I’m a real big supporter of anonymity. I don’t like the idea of fear being a reason for someone to not speak the truth. It’s also an unfair standard. An ex-muslim can’t be public about being an atheist under his real name without risking his life, while I, a white privileged male of roman catholic upbringing can profess it safely. Our Muslim friend is worried about his life. I’m worried bout if one of my Grandmas will cry. It is a privilege for me to be able to safely identify my self publicly. As such, I have a lot of sympathy for my friends who are way less comfortable with their identity. I wanna be able to socially network with them! But then Eric Schmidt said Google+ was designed primarily as a “Identity Service”. What the hell! What does any non-celebrity need an Identity Service for? On the other hand, how would Google benefit from an identity service? A lot of ways. I was also initially miffed that I couldn’t use the name “Michael ‘Kayin’ O’Reilly”. It’s my facebook name (No, don’t bother adding me, it’s fo’ private. I’m @kayinnasaki on twitter if you want to interact with me). A lot of people don’t know my name is “Michael O’Reilly” and these people are still my friends. On facebook I try and make things easy on people (don’t help that my dad is also Michael O’Reilly and we’re both fat, bearded, balding men with similar faces). So I said “Fuck it”. I don’t use this service a lot, I’m just going to delete it. I figure if the services policies are offensive to me, and if I’m not using it, I shouldn’t support it. No “fight the power” here. If Google+ becomes the be all and end all of social networking, I’d go back out of necessity, but until then? I have no reason to support the damn thing. When I deleted it, Google asked me why. I doubt it’ll be read, just scanned for keywords…. so I decided to post my letter here so my time wouldn’t be wasted.
You’re naming rules. Pure and simple. No normal human needs an “identity service”. If thats what your service actually is, then it is a service for you, google, and not for the users.
I’m generally free with my information, but I can’t use the same information that I use everywhere, from from facebook to my wikipedia entry ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_wanna_be_the_guy )? It all says the same thing —
MICHAEL “KAYIN” O’REILLY
Sometimes it says “Mike”, but whatever. You guys have no say in how I identify my self and the fact I have to try and prove it to you is insulting. I don’t even have much to protect. I want to share MORE of my identity. If I could actively display the “Nickname” Field, maybe we’d have something. While my name is freely available on the internet, most people DO NOT know me by it. These are people I would like to find me, and you’re hurting their efforts.
It goes farther than that — this disgusts me because of other people. None of my friends who have REASONS to hide their identity would be able to use this service. As such, I have an active desire for Google+ to fail. If Google+ becomes to premiere social networking service, they will be left out. As shitty as it is, I’d rather just use facebook with it’s loose identity policies, lest my I be split between two difference services to handle just a small group of friends. How is this a service for me again? I’m not going to give you my personal information unless you give me something meaningful in return.
So what can you do? Get rid of the identity requirement. Even if people have to be second class citizens in an unidentified state, LET THEM DO IT, because I want to be able to interact with them. If I can’t, then your service is inferior to any other service I use right now. Also let me display my name the way I want to the people who want to see it that way and let me do the opposite. I know many people by their handles and not their real name, If I could see everyone’s nickname in their name field, I’d actually have less of a hard time identifying them.
This highly disappoints me, because facebook has it’s own problems, and google+ seemed like a decent twitter alternative, where I could actually SAY a lot more.
One thing I’ve always done as an artist is keep a pretty good archive of my old work. Even though there is plenty of stuff that still isn’t scanned (back in my ‘paper’ days), the majority of relevant art is and it’s always fun for me to comb through it and really look at my improvement. I don’t particularly think of my self as a particularly good illustrator, but over time, despite my rather dodgy drawing regiment (I manage a drawing every few months it seems) , I’ve seemed to have improved. This, added with the fact that I keep characters around means that I have a pretty long lineage of drawings of particular characters, some of them over 10 years old! So lets look back at my old art and laugh a bit, shall we? I’ll also be talking about the development of their actual characters.
Kayin started as a player surrogate mostly. The first drawing — drawn during the days of dialup and AOL, is probably the oldest drawing I have of a character who is still around. It’s basically a self portrait of me in highschool. Same haircut, same clothing and a sword (though Kayin’s was at least sharp). He had all of my opinions and interests and was only different in that he was better than me. Surprisingly the first picture of him will not be the worst thing I show today. The picture communicates surprisingly well for it’s age.
Sometime near or approaching 2000, I started working in Gimp. Kayin also started becoming more of a character. Kayin, already a small swordman, drew some inspiration, admittingly, from Kenshin to round out his personality. A small, quirky Japanese swordsmen. Fortunately even then, personality wise, he didn’t draw too much from Kenshin. Kayin was more like a strange uncle who enjoyed fucking with people in friendly and comical ways. The second picture was the first representation of him in that style and also the first digitally colored piece I did. The background came from a friend whom was using bryce. I used 3d backgrounds for quite awhile after that, though I mostly made them my self.
Kayin hasn’t changed terribly much since then, but my ability to present him improved. He bacame slightly more westernized — basically having a history similar to Ramírez’s from Highlander, but due to the ethnic ambiguity of anime inspired art, it never particularly mattered. The second to last picture of Kayin shows a little variety in what he might wear and the last picture is meant to be Kayin during his time in Japan. This series of pictures represents roughly 15 years of slow improvement, with the latest having done within the last year. It’s also the only picture of Kayin I’ve done while possessing a tablet laptop, which represents a large change in my line quality when it came to digital ink.
Cassara is probably the character on here who will have changed the most. She possibly also has the most pictures drawn of her — I had to skip more pictures of her than any other character.
The first Cassara picture has it’s genesis sometime before Kayin’s second picture. There are older pictures of a “proto Cassara” but I sadly don’t have them on hand. Either way this the first picture where she is somewhat identifiable. She has her scar (though the side switches soon after), long hair, trenchcoat, t-shirt and jeans. It’s (and the one following it) are also probably the worst pictures I have! God, everything is so super distorted and wrong. She also has a katana. In fact she used to dual wield katanas and be a fast, speedy character, like every other female character ever. Personality and style wise, she was meant to contrast with the voluptuous babes that were populating the AOL chatrooms at the time, but she was far from her current form, basically just being a cranky punk bitch.
The second picture is also cringe worthy. The sarashi is kinda cool, but the Sephiroth armor kind of hurts. Cassara became progressively more of a brawler and had, for special occasions, a giant sword that she could summon up from the earth to deal with larger enemies. The next two pictures came into existence sometime in the early 2000s and sort of remained the ‘standard’ pictures for Cassara for far too long. For their time they were some of my better work. The one with the green trenchcoat still communicates quite well I think. Obviously it is done by a relatively young illustrator. Both were hand inked — rather sloppily. After that I began inking with my mouse, which lead to the more blocky style that lasted for a good 6-8 years. The fire punch picture also began changing the direction of Cassara and is what began to solidify her character. Cassara became more fiery, vicious and filled with rage. Her style also began to normalize to a degree. While I would still draw her occasionally in more elaborate outfits, the black coat, red undershirt and glasses became the typical look.
Around 2005 or 2006, my good friend Katie drew a piece of art for me that solidified her design. Katie did away with Cassara’s disgusting, inconsistently drawn mop of hair and introduced elements that would occasionally reappear such as the turtle neck and duel seamed shirt. More importantly, Katie brought more dignity to Cassara and her style. While I still had issues copying that style, it influenced how Cassara was played. Cassara7 was the first attempt to copy it and didn’t go over too well. Between that and Cassara8, there are numerous other attempts, each with various levels of success. Cassara8 was a picture I was very happy with at the time. I was using my tablet laptop at the time so I had nice lines and I managed to have fun making my own fire effects… but there was something I always struggled with and that was Cassara’s body type. She was always supposed to be muscular, but that is a hard thing to do with a female form. Cassara 8 was too voluptuous and… boobly. Other older attempts just turned out feeling gross.
Cassara9 eventually hit it. Cassara had her dignified look, and under her clothing, a lean but powerful body type.. I also began drawing lips a bit more prominently, which helped try and add what I think is a bit more character to her face. The slender body type also captures her height better, as she’s supposed to be somewhere around 6’2.
I ended up not totally discarding the sloppy haired Cassara. Instead, I decided that the separate characterizations represented Cassara at different ages. I figure she’d clean her self up as time went on.
Oh, adorable Makoto. While I always had to fight the instinct to not draw Cassara voluptuously, I ended up totally embracing it over time.
Makoto started as a throwaway character for a homebrew PnP game a friend was running. Most of her character there at the time — Japanese/German, emotional wreck, murdered father, deadbeat mother, sword smith and sword fighting prodigy, total nerd. Her appearance only somewhat changed over time. Mostly in proportion, but also slowly in her hair style. The primary change was her hair. Her parted hair slowly merged between the first 4 pictures into a hime cut… Not for any weeabooish reasons, I just really liked Uma Truman in Pulp Fiction. Makoto4 was done sometime after 2000 and were probably the best things I drew at the time. By Makoto5, we are in 2006 and Makoto has ditched the headband and has gotten with one of Katie’s characters, Sydney.
Katie at this point influenced my art again. The jokes at the time were A) Makoto has a really big butt (though I have no SFW pictures that illustrate this) and that Makoto has always taped her boobs down and they were really actually pretty big. Now when I meant pretty big, I was thinking somewhat realistically. When I drew her with less clothes I also always drew her chubby. Well, assuming, like with most men, that when I said big boobs, I meant BIG boobs, Katie drew me some amazing gift art. When I mentioned that’s not what I meant to big, she offered to change it, and I did the only sane thing. I said “Absolutely not”.
Boobley Makoto6 was the first little doodle I ever did on my tablet laptop. I immediately had an easier time doing a lot of things I usually found hard. While it was clearly rough, it gave me hope for things to to come. Makoto7 overdid the boob thing a bit too, but captured the look I wanted in her face quite well.
Character wise, Makoto never changed much, outside of an improvement in my ability to show her mental issues. With her increased body size she also got characterized as more out of shape. Since she has a huge katana, the implication is often that she can only fight for a short period of time before becoming horridly winded!
Naomi Vos Cruz
Naomi doesn’t have the legacy of a lot of history like the above three, nor the same amount of art. Sadly I’m also missing her original pencil drawing (I have it in a binder, but have no scanner right now). What I do have, for fun, is Naomi’s PIXEL legacy.
Naomi was originally conceived purely for the purpose of making a Symphony of the Night-esque game. I made her sorta crazy small and also gave her some CRAZY one pixel boob bounce that looked ridiculous.
Eventually I revised this. She still had some boob bounce but the resolution made it more tolerable (barely). She also got her loin cloth and more obviously plate armor.
By the time I really had a chance to consider Tower in the Sky, I realized I should probably totally redo the sprites. Sadly they will probably never be used as they are too labor intensive to make. There is still some boob swayage in her segmented armor. She really should have that more secure and I really shouldn’t have such a horrible boob addiction. Actually part of the reason I worked bigger was to make more more pixels for bouncing armored boobs. Kayin, you are the worst.
When I decided to do Prologue, part of the appeal was NES graphics, which worked out here. The rules of NES sprites are not strictly followed, but she’s in style enough to fit in. Due to being more oldschool Castlevania-ish, her brisk run has been replaced by a slow, purposeful march. Also learned my lesson about low pixel boobs and just left them in place. THEY’RE ARMORED ANYWAYS, GOD WHAT IS MY PROBLEM!
Naomi in her art hasn’t changed much. She’s gotten darker, and has shed some armor compared to some older art. The chainmail midriff went, replaced with more tasteful leather. The above shows about 5 years worth of improvement from the first to the last picture.
Reese’s first picture probably was done sometime in the early 2000s, which is frankly embarrassing. That was a time of rapid improvement though. 2001-2002 is basically the difference between this and Makoto3, as I got used to the digital process and also figured out how to just draw better. It was probably the time where I actually drew the most.
More interestingly is Reese2 and Reese3, both seperated by about 5 years or so, with reese2 predating my tablet laptop. What’s the best about this is that they are basically the same picture in a lot of ways, making them more interesting to compare than a lot of other pictures.
Vayn gets the same treatment, though there are some obvious changes to characterization there, as Vayn has been changed to better suit her personality and come off as less stuffy and, well….. old.
Anyways god damn that’s a lot of pictures and it was fun to go through all of that. It’s probably more interesting for me than for other people, but I had fun doing it. If I find any other examples (or create any more examples by redrawing old characters), I’ll probably post them.
Wow this only took me a few days. I’m the slowest artist in the world, so that makes me happy. Usually I work of something for like a week. Anyways, heres the rundown.
Took a break from game design to make some art. I figured since Vayn was in the game and working, I might as well draw her.
Vayn is a character who came up as a random throw-a-way character for an RP session. She was one of several hired assassins. One of the other players decided not to kill her and she became, on accident, a permanent character of mine, though I feel a little dirty playing her!
Vayn is half-succubus, which is quite burdensome. While she lacks obvious demon markings, she still has the same desire and a poor control over her fear inducing abilities. With her sex drive, it is hard to keep people as ‘just friends’, and with her fear inducing touch, it is extremely difficult for her to even keep a relationship. As such, Vayn tends not to keep friends long and is very lonely. While very friendly, Vayn has a hard time forming deep bonds with people due to her issues.
Vayn just doesn’t suck and feel bad about her self though. She can float and phase through stuff, which is a pretty bad ass skill, especially if you want to bum around the world. Vayn basically lives as a vagrant, stealing and squatting in abandoned houses. Occasionally she takes up assassin work to get some actual money, though she doesn’t really care for killing. This is aided by her being a skilled sorceress, though her greatest strength is still her mobility.
In short, while she can kick some ass, she mostly just bums around, mopping around and being a ho. Usually when I do roleplay her, she has her shit a little bit more together (and actually has a FRIEND), but in the upcoming Brave Earth game, she’s so lonely that she actually makes small talk with the protagonist while being hired to kill her.
So Penny Arcade has brought this to my attention and I feel compelled to comment. Issues like this have been coming up a lot lately. I think this individual article is absolutely awful and I am actually a bit offended over it. A bit — Kim Richards was doing some ridiculous riffing and obviously having a bit of fun in her insulting description of Shepard #5, but the sheer concept of what she is saying still bothers me. Despite HATING the article, I can’t have any real ill thoughts toward Richards — her stakes in feminist arguments are much greater than mine. On the other hand, I feel the need to disagree publicly.
… Slut Shaming? A little bit.
One of the issues I take with this article is the idea of “slut shaming”. A feminist idea is that it is harmful for a woman to be shamed or insulted for being sexual. Being sexual, if one chooses to be, is natural and women should be able to express themselves sexually. So Richards says…
“So it breaks my heart that the mass public have gone for such the wishy washy, Barbie faced personality vacuum that is Shep 5.”
“Commander Shepard deserves better than this. You’re talking about a woman who brought down a teched-up Saren. A woman who survived being brought back to life after being blown out into space. The woman who punched that damn annoying reporter right between her lying eyes. Just look at Shep 5, then back to these words. Now look at Shep 5 again – that is the face of a woman who cares more about her glue-on nails and handbag Chihuahua. She’s not the saviour of the goddamn universe.”
Lets look at all the potential Shepard models. They all have roughly the same face, just a difference in complexion and hair. Are you saying a blonde woman is not capable of doing things things? Are saying that just because she has hair that she can’t be a badass? That seems counter productive. You know what every potential Shepard as in common? Look at that expression. That is an expression that looks dangerous. Any one of the female Shepards look like they can kick my ass. Is her past history and obvious resolve totally destroyed because she decides to wear here hair long? Default Shepard in the original two mass effects had similarly long hair, though black and neatly kept. Is that okay just because her look is more reserved looking?
I call bullcrap on that. Sherpard #5 is my second favorite design. I like most of them in fact (well, actually I don’t like Shepard #4 but whatever. Emo chicks could kick ass too). The short haired military look is definitely more appropriate. I like Shepard #5 for the opposite reason of Richards. There aren’t actually a lot of blonde female central protagonists (Samus? Fighting games have a bunch, but everything else seems to have black or red hair). I don’t even personally like blondes very much. But I look at Shepard #5 and I can feel how she swings.
She swings Renegade.
I liked the Penny Arcade comic for that reason. #5 is acting like a Renegade. I mean, why else would she have hair like that in the military? She clearly doesn’t give a fuck. I also like Shepard #2 (my third favorite). She’s more pragmatic, but the pale skin (like #5) gives those eyes added intensity. Still, I think it’s terrible to imply that a woman can’t have a head of hair and be dangerous. Remember, these characters are all the same, have the same backstory, same armor, same weapons and are only different by their complexion and choice of hair style. So I think Richards implying that her chosen hair style invalidates everything about her is ridiculous and unfair.
Personally though my favorite is #6. Impractical? Very, but you know what, I adore blunt bangs and nothing will ever change my mind. If I was a girl, that’s how I’d cut my hair. In a strange gender squishy way I thusly identify with #6 more. Which leads to the next point!
Well this Shouldn’t be a Beauty Contest! …. Right?
The second tier of arguments don’t center on whether or not a sexy Shepard could kick ass (she most certainly could! If you disagree you are objectively wrong!), but on the whole process Okay so Female Shepard is blonde? Fine, but was the voting process fair? Isn’t it wrong for the default appearance of the female character to be chosen by horny dudes who will make their decisions based on sex appeal? Isn’t that degrading and objectifying?
Well, if the winner was the most buxom and slutty, I’d agree, but considering we’re talking about a head here, I don’t. Even then it wouldn’t be the fault of the voters — it’d be the fault of Bioware for making an option with bigger breasts or sexier armor. You see, there are about 4 reasons a regular player will make a character. Creative folk are less clear cut then this, never mind that. For the majority, there is about 4 ways to do this.
You make someone who you wish you come be (Male Shep), you make someone you would want to sleep with (Fem Shep), you make someone who looks cool (IMMA ROBOT) and you make someone who looks hilarious (I HAVE DOWN SYNDROME).
It is perfectly natural for people to select the sexiest Shepard. We’re men. We’re attracted to women. We want to sleep with them and that’s fine. It is especially fine in the case of Shepard. Shepard’s characterization does not change with her appearance. Due to the androgynous nature of her role, she is still a total badass. The problem with attractive females in games generally has nothing to do with them being attractive, it has with them being vapid. Whats the most offensive example of a female role in a game in the last few years that someone can think of? I’ll give you mine. Samus. She’s in armor most of the time, besides being too tight,m her outfit isn’t insanely revealing and she’s not horribly sexualized. The issue was that her role, writing and characterization was AWFUL. As I’ve mentioned, I know manly women who like Bayonetta, who very much has her characterization based on her sexuality. It can go either way. Sexualized designed are fine as long as they come with proper characterization. In Mass Effect it could be a bit more of an issue — the universe is ‘real’ enough that people will complain about #5’s impractical-in-combat haircut. If she was sexified more it would feel horribly out of place (Midriff revealing armor!). In other games, where disbelief is suspended even more, you have more leeway on these things.
Another argument that bothers me is people saying that if people were voting a Male Shepard, the criteria would be different. I think this is a bad comparison — again, the majority of men wish to sleep with women… But even then, they likely would vote for the one that they’d want to be the most — in a way, still a “Beauty contest”. On the other hand, if, in a female dominated media, you had women voting for a male character, you’d probably STILL see the hottest character win. Women do tend to separate their sex drive from their decisions more, but not so much. I know plenty of women who constantly fawn over various male anime characters. I asked one of my lady friends a question earlier and our conversation went like this…
Me: YOU ARE PLAYING A CUSTOMIZABLE GAME. YOUR AVATAR HAS TO BE A HUMAN MALE. WHAT DO YOU DO Her: MAKE A VERY ATTRACTIVE HUMAN MALE SO I CAN GET THE LADIES. Her: OR OTHER MEN. WHICHEVER.
Yes, I talk to my friends in all caps, wanna fight about it? Another friend would, on the other hand, probably try and make him look like a Robot. But whatever. Either way, we make things we like to look at, whether it is sexual, wish fulfillment or comedy and there is nothing wrong with that. Acting like men should have voted for the most practical looking female Shepard is asking something unrealistic. The important question is whether that’s all Shepard #5 is? A Cute blonde mop of hair? I think not. I think she’ll be punching more reporters and kicking more ass, all without the aid of a belly shirt and mini skirt.