Mass Effect's Commander Shepard "Originally a Woman"

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Mass Effect's Commander Shepard "Originally a Woman"

Ex-BioWare animator Jonathan Cooper has said that the earliest design for Commander Shepard was female.

One of the core features of a BioWare RPG is the ability to choose your gender. It's something the studio has included since its earliest day as role-playing developer and, as the years have gone by, the gender options afforded to players have only expanded. Despite this, there have still been arguable moment where playing as one specific gender made more sense. Case in point, the Mass Effect games. While a majority of players worked their way through the trilogy as a man, there was a consensus among many other gamers that Jennifer Hale's performance as female Shepard was leagues superior to her male counterpart. To many, FemShep was the franchise's one true protagonist.

It would now seem that that sect of fans might not have been too far off. While male Shepard would go on to become the series' default, a recent Tweet from ex-BioWare animator Jonathan Cooper has indicated that the earliest design for Commander Shepard was "originally a woman." Cooper offered as evidence a clip of the original animation test for Shepard. The clip showcases a gray female character model running forward before turning from side to side. In a follow-up Tweet, Cooper revealed that the animation was based on "repurposed mocap" from the studio's previous RPG, the grossly underrated Jade Empire.

Now granted, when you get down to it, this revelation doesn't mean all that much in the grand scheme of things. Even if this first bit of animation was modeled around a female Shepard, Cooper himself affirmed that BioWare had "always planned [for Shepard] to be both male [and] female." Regardless, it's still a neat fact about the game's development, especially when you consider how long it would take for BioWare to make FemShep a bigger part of the series' marketing.

Source: Twitter

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Neat! I kinda wonder what it would have been like had they kept the story linear with Commander Shepard being permanently a female character.

So why was her animation in the final game just reskinned from the MaleShep?

Orbot_Vectorman:
Neat! I kinda wonder what it would have been like had they kept the story linear with Commander Shepard being permanently a female character.

Lots of lesbian space aliens, not that I would complain

Dat slow news season, eh? Yes, Mass Effect was always going to have a choice of protagonist gender, as the guy himself tweeted after that. Shocking news? Wake me if someone discovers a good ending for the trilogy.

Also, the "consensus" among the people who agreed that Hale was the better performer is a tautology. Yep, people who agree with each other do have a consensus.

And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive. Gears of War was originally FPS.
"Originally" means nothing.

Also by my information there was "consensus" by "many" "players" that Geralt was the best Shepard

blackrave:
And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive.

Actually, it was originally gonna be released exclusively for the Dreamcast, and when the Dreamcast tanked it was going to be released for the PS2, Xbox, and PC. Other than that, your point is entirely correct. :3

Imperioratorex Caprae:
So why was her animation in the final game just reskinned from the MaleShep?

Why make unique animations for another model when you can simply use the same one for the opposite gender. Obsidian did the same thing with the Pimp Boy 3 Billion by using the male mesh model for female players...and it resulted in the female characters holding the Pimp Boy at an odd angle whenever you bring it up. :P

Neronium:

blackrave:
And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive.

Actually, it was originally gonna be released exclusively for the Dreamcast, and when the Dreamcast tanked it was going to be released for the PS2, Xbox, and PC. Other than that, your point is entirely correct. :3

Imperioratorex Caprae:
So why was her animation in the final game just reskinned from the MaleShep?

Why make unique animations for another model when you can simply use the same one for the opposite gender. Obsidian did the same thing with the Pimp Boy 3 Billion by using the male mesh model for female players...and it resulted in the female characters holding the Pimp Boy at an odd angle whenever you bring it up. :P

It just seems worse that they were already modeling/skinning/skeletoning (not a word) a femshep at the beginning but decided to drop that in favor of "reskin male, nobody will notice". To me thats worse than Ubisoft not even bothering to do a fem char in Unity.

Then the whole walking animation thing really baffles me then. It still bugs me they motion captured real strippers for the dancers in the clubs, but couldn't motion cap a woman walking for female Shepard's walking animation.

You know who else was originally designed and animated as a woman? Starkiller from the Force Unleashed series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lVB-_a-VUc . It's amplified by the fact when they do show a male player character, it's CGI instead of in game play. They apparently didn't have a character designed & animated for a dude in game. They waffled with the idea of a choice of gender to do a KOTOR rpg thing, and then they decided to go full on man.

blackrave:
And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive. Gears of War was originally FPS.
"Originally" means nothing.

Also by my information there was "consensus" by "many" "players" that Geralt was the best Shepard

What? The guy who can't ever speak in a voice other than a bored monotone even when he's accusing someone in an angry mob of being a rapist?

Pass on him.

erttheking:

blackrave:
And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive. Gears of War was originally FPS.
"Originally" means nothing.

Also by my information there was "consensus" by "many" "players" that Geralt was the best Shepard

What? The guy who can't ever speak in a voice other than a bored monotone even when he's accusing someone in an angry mob of being a rapist?

Pass on him.

Still more badass than Shepard and Hawke combined.

blackrave:

erttheking:

blackrave:
And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive. Gears of War was originally FPS.
"Originally" means nothing.

Also by my information there was "consensus" by "many" "players" that Geralt was the best Shepard

What? The guy who can't ever speak in a voice other than a bored monotone even when he's accusing someone in an angry mob of being a rapist?

Pass on him.

Still more badass than Shepard and Hawke combined.

And? It doesn't matter how many badass points you have, that doesn't make you any less of a insufferably boring character. And really, Geralt isn't that much of a badass. Story wise AND gameplay wise.

It still makes me INCREDIBLY sad when I think up of that info graph they published some years ago that showed only about 11% of players went with Femshep. Tried playing as a Manshep, and even the much pandered Mirandas arse couldn't make me play that through more.

erttheking:

blackrave:
And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive. Gears of War was originally FPS.
"Originally" means nothing.

Also by my information there was "consensus" by "many" "players" that Geralt was the best Shepard

What? The guy who can't ever speak in a voice other than a bored monotone even when he's accusing someone in an angry mob of being a rapist?

Pass on him.

Well...

Opinions...

I prefer Geralt by a LANDSLIDE :P
Does not make you OR me right/wrong.

Then again he has an unfair advantage - 8 books (great ones) with him as a main character.

Charcharo:

erttheking:

blackrave:
And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive. Gears of War was originally FPS.
"Originally" means nothing.

Also by my information there was "consensus" by "many" "players" that Geralt was the best Shepard

What? The guy who can't ever speak in a voice other than a bored monotone even when he's accusing someone in an angry mob of being a rapist?

Pass on him.

Well...

Opinions...

I prefer Geralt by a LANDSLIDE :P
Does not make you OR me right/wrong.

Then again he has an unfair advantage - 8 books (great ones) with him as a main character.

Fair enough. I'm mainly going by the games.

Question, I know Geralt was supposed to be world weary, but he could emote right? That's just his voice actor not doing the character justice right?

erttheking:

And? It doesn't matter how many badass points you have, that doesn't make you any less of a insufferably boring character. And really, Geralt isn't that much of a badass. Story wise AND gameplay wise.

Comparing to Shepard? I completely disagree.
Even renegade Shepard doesn't come even close to Geralt.

Yay, more fuel for that vocal minority that loves to remind everyone that if you didn't play the game with Jennifer "I have been using this same voice since 98 and you only notice it now?" Hale's distractingly easy to recognize voice you played such an inferior version of the game that you shouldn't have even been able to complete it. As if they needed any more validation to act smug about it.

Also, this is going way before the point where saying "x was originally supposed to be y, you know" has any value. Guy used a female character model to test animations with, whoop-dee-fucking-doo.

erttheking:

Charcharo:

erttheking:

What? The guy who can't ever speak in a voice other than a bored monotone even when he's accusing someone in an angry mob of being a rapist?

Pass on him.

Well...

Opinions...

I prefer Geralt by a LANDSLIDE :P
Does not make you OR me right/wrong.

Then again he has an unfair advantage - 8 books (great ones) with him as a main character.

Fair enough. I'm mainly going by the games.

Question, I know Geralt was supposed to be world weary, but he could emote right? That's just his voice actor not doing the character justice right?

I am going by games and books.

Yes, he could emote. Rarely though. Usually he tries to appear cold and neutral (fails) to try to achieve moral superiority/not be dissapointed by other people.
Mostly his friends and his love see his emotions.

Well, as for the voice actor... id say he is goof but I may have grown on him. Voice acting, especially in this case is far too subjective :( .

So wait...if Shepard was always supposed to be a choice, male/female, how was Shepard originally a female? You have a wire animation, yes, but based on the facts this is simply the first glimpse of FemShep, not "OMG! SHEPARD IS A WOMAN! OMG OMG!"

Unless you can prove the very first concept design, as in that old napkin for a bar where someone doodled Shepard's face for the fist time some Tuesday night at 9:07 pm was of a woman, all you've 'uncovered' is that FemShep was CG and not an live-action actress. Which, given the fact its a video game, I assumed as read.

So...is this really news to anybody? It's an rpg that allowed varying levels of customization, Commander Shepard is a human, that's about the only set in stone thing. Everyone had their own Shepard, and about the only canon there is is that Sovereign was found and beaten, the Collector's were destroyed, and Eden Prime is screwed beyond all recognition.

If it's just a "repurposed mocap" then why is it being presented as some sort of missing link?

"Animation-short-cut" sounds more appropriate.

In a game where the player chooses what gender Shepard has I don't see how this information has any value.

It's like saying the original Starburst flavour was strawberry.

MrHide-Patten:
It still makes me INCREDIBLY sad when I think up of that info graph they published some years ago that showed only about 11% of players went with Femshep. Tried playing as a Manshep, and even the much pandered Mirandas arse couldn't make me play that through more.

I tried for a second playthrough with femshep, but the obvious copy-pasta motion capture from the male model was just so off-putting that I ended up dropping it.

I see... Bioware hasn't been in the news lately since DA:I released... so someone has to come forward and say something that sounds really progressive. Eh, each to their own. I'm with some of the other comments on here and feel that "originally" anything is utterly meaningless.

Also, love some of the slams on male Shep here, as if the gender you chose matters one ioto. It does not. The story was the same no matter what.

Neronium:

blackrave:
And?
Halo was originally PC exclusive.

Actually, it was originally gonna be released exclusively for the Dreamcast, and when the Dreamcast tanked it was going to be released for the PS2, Xbox, and PC. Other than that, your point is entirely correct. :3

image

Actually it was for Mac, not the Dreamcast.

OT: This would be somewhat worthy of a tweet with so much obvious bragging if they actually made the female character the main one isntead of even by the last game it still being the alternative one that even needs a vote to decide what kind of female character gets to be in the alternative cover because in the end it isnt defined at all.

All it is is them using animations from their last project that had a female character as the lead one.

And then there is this:
image

josemlopes:
image

Quick! Somebody post this to dumblr! We've found a manspreader!

Maybe if they had continued with a female shepard from the start we wouldn't have had that asinine "contest" to design the female Shepard. "OMG SHE'S A BLONDE SHE LOOKS LIKE A BIMBO!" *Changes hair to Red* "OMG I WANNA FUCK HER BEST EVAR!"

Perhaps they could have done a render of a real person's face like they did with Vanderloo for ManShep/Sheploo. The female default for ME3 looks awful with some really weird proportions. Lantern Jaw that would make the Crimson Chin jealous.

So in other words they decided not to be sexist and let you play as either gender, ok .-.

Totally and completely useless trivia, stuff goes through so much change during development... Shepard was originally going to be called one of 200 names, he was going to be a little shorter, or maybe a little taller. I don't know fellas. Characters have 1,001 iterations before devs decide on one.

I feel sorry for Mark Meer. I mean, having the entire fanbase for your most recognized role constantly say that someone else does it better? The man put as much time and effort into his character as Hale did, it must be a bit rough. Can't think of any other situation where two people played the same role at the same time, I imagine it's a pretty unique form of embarrassment for the man.

Shocksplicer:
I feel sorry for Mark Meer. I mean, having the entire fanbase for your most recognized role constantly say that someone else does it better? The man put as much time and effort into his character as Hale did, it must be a bit rough. Can't think of any other situation where two people played the same role at the same time, I imagine it's a pretty unique form of embarrassment for the man.

Nah, Meer is fine. More then 80% of players play MShep. The Femshep fans are just really passionate, and with good reason. Personally, i prefer Hale's Shepard over Meer's but that doesn't mean Meer isn't a good VA. He's excellent.

Femshep is the only shepard as far as I'm concerned. The 80% who only played male shep played the series wrong.

Especially if they only picked soldier class for all three games. Holy crap talk about the most boring possible experience you could have with a series that features an amazing female lead and bad ass biotic powers that make combat 10 times more fun.

LazyAza:
Femshep is the only shepard as far as I'm concerned. The 80% who only played male shep played the series wrong.

Especially if they only picked soldier class for all three games. Holy crap talk about the most boring possible experience you could have with a series that features an amazing female lead and bad ass biotic powers that make combat 10 times more fun.

Maleshep is the only shepard as far as I'm concerned. The 80% who only played male shep just prove that I am right and that they played the game right.

Especially if they stuck with one class for all three games, something like the soldier class. Holy crap imagine how stupid it would be to not get to play with the awesome guns and buff the awesome characters that this series features. Man, that makes combat 10 times as fun.

...

Da da da dun dun, OPINIONS!

LazyAza:
Femshep is the only shepard as far as I'm concerned. The 80% who only played male shep played the series wrong.

Especially if they only picked soldier class for all three games. Holy crap talk about the most boring possible experience you could have with a series that features an amazing female lead and bad ass biotic powers that make combat 10 times more fun.

Poe's law

I'm not quite sure if you're being serious because there's no right way to play the game as you play it your way .

LazyAza:
Femshep is the only shepard as far as I'm concerned. The 80% who only played male shep played the series wrong.

Especially if they only picked soldier class for all three games. Holy crap talk about the most boring possible experience you could have with a series that features an amazing female lead and bad ass biotic powers that make combat 10 times more fun.

I don't know man, when I first entered the game as femshep they only thing I could think about was "it that Bastila? nope can't play it like that, gotta delete this character", it's not that she was bad in it, I just played KOTOR so much and associated her voice with this particular character that I couldn't force myself play as her.

As for classes, well ME was never really a tactical experience and wasn't really that difficult, playing as soldier is just the most efficient way to go through the game. There aren't that many abilities that actually make a difference in the game, using biotics looks pretty but it doesn't really accomplish much. If BW wasn't too busy ripping off Gears of War and appealing to blockbuster biodrone crowd they would incorporate systems found in Parasite Eve, Fallout or any other fun game and actually tried to create a complex game in which different team compositions and character builds would allow you to approach problems from different perspectives, making each playthrough different. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe ME even has enemies which are immune to certain types of attacks, throwing different shit does the same thing.

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