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Shameless fan service

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Is there a reason to not include obvious fan service in games? It seems to be an obvious simple [and low-effort] way to give a bit more joy to a player base. It seems that it is treated as cheapening the work that went into the game, but do people actually feel that way about it?

So, what are your opinions on shamelessly including obvious fan service in games?

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I approve of shameless fan service!

That said, keep in mind that many parts of the market (parents of <16 year olds, bible belt america) do not generally approve of such things.

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If it will appeal to your target audience to the point that it may become a deciding factor in whether they will pay or not - go for it. Otherwise, only if the devs do it in their own free time and only if it won't worsen the impression of the game for the target audience.

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Its very nature means that fanservice tends to cheapen whatever work its included in, its pretty much unavoidable. That doesn't meant it necessarily bad though, it works well in moderation, especially if it has some (reasonable) reason for being present. Its when a developer constantly uses it or uses it completely the wrong situation that it becomes a problem for me personally.

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[quote name='Oolala' timestamp='1336566311' post='4938652']
Is there a reason to not include obvious fan service in games? It seems to be an obvious simple [and low-effort] way to give a bit more joy to a player base. It seems that it is treated as cheapening the work that went into the game, but do people actually feel that way about it?
[/quote]

I think the question is very odd. Stuff that pleases fans is (by definition) pleasing to fans. So I can not think of any reason to go out of the way to avoid it.

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If we are defining Fan Service to be inline with the following definition:

[url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_service"]http://en.wikipedia....iki/Fan_service[/url]

My answer would be simply: Sex sells.

My only caution on this would be the very obvious one: Don't use fan service with characters created below a certain age - legal majority would be a sensible dividing line.


Edit: I am overlooking the other aspects of Fan service i.e. references to other things such as films etc. in keeping with what I assume the OP was asking about and the responses thereafter. Edited by Stormynature

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1336614621' post='4938851']
I think the question is very odd. Stuff that pleases fans is (by definition) pleasing to fans. So I can not think of any reason to go out of the way to avoid it.[/quote]I agree it is odd, which is the primary reason I asked it. I'm always surprised by the lack of just raw pandering to the audience's more baser interests in games. The lack of this, and what seems like a wide spread opinion among critics that inclusion of this type of material in games/movies/etc somehow cheapens the work, is odd to me too. Frankly, I'm all for it. I was just wondering what others thought as well.

I just find it unusual that we don't see a lot more of it. Edited by Oolala

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[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1336594779' post='4938758']
Gender-balanced fanservice is much better than male-centric fanservice.
[/quote]Ehm... my imagination is insufficient here, how exactly the female-centric fan service looks like? [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]

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[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1336671893' post='4939061']
[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1336594779' post='4938758']
Gender-balanced fanservice is much better than male-centric fanservice.
[/quote]Ehm... my imagination is insufficient here, how exactly the female-centric fan service looks like? [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]
[/quote]

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsyE2rCW71o"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsyE2rCW71o[/url]
[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIfwdAxOXjU"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIfwdAxOXjU[/url]
[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE[/url]

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OK, now I know how female-centric fan service looks like :) I can say with sufficient confidence that adding female-centric fan service to a game might yeld a significant drop of the game acceptance by the male players :D Definitely, there should not be both types of fan service in the same game.

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Excessive fan service often causes problems when it ruins the internal consistency of a work. For example, if you have a place in your world known for it's deadly cold, having people running around with ninety percent of their skin showing causes a logical contradiction. Similarly if you want players to feel that your physics are realistic then having outfits that would require super glue or spot welds to stay on ruins the immersion factor. (Unless you program in wardrobe malfunctions.) It can also just detract from the mood. If you have a game trying to evoke actual horror, then stumbling on Nudist Island might cause mood whiplash.

Similarly, if fan service isn't done well, then it's worse than if it hadn't been put in in the first place. The difference between sexual and sexy really makes or breaks fan service. Part of this is just skill level. Some artists haven't seemed to figure out that large breasts doesn't automatically mean sexy or that poorly animated breasts are less attractive than non-animated. Another part is an audience problem, like certain fetishes that aren't shared universally. You can work in a foot fetish and people who don't share it might not even notice it, but some others really only should be used in works directed to that niche. And then there's sexualizing underaged individuals, which happens disturbingly frequently, but can be tricky because age of consent is different in different cultures. (Some artists really have no excuse though.)

It reminds me of a discussion panel done by Pixar staff a while back. One of the guys (I think Brad Bird, but I could be wrong on this) mentioned that people imitating great works often miss the details about what made that work great. The example he gave was people looking at Jurassic Park. They got the image of the dinosaurs rampaging, but they forgot the details like the ripples in the water forming from the heavy footfalls building up suspense. The guy talking then went into an analogy that went along the lines of: don't just show the woman naked, show her taking off the bra first. Basically, I'm saying, don't just do it for the sake of doing it. Make sure what fan service you have is done right before increasing the quantity.

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That's an interesting perspective. I'd figured it would be possible to alienate players by overwhelming them with fan service that wasn't really aimed at them [then again, this goes back to knowing your market], but I hadn't considered it as so much of a gamble. It's an interesting perspective though.

So bad fan service < no fan service, and the bar for 'bad fan service' is set pretty high.

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To be fair, the quality over quantity rule applies to more than just fan service. Bad voice acting is worse than no voice acting. A crappy minigame is worse than having no minigame. A bad romance subplot is worse than no romance subplot. And so on.

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[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1336836280' post='4939578']
OK, now I know how female-centric fan service looks like [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] I can say with sufficient confidence that adding female-centric fan service to a game might yeld a significant drop of the game acceptance by the male players [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img] Definitely, there should not be both types of fan service in the same game.
[/quote]

I don't see why not. If done properly the male-centric fanservice will present a desirable image to both sexes. The men will find the character desirable, and the women will see the character as someone they can identify with and project into. Likewise for the reverse. Of course this would require more finesse than the standard "look she has boobies" method.


Personally, I'm disgusted by the extents that some games to go sexualize their characters.
I would much rather see properly proportioned characters with complex personalities who are clothed appropriately for the situation.

EDIT: stray punctuation, clarified a point Edited by ShawnCowles

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[quote name='SiCrane' timestamp='1336998322' post='4940039']
To be fair, the quality over quantity rule applies to more than just fan service. Bad voice acting is worse than no voice acting. A crappy minigame is worse than having no minigame. A bad romance subplot is worse than no romance subplot. And so on.
[/quote]Certainly, just that fan service has this appeal of being a low hanging fruit in terms of effort vs return [at least it appears that way to me]. Perhaps I'm wrong in this.

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[quote name='Oolala' timestamp='1337003799' post='4940072']
[quote name='SiCrane' timestamp='1336998322' post='4940039']
To be fair, the quality over quantity rule applies to more than just fan service. Bad voice acting is worse than no voice acting. A crappy minigame is worse than having no minigame. A bad romance subplot is worse than no romance subplot. And so on.
[/quote]Certainly, just that fan service has this appeal of being a low hanging fruit in terms of effort vs return [at least it appears that way to me]. Perhaps I'm wrong in this.
[/quote]

In an irony to what you just said and as the grandson of orchardists - I learnt as a child that low hanging fruit is normally not that good in taste compared to fruit higher on the tree. Lack of sun was the explanation given to me.

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It has been shown that, in fact, sex does not sell, as although people pay more attention to the add, recall drops (unless it's porn).

Oh, and if you do have it, then

1. Keep the expressions and animations the same.
2. Don't go out of your way to add it, like adding a whole new physics engine.


[url="http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/5436-Not-Okay"]http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/5436-Not-Okay[/url]

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Well, I'm Bible-belt, so I prefer not to have it (the sexualized kind). On a personal level, though, I think I just don't like being toyed with (I'm a straight guy, so of course girls excite me; I don't want to get my man-card checked all the time). Give me a great game and maybe an enjoyable story. Leave just about everything else out.

Now on the much more common fanservice (usually a reference to something else within a show, game, etc.), I am all for. These are those awesome ah-ha moments that I really crave. If any of you are following/have followed the two Nickelodeon Avatar TV series, you should already know/witness the EPIC TROLL in the very first episode of the second series, nuff said.

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Some good points made; fanservice doesn't have to be purely sexual, just anything the audience really wants to happen. And it doesn't have to be canon, it could be a tease or taken back. If it's subtle enough it doesn't have to turn other demographics off, for example there may be valid plot points for a male hero to be topless or a female hero to be flirting or in a compromising looking position (and not Lara Croft-esque or bra-less). But offensively obvious fanservice is guaranteed to drive off many people who aren't in the target demographic.

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