Having played both paths and enjoyed your writing for both, I want to give my thoughts on the argument about whether or not the New Order (henceforth referred to as NO due to me being a slightly bemused fan of Joy Division/New Order) path should be removed. I went back and bolded key points since I know this got a bit long.
I don’t think there’s a great solution either way, and that genuinely sucks for everyone, but most especially you. I wanted to state that first, because I’m very sorry you’re in this situation and I can imagine that any solution you go with won’t leave you entirely thrilled or pleased with the results. It means a lot to me as a reader to know that you have put this much thought and reflection into this process.
I say this as someone who considers herself very left of center, but I have both ancestors and current family that have suffered under Socialist/Communist dictatorships. Currently, some of my family are trapped in internment camps inside a country with such a dictatorship. As I’m sure you’re aware, it is inaccurate for people to assume that socialist and communist governments are not guilty of genocide or ethnocide. I can understand why some fans of the NO path can feel that you are guilty of whitewashing the Solidarity party when this is the reason for NO’s removal. Both extreme socialist/communists and fascists ultimately rely on the idea of everyone being the same, so they often support assimilation, often through violence. Even “moderate” political parties, autocracies, monarchies, etc, have been guilty of genocides and ethnocides. By removing NO for this reason, it can seem like ignorance to that darker aspect of everyone else.
With that said, though, I think it is easier to separate Solidarity/socialism and other political ideologies from this past because of their more idealistic aspects. With fascism, it is very difficult to remove the nationalist and xenophobic aspects of it, because it is more intrinsically tied to the fascist identity. This is why I am able to ignore my discomfort with playing as a member of Solidarity more easily than that with NO. To me, personally, I feel that Socialism and Communism has more heroic and kinder intentions than that of fascism, and I know that also ties into my admittedly biased belief that extreme fascism is not comparable to socialism or communism.
But, knowing your goals in the portrayals of both parties, I think as the demo currently stands, it is easy to miss that you’re trying to show the bad in both sides of the spectrum. I think that a lot of the debate in this thread is proof that it is very easy to interpret one side as being “the good guys”, depending on which side you actually support. I think that if a neo-fascist was to play only what is currently available to the public, he may get the wrong idea–but I also think that if a neo-socialist or neo-communist was to play, it would be vice versa. I understand that this impression is based off of an incomplete game, but that’s what I have been afraid of throughout your process of writing this game. As much as I enjoy your writing, and I think this is a very well-done game writing/mechanics-wise, I have to be honest and say that I genuinely do feel that in an effort to have this game come off as balanced, it risks coming off as whitewashing the uglier aspects of both perspectives, and it risks leading to false and inaccurate comparisons between them.
But I don’t think removing NO outright is the accurate response. Instead, I think there are better suggestions to either improve what is there currently or restructure it(although they all differ in workload):
- Instead of having the player choose their party outright, have the player introduced as a moderate, new politician who is exposed to their flaws outright and forced into joining these parties like many politicians at the time often did. So everyone gets the same “prologue” of sorts, and then the second half of the game is more reflective of the party choice.
- Add in divisions within both Solidarity and NO who want to go to the more horrific extremes of their real-life counterparts–so include the racial and cultural parts–and take a firm stance that the MC is not able to join those parts of the party. Portray these people as genuinely terrifying. Make the MC have to confront and fight (either verbally or physically) members of their own party.
- Remove the ability to romance the heads of either party, and make them more representative of the negative aspects of their respective parties.
- Have Riga and other members of NO openly condemn Germany’s form of fascism, and include more exploration of how they came to the belief that a dictatorship was the best form of government for their people.
I’m sure others have better ideas. With that said, I will support what you do no matter what, and I look forward to playing this game when it is finished.