Jason Rohrer Reveals The Castle Doctrine, Part 1

Indie dev Jason Rohrer, creator of Passage, Sleep Is Death, Inside A Star-Filled Sky, The Diamond Trust of London and the near-mythical Chain World is a divisive game designer, because reasons. I personally reckon his stuff is reliably fascinating, bold and often important (including on those occasions that I’ve rather bounced off it), so I’ve been very keen to find out more about his upcoming game The Castle Doctrine. An MMO based around the concept of home invasion and home defence, the nature of the Rohrer’s tenth game has remained cryptic since a guarded reveal last October.

In this first of a two-part interview, Rohrer explains just what this dark multiplayer game of strategy, construction, burglary and cold-blooded murder is, how it works, its amorality and politics, the unenviable living situation and fear of vicious dogs which inspired it, and why the late-in-the-day addition of a wife and kids changed the nature of the whole affair.

RPS: Can you tell us more about the Castle Doctrine? All I really know is that initial mysterious reveal in October.

Jason Rohrer: In that reveal, I talked about how it’s a massively multiplayer game, which I guess is something people are wondering about. I’m doing it by keeping it simple, and keeping it asynchronous. You don’t ever see other characters running about in the game. Because it’s a game about home defence, and robbery, and burglarising other people’s houses, obviously that only happens when you’re not at home. So it works really well thematically to have these houses that you’re working on and editing while you’re home, then when you leave your home, when you go to sleep at night, log out of the game, or you go out of your house to go and rob somebody else’s house, then your house is open to being robbed by somebody else while you’re not there. Then you return to your house to see the results of that robbery.

RPS: That’s kind of the true terror of burglary, isn’t it? It’s less about what’s actually lost, but that moment where you come home and the door’s kicked down and everything’s wrecked… I’ve been through that myself and it’s terrifying.

Jason Rohrer: Right, right, and that was the inspiration. When we were living in a somewhat rougher neighbourhood about a year and a half ago, if we’d go away on a trip every time we came back to the house it was always, like, being careful coming around the corner to see if any windows were broken, then going to the backdoor, looking around inside the house to make sure everything’s still there… Yep, it’s all still here! We never got robbed, fortunately. But yeah, this is a game about coming back to this home that you’ve worked so hard on, and your family’s in there as well, being protected by your defences, and coming back to find what somebody else has done to you, essentially. It’s a game about violation, but at the same time you’re also serving as the violator for everybody else. Because to get more resources for your house and your defences, and to protect your family better, you’ve gotta go and get through other people’s security and steal their stuff.

RPS: So it’s BurglarTown? Everyone in the game’s community is a dirty rotten crook?

Jason Rohrer: Right, right. You technically don’t have to be, but the game tempts you into being one, and as angry as you get about somebody breaking into your house and killing your pets and potentially family…

RPS: Pets too? Oh no.

Jason Rohrer: Well, pets, I mean pitbulls and other things that you put in your house for security reasons. So as angry as you get about that, you sort of realise that you’ve been doing exactly the same thing to everyone else.

Everyone’s anonymous in the game, it’s not like I’ll be playing along and I’ll say ‘I’m gonna go get Alec Meer’s house, hahaha’, because I don’t know who you are in the game. I just might know that you are playing. I’m breaking into somebody’s house and I don’t know if it’s a teenage kid, or an elderly woman or a little girl who owns the house in real life. So we kind of end up doing things to people that are actually… Someone’s put work into this house, y’know? Someone’s amassed this collection of stuff that they’ve spent a lot of time on, and when we violate it we’re actually doing harm to a person in a real way. We’re not doing physical harm, but yeah. The moral ambiguity of the whole thing is at the core of what the game is about.

RPS: How do you make people care about their virtual possessions, to the point that they’ll actually feel violated when it’s gone?

Jason Rohrer: You start the game with a relatively small amount of money, in terms of the scale of the economy of the game, so you use that money and think about the best possible security you can potentially build for that amount of money. Then you have a family that’s in the house as well, a wife and two children. You get to position them in the house, and think about how you’re going to protect them with security as well. So when you’ve run out of money and you’ve built the best security that you can, you go out into the world and you try to get through other people’s security. You can buy tools and so on to do that. Then you come back to your house, and if you’re lucky your security’s worked and kept people out while you were away. If it has, you can build up a little more security with the money that you’ve gotten, right. It takes some time, it takes some planning, it takes some thought to build up a house that actually has really good security that’s going to trick people and keep people out.

As people come to rob your house, and they fail because your security is good, then all the stuff they were carrying, all their tools and their guns and their saws, all the stuff that they didn’t use by the time they died in your house, gets put into a vault with all your other possessions. So over time stuff kind of accumulates in your house. You can see a list of houses in the game and see how many times… Like, 25 people have tried robbing this house and ten of them have died trying. So, over time you can see the wealth kind of accumulating in this house because so many people failed. So you’ve got all this stuff, stolen from other people’s houses, and you’ve got money and you’ve got all this valuable stuff from people failing at your security. Losing all that is a real dagger in the heart, right?

The other thing is that, right towards the end of the development, I was asleep at night and having some sort of dream. I can’t remember the details, but it was about somebody coming into our house and threatening me and my family. I have a wife and I do have three children, and this game was inspired in part by my feelings living in this rougher neighbourhood. I actually go to a gunstore once and almost buy a gun, I looked at them. And I did carry around a police baton to hit vicious dogs that came up to us on our bikes and did carry pepper spray. I had to think about defending my family, right?

RPS: You should never hold a press event at your house. I don’t think many people would want to come.

Jason Rohrer: [Laughing] You guys are in England, you don’t understand what it’s like here in America.

RPS: There are parts of it I’d be pretty scared in, but yeah, there don’t tend to be guns.

Jason Rohrer: Yeah, so I didn’t buy a gun. My wife actually ended up not letting me, but we did buy one of these extendable police batons for the dogs.

RPS: [Shocked pause, nervous laugh]

Jason Rohrer: [Also laughs] But that was after my wife was attacked by a vicious dog. So I had to say ‘what am I gonna do next time?’ You can’t beat away a dog with your hands, right?

RPS: Not if you want to keep your hands, I guess. I don’t think it’s legal here though. So, er, have you ever hit a dog with a baton? I kind of need to know even though I don’t want to.

Jason Rohrer: No, fortunately, we never needed to do that [laughs]. But we did carry it with us after that. I have sprayed dogs with pepper spray, and it doesn’t’ really do anything for them. They’re not as sensitive to it as us. And it always blows back in my face, like the wind is blowing when I go to spray it, so I’m trying to spray this dog then all of a sudden I’m laying on the ground, screaming and blind.

RPS: [Laughs] That sounds like a Naked Gun sketch.

Jason Rohrer: Yeah. Anyway, back to the point – I’d been working on this list for about a year, inspired by all this stuff, but it was always just a game where you were alone in your house, and you were building your security, trying to protect your physical possessions, and you’re going out and trying to steal the physical possessions of other people, breaking through their physical security… Then I had this dream in the middle of the night, and I realised that the core of this game is really about protecting a family, but there was nothing about it in this game. That was about a month and a half ago, actually, right towards the end of development of the game. I realised what was missing was a wife and kids mechanic.

RPS: Something that you really want to protect, rather than just collect.

Jason Rohrer: Yeah. They’re not player characters, they’re not controlled by anybody else. You get to place them in your house, it’s a wife and a girl and a boy, and they’re unique. There are different appearances that they can have that are assigned to you. You might get a wife with red hair and a green dress, or a little girl with blond braids, that sort of thing. And they have names, unique names. So you have this unique little family, and you want to protect them because they’re unique. If they get killed, they’re gone forever and you’ll miss them, right? But then I still felt like they weren’t hooked into the mechanics of the game enough.

You were asking before about how you make somebody care about these virtual possessions or virtual people, so I gave the wife a gameplay function. When someone breaks into your house she tries to leave the house through the front door, from wherever you’ve stuck her in the house. If she gets out of the house, she carries half of the money with her. So if somebody gets into your vault and steals all your stuff, when you get back to your house and you find it’s been robbed but your wife is standing by the front door, she’s still got half of the money left. But if somebody manages to find her as she’s making her way through the house trying to get to the front door, and then kill her, they can take that half of the money she’s carrying. Then they can also potentially get to your vault and take the other half too, and leave you with nothing.

So if you let somebody’s wife escape, which is sort of the altruistic thing to do, you’re not only doing this thing which is symbolic – I’m not going to kill your wife – you’re also leaving them with some sort of bootstrap to get back into the game after they come back and find their life destroyed. So the wife has both this thematic meaning and a very important gameplay meaning. The moral choice that you’re making when you decide to kill somebody’s wife, obviously has a lot of thematic weight behind it and you’ll probably feel kind of strange when you do it, also has this moral implication in the game. You’re basically scorching this person’s earth when you do this, taking everything that they’ve worked on, this house that they’ve built up, and leaving them with nothing to repair it.

RPS: And breaking their hearts to boot.

Jason Rohrer: Right, right, and doing this very immoral thing to them. I really wanted those two things to be so intimately linked that it’s not just a virtual moral question, about whether you want to kill this imaginary wife. It’s actually a real-world moral question. Which is strange, to try and build that into a game and… I guess I’m still grappling with this, with the moral implications of this game, what it means. It’s kind of an experiment. Some of my early testers – it just got launched into testing on Friday – and somebody just came into my house and killed my two children for no reason and left. They posted on my testers’ mailing list, “whoever’s kids I just killed, haha!”

RPS: God almighty.

Jason Rohrer: Yeah, and I was like “that’s not the reaction I was expecting.”

RPS: But people are going to do that. This is the internet.

Jason Rohrer: Of course. And the game does also provide you with security tapes, so you can watch someone who has robbed your house, see how they did it, and see every dastardly deed that they did when they were there. Then you can see their in-game name, their anonymous name, and you can go potentially after them for revenge, or to get your possessions back or whatever. So they might also want to scorch your earth in order to prevent you doing that, so you don’t have the resources to come back at them. But you can always come back at them in a second life, after you die or commit suicide you can start over from scratch.

There’s a potential for people to become kingpins in the game and rise to the top, have a little empire where thousands of people have tried to get into their house and all failed, but eventually everybody’s going to fall.

RPS: Going back to the wife and the fact she’s there to protect money, it almost seems as though you’ve taken the question of love out of it, and replaced it with money. The wife’s purpose becomes about money rather than your personal attachment to her. It almost seems like a statement.

Jason Rohrer: I’m not trying to make a particular statement with that, as much as I’m trying to get somebody to feel love, some sort of attachment, or feel like they want to protect this person. This is what the game is about, it’s about protecting these things which are vulnerable and important to you, trying to elicit that emotion even if it’s a false, indirect version of that emotion. It’s worth trying to do. I’m not trying to make a statement about [cackles] your spouse is only valuable to you because she has money. It’s just about trying to make you feel this profound sense of loss. And these family members are unique, they’re these sort of unique, collectable pets [laughs].

The game has permadeath, even in your own house – if you stumble into one of your own traps, you die permanently and lose everything. And if you make a mistake in somebody else’s house and die, you die permanently and lose everything. So, along with losing everything and starting over from scratch with an empty house and a new family, you can potentially have a few of your family members killed and they’ll be gone forever until you die. So you can go from having a wife and two kids to a wife and one kid, or one last orphan kid without a mother. That, I guess, has some emotional weight to it, because you grew attached to their names and how they looked, you’ve been protecting them for a while, so it’s a sort of pet owner-level attachment. They’re just little pixellated characters, they’re not like characters from Sleep Is Death that actually have conversations with you.

People are also, I’m sure, going to complain ‘how come it’s the man that’s going out robbing and the woman has to stay home.’ That’s the classic thing that people said about Passage – ‘why can’t you play as the girl?’

RPS: Could you not just add an option to nip that stuff in the bud?

Jason Rohrer: Well yeah, but then it wouldn’t be my personal art. It would just be this pandering product. This is a game that’s from my perspective, just like in Passage the main character is me. So you don’t get to play as the girl, because I’m not a girl. Just like if you go to see the movie Memento, no-one walks out of that saying ‘why isn’t there a version of this where there’s a girl with memory problems?’ It’s the personal statement of the director who is making this and telling the story, and you don’t even question it, but for some reason in games we question it, because we’re so much stuck into the role of this character.

RPS: Well yeah, because we’re involved, we’re active participants and not just watching a story.

Jason Rohrer: Yeah, but on the other hand, and maybe you don’t experience this in England, here in America when there’s a bump in the night and somebody has to get up to go and investigate it, who’s the one who’s handed the baseball bat and told to go and look down the hall to see if there’s a burglar. I was the one who, when my family was in danger in the last place that we lived, it was up to me to defend to them. That’s just expected, it’s just the way that it worked. It’s not like my wife ever said to me ‘oh, it’s up to you, you’re the man, you’re supposed to do this’, it was just unspoken. I’m taller, I’m stronger, I can aim a gun better, I know that from experience. [Laughs] And I imagine I can fight.

RPS: The autobiographical element becomes more complicated when it’s an MMO though – there are loads of players doing their own thing, not just one person playing as you. It’s very different to Passage.

Jason Rohrer: Right, yeah. I guess this is something that we, in the form of games, need to grapple with. It’s again the question of the balance between authorial control and abdication of authorship that Doug Church talks about. Obviously if you abdicate all authorship and hand someone a blank slate, like Infinite Blank or something, that kind of doesn’t really play the tug of war that’s as interesting as something like Far Cry 2, which has a very strong sense of authorship and also a very strong sense of abdication of authorship.

In part two: Far Cry 3, naturally. Also: gun control, whether Passage is a “game”, and Chainworld.


  1. Schwerpunkt says:

    Can’t I just hire Wolf Home Security?

    Also, kid killing is pretty creepy, especially if you’re incentivizing both the “parent “and the murderer/burglar to treat them as valuable agglomerations of pixels.

    Also, permadeath even for accidentally tripping over my own traps, in a game where you slowly build up resources over time? That seems like… a situation where you will need to give your customer service people hazard pay.

    • dontnormally says:


      Alec: There is no need to tag “Chain World” or “Inside a Star-Filled Sky” here – it just makes it difficult to find posts about those games when we want to. “Jason Rohrer” is the shared tag amongst those games.

  2. TechnicalBen says:

    “Sometimes the only way to win is not to play”.
    Quite literally with this one. If everyone just, you know, did not kill each other, they would “win”. Each would not loose their family and home. If there is an arbitrary reducing clock or food supply, it’s not the players that killed each other, it’s the programmer for adding that need. However, the players would share in that responsibility.

    So only those who “do not play” and use some other means of survival “win”. Points mean nothing in this kind of game.

    • The Random One says:

      What do points mean in those other games?

    • Snids says:

      Excellent point. This is why I dislike libertarians.

      • Grape Flavor says:

        I’m not sure what this game really has to do with libertarianism, but I would strongly amend that statement to “the people need to be protected from EACH OTHER”. Perhaps that’s what you meant and I just misinterpreted it.

        Because this is just my two cents, but people who think the government has any business trying to be the all-wise, all-powerful nanny who makes all your decisions for you because you just can’t be trusted to make your decisions for yourself, are scary as hell.

        In a sense, we are all “libertarians” to some degree or another, because the alternative is literally totalitarianism.

        • Ericston says:

          In a sense, we are all “state socialists” to some degree or another, because the alternative is literally anarchy.

          • Grape Flavor says:

            Indeed! This is why always being mindful of the proper balance of things is so important. :)

        • Snids says:

          Libertarians, as I understand them value personal freedoms above all else. Not many UK residents would classify themselves as “Libertarian” as it’s more of a US thing, but still many speak the same terms.

          I’d say the best possible quality of life for the highest possible amount of people trumps personal freedoms.

          Some people drink themselves to death. Some people get so fat they die. Some people are abusive to children. Some people want to spread hate. Some people make other peoples lives a misery. Should people have the freedom to do that? Why? So they can waste resources? Cause lasting damage that future generations have to deal with? Why do we need to protect those rights?

          I have a pretty cynical view of humanity yet I don’t believe slippery slope arguments cut it.

          Maximise good. Minimise bad.

    • Phantoon says:

      In a recent study, 100% of Ayn Rands interviewed thought The Castle Doctrine was “…a perfect world”.

      • MinkyUrungus says:

        I always forget that some people think Rand was a Libertarian. Thank the gods for the reminder, internet!

        (Not to mention the laugh . 2:-D )

  3. Crimsoneer says:

    ONLY IN AMERICA do people think buying weapons to defend themselves from dogs is a perfectly reasonable thing to do :P

    Well, not ONLY in America, but that idea is distinctively foreign to me as a UK person.

    I’m awfully excited though. Sounds like the potential for all sorts of fun emergence :)

    • lasikbear says:

      My friend’s grandfather carried around a golf club with the head cut off and the tip sharpened to a point to protect himself from dogs, Mr Rohrer is just continuing a fine American tradition. And seriously, there are some scary dogs out there.

      • x1501 says:

        A fine American tradition going all the way back to Mad Dog McCree. You Brits never had to deal with that animal, so you don’t know what it’s like.

    • Stromko says:

      I’ve never had to fight a dog, never even encountered a feral dog to my knowledge, but if I lived in a low-income area it would be a real risk. A lot of people are maimed or killed by dogs in the U.S. every year. I’d like to think as a full-grown male I could fight one off if I was attacked, but unfortunately the same people that mistreat their animals and let them go crazy or feral are also the ones that like to own giant, scary-ass dogs. They are pack animals as well, so in a really bad neighborhood it wouldn’t be impossible to be set upon by a pack of ravenous hounds.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        A lot of people are maimed or killed by dogs in the U.S. every year.

        Fewer than are killed or maimed by their own hand.

        • ReggieB says:

          That’s why I always carry pepper spray in case I try to attack myself.

    • xao says:

      Here’s the thing: I only know two ways to protect myself from an attacking dog while unarmed, and they entail killing or crippling the dog, as well as exposing me to getting my face chewed off. Isn’t it reasonable to carry a baton or a similar implement which may allow me to dissuade a dog without anything more permanent than cracked bones?

      I remain unchewed, the dog suffers some pain, but remains alive and able to walk. Isn’t this a better outcome for everybody?

      • Grape Flavor says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure what Crimsoneer was getting at. Perhaps one should try to reason with the dog to understand the roots of its rage? Darn Americans and their violent predispositions!

        If there’s a vicious dog problem, you either take measures to protect yourself, or you lobby the authorities to do something about it. I’m not aware of what the alternatives are.

        If Crimsoneer lives in a safe neighborhood where dogs aren’t a problem, then good for him. But perhaps he should have a little more consideration for those who don’t share that luxury.

        • mr.black says:

          Excuse me (I’m even less American than most of folks here, I’d wager), but is it really a luxury?! In my part of Europe wild packs of dogs are either extremely rare occurrence in the wilds, or there are individuals which are fairly quickly brought to dog shelters. In Cities? Unheard of. Also if it were such a vast city and there really are whole neighborhoods gone to hell and basically a war/rampant crime zones, is there really no alternative to living in precisely that hood?

          • Joshua Northey says:

            In 90% of the residential neighborhoods in the US you are not going to have a problem with dogs. And there aren’t wild dogs running about even in the other 10%. Just stupid low income people who bought a nasty violent guard dog and are too lazy/stupid to train it or keep it tied up. My girlfriend and I were once chased for blocks by someone’s unchained dog while on bicycles, and the damn thing was snapping at my heel the whole time, even got my pants a couple times.

          • xao says:

            It’s not so much the frequency of the problem, it’s the severity. It only takes one incident with an aggressive dog of a medium or larger breed to ruin your whole day. Keep in mind, we’re not talking about outlawing dogs or altering the lives of yourself or dog owners: just carrying a small bit of insurance against a potentially disastrous event.

    • Snids says:

      ONLY IN THE UK. Would people allow themselves and their families to be killed and eaten by feral dogs to score liberal points.

      • maxriderules says:

        ONLY IN THE UK. Are feral dogs dealt with by the authorities before they get the chance to kill and/or eat any families. Seriously, I used to have a low opinion of the government until I heard how bad you have it in America,

        • TCM says:

          Let’s be fair here, America is a way bigger, harder to police country than the UK.

          …In fact I’m reasonably sure Alaska alone is like four times bigger than the UK and Ireland combined. Heck, Texas alone is twice the combined square kilometers of the British Isles, looking it up.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Look up the history of the 5.5mm Velo Dog, a bullet designed for (European) cyclists to defend themselves against marauding pooches.

      Many dogs are quite good at reading people’s emotions, and they can tell if you are afraid, sometimes leading to more dominance aggression. They have to live in a world filled with scary monkeys. Me, I am absolutely not afraid of them, and have a pretty good grasp of dog pyschology, so I can talk or face them down. Not afraid of mixing it up with them either. They can tell. Of course, if they’ve been raised abused and driven mad, there’s not much else you can do.

      In a canine aside, I was out on some ranch land, going to see a waterfall with a neighbor who had permission. It was a working goat ranch, and we came across the goats with their guard Great Pyranees. The dogs hurriedly moved their goats away. We were continuing along the dirt track, traversing a hairpin curve along a cliff edge. In front of us, at a distance, we saw one Great Pyranees. then another, along with goats, showed up at the top of the hill overlooking us. Glancing back, the third Great Pyranees blocked the road to our back.

      Recognizing the situation (we were strangers on their territory, and they had their charges to protect), I croached low, extended my hand and started talking in a soothing, high pitched voice. The Alpha male, came forward slowly, eventually sniffing my hand, and decided we weren’t a threat to their goats, and they all peeled off. It was a brilliant tactical ambush, and I would not like to have been on the dogs’ ‘known danger to goats’ list. Taking a slide off the cliff would probably have been a better solution. Helped make me a real fan of the breed.

  4. Mutak says:

    That whole “if i let people play girls it wouldn’t be art” thing seems like a pretty wanktacular cop-out to me.

    • X_kot says:

      Yeah, I get that he’s trying to speak from his experience and all, but rather than follow it to the letter (i.e., I – a man, a father, a husband – am the defender of my family and home), he would lose nothing by opening the familial permutations. Wife defending husband, husband defending husband, wife defending wife: all of these speak to the fear of losing loved ones.

      I think I like that Rohrer explores these “adult” themes, but he needs to reconsider just how auteur he has to be in order to satisfy his personal investment in a project and still be able give players similar satisfaction. It’s not compromise, it’s recognizing the inherent differences between media.

      • Crimsoneer says:

        Rohrer has always designed games for himself first, and the general public second – which is why so few of them have been successful. Which is entirely his right, if slightly annoying. Keeps them rather small audience and niche, just like Sleep is Death, which was pretty much unplayable if you weren’t working over LAN because playing over the net didn’t fit with his artistic vision.

        • X_kot says:

          No argument here…it just seems unnecessarily limiting. Film doesn’t have much of an alternative to such a problem (unless it’s threading multiple narratives), but games can be much more malleable in terms of identity, especially in MMOs. Perhaps this boundary comes from his lack of experience in that genre?

          • The Random One says:

            Agreed. Did RPS use their misogyny and heteronormality sirens so much they burnt out?

            It made sense in Passage because it was a story-driven game, but obviously if this game’s aim is to create a connection between the player and the little pixels on the screen you need to allow the player to choose an appearance they can identifiy with and a lover they can see themselves loving. To add that option is not pandering, it’s denying the game to anyone who’s not a straight male.

          • Grape Flavor says:

            @The Random One
            Burnt out? Hardly. Overplayed to the point where it’s almost background noise now? Getting there.

            Rohrer’s rationale for not providing character options seems pretty flimsy, I’d certainly agree. But TBH, if not having the option to choose an avatar exactly like oneself completely destroys someone’s ability to relate to the experience and “denies” the game to them, I’d say that’s pretty sad. I’d like to think most people are more flexible than that.

          • deadly.by.design says:

            Maybe he should add a gay planet. /s

            It’s his design, and perhaps he also wanted as little confusion as possible. Can the man be home while he gets an attempted robbery? If so, it would be confusing. He wants the woman with the money to be a consistent, conscious choice for the would-be burglar. If it’s either the husband or the wife, you’ll end up with more killing no matter what. (kill the guy because he might hurt me, or maybe she will… I don’t know? Ahhh—blamblamblam)

            So, it may not be the best explanation, but I think the decision contributes to this particular title’s gameplay consistency.

          • apa says:

            That would be something to see: which ones would get killed more, the husbands or the wives, if there was an option to play either. (also applicable for same sex marriage)

          • Urthman says:

            “It would be too confusing” is also a copout because it would be trivial to design the UI or the artwork in such a way as to make obvious the difference between a player character (of either gender) and an NPC spouse (of either gender).

    • Saul says:

      Yeah – I like the guy’s work, but I have to agree in this case.

    • elderman says:

      A cop out of what, I wonder? Not to escape the tiny bit of effort it would take to give the player to option to choose their gender. A cop out of thoughtful design? But then, do you want Jason Rohrer writing a game that captures how it feels to be a woman defending your home?

      • wererogue says:

        I want Jason Rohrer’s game about how defending his home feels to treat women as if they can listen to the conversation, yes.

        • elderman says:

          Foul! Unnecessary hyperbole by wererogue. ‘Listen to the conversation’. Women will be able to play game.

    • wererogue says:

      Totally agreed. If the aim is to share your experience of worrying about your family, it can only help matters to let people make the in-game family be crude representations of their own family, so much the easier to get attached to.

      Jason, I love your games, but you’re off-base on this one issue here.

    • PopeJamal says:

      I don’t think that’s a completely fair assessment.

      Granted, I really can’t stand alot of this guy’s work and I don’t see it as anything special, but I think he’s totally justified in creating his small indie game his way.

      -First and formost, it’s his game and we have zero direct control over it, so if it offends so severely, just boycott the damned thing. No need to piss and moan about it. I see that as the equivalent of yelling at a kid because they paint all of the people in their painting blue.

      -I could be wrong, but as far as I know, this guy isn’t making a million dollars a year on indie games. Holding him to the same standard as some AAA studio with “programming” and “art” departments is just a little ridiculous. It’s not like he can just snap his fingers and make it so. Trying to force him to change his little bitty game to make up for the real harm to the job market a place like EA can create, is just ridiculous.

      -I identify totally with him and his personal/family situation. Yes, women aren’t treated fairly in our society, but that’s not an excuse to point everywhere yelling “sexist!” Despite the fact that I am expected to share duty in doing dishes, laundry, and vacuuming in my house, guess who gets the lonely duty to take out the trash, mow the lawn, change flat tires, clean the garage, till the garden, and move all the damned furniture?

      I do.

      That’s because I’m LITERALLY bigger and stronger than my wife. We’ve tested it over the years by hiking, pushing strollers, adhoc push-up contests, and any number of other completely non-scientific challenges. I’ve also been “handed the baseball bat” on more than one occasion and told to check out all the weird noises. Is there any particular reason why I should be expected to get shot in the face/mauled by zombies first?

      Yes, because I’m bigger than 90% of all the women I’ve ever met. Not because I’m “better” than them, and not because they’re “weak”.

      There’s nothing wrong with pointing out REAL differences between people.

      What IS wrong is making up differences that don’t exist and trying to tell people that “If you can’t contribute in these specific areas of society, then your overall value is less than mine!”. There’s no justifiable reason to pay women, across the board 30% less than men, and not allow them to have certain things because “LOL ovaries!”.

      As far as I can tell, this man isn’t doing either of these things. He’s trying to tell a personal story and share his fear and anxiety about his personal responsibility to physically protect his family.

      • Arglebargle says:

        But those things don’t fit the polemic! The game situation wasn’t universal even back then, but idea was there, and that’s the overarching idea the game was modeled on.

        If someone doesn’t like it, they can mod it, or go build their own damn game.

    • Johnny Go-Time says:

      Yes, I’m kind of surprised by my own strong reaction to this guy’s attitude.

      I thought this game sounded a little interesting…but even if it is, I have no interest in buying-in (time or money) to somebody “art” when it’s so strongly rooted in arrogance.

      “Wanktacular” is a wonderfully precise way to describe such a self-pleasuring focus.

  5. abandonhope says:

    WIFEFACE … is staring vacantly back at me. And my traps are ruined. I loved you so much, traps.

  6. Dervish says:

    Isn’t “The Castle Doctrine” a complete misnomer if you can’t be at home when someone robs it?

    Also, although I’m sure there is a bit of “well, it’s the Internet” re: kid-killing, it’s also “well, it’s a game” and “well, that’s the game you made on purpose with those mechanics dangled in front of the players.” Might as well say,”What’s the deal with all these robbers in my game?!” I suppose cooperation is a (boring) option, but transgression sounds to be the most interesting thing to do, and he’s the one who made it that way.

    All that said, I appreciate Rohrer’s very straightforward and clear explanation of what he is attempting. Simple enough to agree or disagree without a lot of waffling about interpretations and symbolism and whatever.

    • Freddybear says:

      THIS is the Castle Doctrine:
      link to daytondailynews.com

      “One man was killed and another shot in the leg when they, along with three others, allegedly participated in a home invasion Monday evening where the residents fought back. . . . Fairborn Police Sgt. Paul Hicks said the only motive they’ve uncovered was that the subjects intended to rob the home. Two Wright State University students who live at 1006 Victoria Ave. were home when the intruders entered. Trent Seitz, 21, reportedly struggled with the men and was ordered to the floor. He called out for his roommate, Christopher Muse, who told police that he grabbed a gun and fired at the men.”

      • Dervish says:

        I have no idea why you’re posting that.

      • Grape Flavor says:

        Good for them. The residents of the home, I mean, not the robbers.

        I don’t want to incorrectly jump to conclusions here, but as we are where we are, I’m presuming you find something tragic or outrageous about the death of that young man, or feel that the homeowners should be charged with some sort of crime? Five guys smashed their way into someone’s home carrying what appeared to be a deadly weapon, the residents defended themselves. All in all, it turned out rather well, I think.

        I’m not going to go piss on the grave of the guy who died, but the idea that one’s sympathy should be directed towards the attacker and not the victims is such a mind-boggling perversion of rational thought and basic human decency, that I can hardly imagine what would compel someone to take such a view.

        So really then, too bad about your luck, Mr. Fambrough. Karma’s a bitch, huh? Next life make better choices.

  7. AlwaysRight says:

    Sounds interesting, I hope people stick on it long enough for a community to flourish.
    Its a shame Sleep Is Death kind of fizzled out, it should have been the future of interactive storytelling.



    • X_kot says:

      Coming in 2014 from EA:


      A two-player, co-op storytelling experience that puts you in the story! Order now to get the Sims 3 character and decor texture pack DLC. In-game microtransactions will give players the ability to include new tropes and rhetorical devices, such as “metaphors” and “irony.” It also features permaonline connectivity to offer you even better community options: leaderboards, achievements, and the Origin overlay.

  8. caesarbear says:

    Casual misogyny is casual. Authorial integrity is fine but Rohrer’s intent here is obviously not for everyone to play Jason Rohrer in an MMO. Well at least I think his ego isn’t that big. I cannot see any difference by replacing wife with spouse in terms of gameplay. The only place I see a difference is in making a political statement.

    I don’t think Rohrer’s blunt and shallow artistry is ready to explore the depth of America’s survivalist and gun culture. This guy’s in over his head in terms of artistic message.

    Also didn’t care for Alec’s suggestion that legitimate concerns about by-gone patriarchal social roles being upheld in games need to be nipped in the bud.

    • Stromko says:

      The other side of it is that men do commit the majority of violent crimes and robberies, and the vast majority of players in the game are going to commit violent crimes and robberies.

      On the other hand, ‘majority’ doesn’t mean all, and overall I would say it is just a cheap cop-out. If he wants it to have an emotional impact for players, then they should be able to define their family so that it hits home.

    • Alec Meer says:

      ‘Nipped in the bud’ was just a reaching-for-words-on-the-spot figure of speech on my part; thought about altering the transcript but that wouldn’t have been honest.

      • SuffixTreeMonkey says:

        The phrase is fine* and we should focus on the essential problem here, which is all of us being required to have heterosexual male identities in this game, which does not add anything to the narrative.

        Females do secure their own houses, females do worry about their partners and their children. And females do go down the stairs with a gun in their hands. And not just brave females, which is something Jason doesn’t believe in: how about single mothers? Lesbian couples?

        If he wants to do a game where we’re afraid for our things and loved ones, maybe he should let us feel more at home and less at Jason’s home. Learning from The Sims (not just character/partner creation, but allowing us to buy furniture and create a proper home) would do good for the game.

        Oh me, oh my.

        *: It is fairly obvious that the interviewer shares the opinion that the absence of gender choice is a (big) flaw.

    • The Random One says:

      As you can see by my comment above I agree with your general sentiment, but I believe that, yes, Jason Roher wants everyone to play as Jason Roher in his MMO game. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not good, either.

      Now I want to play a Being John Malkovich MMO.

      • Tukuturi says:

        He did say “This is a game that’s from my perspective, just like in Passage the main character is me.”

        Jason Rohrer views his wife as a possession, which he must jealously protect from an inherently violent world, and now you can too.

        • Pippy says:

          Hey until you lose all your money cause your stupid wife went and got killed you shouldn’t judge.

      • Consumatopia says:

        Actually…it seems more like he just makes the player character have the same gender he does because it’s easier for him–it’s default.

        In a single-player game I don’t think that’s unreasonable. In an MMO, well, you hit the nail on the head–it comes out like the BJM recursion scene. I don’t think this is an offensive thing to do, but it is a fundamentally weird thing to do, and to start yelling about “authorial control” when anyone questions you about it is silly–if something is an expression of authorial intent, that means the author should welcome people examining it closely.

        I’m a huge Rohrer fan and look forward to this game–but I wish he had dealt with that narrow issue differently.

        • Grape Flavor says:

          I agree on this one. I don’t quite understand his rationale for not providing more inclusive options, but nonetheless it’s his game and I don’t really think it’s that huge a deal.

          Still very interested to get my hands on this new project.

          • njursten says:

            He should still be called out on it, though.

          • Tasloi says:

            Should he? I don’t really see why unless a fully inclusive game is regarded as a de facto standard. I’m not a fan of conformity so I hope it never comes to that.

          • Pockets says:

            It’s a little odd in that it seems a little at odds with the perspective he wants the game to have. Limiting the gender option at first glance comes across as giving the whole thing a slightly sarcastic “Only heavily armed manly man can defend defenceless family!” take on the subject matter which reading the rest of the interview clearly isn’t intended.

          • njursten says:

            Tasloi, are you of the opinion that it would be a sign of conformity for it to be the norm for games to let you choose your gender? You wouldn’t be forced to include the option, for example if the gender is important to the story, but if you didn’t it would be seen as a bit of a weird choice. Would that bother you?

            Regardless, he deserves to be called out for the stupid comparison with movies. :P

          • Arglebargle says:

            How come the Witcher won’t let me play as a girl!?? Buncha yahoos…..

        • Sordarias says:

          The difference between the Witcher and Castle Doctrine are two fold; perhaps, arguably, tenfold; whereas within the Witcher, female witchers’ are completely unheard of and even unlikely in the universe [which is not so much misogyny as it is just how that world works, and it still has TONS of great female characters, especially in the Blue Stripes], and it has a story to tell — the story of Geralt of Rivia. This, notably, has no story to explicitly tell, but a story that slowly expands and grows, where many things can happen that the game designer couldn’t foresee before — emergent gameplay, where things happen that, while they were scripted in some sense, were pretty awesome to see.

          Ghandi becoming a thirsty tyrant, or hell, in Stateo f Decay where you’re forced to survive and thrive in a community of barely 5 because of poor play on your part, or what-have-you, this aims to recreate that, but fails in a key aspect that I consider rather important in games like it, that you can choose your avatar, who best represents you, because it is you defending the home from a nasty burgular. It seems not misogynistic, but insensitive and arrogant to suggests that your ‘authorial’ vision of ‘art’ [which is bullshit as far as I’m concerned, and comes off as tremendously pretentious on Rohrer’s part] means not including a whole gender of people that have every single inclination to defend their home as Rohrer. And if we’re supposed to identify with Rohrer defending his home, why is it multiplayer? Why is it not single player?

          I would be behind this if it weren’t so blatantly dumb. If it was not multiplayer focused, and single-player focused, I would be more than fine with it, because its’ trying to tell this story. Passage also told its’ story [though with that, I found it dumb and devoid of this thing people referred to as ‘art’], and I was fine with it because it aimed to TELL a story. This aims to tell a story, yet is multiplayer where you cannot play your own avatar in an everyday, horrible situation.

          inb4 ‘but CoD doesn’t allow you to play females.’ It’s fine that CoD doesn’t — it is, after all, multiplayer modern military. This is an everyday situation that people find themselves in. It seems disingenuous at best to shout ‘authorial control’ and ‘art’ when people complain about something like this, when I feel it’s a legitimate complaint to have. Everyone has just as much incentive to protect their home. And this is multiplayer — so it comes off as a ‘Being John Malkovich’ thing, where you’re forced to play as Jason Rohrer, defending his wife and kids, in a multiplayer fashion, which doesn’t really strike me as well-thought out, and kind of arrogant.

          I’m not going to ask ‘who wants to play as Jason Rohrer against another look-alike-Jason-Rohrer defending slightly-differently looking pixellated family.’ He even has the art assets for the pixels for the separate gender, yet it would be too confusing.

          None of this makes any goddamn sense. If it were single-player with local-co-op — the other player is the robber — like Spy Party or something, it would actually totally be understandable, and I’d be defending Jason. As it is though — I just..I don’t understand. I don’t understand the ‘confusion’ when he has the art assets clearly there. It seems trivial to simply allow one to choose their gender/appearance, and randomize things — maybe the wife has a wife she wants to protect and a couple kids. The husband has a husband he wants to protect and kids they adopted — the wife wants to protect her husband and kid. Etc.

          It just seems really odd to claim authorial intent/confusion and ‘art’ here, and speaks volumes about Rohrer — who I thought was kind of a cool guy and reasonable, which is apparently untrue.

          I don’t care if this comes off as feminist to morons or not — I just want an answer that isn’t full of bullshit like ‘art’ or ‘authorial intent’, and an answer that explains why he’s making it multiplayer, but making it so you can only play as Jason Rohrer instead of as ‘YOU.’ I can’t even buy the excuse he makes games for himself and everyone else second — if so, it wouldn’t be multiplayer, because I don’t know anyone that wants to play against multiple versions of themselves.

          All of this just seems really fucking weird and dumb.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      I really think some of you are devaluing the potency of those words by your chronic overuse of them.

      “Insensitivity” seems apt. “Misogyny” is a bit much.

  9. DrAmateurScience says:

    I hope there’s an option to best all the traps in someone’s house, tidy up a bit, feed the dog, tuck in the kids and leave a box of milk tray and a calling card on the bedside table before disappearing mysteriously into the night mysteriously.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      So you’re the one.


      • Llewyn says:

        But if you’re going to tidy up a bit, feel free to invade mine. I don’t like Milk Tray though.

    • Geen says:

      That would be THE BEST. Gentleman Thief much?

  10. sirdavies says:

    Even though I respect his artistic integrity and all, I personally think that only accepting males as protagonists and females as something that needs to be protected is unnecessarily promoting a stupid stereotype. You can’t really expect players to give a shit about their family if they can’t get to choose even the gender of their wife/husband or their own, specially in an MMO. Unless you want everybody to play as Jason Roher, which seems to be the case, which I find quite weird, specially for this genre. I suggest “Jason Roher: Extreme Home Survival” as an alternate, more representative title. Doesn’t sound as artsy though.

    • elderman says:

      It rubs me the wrong way too but I can imagine the design process that gets Jason Rohrer there. The easy alternative is just to allow the player to choose a gender at the beginning of the game. But what’s the point of that? The game isn’t a role-playing game and the gender of the player has no game-play consequences. Why start the game with a meaningless choice?

      If he tries to make the gender meaningful, he changes the focus of the game.

      If he makes both the avatar and partner gender neutral, he removes an emotional hook.

      He could make the assignment of gender random at the start of the game, which is probably what I would do. However, he’s making a game that shares a personal experience. Why remove something personal and specific, something that makes his game unique, and replace it with something generic. Why assert that his experience is universal? He is a man and that may colour his experiences. Why not just acknowledge that?

      I suggest that by not making gender arbitrary, he’s doing the opposite of promoting stereotypes. He’s designing from his own knowledge and declining to generalise about things he doesn’t know.

      What’s the better alternative?

      (Moved this response from above because I like your post better)

      • njursten says:

        “If he makes both the avatar and partner gender neutral, he removes an emotional hook.”

        Kind of funny how you just a few sentences above this called choosing the character’s gender pointless.

        Disregarding gender stereotypes, he sure as hell isn’t helping people feel included.

        • elderman says:

          Well, not exactly. I asked, rhetorically, what the point, as in the purpose, of the choice would be, by way of trying to imagine Rohrer’s creative process. If gender isn’t the thing this game is most about, and it seems like it’s not, a game designer like Jason Rohrer might decide the option to select a gender serves no purpose as part of the game.

          The idea that the choice might be irrelevant to the gameplay isn’t the same thing as saying that gender is irrelevant to the experience of the game. There’s no inconsistency there. In fact, I’m saying the exact opposite: if gender is important to the experience of the game it might make design sense to not make the gender of the avatar arbitrary.

          Of course, in the actual interview he doesn’t say what I wrote. He talks about the design choice as a personal expression, so I’m probably wrong about his design decision about whether to program in a gender choice.

          What about this game designer’s output makes you think inclusiveness is important to him?

          [Edit] More to the point, do you have any response to the subject of my post, which was to wonder if there is a better way to design the game so that it would have the same focus and yet not alienate people by facing them with gender roles they’re not comfortable with?

          • X_kot says:

            Inclusiveness in an MMO is one of the highest priorities, however, because the whole experience hinges on sufficient levels of participation. If Rohrer is only interested in casting the premise of the game as “straight white male protects his nuclear family,” he risking alienating those who can’t identify with that role in order to preserve his expression of personal experience.

            At its core, The Castle Doctrine is a puzzle game: I make a puzzle that is hard for you to solve, and you do the same. We get rewarded for making difficult puzzles, and we get rewarded for solving difficult puzzles. The underlying mechanics are solid; there are great feedback loops built into them. Frankly, he doesn’t really need the “family” trappings in order to build player investment – make it treasures, decorations, clothing, etc.

          • elderman says:

            Inclusiveness may be a high priority for most MMOs, but this is obviously not most MMOs.

            Good point about it using the rules of a puzzle game. But I think it’s a bit more subtle than that, from what I’ve read so far, mostly in this article. I haven’t played the game, of course. Maybe you have. It seems like the way a player solves the puzzles can inconvenience their opponents and the game goes out of its way to draw a parallel between the puzzles and the real world. It seems to me, from what I know so far, that alienation is one of the design goals, like an echo of the Milgram experiments.

            [Edit]I’m spending a lot of time defending the idea of a game, the description of which frankly turns me off. Does not sound like a game I want to play, which would make it the first game by Rohrer that doesn’t appeal to me.

          • njursten says:

            Well, IMO he could’ve just added the option to choose your gender. My biggest gripe is with his rather lame excuse though. Does he want us to experience how it is to defend a home or how it is to defend a home as a man? Of course, maybe the gender actually is an important part of the experience? I don’t know, but it doesn’t really feel like it is to me. Also, you’re not really removing anything from the game, you’re just adding another option. Any person can choose to play as a man, giving you the “original” experience.

            No, I guess he doesn’t care about inclusion. It just sounds so silly to not include it, especially with his excuse.

            I think you’re right that it’s more than a puzzle game, your relation to your virtual family is part of the experience. It might be a great puzzle game, but based on the interview he thinks the family thing will add something extra, making the experience greater.

      • sirdavies says:

        Well, the thing is apparently gender does have gameplay consequences. The man is the one who protects the family (building weapons and security systems) and the woman is the one who needs to be protected (just standing there doing nothing or running away when the man fails to protect her). That’s the stereotype the game is promoting. I’m not saying it needs to have a full character creation option, but something like the one in Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, where before every journey you can rapidly choose between a set of randomly generated characters (male and female) and give them names if you wish to do so. That’s it. Less than a minute, not that hard to do.

        What seems more weird to me is that he’s trying to put something that belongs more to a single player, story driven game (“you are this character, this is his story”) into a game that apparently has a focus on being creative and expressing yourself through the game mechanics and caring about your family, on a genre where character personalitzation is taken for granted.

        • elderman says:

          We really should wait to play the game. As I wrote above, I’m a bit taken aback by prospect of playing as a family man. It’s a discomforting idea.

          However, if the game presents that experience, it seems perverse to me to read it as an deficient version of other games that aim to achieve different things. Without ever having even seen The Castle Doctrine in action I can guarantee you that Super Amazing Wagon Adventure this is not.

          He’s a clever, sensitive game designer, Jason Rohrer, and if he choses a certain degree of personalisation, maybe there’s a reason for it. If the experience of playing the game makes you aware that your avatar is enacting a gender stereotype, maybe that’s part of the design.

          Keep in mind that Rohrer’s last game was Diamond Trust of London, a game that was not about promoting exploitative industrial practices in sub-Saharan Africa.

          Maybe discomfort is one of the design goals?

          • sirdavies says:

            Yeah, there’s not much point in discussing something with so little information about it, we’ll see how it plays out.

  11. Faldrath says:

    So I’ve read this interview… and the only thing I felt was “why would I ever want to play this game?” It sounds like pure masochism.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      There’s merits to things besides raw “fun” factor, of course. The game sounds quite interesting. It’s not masochistic for it’s own sake, it’s integral to the design of the game.

  12. Senethro says:

    Haha, I like how some guys rageflailing post about RPS and it’s readers being too Egalitarian has vanished into the ether. That’s the kind of editorial bias I can get behind.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      I didn’t see that post, so I can’t speak as to its merits or lack thereof, but considering the intimidating warning you’re now given before making every post, I’m not surprised a critical comment would be removed. RPS seems to have really ramped up their efforts to whip their readership into following the party line lately.

      I’m not entirely sure why they’re so wary of having things being held up to critical analysis and discussion by the community, but as long as they remain so, I would expect for them to continue to discourage posts that go against the grain.

      I view the very off-putting warning they’ve issued atop the post box as a tacit admission that the RPS readership is not naturally nearly as single-minded as you would think from browsing the comments, and that they’ve had to implement such policies as active measures to suppress criticism.

      But if RPS continues to transform further away from a video games website towards a full-time beacon of blazing ideological fury, I imagine the discontent from some of the reader base will only increase in intensity, and they will have to take increasingly draconian measures to enforce the homogenity of the comments.

      Perhaps the end game here is just to drive everyone else away from the site until the comments conform fully to the exact tastes of RPS staff, and that strategy may very well be working. But I predict the more stubborn among us will continue to voice their dissatisfaction.

      • throwaway888 says:

        Being presented with a differing opinion is such a serious threat to you! Best sharpen that internet sword of yours.
        Good thing those True Rock Paper Shotgun Readers are biding their time until they can rise up and take back the comment section. It’s only a matter of time before they reclaim what is truly theirs. Of course, since they would likely disagree with anything at all if it got them attention and made them feel like a contributor, they’d likely be thrown into the comment gulag too to rot with the rest of the true internet patriots.

        Fight the good fight, child

        • Grape Flavor says:

          I’m hardly “threatened” by some of the more colorful attitudes displayed on this website, but I admit to being “offended”, and hell, if others are going to so vocally express their offense at things, I just thought I might as well, too.

          The fact remains that RPS has instituted a highly visible warning to all possible posters that they are discouraged from speaking their mind, that if the RPS editors “just don’t like” your post for any arbitrary reason whatsoever, they can and will censor it, that reasonable freedom of speech, as practiced in virtually any other public forum, is not to be expected here, and that any feedback will categorically be discarded.

          It’s their website. I’m not going to file a lawsuit, FFS. But such a statement, phrased as it is, is rather disturbing, and relatively unprecedented on the majority of public discussion boards. In my opinion, it speaks of the pressure towards groupthink that has become so toxic on this website as of late.

          There are a fair number of people that I’ve personally conversed with who used to think this website was really on to something, who are saddened and dismayed that it has become such an outlet for silly rants and obnoxious behavior, that are further upset by the fact that this development seems to have the blessing of the site’s creators, and that critical feedback seems to be discouraged.

          That is my opinion and you may disagree with it as strongly as you wish. I have pretty much lost any optimism that advocating to this effect can possibly be accomplishing anything whatsoever besides making myself a target of derision, so I don’t plan on making you hear it in any further threads.

          In fact, I regret even bringing this up. But I’ll just leave these posts lie.

          • Senethro says:

            Ah yes, dudes who can no longer complain about the slightest inclusion of women in games are indeed the real oppressed minority. Censorship is destroying many valuable opinions.

            *shakes head sadly*

          • Grape Flavor says:

            As I said, I never saw the post. I was speaking in more generalized terms. But that’s an interesting strawman you’ve constructed there.

          • Senethro says:

            I had made a more sincere post with greater effort but deleted it when I noticed you had already characterised the other position as “silly rants and obnoxious behaviour”, had a persecution complex with your expectation of being a target of derision and had a post littered with scare or weasel words (groupthink, ideologicalfury) and attributed your own opinions to people you “personally conversed” with instead of claiming them.

            What about your post is sincerely worth responding to?

          • Grape Flavor says:

            It’s not the most expertly-formulated post I’ve ever made, but my clumsy communication of the point does not mean that my concerns are invalid. Nonetheless, you clearly disagree with my view of things, and that’s fine. May such diversity of perspective flourish. It’s clear to me though that my post was ill-conceived and it’s best to just let this subthread die.

            Good night, or morning, or whatever the hell it is. Time to get some sleep.

          • ScorpionWasp says:

            It’s not censorship if I personally disagree with what’s being said

          • Senethro says:

            And rules of conduct for private clubs are different than public spaces. Besides, what opinion is being censored here? One of two I can tell: either an opposition to representation of women or an apathetic support of the status quo. Both of these are surely very worthy of being heard again.

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        RPS seems to have really ramped up their efforts to whip their readership into following the party line lately.

        Not at all. Don’t be silly. RPS’s policy on comments hasn’t changed at all that I can see. They now just remind you above the comment box (instead of only on signup) that the comments thread on their site is neither your nor my soapbox.

    • njursten says:

      Oh, so that explains it. I started reading the comments expecting to find a handful complaining about the anti-sexist comments and got pleasantly surprised there were none. Got a bit happier, until I read your comment. Damn you! :(

  13. JoeX111 says:

    Sounds great. I can’t wait to try it.

    I’d suggest maybe having the children do something similar to the wife. Like, in a fire, a child might grab their favorite toy and run for the door. So in the game, maybe they will grab an item (perhaps one of the more expensive things in the home) and make a run for the exit. That way they also serve a gameplay purpose that’s a little different than the wife.

  14. Tukuturi says:

    Maybe the real statement here is that if you don’t give your wife any agency, she will leave and take half your money.

  15. ScorpionWasp says:

    Funniest. Gaming. Interview. Ever.

    Can’t wait for part 2.

  16. Toupee says:

    I really don’t give a shit about the gender specifications in this game. I just want to play it. It sounds fucking hilarious and awesome (and I loved Sleep is Death; sad to see sidtube isn’t getting much play lately). This sounds much more accessible though.

    • Urthman says:

      Do you not care because you are a heterosexual male so the game is designed to work for you?

  17. Snids says:

    Fascinating. But I do not want to play this game. Ever.

  18. wu wei says:

    There really needs to be a way to tie this into Prison Architect.

  19. adonf says:

    Guns ? Pepper spray ? I guess he’s not such a big hippie after all.

  20. moltobenny says:

    Does it allow you to break into Rohrer’s house and vaccinate his kids?

  21. Bart Stewart says:

    The part I found most surprising was Jason Rohrer’s surprise that, having designed a game with multiple features that reward antisocial behavior (forces it on every player, really), some player would be… really antisocial.

    If you read everything that Richard Bartle has ever written about what he called the “Killer” archetype (AKA “griefer”), then set out to make a multiplayer game that explicitly favored that particular playstyle, I think that game would look a lot like The Castle Doctrine.

    There’s anonymity, which promotes taking advantage of others; there’s the ability to unilaterally take stuff belonging to other players; there’s the opportunity to inflict loss on someone else just for the hell of it (as in killing someone else’s kids for zero monetary gain). And if messages can be left in someone else’s house, there’s the opportunity for the verbal equivalent of teabagging.

    One of the outcomes of the Bartle Types is that griefers need non-griefers to prey on. Socializers are preferred. but Achievers will do in a pinch. (Explorers are dangerous; they think too much — i.e., they know too many tricks and they’ll just quit rather than responding to provocation.) But The Castle Doctrine is so mechanically weighted in favor of what would be considered griefing play in any other game that I wonder if enough non-griefers will play to support a steady-state number of Killers.

    There are some elements attractive to the other styles. (In fact, listing them here I have to wonder if they weren’t added with deliberate awareness of the original four Bartle Types.) The “protect the family” goal would normally attract Socializers. The build-a-better-mousetrap puzzle aspect could interest Explorers. And of course collecting the most loot (especially if there are ways to see how much loot other players have amassed) is catnip to Achievers. I just don’t know if those elements are strong enough to keep the people who naturally enjoy them playing despite the massively Killer-attracting core “home invasion” mechanic. If not, then there won’t be enough prey playing to keep enough Killers playing to keep the game viable.

    A lot of games are derivatives of other games. But I don’t know that there’s ever been a game like this one before. In an odd sort of way, that alone makes it worth doing. I think.

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  23. JasmineGibbs22 says:

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