This Makes Sense (& Sensibility): Jane Austen MMO Is Go

By Alec Meer on December 3rd, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

Explicit sex and hardcore violence simulator dancing and courting MMO Ever, Jane has rounded up the requisite $100k just before the Kickstarter gate slammed shut, and will now become a reality. Whether it turns out to be a Darcy or a Wickham, I’m simply delighted that such a thing could even exist. No guns, no robots, no body-horror, no war: just love and lies in the time of cholera (except I very much doubt we’ll see any cholera in Ever, Jane, what with it being all about the higher societies of the Regency era).

I’m also delighted that it’s not just a big joke, having initially feared it would be a Pride & Prejudice & Zombies gimmicky affair – 3 Turn Productions’ Ever, Jane really is an online RPG dedicated to the period pursuits of gossip, societal manoeuvring, ballroom dancing and genteel courtship.

Currently I must admit it looks pretty ropey and hasn’t got the strongest pitch video, but a playable prototype exists and the enthusiasm’s clearly there. And let’s not forget that a game/world whose primarily purpose is social ladder-climbing and the conversation required to achieve this doesn’t exactly need to be drenched in pixel shaders. It’s all about the careful chat and the stately shape-throwing, right?

Here’s some talking head-free footage, too. Obviously this is all very early, what with them not having their funding money yet and all.

I, uh, haven’t ever read an entire Jane Austen novel, though I’ve started a few and seen a few of the telly adaptations. And, uh, I managed to score 90% on a university essay on Pride & Prejudice purely by reading one of those York’s Condensed Notes things. Student-me, you were a disgrace.

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67 Comments »

  1. Dudeist says:

    Can I play as Barry Lyndon???

    • Risingson says:

      Indeed Thackeray, or to be precise “Bonfire of the Vanities”, would have been a much better source to adapt for this kind of MMO. Jane Austen, as “Bridget Jones” very funnily got right, is mostly a story told through social events.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    Quest: Collect 6 Darcy torsos. Reward: Fifty thousand pounds.

  3. smoke.tetsu says:

    It’s Kristine Kochanski’s (from Red Dwarf) favorite game made reality at long last! ;)

  4. Tripkebab says:

    Don’t those old houses have big knockers.

  5. Big Murray says:

    Mr Darcy, kindly stop teabagging that man.

  6. Rikard Peterson says:

    Read them now – it’s not too late!

    • Llewyn says:

      I’m not so sure; they’re not exactly the topical and incisive commentaries on contemporary society that they were in Alec’s student days.

      • mouton says:

        Only read Pride and Prejudice and it is a quite pleasant read. Nothing groundbreaking, but unlike many classics, it is not a chore.

  7. Reefpirate says:

    While the MMO is not a big joke, and I’m quite glad it’s not though I have no desire to play it, I imagine they will need some serious moderation to keep rampant internet tomfoolery from ruining the atmosphere.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Well as long as players aren’t given the option to do anything but select choices from a menu of polite activities and watch them play out, it shouldn’t be a problem….

      On the other hand, a staple of this genre of fiction is the Deep Dark Secret, some of which are actually pretty Dark. And I’m not even talking about Jane Eyre being an object of pedophilic lust! (More about Rochester’s insane and be-dungeoned secret wife, and the like.)

      Without juicy bits like the above, the game won’t be an accurate representation of the genre. How they would incorporate such things is beyond me.

      And making a manners-game just for the sake of manners sounds tedious beyond all belief. Even the people that like those books are in it for the thrill of the nasty bits. (And yes, the happy ending, but the light cannot be appreciated without the darkness.)

      • TimEatsApples says:

        Actually, those darker elements were created by the Brontes precisely in response to what they saw as a lack in Jane Austen: that her novels were entirely about manners and humorous miscommunications and had no greater element of risk, or anything to offer the reader beyond distraction. So in fact, the game wouldn’t be an accurate representation of its genre if it *did* contain those elements.

        I’ll go on to add that while Jane Austen wrote at least three bona fide classics, the only book by any of the Brontes worth a damn is Jane Eyre, so I can’t say I agree with their premise.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Pride and Prejudice Dark Bits:

          - family is broke, and the daughters may not be able to remain at the estate after the father dies <– (incidentally, poor upper-class families jockeying for position in this kind of fiction is a pretty common theme)

          - one daughter elopes with a dickhole

          - the female characters' frustration of living in a world in which they essentially exist for no reason other than to be marriage-bait and baby-factories. (I recall being told by someone with a vagina once that that was a huge element of Austen's writings. I never bothered delving that much into the two books of hers that I've read, myself.)

          • TimEatsApples says:

            Sure. But nothing on the level of a mad ex-wife kept locked up in the attic in secret in case she burns the house down. Austen can be a bit dark at times, but never Dark.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Well dammit I want some DARK in my promenades!

          • TimEatsApples says:

            Haha. Can’t argue with that. Maybe the sequel could be Ever, Emily, where the object is to avoid the love of your life for as long as possible while simultaneously beating your breast and pining for them.

        • choie says:

          Sense & Sensibility has darker themes than P&P. Brandon’s first love was a lower class girl thrown out of society after his parents discovered their affection; she became an impoverished fallen woman (so to speak) and had a child. When Brandon (who’d been shoved into the army) returned to find his beloved, he discovered her dying with the baby. He tried to raise the girl from afar but she too went astray and, by the time of the novel, was preggers — by one of the leads of the novel who’d abandoned her. And that’s just the melodrama; the real story of the novel involves an entirely family of women thrown out of their home after the father dies, and in addition to their grief, their circumstances are so greatly reduced it’s quite wrenching and their prospects are considered almost nil. So while no, it’s not a woman burning a house down, to say that there’s no element of “risk” or “life and death” stuff is quite wrong and condescending. (Not on your part, but whoever made the criticism originally.)

          • TimEatsApples says:

            Right: condescending on the part of the Brontes, who set themselves up to “fix” one of the greatest writers of their century.

            Sense & Sensibility’s my personal favourite Austen, by the way. Her at her most acerbic. Every character’s witless or grotesque, except Elinor and Marianne.

        • Juan Carlo says:

          You are entirely correct. The darkest Austen ever got was “Persuasion,” where the protagonist was a bit old by standards of the time and her family was kind of awful, but she still married well at the end. Austen even satirized the darker, gothic, tendencies of the time in Northanger Abbey. She did poke fun at people constantly, but she never went full on grotesque like the Brontes did at times.

          As to this MMO, I think it’d be awesome to roleplay a charcter in an Austen novel, but I honestly don’t see anyway that this could worked as an actual, full fledged, game. Sounds more like a clever kickstarter gimmick that will attract lots of attention via its unique premise, but never actually amount to much.

          • TimEatsApples says:

            Yeah, it’s hard to see how they’d gamify something like that without it feeling too much like a game. It could be a very interesting setting if done well.

            Hmm. I just checked and the project creator was formerly a Managing Engineer at Second Life. I image it will be something like that — not exactly my cup of tea, but it could work well for someone who wants to lose themselves in that world. I guess, like with anything of this sort, it’ll depend as much on the player base as on the game itself.

        • aendrus says:

          “the only book by any of the Brontes worth a damn is Jane Eyre”
          I’m going to have to disagree here – Charlotte wrote a good bit of top-notch fiction, and I might even place Villette above Jane Eyre (esp. for the narratorial play with reader expectations and wonderfully wounded ending)

          • TimEatsApples says:

            I have to admit I’ve never read it. To be honest, the only one I really hate is Wuthering Heights, but the amount of love it gets puts me off the whole family. I am a stuffy grump, I admit. Jane Eyre is a good novel though – perhaps I’ll give Villette a go sometime.

          • aendrus says:

            I can definitely understand being mystified at / grumpy about some of the excesses of love expressed for Wuthering Heights. If you find yourself with the time, definitely read Villette, but be prepared to get frustrated with its narrator. As to your larger point, I would characterize some of Austen as fairly dark, but agree that we equate that with Gothic (or sensation fiction) darkness at our peril. Mansfield Park in particular seems to me to be a melancholic text in a way that is more subdued, but precisely on that account more effective, than the terror of ghost at the window. Risk, I suspect, is exactly what is present throughout Austen’s novels – whether in financial difficulties, social disadvantage, or in being ventured on the marriage market. In part, Austen’s wit in these novels is so effective because it is at once exquisitely crafted ornament (apparently free from risk and weightier concerns) and, combined with tact, an absolute social necessity (providing a kind of training for her readers, then and now). None of which is to say that we can’t / shouldn’t enjoy it on its own terms.

    • ffordesoon says:

      If I’m understanding the concept of the game correctly, policing beastly or scandalous behavior is built right into the game design. If you don’t want to take tea and crumpets in the bureau with Messrs. teaBAGZ_420 and SugahTiTZ in light of their beastly behavior at Lady Thwackenbush’s ball of a fortnight previous, that is your right as landed gentry.

      Let them darken the door of the Nohomo estate! However faded our bloodline, the family Ffordesoon still has its dignity! No roustabouts we, I assure you! Good day, gentlemen! I SAID GOOD DAY!

  8. Damien Stark says:

    My very first thought (which was immediately followed by Reefpirate’s utterly correct fear of griefing) was “this will probably be really boring.”

    Hold on, wait! I’m not a COD-Bro complaining that girly-book-stuff is boring… Quite the opposite.

    I think personal relationships and social maneuvering are quite interesting, but notoriously complex to implement in a game. My fear is that the actual content will be super generic procedurally-generated or randomized. “Say 1 of 3 nasty things about someone behind her back.” That sort of thing.

    I hope to be wrong though, as this sort of thing represents interesting and needed variety…

    • Shodex says:

      Especially real gossip is supposed to be plausible, or else it would have no effect. If rumour was going around that “XtremeGentleman1324 fugs his horse lol” it should have no effect on how people see him as (presumably… hopefully…) that isn’t a feature in the game.

      But how will the “reputation meter” know this? I wasn’t able to get a proper grasp of the game from the brief descriptions (the video wasn’t loading for me neither), but it sounds like you’d be inviting players to your parties. And trying to prevent them from going to rival parties. How will the gossip prevent them from going to the rival’s party? The nasty things you say have to at least have some possibility. If you’re saying somebody eats their boogers and beats their wife, there has to be a feature that allows these things to happen and gives players reason to do so in secret. Or else the rumour will be easily distinguished as a petty lie.

      Now, an MMO where you play a classy gent living a double life as a crossdressing trollop would be interesting. Finding ways to conceal your masculinity and identity while going out in public and attending parties, while also being a rich party host yourself. If other players are able to piece together your true identity they can expose you and destroy your reputation.

      Long story short, unless this MMO lets you become a drag queen I fear it will be no good. In fact, perhaps the same could be said about all MMOs.

      • jrodman says:

        I like the way this game design discussion is heading.

        • Shodex says:

          Perhaps a player gains in status by hosting lavish parties and inviting as many local women as he can. He only gains status if the guest count is higher than the last, and if it’s lower it will go down. This encourages the host to mingle with the allegedly female guests and gain friendships in hopes of them introducing said host to their own friends so you may add them to your list of people to invite. This makes the cross dressers a necessary ally, as only women are allowed to visit parties. And when cross dressing at a party yourself you can’t very well give out invitations, but to merely avoid going cross dressing will lower your characters sanity slowly which will in turn lower his status.

          So while befriending drag queens is a slow but steady source of cross dresser income, and as a drag queen befriending and helping hosts increases your chance of being invited to future outlets of your naughty addiction; the risky prize for brave players is to sleuth around town and inspect cross dressers you know. Visiting parties, watching them, looking at how they talk, how they act, how they look. And try to deduce who that cross dresser really is. Once you’re sure you know who a cross dresser is, you can host a party and make an acquisition publicly. The more people at the party who witness it, will effect the outcome. If you’re right, you’ll leech status from the exposed cross dresser based on the amount of (also cross dressing) witnesses. If you’re wrong however, the opposite effect will happen. Huge risk, but a huge reward.

          Obviously this has been my dream game for a long time.

      • The Random One says:

        Unless this MMO goes all out and implement freestyle Ultima Online/Eve player politics, allowing players to do anything, it’ll be naught but Façade: The MMO.

  9. Freud says:

    Romance Simulator 2014.

  10. jkz says:

    Would you like a quick game of whist Mr_D@rcy156?

    Yes I would El12abet4, that would be most fine!

  11. SillyWizard says:

    I wonder how she got a few trees to produce a game.

  12. Skyhigh says:

    Two words: “extravagant balls”

  13. Geebs says:

    Terrible animation or accurately modelled Albert ring malfunctions? I can’t decide….

  14. slinkyinmotion says:

    **** jack the ripper has entered the town****

  15. SixTwoCee says:

    This is the whitest thing of all time.

  16. The Magic says:

    Ofcourse the people making the most posh english thing ever are americans… Not that they’ll do a bad job, just that i always find it strange to see their interpretation.

    • tormos says:

      Remember when you play it that it’s pretty much how I picture contemporary British life.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Normally British country streets have less rockabilly music playing, but the depiction of British copulation in the bottom video is pretty accurate, although the video was presumably mo-capped from trained professionals, and normally it’s a lot more awkward and jerky. Actually, the only thing missing is a small Cockney child (it’s Cockney, regardless of the region) who runs around going “GOR BLOIMEY GUVNA ISSA BIGUN INNIT GIVYA TUPPENCE OR QUEEN MUM GONNA SMACK ME UP THE TODGER”

    • Juan Carlo says:

      RPS seems to peddle a very distinct brand of slightly exaggerated “Britishness” which isn’t necessarily real too, though. Jim even based a whole game around it (i.e. “Sir, you are being hunted”). Which isn’t to say its not based in any form of reality, just that it’s slightly broader and more exaggerated than reality. A good American analogy, I think, is the way Garrison Keiller writes about Minnesota on his “Prairie Home Companion” radio show…but maybe British people would have no idea what that reference means.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Tim Stone specialises in British English from circa 1910 to 1950.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Tim Stone was kidnapped from 1945 England and imported to the present day by mysterious magicks and a tupperware container full of vaseline. Even now he requires regular treatments of WD40 or he will return to his native time.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I heard he just showed up one day in a biker bar and asked the good chaps to avail him of their clothing.

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  18. Gotem says:

    too bad tube dubber doesnt seem to work I was trying to watch hte video with this soundtrack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=xQcXGkIag1M#t=39

  19. ceebs says:

    No mention of the Emma-rgent gameplay possibilities?

  20. FriendGaru says:

    What’s the opposing faction going to be for WvW? Undead France?

  21. ffordesoon says:

    I want this to be made. More than that, I want it to be good.

  22. MrPants says:

    Surely there will be some robots.

  23. spectone says:

    You have Cholera spend 12 Darcy Bux now for a cure or wait three days. Don’t forget the ball is tomorrow night.

  24. teamcharlie says:

    Man. That woman, her extravagant balls and her crack dev team of trees are going to make one heck of a game (if those AMAZING videos are any indication). Now there will truly be a home both for costume drama-fancying ERPers who don’t understand that Jane Austen hated the regency period and the trolls who love them.

  25. SuicideKing says:

    Drenching in pixel shaders is now a thing.

  26. iridium248 says:

    This looks incredibly boring. I’m…not sure who it’s supposed to appeal to.

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