Choice of Broads, Choice of Dudes.
July 14, 2010 12:21 PM   Subscribe

Choice of Broadsides is a choose-your-own-adventure game set in an alternate 19th Century world that is much like our own, where Albion and Gaul fight for naval supremacy. You can choose to be a gentleman in a standard patriarchal society, or a gentlewoman in a matriarchal one. Later on in the game you can choose your sexual orientation. Originally there were no options for a same-sex relationship, but after demands from players, it was added in. Spoilers below the cut.

In the original you could become friends with a Gaulish officer named Villeneuve but players wanted so much more. After some further thought, Choice of Games decided to add in some nights of passion between the protagonist and Villeneuve. The Great Villeneuve Debate has affected how Choice of Games will write their next game. [Choice of Games previously]
posted by Kattullus (42 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

Some interesting thoughts from The Border House:
Adam [Strong-Morse of Choice of Games] focuses on [Interactive Fiction], but I think much of what he writes about is applicable to any game that seeks to have players experience a story. What makes games so interesting and unique from other media is interactivity, yes, but being interactive means relinquishing some authorial control and handing it over to the player. Game creators can't and shouldn't try to control how players experience every moment of their game, otherwise it's not a game any more. As Adam puts it, "If the player of a game has any meaningful agency, then they are part of the storytelling team." But there must be some sort of control, otherwise the game would be impossible to create, let alone play. So where is the line drawn? These are tough questions that the Choice of Games team is tackling, ones that game developers have been asking for some time now. Every game has different goals, so the answers are likely different for every game that is created, but they do come to some conclusions that should be thought-provoking for anyone interested in collaborative storytelling.
posted by Kattullus at 12:29 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dammit. There goes my afternoon...
posted by valkyryn at 12:45 PM on July 14, 2010

Based on the name I was hoping for a game based on running a yellow journalism media empire at the turn of the 20th century!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:50 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Awkward Davies gets fucked up in the first scene? That's crap. I want to send him berserking through the enemy ship after I give orders to board!
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:53 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well now *this* is engrossing.
posted by The Whelk at 12:58 PM on July 14, 2010

TL;DR alert on the walkthrough.
posted by stuck on an island at 1:08 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seriously, though, this is fun. They should totally change the name to Being Lesbian Jack Aubrey.
posted by stuck on an island at 1:09 PM on July 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

This is so much fun!
posted by lholladay at 1:14 PM on July 14, 2010

rarely does a game force me to look up barmetric pressure changes.
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I can't believe how much fun that is - it ate up the last half hour in what seemed like a heartbeat. I made Post Captain! It is absolutely delightful to play a woman character in a game like this, and have all the other officers and shipmates be female, too. You wouldn't think it would make such a huge difference, but it does. I'm also glad I read the Aubrey-Maturin novels; I feel like I'm making better decisions because I kind of get the battle strategies and thigns like that.

Really fun - so simple, but really fun.
posted by Miko at 1:27 PM on July 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Captain at 25, and Admiral and retirement at 32.

Sadly, I'm not that rich or likeable, so my retirement is going to be pretty shit - still, I've got a Gaulish BFF and kick ass at gunnery.
posted by djgh at 1:37 PM on July 14, 2010

I'm basically responsible for the unnecessary deaths of many, many people.
posted by The Whelk at 1:38 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I love this game so hard. I'm glad I played Choice of the Dragon first, though, 'cause Broadsides is better.

Y'all may also be interested in Plundered Hearts, which is less Aubrey-Maturin and more pirate romance. Good times.
posted by asperity at 2:12 PM on July 14, 2010

I loved this. Thanks.
posted by josher71 at 2:15 PM on July 14, 2010

Yeah, that was totally fun! But I got my hand cut off.

(Whatever, that's REAR ADMIRAL Formequalsfunction to you.)
posted by functionequalsform at 2:17 PM on July 14, 2010

I've played all of their games and while Choice of Broadsides was fun, my current favourite is the User-Contributed Game The Nightmare Maze
posted by MelanieL at 3:08 PM on July 14, 2010

ding rear admiral.

also, this game fucking rocks. it takes me back to the halcyon days of 1996, with crappy "choose your own adventure" games all over geocities. except this one is awesome.
posted by shmegegge at 3:20 PM on July 14, 2010

I was surprised that, while playing in female dominant universe, I didn't really give any thought at all to "Mistress" instead of "Master", or the female sailors, &c. Apparently I'm comfortable enough in a gender-neutral world where those things don't even register.

But in two scenes--the scene where Jones gets (I think) thirty lashes, and the scene where I had to fight two hulking, formidable sailors, the male / female flip was quite disorienting. Not a complaint, really--if violence against women is the last area in which I become gender blind, well, that's not too bad.

Still, sexism is sexism and in her Majesty's navy I'd imagine a trained seawoman could take the lash as well as anyone.

I also loved that in that world they refer to ships as "him". And all the courting scenes (which I was awful at, but hey, I had my eye on someone else...)

Oh, and I really enjoyed the game, even without any gender gimmicks. I really had to think about certain choices, and worried about whether they'd come back to haunt me (I got knighted, in the end, so I guess not).

I'm another Aubrey / Maturin (and Hornblower) fan, by the way.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 4:03 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I died at the hand of my Gaulish lover, as did she at mine.
posted by ursus_comiter at 4:10 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think I have read far too many Napoleonic war books, myself ... because I keep killing my lover out of some misplaced sense of duty. Curse you, imaginary Albionish military discipline!
posted by kyrademon at 4:17 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I played through and just embraced my role as worthless political appointee who made the wrong choice ALL THE TIME and ending up dying horribly after runing EVERYTHING.

And it was still enjoyable!
posted by The Whelk at 5:13 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why exactly the hell am I so much better at being a dragon than I am at being a ship's captain? I don't know if I should be happy about that or not.

Because, Christ, do I ever suck as a ship's captain. And this is one of those things I just always assumed I'd be awesome at. Frigging internet, ruining my dreams of excelling at jobs I can never have had in centuries I don't actually live in.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 5:57 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have Choice of the Dragon for my Nexus One and I can't wait to try Broadsides. It's quite a good little text game!
posted by Calzephyr at 6:27 PM on July 14, 2010

I made a duder who was scum. Noble and so jacked in with connections that it didn't matter that I kept having ships shot out from under me. Retired having killed pretty much anyone who was unlucky enough to have come under my command. It was way more fun than I expected it to be.
posted by Peztopiary at 6:57 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Heh - if you choose the female world, the ships are referred to as "he."

Now that I've resumed and am playing on, I'm struck by how exactly these events match the first few Aubrey-Maturin books. They generally follow the central plot lines.

Did it! I made admiral, age 26. Didn't manage to get married though, and I'm concerned my missing hand will make me considerably less attractive to Master Musgrove and company.
posted by Miko at 7:20 PM on July 14, 2010

Didn't make Admiral, but I was knighted.

More fun than a murder of Crowes.
posted by rdone at 9:21 PM on July 14, 2010

The fastest way to immense success is obvsly to adhere to the What Would Jack Aubrey Do? principle. I am now a wealthy Admiral happily married to a beautiful but spendthrift husband.
posted by elizardbits at 6:55 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Absolutely. I wasn't predatory enough in my sexuality. I did choose the name Villiers, though.
posted by Miko at 7:00 AM on July 15, 2010

I tried to play using my gut instincts on What Would I Actually, Realistically do in this situation.

Lets just say Mr. Whelk ends up with an injured hand, nightmares, half-pay in the country and dies alone after being court-martialed trying to avoid fighting his much more suave Gaulish lover.
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 AM on July 15, 2010

and being a wealthy sociopath makes me a Knight.

posted by The Whelk at 12:22 PM on July 15, 2010

And there's a lesson in that for all of us.
posted by kyrademon at 1:56 PM on July 15, 2010

some of my close friends are involved in Choice Of Games. I'm very pleased to see this here, with such positive comments.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:47 PM on July 15, 2010

I tried to play it as Jack Aubrey as I could. Rear Admiral at 35, unmarried. I really screwed up with the ladies. Man this game is neat.
posted by codswallop at 6:55 PM on July 15, 2010

My SO played through it the other night and I really enjoyed vicariously experiencing his storyline. This game company is doing good stuff. I don't have a web-enabled mobile, but if I did, I could certainly see whiling away a train ride pretty often on a choose-your-own text adventure like this.
posted by Miko at 6:28 AM on July 16, 2010

If you have an iPod Touch you can download the text adventures to it.
posted by Kattullus at 10:27 AM on July 16, 2010

The only way I could possibly love this more is if it had a few illustrations.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:37 PM on July 16, 2010

I'm not sure. I played a few times, so it's certainly enjoyable. But it seems that no matter what choices you make, you can only get the "best" outcome - an Admiral or a peerage - by making only the most ruthless choices. That's not really much a choice going on there; there doesn't seem to be any randomness to the outcomes.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:35 PM on July 17, 2010

I got to admiral while being a pretty good egg, avoided the mutiny, had a torrid love affair with Villeneuve, and then captured him without killing him.
posted by Kattullus at 8:50 PM on July 17, 2010

But it seems that no matter what choices you make, you can only get the "best" outcome - an Admiral or a peerage - by making only the most ruthless choices.

Definitely not. I made no ruthless choices save 10 lashes for the sleepy landswoman - after cutting her grog and putting her on double watches - and I was made Admiral of the Red by age 38. No mutiny, saved Pigot, reinstated Jones, married Musgrove, and allowed Villeneuve to live once I'd disarmed her.
posted by elizardbits at 10:19 AM on July 18, 2010

That makes it more intriguing to play again. Now I have a goal! Cool, thanks.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:05 AM on July 18, 2010

I like how some of the iddle-of-the-rad choices allow for a comfortable or middling ending. It's nice to see the common complaint that "morality" systems are usually just saintlike goodness versus cartoonishly evil. Nice to see some middle ground there.
posted by The Whelk at 11:14 AM on July 18, 2010

iddle-of-the-rad should be the term for something goddammit.
posted by The Whelk at 11:30 AM on July 18, 2010

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