bit-gamer.net

Ex-Assassin’s Creed animator slams Ubisoft's female character excuses

Ex-Assassin’s Creed animator slams Ubisoft's female character excuses

Assassin's Creed Unity is set in revolutionary Paris and will feature a four-player co-op mode.

Animation work on a female assassin model for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity would take ’a day or two’s work’ according to former series animation director Jonathan Cooper.

Over Twitter, Cooper responded to comments from Ubisoft that playable female assassins were not included in the game, set in a sprawling open-world explorable Paris, because of resource and production issues.

He stated that it would not require the replacement of an estimated 8,000 animations that Ubisoft is suggesting and that it would instead be as simple as creating a female animation skeleton and replacing key animations.

Following Ubisoft’s press conference featuring Assassin’s Creed Unity, talking to Polygon the publisher argued that female assassins would require twice as many animations, voices and visual assets, a strain that is exasperated by the assassins being customisable.

By contrast, the solution that Cooper outlines would involve mapping male animations onto the female character and replacing animations such as walks and runs. This was the method that was used in Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation which featured a female main character and borrowed a lot of the animations from Assassin’s Creed 3’s male protagonist.

Cooper, currently at Naughty Dog, was previously animation director for Assassin’s Creed 3 and prior to that had worked as the lead animator for titles including Mass Effect 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Ubisoft revealed more details for the next entry in the Assassin’s Creed series during its E3 press conference earlier this week, most notably that it would feature four-player co-op mode with customisable assassins. The studio has received a lot of criticism following the reveal for its decision to exclude female playable characters.

12 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
AcidJiles 12th June 2014, 14:16 Quote
I don't think Ubisoft wanted to do such a rushed job with that. I know some people were not happy with the animations in Liberation as they were male rather than female animations and from this and other reports it sounds like Ubisoft decided they wanted quality animations and only had time for one sex rather than both. I think it would have been better to have both sexes available but I don't think this is as easy or clear cut as it seems.
Guinevere 12th June 2014, 16:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AcidJiles
I don't think this is as easy or clear cut as it seems.

It is easy and it is clear cut. But it all comes down to money...

Most AC purchases and players are going to be male and someone run the numbers and decided they weren't likely to sell sufficiently more titles by doubling up on the assets. I don't mind games having male protagonists, and the balance is never going to be equal. Tomb Raider is a class game with a strong female lead and Alien Isolation is also looking to be a nice game. That's two.

Also Jonathan Cooper is quite frankly talking out of his backside if he thinks it's only two days work to add a few new animations.

Design. Mo-cap. Clean-up. Integration. Testing... and that's not touching on the bits other than animation such as modelling, texturing, customising, UI options, script changes, dialogue changes, voice acting, marketing.

Maybe what he meant was 'a day or two for the full team of 300 assuming they were all available at exactly the right time. So that's two days for the designers. Two days for the mo-cap engineers. Two days for the mo-cap clean team. Two days for integration. Two days for testing team 1. Two days for testing team 2. Two days for testing team 3....
edzieba 12th June 2014, 19:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Most AC purchases and players are going to be male
I've never understood the weird belief larger studios have that the majority gaming population - even the dudebro sect that CODBLOPS et al target - have some sort of weird cootie aversion to playing as female characters.
Quote:
Design. Mo-cap. Clean-up. Integration. Testing... and that's not touching on the bits other than animation such as modelling, texturing, customising, UI options, script changes, dialogue changes, voice acting, marketing.
MoCap - done already for the 'male' skeleton. The female skeleton has the same number of bones (unless you want to precisely capture boob bounce or something) so you can map that fairly directly. Model and texture - the female NPCs are already there. You might need to model a slightly slimmer arm for the high-detail FPV, I guess? Cleanup and testing of the animation system are already covered under the male model, so you're left with validation testing that nobody screwed up associating the propertied applying to bone m12 with f12.

Dialogue is an issue if at no point in the process did anyone go "hey, let's do an extra take with the pronouns swapped" during recording, requiring minor ADR (eased because lipsync is scripted anyway).
Alsomething 12th June 2014, 23:12 Quote
I don't think he was saying take him two days work or just his team, but the team as a whole (ish).

Put into context if the studio has spent say 1000 days making and producing the game (about 3 years) then adding another two days is nothing. Plus in real context it wouldn't be the whole team involved anyway.
Guinevere 12th June 2014, 23:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by edzieba
MoCap - done already for the 'male' skeleton. <snip>

Yeah, if you want your female lead swaggering around like a dude. I think re-skinning the male skeleton with female curves isn't going to add much to immersion and believability.

Putting a strong female character into a historic setting is going to demand a reason and script changes to make sense. And 'sexy female assassin' mapped to a stunt-man's walk isn't going to look too good.

Unless you're going down the line of 'She's pretending she's a man to be accepted in a man's world' route... then you'd get away with that typical AC swagger.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud games with decent female leads. I prefer playing a strong female character than a strong male character, but just throwing in female assets as an afterthought isn't the way to do it.

If the story can support a female lead as easily as a male, then sure build in the option. And if it can't support a female lead then look at changing it so it can (if it's appropriate).
thom804 13th June 2014, 07:46 Quote
Ho ho ho.
Mapping male movements to a female model? Because that wouldn't cause an outcry of equal amounts of disgust at all, would it?
BLC 13th June 2014, 08:32 Quote
I must be one of the few people who doesn’t give a rat’s a** that there’s no female lead in the new AC game. 

Is there a compelling game play or storyline reason to have a female lead character? Would having a female lead character actually add anything to the experience, other than a pair of nicely rendered boobs jiggling about? If the answer to those questions is yes then I agree that it was outrageous for them not to include a female lead. Otherwise who gives a crap? If it doesn’t add anything to the game then is there really a problem? To be honest the chances are that if there was a good reason to have a female lead character then they would have included a female lead character.

Diversity for the sake of it is ultimately more detrimental than sexism or misogyny. I do agree that there aren’t enough games featuring a female protagonist (or supporting character) who isn’t just there to be ogled at, but it would be disingenuous to say that this is reflective of all modern games. 

Great games that are fun to play will stand out because they’re great games that are fun to play; it doesn’t matter whether the reproductive organs of the characters or players are on the inside or not.

And I highly doubt that it would have been as simple a job as this guy is suggesting.
Shirty 13th June 2014, 08:53 Quote
I think the next protagonist should be a black Jewish lesbian midget quadruple amputee. With horns.

That would work well :)
G0UDG 13th June 2014, 08:56 Quote
Ha Ha that made me fall of my chair Laughing have to say I like assassins creed damn good game, I also agree there aren't anywhere near enough games with female protagonists. Also as long as the character has a good role in the game she doesn't have to be Marilyn Monroe it is a game after all.
Beasteh 13th June 2014, 14:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Yeah, if you want your female lead swaggering around like a dude. I think re-skinning the male skeleton with female curves isn't going to add much to immersion and believability.

Putting a strong female character into a historic setting is going to demand a reason and script changes to make sense. And 'sexy female assassin' mapped to a stunt-man's walk isn't going to look too good.

Unless you're going down the line of 'She's pretending she's a man to be accepted in a man's world' route... then you'd get away with that typical AC swagger.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud games with decent female leads. I prefer playing a strong female character than a strong male character, but just throwing in female assets as an afterthought isn't the way to do it.

If the story can support a female lead as easily as a male, then sure build in the option. And if it can't support a female lead then look at changing it so it can (if it's appropriate).

Funnily enough, the French Revolution saw a notable assassin who happened to be a woman - Charlotte Corday.

Agreed on the point that developers need to make the option to play as woman more than just an afterthought.

On the other hand, femShep wasn't really intended to be the lead on Mass Effect, and look what we got: a total badass that saves the galaxy. Her "afterthought" status means she compares much better to the "intentionally" feminine characters like Miranda, the Australian supermodel and occasional Cerberus agent.

Then again, Mass Effect was also known for having male mo-cap re-used on femShep, which led to some amusing poses. Though you'd never say it to her face...
azazel1024 13th June 2014, 14:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Quote:
Originally Posted by edzieba
MoCap - done already for the 'male' skeleton. <snip>

Yeah, if you want your female lead swaggering around like a dude. I think re-skinning the male skeleton with female curves isn't going to add much to immersion and believability.

Putting a strong female character into a historic setting is going to demand a reason and script changes to make sense. And 'sexy female assassin' mapped to a stunt-man's walk isn't going to look too good.

Unless you're going down the line of 'She's pretending she's a man to be accepted in a man's world' route... then you'd get away with that typical AC swagger.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud games with decent female leads. I prefer playing a strong female character than a strong male character, but just throwing in female assets as an afterthought isn't the way to do it.

If the story can support a female lead as easily as a male, then sure build in the option. And if it can't support a female lead then look at changing it so it can (if it's appropriate).

I couldn't agree more. It would be nice to see the industry embracing female main characters more and/or giving the option of both. I think in a lot of ways, many stories wouldn't take too much tweaking to let you pick what gender lead character you want. In some cases it would take writing the story from the begining to allow both, but I really don't think in most cases it would take significant amount of resources compared to the overall budget of a game.

Now changing up right near the end of production probably would cause some big delays and costs if you wanted it to be BELIEVABLE AND GOOD...but maybe we could stop being so dang mysoganistic and start planning both from the begining.
schmidtbag 13th June 2014, 16:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by edzieba
I've never understood the weird belief larger studios have that the majority gaming population - even the dudebro sect that CODBLOPS et al target - have some sort of weird cootie aversion to playing as female characters.
I know what you mean but I don't think it's quite as simple as that. People like playing something that resembles them most - they feel the most immersed in a game when they play a character the same way they would if they were in the game's world.

For me, personally, except for in-depth RPGs (because I like emulating myself in them), I prefer playing as a female character - especially if it's 3rd person view. You get something better to look at, female bodies tend to be smaller (and therefore you get a larger FOV), and for some games its interesting to see how NPCs act. If you don't use a mic, it also makes things much more interesting when playing online, yet at the same time sometimes depressing when you realize how sexist people are.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums