Good reading about professional art direction

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Wussel
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Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Wussel » April 27th, 2018, 1:05 pm

I would consider this a "must read" for anybody doing game art on a professional level.

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octalot
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by octalot » April 27th, 2018, 5:14 pm

Is there any relevance to Wesnoth here? At least for mainline 1.14, the Wesnoth team already seem to have taken this on-board.

I was reminded of this thread when I noticed that the female Mage of Light, who would feature in the trailer, had partially uncovered cleavage. So I looked through the rest of the portraits, and was pleasantly impressed by both the quality and the practicality of units' clothing.

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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Sapient » April 27th, 2018, 6:37 pm

I read it. I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with much of what was said there (not for Wesnoth, but just in general for a lot of gaming ads I see). However, I do feel that the author has a very abrasive style of writing, and you may wish to edit your post to include a Language Warning for that link.
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Pentarctagon » April 27th, 2018, 6:58 pm

Moved, since this is not really specific to Wesnoth.
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Kasdel
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Kasdel » April 27th, 2018, 8:11 pm

octalot wrote:
April 27th, 2018, 5:14 pm
the female Mage of Light, who would feature in the trailer, had partially uncovered cleavage. So I looked through the rest of the portraits, and was pleasantly impressed by both the quality and the practicality of units' clothing.
It won't anymore, but thankfully Wesnoth doesn't have the art direction problems the article mentioned.
The fact that there aren't many female warriors in most factions points to a deep-rooted sexism in Wesnothian societies. The Wesnoth world, taking into account its medieval inspirations, is a sexist one, which of course doesn't mean that the game or its artists are sexist. I wouldn't say the Mage of Light is particularly unrealistic or sexualized to appeal to the male gaze, it's pretty mild, and an outfit design choice related to the world more than anything else. Should the male Mage of Light also dress similarly, then? Yes, in an ideal society without restrictive gender roles and discrimination, but a medieval, stratified, war-centered society where soldiers are all male and women can only be mages isn't an ideal one.
The Merfolk warriors do have some male "fanservice" (in quotation marks since its goal isn't to appeal to the fans) that isn't commonly seen in fantasy. They live in the water, they don't need that many clothes.

If we were to talk about representation in Wesnoth, what I feel is missing are campaigns with female main characters, and/or campaigns that provide a deeper look into Wesnothian society and examine the sexism and traditionalism that is deep-rooted in many of the cultures. Social commentary. A look into the struggles of a woman trying to become a Loyalist soldier and not being accepted, for example. It would make for a nice story. Wesnoth already has some good characters (although not enough) in Li'sar, Nym and the main character of SotA. Many UMC campaigns add a lot of new and interesting stories with women at the helm as well.
An example I can bring up is A Song of Ice and Fire (the books GoT is based on). The show is... questionable, especially in its early seasons, but if you read the books you'll see that the existence of a sexist, women-hating universe doesn't mean we can't have great, complex, well-developed commentary and criticism of that world, as well as characters that live in it and struggle with it - while also triumphing in their own symbolic, meaningful ways.

These points were already debated in a previous thread, so I'm not intending to start a discussion or anything. Just giving my two-cents.

Wussel
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Wussel » April 28th, 2018, 3:52 pm

Sapient wrote:
April 27th, 2018, 6:37 pm
I read it. ... However, I do feel that the author has a very abrasive style of writing, and you may wish to edit your post to include a Language Warning for that link.
I was considering a warning for strong language, but than decided not to take that risk. So go and judge for yourself. The author, Anna Kreider, describes herself as "not a bridge builder". Therefore she writes every word with the intent to get her opinion across. I like that.

However her work has a lot of statistic analyses about poses, roles and general numbers. I am not sure, if we would get out perfectly clean, if we would ask her to judge Wesnoth.

Moreover she does a lot on inclusiveness and minorities. That includes specifically different skin colors and native peoples. So I would invite you to dig a bit deeper into her work.

In example Pathfinder gets hammered for the "Vistanis" which are based on every bad cliche know for "gypsies"; which is of course an insult to all Sinti and Roma (just a hint for the unenlighted).

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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Sapient » April 28th, 2018, 5:49 pm

Wussel wrote:
April 28th, 2018, 3:52 pm
However her work has a lot of statistic analyses about poses, roles and general numbers. I am not sure, if we would get out perfectly clean, if we would ask her to judge Wesnoth.
Ah, so this is the point you were trying to get at by posting that link? We have come to it now.

Wesnoth has visibly gone against some fantasy tropes to push the boundaries of inclusiveness, even making some pretty unpopular choices. Consider UtBS dark skinned elves who aren't from an evil race, Noy's Muslim-inspired faction, Kitty's body-type adjustment for Lisar and her including older women... such as the Mage of Light you didn't like.

No, I don't think it is necessary for a statistical analysis on all the non-chaotic humanoid races to show exactly 50% or less with fair skin. People who think that way are probably not going to be convinced otherwise so all I will say is I don't agree with that way of thinking.

However, many people have said in the past that we would like to see more campaigns with a strong female lead. Preferably (in my opinion) they should be written by women with their own authentic stories to tell, not just a gender-swap of an existing campaign.
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octalot
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by octalot » April 28th, 2018, 6:05 pm

Quick clarification: I was the one who mentioned the Mage of Light, and I think my comment is causing confusion. I've very happy with Wesnoth's art, including the MoL and Merfolk; it was just that it being one of the first portraits in (an old version of) the trailer reminded me of this thread.

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Kasdel
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Kasdel » April 28th, 2018, 7:39 pm

Relevant. A great article on how good representation of women isn't necessarily synonymous with "less bare skin". It's not something you can quantify with stats about poses, roles, and numbers. That would be making a straightforward science out of something that is very nuanced and complex. It should be, at its essence, about rejecting tropes and not doing things just because the market wants them. An expression of artistic and literary uniqueness, deep and well-developed stories, and not fitting characters into molds. That's what good narratives, and by extension, good representation, is about. That includes, yes, rejecting the trope that the standard is straight white men. Just as many other harmful tropes. Pour your heart into what you're creating, and it will show. But if you're making female characters a certain way because people want them to be a certain way, you'll inevitably fall into one of the many pitfalls of sexism.

Wesnoth doesn't have many female characters. But it's not so much about quantity as it is about quality. And the UMC environment, as I said, is ripe for the taking if anyone wants to make a campaign that addresses these sorts of issues in Wesnothian society.

Also, on an unrelated note, the UtBS elves are one of the best and most unique parts of Wesnoth. I love the fact that a relatively standard fantasy world is turned on its head the moment you experience that post-apocalyptic fight for the survival of a group of desert elves, as the result of the decline of a medieval world dependent on magic. That's one thing I hope new players from Steam will fall in love with, that will make them go "wow. This isn't a Tolkien clone after all". To be fair, even without UtBS, Wesnoth would be far from a Tolkien clone, but this is the easiest way for players to realize that.
Last edited by Kasdel on April 28th, 2018, 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by nemaara » April 28th, 2018, 7:50 pm

For the record, there are a good amount of high quality UMC campaigns with female leads and an abundance of strong female characters. After the Storm, A New Order, and the Dragon Trilogy come to mind. If anyone is complaining about a lack of UMC campaigns with a non-stereotypical female protagonist, I would first suggest playing Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm, and if that is still unsatisfactory, then more comments can be made. (In mainline, of course, is a different story).

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Kasdel
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Kasdel » April 28th, 2018, 7:54 pm

nemaara wrote:
April 28th, 2018, 7:50 pm
For the record, there are a good amount of high quality UMC campaigns with female leads and an abundance of strong female characters. After the Storm, A New Order, and the Dragon Trilogy come to mind. If anyone is complaining about a lack of UMC campaigns with a non-stereotypical female protagonist, I would first suggest playing Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm, and if that is still unsatisfactory, then more comments can be made. (In mainline, of course, is a different story).
Yeah, I'm not complaining, just talking about mainline. I've played a bit of all those campaigns except A New Order and enjoyed them all very much.

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nemaara
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by nemaara » April 28th, 2018, 7:57 pm

Hmm, as far as mainline goes, I think SotA is the only one with a female lead? And HttT, TRoW, and UtBS are the others with very prominent female characters. So you could say there's a bit of a lack there. :hmm:

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Kasdel
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Kasdel » April 28th, 2018, 8:03 pm

I think that's it. SotA is great, I loved playing it. I'll have to replay UtBS after the new graphics are all done.
As a side note, I did try to include female characters in the trailer where possible. :)

Wussel
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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by Wussel » May 1st, 2018, 1:30 pm

I just went trough the story of "Northern Rebirth" using Valkier's art.
Spoiler:
The orcs are a little bit cliche savages. It did not help that Valkier made the boss orc a red looking skin. The undead are treated fairly. There are good and bad undeads.

Please note that savages, unlike undeads, have a lobby. Savage is actually the abusive word for natives. So basically some good orcs would be beneficial for that campaign.

The Redskin Orc by Valkier could actually be used for a good character in a reworked version.

The Elvish Princess which gets married at the end seems to be a bit prop like. Maybe somebody could make her more of a person?

There is Sister Thera but Father Morvin. Maybe we should change that in Mother Thera and Brother Morvin? Both are white mages with lots of talking.

Giving it a second thought Aunt and Uncle would be cool too. That would not sound so church like.

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Re: Good reading about professional art direction

Post by shevegen » June 10th, 2018, 2:06 pm

> The fact that there aren't many female warriors in most factions points to a
> deep-rooted sexism in Wesnothian societies

The gender-related aspects (if there is one) most definitely won't apply to
factions where gender isn't (obviously) of much relevance. Trolls and
undead come to mind here. You can reason that trolls may have some
form of gender ... but undead?

One could also try to make art for some zombies to be more gender-agnostic
or "indifferent", meaning less male sprites and more female (or "agnostic")
sprites.

I don't know how that should specifically look like since evidently nobody
really wants to see decaying body parts - but my main point of note here
was mostly related to male/female depiction of undead anyway. And right
now, yup, it's true - it is assumed that all zombies are rather male than
female. Which reminds me of ...

Anyone knows the somewhat old game by now "Warcraft 3"?

The undead have a shop where you can buy a rod of necromancy. Now
you can kill a sheep and the sheep leaves some sheep body behind,
a corpse (logically). Now you use the rod and ... two male skeleton
warriors, full with armour and weapons, emerge from that sheep corpse.

I never understood this. First, why does a sheep give rise to humanoid
warriors? Male warriors? And where is the equipment coming?

Of course the "logical" reply is "it is magic" ... but ... nah. In my feeble
mind, I'd rather want to see logical cause. If you kill a sheep and raise
it, it should emerge as an undead sheep rather than TWO (!) male
skeleton warriors. Same with zombies - if a female was killed, why
does the zombie sprite emerge as a male zombie? Granted, undead
don't quite have a gender, but I am more referring to physical shapes
per se. It just does not make any sense to me that undead are also
physically morphing massively upon being bestowed with undeadedness...

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