I've been making more progress on MARDEK, and I've started on the actual coding stuff! There's little to show at this point though, so I don't have any pretty pictures this time.
However, I have been thinking about something...
I've been interested in evening out the genders of the cast, because most characters were male before and recent changes in my mind and opinions led to this bothering me... This led to me making some previously male characters female, and removing other males completely. It's worked out quite well... sort of. Or rather, there are a bunch of female characters now - a majority, even - and there are even episodes where all four characters are female (not because I was trying to force such a situation, but because it happened naturally)... But most of them seem to appear infrequently and the guys still get the spotlight most of the time.
Quite frankly - and I suppose this is no secret anyway - I'd like to attract more girls to my work, if I can. Not through manipulation, but by making something that might genuinely appeal to a different audience than the 90+% male lot I got with my previous efforts. Perhaps it's never possible considering the line of work I'm in, but I'm still at least interested in trying. I've talked to girls about games design in the past, and something that comes up often is how female characters are uncommon, highly sexualised or stereotyped, that they act as supporters for the guys, etc... I know that it's becoming increasingly common for games these days to defy that old rule, but even so it feels like female leading protagonists are rare (unless they're 'action girls', which are basically like men with (oversized) breasts anyway... as if the expectation is that only a male personality
can fill such a role, and any physical differences are purely cosmetic; such female characters seem designed to appeal more to men anyway, as something to ogle at).
The introductory parts of this MARDEK game will be crucially important, because they'll determine who'll keep playing and who'll quit in the first five minutes. The problem is though that they focus entirely on Mardek and Deugan - two guys - so even though I have a bunch of female characters planned for the story, they don't show up until later, meaning that many people won't see them at all.
But could I get away with giving Mardek a sex change?! Deugan has to be male and that fact is too important for the story (I just can't bear to drop the scene where he fights off a whole army using just his pork sword, titanic pectoral muscles glistening in the sun, while screaming bad-donkey one liners), but Mardek - despite being the protagonist - is barely even a character at all, really, and as such would be easier to change.
It would be a BIG change though!!! I mean, changing the sex of some minor character who appears in episode 10 or whatever is one thing, but changing the protagonist sort of makes it into a different story entirely, doesn't it? Does it? Mardek is a very masculine name, too, so I couldn't keep that... (Obviously I wouldn't go with 'Mardekina' either, though!)
I feel like the Mesopotamian reference in his name is no longer relevant, also... Not that it ever was; I came up with the name 'Mardek' randomly as a child, and only discovered that it was similar to the god 'Marduk' years later. So it's not as if I called him that because of some symbolic meaning or anything. Other characters like Enki got their names based on his - none of them for any meaningful reason beyond that - but maybe I could rename them, too.
And that would mean renaming the series. I've wanted to rename it 'ROHOPH' for a while, actually (as early as when I began working on the original chapter 2), since I feel that Mardek himself is fairly inconsequential for the plot while Rohoph is the character it revolves around, and if I did go with that name then at least it should be familiar to MARDEK fans...
But, well! It's such a huge decision, and I imagine that most people would absolutely hate it... especially since it's so transparently some kind of ploy to pander to what amounts to a minority. It could just end up ruining everything.
Anyway, I've not decided
to do this; I should make that clear!! Rather, it's just an idea that came to mind and made me go 'hmmmm'. It might be interesting
to make this change, but I won't if the only result will be to alienate the people who've been waiting for this game for years.
I made ∞ a poll ∞
so then you can tell me how VERY NEGATIVE you feel about the whole thing!!