Saturday, 30 August 2014

Sims 4 Creator Demo Review.

Earlier this month, Electronic Arts released the demo version of the Sims 4 character creator to the public. Only catch is that you can only download it through Origin and the latter will keep opening up when you play the demo. The demo is about 1 gigabyte when downloaded.

You start off the character creation process with a random sim, like in all the other Sims series. In this demo, your sims' ages are limited to young adults. You can randomize a sim by clicking on the dice at the bottom center of the screen, and undo or redo changes with the labeled arrows. The tick on the lower right lets you save the household.

Be warned, if you attempt to modify your own sims into someone else and save, the game will think the same "template" is in the library even if you renamed the household. Be sure to save as new if you don't want to lose your old sims.

Personality/age menu. (Click to enlarge.)
In the personality menu above, you can choose the voice, gender, traits, aspiration, and walk style. The hexagon chain contains the aspiration and traits of the sim. The hexagons with gold borders are related to the sim's aspiration.

A sim can only have 3 main traits, and their fourth trait is contained in the miniature hexagon with a gold border. This fourth trait is based on the sim's aspiration, ranging from being popular to a hated criminal, among other things.

The main traits can be chosen from emotional, hobby, lifestyle, and social traits. There are 38 different traits in total, and some of them clash with each other. The demo helpfully informs you which traits clash by graying out the opposite traits, provided you chose such a trait in the first place.

Hera cannot be active, nor ambitious (not pictured) as she is bone-lazy.

Unlike Sims 3, where you could make a mean but good character, Sims 4 doesn't allow you to make such a person, as choosing either trait cancels the other out. Should you want to go back and change the voice/gender/walk style of the sim, click on the plumbob/diamond close to the sim's name.

Lots of walks. Left to right: Feminine, Tough, Bouncy, Default, Snooty walks.
The variety of walks for sims here range from serious to comical parodies of slouches or divas. To change the body shape and clothes of the sim, click on their bodies. Two sliders indicate the muscularity and plumpness of the sim, and both can be extremely high, extremely low, or somewhere in between.

Parts that can be molded will glow when hovered over.
All parts of a sim's body can be molded independently of the muscle and fat sliders. There could be sims with giant hips, sims with large chests and no hips, or sims with any shape one desires. Sims have a large wardrobe, but in Sims 4, you can't make your own custom palette.

Separate menu for the head.
A sim's head is just as malleable as their body, so sims can all have different faces with a bit of effort. Alas, you can't give your sims custom eye or hair colors either. Whether that option will be restored in an expansion pack remains to be seen. At least there's a large variety of hairstyles this time without modding.

If you wish to add a new sim, you can choose "Play with Genetics" or the DNA icon in the lower left of the screen to create a sibling/twin of the sim. A twin will look more alike than a sibling will. Choosing the other option makes a completely new sim.

I found the almost text-less user interface a bit difficult to get used to, after the labeled interfaces of the other games. However, there are tooltips that will appear when your mouse cursor hovers over a choice in the menu, and the simple logos made it less confusing.

The ability to mold your sims' body led to some funny shapes for my sims. Someone who makes extremely disproportionate characters would like this.

I hope the full game is worth playing, but that will have to wait until September 2nd or shortly after.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Mekageddon concepts.

A bit of a teaser for my fan-game, which, to be honest, I won't be able to work on so soon. It will most likely be an animated web series or illustrated web-novel instead.

Atroxia Lion, the "cruel." Click to enlarge.
The idea behind Mekageddon is that Demolicious and my original characters (Lion Twins and Herakaris) decide to retrieve Pandora's Heart, which was stolen by Luigi daVinci and hidden in the villains' base.

Since Artix Entertainment never bothered to update the original HeroSmash to continue where the Park War left off, Mekageddon will be its continuation.

The flat, unshaded items are further sketches that show Atroxia's items in detail:
Blue bag: Ingredients for potions.
Test tube: Poison or healing salve, depending on situation.
Chest belt: Storage.
Knife: Self-defense weapon.

Monday, 18 August 2014

No update this week.

Main reason is because I was attending my own graduation. Schedule will resume as normal next week.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Winners Expose Everything, Losers Cover Up.

Note: Links without pictures may not be safe for work (NSFW). I am not a Muslim, nor Christian. Religion won't be the main focus of this post. I am simply offering alternative design suggestions beyond the bikini-or-burqa dilemma.

One look at most advertisements for popular video games, films, and other forms of pop culture that pictures women reveals several things:
1) Women are usually posed to show their assets.
2) The content is often second nature to the fanservice.
3) The fanservice sometimes does not match the situation.

Remember Evony? It's an extreme case that happens to hit all three points in its advertising, although it didn't actually show women in lingerie ingame.

Dead or Alive or Scarlet Blade is a better example of fanservice to the max in the games proper. Mostly string bikinis or other borderline clothes, and if it's a fantasy-themed game, there's going to be a metallic bikini or two. Maybe even three? Why not one for every lass, regardless of what she might think if she were real?

The other side of the scale is not much better, as most artists tend to go overboard in trying to avoid controversy by only drawing burqas or long shapeless robes.

A pervert's worst fear on the right.
Right: Fanboys' retort to reasonable armours.

Considering that fanservice sells, however, it is more likely that the artists using robes are merely mocking critics in a tasteless manner. That, my friends, is a fallacy. Clothes are not just stringy bikinis or shapeless burqas, unlike the statement "You're either with us, or with them!"

In the case of clothes, there is a wide variety of designs that can cover up and still look good. Only problem is that most artists only know how to draw the very extremes, forgetting about the times when they have to tone it down a little.

A different style of long robes.
Robes/hijab aren't drab and same. (Source)

Then again, there is a game where all the main characters except one wear full nun habits. That's beside the point.

Again, modesty is not dull/drab/loserish/etc. (Source)

To drive the point of modest clothes being more than burqa, here are some examples of characters outside Disney or Pixar who wear clothes that clearly show who they are without being skimpy or shapeless. Some spoilers in the links.

Batgirl Redux.
This DC character wears a jumpsuit that is tailored to her body, and it is appropriate for the story that she appears in. It's not excessively form fitting, but enough for the reader to notice that she's a she, and the suit has a colorful bat motif.

Faith, Mirror's Edge.
A lean athlete who runs and jumps across her home city in her career as a courier. Her clothes bare her arms, head, and neck, but not much more than that. Her outfit is that of a sportswoman's, or an everyday person. She is also very lean and tough-looking due to being a criminal of sorts.

Saber, Fate/Stay Night.
The idea behind her is King Arthur as a woman. Long story. She wears a cross between a medieval court dress and heavy armour. Her main form isn't revealing, but her Red form is a different matter altogether.

Jade, Beyond Good and Evil.
A photo-journalist who ends up having to save the world from an alien scourge. Her outfit design is basic, but distinguished by its recurring motif of green, as befitting the name Jade.

While she wears a crop top that exposes part of her stomach, the flesh-baring effect is minimized by the rest of her outfit, which covers almost everywhere else. Like Faith, Jade has a lean build.

Jade was designed to be a realistic character with her own goals rather than mere fanservice.

Dovahkiin, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.
Should you choose to play as a woman and not install too many game modifications that change appearances, the default female armours of Skyrim aren't too bad. That is, compared to the multitude of iron/steel lingerie out there in other game.

Fortunately, there are some Skyrim mods that don't turn the Dovahkiin into another generic fantasy model. It takes a bit more effort to find those compared to the club-wear looks.

In short, you don't have to be Muslim, Victorian, or a prudish loser to want the choice of not so revealing clothes. It is my hope that more game designers learn to let their game women wear clothes that don't shoehorn them into being walking sex icons, especially in medieval/fantasy-themed games.


P. S. Don't take titles too seriously here.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Art Filler.

Because I have nothing particularly sardonic or serious to say this week, have a look at a portrait I made recently. Herakaris, a character of mine, is pulling a pose made famous by Rita Hayworth. Should be easy enough to find the original.

Herakaris, looking like Rita.

Click here for a larger version.