceice wrote:I think the issue is not as much whether the kingdom of wesnoth is implicitly "christian" or "crypto-christian", or what faith you attribute to them at all.
My argument is that putting all of this in the game is the same making a not-so-subtle political reference to real-life people, and this leads the reader to make assumptions. Many of them are convenient for our purposes, but of course you get all of them.

I also don't know what exactly you mean by "stock fantasy". It sounds like a place where many assumptions may hide, so it would likely be best if you explain.
I mean the common kind of tolkien'ish fantasy with some or all of dwarves, elves, dragons, orcs, knights, kings, wizards and so forth in a setting with roughly medieval level of technology.
iceiceice wrote:If it means to you that, when I see a white mage (https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/blob ... e-mage.png) holding a staff with an Ankh affixed on top, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankh), that I'm supposed to pretend that I don't know what that is, or that I'm not supposed to think of it as a "religious symbol"... I think that's basically incoherent. Now, I can accept that the Ankh is not of particular significance to the wesnoth universe, and that most likely it is placed there just to give a generic veneer of spirituality. But the reason that it contributes a generic veneer of spirituality... is that it is indeed an obscure religious symbol. It's like a word, either I read it or I don't. When someone places explicit literary references in their work, it's never by accident -- perhaps it's a symbol they know intuitively but don't understand explicitly. When I see the ankh on the white mage, it comes off as appropriate that we use the traditional "symbol of life" on a healing unit with special powers to destroy the undead -- it seems it would be an incredible coincidence if this wasn't intended. I would never say to myself "oh wait this is just stock fantasy, all literary references are unintended / not to be considered". Without any of the references and cultural assumptions that ground it, wesnoth wouldn't make any sense, literature can't be interpretted in isolation.

Not only that, but particularly with high fantasy I think many readers will be on the look out for subtle political references, because Tolkien famously did this in LotR. If wesnoth had closely followed Tolkien, then I guess the Dwarves are supposed to stand for the Jews, etc. etc.
Certainly, I don't think the ankh is a good idea, because it is a real-world symbol. Why I personally don't mind it is because I never remember what symbol it is and because I first encountered it in fantasy games. I'm not familiar with it, I basically never see it in a real-world context, and I've mentally primarily associated it with "generic holy priestly stuff".
iceiceice wrote:
Tolkien c.f. wikipedia wrote: The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
It clearly doesn't have to be, but in many subsequent cases, Fantasy and especially Science Fiction have been used quite successfully as vectors for social commentary.

The point is not that wesnoth is doing this or has to do this, the point is that the *reader* will make up their own mind whether we are or aren't based on what symbols we use and how we arrange them. You can't credibly tell the reader "Hey! Forget everything you know, this is just stock fantasy! Nothing to see here!"

It would be like if you held an art exhibition, and at the entrance everyone is handed a pamphlet that says "Preamble: None of the art in this exhibition has anything to do with genitalia." Then you enter, and there are many paintings of nudes with fig leaves placed awkwardly over their privates. When I leave that exhibition, I'm still going to say to myself "hmm the artist seemed quite preoccupied with genitalia."

Similarly I dont think you can reasonably expect me to look at D&D, Diablo etc. and just ignore the crypto-christian aspects to the whole thing.

If you try to depict "generic medieval western european people" but crudely censor out all of the churches, priests, crosses, etc. and perhaps replace them at random with other symbols... well that's exactly what it's going to look like at the end, and that's what you are going to communicate to your reader. I'm never going to be confused about who you are depicting and what you did, "stock fantasy" or not. It's the same reason why you can't rename Konrad as "Adolf Hitler" and expect me to believe "this is a completely different Adolf Hitler, in a fantasy world with no connection to reality", as Sapient pointed out earlier. It's an obvious and unmistakable reference, and I'm certainly going to consider it and see if I can make sense of it in context, "stock fantasy" or not.
Well, again I disagree: I think one can reasonably expect the audience to ignore the historical roots of "stock fantasy" and just accept the depiction as-is, as having western-style castles and knights isn't an obvious reference to medieval Europe, it's just doing the same as everyone else and their mom is doing. In my mind it doesn't matter at all whether those things are originally historically inspired or not, the work is still self-contained and isolated from said history. Even if they discovered tomorrow that medieval Europe and the dozens of associated tropes never existed at all and have no basis in history at all, I don't think it'd affect how I view works of fantasy.

No one's ever gonna believe that I purely accidentally named a character Hitler and rightly so, but if I wrote a story about a wizard, a troll and a knight, I certainly wouldn't appreciate if people kept insisting that I'm making references to medieval Europe, because that would not be my intent at all.

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