Update July 3, 2019: Triternion has issued a full statement on the mixed messages surrounding the possible addition of a gender/race toggle in its game, Mordhau.
The full statement attests that the developers in the interview were misinformed about the feature, and that rather than a specific plan to implement it was an idea that had been floated in a separate context and then dismissed as not being appropriate.
Triternion also says its team is "stretched thin" with content additions and has not had the time or ability to moderate its community effectively.
A portion of the statement is below:
"First and foremost, Triternion does not, nor have we ever, had plans to add a customization option that would force a white male default. This is an absurd idea that stems from a misunderstanding in a recent interview by PC Gamer with two of our artists. These artists, both uninvolved with character development went into a verbal interview with minimal PR experience and ended up answering some of the questions in a misleading way, which combined with a lack of context, led to some very controversial statements. Again, we at Triternion do not, nor have we ever had any plans to implement any kind of ethnicity toggle on potential future character ethnicity customization additions.
"...In regards to community toxicity, we do not have prior experience managing communities of this size, nor the manpower or resources that established studious can leverage. Our team consists of 11 first-time developers working remotely and volunteer moderators who try their best to curb this toxicity and behavior across all platforms, including in-game. At the moment we are stretched thin with major important content additions and unfortunately we do not have the staff nor systems in-place to moderate everything to our intended level of standards. We plan on improving in this regard. We hope our players understand our situation and will continue to place their faith in us, as improving these things will take time."
Original story July 2, 2019:
Right now, all characters in Triternion's multiplayer first-person slasher Mordhau are white and male, though otherwise customizable. Triternion says it plans to allow for more in-game diversity, but (possibly) only for the players who want it.
The confusion on this feature began with a PC Gamer interview yesterday, opening with Triternion explaining on why it hasn't bothered removing threads on the game's official forms that use racist and homophobic slurs, including a thread with a slur in the title that's existed since 2017. Environmental artist Andrew Geach said the thread was one of "the most active threads" on the forum.
"As for the title itself, we as a team don't find it racist or offensive, and considering the thread's content, we find it even less so," he said. "We do understand however that some people may interpret it as being racist or inappropriate if taken out of context."
A number of players have complained about ongoing toxicity in Mordhau, with large quantities of sexist, racist, and hateful comments made in in-game chat on a daily basis. There is no way to report players in-game, and while the developers have added a mute option, they're reluctant to block specific words in chat entirely out of a fear that, per artist Mike Desrosiers, "people might claim we're censoring."
This discussion led to an issue of diversity in the game itself. While Mordhau boasts "deep character customization," at the moment all options are white and male. The team said they planned to add options to create women and racially diverse characters, but also mentioned a "toggle" so that players who didn't want to see women or non-white characters could view every character as a white male.
"That goes back to a similar situation as the chat filters," said Desrosiers. "Whatever stance we take officially, some group of people are going to be upset with us. And so, ideally we'd put the power in the players' hands, and give them the option to enable and disable different things."
When asked to clarify if this meant a toggle to turn off women and racially diverse characters, Geach clarified that this was the case, but it would depend on "how our community is in the future."
This feature was also mentioned back in April, in a post by the developer replying to a question on the Steam forums about adding women to the game. In this case, the Mordhau team cited "realism" as the purpose behind the toggle.
"The realism complaint is valid, so when we add them we might add a simple client-side toggle (for both female and male characters) which would let you disable them."
However, following the PC Gamer article yesterday, Triternion has tweeted that it had no such plans for a toggle at all.
"We at Triternion, and as a small indie team, have a lot to learn when it comes to dealing with toxicity/racism in a large community," reads the statement. "However, we need to clarify some claims posted in an article today.
"We do not, nor have we ever, had plans to add a toggle to hide other ethnicities or 'disable characters that aren't white' in Mordhau. Any claims to the contrary are false. Official statement coming soon."
GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to Triternion for comment.