Censorship in Sunless Skies

Just gotta admit that I stumble over the words in the text like &quotb_ _ _ _ ration&quot, as I’m an idiot American who’s not used these colloquialisms. I’m also not a personal fan of censorship, regardless, however I can see a side that would like this and a reason that the devs do it this way. I’m curious to know what you all think about this? I’d love an option to turn dialog censorship off, that way to each his own.

I AM british and i honestly don’t have a clue what that word was supposed to be
I personally hate censorship and would be in favor of turning it off.

But even more than censoring swear words, what i find odd is the censoring of names.

There’s a segment in one of the ports that says something like “Lord _____ has been sighted doing a wierd thing”. I’m paraphrasing of course, the first part is most important
It’d be simpler, and much more elegant, to just say “A prominent lord was sighted doing a wierd thing.” What’s the point in naming him if you’re not naming him? we don’t get his name either way, so why specify and redact when you could just not specify to begin with

Failbetter has a careful path to tread between what makes a good game, what sounds Victorian (or neo-Victorian), and what aids the worldbuilding and the very particular narrative voice of their canon.

Just having random uncensored swearing in the text wouldn’t aid the latter two goals, and I don’t see how it would help with the first one.

update: As regards the second post in this thread, if you look up Victorian writers you’ll find that the practice of referring to &quotLord _____&quot, etc. was a fairly common storytelling technique. Americans did it as well; several of Poe’s stories, for instance.
edited by Teaspoon on 8/31/2017

Teaspoon, I understand the reasons the devs do it, but I certainly believe 100% that it would be a better game in my eyes if the colorfull language wasn’t forced to be monochrome, if you get my meaning.

You could still have the spectacular narrative voice, just loose out a smidge on being true to how authors wrote in Victorian times. I do respect the view of being faithful to that style, however this is, afterall, a steampunk narrative at its heart.
edited by vulchor on 8/31/2017

I’ve encountered the censored form of “bugger” twice, and no other profanity whatsoever. It’s a strange choice of curse for a world which has up to this point been very queer-friendly.

I encountered bl_ _ dy as well in the first five minutes.

Just having random uncensored swearing in the text wouldn’t aid the latter two goals, and I don’t see how it would help with the first one.[/quote]
I’d have to disagree with this completely.

What wouldn’t aid the goals is characters acting out of character. A highborn lady probably shouldnt be swearing. But the soot covered docker with hands like leather and strength to outmatch a clay man? He should definitely be swearing, a whole lot. And such people do.

Censorship, or the lack of it, is entirely meta, and it doesn’t affect the narrative either way. it simply annoys the player who wants to see things as they are.
If someone feels there’s a need for it, add an option, even let it default to enabled. But i want a way to turn it off. When i have dealings with grizzled, scarred, hairy criminal men, i want to see them swear without censoring

It was a common practice in works from the time period. It’s not a matter of FBG having a problem with swearing, it’s a stylistic quirk that adds atmosphere for the time period.

Agreeing with the post above. Why do you need the censorship removal, anyway, if it’s already obvious that the character’s swearing?
In Fallen London, Cheery Man’s basically a prime example of that “grizzled, scarred, hairy criminal man”. He uses very strong swears, they are censored and no value is lost. It’s still obvious that he is swearing, and that the censorship is purely a stylistic choice of the writers.

Then translate the swear in the OP, go on.
Nobody in this thread has done it yet

fill in the missing letters in &quotb_ _ _ _ ration&quot

It’s entirely your opinion that no value is lost. And its an opinion i disagree with. much value is lost.
Just because you can understand someone without a few letters doesn’t make it okay to cut them out. Heck, you could apply that mentality to the entire game. Why not just censor out all vowels and let people work out what was meant from the context?
edited by Nanako on 8/31/2017


N_n_k_: That is a completely different problem than the censoring of swears.
edited by suinicide on 8/31/2017

almost like a crossword puzzle. is it, perhaps, &quotbuggeration&quot?

edit; ah, b—ration. seems suinicide was faster.
edited by gronostaj on 8/31/2017

Why do you need censorship, if it’s already obvious that the character’s swearing?

[quote=Nanako]the player who wants to see things as they are.[/quote]You do not want to see things &quotas they are&quot, because &quotas they are&quot is with the harsher curses blanked out. Failbetter isn’t modifying an existing text; they’re making a personal decision about their own creative work. There was never a &quotbugger&quot to be censored, because it was &quotb____r&quot from the very start. What you want to see is things which you, personally, think that Failbetter should be presenting.

The intentional avoidance of explicit details is something which I appreciate about Failbetter’s work. Gratuitous and detailed profanity, violence, and sex are so common in modern media - especially in gaming - that not needing to go out of my way to avoid overly explicit content is a pleasant breath of fresh air. I am no more interested in the lurid details of a zailor’s choice of profanity than I am in the lurid details of getting freaky with the Prudent Magician, and I think that Failbetter’s work is enhanced by the intentional omission of such things.

In the old newspaper comics in the US, swearing was done with symbols, such as stars, exclamation points, skulls, daggers, etc. It wasn’t because I was just a kid that I had no idea what those symbols were supposed to mean. It was generic swearing. I note that it’s not player censorship that’s happening, or even content censorship per se…it’s the content we’re being provided, in the form the provider believes is entertaining. (The “Lord ____” thing was in Fallen London, I believe, describing someone who was so indebted he had to give up his name.)

If a game contains swearing, cursing, or the speaking of terrible oaths, I immediately delete it from my computer hard drive. Such vile terms must never be spoken or put to paper.

Okay, but seriously. S’Skies adopts exactly the same practice as Fallen London - maintaining the conceit that it’s all Victorian texts by having the invisible author self-censor the cussing. I’m surprised anyone has any issue with it. Just assume it’s always &quotbloody&quot or &quotbugger&quot and you’ll be fine.

I’m really glad that you all are sharing your well thought out opinions on this. I was worried that most people would be ‘meh’ about it. This is a good discussion. I still hope the devs put in a option though to see what word was meant before the letters were removed. Maybe even do it in a tooltip. My OCD really can’t move forward with the rest of the text until I figure out what word was censored, so it does impair the gameplay for me. Unfortunately, I don’t possess the ability that Anchovies has to see it as just “b_ _ _ _ration” (btw, I had already come to the conclusion it was buggeration, but the only reason I eventually figured it out was I recalled the loads of Terry Pratchett I read in High School). I can certaintly see the otherside of the argument, and I’m glad that people have strong opinions about it.

[quote=vulchor]Unfortunately, I don’t possess the ability that Anchovies has to see it as just &quotb_ _ _ _ration&quot[/quote]I see all! I know all!

You do raise a good point here. Making up a new word (even if it is based on an existing word) and then blanking it out could cause enough confusion to disrupt the flow of the game and story. I would’ve taken quite a bit longer than I did to puzzle out &quotb____ration&quot if I hadn’t encountered a &quotb____r&quot very shortly beforehand.

Speaking of which, seeing that word used as a curse/insult after having grown accustomed to the game-world’s generally accepting view of gender and sexuality is still bothering me hours after the fact. I really do hope it gets changed. Until then, I’ll pretend that everyone’s saying &quotbutter&quot, because that gives me a nice chuckle.

The mention of PTerry is especially apt. I believe he coined the term emb___ ation. Or was it emb___ ance?
edited by Ragnar Degenhand on 8/31/2017

[color=#FF9900]Thought people might be interested in a dev perspective on this: the motive here isn’t censorship, it’s worldbuilding. I mean, this is a game where you can devour the cabin boy; we’re hardly going to be sent to our swooning-couches by the word ‘bloody’. Why, many of the content team pride ourselves on our evocative swearing and are firmly of the opinion that swearing is both big and clever.

Dashing out the middle of swear-words was an occasional Victorian habit, and is a nice, low-effort way to establish our period and some of its (often hypocritical) habits. [/color]

[color=#FF9900]Yes, I take your and Anchovies’ point, here. It’s also obviously a word that, when censored, turns out to be particularly mystifying to non-Brits. That sort of thing can easily jolt you out of the moment.

For an insight into our process: in cases like this, where a particular word or phrase distrupts the immersion of a notable subset of players, we like to revisit it, work out what it was meant to be doing, and see if it can be rephrased into something more effective. Here, I was trying to establish something about the Veteran’s character, so I’ve now revised it to a line that does a better job of this. The change should appear in a future update.[/color]
edited by babelfishwars on 8/31/2017