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Posted by JadeGL (975 posts) -

Mass Effect 3 was an awesome game. We can all debate the merits of the ending, but when I played the final minutes, I thought it was a successful finale to a great series. Characters that we had grown to love were given satisfying arcs and Commander Shepard saved the galaxy from the Reaper threat. All in all, it went pretty much as I had expected it would, and I was content.

Thank you for summing it up perfectly, Reddit

One of things that I loved about the series was the feeling that my Shepard was the coolest, most hardened soldier in the galaxy. In all 3 games, I played the Vanguard class. In the first game, Vanguards were kind of a bridge class between the Soldier class and an Adept class, taking a bit of good gun play and a bit of good biotics and rolling it into one powerhouse. In the second and third games, the Vanguard gained the ability to charge, which made the class almost like an angry bull, slamming head first into combat and blasting enemies away with shotgun blasts and well placed biotic shockwaves. The third game also introduced Nova, which added a much higher risk and reward style of play. You could charge in and follow by using Nova, but you would be without your shields and at the mercy of anyone that hadn’t been knocked down. As a player, this class was a blast to play. You were always trying to remember to balance your abilities effectively, while also trying to resist the overwhelming urge to charge enemies, because the charge power is just so much fun to use. You could get carried away and end up in the middle of bad situation, but that was all part of craziness of playing a Vanguard.

Because of the class I played, and the backstory I chose, I had certain ideas of how my Shepard looked, how she must think, what she must feel. For the most part, the developers made good decisions in how Shepard carried herself and I had no complaints through most of the series. As the third game came to a close, I had a romantic moment with Kaidan Alenko, and I came face to face with a harsh truth. My Shepard, underneath her armor and her biotic barrier, didn’t look like what I wanted her to look like. She looked frail, small. She looked weaker than I expected, and I was taken aback by how annoyed I was at such a small and seemingly inconsequential detail. But there it was, and I couldn’t quite figure out why I was so heartbroken by it.

Beth Phoenix = Awesome Mass Effect Vanguard

After a lot of time and thought, I know why. I feel the way I feel because my expectations crashed into reality. Playing this tank-like, biotic rhinoceros made me feel like she would look like a tank-like, biotic rhinoceros under her armor. Instead of my character looking like Zoe Saldana, I wanted her to look like Gina Carano or Beth Phoenix. It’s a small detail, but I came to the realization that it was as important to me as any story beat or gameplay mechanic tweak. Seeing Shepard so small, so wimpy, broke my suspension of disbelief in her character and what she could do, what she was at her core. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s the truth.

To explain my state of mind a bit more, I need to tell you about Shepard’s best feature, her messed up nose. Originally, this was due to a mistake I made in the character creation menu. I was messing with sliders and while her nose looked good from the front, it looked like it had be seriously broken from the side. I hated it at first, but as I played the game, it grew on me. It was a part of her and it made sense. She was a tough, gritty soldier. At some point in training or battle she had her nose broken, maybe multiple times by the look of it, and she didn’t care. That’s just Shepard. And it didn’t matter to anyone she met. Kaidan still fell in love with her, she was still made a Spectre, she could still charm almost anyone she spoke to, and she could still outfight anyone. So her nose became a badge of honor to me. Even when I couldn’t import my appearance properly in Mass Effect 3, I took the time to try and recreate her exactly as she was, broken, flattened nose and all.

So why get caught up on a brief romance scene that showed Shepard in her underwear as a more petite figure than I had imagined? Again, it’s hard to put into words. I felt let down by the developers making her a more classical feminine figure. The message I got was that she was beautiful, but only because she seemed to be skinny with no real muscles to speak of and barely any scars. Her appearance was disappointing to me. It seemed like she was made to be attractive to the player, even if it didn’t fit in with her overall character arc.

A starting Barbarian in Diablo III

The interesting thing is, I felt similarly disappointed in the change of the appearance of Kaidan Alenko. In the first game, he appeared to have relatively normal muscle tone while he became much more muscular in the third game. His class began as primarily support based with biotic and tech powers and, in that first game, he could only wear light armor and use a pistol. He was quite literally the equivalent of a mage class, so a slimmer, more acrobatic figure would make sense. By the third game, it had appeared that Kaidan had been hitting the gym in his free time, becoming a much more stereotypical hunk. He also had slightly altered facial features, including differently shaped eyes, although improved graphics between the first game and the third could account for some of the differences, I suppose, I can't say that that's the only reason he looks so different. So while some may think that I am disappointed just because of how the developers decided to portray a female character, I am also trying to say that I am disappointed that they decided to stay true to stereotypical views of attractiveness in both male and female characters.

At the end of the day, my main issue is that there are other games that portray female warrior characters well and realistically within their own universe. Diablo III has a barbarian class that is large, weighty and still beautiful and feminine in her own recognizable way. The Amazon in Demon’s Crown is muscular and powerful, but still attractive. These characters embody their class and their play style. When you see them, you know their capabilities and what to expect when you pick up a controller or a mouse and keyboard. When I saw Shepard without her armor, I didn’t see the Vanguard that I knew she was. I saw someone less.

In my mind’s eye, Shepard will always have a broken nose and will always look more like a female MMA fighter than a female leading lady. To fight the Reapers, she had to be stronger, faster and more powerful. To become an N7 and then a Spectre, she had to be a soldier with intense and grueling training. All of things, combined with the fact that she was killed and rebuilt make for a scarred, ferocious, battle-hardened woman. That is the image I will take away from Mass Effect, even if it’s not the image that the game left me with in it’s final hours.

#1 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

This may be one of the first times I've read a blog post or article that actually compared the Dragon's Crown Amazon (or really, any Dragon's Crown character) positively next to Shepard. That's actually refreshing. Dragon's Crown received a lot of flak from the press that I didn't think it necessarily deserved.

As someone that never played the Mass Effect series outside of the ME2 demo, I can't say that I ever had much of a connection to any version of Shepard. But I do understand what you're saying. The female Shepard may be athletic, but outside of her armor, she's not a physically dominating presence, which seems like something you'd expect to see in a character that turns out to be Savior of the Galaxy. Part of me wonders whether it would have been better had Bioware given the player more options during character creation. Not just in terms of facial structure and skin/hair coloration, but in having more say in Shepard's actual physical build, allowing for the definition of muscle tone and the presence of scars. I can understand that it would put a lot more work into the character creation system, and that level of detail is still fairly rare outside of Saints Row and maybe some MMOs. But in a game like Mass Effect, particularly it being a game that allows Shepard to be intimate with other characters, I can see why a greater degree of character customization would not only be desirable, but almost a requirement.

#2 Edited by Corevi (5112 posts) -

I was fine with it but I played a Biotic who was so exceptional with her powers that she could become a Spectre despite being tiny and only being able to handle a pistol.

All the character design changes in ME3 sucked though, except Wrex, he looks even more badass.

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#3 Posted by Slag (4903 posts) -

I always figured a game with a character creator should allow the user creative flexibility on body types/shape etc for precisely this sort of thing. Otherwise what's the point of allowing me to customize the character's appearance?

Nice post!

#4 Posted by Zeik (2783 posts) -

I'm sure it doesn't affect your opinion much, but I'm pretty certain these characters are physically augmented by their body armor and various other space tech, so within the ME universe I think they can get away it more than some games.

I get where you're coming from though. In a way it's kind of like how I felt about what they did to Ashley. I never liked Ashley all that much (I usually choose to let her die), but her rather plain look suited her. Then they turned her into some kind of glamour model in ME3 and I always thought that it was really off-putting.

#5 Posted by JimiPeppr (422 posts) -

You don't need to be physically strong to be a good leader. If you'll recall, Shepard doesn't die until the end. That's some pretty smart soldiering if you ask me.

#6 Posted by Zeik (2783 posts) -

You don't need to be physically strong to be a good leader. If you'll recall, Shepard doesn't die until the end. That's some pretty smart soldiering if you ask me.

That's technically not true. Don't forget ME2.

#7 Edited by JimiPeppr (422 posts) -

@zeik technically that wasn't his/her fault.

#8 Posted by csl316 (9517 posts) -

Honestly, I just figured all future space people had a similar body type. The mass effect manipulation makes the vanguard a beast, not just their physique.

Granted, my vanguard was a dude and looked fairly tough. My sentinel was a female and I guess I can kind of see where you're coming from. She certainly didn't look like a tank.

#9 Edited by Zeik (2783 posts) -

It often isn't. I'm not suggesting that makes someone less of a leader, but I don't think living or dying is necessarily the mark of a great leader either.

#10 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6405 posts) -

@slag said:

I always figured a game with a character creator should allow the user creative flexibility on body types/shape etc for precisely this sort of thing. Otherwise what's the point of allowing me to customize the character's appearance?

Nice post!

This sums up my feelings pretty well too. Sometimes, I don't want generic Ken doll #3227. I'm kind of hoping this new generation of consoles will help eliminate some of the basic stock feel to almost every character creator out there. And while I'm at it, here's hoping developers get the hint and start creating more robust, varied characters from the get-go.

Moderator
#11 Edited by JimiPeppr (422 posts) -

@zeik: Shepard survived some pretty insane stuff in the series... and I'd argue that dying and coming back to life makes him/her even more badass.

#12 Edited by Zeik (2783 posts) -

@sparky_buzzsaw said:

@slag said:

I always figured a game with a character creator should allow the user creative flexibility on body types/shape etc for precisely this sort of thing. Otherwise what's the point of allowing me to customize the character's appearance?

Nice post!

This sums up my feelings pretty well too. Sometimes, I don't want generic Ken doll #3227. I'm kind of hoping this new generation of consoles will help eliminate some of the basic stock feel to almost every character creator out there. And while I'm at it, here's hoping developers get the hint and start creating more robust, varied characters from the get-go.

It doesn't surprise me that it hasn't been common (and will likely continue to be uncommon) because it means every piece of gear has to be able work on any body type. I think we would need some kind of custom technology that would allow for procedural mofications before that becomes commonplace.

It does bother me sometimes though. Like for example, all the male characters in Destiny are built to be super buff and bulky, which is fine for a Titan, but I wanted my Hunter to be sleek and agile looking, so I had to make a lady. (Which I don't mind, but it's inherently limiting)

#13 Posted by Zeik (2783 posts) -

@zeik: Shepard survived some pretty insane stuff in the series... and I'd argue that dying and coming back to life makes him/her even more badass.

But that was even more out of her hands than what caused it. It is badass, but it really had little to do with her ability. (I also only just realized as I'm writing this how much I've completely disowned the male Shepard, as I'm instinctively just referring to Shepard as "her", lol.)

#14 Posted by Irvandus (2900 posts) -

@slag: Agreed. It's probably a lot harder to implement than just a face and hair change but it's very noticeable when it's missing as someone who likes to design his characters.

#15 Edited by JimiPeppr (422 posts) -

@jadegl said:

So why get caught up on a brief romance scene that showed Shepard in her underwear as a more petite figure than I had imagined? Again, it’s hard to put into words. I felt let down by the developers making her a more classical feminine figure. The message I got was that she was beautiful, but only because she seemed to be skinny with no real muscles to speak of and barely any scars. Her appearance was disappointing to me. It seemed like she was made to be attractive to the player, even if it didn’t fit in with her overall character arc.

To be clear, I agree with your point that she was probably designed to be classically aesthetically pleasing, but I also don't think the female character model is entirely unrealistic.

#16 Posted by Nodima (1300 posts) -

@zeik said:

@sparky_buzzsaw said:

@slag said:

I always figured a game with a character creator should allow the user creative flexibility on body types/shape etc for precisely this sort of thing. Otherwise what's the point of allowing me to customize the character's appearance?

Nice post!

This sums up my feelings pretty well too. Sometimes, I don't want generic Ken doll #3227. I'm kind of hoping this new generation of consoles will help eliminate some of the basic stock feel to almost every character creator out there. And while I'm at it, here's hoping developers get the hint and start creating more robust, varied characters from the get-go.

It doesn't surprise me that it hasn't been common (and will likely continue to be uncommon) because it means every piece of gear has to be able work on any body type. I think we would need some kind of custum technology that would allow for procedural mofications before that becomes commonplace.

It does bother me sometimes though. Like for example, all the male characters in Destiny are built to be super buff and bulky, which is fine for a Titan, but I wanted my Hunter to be sleek and agile looking, so I had to make a lady. (Which I don't mind, but it's inherently limiting)

Considering how inspired by Pete Wentz most of the male designs seem to be, it is a bit a odd that they are also NBA shooting guards physically.

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#17 Edited by JimiPeppr (422 posts) -

@zeik: I recall some dialogue that implied not just anyone would have survived the surgery.

#18 Edited by Pr1mus (3954 posts) -

I always found the character creator in the Mass Effect games super disappointing. So much so that i ended up just rolling with default female Shepard. And then they completely broke the character import in ME3! Ugh.

In general if your game is going to let me create my character at least give some sort of basic body features options and not just the face. It wouldn't be hard to have even if they decided to limit what is possible so people can't recreate the Hulk for example. Even something as simple as 3 or 4 body size presets and a height slider could go a long way.

I agree with the sentiment about her figure. No matter what class you opt for, with the military background of the character her look doesn't fit.

I went with a vanguard too starting from ME2. In the first game i played a soldier. I found the gunplay very weak with everything other than assault rifles, which the vanguard couldn't use and the biotic powers weren't that interesting in the first game. In ME2 you at least had access to SMGs for some rapid fire and the biotic powers of the vanguard were much better. I even pretended they gave her these new powers after rebuilding her. I don't know if they ever allude to this in the game but it's the kind of change that would bother me if i couldn't have at least some logic to explain it.

#19 Edited by Brodehouse (10138 posts) -

In kayfabe it could be argued that she's a robot and her strength comes from her freakish robotic skeleton and so on.

Personally, if anything I would want my Shepard to appear a little less fitness-model-ish and more like the street tough she was. I wouldn't want mine thicker, I would want her muscles the same thickness but more defined and ropey and gross, and her skin mottled with scars and so on. I want a Shepard who would appear on Worldstar Hiphop instead of WWE.

I just remembered that male Shep actually is a model.

#20 Posted by Praxis (261 posts) -

I had a similar moment of heartbreak when I realized that Retro's version of Samus Aran had been dropped in favor of Zero Suit Samus. Metroid Prime, for the first time, didn't make Samus disrobe for no reason at the end, and when she removed her helmet she looked shockingly like a real person. Then she got replaced by an underwear model and these days she's taking off her suit more than ever. I feel like I was given a brief glimpse of the Samus I had always wanted only to have the rug immediately and violently pulled out from under me. So yeah, I can totally empathize with your disappointment.

#21 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (6012 posts) -

I wish I had put as much care into building a persona and emotional attachment for my shephard. Very well thought out post duder.

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#22 Edited by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@praxis said:

I had a similar moment of heartbreak when I realized that Retro's version of Samus Aran had been dropped in favor of Zero Suit Samus. Metroid Prime, for the first time, didn't make Samus disrobe for no reason at the end, and when she removed her helmet she looked shockingly like a real person. Then she got replaced by an underwear model and these days she's taking off her suit more than ever. I feel like I was given a brief glimpse of the Samus I had always wanted only to have the rug immediately and violently pulled out from under me. So yeah, I can totally empathize with your disappointment.

The Prime games were developed to not overwrite the plots of the other games or the intentions of the Japanese creators. When Samus takes her helmet off at the end of Metroid Prime, that incarnation of Samus is really no different than the various incarnations that had been depicted in years past, all looking different from one another to varying degrees. I know that a lot of people were disappointed by the canon design of Samus outside the suit as introduced in Metroid: Zero Mission, but it's a design that I never had a problem with. (I don't think that 100% of all Metroid fans would have been satisfied regardless of the canon design settled on, but that's probably a different discussion.) I was actually happy to see the design had become her officially recognized look in the games that have come since. No more bouncing around from look to look, each a dramatic departure from the last.

#23 Edited by TruthTellah (9484 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@praxis said:

I had a similar moment of heartbreak when I realized that Retro's version of Samus Aran had been dropped in favor of Zero Suit Samus. Metroid Prime, for the first time, didn't make Samus disrobe for no reason at the end, and when she removed her helmet she looked shockingly like a real person. Then she got replaced by an underwear model and these days she's taking off her suit more than ever. I feel like I was given a brief glimpse of the Samus I had always wanted only to have the rug immediately and violently pulled out from under me. So yeah, I can totally empathize with your disappointment.

The Prime games were developed to not overwrite the plots of the other games or the intentions of the Japanese creators. When Samus takes her helmet off at the end of Metroid Prime, that incarnation of Samus is really no different than the various incarnations that had been depicted in years past, all looking different from one another to varying degrees. I know that a lot of people were disappointed by the canon design of Samus outside the suit as introduced in Metroid: Zero Mission, but it's a design that I never had a problem with. (I don't think that 100% of all Metroid fans would have been satisfied regardless of the canon design settled on, but that's probably a different discussion.) I was actually happy to see the design had become her officially recognized look in the games that have come since. No more bouncing around from look to look, each a dramatic departure from the last.

That reminds me...

They should reboot Metroid. Buff and battle-hardened Samus scrapping for survival. Her blonde hair dyed in the blood of the aliens in her way.

Set in a beautifully-detailed KOF:XIII-level sprite-based side-scroller format, of course.

#24 Edited by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@truthtellah said:

@hailinel said:

@praxis said:

I had a similar moment of heartbreak when I realized that Retro's version of Samus Aran had been dropped in favor of Zero Suit Samus. Metroid Prime, for the first time, didn't make Samus disrobe for no reason at the end, and when she removed her helmet she looked shockingly like a real person. Then she got replaced by an underwear model and these days she's taking off her suit more than ever. I feel like I was given a brief glimpse of the Samus I had always wanted only to have the rug immediately and violently pulled out from under me. So yeah, I can totally empathize with your disappointment.

The Prime games were developed to not overwrite the plots of the other games or the intentions of the Japanese creators. When Samus takes her helmet off at the end of Metroid Prime, that incarnation of Samus is really no different than the various incarnations that had been depicted in years past, all looking different from one another to varying degrees. I know that a lot of people were disappointed by the canon design of Samus outside the suit as introduced in Metroid: Zero Mission, but it's a design that I never had a problem with. (I don't think that 100% of all Metroid fans would have been satisfied regardless of the canon design settled on, but that's probably a different discussion.) I was actually happy to see the design had become her officially recognized look in the games that have come since. No more bouncing around from look to look, each a dramatic departure from the last.

That reminds me...

They should reboot Metroid. Buff and battle-hardened Samus scrapping for survival. Her blonde hair dyed in the blood of the aliens in her way.

Set in a beautifully-detailed side-scroller format, of course.

Are you trying to annoy me?

EDIT: Sorry for being terse. It's just that I find the idea of rebooting Metroid entirely distasteful. I don't want to see what's been established thus far just get chucked to the side out of a need for a gritty reboot.

#25 Edited by TruthTellah (9484 posts) -
@hailinel said:

@truthtellah said:

@hailinel said:

@praxis said:

I had a similar moment of heartbreak when I realized that Retro's version of Samus Aran had been dropped in favor of Zero Suit Samus. Metroid Prime, for the first time, didn't make Samus disrobe for no reason at the end, and when she removed her helmet she looked shockingly like a real person. Then she got replaced by an underwear model and these days she's taking off her suit more than ever. I feel like I was given a brief glimpse of the Samus I had always wanted only to have the rug immediately and violently pulled out from under me. So yeah, I can totally empathize with your disappointment.

The Prime games were developed to not overwrite the plots of the other games or the intentions of the Japanese creators. When Samus takes her helmet off at the end of Metroid Prime, that incarnation of Samus is really no different than the various incarnations that had been depicted in years past, all looking different from one another to varying degrees. I know that a lot of people were disappointed by the canon design of Samus outside the suit as introduced in Metroid: Zero Mission, but it's a design that I never had a problem with. (I don't think that 100% of all Metroid fans would have been satisfied regardless of the canon design settled on, but that's probably a different discussion.) I was actually happy to see the design had become her officially recognized look in the games that have come since. No more bouncing around from look to look, each a dramatic departure from the last.

That reminds me...

They should reboot Metroid. Buff and battle-hardened Samus scrapping for survival. Her blonde hair dyed in the blood of the aliens in her way.

Set in a beautifully-detailed side-scroller format, of course.

Are you trying to annoy me?

heh. Maybe a little.

I know it would annoy some folks, but how wild would that be? Now, as they're in a transition period, why not take it back to the drawing board? Reading this discussion of a burlier Samus just made me imagine the possibilities.

Though I bet the best we'd actually get is Super Metroid HD with high quality sprites and maybe 50% more additional content.

#26 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

heh. Maybe a little.

I know it would annoy some folks, but how wild would that be? Now, as they're in a transition period, why not take it back to the drawing board?

Though I imagine the best we'd get is Super Metroid HD with maybe 50% more content than the original.

As I noted in my edit above, I don't want to see things get chucked aside for yet another gritty reboot. Not everyone liked Other M. That's fine. But I'm tired of people saying that Nintendo should just start over because they personally didn't like Samus's portrayal in that game. That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am sorry, but I have had it.

#27 Edited by TruthTellah (9484 posts) -
@hailinel said:

@truthtellah said:

heh. Maybe a little.

I know it would annoy some folks, but how wild would that be? Now, as they're in a transition period, why not take it back to the drawing board?

Though I imagine the best we'd get is Super Metroid HD with maybe 50% more content than the original.

As I noted in my edit above, I don't want to see things get chucked aside for yet another gritty reboot. Not everyone liked Other M. That's fine. But I'm tired of people saying that Nintendo should just start over because they personally didn't like Samus's portrayal in that game. That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am sorry, but I have had it.

I don't think they should change up the style(or return to the original grit) because of some issue with the newer style. I just think it could be interesting. We're talking here about our impressions of characters and their representations in games, including when they aren't shown in the way we expect or prefer, and for many, Samus remains a somewhat different character from the more recent version of her.

It's like enjoying old Dante in Devil May Cry vs new Dante. I can get why some people may like the new Dante in DmC, just as many like the Samus in Other M, but others may have a different picture of the character. I don't think either is wrong for preferring one version to the other. I'd just be interested to see the other kind of Samus explored a bit further.

#28 Posted by whur (40 posts) -

But you didn't post a picture of Shepherd? For me I dislike the strength and Amazonian look of women in video games. I understand that the way women are portrayed in video games are negatively viewed among feminists, but I think there's something empowering about a feminine video game character that looks 'hot' for lack of a better word yet does badass things like tank. The epitome for me are the females carrying big ass shields and heavy armor (think female tanks in wow, mostly alliance + blood elf). Video games allow the image of a woman to be more than just her image, much like how Christina Hendrix gets upset that men gawk over her for her body instead of her acting skills.

After the recent post on different sex avatars I've been trying to articulate why I play female characters (almost exclusively). I'm not sure this is it, but I do like to see strong female characters in all forms of media I consume. I of course played female vanguard Shepherd as well.

#29 Edited by TruthTellah (9484 posts) -

Oh yeah, @jadegl. Have you seen the "Buff Female Shepard" Mod?

It doesn't make her exceptionally bulky by any means, but it does change her model to be a bit more toned and muscular, potentially fitting more with the way you envisioned her. There is also a "Buff FemShep Tank Top" Mod which fits well with the new model when she is out of her suit.

#30 Posted by Praxis (261 posts) -

@hailinel: To be honest, when I played Zero Mission I didn't really have a problem with the Zero Suit since I figured it was a one-off thing. It wasn't until I played Prime 2 and I realized that ZSS was now THE Samus and that I would likely never see Retro Samus ever again that I was totally devastated. I probably come off like some bitter old codger since this happened so long ago, but goddammit I liked that verson! Why did you do this to me, Nintendo?! Okay, there we go. Now I definitely sound bitter.

#31 Edited by aceofspudz (935 posts) -

Like you, I also had a divergent experience playing female shepard: I always found it jarring how my twiglike Femshep manhandled people (even Krogans) in cutscenes. I rationalized it by saying they were blindsided by her attitude and authority. She's technically a cyborg after 2, mitigating the dissonance a bit, but that strikes me as a copout.

Rather than turning her into a brawny amazonian to explain this, I would have liked if Femshep had occasionally different animations or even dialog options that brought home the fact that she was literally weaker than her opponents. My Femshep was an infiltrator and didn't need James Vega-levels of musculature to do her job.

So neither of us was 100% happy. In an ideal RPG there are different models and animations and dialog trees for every possible choice you make as a player which conform to your internal mythology. In reality (of AAA titles like ME) there is usually just one thing that is supposed to fit everyone.

#32 Edited by TheHT (11831 posts) -

@truthtellah said:

Oh yeah, @jadegl. Have you seen the "Buff Female Shepard" Mod?

It doesn't make her exceptionally bulky by any means, but it does change her model to be a bit more toned and muscular, potentially fitting more with the way you envisioned her. There is also a "Buff FemShep Tank Top" Mod which fits well with the new model when she is out of her suit.

Man, I wish they'd actually gone out there and found a model for the female Shepard rather than the silly design-by-internet thing they did. The vote was just lazy and made it seem like they didn't give a fuck, and the FemShep that was voted through looks like one profile picture among dozens when creating a cRPG character.

After googling "female shepard model" and seeing a picture of Antje Traue, yeah, she would've totally made a great default FemShep. The player model would've looked like an actual person rather than a generic NPC, like the MaleShep does.

Anyways, yeah, the game just didn't have any body customization options. Honestly, the Mass Effect character creator is terrible. It always has been, and while ME3 made it so your character could look less crappy, it was still waaaay easier to make something that looked stupid.

I most recently had a similar issue with Divinity: Original Sin, where any male you make looks fuckin big. Thinking about MMOs that I've played with good body options, sometimes you get a decent selection (Guild Wars 2, The Old Republic), sometimes you get none (Tera, FF14), and sometimes you get a crazy amount of control (Neverwinter). Did Skyrim have body options? I know Dark Souls 2 does, but heads in that game are just tiny.

Dragon's Dogma had a fantastic character creator, including a lot of body options. It wasn't just big, medium, or small though. You could have small thin legs with big long arms and a really wide torso. You could definitely do some silly stuff, but could still just as easily make something you like.

I do wish more games with character creation would include body options. I also love character creation in general, and wouldn't mind if more games just had that too. Obviously for some games it doesn't make sense to put in the work for that, and outfits and the like are good enough to scratch that itch. I just really like imagining backstories and personalities for characters you create. It's like drawing without needing to know how to draw well. Gets my creative juices flowing.

#33 Edited by TruthTellah (9484 posts) -

@theht: I definitely think more body options in games are helpful. And not just "ridiculously obese as a joke" options, but sensible options that can have characters with a little weight or some muscle. Tall women, as well. ha. It seems like this shouldn't be so difficult or rare, but good implementation of such systems still has a decent ways to go for most games of this kind.

I hope the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect have better customization in this regard. Not just facial features but body build as well.

#34 Posted by TheHT (11831 posts) -

@theht: I definitely think more body options in games are helpful. And not just "ridiculously obese as a joke" options, but sensible options that can have characters with a little weight or some muscle. Tall women, as well. ha. It seems like this shouldn't be so difficult or rare, but good implementation of such systems still has a decent ways to go for most games of this kind.

I hope the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect have better customization in this regard. Not just facial features but body build as well.

I think the most obvious concern is the armor. Having to build and test variations for each type or create some system where armor and clothing can scale to the body type might be a bit much for a dev, depending on what else the project entails.

But yeah, it's definitely nice to have. Another layer of control and customization is always welcome with those things.

#35 Posted by TruthTellah (9484 posts) -

@theht said:

@truthtellah said:

@theht: I definitely think more body options in games are helpful. And not just "ridiculously obese as a joke" options, but sensible options that can have characters with a little weight or some muscle. Tall women, as well. ha. It seems like this shouldn't be so difficult or rare, but good implementation of such systems still has a decent ways to go for most games of this kind.

I hope the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect have better customization in this regard. Not just facial features but body build as well.

I think the most obvious concern is the armor. Having to build and test variations for each type or create some system where armor and clothing can scale to the body type might be a bit much for a dev, depending on what else the project entails.

But yeah, it's definitely nice to have. Another layer of control and customization is always welcome with those things.

That's almost certainly it. That and having animations all work well. Though, when they get closer with more customization, it helps. Hopefully it's something we'll see more of in this generation.

#36 Posted by Corevi (5112 posts) -

@theht said:

@truthtellah said:

@theht: I definitely think more body options in games are helpful. And not just "ridiculously obese as a joke" options, but sensible options that can have characters with a little weight or some muscle. Tall women, as well. ha. It seems like this shouldn't be so difficult or rare, but good implementation of such systems still has a decent ways to go for most games of this kind.

I hope the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect have better customization in this regard. Not just facial features but body build as well.

I think the most obvious concern is the armor. Having to build and test variations for each type or create some system where armor and clothing can scale to the body type might be a bit much for a dev, depending on what else the project entails.

But yeah, it's definitely nice to have. Another layer of control and customization is always welcome with those things.

That's almost certainly it. That and having animations all work well. Though, when they get closer with more customization, it helps. Hopefully it's something we'll see more of in this generation.

It's not a console power thing though, it's just a time commitment that most devs don't think is worth it.

Online
#37 Posted by TruthTellah (9484 posts) -

@truthtellah said:

@theht said:

@truthtellah said:

@theht: I definitely think more body options in games are helpful. And not just "ridiculously obese as a joke" options, but sensible options that can have characters with a little weight or some muscle. Tall women, as well. ha. It seems like this shouldn't be so difficult or rare, but good implementation of such systems still has a decent ways to go for most games of this kind.

I hope the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect have better customization in this regard. Not just facial features but body build as well.

I think the most obvious concern is the armor. Having to build and test variations for each type or create some system where armor and clothing can scale to the body type might be a bit much for a dev, depending on what else the project entails.

But yeah, it's definitely nice to have. Another layer of control and customization is always welcome with those things.

That's almost certainly it. That and having animations all work well. Though, when they get closer with more customization, it helps. Hopefully it's something we'll see more of in this generation.

It's not a console power thing though, it's just a time commitment that most devs don't think is worth it.

To some extent it is also the speed and power of production tools, and with the next generation, a lot of things are far quicker to do and try out. (like environment design and AI routines) It's quite possible prior efforts on adding such variety could be streamlined much more easily now. Of course, that does still take effort, but it's potentially more feasible.

#38 Edited by EuanDewar (5107 posts) -

Given how adamant they've been about saying they really want feedback to help them mold the next Mass Effect game maybe you should tell Bioware directly about this. Who knows, they might take it into consideration.

#39 Posted by TruthTellah (9484 posts) -

Given how adamant they've been about saying they really want feedback to help them mold the next Mass Effect game maybe you should tell Bioware directly about this. Who knows, maybe they'll take it into consideration.

That.... is a sensible suggestion which I fully endorse.

#40 Edited by JadeGL (975 posts) -

@hailinel: I respect games that try to do something different with their art, and Dragon's Crown had a unique look and the characters fit their archetypes well. I may not have liked some of the animations, they were a little over the top for me, but the art style and designs were well done and I think they had good variation. The archer was petite and lithe, the Barbarian was a huge dude. The Amazon was muscular but attractive, etc.

@slag: Thanks! Even a small bit of choice would be good. Maybe not full on MMO sliders or anything, but a way to say you want a taller, more muscular woman, or a smaller, less muscular man. Either way, some way to customize body type even a little would have been a nice addition.

@zeik: @csl316: I considered those points when I was writing my post. I think you could say that there are in-game possibilities that explain how a person could be much more physically capable than their appearance may suggest, such as armor, biotics, or being rebuilt by scientists in Shepard's case. At the same time, I think that that can't account for everything, and I would have liked to have seen her look fit her class more. Again, it's a personal thing, but when I see Vanguards especially I think that even with armor/augmentations they must also have to be built like their powers would suggest.

@jimipeppr: I agree about your leadership and power comments. I never meant to imply that she's not powerful. You do not have to be physically imposing to be powerful. On the other hand, I played a specific class and had an image of what it takes physically to be that class, and there was a disconnect between my idea and reality. I also don't find her model unrealistic at all, just not fitting of the type of character I ended up playing through 3 games.

I'll brb with more responses. I'm getting ready to go to work so I can't get to them all in one go! But thanks again for reading and posting. You awesome duders are giving me a lot to think about!

#41 Edited by jArmAhead (341 posts) -

@jadegl:

If there's one thing I've learned spending time with Marines, it's that strength and figure are completely unrelated. The very first recruiter I spoke to was tall and gangly and pretty scrawny for his height. He was also a weightlifting champ.

In fact, many "grunts" aren't especially big because they don't have time to build up a figure, they build endurance and strength.

Most of those who actually serve in combat roles aren't huge. Everyone gets the image of guys like Chris Kyle in their head, but that guy is about as big as most guys I've seen really get, even when you're talking about SEALs, Rangers, MARSOC operators, etc.

Consider this: how much time do you imagine your Shepard spending on proper nutrition and working out to create mass and bulk? Because if I were in the situation Shepard is in, I probably wouldn't be working on gettin' big guns.

I have no idea what female shep looks like nekked, but it may not be that inaccurate to what a powerful female operator would or at least could easily look like.

That said, I would like to see more games with body shape options. I don't need gross stuff like tit size and everything, but sliders for muscle definition, swol-ness, and fatness would be nice. Or even something like Dark Souls which gives you a couple different options for body shape.

#42 Posted by armaan8014 (5464 posts) -

Good, valid blog :)

#43 Posted by MooseyMcMan (11415 posts) -

I understand 100%. This is actually an issue that I have with a lot of movies/TV shows, where some wimpy little woman is cast in a tough role, but the actress in question just doesn't seem like she'd be capable of what's going on in the movie/show.

Also male Shepard is ripped.

#44 Edited by Yummylee (22583 posts) -

I know exactly what you mean, though I don't necessarily hold it too much to fault since it's primarily down to how basically all human male and female characters have the exact same physique in the ME series. Well, Vega in ME3 looked like he was especially buff when compared to the other characters. That said, it would have been appreciative if Shepard did indeed have his/her own physique, one that would be determined by what class you pick at that. Vanguard and Soldier classes like you mention would fit a Shepard that's got some muscle underneath all that N7 armour, whereas Engineers and Adepts are a little slimmer. ME3's increased sexualisation of all the characters didn't sit well me, either. Ashley's the most clear example, but Liara's increased bust size and, like you mentioned, Kaiden's much more muscular physique kinda conflicted with how I viewed those characters.

One other aspect I disliked was how your own class choice is never reflected in the games, or at least not enough where it matters. The game would go along as if Shepard is a traditional Soldier -- a charismatic soldier to be sure, but your potential tech and/or biotic abilities--from my recollection--were never acknowledged nor shown within the games.

Truth be told while I have always enjoyed role-playing my (five different) Shepards, as the series went on it felt like I was losing grasp of the character and my ability to better mold him/her as my own. In ME3 Shepard talks for him/herself for what seemed like 40% of the dialogue, and of course the even more streamlined dialogue options only hurt my ability to roleplay all the more. Then there's of course Shepard fretting about Earth via the dreams concerning the kid... which was again the game forcing the developer's own interpretation of the Shepard character on to you, without any choice in the matter. A full on Renegade Shepard in particular doesn't seem like he/she would have been having such dreams I would think....

Also, lady Barbarian is bestest Barbarian!

Online
#45 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (1937 posts) -

@yummylee said:

I know exactly what you mean, though I don't necessarily hold it too much to fault since it's primarily down to how basically all human male and female characters have the exact same physique in the ME series. Well, Vega in ME3 looked like he was especially buff when compared to the other characters. That said, it would have been appreciative if Shepard did indeed have his/her own physique, one that would be determined by what class you pick at that. Vanguard and Soldier classes like you mention would fit a Shepard that's got some muscle underneath all that N7 armour, whereas Engineers and Adepts are a little slimmer. ME3's increased sexualisation of all the characters didn't sit well me, either. Ashley's the most clear example, but Liara's increased bust size and, like you mentioned, Kaiden's much more muscular physique kinda conflicted with how I viewed those characters.

One other aspect I disliked was how your own class choice is never reflected in the games, or at least not enough where it matters. The game would go along as if Shepard is a traditional Soldier -- a charismatic soldier to be sure, but your potential tech and/or biotic abilities--from my recollection--were never acknowledged nor shown within the games.

Truth be told while I have always enjoyed role-playing my (five different) Shepards, as the series went on it felt like I was losing grasp of the character and my ability to better mold him/her as my own. In ME3 Shepard talks for him/herself for what seemed like 40% of the dialogue, and of course the even more streamlined dialogue options only hurt my ability to roleplay all the more. Then there's of course Shepard fretting about Earth via the dreams concerning the kid... which was again the game forcing the developer's own interpretation of the Shepard character on to you, without any choice in the matter. A full on Renegade Shepard in particular doesn't seem like he/she would have been having such dreams I would think....

Also, lady Barbarian is bestest Barbarian!

There are a few throwaway lines in some specific situations that acknowledge your class, but they are few and far between. A few I can think of off the top of my head is in the "Shepard Biography" portion of Liara's time capsule scene she will make mention of Shepard being a "powerful biotic" if that applies. I also believe it's mentioned that Shepard "would have been part of the ascension project if it had been around when he/she was young" if you are a biotic.

Other than these and other similar one-off mentions of your class, the game makes no mention of it. I always wished my adept Shepard would do some of the badass stuff we see Liara and Jack do in cutscenes, but all of Shepard's cutscene action is the same for every class, which sucks.

#46 Edited by Tom_omb (429 posts) -

I honestly don't remember what she looked like in that super short scene. I agree she should be toned. But there's a difference between a bulky body builder, a vain zero fat targeted workout type, and practical military bad ass. All of the above body types can be attractive. I'm not sure if creating a unique model for that scene should have necessarily been a priority. The other option could have been to make the default female model to be toned, but then Shepard wouldn't have been special.

If you want an example of Shepard's physical prowess, I got a kick out of this scene showing up James in a brawny pull up competition in the Citadel DLC.

#47 Posted by Sinusoidal (1823 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@truthtellah said:

heh. Maybe a little.

I know it would annoy some folks, but how wild would that be? Now, as they're in a transition period, why not take it back to the drawing board?

Though I imagine the best we'd get is Super Metroid HD with maybe 50% more content than the original.

As I noted in my edit above, I don't want to see things get chucked aside for yet another gritty reboot. Not everyone liked Other M. That's fine. But I'm tired of people saying that Nintendo should just start over because they personally didn't like Samus's portrayal in that game. That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am sorry, but I have had it.

I am also sorry, but I have also had it. With Metroid. After the ridiculous Other: M (Mother?!?) where Nintendo let someone crap up an awesome franchise with dull cutscenes, ridiculous mother/baby (bottle ship??!?!? Puhlease!!) symbology and turned their previously genocidal bounty hunter protagonist into a morose, frail, six-inch-heel wearing underwear model. Bring on the reboot!

Sorry @jadegl, not intending to derail your blog: another piece of well-written, reasonable discussion on gender issues in the industry. I recently had a similar experience playing as Catwoman in Batman: Arkham City. They use the same awesome gut-wrenching *KAPOW* sounds in melee combat with both Batman and Catwoman. Unfortunately, she's tiny, wafer-thin by comparison and has silly scratching animations with her cat claws. It just feels completely out of place.

#48 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@sinusoidal: I've already moved my conversation on that to a PM with TruthTellah. Don't be snide about this. I don't want to discuss it here.

#49 Posted by Chumley_Marchbanks (158 posts) -

Great read. Your experience reminds me of a more positive one I had with Dark Souls 1 and 2 this year. Although the character creator for those games has kind of become infamous for making it difficult to make a character that doesn't look like they've been birthed at the bottom of the ocean, they do give you a surprising amount of options relating to body types and sizes. This pleased a lot me because it meant that I could make a character that really reflected the big fuck off weapons and armour that I wanted her to use. Hopefully other developers will follow suit with that kind of flexibility, especially Bioware, who we all know still has a lot to learn about human anatomy.

#50 Posted by altairre (1289 posts) -

@jadegl: As usual you make some good points. It's weird how the smallest details can completely disrupt the experience sometimes and Biowar really should give more customization options in general. I'm a bit torn on the question of character changes. On one hand I think it's fine if the devs want to change up the characters somewhat and they should have the freedom to do so but if the changes look like they've been done mostly to increase the sexappeal then it's starting to irritate me. I mean it wouldn't be unbelievable that Kaiden increased his training effort due to the importance of the mission but maybe they could acknowledge these changes to make them a little less baffling. Ashley received that treatment too. She looked way more model like in ME3 to me than she did in ME1 and I didn't much care for that alteration either.

I think it's good that they're trying to get away from that with Dragon Age Inquisition where they aimed to have more believable looking party members (a decision they already got backlash for because apparently quite a few people thought the romance options didn't look pretty enough).

@yummylee: The dialogue change is probably one of my biggest problems with Mass Effect 3. They take control away from you too often and Shepard talks and talks while the player can't really influence what is being said or in what direction the conversation goes.

@hailinel said:

@truthtellah said:

heh. Maybe a little.

I know it would annoy some folks, but how wild would that be? Now, as they're in a transition period, why not take it back to the drawing board?

Though I imagine the best we'd get is Super Metroid HD with maybe 50% more content than the original.

As I noted in my edit above, I don't want to see things get chucked aside for yet another gritty reboot. Not everyone liked Other M. That's fine. But I'm tired of people saying that Nintendo should just start over because they personally didn't like Samus's portrayal in that game. That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am sorry, but I have had it.

I am also sorry, but I have also had it. With Metroid. After the ridiculous Other: M (Mother?!?) where Nintendo let someone crap up an awesome franchise with dull cutscenes, ridiculous mother/baby (bottle ship??!?!? Puhlease!!) symbology and turned their previously genocidal bounty hunter protagonist into a morose, frail, six-inch-heel wearing underwear model. Bring on the reboot!

Sorry @jadegl, not intending to derail your blog: another piece of well-written, reasonable discussion on gender issues in the industry. I recently had a similar experience playing as Catwoman in Batman: Arkham City. They use the same awesome gut-wrenching *KAPOW* sounds in melee combat with both Batman and Catwoman. Unfortunately, she's tiny, wafer-thin by comparison and has silly scratching animations with her cat claws. It just feels completely out of place.

Huh, that's a critique point I don't see. Catwoman is much faster and more agile in general but that doesn't mean she can't hit punches and (especially) kicks. I thought they did a very good job differentiating her from Batman (they do in fact use different sound effects) and the "silly scratching animations" just fit her character well which is already established. From what I understand she does this stuff in the source material too. You don't have to be especially buff to kick ass.