Please add more dark-skin color palettes


#1

Hello! I just got into the game, played it at Evo. I’m enjoying it so far (even tho my PC can’t handle it really), but I wanted to make a request.

The two characters below are the only ones with dark-skin palettes. They look amazing, by the way!

As cool as these two are, it’s a little sad that they’re the only two dark-skinned choices in the game. There are a few colors on other characters that are slightly darker than their default, but it’s essentially 2/64 total dark-skinned colors (though Rook doesn’t count). I’d like it if every character had a choice (or multiple(!!)) for dark skin.

I know the colors probably aren’t finished yet anyway and there’s likely other matters that need to be handled, especially with the fundraiser, but this is very important to me so I wanted to file a request sooner rather than later.


#2

I am extremely down with this idea overall!


#3

I think they should try all kinds of colors for skin tones. If they are dry on ideas, they should look at games like guilty gear, persona 4 arena, or skullgirls. They do a lot with their alternate colors.


#4

I agree, more skin variety would be great! DeGrey has one pale skin color, his 8th alt, but thats about it. More would definitely be welcome.

At the same time, I’d like to emphasize that there’s special importance to dark-skinned characters. There are many people (myself included) who feel alienated seeing a sea of white characters. Being able to connect and identify with your main is huge for a fighter, and being able to play characters with skin tones that match ours goes a long way for that.

So while yes, having red or purple skin would be super cool (gimmie red demon setsuki), there is more here than just being aesthetically pleasing.

P.S. Skullgirls has amazing palette variety and should be taken into consideration for every fighter.


#5

So, I’ve been checking in on this post for discussion, but I haven’t really seen any. I went to the Discord tho and did find some more discussion on the topic. I found that some of the devs had commented on this topic, so I figured I’d bring those comments here and try to continue discussion rather than getting lost in Discord.

I think this is coming from a good place, but I wanted to add in my opinion to this as well. There’s a lot here, so I’ll spoiler it to keep things tidy.

[details=Opinions]On the point of “it feels shallow compared to an actual black character”: this was said as if you can only have one or the other (in the Reinhart comment). Let’s look at Skullgirls again, for example: Filia, Valentine, and Parasoul had dark skin palettes in the base game, in addition to default Cerebella and Ms. Fortune being non-white, and none of that prevented Eliza or Big Band from being added later. Essentially, a product is going to have only as many default black characters as it’s going to have, the alternate palettes shouldn’t be coming into the I guess black quota.

Of course, this might change a bit if the base product has no naturally black characters. From what I can tell from the wiki page on the characters in the Fantasy Strike/Yomi IP, there seem to be no black characters coming up. They could always surprise everyone with someone unexpected after Panda and Fish man, but looking at the current roster doesn’t give much hope that darker characters are on the priority list.

As far as it being offensive, I’m just left a bit confused. I’ve never heard that kind of comment before, every fighting game player I’ve talked to about dark-skin palettes (the topic of palettes is actually a thing I talk about a lot) has said nothing but positive things about them. I do think this concept of being offended at a palette swap brings up some interesting talking points, though.

Firstly, what would you prefer: a game with no dark skin characters, or a game with no naturally dark skin characters but a few great dark skin palette swaps per character? That’s essentially the situation Fantasy Strike is currently in. Holding off dark-skin palettes for dark-skin characters doesn’t make much sense to me personally, but it seems especially odd when there are no dark-skin characters on the horizon anyway.

Secondly: do you consider these characters to be a 1:1 for our races irl? In these games, especially fantasy based games, the world they live in has no concept of our racial context (no Africa, no Britain, no Asia, no slavery, etc.). When I see dark-skin Satsuki I don’t think of her as black, because she doesn’t live in a world where that applies, she’s not intended to share my racial heritage at all. So for me, I don’t get the part of it where irl races should come into play.

I guess the last thing I’ll say is: the appeal for me being able to pick characters that are closer to my skin tone is that I can feel more comfortable with that character and the game in general, because I’ll more often see more diversity in-game (which feels natural). The characters aren’t real races, so forcing them to be white/black all the time doesn’t seem necessary. I can’t fault a dev for trying not to be offensive, but I really wish I could feel more comfortable with this game’s existing cast.[/details]


#6

I’m not really sure that I understand Sirlin’s objection(s) from that short exchange, or his girlfriend’s issue with them. I don’t want to guess at them, because it’s a sensitive topic and it would be really bad to put words in peoples’ mouths on it. It would be nice to better understand the objections to having more skin tone options for human characters.


#7

I’m a british gamer of African descent and I don’t agree. I support the decision to intentionally not include racebending palettes.

Even if it comes from a good place (dark skin palettes) the risk of it being taken the wrong way is far too high. All you need is one negative article talking about blackface and all your good intentions go down the toilet.Plus there are many people (I know quite a few personally) who DO take offense to that sort of thing.

IMHO, the best way to tackle this is to simply design more diverse characters- that’s all. Since Yomi, the game that’s the source of this games characters, has a design aesthetic that came from an anime background (years ago) it unfortunately inherited that medium’s signature lack of diversity (stateless drawings, the characters being neither white nor asian but never darker skinned unless demon-posessed) and simply knowing that Sirlin has that on his radar to fix is enough for me.

Even then, if he decided to include some fantasy African character and ended up with some leopard bikini babe in a grass skirt or yet another generic witchdoctor with a mask as big as his entire torso, that would be even more tragic than not having any black characters at all. I would rather he tread carefully and be respectful than take a shortcut.

Overwatch is a great example of being extremely respectful- I hold them in high regard for including so many authentic elements in Orisa and Doomfist (that just so happen to be from my parents’ culture) and for putting so much love into the creation of Lucio, Symmetra, Ana, Sombra and Pharah.

I would take this over a thousand blackface mercy-s any day.

A good middle ground is to do what capcom did with SFXT, and give us a colour editing feature with the palettes for race-based skincolour swaps being super easy to get to. That way the game itself cannot be accused of creating racially insensitive palettes or trying to use a ‘shortcut’ to increase diversity, and players who want to, can darken their characters’ skincolours.


#8

I have never seen any video game get attacked for having a skin tone changing alternate palette, and fighting games do it regularly. Skullgirls, King of Fighters (all of them), Guilty Gear (all of them), BlazBlue (all of them), Under Night In-Birth, Marvel vs. Capcom (all of them), countless niche anime fighters, even Street Fighter to a lesser extent, they all regularly have skin-changing palettes outside of the “evil dark-skinned variant” trope.

I also don’t agree with the Overwatch comparison. Overwatch’s black characters aren’t great because they’re black, they’re great because they represent a real world culture. In that sense, OW’s characters are very much tied to their skin, because they’re supposed to come from a specific part of the world. Fantasy Strike doesn’t represent cultures so closely that this would apply, if all the characters were just black by default with the same designs no one would even notice.

Again though, I don’t understand why we need to pick between black palettes and black characters when for years fighting games have been giving us both.

Color Edit would be a terrible compromise, btw. A lot of people don’t have good color sense, so I’d be forced to play against countless aesthetically offensive palettes in return for being able to play a Jaina with dark skin.

P.S. a few OW skins do change skin tone. I know Roadhog’s islander skin does, and one of Sombra’s palettes makes her white.


#9

Fair enough.

Sorry we don’t agree on this.

Just adding my two cents to the discussion, and why I agree with the current decision.


#10

We don’t have to agree, lol. I’m just doing my best to highlight where I’m coming from, because I really don’t like the current state of the game in this context. I do understand your point, and the decision does make more sense to me now.

Either way, thanks for contributing to the discussion!


#11

This whole topic is pretty messy and, while I can definitely see both sides, I personally tend toward “having a flawed thing is nearly inevitably better than not having a thing at all.” On the other hand, “there shouldn’t be a thing unless it can be perfect” has been kind of a major philosophy behind this company’s games and such.

Yomi has three characters with very clearly Japanese names, yet the two of them whose features are not hidden by a mask have not-particularly-Asian-looking features (I mean, Midori has fairly fluffy-looking brown/ginger hair and Setsuki has… rainbow hair?). If we are okay with a fantasy world where pandas can talk and gamble, where people can turn into dragons, and where Japan-flavored ethnic/cultural signifiers are attached to visibly European-looking characters, then certainly a case can be made for simply offering a darker shade of skin. For that matter, you could just say, like, “it’s summer and they’ve been outside for a while at this point” if you need to justify it in-universe.

Like, she’s a cool character design and all, especially in-game, but…

The other extant visibly darker-skinned characters are a crooked judge (Bigby) and the fencer River Montoya, whose appearance reads somewhere in the realm of “Mediterranean,” which is to say “darker-skinned light-skinned ethnicity” or “lighter-skinned dark-skinned ethnicity.”

On the other hand, I’d be cool with more brand new characters overall! But at least in my experience with talking to fighting game friends, folks tend to overwhelmingly want darker-skinned palettes as at least an option, even if it’s not the Perfect World solution of having a character who is canonically black.

Ultimately, my opinions do actually matter a lot less on this topic, because the only way I’m a “visible minority” is by being an American of Generic European Ancestry who lives in Japan, but the stuff I’ve heard from PoC friends is that they are generally so used to “everyone is white by default lol” that pretty much anything at all is preferable.


#12

Lot of good points, and I appreciate that this has been brought up

If there were a healthy number of POC characters, would the color swaps for other character not be offensive, since it wouldn’t be pandering but actual diversity of options? Not trying to argue anything here, just wondering.

Since other games are already out with these characters, I think it would be weird to change the features of these characters without changing them in other games too, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s an ok or feasible idea.

Shovel Knight I think did a good job of going back to address its gender representation, but gender isn’t race, and that was for only one game instead four(?) different games.

I don’t know much about Codex, but I hope it’s a game that can benefit from the past and now to have healthy representation.


#13

Right, it’s a touchy subject, because on the one hand, you can’t please everyone, and on the other hand, as soon as you start using one person’s take as the top-priority opinion, then you run the risk of tokenism. It’s messy.


#14

This might also be one of the most civil discussions I’ve ever seen on the internet about a potentially touchy subject, between people who disagree.


#15

How do you “design” a black character? And how come none of the current ones cant have darker skintones as default rather than lighter ones? How would that infringe on their “design”?

For those who might not think this is an important issue, more and more I hear from major streams during tournaments that people are speaking up about the lack of black characters in games like Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom. Going so far as to be defining peoples character choices “He always chooses black Spencer, because there arent really any other black characters in the game” and such.


#16

I’ve been a part of the Skullgirls community since 2012, which does this exact thing, and I’ve never heard anyone complain that the white characters with black skins were offensive (Parasoul, Valentine, Beowulf), or that the black characters with white skins were either (Ms.Fortune, Eliza, Cerebella).

The thing is, fighting game palettes work best when they’re new interpretations of the character. Imagine if say all of Rook’s palettes just changed the vines he had; he’d look like the same lump of rocks with different foliage. Instead, he has a palette that almost makes him look like he’s made out of marble or concrete, one you can imagine he’s made from onyx or obsidian, and another that looks like it’s potentially limestone.

Compare this to Jaina, who looks like the same exact girl each alt but each morning she changes her highlights to match her armor piece. That’s not interesting or fun. There are human characters who vary their colors well, like DeGrey who regularly changes his hair and eye color to the point where he can look drastically different from his original art, but more in this case is better.

TL;DR palettes don’t have to religiously follow their source character, and they work best when they don’t.

I do this in games that aren’t diverse naturally. I do it in Street Fighter, MVC, KOF, GG. My brother and my dad also do this. It’s nice being able to pick characters with dark-skin. Especially in a fighting game, where the character’s personality is essentially how you’re playing, being able to connect with that character on that level just feels good.


#17

I agree with this. If the game didn’t already have poor representation, blackface-as-an-option wouldn’t be as risky as it currently is.

The way the game currently is, we have fish and panda people coming in before anyone that isn’t “stateless” (anime design term for the ambiguous white/asian ethnicity seen in anime and anime based properties…why you have a redheaded Midori or a samurai-esque Grave).

My impression is that this is not due to any ill-will or malice. But if we then throw in skin-darkening options as a pacifier before addressing the actual issue, the risk of appearing to take the lazy way out intensifies.

I personally don’t mind either way. I kind of like black Setsuki. (not black Geiger, though, he literally looks like he’s very, very ill!) I don’t see it as an insult, but then I am not easily offended. What I can say though is, I obviously know a lot of people with my ethnic background and skin colour, (being a POC myself) and I can say with confidence that a lot of people are offended by that sort of thing, and do not find it funny at all. I also respect their opinions because I can see it comes from a real place, even if it is one I can’t personally relate to.

I personally would only be disappointed if the caricature route was taken (The grass skirts and torso-sized masks I mentioned earlier). Not that I don’t have a sense of humour, but context is king, if you get my meaning- if your sole representation of an entire people is a joke, the message degrades from ‘hold on, we’ll get to you in time’ to ‘just hang on a bit while we laugh our heads off at you’

Neither is ideal, but one is clearly worse. I can only imagine that for those who are offended by surface-level skin darkening, a similar dichotomy applies.

I wouldn’t be bothered if Sirlin decides to implement the palettes. But I absolutely see where he’s coming from when he says ‘no palettes, we will do proper characters’ and support him, because I know the sort of debacle that can escalate out of that. The fact that the games’ design is not inclusive at the moment is an oversight, and one that can be corrected before it becomes a source of real pain for a demographic of players (or a PR disaster for a game that deserves nothing but a ton of good press)


#18

You know what? Calamandra doesn’t strike me as a caricature at all. In fact, I dare say that’s a pretty good character design and I wouldn’t mind seeing her in FSFG. I also took a look at codex and Bigby is pretty cool as well! Plus he’s a blue-white archetype so I’d probably main him in codex as that’s my favourite MTG combination but I digress…

I know these things can be a bit hit-and-miss, but nothing about Calamandra’s design screams ‘laugh at me’- more effort could be put in in some areas (maybe google some images from natgeo or whatever and copy bodypaint patterns and haristyle etc from tribes that actually dress in ways close to that)

Anyway, that was a small digression. Just thought to address that.


#19

Well hey, you’re certainly welcome to feel however it is you feel about the characters!


#20

Thanks for that, I’m still rather impressed with the way this discussion has gone!