Blade and Soul: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

I happened to stumble across something in my internet travels that reminded me of an old post that I did about industry game artist Hyung Tae Kim – who gets paid a lot of money to draw freakishly distorted women with flopping distended lemons pinned to their chests, freakishly long legs, and lovingly detailed ladybits. For those of you who haven’t seen the old post, go take a look. (Linked to the blogger version since I still haven’t gone back and fixed the wacky image sizing problems that importing to wordpress caused…)

I kind of forgot about it for a while, but it looks like NCSoft – the publisher of Guild Wars – is picking up Blade and Soul – the MMO that HTK has been hired to design – for publication, formerly referred to by the code name “Project M”. I’ve been having trouble finding details, but I’m assuming this means it will be available for publication in North America, which is about a million different kinds of fucked up. I mean, Blade and Soul makes Tera look like they’re not even trying:

So I’ve pretty much promised myself that if I find out that any of my friends express a desire to play this game, I will either stop talking to them or smack them repeatedly in the head until they come to their senses. Seriously, every female model has lovingly modeled cameltoe, which is just… disturbing. And about every third screen shot I found makes sure to show it off.

Clearly this is not a game aimed at women, or anyone who sees women as anything other than pieces of meat.

And you know, whatever. Once upon a time I would have ranted and raved, but really -what else is there that I can say? Hey, look. It’s yet another game coming out of Korea that treats women even more like shit than North American-developed games do, and yet tons of North American dudes are falling over themselves to play this game when it’s released. I’ve kind of lost my ability to be surprised at this shit anymore.

So instead, I thought I’d take a look at the incredibly fucked-up anatomy of the Blade and Soul character models to point out just how freakishly inhuman these women are. Now last time I took on HTK, I got many, many comments along the lines of OMG ITS JUST THE STYLE WTF U DON’T KNOW WHAT UR TALKING ABOUT or U R JUST JEALOUS HTK IS MORE AWSUM THAN U!!!1!eleventy1!! And, yes, I’m aware that HTK is not illustrating using a North American style. However, there’s a huge difference between even vanilla “anime” style and the distorted freak-shows that HTK creates.

To whit: Here is a Blade and Soul character model with almost no foreshortening:

Oh my god, people. I swear if I could punch HTK through the internet, right now I would. I realize that the model had to be created by the game studio, but this is pretty faithful to the proportions that HTK uses in all of his illustrations. Now, the many and varied ways the figure is distorted can be a little confusing, so first of all let’s start with vertical proportions:

For those of you who have seen me do these posts before, I hope you’ll remember me pointing out that the average human is around 7 heads tall, plus or minus half a head. Now, it’s pretty common for comic book artists and many video game studios to use 8 heads as a standard female proportion to give characters a more “statuesque” look. (Again, I prefer that women look like actual women and not goddamn statues, but that’s just me.) But this freak of nature here is 9 heads tall. NINE. That’s not even remotely possible in nature. Furthermore, she’s more than half leg. Really – check this out:

If you take her legs and add one head height to them, you have a normal human being. (And now I’m thinking about just a head prancing around on bizarrely stretch legs and it’s kind of freaking me out. Brr.) So first things, first, let’s take Gumbi here and correct her vertical proportions a little:

Now, yes. This does create a few more problems that it solves, particularly with the torso. But notice how when you look at the legs, they look a lot more like human legs? Now it doesn’t completely solve things, because you still have some fundamental proportions problems:

(Let’s just take it as given that the boobs are fucking terrible and move on to less obvious things.)

So you have the problem that her torso has been shrunk in order to make her legs as long as possible. This has resulted in her having a microscopic rib cage and a waist only just wider than her head. Now there’s nothing wrong with having your shoulders be narrower than your hips, or vice versa. But there’s just no freaking way that you’re going to get this much of an hourglass figure without enough corseting to cause internal bleeding in the unprepared.

Her legs are also a huge problem, even after one adjusts for their impossible length. The way HTK draws his women (and the way the model is constructed), the hips and ass are so exaggerated that the legs become cylinders that are tacked on to the front of the hips. Which is so very wrong and not how real people actually work. The hips and buttocks are not separate from the legs – they are part of them. And legs aren’t cylinders pinned on to the front end of the lower torso. They attach, via the hips, on the sides of your body, like so:

So with all of this in mind, what would a corrected figure in the same pose look like? Well, let’s take a look:

(Looking at this now I think the hips might be a little off. Drawing on top of HTK’s super-distorted figure was really hard; it kept throwing me off and I kept having to make corrections to my corrections.)

When you have the corrections on top of the original lines of the figure, you can really see how exaggerated the figure is from the waist down. Aside from the shortening of the torso and the clearly problematic breasts, the torso is actually far more normally proportioned than the legs. The legs are where most of the problems are: they’ve been elongated unnaturally and the hips and buttocks have been stretched horizontally to ridiculous proportions until the torso and lower body look like they should belong to two different figures.

And you know what, having hips this wide and curvaceous? Not necessarily wrong. But it is wrong on a body with a torso this compacted and waifish. You’ll see hips this wide on full-figured women, sure. But not on freakish HTK women without even enough space in their torsos to keep all their internal organs, much less space for them to eat meals that don’t come through a straw.

The thing that makes all of this the most disturbing is that all of these problematic distortions were an obvious, conscious choice. Because here’s the thing – HTK’s understanding of human anatomy is quite clear from the rendering of musculature in his illustrations. I can’t speak to the understanding of the people working from his illustrations, but I can definitely state that HTK understands just what he’s doing when he mutilates these poor women’s bodies.

Someone please explain to me why we’re paying this man the big bucks?

WTF: The MMOsite.com edition

MMOsite is one of many schill MMO “reviews” sites that basically exist as a promotional machine for all the shitty free MMOs and k-MMOs out there. They make their money entirely through advertising and don’t even pretend to be objective. I’ve used MMOsite in the past several times to collect egregious screenshots when lambasting free MMOs like Kabod Online and TERA and had noted just how much boobage there is on that site.

I didn’t have anything specific in mind to blog about today, so I thought I’d head over to MMOsite and see how much boobage I could find in twenty minutes or so by clicking through to random links. It was, unsurprisingly (considering what they cover), a lot. I mean, I found this right on the main page:

Oh look! Another browser-based free MMO… Because the world really needed more of those. Anyway, I love that the logo is right next to the woman’s tits. (And what’s with the outfit? She looks like a cross between a stewardess and a sailor, as portrayed in a porno.)

Clicking through to the news section of their site brought up some interesting headlines. For instance, there was a gallery with designs of the characters in the new Dynasty Warriors game. (I’m a bit confused as to why this would be covered on MMOsite, since Dynasty Warriors 7 is going to be a console release and not an MMO…) Going through the gallery reveals a whole lot of men and very few women. And while there were two female characters who actually are decently covered (even if one of them is a bit cleavagey), there’s also these as well:

Le sigh.

Even more depressing than the Dynasty Warriors designs was this feature on the boss battle that is part of k-MMO Vindictus’ Episode 8, a new content patch recently released. I guess the folks at MMOsite really wanted to make sure that people saw the feature, because there’s a nice eye-catching ad for it right at the top of the news page:

When are game designers going to learn that BOOBS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY? You cannot put a strap around your boobs and expect it to cover up your nipples unless you’re attaching it with superglue, which I don’t suggest. I am SO FUCKING TIRED of the leather nipple-strap school of character design. (I’m looking at you Namco and BioWare!)

It gets worse when you click through to the article, unfortunately. Apparently, this boss features clothing destruction that lets you render her almost nude. Not only that, but she has a “sexy” attack called “suck essence” in which she utilizes her succubus wiles to suck your soul or something. (I bet that’s not all she’s sucking! Amirite? Winkwink nudgenudge?)

At the top of the page, there’s even a video of the attack in which she straddles the hero, writhes around a little (showing off the jiggle physics), presses her boobs against the hero’s chest, and then arches her back while magic effects go off. All of this, of course, while she moans sexily. I guess Vindictus decided to go after the players that they purportedly lost to TERA by giving them a little show, which is just all kinds of disgusting.

Moving on, most of the rest of what I found is your garden variety nudity, like this account creation screen for Perfect World:

Looks like they’re still not willing to go quite as far as TERA. I mean, sure she’s mostly naked, but she’s not greased up and her underwear is actually modest by TERA standards. (Is it a bad sign that I’m getting blase about this level of nudity?)

And of course, what fun would nudity be without costuming double-standards? Because we all know that in k-MMOs, only men get to be fully covered. (Silly wimminz! Clothes are for men!) While poking around, I managed to find these “fashion” screens for a cutesy, anime-styled k-MMO called Dragon Nest:

Ah yes. Because nothing says “master of the arcane elements” like “here are my tits”. But since Dragon Nest is a pretty obscure example, I’ll finish off with an example from a more popular game – Runes of Magic:

Okay. I’m actually not too surprised about the rogue, since the female thief as porn star meme seems to be dominant in all MMOs, not just Korean ones. But the warrior? Are you kidding me? If I ran into that woman, I’d stab her in the boob just on principle. Also, the warrior slogan is a bit unfortunate when considered next to the female warrior image. “Battle isn’t the only thing she’s a wild beast in! Rawr!” (Sarcasm is my way of coping.)

So all in all, not to surprising. Still, even though the results were exactly what I expected, it’s still discouraging. Knowing that sexism is prevalent in MMOs is one thing. The fact that they’re not even trying to hide it is even worse.

TERA: competing with Bayonetta for the sluttiest women still wearing clothes?

[2014 update: This post is one that I stand by, the title is regrettable in that it’s really slut-shamey. Since writing this, I’ve changed my stance on using that word – it wasn’t okay for me to use that term and I’m sorry. However, this being the internet, once posted it’s out there forever, and I’d rather be honest about my mistakes than pretend they never happened. So please consider this post in context. Thanks.

[ETA: This whole thing has probably blown over by now, but for those of you just seeing this – I’ve posted a followup that DOES look at male castanic armors. You can find the new post here.]

>Before I get into today’s post, I just want to refer your attention to a very interesting feature by Jonathan Holmes on Destructoid. It’s a very excellent look at female characters in video games and the over-used sexy badgirl/chaste goodgirl dichotomy that dominates all video game writing ever. Also, do yourself a favor and watch the video. It’s kind of long, but worth it – it’s very funny.

I never thought I’d tell people on this blog to go read something on Destructoid, but there you go. I guess anything is possible.

And now for something completely different

A while ago during one of my WTF roundups, I posted a screenshot of a character model wearing nothing but crotch floss:

I’d forgotten to include the name of the game in the file name, so at the time I just posted the screenshot as a bit of trivia. My helpful commenters informed me that this was a screen from the upcoming kMMO TERA Online which is being released soon. I filed that information away and promptly forgot it amidst doing research for other posts. That is until someone mentioned TERA to me again and I decided to take a look. Surely anything with character models that tasteless would be totally easy to mock, right?My expectations were pretty low when I followed a link to the European site for TERA Online. Still, I was pretty shocked when this is what I saw on the main page:

Does that curvy spine remind anyone else of Bayonetta?
Holy crap! I mean. Wow. That’s… um. That’s a lot of crotch. Like. Right there. On the main page. On second thought, it might be a little silly being surprised about these things, but usually they don’t bust out the crotch right on the main page. They save it for screens of the character models on the race and class pages, but it’s usually not so… blatant.I was a bit hesitant as I clicked on the race page to check out the different races and was pretty surprised when the first race page (Amani) featured this image:
Whoa! That’s, um. That’s some crotch! Some male crotch! A lot of male crotch! So, okay, maybe this TERA game is just all about crotch. And that wouldn’t be so bad, really – as long as it was equal opportunity crotch. Really, that’s been my beef all along. If you’re going to have tasteless nudity, at least have EQUAL OPPORTUNITY tasteless nudity. But wait, no. It looks like TERA isn’t equal opportunity after all:

At least she’s not taking a dump.
So it looks like just another case of a monstrous male character being suggestively depicted to make some sort of statement about his “monstrousness”. Certainly we don’t see any of that from our human male, who is also allowed to stand up straight. Unlike the female mage who is sticking out her ass and waving her tits in our faces. Why, oh why, is it that there is not a single female mage in all of MMO-land who is capable of casting spells without gyrations worthy of a pole dancer?And it gets worse:

Ladybits! Attack!
In this image, the clothing dichotomy is even greater! The male character is wearing about fifty pounds of plate mail and the female character is wearing… even less clothing than the last one. Not that this is really anything new. This is the sort of thing you see from pretty much every MMO ever – and not just the free ones. Guild Wars, EverQuest, WoW – they’re all just as bad.And of course, what MMO promo would be complete without…
Lesbians! …okay, they’re not actual lesbians, but they’re two hot, almost completely naked chicks in blatantly sexual poses. It’s very hard for me to think that there’s NOT some kind of lesbian subtext intended. Of course, this might be cynicism on my part. Maybe the artist wants the intended male audience to think of banging these chicks in serial instead of in parallel. (Ha. I’m such a nerd.)

The real nail in the coffin is when you start lining up male models and female models. Here for comparison are male and female human models:
The most exposure we see from any of the human males is a very shallow v-neck. Otherwise they’re completely covered with multiple layers of clothing and armor, while the ladies are left to shiver with all their bits hanging out. Let’s hope they control the thermostat, otherwise they’re going to be pretty cold.The outfit on the far right is the most ridiculous in my book. First of all, the design is actually quite ugly and doesn’t really do flattering things to the figure. Second, the other two female humans at least get proper panties while she gets something that barely qualifies as crotch floss. It’s practically a crotch decoration. I hope she used some body glue, because I don’t see how those are staying on…And of course, it’s not just the humans. The high elves are just as bad:

Okay, maybe not QUITE as bad. The woman on the far right is wearing the most clothing I’ve seen on a female TERA model so far, which puts her ahead of her counterparts I suppose. Still, I’m getting awful tired of the stripper boots. Is there some kind of stripper boot outlet in the TERA world that causes them to be the most economic form of footwear?Oh, and let’s not forget another important bit of promotion. WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE WITHOUT THEIR CLOTHES?? Come on, people. Let’s remember the important questions.
Why is it that in their underwear, their breasts are still more covered than in some of the “armor” sets that I’ve seen? Ditto for their crotches. What gives? Why is THEIR UNDERWEAR more modest than their actual clothing? Do people not understand how absurd that is? How is anyone supposed to fight anything in clothing that you’re about to pop out of at any moment? Seriously, check out these action shots:

So the woman on top… What the hell is she thinking? Did she seriously think that it was a good idea to go fight monsters dressed like that? “Well, I’ve taped sea shells to my tits, so I think I’ve got everything important covered here”. Really? This is about as likely as giving a stripper a sword and telling her to go kill some monsters. I’m not terribly likely to believe that someone dressed like that is capable of wielding a sword that large. Plus – WHY IS SHE ALL MOIST? What purpose does that serve besides making her even more fap-worthy? “Well, I don’t have any armor, so I’d better grease up before I tackle that monster over there!” Come on, people. Now you’re not even trying.

And then from our mage on the bottom, we have more spell casting pole dancing gyrations. Does the magical energy she’s summoning come from her ladybits? Because if it doesn’t, why is she standing like this?

The sad thing is that all of these screens took me maybe twenty minutes to round up, which means I didn’t even have to look all that hard. I’m a little scared of what’s out there that I DIDN’T find. Now I’ll admit that the graphics are pretty impressive, but you can put lipstick on a pig and it’s… still a pig. Graphics do not a good game make. Neither do tits, but tell that to the people eagerly awaiting the North America release of TERA. I guess they disagree.

>Rappelz

>I realize that it might make more sense to start off with Evony, since Evony has far and away the most sexist game ads I have ever seen. I might still tackle Evony down the line, but it’s been pretty well documented, so instead I decided to start with Rappelz. It was actually Rappelz ads that got me to start my collection of awful game ads, so it seems only fitting that Rappelz should get first crack at the hot seat.

Rappelz is a typical Korean MMO. It’s published by Korean publisher Gala Labs and translated into English as well as many other different languages. In North America, it is distributed by gPotato, which also distributes several other K-MMOs. Rappelz is a “free to play” MMO, though I was unable to determine with casual surfing its funding model. (My guess is freemium, since that’s how many free K-MMOs are funded.)

Anyhow, the ad that caught my eye first was this (apologies for the small size):

Wow. Way to keep it classy, Rappelz. A lot of free MMOs use questionable art, but you really took the effort to go the extra mile and be creepy as well as questionable. What is just as awful as the text, but not quite as obvious, is the size and placement of the face at the bottom. Look how small it is in relation to the boobs! But, you know, that makes sense since boobs don’t do that pesky thing where they talk back.

This one is marginally less terrible, in that way that Christina Aguilera is marginally less awful than Britney Spears. The armor is absolutely ridiculous – why bother putting that much protection on your shoulders if your going to leave your crotch, midriff, and boobs wide open? If I had to fight this chick, I’d stab her in the chest just on principle. Furthermore, check out the placement of the word “free”. It’s RIGHT NEXT TO HER CROTCH. Ugh.

“Hey, look. I’ve got this sweet sword but – OH MY GOD I CAN’T SEE!” This one has all the ridiculousness of the last chainmail bikini (though at least her crotch is protected in this one), and adds the additional handicap of a completely useless helmet that covers her eyes. Also, if you’ll look closely, you’ll see underboob here. Now, I’m going to speak up as someone who actually has a 2nd dan in tae kwon do. It’s pretty well impossible to fight effectively if your boobs are LITERALLY FALLING OUT of your top.

Oh my god! The cleavage is coming to kill me! This is a pretty good illustration of one of my pet peeves in game art – the spherical boob. News flash: Women’s breasts are not spheres that are just kind of tacked on to our torso. Also, if your boobs are as big as your face, YOU HAVE PROBLEMS.

Okay, I’d be really nervous toting around something that large and sharp while half naked.

The boob spheres strike again! Plus we get a pretty fan-service-y panty shot here. I guess these Rappelz guys can’t decide if they love the boobs or the crotch more.

Note to the undoubtedly male artist who drew this: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. I don’t know what the hell is going on with her breasts here. Why are they weirdly misshapen? And what the hell happened to her nipples? Did she have them removed like some weird living Barbie? But hey, at least with the glazed porn star stare, passive stance, and spread legs you totally nailed the “come have sex with me” aspect.All in all, pretty awful. I mean, sure the Rappelz women are wearing more than the Evony women. But let’s face it, that’s not all that hard.