Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Christmas IV [more videogame blogging] & some Christians

So in a new MMO, Age of Conan, female characters are up to 35% less effective than male ones, and this is not mentioned anywhere in the character development process. Why?

Short answer: the game designers did not intend this, it's not like they're misogynists or anything like that - they just decided that there would be attack animations and you could only select a new attack once an animation had finished. Then they allowed the misogynist animators to get obsessed with lengthy boobie shots, thus making the female characters exist to be looked at while the male characters got on with shredding things. For some mysterious reason that we couldn't possibly guess at, the designers did not seek to fix the problem until gamers started complaining.

Long answer:
Let me begin with saying “yes, we here at Funcom agree with you; this is an unacceptable bug”. We never intended for any character to be stronger/weaker than another based on its gender, and we have been working on making the necessary adjustments to correct this issue for quite some time already.

Now, in our game, we have two primary sources of damage; ‘normal’ damage, commonly referred to as “white damage”, and ‘combo’ damage. Making the white damage equal for both Male and Female characters is, in this context, a fairly simple task and something we’ve already done and which should already have been patched out to Live.

For future reference, when I say that it was a fairly simple task to fix it, we’re still talking about modifying, either through actually having an animator work on the animation resource itself or by having a BCC designer adjust the speed-scaling of said animation resource, of more than 150 unique animations. In addition, these animations are fairly “simple”; by which I mean that they are your ordinary attacks and don’t contain any flourishes, sequential blows or other “complicated” stuff.

However, if we move onto ‘combo’ damage, which is what is causing the notable part of this issue, there are suddenly several factors that come into play when determining the final damage. I won’t be wasting too much time in this update to go into detail about every factor, but to quickly list a few they would be stat/modifier/multiplier (which in turn depends on class, level and weapon equipped), length of animation and, although irrelevant to this exact issue any longer, amount of steps in a combo sequence.

The main reason for the discrepancy in damage output that you’re seeing is that the length of an animation isn’t equal for both Male and Female characters in many cases. This is what we’re currently fixing, but there’s roughly 800 to 1000 animations in total that are involved here, and that they are significantly more “complex” than the ‘white damage’ animations mentioned above this naturally takes a lot more time.

Short version of long answer: boobies. FFS.

h/t Dee.

One thought I didn't add to my last gaming post - I'm playing a female PC in the NWN2 xpac, and (because of plotty plot things) this causes the Red Woman, and later Safiya, to allude to Delicious Genderqueer Subtext With Lesbian Overtones. (Um, I guess you can only fathom this bit of my rant if you've played the game, sry).

My first thought: there is no way, from the moment they'd thought up the game's background, that Akachi was going to be anything other than male, or the Red Woman anything other than female. It's only the female PC, if you have one, who is framed as perhaps being genderqueer. I cannot believe that a game plot would ever make a nod to a story's queer subtext if you chose to take a male PC, while not possessing this subtext if you choose a female PC. I think the same root sexism - the fear of women - explains why Akachi (male) in the xpac is framed as having far more to do with you than Gith (female) in the base game is.

(That's when they even refer to Gith as being female, which is about twice ever in all three of the videogames I've played that allude to her. Gith is an icon, and her various legacies have remained among the brightest plotspots in the AD&D canon since her invention in 1981; none of the 3ed manuals mention that she is female, and I had no idea myself til I played NWN2 earlier this year. Floored me, that.)

What both these things reveal is something I've known for a long time; videogames are far more conservative than reality. They're also far more conservative than any other form of storytelling. I wonder if conservatism is perhaps proportionate to the cost of entry into a medium; games are huge projects with slim profit margins at best, and each one has the power to destroy a studio. That means that, you know, the basic variety and tolerance you find out in the real world has to be nixed.

Now, Christians! Anglican ones. Who have decided that yes there will be women bishops, and no they won't be mollycoddling anyone who thinks this is a bad idea. For, mm, a reason I can't possibly fathom, not all Christians are happy about this. Libellum, LJ, qwp:

What I'm currently furious about is a quote further down the article from the Bishop of Fulham, the Right Reverend John Broadhurst, saying that the decision will cause a schism in the church because "I think a lot of us have made it quite clear if there isn't proper provision for us to live in dignity, inevitably we're driven out. It's not a case of walking away."

So allowing women equality makes it impossible for men to "live in dignity"? This is the problem. This. Right here.

For shame, Right Reverend John Broadhurst, you possessive, petty, overprivileged misogynist waste of space. As I understand it, Christ taught that all you need to live in dignity is humility and love. People like you make me glad I left the Anglican communion. A decision, by the way, which I am happy to accept personal responsibility for, unlike your craven whinging about being "driven out" as if you had no will or voice of your own. You have more status and power than most people in this country. You have no damn idea what it's like to not be able to live in dignity. Being driven out, not living in dignity - that's what happens to refugees. What you're having is a tantrum, and I'm disappointed in the BBC for bothering to print it.

And that's not all! Combatqueer brings more:

I know, I know, it seems impossible, but somehow the Vatican has become upset over something that isn't any of its business. [...]

As my Congregationalist grandma once told me, a church fight is like a divorce between five hundred people. Ugly.

Combatqueer is also wondering why the Vatican's opinion is newsworthy. Go read!

No comments: