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Author Topic: Mod idea: Unspecified gender for Captain  (Read 4774 times)
Novus
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Re: Mod idea: Unspecified gender for Captain
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2011, 09:40:46 pm »

So add a choice, where you pick gender first. Then have he/his or she/hers as appropriate. For Brownie points, also allow for picking the gender of love interest. For straight women or gay men, replace Talana with Talan.
Alternatively, one could make use of the fact that there already is a male counterpart to Talana in the game: Hayes. A few extra dialogue options (possibly with Hayes taking the initiative with a female Zelnick), and there he is. Since no characters need to be replaced, only the initial "Is Zelnick male or female?" question is necessary. This also means you can have both if you're so inclined.  Wink

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Re: Mod idea: Unspecified gender for Captain
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2011, 10:43:26 pm »

So add a choice, where you pick gender first. Then have he/his or she/hers as appropriate. For Brownie points, also allow for picking the gender of love interest. For straight women or gay men, replace Talana with Talan. Find someone to redo the graphics, and presto.

That thought occurred to me reading this discussion, but it's not feasible if one of the constraints is to leave the code untouched.

Although I enjoy the technical brainstorming and the story adjustment ideas around this gender idea, I can't help thinking : why ? Does a book author writes his story with unspecified gender narrator so that both male and female readers can identify to him/her ? Isn't one of the greatest perks of video games the fact that you can incarnate somebody radically different from you ?
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Re: Mod idea: Unspecified gender for Captain
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2011, 11:02:52 pm »

Although I enjoy the technical brainstorming and the story adjustment ideas around this gender idea, I can't help thinking : why ? Does a book author writes his story with unspecified gender narrator so that both male and female readers can identify to him/her ? Isn't one of the greatest perks of video games the fact that you can incarnate somebody radically different from you ?

In a sense, yes. But in another sense, being a character which you can identify with more closely allows you to immerse yourself in the game more. This is particularly true with games such as SC, where it's almost implied that you are the main character.
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Re: Mod idea: Unspecified gender for Captain
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2011, 10:23:57 am »

In a sense, yes. But in another sense, being a character which you can identify with more closely allows you to immerse yourself in the game more. This is particularly true with games such as SC, where it's almost implied that you are the main character.
I think the problem is that the game mostly handles the player as an AFGNCAAP (the intro and manual do give some sort of indication of age, but leave almost everything else undefined), then accidentally creates a Tomato Surprise for some players by revealing the player character to be male.
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Tamnosynth
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Re: Mod idea: Unspecified gender for Captain
« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2011, 10:39:36 am »

Edit: Aaaaand Novus just said what I say at great length below... but better. Ahem.  Embarrassed


So add a choice, where you pick gender first. Then have he/his or she/hers as appropriate. For Brownie points, also allow for picking the gender of love interest. For straight women or gay men, replace Talana with Talan.
Alternatively, one could make use of the fact that there already is a male counterpart to Talana in the game: Hayes. A few extra dialogue options (possibly with Hayes taking the initiative with a female Zelnick), and there he is. Since no characters need to be replaced, only the initial "Is Zelnick male or female?" question is necessary. This also means you can have both if you're so inclined.  Wink



Novus and Lukipela: Although it would be great to have lots of new options and choices, like having the aliens refer to you as 'she' instead of 'he', it would involve not only new art but also new voice acting, new coding, etc. As Quinarbre says, I'm trying to make the smallest possible changes (so I actually have half a chance of getting them done myself).

For instance, I did think about adding a "choose your sex" option at the start, but it's not really necessary. You'd then have to "choose your sexual orientation", and so on... I think it's easier just to let you accept or decline any NPC's advances as you see fit.

I do like the idea of being able to proposition Hayes though. Again, I think the simplest change would simply be an extra dialogue option, something as simple as "When all this is over, could you and me... you know... do an activity together?" Hayes could then respond with some existing line that means (approximately) "Sure thing, Captain!"  Smiley I'd prefer to allow an actual 'spend the night together' scene, probably just before you depart for the Sa-Matra and almost certain doom, but that would be more complicated to do.

Although I enjoy the technical brainstorming and the story adjustment ideas around this gender idea, I can't help thinking : why ? Does a book author writes his story with unspecified gender narrator so that both male and female readers can identify to him/her ? Isn't one of the greatest perks of video games the fact that you can incarnate somebody radically different from you ?

I'm surprised it's taken this long for someone to ask that.  Wink

Warning, long-winded rant ahead!

 I don't mind games that put you in the role of a specific character, like Link or Lara Croft or whoever. Meanwhile, other games let you create your own character, which means you can imagine yourself in the role, or invent somebody else - it's your choice.

But some insist on specifying a character when they'd probably be better off leaving it to the player's imagination. Take Half-Life. It's first-person and extremely immersive, there's no cutscenes, Gordon never speaks - I'm not sure if he even grunts in pain when he's hit - and you never even see him apart from box art as far as I know. So why did Valve insist that you play a male? They could just say "you're a physicist", adjust the NPC dialogue a little, and leave the rest to the player's imagination. Same goes for Portal, where you glimpse yourself briefly at the beginning and realise you're female, which has no relevance to the rest of that excellent game. Why?

On the other hand, in a FPS like Duke Nukem 3D, the whole point is that you're playing an over-the-top parody of a male 80s action hero. You see yourself in mirrors, you crack cheesy lines, you hang out with strippers and rescue 'babes'. That game wouldn't work too well if it allowed you to choose your sex. (Though I would very much like to see a genderflipped version in which the Duke's equally rough-and-tough sister rescues helpless kidnapped beefcake   Grin )

My point is that Star Control 2 thought it was Duke Nukem but has ended up as Half-Life. (Okay, that sounded weird.)

What I mean is, back when it was released, I'd say it was pretty common to assume computer gamers into science fiction were a) male b) kids c) nerdy. Hence the "boy genius who alone can operate the Precursor computer" referred to in the SC2 manual. I'm pretty sure the player was intended to identify with Zelnick and think "hey, yeah, I'm a smart guy, I could fly that thing and save the universe too". And a male character fits well with the Known Space stories that SC2 draws on for inspiration. It probably never occurred to Fred and Paul that new players wouldn't know what the Captain's sex was - and if they didn't, they'd just assume he was a guy.

The trouble is, the boy-genius backstory isn't referred to in the game itself (except for a brief mention of the Tobermoon, I think). Modern players probably won't have a PDF of the manual lying around the first time they play. I sure didn't. And here's the thing - I think the game is better off without all that stuff about Captain Burton's crinkly eyes and Farnsworth's bumbling. (I keep picturing the professor from Futurama...) By comparison, the slideshow intro is succinct and straightforward. Ur-Quan! Factory! Ship! You go Earth now! GAME START!

So for the modern player who's not a heterosexual male, UQM pulls a bait-and-switch. It begins by saying "YOU are the hero!" You think "Oh, so I can imagine myself as whoever I want". It's only when Spathi and Zoq-Fot-Pik occasionally start referring to you as "he", and Talana glomps you, and the ending slideshow plays, that you realise "Oh fishsticks, I'm really a man."  Undecided That sort of thing can break the sense of immersion.

...(In Utwig voice) Are you still listening???  Cheesy

Honestly, it's not a big deal (despite the above rant). I love the game to bits. It's just one of those little nagging things that actually might be fixable by someone as unskilled as me.

Of course, in the next Star Control game, I hope Fred and Paul will either let you choose your sex, or make it clear from the start that you're playing an established character.

Anyway, thanks for all the thoughts so far. I appreciate it, I really do.  Wink
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 10:41:14 am by Tamnosynth » Logged
Death 999
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Re: Mod idea: Unspecified gender for Captain
« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2011, 04:07:55 pm »

Say... did the original PC version supply a default name for the captain or ship? As I recall you were prompted to enter them with no suggestions. We often had trouble deciding on something so simultaneously momentous and trivial, and I don't think we would have wasted so much time on it if there were defaults.
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Re: Mod idea: Unspecified gender for Captain
« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2011, 04:27:00 pm »

Say... did the original PC version supply a default name for the captain or ship? As I recall you were prompted to enter them with no suggestions.
Nope. The 3DO version added these because entering a name without a keyboard was too much work to expect every player to do. Ironically, I'm typing this on an HTC Desire. Smiley
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