Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Computer_Player » May 12th, 2018, 11:07 pm

This may be a bit off-topic but if we're going that way, we might as well change some faction names since they're all mostly wesnothian in perspective (and even in the very narrow, specific range of Asheviere's rule; its the only reason why I think Elves are called Rebels when for centuries before and after they were never under Wesnoth rule). Northerners are also found all over and not just in the north.

Proposed names:
Rebels -> Forest Dwellers
Northerners -> Hordes

I don't see a problem with the term Loyalists since it is atemporal and already implies people affiliated with the Wesnoth Kingdom (and is a more flavorful therm than merely Royalists, or King's Army, which I doubt includes mermen anyway)

I don't see a problem with Drakes but if you want to give more indicative names then perhaps:

Drakes -> Dragonkin (I toyed with reptillians, but drakes aren't reptiles, they're the most literally warm blooded people; besides they're magic anyway.)

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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Pentarctagon » May 12th, 2018, 11:33 pm

It would be better to create a separate thread for renaming factions, as was suggested earlier. I brought up renaming the Rebels, and it derailed the thread once already :whistle:

edit-
I do like the idea of writing unit descriptions from the perspective of that race though. That seems like it'd be a good way to have them be more unique and interesting.
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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by name » May 13th, 2018, 5:31 am

Pentarctagon wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 7:52 pm
Campaigns are quite literally the opposite of how to show objective information, since you are actively playing as one of the sides in the conflict.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 5:56 pm
This, uh, doesn't really make any sense? Players witnessing and judging for themselves is pretty much as subjective as you can get.
Being told a thing is a certain way is more objective than seeing it in person for yourself?

Okay, let's try a thought experiment. The flavor texts for orcs are changed to talk only about their appreciation for fine art and gardening and how they are the world's most peace loving people, nigh impossible to provoke to violence. And the campaigns remain the same with the orcs constantly expressing their unprovoked violent motives and then thoroughly acting on them. Which of these two now-conflicting sources of information do you think the player is going to believe?
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 5:56 pm
For example, it could be compiled from the journals of a famous explorer who travelled all over the world and documented the quirks of all the races. That still leaves room for some subjectivity and false assumptions while at the same time allowing the coverage of the races to be less biased.
The orcs' quirk of killing him immediately will impede his documenting of them.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 5:56 pm
(If we do want to do this, I also suggest adding a byline to the unit descriptions like someone else suggested earlier.)
Less cluttered would be to rename the in-universe section of the help menu to The Tome of Wesnoth and add a short foreword signed by the author, with its content subtly establishing his character.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 5:56 pm
In any case, the unit descriptions are akin to encyclopedia entries. That's why they should be less subjective.
It is not really that subjective at all to begin with, by the way. The elves are masters or fencing, archery, support skills (leadership and healing) and... forests. That they are better at these areas of expertise than humans is perfectly reasonable and worth noting in the flavor texts.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 12:16 am
No. The word "villainous" certainly can be used to describe all those actions, from an outsider's perspective; but villains do not (usually) think of themselves as villains.
In any case, the flavor text will be an outsider's perspective.

And seeing yourself as a villain was never a requirement for being classed as a villain by any definition I have ever heard for this word.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 12:16 am
Calling small size a weakness is extremely naïve. Small and agile can defeat big and bulky. Maybe the goblins are inferior units, but every unit has its ups and downs.
They are not agile. They are not smart. They are not strong. They have all downs and no ups with one notable exception-- they are dirt cheap.

It might not satisfy everyone that multiplayer was not balanced to fit an extremely modern social narrative in every aspect. But so it is.

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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Celtic_Minstrel » May 13th, 2018, 6:59 am

Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:31 am
Being told a thing is a certain way is more objective than seeing it in person for yourself?
Objectivity doesn't come solely from direct experience; direct experience can help make things objective, yes, but it doesn't ensure them to be. If you're in a war against anyone, your ability to make objective judgements as to the enemy's character will be severely impeded, so yes, campaigns are very subjective.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:31 am
Okay, let's try a thought experiment. The flavor texts for orcs are changed to talk only about their appreciation for fine art and gardening and how they are the world's most peace loving people, nigh impossible to provoke to violence. And the campaigns remain the same with the orcs constantly expressing their unprovoked violent motives and then thoroughly acting on them. Which of these two now-conflicting sources of information do you think the player is going to believe?
Your thought experiment is extremely dumb and ill-conceived, so it's not even worth my effort to bother debunking it. If you can come up with a better one, maybe I'll give it a try.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:31 am
The orcs' quirk of killing him immediately will impede his documenting of them.
The orcs' quirk of killing him immediately is only in your own mind, most likely. If a single human marched boldly into an orc camp, why would they kill him on sight? At the very least, I think they would be curious about this person who shows no fear of them. Furthermore, someone who's bold enough to march into an orc camp probably has skills to back up that boldness, such as being strong in combat. That obviously doesn't mean he'll survive marching into the orc camp, but it does suggest that he could have a chance to survive the encounter.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:31 am
Less cluttered would be to rename the in-universe section of the help menu to The Tome of Wesnoth and add a short foreword signed by the author, with its content subtly establishing his character.
This could work if you have the same author on all unit descriptions, I suppose.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:31 am
And seeing yourself as a villain was never a requirement for being classed as a villain by any definition I have ever heard for this word.
Well, true; but a villain is a person, not a race. A species or race cannot be a villain unless it's some kind of hive mind.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:31 am
They are not agile. They are not smart. They are not strong. They have all downs and no ups with one notable exception-- they are dirt cheap.
Well, being cheap I suppose could be an "up", but it's far from the only one. For example! Not only are they able to ride wolves due to their small size; they're actually quite skilled at it. Having a useful skill is a strength.

It's also probable that there exist agile goblins, smart goblins, and strong goblins (relative to others of their kind, at least). Not all orcs are alike. Not all goblins are alike. Not all of any race are alike.
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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Pentarctagon » May 13th, 2018, 4:08 pm

My Goblin Spearman proposal:
In any race, there are always those who, by stroke of bad luck, are born much smaller, weaker, or dumber than the rest of their kind. Orcs, however, take this further than any other of Wesnoth's sapient races, with there more often than not being several such runts born with each litter. Known as ‘Goblins’, these unfortunate creatures live short, brutal lives, most used merely as fodder against an enemy of their larger siblings' choosing while provided only the crudest of spears.
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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by name » May 13th, 2018, 5:04 pm

Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 6:59 am
Objectivity doesn't come solely from direct experience; direct experience can help make things objective, yes, but it doesn't ensure them to be. If you're in a war against anyone, your ability to make objective judgements as to the enemy's character will be severely impeded, so yes, campaigns are very subjective.
That assumes during campaign play, a player takes on the mindset of someone in actual combat with people trying to kill him.

My own experience is closer to-- following the story, playing through the next scenario to witness the next chapter of the story and... if the protagonist(s) say or do something I do not like, I hold that against them, and if the antagonist(s) say or do something that I do like, I side with them to the extent the scripting allows. Is that an abnormal play experience?
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:31 am
Okay, let's try a thought experiment. The flavor texts for orcs are changed to talk only about their appreciation for fine art and gardening and how they are the world's most peace loving people, nigh impossible to provoke to violence. And the campaigns remain the same with the orcs constantly expressing their unprovoked violent motives and then thoroughly acting on them. Which of these two now-conflicting sources of information do you think the player is going to believe?
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 6:59 am
Your thought experiment is extremely dumb and ill-conceived, so it's not even worth my effort to bother debunking it. If you can come up with a better one, maybe I'll give it a try.
Fine, I will rephrase it purely then:

Let us say the flavor text(s) say one thing and the campaigns consistently depict the opposite thing. They cannot both be right so the player must choose between them. Which source of information will the player side with?

The relevance is that you are trying to change the flavor texts, which are saying largely accurate things about wesnoth's story world as depicted over maybe several dozen hours of campaign game play. Changing the flavor texts by themselves has the advantage of not being a lot of work but the struggle for the player's perception will still be lost to their "direct" experience inside of the campaigns. That will carry a lot more weight with them.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 6:59 am
At the very least, I think they would be curious about this person who shows no fear of them. Furthermore, someone who's bold enough to march into an orc camp probably has skills to back up that boldness, such as being strong in combat. That obviously doesn't mean he'll survive marching into the orc camp, but it does suggest that he could have a chance to survive the encounter.
That might work for the drakes, given only the few bits canon tells us about them, but it is just not how the orcs are written to behave at all. They are effectively closer to uruk-hai or the zerg swarm in their role and behavior.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 6:59 am
Well, true; but a villain is a person, not a race. A species or race cannot be a villain unless it's some kind of hive mind.
If one says "birds can fly" that does not mean injured or naturally flightless birds do not exist or are not birds. It is speaking to the average for birds, what is generally true. There are very few absolute statements you can make that are true without any exceptions, but it is cumbersome to always list those exceptions, so unless the exceptions are relevant to the topic at hand you can leave them unmentioned.

I imagine it might have been less irritating for you if the roles of undead and orcs were swapped, with the undead being the primary scourge in most campaigns. Or if the orcs were depicted more zoomorphically, without the degree of sapience implied by technology use and speech (and honestly their dialogue does little to advance campaign stories anyway).
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 6:59 am
Well, being cheap I suppose could be an "up", but it's far from the only one. For example! Not only are they able to ride wolves due to their small size; they're actually quite skilled at it. Having a useful skill is a strength.
Having limbs and a head on your shoulders are also strengths in absolute terms, but in terms of strengths relative to the other creatures in the game the goblins are being compared with, their one strength is extreme cheapness.

The wolf rider is pretty consistently inferior to other mounted scouts, its purpose is to give the orcs some scouting and harassing ability. Again, units are not balanced against other units. The game is not balanced in such a way that every unit or "race" gets equal ability or even a single area where they are relatively strong. The focus is on balancing one faction against another.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 6:59 am
It's also probable that there exist agile goblins, smart goblins, and strong goblins (relative to others of their kind, at least).
Yes.

Any goblin that did not get the "slow" trait is agile relative to other goblins on average.
Any goblin that did not get the "dim" trait is smart relative to other goblins on average.
Any goblin that did not get the "weak" trait is strong relative to other goblins on average.
Celtic_Minstrel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 6:59 am
Not all orcs are alike. Not all goblins are alike. Not all of any race are alike.
They are or they are not, depending on the degree of precision. No human can breathe water. No fish can perform calculus. Yet in biologically less substantial ways individual humans have differences and so do individual fish.

It is important not to strongly read real world meanings and associations into the word "race", when it is used in wesnoth. Wesnoth uses the term much more loosely to mean something closer to "species". It was probably a word choice based largely on what sounds best.

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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Celtic_Minstrel » May 13th, 2018, 5:44 pm

Pentarctagon wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 4:08 pm
My Goblin Spearman proposal:
In any race, there are always those who, by stroke of bad luck, are born much smaller, weaker, or dumber than the rest of their kind. Orcs, however, take this further than any other of Wesnoth's sapient races, with there more often than not being several such runts born with each litter. Known as ‘Goblins’, these unfortunate creatures live short, brutal lives, most used merely as fodder against an enemy of their larger siblings' choosing while provided only the crudest of spears.
This description's not bad, though personally I'd make the final sentence less "absolute" by adding words such as "usually" and such. But, I guess that's not really important.

There is possibly also one grammatical/style flaw in the last sentence:
Known as ‘Goblins’, these unfortunate creatures live short, brutal lives, most used merely as fodder against an enemy of their larger siblings' choosing while provided only the crudest of spears.
(emphasis mine) This sounds awkward to me. I'm not sure if it's better to say "while being provided" or to find a completely different phrasing for this sentence... I think I can see why you didn't insert "being" (since the previous clause is also a past participle, maybe the intention was to make the clauses agree?). Another possible fix might be "while provided with"? Or maybe just replace the whole thing with something like "wielding" preceded by a comma... maybe you can come up with a better idea though.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:04 pm
That assumes during campaign play, a player takes on the mindset of someone in actual combat with people trying to kill him.

My own experience is closer to-- following the story, playing through the next scenario to witness the next chapter of the story and... if the protagonist(s) say or do something I do not like, I hold that against them, and if the antagonist(s) say or do something that I do like, I side with them to the extent the scripting allows. Is that an abnormal play experience?
But the things they say are still subjective statements. The way you read it really isn't the point.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:04 pm
Let us say the flavor text(s) say one thing and the campaigns consistently depict the opposite thing. They cannot both be right so the player must choose between them. Which source of information will the player side with?
Thank you for distilling the reason it's extremely dumb and ill-conceived down to the basics. Do you seriously think we'd make the campaigns and unit descriptions say the exact opposite thing? No-one has suggested that. No sane person would suggest that. I don't know why you're bring up this utterly ridiculous scenario. It's just a total waste of time.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:04 pm
That might work for the drakes, given only the few bits canon tells us about them, but it is just not how the orcs are written to behave at all. They are effectively closer to uruk-hai or the zerg swarm in their role and behavior.
Uhhh. From my experience of playing the game, they don't really seem like uruk-hai at all. In HTTT at least, they seem like pretty normal mercenaries from what I can remember. And really, if they're depicted as uruk-hai in some campaigns (AOI maybe?), maybe that depiction should be tweaked a little too... but that's out of scope for this topic, which is just about the unit descriptions.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:04 pm
If one says "birds can fly" that does not mean injured or naturally flightless birds do not exist or are not birds. It is speaking to the average for birds, what is generally true. There are very few absolute statements you can make that are true without any exceptions, but it is cumbersome to always list those exceptions, so unless the exceptions are relevant to the topic at hand you can leave them unmentioned.
Birds aren't a race/species, and stating objective facts about a species biology is on a different level than stereotyping their mentality.
Cold Steel wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 5:04 pm
It is important not to strongly read real world meanings and associations into the word "race", when it is used in wesnoth. Wesnoth uses the term much more loosely to mean something closer to "species". It was probably a word choice based largely on what sounds best.
I know that "race" means "species" in a fantasy context, okay? But that doesn't mean real-world associations of the word do not apply. The only reason "race" doesn't refer to "species" in the real world is because so far there is only one species known to be sapient.
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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Pentarctagon » May 13th, 2018, 7:08 pm

Changes bolded:
In any race, there are always those who, by stroke of bad luck, are born much smaller, weaker, or dumber than the rest of their kind. Orcs, however, take this further than any other of Wesnoth's sapient races, with there more often than not being several such runts born with each litter. Known as ‘Goblins’, these unfortunate creatures nearly always live short, brutal lives, most used merely as fodder against an enemy of their larger siblings' choosing while equipped with only the crudest of spears.
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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Caladbolg » May 13th, 2018, 7:10 pm

Pentarctagon wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 4:08 pm
My Goblin Spearman proposal:
In any race, there are always those who, by stroke of bad luck, are born much smaller, weaker, or dumber than the rest of their kind. Orcs, however, take this further than any other of Wesnoth's sapient races, with there more often than not being several such runts born with each litter. Known as ‘Goblins’, these unfortunate creatures live short, brutal lives, most used merely as fodder against an enemy of their larger siblings' choosing while provided only the crudest of spears.
Emphasis mine. The part I bolded implies (at least to me) that orcs intentionally breed weaker goblins. I think it might be because 'to take sth further' is active. Maybe replace it with 'this is even more true for orcs' or something similar. Other than that, it's fine and it's an improvement.

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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Celtic_Minstrel » May 13th, 2018, 8:11 pm

Agreed both on Pentarctagon's changes and Caladbolg's suggestion.
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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by zookeeper » May 13th, 2018, 8:20 pm

Also, "Wesnoth's sapient races" needs to be phrased differently.

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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Pentarctagon » May 13th, 2018, 9:47 pm

Changes bolded:
In any race, there are always those rare individuals who, by stroke of bad luck, are born much smaller, weaker, or dumber than the rest of their kind. For Orcs, however, such occurrences are extraordinarily common, with there usually being several runts born in each litter. Known as ‘Goblins’, these unfortunate creatures live short, brutal lives, most used merely as fodder against an enemy of their larger siblings' choosing while provided only the crudest of spears.
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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Caladbolg » May 13th, 2018, 10:51 pm

Great! But these are the changes to the first draft, not to the revised version. Probably my fault, because I posted my suggestion just after you revised the description and didn't notice that new version. Taking both changes into account, the final version would be:
In any race, there are always those rare individuals who, by stroke of bad luck, are born much smaller, weaker, or dumber than the rest of their kind. For Orcs, however, such occurrences are extraordinarily common, with there usually being several runts born in each litter. Known as ‘Goblins’, these unfortunate creatures nearly always live short, brutal lives, most used merely as fodder against an enemy of their larger siblings' choosing while equipped with only the crudest of spears.
I think it's all good now :)

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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by Pentarctagon » May 14th, 2018, 12:04 am

Ah, yep, good catch.
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Re: Revisiting Wesnoth unit descriptions

Post by name » May 14th, 2018, 12:44 am

Pentarctagon wrote:
May 13th, 2018, 9:47 pm
Changes bolded:
In any race, there are always those rare individuals who, by stroke of bad luck, are born much smaller, weaker, or dumber than the rest of their kind. For Orcs, however, such occurrences are extraordinarily common, with there usually being several runts born in each litter. Known as ‘Goblins’, these unfortunate creatures live short, brutal lives, most used merely as fodder against an enemy of their larger siblings' choosing while provided only the crudest of spears.
In what way(s) does this improve on the original description (after removal of the last sentence/paragraph about the race failure thing)? For reference:
Existing Goblin Spearman (sans last sentence) wrote:In any litter of orcs, several are born much smaller and weaker than the rest. These runts are called ‘Goblins’ and are looked down on by the rest of their kin. In battle, these are given the most meager of equipment, and are used as a soak-off force to give the Warlords time to prepare the real assault.
I suggest this synthesis of the two (parts cloned from the new version are in bold):
Proposed Goblin Spearman wrote:In any litter of orcs, several are born much smaller and weaker than the rest. These runts are called ‘Goblins’ and are looked down on by the rest of their kin. In battle, they are given the most meager of equipment and deployed as fodder to give their larger siblings time to prepare the real assault.
I kept the "smaller AND weaker" phrase rather than going with the change to "OR" because they are smaller and weaker in more consistent ways than just the random negative traits. They are level 0 units, so no zone of control plus low survivability and fairly marginal attack power compared to a level 1.

I kept the more vague reference to "meager equipment" because their armor also looks rather shabby and the name of the unit already makes their armament clear.

I merged in the removal of the term "Warlord" as this is a unit that does not occur in multiplayer and in campaigns they are not always under the command of one either.

I merged in the switch to "fodder" from "soak-off force" since the latter is odd terminology as far as I am aware.

I merged in the removal of the last sentence of the original text, as it is odd and relevant to goblins in general rather than goblin spearmen specifically.

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