Homebrews with female characters

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tepples
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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by tepples » Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:58 pm

tl;dr
Let me summarize pages 1-7. There was a noticeable gap in the pre-1997 NES library: original IP, safe for work, not unplayably rushed, featuring a solo, unmasked, humanoid-looking, post-puberty action girl player character. After asking around to see what if any homebrew games met those criteria, DRW invoked be the change[1] and developed a game titled City Trouble specifically to fill that gap. Later, the Mojon Twins targeted the same gap with Lala the Magical and Cheril the Goddess.

So with the gap having clearly been filled, in what direction would it be helpful to take the discussion of representation of women in homebrew video games?


[1] be the change you want to see in the world is a catchphrase of some members of the FamiTracker Discord server, as a nicer way of saying "You could always learn to do it yourself." It quotes a saying that appears in The Love Project Way by Arleen Lorrance and Diane Kennedy Pike and in The Great Turning by Schindler and Lapid. The latter attributes it to Mahatma Gandhi.

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Nikku4211
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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by Nikku4211 » Sun Nov 22, 2020 5:06 pm

tepples wrote:
Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:58 pm
tl;dr
Let me summarize pages 1-7. There was a noticeable gap in the pre-1997 NES library: original IP, safe for work, not unplayably rushed, featuring a solo, unmasked, humanoid-looking, post-puberty action girl player character. After asking around to see what if any homebrew games met those criteria, DRW invoked be the change[1] and developed a game titled City Trouble specifically to fill that gap. Later, the Mojon Twins targeted the same gap with Lala the Magical and Cheril the Goddess.

So with the gap having clearly been filled, in what direction would it be helpful to take the discussion of representation of women in homebrew video games?
I say drown the discussion. We could go on and on about how there's very little visibly adult female characters in action homebrew games, and while that's true, I feel like it's mostly because there aren't that many action homebrew games to begin with, at least for older, simpler consoles.

I feel like we should focus more on making homebrew games ourselves rather than complaining about the ones other people make. We all have different desires, so the thing about homebrew is that anyone can make the software they want to make without having to spend a lot of time on publishing and executives and other business bollocks.
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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by turboxray » Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:27 pm

tepples wrote:
Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:58 pm
So with the gap having clearly been filled, in what direction would it be helpful to take the discussion of representation of women in homebrew video games?
Considering the number of homebrew stuff out there, for NES alone, I wouldn't say that gap has been 'clearly' filled. I think a direction that hasn't taken in retro and homebrew (or really even modern game development) - is having actual character development and story based around a female protagonist - without resorting to cheap sexualization of a female character in some thinly vailed attempt as 'look we have a female protagonist - we're creating diversity!".

A female character should be more than just a sprite or a model/texture. DRW's feelings aside, when I looked at City Trouble... all I saw was "mid-rift adventures". Maybe I'm just more critical, and cynical, because I'm not satisfied with what passes for main female lead character driven games, after having read novels and series from actual female authors, with real female main characters, etc. Honestly, it seems like anything involving post-puberty female characters are sexualized for male audiences. Sure, some are more than just that - but that level of over sexualization still exists in those same games.

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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by Nikku4211 » Mon Nov 23, 2020 5:52 pm

turboxray wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:27 pm
Considering the number of homebrew stuff out there, for NES alone, I wouldn't say that gap has been 'clearly' filled.


The percentages are certainly more sensitive since there's much less action (the specific genre this thread was talking about) homebrew.
turboxray wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:27 pm
I think a direction that hasn't taken in retro and homebrew (or really even modern game development) - is having actual character development and story based around a female protagonist[...]
The majority of NES games in general don't have character development or a story that is more than just a premise at all. Considering that most people making homebrew games want nothing more than to imitate precisely the games they have played in their childhood, and the amount of effort that is required to make a complex story that is actually coherent and actually seamlessly integrate it into the game, I don't think there's going to be that much homebrew NES games that have character development and a complex story.
turboxray wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:27 pm
A female character should be more than just a sprite or a model/texture. DRW's feelings aside, when I looked at City Trouble... all I saw was "mid-rift adventures". Maybe I'm just more critical, and cynical, because I'm not satisfied with what passes for main female lead character driven games, after having read novels and series from actual female authors, with real female main characters, etc. Honestly, it seems like anything involving post-puberty female characters are sexualized for male audiences. Sure, some are more than just that - but that level of over sexualization still exists in those same games.
Is your definition of 'sexualised' wearing an outfit that shows too much bare skin while having a body type that is generally considered ideal?

Just asking.
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Dwedit
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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by Dwedit » Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:53 pm

turboxray wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:27 pm
]Honestly, it seems like anything involving post-puberty female characters are sexualized for male audiences.
There was Zooming Secretary though...
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DRW
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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by DRW » Tue Nov 24, 2020 4:17 am

turboxray wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:27 pm
I think a direction that hasn't taken in retro and homebrew (or really even modern game development) - is having actual character development and story based around a female protagonist
Are there actually many NES games that have character development in the first place, regardless of the main character's gender?

You compare it to novels, but seriously: Can you tell me in what characteristics Simon Belmont and his ancestor Trevor differ? And how has the encounter with Dracula changed his look on life? How has he become a different person in "Castlevania II"? And is his version in the remake "Super Castlevania IV" authentic to the original or did they change him?

turboxray wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:27 pm
DRW's feelings aside, when I looked at City Trouble... all I saw was "mid-rift adventures".
I know this is hard to grasp for the Taylor "I wear my pants as high as a grampa" Swift generation, but clothes like these were actually worn by girls and women in the 80s and 90s. Even in the 60s.
I remember in 1995 when I met a classmate of mine in the library during summer vacation: We were even just 12 years old, but she was wearing no more than Amy is wearing.

P.S.: Would you say Simon Belmont with his barbarian leather clothes and the two Contra guys are sexist despictions of men?
My game "City Trouble": www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by Pokun » Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:22 am

DRW wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 4:17 am
how has the encounter with Dracula changed his look on life? How has he become a different person in "Castlevania II"?
He thinks every night is a horrible one to have a curse. Although the game is light on story, the player can feel his pain and that he actually is burdened by the curse.

But yeah, I wouldn't expect homebrew to have much more story development than games from back in the day for the same system. And that is, for NES, usually not that much except possibly for adventure games. Even RPGs from this era are generally light in the story department.

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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by Nikku4211 » Tue Nov 24, 2020 10:04 am

Pokun wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:22 am
But yeah, I wouldn't expect homebrew to have much more story development than games from back in the day for the same system. And that is, for NES, usually not that much except possibly for adventure games. Even RPGs from this era are generally light in the story department.
Yeah, and even if you're talking about retro homebrew in general, I don't think even SNES or Mega Drive homebrew games would have story development either, RPG or not, due to the amount of additional effort needed.

If you feel you need to put more effort into graphics and sound for the SNES or Mega Drive, you might not have as much time to focus on the plot.
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DRW
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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by DRW » Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:18 pm

Pokun wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:22 am
DRW wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 4:17 am
how has the encounter with Dracula changed his look on life? How has he become a different person in "Castlevania II"?
He thinks every night is a horrible one to have a curse. Although the game is light on story, the player can feel his pain and that he actually is burdened by the curse.
Alright, fair enough. I wouldn't have expected this reply. Pretty clever, I must admit.

However, unfortunately not a strong enough example to belittle the characterization in my game. Because:

If you have a look at "City Trouble":
In every boss battle, Amy has an individual pre- and post-battle dialog with the opponent. Unlike Mario and Link, Amy is not a blank slate or a silent protagonist, but has certain characteristics that are shown in the way she talks.
For example, she can be pretty snarky.
Furthermore, have a look at how the boss battles before the final level end. And then have a look at how the final boss battle ends.

I would say if we ignore Little Mac and Ryu Hayabusa, Amy has more in-game characterization than the top 10 most famous NES main characters combined.

And you know what? "City Trouble" even passes that stupid Bechdel Test. :mrgreen: Seriously. I'm not joking.
My game "City Trouble": www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by rainwarrior » Tue Nov 24, 2020 6:06 pm

DRW wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:18 pm
Amy is not a blank slate or a silent protagonist, but has certain characteristics that are shown in the way she talks.
That's weird, all I remember her saying was AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by DRW » Tue Nov 24, 2020 6:12 pm

rainwarrior wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 6:06 pm
That's weird, all I remember her saying was AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
Wut?
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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by Nikku4211 » Tue Nov 24, 2020 6:31 pm

rainwarrior wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 6:06 pm
DRW wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:18 pm
Amy is not a blank slate or a silent protagonist, but has certain characteristics that are shown in the way she talks.
That's weird, all I remember her saying was AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
Nice Sonic joke.
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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by rainwarrior » Tue Nov 24, 2020 7:12 pm

It was just a joke about the test build DRW sent me once where all the dialog had been replaced with the letter A. :S

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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by Pokun » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:03 am

DRW wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:18 pm
Pokun wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:22 am
DRW wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 4:17 am
how has the encounter with Dracula changed his look on life? How has he become a different person in "Castlevania II"?
He thinks every night is a horrible one to have a curse. Although the game is light on story, the player can feel his pain and that he actually is burdened by the curse.
Alright, fair enough. I wouldn't have expected this reply. Pretty clever, I must admit.

However, unfortunately not a strong enough example to belittle the characterization in my game.
In the FDS version you feel his pain even more, through the ill-placed loading points.

Seriously though, I didn't mean to belittle your game. As the rest of my post points out, I agree with you. Novel-level story and character development in an action game for NES is not something I would expect, nor do I think it's needed.

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Re: Homebrews with female characters

Post by DRW » Wed Nov 25, 2020 1:41 pm

Pokun wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:03 am
In the FDS version you feel his pain even more, through the ill-placed loading points.
Nope, this doesn't count. That's not only a pure gameplay mechanic, it's even something that doesn't actually exist in-universe. In gameplay, you can die multiple times and respawn. However, this clearly doesn't happen within the "actual" universe of this franchise. Canonically, if Simon Belmont got killed by an opponent once, he would be dead. There are no loading points or extra lives for the "real" Simon Belmont.


By the way, if you're looking for character development in old games, I would suggest the Game Boy game "Final Fantasy Adventure". That one has a movie-like plot and actual character growth.
My game "City Trouble": www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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