Random Musings on Boobplate and Fictional Depictions of Armor and Costuming!

I was digging through some armor illustrations in an attempt to redesign Naomi’s breastplate (my concerns with my own designs are a topic of their own). I had some conflicting thoughts in my head while doing this and thinking about what complaints people might have with some designs I was considering. So this got me thinking about something that’s been annoying me for awhile…

People in general are very good at noticing when something is wrong, but often bad at articulating why. Many arguments about women in armor (or poses) I’ve seen recently hinge on realism. “Boob plate is dumb because it directs sword blows to the sternum” or “Her -blank- is unarmored and would be really easy to attack!” are arguments that come up a lot and I really don’t think they’re ever particularly effective arguments. Male characters are littered with impractical armor, even in the areas of coverage (see every Fire Emblem character ever). The ‘chest plate’ and exposed stomach (in the male case, clothed, but equally unarmored) is among the oldest of anime tropes.

Most fictitious armor is costuming. It is not meant to be practical. It is meant to communicate things about the character. A character with a huge breastplate and pauldrons communicates that he’s armored and invokes other ideas like ‘he’s a knight’ or ‘he’s evil’ or ‘he’s strong’ depending on how it’s designed. Most fictitious armor we see in games and art isn’t even functional even on the ground of articulation. It’s all style. How realistic armor (or weapons, or anything) attempts to be in a piece of media is a function of tone. Costuming is based on aesthetics and communication, not practicality.

Things like Dark Souls, Berserk or Game of Thrones have very functional armor because that’s the vibe they’re going for. Applying the need for realism to all things when arguing feminist topics acts like a ‘get out of jail free’ card for the opposition. When I see this arguments happen they go…

“Well that isn’t realistic! Her armor is totally impractical!”

“Well fictional guys aren’t realistic either!”

“Yeah well they’re not realistic to make them look cool, not to always sexualize them!”

The last point is the key argument. That is the strongest and most valid argument you have. But once you bring it up, you already ‘lost’ part of the argument, which makes it easier for the person you’re trying to educate to blow you off. Unless this is something like the Dark Souls 2 boobplate concept art, don’t over-complicate the argument. The arguments about realism are cruft, cut them and get to the meat of things. Maybe bring them up for fun or as an aside, but don’t leverage on them unless the design conflicts with the tone of the fictional piece you’re discussing.

When you bring up elements of realism into these discussions, I’m forced to ask ‘if it were realistic/justifiable, would it be okay”? You can do a GIS and find plenty of porn with real people that would make for really sexist poses in a piece of media but would be totally realistic. Or what if you can justify something? “Oh her skin hardens on contact with things, so she fights naked”. Obviously this shouldn’t fly. People are right to notice a pattern of ‘unrealistic’ and ‘sexist’, but that’s not because ‘unrealistic’ == ‘sexist’ but because most unrealistic concessions are made to objectify.

You want your arguments to be lean. Cut the cruft and stick to the harsh, unassailable facts.

The Sound and Music for Brave Earth

It’s been awhile since I’ve had at update. To be honest, things are really slow. I’m at a weird point where it’s hard to tell how close to done I am. I’d say I’m half way done, but not that it would require double the time since I announced the game to be finished. I could be finished this year if everything comes together. But anyways, still, updates!

Music and Sound were something that have been very important to me. Video games gave me the first songs I legitimately liked as a kid. It’s also one of those things that most retro games sorta don’t get quite right. Lotta cheating. Cheating is okay — sometimes authenticity that only a few people will notice isn’t worth a herculean effort — but being familiar with famitracker, I knew I wanted things to go the right way.

Finding a Musician

It’s not hard to find decent musicians. I had an open submission at some point and got a load of applicants. Almost all of them were decent, but only a few of them were excellent. Some of the best applicants also didn’t fit my style. I find this really frustrating and had a few people I considered picking, but then I figured I was going about this the wrong way. So I went on youtube and searched “original VRC6” looking for people composing music for the japanese Castlevania 3 soundchip (something I knew I wanted used from the get go. That’s where I found Necrophageon. Impressed with his work and hearing several songs of his I would have used if I were able too, I sent him a message to ask if he’d like to work with me on my project. Like many great artists, he seemed legitimately surprised that anyone thought his work was that good. After so much time angsting about wanting good submissions, all I had to do was headhunt someone.

Anyways, Necro as uploaded a few tracks. I’ll share my favorite of his selection, but there is a whole bunch there.

Also on the music team is SKUltra, who seems to be an up-and-comer int the chiptune scene. He begged and begged and begged while I kept giving him difficult, demanding requests while telling him it was okay to just give up. He’s never finched. I don’t have any finished tracks to share, but he’ll be contributing a portion of the music for the game, probably with a focus more on the game’s cutscenes.

Sound Effects

This was a long term challenge. At first I used SFXR. SFXR is an awesome tool for making old retro noises, but they aren’t -nes- noises, nor are they particularly distinct. So for other sound effects, I would look at actual NES sounds and try and borrow their technique and use it to make new sounds in Famitracker. I made -some- decent sounds, but for the most part, not really. So most of my good sound effects came from asking Necro to give me a hand. Fortunately one day, bitching on twitter about sound effects, one of my twitter followers, Ionustron (who is super talented and makes -twist tie scupltures– which are amazing), said he’d be willing to help. Ionustron’s sound effects are RIDICULOUS. He gets an amazing amount of depth and clarity without resorting to DPCM samples. He also made so many specific sounds that I had to change how I handled a lot of sound effects to fit his work. Different hit sounds for armor, meat and bone enemies, different sounds for walking into, out of and through water. Hard to share those out of context, but here are two cool sounds he’s done that I think stand on their own.

This Gunshot noise has a wonderful crack to it I love.
gunshot.wav

An awesome bird screech.
bird1.wav

So I got a lot of talented people helping to carry me on the sound portion of my game and the game would be far worse without them.

Random E3 Thoughts

I generally don’t cover events but I’ve been talking about stuff enough to share.

X-Box One vs the Playstation 4

To be controversial for a moment, I think, pre-E3, that the X-Box One took too much flack. Most of this was self induced — Microsoft poorly communicated the nature of it’s new platform. You don’t here outrage that you can’t share games on Steam… because that’s what the X-Box One is. It’s an all digital platform. Yeah you can buy games on disc and install them if you REALLY WANT, but I suspect that Microsoft thinks that that’ll go away. If it wasn’t for the multimedia needs of a blu-ray drive for their media center vision, I would predict the the X-Box One would have shipped with NO optical drive. So if you ask your self what the X-Box One does worse than Steam, well… you got the 24 hour check-in (which honestly, as far as annoying DRM goes, is pretty reasonable for most use cases. It does completely fuck some people over though), and… shoving kinect down everyones throat. The rest is either stuff that you’d expect from a digital platform, or nonsense (Like the Kinect movie viewing patent. Every company files ridiculous patents all the time. Also that’d be so easy to fool. Just put a towel over your kinect). I guess a complaint could be “I don’t trust Microsoft to have sales and be as cool as Valve”, which is reasonable, but a different kind of criticism. Atop that it did seem to have some decent compromises (freely share games between up to 10 friends/family members sounded rad as hell). I don’t blame people for freaking out –pushback against any DRM is good and for the most part, Microsoft marketed themselves in ridiculous ways (DIGITAL USED GAMES GUYS OLOLOLOLOLOLOL).

That said, at E3 they offered nothing new and exciting and their price point, while not absurd for a new console (guys, you’re not supposed to buy this shit day one anyways, have some self control and protect your wallets), god extremely undercut by the PS4. This is actually the exact opposite of the situaiton I expected. I expected a situation where most people would be choosing between the more expensive, less evil option of the PS4, vs the cheaper, but perceived-to-be-shadier option of the X-Box One. This is also probably why the X-Box One didn’t have DVR capabilities — price was clearly a concern. The PS4 has most of the digital advantages the X-Box One has, plus a number of other neat, cool stuff like Gaikai and screen sharing and other neat stuff. It will likely be only a hair worse at being a multimedia center (no HDMI passthrough for cable), but few are going to care. So whether the X-Box One’s policies are truly evil or not is, post E3, irrelevant. PS4 has the advantage on pretty much every front including a significant price lead. The X-Box One might be able to recover after the first round of price cuts, but the early game is pretty much set I think.

On a sad ‘no one will care but me’ note, PS+ for multiplayer on the PS4? I’m booing so hard. I mean, I’m sure some people care, but not a lot. This makes me really annoyed, but at the same time I don’t think they should care about. I’m on the part of the curve where I WANT multiplayer when I want it, but don’t use it all that much. So if I go a month without playing a game online (which happens ALL THE TIME), I just flushed 5 dollars down the drain, which might not sound like a lot, but I hate wasting money. I’d basically be the guy subsidizing the cost for all the active users. 50 dollars a year isn’t a lot, but to play Street Fighter online like 6 times in a year and then bitch about lag? … Ugh. I could throw down for a few months to play a Souls game, but then that makes picking it back up less enthralling. Also I don’t want to hear crap about “PS+ gives you free game!” A) They’re not free. I’m paying for them. B) I don’t want to pay for games I don’t want. C) There have been PS3 games on + that I would play. Only problem is that -I already owned all of them-. Also since I don’t care about most of the extra features of the PS4 (though I acknowledge they’re cool), I’m basically paying for p2p matchmaking, which kills me. But oh well, I’m not a typical user and Sony ain’t owe me nothing. It just annoys me because that, plus the support for ps2 to usb adapters was basically the reason I went the PS3 route. Oh well, at least my USB joystick apparently will probably still work?

Oh well, my groaning doesn’t matter, I’m probably not going to pick a new console up for like another 3 years or something and while the PS4 is still my preferred choice, who knows what will happen in that time?

Metal Gear Solid 5

Metal Gear never felt more well acted. I hate to say it, but I think I’m okay seeing Hayter go. I still sorta feel the best compromise would be to have Hayter for the pre-coma/Ground Zeroes segment, but that might be too jarring. Either way, the game seems emotionally intense. A lot of the themes portrayed seem like something that only work in a situation like this — a situation where we have had years upon years to see the characters evolve. This is where we really get to see how Big Boss was driven to be the character he ended up being. Not much to say outside that the game looks beautiful and the open worldiness seems an extension of what made Metal Gear Solid 3 great. Kojima is one of gaming’s few auteur game makers in the AAA space. I’m sure the gameplay will simply be “Metal Gear, but better as always” and I’m okay with that.

Final Fantasy XV

I’m as shocked as any of you might be that I’m writing about a Final Fantasy, but the game looks to be a very very capable action game with awesome mobility options. I’ve sat around chatting about this for the last two days with Tyler Doak and we both, as action game snobs, think this looks amazing. It really seems to nail everything I’d wanna see in a trailer like this. Great movement, tons of dodging and attack options, dodging big enemies, attacks with various movement properties. That, with a Final Fantasy-ish aesthetic? I dig it. It might not deliver, but nothing I’m seeing is triggering any red flags.

Dark Souls 2

It’s more Dark Souls and I’ll get to play it in a year. Trailer is okay but I don’t think it reveals anything particularly interesting. It just does what it has to do — it looks solid.

Bayonetta 2

Same as the above. Looks like more Bayonetta 1, which is exactly what I’d want. Also looks sharp as hell and I mostly like her new redesign. DAT HAIR omg dat hair. Outfit is pretty cool, I like the white fabric and the ruffles and all that. Her weird mantle/bib thing is weird, but I like the neck part and shoulders. I’ll get used to it. Now I just need a friend to buy a Wii-U so I can steal it from them for a few days.

Titanfall

Those soldier jetpack things almost remind me of Shingeki no Kyojin’s 3d Manuevering Gear, just without the grappling hooks. Also someone needs to make a SnK game.

Smash Bros

I kinda really have always hated Smash so I don’t care that much, but Mega Man looks ADORABLE. What a great character model. Also anyone crying about the Wii Fit Trainer sucks. Her moves look great. I bet you just wished it was another sword guy. You scumbag. You should be ashamed.

Killer Instinct

This game has all the hitsparks. It’s kinda obscene to the point where I should hate it but I end up liking it. I will probably absolutely hate the game (FULL COMBO OFF OF FIREBALL YEAAAAAAH), but it looks like the people who are making it kinda care, so it might be interesting. The legecy of KI requires some obnoxious system stuff, but they seem to be doing a decent job making stuff work to… some degree.

I’m glad it exists, even if I never play it.

I guess that’s it. I guess the new Madkatz TE sticks look great? Shoulder straps, unscrewable capables and quick access to components? Sounds good to me.

edit: X-Box One info revealed by an anonymous developer. Said most of the stuff I’m saying. Again, not saying you should like the X-Box One. It doesn’t seem to be a better deal for the money. But understand what it is so you can have excellent, well thought out opinions about it.