Not to be rude, but I actually enjoy the character’s appearance. Is it the best costume choice in the series? No, of course not. Could you have made a simpler, sleeker choice that still makes her look interesting? Of course. But that does not mean that this choice is “a load of crap”, as you put it.
When a character designer’s job is to pick the best of every possible option, I get the impression they didn’t give themselves many options to choose from. And if this was the best of those options, the options were bad. So. It is indeed a load of crap, sorry.
I mean look at the entire Final Fantasy series. It’s a game filled with magic, weapons as big as a man, airships, mechas, futuristic technology, and so much more. That being said, there is room for a lot of creativity and imagination when it comes to designing the appearance and aesthetics of…well, nearly everything in the game. You don’t necessarily have to follow everything single law of nature or be 100 percent realistic either. In a world of “fantasy”, you can bend the rules and don’t necessarily have to explain it directly.
Quoting myself again:
You can come up with any reason to justify any design decision but it has to have a consistent justification. Even in fantasy, where the rules are made up, everything inside the fantasy universe follows the made-up rules. And often, because characters tend to be human (so the audience can relate to them), the rules closely resemble the way reality works, especially when it comes to costume design.
And if the world doesn’t follow its own rules, and I can’t make heads or tails of the FFXIII world anyway, that’s a whole other can of shit that results in dissolution of tension and other disasters of narrative integrity that have nothing to do with costume design.
Based on what I can see, this seems to be a fusion of multiple sets of armor throughout history, with some artistic liberties taken to give it that more “Final Fantasy” feel (I’ll get to the artists in a moment.)
If they’re multiple sets of armor, why are they all made out of the same material? Why is no piece of armor more advanced than or more primitive than iron/steel? Also, why is it perfectly symmetrical? She found two greaves in one time zone, two vambraces in another time zone, two pauldrons in a third, but couldn’t find one set of armor that actually fits together?
As far as material choices go, I can offer a few suggestions. In the case of the “mystery fabric”, you have to remember that in the world of the game, we have futuristic aircraft and vehicles, and overall technology that is far advanced beyond our own. I could easily imagine a synthetic material that is form fitting, slips on easily, and not have any seams. The same ideology can be applied to the unique appearance of of her forearm bracers, the carabiner style clasp for the armor, and how certain pieces stay secure. We’re dealing with a universe that has creatures that can make weapons and armor out of mundane, otherwise useless items. Again, realism doesn’t necessarily apply in all aspects. You need a little, sure, but too much realism and you lose that “fantasy” aspect, and she becomes just a lady with pink hair in armor.
She becomes a lady with pink hair in armor that works and doesn’t have to be held together by mountain climbing equiptment. It’s not a matter of the armor having to be realistic – as in, it doesn’t have to resemble 1500s medieval English plate armor. It has to be realistic in the sense that a human could use a full range of motion while wearing it.
And in such an advanced world, plate armor would be obsolete anyway. Nobody wore plate armor in FFXIII, and as far as I know she’s the only one that does in XIII-2. There is no reason for there to be “high tech” plate armor that defies explanation because the very concept of plate armor is antiquated. So in the face of that logic, if she still has to wear plate armor to look angelic/fantasy/ethereal or its the Uniform of the Prophet of Etro or what have you, it should be the most damn efficient plate armor ever, because why on earth would a deity dress her representative in armor that she’s not accustomed to, would hamper her combat style, etc etc etc. I mean. The reasons keep piling on.
As far as the layering motif and the accents, that is really a matter of opinion and personal taste than doing anything “wrong.” If I were to venture a guess, I would say its a way to grab attention. If it were me making a strong, attractive female character, other than her face and figure, I’d want to make sure there is some attention to her legs, since one of the unique traits of a female body are their legs, which curve and help create the hourglass figure. Not to mention that if you accentuate key areas of her body, you have the potential to attract more male (and possibly female) gamers due to finding them attractive. By putting colors that attract the eye away from the cool silver of the armor and towards her figure and face, it can make the character more attractive in certain cases. Not that I have to tell you this, since your a designer and all, but it’s good to remember that.
I am not saying there’s anything wrong with the layering motif. My issue is that it’s not a consistent motif. Since the armor is all made out of the same material, I assume it’s mean to be part of a set, but none of it actually matches.
In regards to the feathers, I’d like to think of it as like a waist-high cape, which in most cases serves no real purpose other than to look cool and interesting. A plume of feathers may not appeal to everyone, but it certainly gives an “angelic” appearance, further driving home that she is the heroine.
I’ll give you the feather cape since her role in the story actually is “angel” basically. I admit I added that comment because I was buttmad.
The one other thing I’ll point out is the footwear, which you say would be impossible to walk in. This kinda goes back to “mystery fabric” idea. Based on the ridging around the foot, i would venture to say that the area from the foot to, let’s say about the ankle, is made up of some leather or other flexible fabric that would allow her to move around easily.
Yeah, no, it’s metal. It’s exactly the same material as the armor around it.
I’d rather things not be mystery fabric, and if it is a mystery fabric, it ought not to look like a material that anyone is familiar with.
All your other complaints are really more a matter of personal opinion and taste. I’m not going to get too heavily into that because that’s your opinion and your entitled to express it, just as I am expressing mine.
Look, I understand your an artist and a person, and I’m not trying to say that you’re wrong for disliking the design. You make very valid points from the view that I believe you’re trying to achieve. But I find it a bit offensive to call it “a load of crap” or “laughable” and then go and say that team behind it deserves better. That team you speak of includes artists, just like yourself who poured their time and effort into designing each character, each location, and essentially the entire world that you see, both on paper and within the game.
I am perfectly aware of how making art for video games works, since it’s my job.
Putting in the time and effort of designing everything in a game doesn’t exempt those designs from potentially being bad. It’s a problem that can easily happen in every game. You can’t have outside input by virtue of video game development being generally a secret, and when you become used to a design its faults don’t stand out to you. You’re pulling from a tiny pool of opinions for upwards of three years.
If something is bad, I would like someone to tell me. And since most fans are preoccupied with patting Final Fantasy on the head, I figured I’d drop a bomb or two.
I have tremendous respect for the artists behind Final Fantasy, which is why they deserve to know when something did not work and why.
They put all their passion into it, and it’s rude in my opinion to assume that these artists simply half-assed their work or that they didn’t really care.
Don’t put words in my mouth.
They attempted to create a character they felt would appeal to people, both those who already knew the character and those who may be purchasing their first Final Fantasy game. I don’t think that the design is an embarrassment, and I’m sure there are those who agree and disagree with me. I think she looks interesting and unique. The whole effect of the costume says to me. “Pay attention. I’m a major character.” and has the aura of “heroine” to it.
Ok, that was obviously their goal, but I think they did not succeed. She looks a bit more like a scrapyard than a heroine to me.
But I digress, the real point I’m trying to get at is that you can’t discredit an artist for trying something different just because you don’t like it. It doesn’t mean they didn’t try, and it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a labor of love. I’m not trying to offend anyone with this, and if I did so, I offer my apologies in advance. But I dislike it when someone says that someone didn’t try simply because they don’t like it, whether it be in art, theater, sports, academics, or whatever. You have a right to express your opinion, and please do so. And if I got you wrong, then please explain. But given your initial remarks and responses, I’m merely going by what I see.
Thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts. I’m reblogging this with comments to my new character design blog, so you can check that out if you like and hopefully get a better sense of where I’m coming from.