on Jul 27, 2011
BioWare recently put up a selection of possible faces for female Commander Shepard and let the community vote on which one would be the new “official” Femshep. I haven’t seen anything detailing how this is going to work. Is this a new default preset for the in-game face modeler? Or is this a fixed model to mirror the un-editable face of default male Shepard? Or or they just asking which face they should be using on the promotional materials? Beats me.
The community voted, and chose Shepard #5. Sigh. I’m sure the vote boiled down to “which of these images does the predominantly-male userbase think is the hottest?” I’d like to see the breakdown in votes. How many people voted for “1992 Winona Ryder” Shepard #1? How many went for Janet Jackson Shepard #4? And how many preferred “Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction” Shepard #6?
Like a lot of things BioWare does, this was a really crafty effort to give players the illusion of choice. The faces are basically the same, so all we’re really choosing is the skin pigmentation and haircut. The face model was set in stone before the vote began, but this process lets them make it seem like we chose her. They gave us options for “African” and “Asian” skin coloring, but the base face shape is obviously a Caucasian woman with no variations to hint at these other possible racial backgrounds. It’s not surprising that the community chose the skin color to match the already-established face shape they were given.
BioWare gets to have their the blond-haired, blue-eyed Femshep, and if anyone complains they can just point out that Shepard #5 was “the people’s choice”.
To be fair, they’re not taking any choices away from the player or restricting the freedom they’ve given us in the past with regards to how our protagonist will look. And I’m glad to see Femshep appearing in the marketing, even if she doesn’t end up on the box. I just wanted to point out that I see what they did there, and that like most of the in-game conversation trees, we never had as much freedom it appeared at first glance.
Femshep is the least om my concerns with the game. Just about everything I’ve heard from marketing has been hammering home about how this is more “badass shooter” and less “exploration space opera”. This is less a mystery about a strange universe and more a story about a phenomonal ass-kicker and her quest to save the galaxy from its own willful stupidity. Less “Star Wars” and more “Starship Troopers”. This wouldn’t be such a bitter turn if every press release didn’t get a bunch of gushing from shooter fans (who already have a lot of titles) who can’t wait to shoot all the new guns at all the new aliens, and who don’t give a Krogen testicle about big-concept sci-fi.
The numbers are against us. As studios dump more money into graphics they have to aim their releases wider and wider to have a shot at breaking even. Since the “action shooter” fans vastly outnumber the character & lore buffs, this is simply a matter of attrition through demographics. I’ve been raging against the ridiculous race to make more, shinier pixels for years now, and this is why. This is exactly why.