Lately I’ve been playing more games again across the platforms. There have been slew of gems I never had a lot of time to spend on, like RAF World on Famicom. You may know it better by the name Journey to Silius. I also tested out the Tomb Raider reboot, because it was less than 10€. After hearing all the negative commotion it had going on for it, I wanted to see how this high budget game done. I was disappointed.
The big budget games we had twenty years ago are now something anyone could do, at least when it comes to visuals. There are numerous high end programs that allow you to easily create and animate sprites, design stages and implement them into one game. Not only that, but the game industry itself has embraced user produced content further than before in official manner. Nintendo’s Mario Maker runs on user generated content, and pretty much on nothing else. As an idea it’s neat, but ultimately the consumer does not pay for stages another consumer builds. The consumer pays the game designers to do it for them, just like how a movie goes pays the directors and actors to make a movie.
RAF World doesn’t keep me playing it too much, I enjoy it in short burst for a life or two. I love how each time I get a little bit further and there’s a proper feeling of advancement with each stage that isn’t forced or artificial. In contrast, I spend three days on Tomb Raider’s reboot game, playing it few hours per day until I was done with it. Its progression felt forced with story unlocking some of your more advanced weaponry rather than player organically building it up. The reason why I finished Tomb Raider faster than RAF World is not because of RAF World being more difficult, but because Tomb Raider has no difficulty.
Tomb Raider’s problem is that it lacks gameplay. It is made to be a cinematic game, where you mostly slouch on your couch staring Lara’s ass wiggling in front of you and occasionally shooting an arrow to someone’s head to advance. There’s few very strong enemy characters that keep coming back despite being killed dozens of times before. Model reuse in this game is laughably bad. There are solid ideas, and yet none of them are implemented properly, starting from how Lara moves (there’s serious lack of precise control) to the combat system (you can straight up ignore any other weapon than the bow outside scripted fights) all the way to the worst part of the game; shakycam. For whatever reason somebody thought it was a good idea to implement movies’ shakycam in an action game. It made my head ache.
Anyone can make a game that looks like RAF World whereas not so many have the resources to make a game that looks like Tomb Raider. However, not many can make a game of high quality like RAF World. Its gameplay may be simpler than Tomb Raider’s, but it is on a completely different calibre, and the game industry hasn’t really advanced in regards of that. Things have gotten prettier and more cinematic, but the gameplay and assets have not evolved in the same manner.
Let’s get back to Mario Maker. When was the last time Nintendo renewed any gameplay elements with Super Mario? Super Mario 64 had to completely reinvent how it is played, which then affected the physics of 2D Mario games from New Super Mario Bros. onwards, and for the worse. Let’s be honest here, the modern 2D Mario games have far more looser and inaccurate controls than the sprite based games, which is what Tomb Raider’s reboot reflects as well. A lot of people still go back to Super Mario Bros.3 or Super Mario World, not because of the better gameplay, but because they have something better; better design.
The assets both SMB3 and SMW have are high calibre, even if the latter was rather hastily put together as the timeline came to a close. The reason people still bought these games in their numerous re-releases is because they bought into the quality of the product. I would be hesitant to use the term talent, but for the lack for any other properly descriptive term we’ll have to go with that. SMB3 and SMW were big budget games that had talent behind them and a drive to make the game sellable. It needed to sell, and mediocre game would not be enough. This has changed as the game industry seems to lack any talent to make as high calibre games for whatever reason as before. Rise of the Tomb Raider failed incredibly hard, and it’s not hard to see why when the previous game was this lacklustre. Even when looking at the original Tomb Raider, which was pretty good game, it’s rather worrying to see that the talent in the game industry has gone into making pretty and cinematic games with very little talent to make games with great gameplay and high quality assets.
We can then understand easily why the game industry has embraced all these user generated content games like Mario Maker. With assets becoming a commodity everyone can build something from, flooding the games’ scenes with less than stellar content, at what point will the game designer begin to make games where you need to build your own engine in order to build your own stages in order to play the game you paid 60€ for?
The consumer does not pay for a set of assets for an amateur to make a game from. It’s like buying a full meal and getting the ingredients on a platter for your friend to cook it for you.
Depending how busy I am during the holidays, we may be skipping this weekend’s entry. On another note, I’ve been constantly updating the Dragon Slayer series chart, which is currently in its tenth revision. Do check it out if you haven’t seen it before.
Think if your favourite character or the design this character has both in appearance and in character. The hair, its colour, the sex, clothing, accessories, nature, roughness and so on. Think also about the fact that many other people like the design as well, perhaps even more than you to the extent of wearing the character’s clothes and acting like this character. It’s all made to draw you in and please your eye.
It’s the same basic principle as with Sex sells. Characters are created to sell larger products, often product families, and are part of the content any entertainment product has. This is nothing out of ordinary and is something we all do; we buy stuff we like to look at. Be it pottery, cutlery or any product ever, we buy them because they attract our eyes and please our visual centres.
As with the previous post about character designs, it’s natural to aim for perfection. Imperfection doesn’t sell. To use a classic example, Lara Croft was created to be a perfect woman because it could be done and because it is something we look for. If Lara Croft would have been a massive blob instead of that fit one we got, Tomb Raider would have seen shit sales despite the well received gameplay.
As said, characters are made to sell products. They are part of the whole content. To compare to a painting, the frames are there to hold the content, every stroke and every colour, every character and every shape. They need to be in balance and complete each other in some way. The whole will suffer if part of the content simply sucks.
Lara Croft is also a woman who got better looking with age. She will never look ugly or old, and she never should. She is a fictional being and characters in fiction have very little reasons to age if they are timeless, like the Simpsons family or most comic book characters. Each new game sanded Lara’s image more towards that attractive perfection, but you can see her change to reflect time as well. It should be said that attractiveness sells, not sex.
It has been said that Lara Croft encourages objectification of women. This, of course, is largely bullshit. If this was the case, then the same would apply to almost any and all characters that were designed to look like men, as they are grossly exaggerated in perfection. Much like with how games cause violence it has been argued that they cause all sorts of objectification and hate towards the farer sex. Again, this is bullshit. It takes a person that is easily influenced or otherwise already possessing some kind of mental illness to be influenced to that level. If children can see through this fiction and take as fiction, why can’t adults? That would be because certain kinds of people want to over analyse everything and see hidden meanings and messages that simply are not there.
Senran Kagura has seen its farer share of shit thrown at it from the Western media. For example Swedish news magazine Aftonbladet crucified the upcoming European release of Senran Kagura 2 because of its fanservice. How the article reads can be summed as Tits and ass are bad, which is all sorts of strange. You’d think nowadays we could already celebrate any sort of glorification of human body and sexuality, but lately there has been this strange pushback to make things less attractive. Let’s come back to that a bit later and concentrate on this Aftonbladet article for now.
Anime doesn’t sell in West. It is a product of a different culture, and that’s OK. Western stuff sees the same fate in Oriental regions as well to similar extent. These are differences we should be celebrating and indulge ourselves in. There is no valid reason to change other culture’s products to fit your own culture in order to make it less offensive. With the same effort you might as well produce your own product. Wallet voting works the best still, and those who don’t like the cute sexiness Senran Kagura has in its design are completely free to choose not to buy any from the product family. There is no reason to push your own views and agendas and keep such product from being produced and sold. The article mentions how the author sees no parody or comedy in the whole sexy ninja thing, but this person is looking too deep. Senran Kagura has always been rather mindless when it comes to the design. It’s about schoolgirl ninjas getting in racy situations, and it’s turned to eleven. It’s a cleaver parody in a way that it’s in your face and you are supposed to laugh at it. It’s tits on 3D screen after all, it’s something everybody thought of after hearing about a 3D screen. On the other hand, it is done well enough that people who do want this sort of thing are free to take pants off and pleasure themselves.
However, the author makes a misstep by assuming that people who enjoy a good pair of tits and ass, cartoon or not, have some sort of degenerative view about women. I don’t know any person who enjoys a good pair of T&A that think any less of women than people who don’t enjoy T&A. It’s so damn asinine, especially when it comes to video games where these are objectified representations of ninja girls with anime style.
By that I mean they are literal objects in the game environment. Almost anything and everything is objectified in a video game.
Senran Kagura won’t make high amounts of sales, because not everybody enjoy the kind of overblown parody about sexy ninja trope it uses, even if the gameplay would be actually pretty good. I wrote It’s similar how some people don’t enjoy Muv-Luv Extra’s over the top parody of romance comedies. Senran Kagura enjoys all the attention it gets and doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s a tits and ass comedy. The general audience will give it a look and smirk at the series, thinking that it’s just another pervy thing Japan. The core fans in the west recognize this as well, and they’re not shy to enjoy the series to its fullest. Unlike some Dead or Alive fans.
Dead or Alive is another game series known because of tits and ass. It’s an older series for sure and ever since the first game graced arcades, Saturn and had a version on Playstion, people have known the series for its perfectly built physiques both in women and men. One of the more known elements, even among people who have never played the series, is the age slider that does something. Often I’ve heard it called as the boobie slider as the general idea is that it allows larger physics modelling on chest bounces. From gameplay perspective, Dead or Alive is just Virtua Fighter with a dedicated counter button. It’s never seen as good game as Virtua Fighter, but in the overall culture even VF was pushed down in favour if Street Fighter. What has kept DoA alive thus far is its sexy ninjas and the dedicated fanbase it has. The difference between the sexy ninjas in Dead or Alive and Senran Kagura is that Dead or Alive takes itself deadly seriously.
Dead or Alive has a definitive anime influence to it. The characters are more or less anime archetypes themselves and their designs reflect this just as much. Unlike with Senran Kagura, Team Ninja decided to aim for more realistic take, most likely after seeing the success both Virtua Fighter and Tekken.
The developers knew what they had in their hands and what they aimed for. The whole sexiness thing in Dead or Alive is as intended and is meant to attract the customers’ eyes. It is then incredibly stupid to see tournament people banning people for using costumes that are made to give the characters more attractiveness. Sure, after some complaining, the tourney people changed the outright ban to soft ban, which essentially is just a recommendation to not use said costume set.
The stance was first Think of the children! to which I ask Who the fuck buys their kids a game with boobies on cover and 16+ label on the cover? Then again, if you are able to raise your kids well enough and teach them about human bodies well enough, they won’t be growing into some sort of women hating bastards. Seems like this later turned into Think of the women! to which I can only say Women laugh at this. There is a difference between fiction and reality, and making one seems to become harder and harder to people nowadays. Hell, the only women who actually have commented on the tits are the ones with flatter chests while the more endowed ones have simply made comparisons between their bust sizes for laughs. Next one, the one we have now, is We must look more professional, to which we can all say You’re playing a fighting game with female ninjas with their tits bouncing everywhere with assess bare. If you want to look professional, don’t be an idiot and force incredibly stupid limitations on goddamn visuals. You won’t seeing people taking your more seriously if you begin to enforce your own made up shit because of some agenda. Actually, from the general view we can say that these people need to grow up and stop caring what other people think of their hobby and start enjoying it to the fullest. If they’re embarrassed by the costumes or how people giggle at the bouncing tits while they play the games, there’s a huge problem in their self-esteem and no bans can help in that.
If somebody feels offended by stuff on the screen, they have every single right to fuck off and enjoy something better. They clearly are not the target audience and they are completely free, once again, to vote with their wallets.
These handful of people who seem to rule on the tournaments that are not affiliated with the license owning company or have anything to do with the development team want their titty ninja fighting game taken seriously. You don’t show your distaste for sex appeal by limiting it from the userbase, you do it by voting with your wallet and making your voice clear by means that may effect the product rather than its userbase. These people do not reflect on the views of the whole community or the userbase the Dead or Alive franchise has. Even Team Ninja came in and said that they won’t remove the design elements that have existed in the franchise from day one.
Y’know, we’re a bit early but this entry has turned more into Another take on customers in that some customers we see bunch of people ruining other people’s fun.
I can understand people writing to providers, I can get behind it. I can get behind the idea of doing your own thing to make a stance. What I will never support is to push one’s own view on the larger crowd and prevent them from using or enjoying a product any provider has sold.
What’s even more asinine in this case is that the banned costumes have no rhyme or reason to them. Often than not the default costume may be more revealing and sexy than a banned one. Hell, just take a look at Kasumi’s and Nyo-Tengu’s default costumes.
Then you have ninja body armours banned despite they covering more skin and actually having more logical choices as the costume. imgur has a gallery for some of the banned costumes, and they’re not really anything special. Most of them, if not all, are just standard fare for Japanese costumes, filling the quotas for swimsuits and Santa Costumes. One could make an argument for the bans in that they cater to certain fetish, but in that case the whole damn game should be banned. The whole ban list has something like 120 costumes and then some, and you can see all the costumes in the DoA wikia. Are they in good taste? They in just as good taste as the rest of the game franchise.
Some people say that the whole costume ban has been overblown in proportions. I call this bullshit. It is a prime example of agenda driven people going their way out and limiting the use of full content of a product because it doesn’t fit to their views. When they’re on their own and with their friends, they are free to do whatever they want. When they come across the moment where they dislike the content the providers produce and have delivered, it’s time to stop giving them money and find something else to put money into. Games themselves are not serious business and they should not be taken as one, but games industry is nothing but serious business. It doesn’t help that the community was actually silenced in various sites regarding the whole DoA costume ban debacle, like on Reddit. It’s absurd to think people in charge of tournament scene are this small minded. They are there to serve the core consumers, not govern them.
Both Senran Kagura and Dead or Alive are extreme examples. They both employ character design that is aimed at certain audience and use recognizable shapes to emulate body shapes that people just like. Liking representations of certain body type does not translate to anything negative or positive, it tells something about people’s preference in terms of visuals and nothing else. Even that most likely won’t hold water, as most if not all people have wide variety of preferences across the board. Of course, these 3D objects in games are made to be oogled at. That does never translate into Women are to be oogled at. Y’know, because games aren’t real.
A customer holds power over the provider, but when another customer tries to push control over another customer because of their agenda, views of likings and actually has some level of power to do so, then we have a situation where a person is abusing their power. It’s not about growing a thicker skin, it’s about everybody having the freedom of enjoying their things without anyone taking it away from them. You don’t teach kids to take away toys from other kids and break them just because they don’t like that particular toy or the kid.
You don’t need to agree with what somebody is saying or enjoying, but sure hell you shouldn’t silence them or take their fun away. Illegal issues notwithstanding, of course.
We can discuss whether or not either Senran Kagura or Dead or Alive are in good taste. I would argue that Senran Kagura is definitely not, but that would be as intended and part of its charm. Dead or Alive on the other hand dances on the line, but not really making a definitive jump to either side. Then again, Senran Kagura is making fun of Dead or Alive to a large extent while still delivering similar content with a different paint.
Any and all character designs objectifications at their core. Not sexual or anything like that. While they may represent reality, they are like shadows in that they are not the objects themselves that cast the shadow. If you only look at the shadows, your world view will be twisted. Every character is an object made to make money. Very few things have universal appeal, and they are complemented by all the various niche designs that exist out there. Far too often these objects are seen as something we should be rather than what they are; fantasy. They are something we can be inspired by, or something we even admire, but very rarely something what we should be. Only a fool would think they should become a character either in their looks or nature.
Well, this post went far too long. Have some music to take the taste away.
Of course, there are those timeless characters that inspire us to become the best we could be and to see all the good we have