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Too much extra work to put women assassins in  Assassin's Creed Unity
Too much extra work to put women assassins in Assassin's Creed Unity
June 11, 2014 | By Mike Rose

June 11, 2014 | By Mike Rose
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"The only logical option, the only option we had, was to cut the female avatar."
- Alex Amancio, creative director at Ubisoft, explains why there are no women assassins in the new Assassin's Creed.

Assassin's Creed Unity was unveiled at E3 this week -- the first co-op installment in the franchise, that allows up to four friends to play through a variety of assassination missions together.

However, upon noticing that all of the available playable assassins were male, Polygon asked Amancio why there were no assassins who are women. The director said that it was down to "the reality of production."

"It's double the animations, it's double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets," he reasoned. "Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work."

And level designer Bruno St. Andre expanded on this train of thought, noting that a different protagonist type would require around 8,000 new animations.

"We started, but we had to drop it," he added. "I cannot speak for the future of the brand, but it was dear to the production team, so you can expect that it will happen eventually in the brand."


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Comments


Andre Fobbe
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I don't usually play female avatars, but I'd rather have half the current assets for my male avatar than having them completely cut from the game.

This attitude with regards to production priorities is one of the major reasons why the industry still receives so much flak and it's embarassing.

Roy Triesscheijn
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It's also a blatant lie. Look at games like Dark Souls. 0 extra models or animations required to support female characters (except for the female character itself then). By having male and females wear the same outfits they also get a bonus 'not sexist' point.

Animations are built using skeletons and I'm pretty sure females have the same skeleton as males. I don't think women move that differently that it warrants 8000 new animations. Especially since Assassins are already light on their feet. Only leaves the voice acting.

So big excuses, not much truth, totally unjustifiable in this modern age where almost half the gamers are female. Of course I'm not saying that every game needs a female protagonist but its just so weird that none of them have one, and then to hear these weak excuses...

Gera Hmurov
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I guess that is why so few games achieve the level of AC animations quality and detail.

BTW does anybody know how many animations one actor can make in a day? I didn't experienced motion capture but even if this number is around 20 and we reduce animations by 8 times from 8000 to 1000 we will need 50 additional days to the development.

Dave Hoskins
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8000 animations? I would have thought IK would be used for a lot of the movement. At least try to automate the process from the male animation, just to see if it can be done.

Roy Triesscheijn
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Don't take just my word for it: http://www.polygon.com/2014/6/11/5800466/assassins-creed-unity-wo
men-animation Jonathan Cooper from Naughty Dog thinks it even less work than I thought. The quality the games he works on is on-par with AC I think. :)

Florian Garcia
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@Roy Triesscheijn And I won't take his word either. Working on the AC series, he should know that ubisoft montreal takes animation very seriously. 2 days work for a complete AC main character that doesn't reuse the previous opus data? Please show me your magic.

Florian Garcia
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@Dave Hoskins It takes 15 minutes to setup. Then you can start capturing. It depends on the complexity of the moves (multiple actors at the same time, collisions can be tricky). You usually capture the same animation 3 times just to be safe. Then it's just a matter of acting and stamina. Expect a pause every hour or so as moves can be a bit tiring.

Andreas Ahlborn
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"It's also a blatant lie. Look at games like Dark Souls"

Poor argument. With no details about the rigging/exturing/animating/mocap procedure in AC I`m with Gera above.

Since AC -if nothing else- Ubisofts AC are clearly the best animated games at launch (besides Rockstar). And Dark Souls Animationysystem is not even in the same league.

Michael Brown
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I have to disagree on the animation part. Smash Bros. Brawl hacking tells me that models are stretched to fit animation skeletons, and female characters should be shorter than male characters in general. They could shrink it, but they probably chose to build them by hand. However, female characters certainly must have been on the "nice to have" list, that's for sure. It does really suck.

Bernie M
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Yeah, but that's a Japanese game where female protagonists can wear proper armor. In western games even full plates have cleavage if it's on female characters lol...

adam anthony
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@ Roy, Women actually do move slightly different from men, if you wanted to be completely anatomically correct. So it would require a whole new animation set if they wanted to be accurate.

Wylie Garvin
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"It's also a blatant lie. Look at games like Dark Souls"


Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion only, not the official position of my employer.

Females don't have the same skeleton as males. We used to do that many years ago, but for various reasons, it doesn't work very well at all. Body proportions are quite different, and due to the way our animation data is stored, the animations really need to be customized for male and female skeletons in order to look good. I once worked as an animation programmer on a previous Assassin's Creed title, so I won't dismiss the team's explanations as quickly as you do. Assassin's Creed contains literally thousands of animations just for combat moves, and on past titles at least, the engine and data formats needed to be heavily optimized to be able to fit all of the needed assets in memory on PS3 and Xbox 360.

Anyway, before you accuse them of a "blatant lie", you might consider the possibility that maybe they really did try, and just had to cut the feature because of the amount of work involved. Game developers always like to "aim high" but the unfortunate reality is that things sometimes have to be cut in order to finish the game.

Robert Marney
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Dark Souls actually has a bunch of separate models and voices for female characters, even separate concept art for them. For instance, the female black sorcerer outfit leaves the forearms exposed, and has lace around the neck instead of a medallion. Unlike your normal RPG, the two genders wear very similar clothing, and almost all the animations are identical, so the effort is less than a game like Assassin's Creed, but they still had to plan for it in advance.

John Maurer
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Wow, this article is a stab. I find it really hard to believe that Ubisoft would cut the female protagonist out of the next AC for some kind of gender spite. My experiences from Bioware games tells me that just by virtue of being a female anything your changing the way things go, and that's how it should be.

Dialogue alone would set development back, much less all the animation, programming, and QA required to integrate it into the game.

I have no doubt we'll see it in the next AC, but this sounds like it was an after thought lacking enough float time to carry it through to production.

Boyer Geoffrey
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@ Roy Triesscheijn: Scroll down a bit, or even check the original twitter conversation. That number is grossly misrepresented

Florian Garcia
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Just wrong. Men and women have a completely different balance, weight, movement and grace. One of the basics lessons in animation school. You won't reuse your male's animations for a decent woman motion. At least for a good part.

Morgane Berthou
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What I don't understand in that perticular case, is that didn't we already had a female assassin in AC2?
So some datas already exists?

Wendelin Reich
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I can see how this decision was made.

"If we're gonna have a playable female character, her butt has to be visible all the time because that is a sacred and deeply meaningful video-game convention. So we need a completely new set of 3D models and clothes.

"Also, her butt has to swing constantly in each and every one of the 8000 animations, which means that we absolutely cannot use animation retargeting. Guys, there is NO WAY that we can afford a female at this AAA quality level. I'm sure our fans prefer to have no playable female at all in this case."

That would explain Amancio's use of the word "logical" ... !

GDI Doujins
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Don't forget breast physics. I think breasts alone take about 4000 animations. Might need to call up Team Ninja to confirm.

Michael G
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Jiggle physics. Please, correct terminology.

Guillermo Aguilera
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no humor here, breast physics is hard to achieve.

Ian Custer
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Has anyone ever attempted penis physics? Serious question. (Not actually a serious question.)

Ron Dippold
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@Ian: This is all obviously NSFW.

Loadout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaKsIeRbwKo
Mount Your Friends: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=151201980

And of course there are Skyrim mods (of course).

Brian M
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Pay enough in Loadout and you can see for yourself! https://www.idlethumbs.net/forums/topic/9180-loadout-am-i-the-only-one-se eing-this-nsfw/

David Paris
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Actually one of our animators set up a very convincing model just by using a hair simulator and the right weights. :)

Boyer Geoffrey
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I wonder how many people that never worked in AAA game development will criticize this decision. A lot of people are oblivious to the time it takes for a whole team to model, texture, animate and integrate assets in a next-gen engine.

But I'm sure someone with no experience on the matter will be quick to correct me on this topic!

David Konkol
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I agree.

The same people crying "sexist" would be the same people who would cry if the game was late or buggy if it was rushed out the door.

Wendelin Reich
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@Boyer: You're ignoring the fact that their decision was just that: a decision. The male avatars were already there, so the degree by which the female avatar should diverge from that was a matter of choice.

The economic baseline (i.e., extremely small additional costs) would have been an extremely masculine character like Brienne of Tarth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brienne_of_Tarth).

Too radical? That's your choice then. The Assassin's creed team made theirs, and decided that only a fully (!, "8000 animations) feminized character would do. Nothing in-between.

So please don't BS us with your talk about the supposed objectivity of economic constraints in AAA dev.

Wendelin Reich
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Furthermore, if the inclusion of a female character would have been anticipated from the START, many off-the-shelf solutions for procedural animation modification (e.g., to feminize/masculinize a walk-cycle) are available.

But this article suggests that it was afterthought anyway.

Boyer Geoffrey
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I won't argue that they could have had a different budget repartition, but they made the other choice. As to why that choice was made ... did you knew that on the people that finished Mass Effect 3, only 18% played as FemShep? And that according to Capcom, the amount of work involved in making games for next-gen consoles is eight to ten times greater than what is required for the current generation of consoles?

BTW did you shipped any AAA games, considering it was the basis of my post?

nicolas mercier
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@Boyer:
There are two things I don't understand:
- why do people who have never worded in AAA development are not allowed to criticize? People who play the game don't care how it's made, and if it's not to their taste they just don't play it. They criticize. They can understand and still criticize. If you go to the restaurant, and they spend some time making a dish, and it's not to your taste, you also get to say so. There's no reason why the restaurant shouldn't know, and that they should keep inflicting a bad dish on their customers. And they won't reply that it took a long time to slowly boil the onion in orange juice or whatever.

- A lot of people who work in AAA industry do know how games are made and they would know that it does not take 8000 new animations to build a female character from the male.
The 8000 animations are probably partial animations blended at runtime. A few changes (let's say 200) and you get a femal character. Maybe 500. But not the whole 8000. If you need to redo 8000 animations for a new character then your animation pipeline is crap, which I can't believe is the problem here.

Where there's a will, there's a way. Ubisoft did not really want this to happen, they put no effort, they just did not care

Boyer Geoffrey
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People are fully-allowed to criticize the end product considering that's what they pay for. But I see some people saying they are liars and turning this budget allocation decision into some sort of "adding women would be very easy therefore they are women-haters" argumentation.

The truth is, no, it wouldn't be easy. It would be very costly since creating anything to AAA standards for next-gen consoles is costly. It's not that creating female characters for AAA is harder. It's that creating characters of any gender for AAA is hard and very time-consuming.

If Ubisoft truly had wanted female assassins they could have done it. I'd have loved to play a female assassin too, especially in coop. They could have planned their budget differently. But they chose not too. Why? I don't know, but that Mass Effect 3 number I reminded earlier is probably part of the answer.

Some of the vocal members of this community are self-labeled "video game enthusiasts" or "indie game journalists" and they have no idea of the amount of work that goes behind the scene of AAA game development and management. Everyone's a critic, as the saying goes, and they are quick to point this issue as a patriarchic hate-machine targeted against women.

nicolas mercier
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you're the only one here mentioning sexism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-fulfilling_prophecy

Boyer Geoffrey
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Am I? That's not the impression I got from reading this whole page of comments! Also, I gave my answer to your question, even if you ignored it.

Wendelin Reich
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@Boyer: The way you position yourself as the arbiter of "AAA quality" does not impress me. AAA refers to things like budget, team-size and ambition. It does not and cannot refer to quality-in-every-domain. Skyrim and Tomb Raider were both undeniably "AAA quality" games, but the AI in Skyrim was as pitiful as the player animations (non-cut-scene) in Tomb Raider.

What people here are saying is that they don't buy Ubisoft's argument of "we had no choice". I haven't really seen you deal with that objection.

Boyer Geoffrey
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I dealt with that objection by stating several times that they could have handled this situation in several other ways. Everything is in my previous posts!

Still no answer on your part though! Have you ever worked on something with the budget, team-size, ambition and management/marketing issues of a AAA-sized game? I don't see why you are so defensive about that question.

nicolas mercier
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It does not matter who says it as long as what they say makes sense.

Boyer Geoffrey
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Glad we agree. So when someone who don't know a single thing about 3D animation production and budget allocation in an AAA-environment calls somebody else a liar, we should take that opinion with a grain of salt considering it may be based on lack of knowledge or information!

Je ne suis pas certain que ce paragraphe ait beaucoup de sens en anglais :)

Wendelin Reich
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@Boyer: you really want to take this the ad-hominem route?

Have shipped AAA: no. Currently working on title with AAA-quality AI and complex, procedural animations: yes.

Let it go, dude.

nicolas mercier
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if what they say does not make sense, you won't need to know who they are to prove them wrong.
if what they say makes sense, even though they don't work on AAA games, maybe AAA game makers are disconnected from reality and have missed the obvious. That has happened before.

Boyer Geoffrey
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@Wendelin: Nah, I don't want to take the ad-hominen route considering I have full respects for your C# tutorials. I've been developing in C# for several years and I love seeing technical articles on Gamasutra.

But please understand that you're the one that started to clash me when I was wondering aloud how many people would speak about this topic without necessarily having all the information required to fully understand it.

@Nicolas: I fully agree with the notion that the AAA game making business has been getting steadily crazier and out-of-touch with the economical and social realities of today.

Now would someone be kind enough to throw me a bone and admit that yes, at least some of my points are valid on their own ? ;) I can supply more information, such as this link: http://kotaku.com/5986592/it-will-blow-your-mind-to-see-how-much-
it-costs-to-add-one-new-character-to-a-fighting-game

Wendelin Reich
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@Boyer: Here's my bone. If we were to agree that the problem discussed here is one of "adding another type of character after the fact", then yes, your points would be valid. That is indeed the kind of situation faced by the Skullgirls team.

But you keep ignoring the fact that this is not how I and others see this situation. (1) A female character could have been thought of from the start, not after the fact. (2) A decision could have been made to lower character/animation quality to favor inclusiveness. (3) A decision could have been made to at least include a relatively masculine female character.

Choices, not objective constraints.

Boyer Geoffrey
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I fully agree on all of your 3 points! But I don't think it's a question of "after the fact", the decision was probably made early in the project. It's even said in the news itself: "We started, but we had to drop it".

Sometimes choices are made because of objective constraints. If the budget for the game is 1000 galactic credits and it takes as much as 200 credits to animate, script and voice one set of character to the public's expectations of what is AAA quality, well, the choice of having only one playable set of character is based on an objective constraint because you want to keep some money for other features.

Another solution is as you say to discard the 200 galactic credits cost and create assets of a lesser quality so you can actually have more assets. But I don't think the current gaming community is ready to accept that solution considering how graphics and immersion seems to be amongst the more popular buzzwords these days.

EDIT: edited a little my opening statement

nicolas mercier
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"But I don't think the current gaming community is ready to accept that solution considering how graphics and immersion seems to be amongst the more popular buzzwords these days."

You can't place words in the mouth of the community. They have been SCREAMING the opposite of what you say. It's just a matter of listening.

See my pointe earlier about the AAA game makers being disconnected from reality.

Boyer Geoffrey
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So you're telling me that I can't place words in the mouth of the community, while yourself placing SCREAMS in the mouth of the community?

Have you ever thought that, yes, maybe the people you've been listening to are not such a high majority?

nicolas mercier
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well, seriously, in what kind of quebecois cave have you been sleeping recently if you missed the two big topics of this/last year: "Female in video games" and "LGBT community in video games".

I might have extrapolated on this one, my bad, the "community" did not say they'd rather see a quality drop to make space for female characters. It was us posting here.

But I think the front page of Gamasutra is a scream in itself:
http://gamasutra.com/view/news/219074/What_did_they_do_to_you_Our
_women_heroes_problem.php
http://gamasutra.com/view/news/218989/Nix_Hydra_aims_to_create_de
ep_games_for_women.php
http://gamasutra.com/view/news/219106/Too_much_extra_work_to_put_
women_assassins_in_Assassins_Creed_Unity.php

Boyer Geoffrey
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Eh eh don't worry I've seen those topics, they are discussed everywhere in the gaming community. But the thing about Internet is that it doesn't represent the whole spectrum of realities of life, especially when money is involved.

Less than 20% of the Mass Effect 3 players finished the game with a Female Shepard, think about it. That's an official statistic from EA and Mass Effect 3 is comparatively one of the most inclusive RPGs around.

Now 20% is nothing to scoff at and I'm a part of those players (I play female characters every chance I get!) but I'm also trying to be realistic here... They are developing for a next-gen engine, probably using new content delivery pipelines at a level of quality - and price - they never reached before. Something was bound to be cut in front of those crazily-rising budgets, and considering the previous statistic this choice isn't that far-fetched.

Jennis Kartens
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I don't think Mass Effect may be the best measurement (especially not the only one) to get any idea of the choice of player characters from worldwide players. Not to mention, that Mass Effect was always heavy marketed around it's story and in almost every promotional material there is a male protagonist.

I get your point here, but all in all, there is just too little information provided. We can either say "them liars!!!1" or accept the budgetary descision as a truth...

Of course one could see this as another proof that women often are very pricy ;-)

Vin St John
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To me this is a large, significant number, that proves the cost-effectiveness of choosing to build a female character model. "If we don't, we will be excluding nearly 20% of our players."

Boyer Geoffrey
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@Jennis : Seeing the popularity of the Mass Effect series and the good reputation of inclusiveness on Bioware's part, I'd argue that ME3 is actually a rather nice measurement. Isn't it one of the most mainstream RPGs where you can choose the gender of your character? Agree with your point though, there's not enough information to call them liars.

@Vin : I think in a producer's mind, it's rather something like "should I spend such a relatively high part of our budget into a feature than won't be used by more than 80% of our players?"

Dane MacMahon
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@ Boyer

I agree with a lot of what you're saying from a business perspective. However it should also be pointed out that perhaps focusing on the predominantly male audience might be a reason the audience is still predominantly male.

At some point games became a "boy thing" socially, and if they're ever going to break out of that they need to be made more appealing to women first, not after a female audience appears without motivation. My wife will never, ever play a "core" video game because she grew up believing it was "boy stuff" and it's too late to change her mind now. And that's okay. However if we don't want that trend to continue, we need to attack the "boy stuff" image today, not next decade.

Some of these "OMG SEXISM!" articles go over-the-top, for sure. And I don't think the businessmen who made this decision are sexist or evil or anything like that. However I do think they were probably wrong, because you make change, you don't wait for it to happen by itself.

Also female assassins tend to be cool characters, IMO. There's a reason I play most RPGs as female rogues!

Boyer Geoffrey
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@Dane: I agree with everything you just said. Purely business-driven decisions are often too short-sighted and are behind a lot of problems of the last consoles generations.

But sadly the current economic climate is extremely unkind to some styles of innovation and launching even a "safe" AAA game is a huge financial risk at this point :(

Brian Kehrer
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Male was the default option in Mass Effect. In the first game, you had to actively go into a config screen top change gender, meaning the option was buried, meaning most people played default, male, soldier.

So - if anything 20% is a gross underestimate of the demand.

sean lindskog
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No disrespect to everyone else, but I'm with Boyer here. Adding a female character in a game like AC will absolutely be a significant factor in the budget, regardless of which cost cutting measures you attempt to use.

It's fine to complain about the lack of a female character. A smart game company will respond to that if the demand is loud enough.

It's not fine to call them liars when you can't back up those claims. Nor is it fine to call them sexist for not including a female character. (I know this isn't the argument being pushed by most here, but it is a subtext around the male/female character issue). There are absolutely many significant gender and sexism issues in games. But an individual company choosing a male or female protagonist is not one of them.

I would be delighted to see a female character-only AC in the future.

Boyer Geoffrey
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@ Brian: The class & gender of your character can be freely switched at the start of Mass Effect 2. By your idea of people starting at Mass Effect 1 and sticking to the same character all up to the ending of Mass Effect 3, I think they are probably grognards enough to notice the option and switch to FemShep if that is truly their will.

Can't really say the gender option was buried in the first game either considering you had the choice of either using John Shepard or your own character, which let you select your gender immediately... Then again I have no facts about how many % of players stuck to John Shepard and never ever touched the character creation menu after that.

@Wylie : I'm sure a lot of people are more comfortable playing their own gender, and I'm also sure there's a lot of other people (like me!) who appreciate to play as something else. Jennifer Hale was a really good VA. Bioware could have gone further when promoting FemShep IMO.

EDIT: Crap, should have clicked on a "Reply" button more down the thread

EDIT2: Well, I just checked on Youtube, and it seems the option of switching gender isn't present in ME2 after importing a save. My bad.

Wylie Garvin
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@Boyer: Some players probably choose a male Shepard simply because its the default. And I'm sure there's some male players who are more comfortable playing as a male player character. But of course most female players enjoy having the option to play as a female character, and I thought Bioware did an excellent job of catering to this.

I've played through all three Mass Effect games, multiple times, using both male and female Shepards. I generally prefer to play as the female Shepard because Jennifer Hale's voice acting is just superb throughout. I've posted my opinion about this multiple times before. The tone of her lines is so consistent and so precisely calibrated that you can switch back and forth between "good" and "rebel" responses and the conversation flows smoothly no matter which dialogue option you pick. [Edit: of course the Bioware writers deserve a lot of credit too, for this accomplishment. But it wouldn't have worked as well without the great and consistent voice work.] Playing as FemShep is just a fabulously enjoyable experience and at least 90% of the enjoyment of it, for me at least, can be credited directly to Hale's great voice work. I also think Mark Meer was pretty good too as male Shepard, but Jennifer Hale is just fantastic.

Adam Bishop
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"I wonder how many people that never worked in AAA game development will criticize this decision."

How about someone who has worked in AAA game development as, say, the animation director on Assassin's Creed 3?

"In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two's work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations."

https://twitter.com/GameAnim/status/476638349097058304

Boyer Geoffrey
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Well Adam, someone in this very thread stated the following :

"I once worked as an animation programmer on a previous Assassin's Creed title, so I won't dismiss the team's explanations as quickly as you do. Assassin's Creed contains literally thousands of animations just for combat moves, and on past titles at least, the engine and data formats needed to be heavily optimized to be able to fit all of the needed assets in memory on PS3 and Xbox 360." That sounds a bit big to fit into a day or two of work. I know I can't handle all of that on my own in only two days!

That said your link is very interesting. I noted that it created a rather heated debate with a QA manager interjecting about how it isn't that easy and that it would multiply the amount of required QA testing. So I guess the issue isn't that simple as Mr. Cooper makes it out to be?

EDIT : Considering the huge discrepancies between the two opinions and the link, I think Mr. Cooper only spoke about doing a limited set of walking and idles animations. From the news, the Unity team spoke about "double the animations, double the voices and double the visual assets" ...

sean lindskog
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"In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two's work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations."

That's crazy talk.

He must be only considering the animation work of a bare-bones female character translation (the idle and walk he mentions elsewhere in his tweets). And not the extra concept art, texture art, modelling, UI character select work, voice over work, cut scene work, QA work, and possible engineering tasks associated with such a change.

Not to mention the 40 hours of meetings the producers, marketing department, execs and leads will have on the female character. (You know what I mean if you've worked at a major studio.)

That was a very irresponsible comment given his credentials.

Arnaud Clermonté
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I guess it's easy to post on twitter how long someone else's work should take.
I'd like to see this guy do the female avatar model, rigs and animations in "a day or two". That sould be entertaining.

Lance Thornblad
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@sean - Yes, it's the sort of comment that leads to management underestimating the cost and length of production schedules by a factor of two to four. All too common...

David McWilliams
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They missed out; the voice acting for FemShep was great.

Michael G
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I think they're forgetting that they've already done it in the multiplayer of previous titles. At least a quarter of the playable characters are female and ALL of the characters have unique animations.

Joshua Kahelin
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So moving forward, should females be represented in every applicable game be a realistic expectation? And if not should we have a Gamasutra article/thread about it explaining why the studio failed this "simple" task?

nicolas mercier
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Every game, that features cusomizable characters, whose studio made a conscious decision to not include women playable characters, although they had the means for it, could be criticized.

Their animators won't go to jail. The games will be published. They may get praised for graphics or gameplay. But they will be criticized.

That does not sound like a scandal to me.

Ernest Adams
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Not every game, just every game that offers a choice of avatar. This is so painfully obvious it's stupid that we even have to discuss it. Women are not some kind of add-on feature. They're a basic part of the human race.

Dane MacMahon
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This game doesn't offer a choice of avatar however. As recently clarified, this game always has you play the main character. You simply see those people in your game as random males, but the players are seeing themselves as the main hero.

Vinicius Couto
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To quote Zedwarth from the Polygon's article's comment section:
"I’ll take this as more evidence that Assassin’s Creed’s yearly production needs to slow the fuck down"

E Zachary Knight
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So their answer is in reality: "Since we couldn't copy and paste an existing playable character to create a female character, we decided to skip having female characters."

Because, somehow I doubt that all 4 of those AC characters are 100% unique.

Wylie Garvin
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I would read their answer more as "Since we didn't have the bandwidth to recreate or modify the thousands of animations of male assassin movements and combat moves into female versions, we had no choice but to give up on the idea having female assassin characters, at least for now."

Its an easy mistake to underestimate how much work this would have been. It would have required more mo-cap, and probably thousands of man-hours of work involving dozens of people.

[edit: and that's just for animation...]

Ernest Adams
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No, it wouldn't.

If you can have four different male characters, then two of them can be female instead with no extra work.

If you can have four identical male characters, and that's acceptable, then two of them can be female instead also.

Arnaud Clermonté
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Obviously someone who never shipped a AAA game with state of the art animated characters would be clueless enough to think that female rigs and animations are "copy-pasted" from the male versions.
Thanks for sharing your ignorance once again.

E Zachary Knight
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Arnaud,

Are you responding to me? If so, I think you misread my comment. I alluded to the fact that all four of the playable AC characters look pretty identical to me. So it would seem that they copy-pasted the animations for those characters while "palette swapping" their texture packs.

I never said they should be able to copy-paste a female character in the game. Yet, tweaking the current animation set would not be out of the question.

Wylie Garvin
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@Ernest Adams:

I think its more like the difference between 4 male characters who largely share one set of thousands of animations (animations for a common male skeleton), and 2+2 characters who require two different sets of thousands of animations (one for a male skeleton, one for a female skeleton). If they already had one playable female character with all the animations and such, then adding a second one would be more practical. Adding that first one is expensive though.

Lance Thornblad
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The real answer is somewhere in between the two extremes being represented here. No, it's not actually double the work to do those animations. But neither is it "a couple of days." Not even close.

Yes, animations can be re-targeted if you know how to set that up, but there are other differences that require tweaking, for EVERY single animation. The four identical male characters very likely use the same animations with little or no tweaking. That's not the same as making a separate female character.

Andrew Austerfield
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Ultimately a business decision. Do we do the additional work, incur additional cost and put the launch date at more risk or mitigate and get out on time and start revenue generation.

I think there's another reality to this and that is that many critics and some players will cry foul but play the game any way. There is often a disconnect between what critics and players ask for and what they actually choose to do in-game. This business equation chose to mitigate risk and probably said the cost of additional work wouldn't generate sufficient additional players. Personally I applaud those types of decisions, it's what keeps game studios profitable and keeps people employed.

Realistically, there's a cost to inclusiveness. Has anyone proven that this cost is covered by additional revenue? Of the 20% of people who played ME as women how many were actually women, and of those how many were new players who wouldn't have played the game otherwise? A straw poll from this thread would suggest that most were men and most would have been playing regardless.

Gern Blanston
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I find their answer to be a complete cop-out. "There are no female characters because we never wanted there to be" is the only honest answer that exists.

Katy Smith
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Or "there are no female avatars because we didn't even consider the possibility until too late in development."

Brian Peterson
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I bet it was on the "nice-to-have" list.

Ernest Adams
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Unmitigated hogwash. A feeble and false excuse for failing to manage the project properly in the first place.

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/e3-2014-ex-ubisoft-dev-refutes-r
eported-difficulty-of-female-assassin-s-creed-characters/1100-642
0392/

Lance Thornblad
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Right, I'm sure Ubisoft just has it in for women. That's a more likely explanation than they can't justify spending that much time and money.

Incidentally, there are artists, animators, designers, and programmers that write checks their skills can't cash. Why do you think so many games are late, over-budget, etc.? Bad management is only a partial explanation.

EDIT: This is Ubisoft we're talking about - and one of their most well-known, money-making projects. Personally, I do think they should spend the cash and get it done right. I just don't agree that their explanation is "hogwash."

Sharon Hoosein
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If it's too much work for 2 different body types, why don't they just cut the male character? It's not like the 4+ other Assassin's Creed games featuring male protagonists don't exist.

Lance Thornblad
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Not a bad suggestion. One out of five isn't too much to ask. I believe they have a movie in the works, though. I'm not sure how much that plays into their choice.

Boyer Geoffrey
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That's a fair point

Arnaud Clermonté
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Funny how some people manage to believe that "it was cut to save time and money" is somehow a less credible story than "it was cut for no reason that I can think of"

Boyer Geoffrey
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But those people are evidently experts on the topic of managing, budgeting and leading a AAA project! It's Gamasutra, a site for professionals after all

Bob Johnson
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Who the f cares. All of 1 or 2 people are not going to buy the game now.

Amir Barak
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My question is this; if it's obviously such a huge effort (both time and money) to create two distinct gender-based (or is it sex-based, I can never remember which one is the appropriate term) main characters why did they choose a male protagonist? The last 4 games had a male lead. Why not concentrate on a female lead? (or 4 leads as the case may be).

Amir Barak
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One can follow my previous question with another. Imagine Ubisoft coming out with a game where the playable character is a woman. And that game has multiplayer mode. What are the chances that they'll not add male characters to the multiplayer because of time/money?

Eddie Vertigo
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In the multiplayer modes of GRAND THEFT AUTO V and CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS, the player has the option to have a male or female avatar to play as. For a new ASSASSIN'S CREED game designed to be played only on the newest consoles, having a multiplayer mode with fewer avatar options (male gender only) feels like a big step backwards. It would have been nice to see men and women assassins in the newest online portion of the series.

Dane MacMahon
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There are no avatar options. This is being misreported all over the place. You always play as the main character.

E Zachary Knight
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Dane,

So the main character clones himself in the coop mode? That is confusing.

Robert Green
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Eddie, I disagree with your assertion that because a couple of other titles (one of which drew similar controversy for having three male leads) did something, not doing it is "a big step backwards". Each game is its own entity, and everything in a game needs to be added, it doesn't come as standard because someone else has done it.

Furthermore, in a series that has already had player characters that are Arab (AC1), Native American (AC3), female (Liberation) and African (Freedom Cry), I find the assertion that they must be lying to cover up a lack of interest in diversity to be quite remarkable.

Dane MacMahon
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@ E Zachary

Yeah.

I thought it was like Borderlands at first, and agreed they really should have had at least one woman, rather than four men to choose from. It ends up you always play as Arnum though, and other players just see a palette-swapped Arnum. This is suddenly no big deal at all to me.

Most sites seem to be glossing over the difference.

Amir Barak
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So why not let other players see a female Arnum?

R G
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@Amir Barak
Because there is no female Arnum? Arnum is a an actual character. Why do a sex-bender (I hate the term "gender-bender" because sex is biological, gender is not) on a character? That's soem deviantArt tier stuff right there.

It's just like palette swapping Master Chief with the other characters.

What I find very funny here is reverse sexism almost. If this had been a female lead, and no male characters were added, this would be okay.

Seriously, reading some of the stories around the web and comments people say makes me sick. If you want a game with a female lead, make one. We sit around and preach so hard about how indies are the future, etc. etc.

When you work for a AAA company, you make AAA games, which are designed to sell to the widest audience available. I don't expect a Michael Bay film to explore the atrocities of the Batan Death march, and I don't expect (anymore, though when the first and second came out I felt the direction was different) Assassin's Creed to explore BOTH sides of a religious conflict. They are popcorn games.

Is it an oversight not to include it? Yes. Is it a ****ing travesty? No. The writers for the game saw a male lead. There must have been a reason. AND we HAVE had an Assassin's Creed game with a female lead, which was Liberation on PS Vita.

I guess my point is that we have sensationalist articles that want to spur up the LGBT sentiment, that is equally sexist towards hetero men. Why can't we have games of both? I want to explore depression patients; guess what, I am making a game based on dealing with depression. The same goes for female characters and ANY issue; if YOU want to see the game, find a group of like-minded individuals, buy some Ramen, and make the game.

Expecting large corporations who are interested in the quarterly profits to do this is naive. Let's practice what we preach here folks.

Again, I do think this is an oversight, considering female characters have been in previous Assassin's Creed games. I think it was just a production schedule/management decision that they don't want to confront, so they let the team take the flack. Which says more about yearly titles and Ubisoft than it does of Assassin's Creed's devs.

Amir Barak
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" They are popcorn games."
True; which is why I don't play them.
Actually, I don't buy any Ubisoft products.

I think a lot of people have taken issue with the BS-sounding answers given by Ubisoft rather than not having a female character.

Also, Arnum is a virtual character played via space magic. To claim that there's any "actual" reason for Arnum not to be portrayed as a woman in a multiplayer mode is kinda funny.

"if YOU want to see the game, find a group of like-minded individuals, buy some Ramen, and make the game."
Worst case argument ever for anything.

"If this had been a female lead, and no male characters were added, this would be okay."
Name one multiplayer game where that happened.

****
"Ubisoft than it does of Assassin's Creed's devs"
Eh? Ubisoft developers are part of Ubisoft. All of Ubisoft. Choosing a place to work means you're a representative of that establishment (see recent firings of Turtle Rock's community manager). Which means you share responsibilities of products. Hiding behind, "But management did it" is laughable.

R G
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@Amir Barak

" They are popcorn games."
True; which is why I don't play them.
Actually, I don't buy any Ubisoft products.

Then why do you care? In the time it has taken you to complain about what will be in a game that you seemingly will not play anyway, with a company you seem to not care about, you could have been working on the rough draft of an outline for a game that caters to what you want to see in the industry.
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"Also, Arnum is a virtual character played via space magic. To claim that there's any "actual" reason for Arnum not to be portrayed as a woman in a multiplayer mode is kinda funny."

Again, read the above. Ubi runs a business, and the characters are palette-swapped. Only one of the characters is unique, and it would cost more to make another model, regardless of sex.
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"if YOU want to see the game, find a group of like-minded individuals, buy some Ramen, and make the game."
Worst case argument ever for anything."

Worst case answer you could give, also known as a cop-out. If this is a big issue to you, why don't you create a game or even offer your services to Ubisoft to remedy the character model issue in multiplayer?

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"If this had been a female lead, and no male characters were added, this would be okay."
Name one multiplayer game where that happened.

I said "if". And no, it has not happened yet thankfully. But if it did, a lot of people, and many on this very site, would not bash an eye because it's in vogue to be politically correct instead of truly fair on both ends.
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"Eh? Ubisoft developers are part of Ubisoft. All of Ubisoft. Choosing a place to work means you're a representative of that establishment (see recent firings of Turtle Rock's community manager). Which means you share responsibilities of products. Hiding behind, "But management did it" is laughable."

But you don't? The programmers, the artists, everyone has to answer to higher ups who ultimately have the say-so on where the game goes. And workers cannot be held for what the higher ups choose to do. Or else, that would mean that when games get cancelled, it was ultimately up to the devs and not the publisher they work for.

Working on a product =/= having the responsibility for the decisions that go into it. I'm sure the QA testers didn't have a say in the story of the game for instance. Or that the developers, who have many women on the team, said , "HM, YA KNOW WHAT, NO WIMINZ IN DIS GAEM".

Ultimately, I feel as though your complaints are superficial. You're on a website with people who enjoy cerebral conversation and it's easy to hop on the bandwagon of "Oh, it is simply CRUDE and BARBARIC to not have this in a game, oh those naive FPS games and their thin plot; curse those AAA games and not taking risks". This plays into the question I also asked; no, I actually make a statement: If you (and not specifically YOU, but people in general) wish to see the industry go in a particular direction, one that is a utopia of love and equality, than make that game.

Amir Barak
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"Then why do you care? In the time it has taken you to complain about what will be in a game that you seemingly will not play anyway, with a company you seem to not care about, you could have been working on the rough draft of an outline for a game that caters to what you want to see in the industry. "

Huge assumption on your part there. Maybe the right response would have been, "Hey Amir, why don't you buy Ubisoft products?".
****

"Again, read the above. Ubi runs a business, and the characters are palette-swapped. Only one of the characters is unique, and it would cost more to make another model, regardless of sex."

Yes but the game still takes a hit on inclusiveness and gameplay. Just because Ubisoft didn't plan properly ahead isn't my (or other customers) fault is it?
****

"I said "if". And no, it has not happened yet thankfully."

Maybe we need to think about the reason this hasn't happened yet. Might shed some light on why people are annoyed at Ubisoft's claim that adding a female version of Arnum is too much work to bother with.
****

"But you don't? The programmers, the artists, everyone has to answer to higher ups who ultimately have the say-so on where the game goes. And workers cannot be held for what the higher ups choose to do. Or else, that would mean that when games get cancelled, it was ultimately up to the devs and not the publisher they work for."

Workers can be held responsible for the final uses of the products they develop and the actions they take in order to develop it. Developers and publishers are both responsible for cancellation of projects as much as they are both responsible for the final output of the project. If your employer asks you as a developer to perform an illegal action, where's the responsibility?
****

Worst case answer you could give, also known as a cop-out. If this is a big issue to you, why don't you create a game or even offer your services to Ubisoft to remedy the character model issue in multiplayer?

"If you (and not specifically YOU, but people in general) wish to see the industry go in a particular direction, one that is a utopia of love and equality, than make that game."

FFS, do we really need to go through with this argument again?
Creating a counter product does not make the first product go away. Not beating my kids does not count as me being active in protecting kids from being beaten. Buying/making bubblegum instead of cigarettes does not mean I'm negating the manufacturing of cigarettes. Reading/writing about science does not mean religion will go away.

It's not enough to simply produce something worthwhile. It's important to expose/complain/argue/talk about the first product as well. Telling someone that if they don't like something to go and make it by themselves is childish.
****

"Ultimately, I feel as though your complaints are superficial. "
How so though? Why do you feel they are superficial. And for that matter, what, exactly, do you think my complaints are in this case?

R G
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I feel your complaints are directed not that this game doesn't have a female character, a game you would not play regardless because it is a Ubisoft product, but because there is not enough female representation in games, which is also largely false. It's not a huge assumption when you quite literally said "I do not buy Ubisoft products". The "why" in your case is largely irrelevant, because so many other companies would come under flack if it was "female inclusion" on a level you are speaking, which is generally NOT equal.

And you again keep dodging the question. Are you just an enthusiast? Why are you on this site? I believe it is quite relevant to ask someone who has shown throughout several articles to be derivative of others work and products if they themselves are working on a game to address the issues. You still have yet to answer the question.

In regards to both the female multiplayer character inclusion and with your question of, "would you perform an illegal action if your employer told you to do so?"

1.) I answered this in my first and second post.
2.) The illegal action question is irrelevant, as none of this has been illegal. If my employer asked me to include or take away features that may not be beneficial to the game, I'd ask myself (along with other people who work in the industry) "How much do I want to keep this job? Do I enjoy getting paid?". Most will do as the employer says, or you wind up like the guy in the article that you replied to me recently. Which I will address also.

Also, not beating your child is definitely a stand against beating a child, because by NOT doing an action, you are representing that you are NOT FOR said action.

Amir Barak
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"not beating your child is definitely a stand against beating a child, because by NOT doing an action"
It's a step. But it's not enough.

Most of your first paragraph is composed of assumptions again so, while amusing, is hardly fitting for debate.

"Are you just an enthusiast?"
Of course I'm enthusiastic otherwise I wouldn't comment here.

"1.) I answered this in my first and second post."
Answered what exactly? I've not posted up a question concerning the inclusion of a female character in multiplayer.

As for your second point; yeah, you've just basically agreed with what I said. So no arguments there. Thanks.

"I believe it is quite relevant to ask someone who has shown throughout several articles to be derivative of others work and products if they themselves are working on a game to address the issues."
Why though?
Do I need to be a banker to criticize shady financial dealings?
Do I need to produce better medicine than underhanded pharmaceutical companies in order to freely talk about them?
Do I need to make a competing product to any of the technological machinations we use before I can point at the human rights abuse those companies perpetuate?

If you really want to talk to me about who I am and what I do then posting assumptions over an internet forum is hardly the way/place. Dig a bit and email me, I'm sure we can set up a Skype chat, I'm a friendly sort of fellow most of the time ('slong as I had my coffee that morning) :D


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