Indie studio claims to have a technical solution for the problems associated with designing women
The Ubisoft hate train continues. When the studio explained last month that the reason no female characters were included in the multiplayer for Assassin's Creed Unity was the result of budget constraints, it offered no solution. It merely made the excuse.
Indie studio Perhelion Interactive - developers behind the recently funded Kickstarter title The Mandate- has announced that it knows how to fix the problem.
"Making different characters for a game is a non-trivial task, and can cost a lot of production time," he says. "The problem is that, even if you make a new model for the game, there is a lot of extra information to move across as well, for example the skeleton inside the model will now be in the wrong place, and animations may not look right.
"This problem is the same, whether you want to make a female character, or any number of other body changes that are so big that they require non-uniform scaling of limbs. For example the female character below has a different height and the hip and arm bones of the male on the right are offset compared to the male on the left."
"All the skeleton positions, animation adjustment etc are automated and handled on-the-fly by the system behind the scenes as you are playing The Mandate," he says. "Similarly the clothing and various types of armor a character might wear, is only modeled and textured once by an artist. After that, the system takes the model and automatically rigs and morphs it so that it will fit with any body shape."
"One of the problems when adapting animations from one body shape to another body shape is that the limb lengths may have changed due to height differences, and for example during a firing animation we require the hand to be touching the gun. This problem can be solved by Inverse Kinematics (IK) which determines the rotations of a chain of limbs when their end reach the desired position."
With Perhelion's system, developers can quickly and easily make changes to height, gender, ethnicity, body percentages, muscle mass, body weight, age, ear position, angle, and base texture. In other words, it works for much more than just making male characters female - it could make the process of designing new races significantly easier.
So...ultimately, what's the conclusion here?
"Perhaps there are meticulously theorized marketing implications for gender representation in games, tacitly discussed by marketers with twirly moustaches at board meetings," he says. "With 48 percent of all gamers being women according to ESA it seems a little misguided to actively aim to please only half of your potential customer base while alienating the other half. Besides some guys prefer to roll female characters... In any conceivable version of a space-faring future for humankind, there would need to be women..."
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
[Other Gaming News +]
MORE FROM GAMEDYNAMO