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TUG is a multiplayer open-world sandbox-RPG using new technology and social sciences to directly involve players in the game’s design.
7,231 backers pledged $293,184 to help bring this project to life.

Seeds of All Creeds!

Posted by Nerd Kingdom (Creator)
1 like

The other day, I was perusing the forums for a prominent, AAA game developer that will remain unnamed. A thread appeared on the topic of why many of the female characters in the game had revealing, "sexy" armor, while their male counterparts did not. The thread was closed and locked after a few pages, with the moderator's explanation being that there were "no political threads allowed, sorry."

This issue is certainly not unique to that particular company or their games, which is precisely why such a response infuriated me. The industry is slowly but surely changing, the kinds of people who play games are changing, and developers today MUST to be open to having and encouraging these kind of discussions.

Part of the freedom that comes with independently funding a game is not being beholden to anyone who would try to tell us that our target demographic will only buy games with a white male muscle-bound lunkhead or a scantily clad woman on the box. And we at Nerd Kingdom are committed to representing diversity in TUG… after all, what kind of social scientists would we be if we weren't interested in pushing that envelope as well?

So, what are some things we'll do our best to make sure you won't see in TUG? 

  • Armors that have a drastically different appearance on different genders 
  • Overly sexualized "feminine" animations for female characters
  • Damsels in distress (which isn't to say you won't find some NPCs in sticky situations… we just won't discriminate!)
  • Stylized stereotypical representations of different races and cultures
  • White males being portrayed as "default" or "generic"

What you CAN expect to see:

  • Seeds of different genders and colors, both among player characters and NPCs
  • A variety of hairstyles and hair types for Seeds
  • Different and realistic body type progressions for male and female Seeds

Additionally, on some of our official servers, we hope to try a new and slightly different approach to character customization. On these servers, players will be able to choose their Seed's gender and possibly skin color, but will then be assigned a randomly generated face.

Now, I love customizing characters as much as the next person (let's be real, I'm one of those people who agonizes for hours over exactly how widely spaced my characters' eyebrows should be), but we truly feel that this will create some unique opportunities to explore how we perceive beauty in a quantifiable sense. How will players commodify their Seed's appearance? How will this affect social interactions within the game? How far will players go to alter their character's looks? Will this system help or hinder player self-representation, and will it foster or discourage a strong connection to your avatar? We think a system like this may give us an awesome opportunity to really further our understanding of self-perception and social interactions in virtual worlds... as well as in our daily lives.

To prevent players from simply hitting "reset" over and over during creation until they get a face they like, all child Seeds may look very similar at first -- distinct facial traits, as well as things like height, may not become apparent until the Seed is a teenager or adult. By that point, you'll hopefully be invested enough in your character that you won't restart just because he/she suddenly has a bigger nose than you expected!

There will be ways to alter your Seed's appearance later on in the game -- things like changing your hairstyle, adding tattoos, or options regarding facial hair. And without spoiling too much... there may be further customizations and physical alterations available through magic, technology, or other mysterious forces that you'll discover! And keep in mind, your Seed's body mass will affect their facial appearance as well.

That being said, we want the Seed you create to truly feel like your own. Speaking from experience, I know how powerful and empowering an experience it can be to be able to play a game as a female character, and not be treated differently by NPCs or other players as a result. TUG will not be a game where you're forced to play a certain way or pigeon-holed based on whether you prefer combat, exploration, or crafting…. similarly, you won't be forced into a mold based on gender or race, either. Your destiny in TUG is yours to create.

For us to truly break new ground on these issues, we need your help. We want to foster a community where discussions about these topics are actively encouraged, and where the discourse is not dominated by those who are content to sit back and maintain the status quo. TUG is for everyone: men and women of all ages, orientations, and ethnicities, and we aim to reflect this from the ground up in our game design, research, and community structure. We promise to pay close attention to player feedback in this regard, and constantly strive to keep improving.


p.s. Keep in mind too that things like this are a huge part of the reason we decided to turn to Kickstarter! In addition to ensuring our independence to tackle these issues as we see fit, more independent funding = more full-time artists = more art assets = more variety of hairstyles, faces, clothing/armor, and other customizable features!

Robin Wyatt-Stone likes this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Kelsey Smith on

      (Also bless Demon Soul's masculine/feminine slider; that's the one I've run into, but it's awesome that it shows up in multiple mainstream games.)

    2. Missing avatar

      Kelsey Smith on

      Bless DD's appearance slider! That would be amazing.

      Even if y'all can't fit that in, something as simple as having the character creation screen say, "Choose your body:" instead of "Choose male/female" (and giving options for pronouns you want the game to use for you rather than assuming pronouns based on body, though it doesn't sound like TUG will need to do that?) would do wonders for inclusivity. It's such a small thing, yet so many developers don't bother.

    3. TheMegaChicken on

      I very much like this idea, doing this whole you don't choose your face thing is good. When you are born onto this earth you do not choose your face, god doesn't hand you an Ipad with sliders on it allowing you to design your character before your plopped down onto this ol' blue marble.

      It goes without saying that how you look effects your personality and how you interact with the world, so it is in interesting exercise having it so the player's character has a face of their own, that isn't micro-managed down to the last detail but is natural and very much makes the Seed an individual.

      Hopefully this will encourage players to when playing the game channel there Seed as another person, not just there vessel into the world of TUG but a living breathing person in this virtual world and then play them in a way that maybe suits the Seed's personality as apposed to their own.

    4. Missing avatar

      GlenRobbySeth on

      This brings to mind the racial aspect in Morrowind, in which your chosen race would affect how you could play in a big way - being a khajiit would pretty much seal your fate into thievery and trickery because nobody would give you the time of day and so forth. I thought that was a really cool system because not only was it a powerful role-playing tool, it also made the world around you seem that much more alive. Personally, I`m indifferent towards gender or race so I haven`t much to say about that - but the idea of fully randomized faces and stature is intriguing. I abuse the daylights out of character creation systems like the ones Bethesda or Bioware boast, but I always end up connecting more with a character I was given that one I made (like Jak from Jak & Daxter, etc). It`s the fact that I`m always a little poorly disposed towards them at first but the sense that I`m stuck with them causes me to warm up to them over time. Excellent decision in my opinion.

    5. Missing avatar

      James on

      Ah this is all fantastic to hear- the diversity is so fantastic to see and definitely is one of the reasons I backed this project.
      One thing that has come up is the movement differences in the sexes and I have a little to say about that. Movement and the way a person holds them self in general are definitely learned behaviors- dictated by culture, clothing, and social context, to name (very) few influences. Across our world women, men, and people who are neither/both have set movements that they've learned from their various cultures and ways of life (crossing your legs in a skirt, hair flips, sitting with arms crossed, etc. ect.). However, setting a default "male" or "female" way of moving is difficult unless you ignore all other cultures ways of movement in favor of one.
      My point is, there is not "true" way any of the sexes or gender expressions move 100% of the time, and it would be interesting to see a variety of options for all Seeds.

    6. Missing avatar

      smaller on

      This is my favorite thing about this project, and it's why I decided to back it instead of going "Oh, TUG sounds neat, I'll wait for it to come out."

    7. Missing avatar

      Sharky on

      The last post regarding servers allowing full customization is good news. While the concept of randomized (even if only somewhat) looks sounds interesting, and I'd try it for fun, I personally typically hate games that limit/remove my ability to tailor my character to how I want them to look. As long as we will not be locked in to this randomization, I like the idea as an experimental concept to be implemented on select servers. :)

    8. Missing avatar

      Amanda Lemaster on

      I really enjoy the idea of randomly generated appearance! I feel like that may help people learn to cope and grow to love their own unique and maybe slightly unpopular face, but maybe, like with the character, with time grow attached to their unique attributes and appreciate more their very unique face that can be attractive in its own way because it is different. =) Also, it could help people altogether embrace odd beauty. =)

    9. Devon Mullane on

      The random appearance on official servers is probably one of the most experimental things I've heard. It's an interesting idea for two reasons; it would give a much higher diversity of seeds (sorry, but the average person is depressingly un-creative), and it mimics coming to recognize yourself in the mirror. Obviously you should be able to change your hair after the fact. So I think that's a cool idea.

      I doubt you'd want to take it this far, but one of the standout things in Venetica was you played as a girl. She did not, however, just fit into all clothing and armor. You had to have it tailored to fit that character. Just as a leather breastplate becoming a bikini on a girl, that a seed nine feet tall and two hundred pounds can wear the same boots as a four foot tall one had on is the same vein of awkward. Accursed Lands let you wear items that were within a range of your size, any thoughts being put into this as well?

    10. Nerd Kingdom Creator on

      @Christopher, we'll have servers where you'll be able to fully customize your Seed, don't worry! There are definitely pros and cons to both approaches, and ultimately I think it comes down to personal preference (and don't be afraid to give new things a try... you may be surprised!)

    11. Missing avatar

      Krozber on

      Here's my take on customization (the rest sounds good to me): I customize my avatars to resemble me, because I want to feel like I'm living the experience. If you want to foster connection to the avatar, it doesn't get any better than that. By taking that away, it adds distinct "personality" to the seed, but it divests me of some of that connection.

    12. Kraus Peter on

      Do you made animations for the environment
      As example falling trees by cuttin them
      Or in caves water drops from the top

      And are theyr some ideas like more liquids (lava or something)
      Do you created some ores or something that we need from caves
      Can we build ships (Can we build our ship on our way(that mean: can we design our ships with our materials))?

    13. Missing avatar

      Stella Omega on

      I've been waiting for this post!

    14. Nerd Kingdom Creator on

      @Michael and Joar, I didn't say female characters wouldn't be getting their own animations…. of course they will! And they will be feminine. Just not overly sexualized. The problem is that a lot of people equate "feminine" with "overly sexualized" and THAT is what we are trying to avoid.
      @Jedia, that's an AMAZING idea. I love stuff like that. Maybe we could do something like that in TUG… gotta talk to our animators. :P
      @Jonathan, it's okay, I get it, I love putting freckles on my characters too! I even mod games (Skyrim, Mass Effect) to add in freckles on my characters because now that I think about it, freckles are kind of a big deal to me too, lol
      @Gwendolyn, I also really love the idea of Seeds getting more rugged as they grow, depending on their activities. We're definitely looking into implementing stuff like this.

    15. Kharlos Johnson on

      "men and women move differently" that is the funniest justification for sexism that I've ever heard, lol.
      Thank you so much for this update! this is an issue that is given a lot of lip service in progressive gaming communities but few are willing to put their money where their mouth is.
      You guys are awesome.

    16. Jesse Sindler on

      I really would like to see a "hardcore" server where players can't even choose skin color or gender. Maybe depending on where your SEED spawned in the world (different continents?) would dictate some of their features, such as skin color and facial structure.

    17. Erin Thomas on

      "Clearly as a young seed one wouldn't be very rugged, but I think those who spend more of their time in the wilderness adventuring/surviving and battling vs more of a village/farm life should grow more rugged in appearance; more scars the more you're seriously injured, and the like. "

      What a great idea, Gwendolyn!

    18. Missing avatar

      Andreas Vollenweider on

      Thumbs up for not making me choose how I look but giving my seed personality :D
      This would perfectly fit with my idea for inherent talents (bonuses/maluses) which aren't visible anywhere but make you better or worse at certain tasks (see forum - suggestions) :)

    19. Missing avatar

      Jonathan Richard Hoyle on

      This is probably one of the stranger requests you might recieve, but would it be possible to have freckles make their way into the game. I cannot tell you how many times I'm disappointed with a games character creation for simply not adding such a basic facial feature common to many people. Characters just appeal more to me if I can add some freckles.

    20. Missing avatar

      JediaKyrol on

      @Joar and Michael Yes females do move differently...but that doesn't mean they should move like they're wearing high heels moving down a catwalk while they're sneaking through the woods hunting a pig for dinner. Doesn't mean a female seed won't generally walk with a little more sway in their hips...(that reminded me...Dragon's Dogma has a little slider that changes your stance/movement animations on a slider from "feminine" to "masculine" or you can stop somewhere in-between. I think that would be well-received in TUG.)

    21. michael slesinski on

      "Joar Guttormsen about 5 hours ago
      you won't see : Overly sexualized "feminine" animations for female characters
      Now your loosing my vote.."

      +1 seriously, females DO generally move differently than males (sometimes even intentionally). why would you NOT want a female to move like a female? it just sounds like a shortcut so the animators dont have as much work to do.

    22. Brett Richards (Avaera/Kojra) on

      I just wanted to say how thrilled I am to read this update, and I've increased my pledge solely because of this post. Gender identity not used as a wedge to determine the nature and quantity of sexual expressiveness? Sign me up and take my money already!

      I would dearly love to play more games that didn't assume that as a male character, I couldn't possibly want a sexy dance or revealing outfit. I know that female avatars and NPCs have it much worse of course, so often defined by their circumstances or their relationship to a man rather than by their choices, but it's just brilliant that your team is aiming right from the start not to fall into those tired old tropes.

      Thank you so, so much!

    23. Missing avatar

      Scott Nuhn on

      Out of curiosity, what is your plan B if the kick starter doesn't reach your goal? For I am loving all of the updates and very excited for the game but will be disappointed if the development suddenly stops in 8 days.

    24. Joar Guttormsen on

      you won't see : Overly sexualized "feminine" animations for female characters
      Now your loosing my vote..

    25. Aneka K. Bean on

      +1 to Androgyny. I will be interested to see how flexible design options turn out as this project progresses. I imagine from the updates and information shared so far, whatever is available in the alpha or beta of the game will in no way reflect the possibilities in the future.

      Glitch was a very interesting game, and I wouldn't mind if you tore some pages out of their book, though I think TUG has the potential to be more up my alley than glitch was. I really liked it but it was a little too casual. Not that I didn't spend hours on it and it was just getting really good as the project failed. >.>

      I am a little at a loss as to how to encourage people to check out this project and invest! I've pretty much already shared it with my limited user base and short of awful anonymous spam (which sounds like a bad idea) I wouldn't know how to kick it in the rear towards success. I am really hoping it will pick up momentum in the final days. :-x

      @Merylisk What kind of art support are you talking about. Is it something we/I can contribute to? Specific medium or program know-hows?

    26. Katherine on

      Here's my long 2 cents:
      First I'd like to second everything Danielle said- she voiced about half of my thoughts on this, and voiced them well. Which includes a fourth vote for Gwendolyn's post for androgynous seeds- I'd really like to see that happen.
      And I think these armor/clothing options should be relatively straight-forward to implement, given TUG's crafty nature- you could craft more revealing or concealing armor/clothing, and when anyone wears said items they would stay revealing/concealing regardless of gender.

      While I'm really excited to see you approach female characters more realistically (the way female characters are generally portrayed in video games has long been a pet peeve of mine), your sketches and some of the comments have me slightly concerned that there's still an impression that female characters should be 'cute'.
      Now some people want to play cute women, and I'm fine with that! But sometime I don't want to play a cute woman, sometimes I want to play a woman who looks like the badass she is (pardon my french). I'd love to be able to look at my grown seed and believe that she has been, and is capable of, surviving both the world at large and the battles she's been in.
      Now part of that is clothing- tankinis and short-shorts aren't very practical wear for wilderness survival unless perhaps you're in a rather hot climate, nor are they very battle-ready.
      And part of it is something I'd like to see more of regardless of gender- options for more ruggedness! Clearly as a young seed one wouldn't be very rugged, but I think those who spend more of their time in the wilderness adventuring/surviving and battling vs more of a village/farm life should grow more rugged in appearance; more scars the more you're seriously injured, and the like.
      I like the idea of my seed, regardless of gender, actually looking like they've been doing the adventuring/surviving they've been doing, instead of always looking pristine.

      And finally, I'm digging the idea of randomly generated looks, especially since we'll get to watch our seeds mature.

    27. Gwendolyn on

      @danielle and @johnsondanielj always nice to find fellow glitchen refugees. RIP glitch. you were a good game u_u

    28. Erin Thomas on

      That's a beautiful idea to make optional servers where looks are randomly generation. One suggestion: please make body types varied and random too!

    29. Danielle McCarney on

      Correction: Gwendolyn! I'msosorry!

    30. Danielle McCarney on

      I really love that the NK team are giving us OPTIONS. No-one is slapping an 'all bad' sticker on warrior bikinis and musclemen, but NK are telling us you can go that way or you can go another way. (I say this because I felt like a few posts seemed to think it was black or white.) As a female gamer I've always found it difficult to connect with my avatars when they're wearing lingerie to go on long hikes to quest points or mine copper. That's just who I am. Other people want to play dress ups with their online doll-selves and that's fine too!

      Allow me to third Gwendoline's post for androgynous seeds. I'm also a Glitch refugee and even as a cisgendered woman, for some reason I never felt more truly represented than in a game I was never asked my sex and could cobble my avatar together with no limitation on clothing, hairstyle or body parts.

    31. Nicole Crenshaw on

      I can't even put into words how excited I am for this game. It's as if NerdKingdom took everything I've ever thought should be incorporated into RPGs and combined them into an awesome SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH VENUE [which is also totally awesome].

      I hope you guys are planning another wave of advertising to bump up funds! It would be such a shame if the current pot was wiped.

    32. Missing avatar

      Trent Boyd

      p.s. I love the Female design I think they look FANTASTIC!

    33. Missing avatar

      Trent Boyd

      I would like some control ... I have a personal connection with taller characters ... I would hit reset if I had a short character ...Superficial maybe ... but I can't help feel how I feel

    34. Andrew McDermott on

      It's a particular annoyance of mine as well how a full plate armour magically turns into a bikini when worn by a female. As well as how stupid it would be to go into battle with so much exposed flesh.

    35. Missing avatar

      Remi D. Finjord on

      I approve of this update. Strongly.

    36. Missing avatar

      Jeff Sarles on

      I like these ideas - and would like to add that I agree with the people below that posted saying that while the same "wearable" should look very similiar on both sexes, there does need to be a variety of looks - from those that are like in the game Vanguard (modest for the most part but still good looking and functional and the same for everyone who wore it) to those in tera/vindictus/etc and everything in between.

      I'm interested in hearing what people think about gender locked clothing and why.

    37. Missing avatar

      Flammablezeus on

      Wow, this is by far the best character creation system I've seen. It sounds similar to what Molyneux said was going to be in Fable, except taken to the next level. Plus I expect you guys aren't going to suddenly cut all of these great features just to appeal to younger audiences.

    38. Victoria Åström on

      Also, I would like to see the random faces on Adventure servers as well. It's such a cool concept and I would love to take part of it without going out of my comfort zone and on to the Survival servers.

    39. Amund Bugge on

      Keep it real, please: no breast contours for female armor. No one wants an armor which helps lead their enemies' arrows/sword blows straight to their heart. ;)

    40. Victoria Åström on

      I love the randomly generated faces!
      Hopefully it'll show people that you can't really decide what you'll look like in the real world and if someone's "ugly" it's not their fault and nothing they should be judged on. This seems like a step in the right direction, not only in the game world, but also in the real one.

      I will maybe not see my character as a version of me, but I will most likely see her as a unique person and not just an avatar that I nipped and tucked until I found it pleasing.

    41. CashWiley on

      Love the random seed idea, and then opportunities to evolve if you want to, or take a more active hand in things.

      Seems very on point for the spirit of the project.

    42. Missing avatar

      Alexander Saritas on

      I don't know...

      I guess the idea is to start as blank canvas, and have our actions be the brush strokes that paint it.

      But I see more too this - this could very well be freedom of choice vs immersion. As funny as it is to see a bear of a guy wander around in a tutu punching rhinos or whatever it is you do, it will break any sort of immersion. That isn't to say that I think chain mail bikinis are immersive - but if it is part of the racial culture and identy of the race/culture in question I think it's allot better than something unisex just for the sake of being political correct.

      Perhaps given the freedom of choice, people will find the sort of people they want too hang out with anyhow and adapt to each other. I just happen to prefer being able to chose part of my characters identy from the very start - and if possible starting conditions.

      Course, if it will be played in first person view, I won't have any reason to care for my avatars look at all. Hell, depending on the game setting I might very well be that tutu wearing rhino puncher myself!

    43. Nerd Kingdom Creator on

      @Todd, yes, definitely! One of our researchers/scientists could probably give you more details and specifics, but yes, that's pretty much exactly the plan. Our video update this Friday is actually going to delve a bit into the science-y research side of TUG, so check back!
      @Gwendolyn, I love the idea of having more androgynous characters/body types available to play... once we get more art support, that would definitely be something we could look into implementing at some point.

    44. Lars on

      In my opinion forcing random faces on players might be a step too far. I love character creation things in games.

      But I assume I'll be playing mostly singleplayer so it shouldnt conecern me.

    45. johnsondanielj on

      That is, I want purple skin. But green is nice too.

    46. johnsondanielj on

      +1 @Gwendolyn re: no gender specification or >binary (and +5 for being a fellow glitchen!).

      Also I'm partial to purple skin.

    47. Missing avatar

      JediaKyrol on

      @Baroness BorgKitten makes the movie a strange watch when you realize you've seen Nani starkers...

      Anyway...back on topic! Clothes for everyone! All kinds! Let males wear dresses and females wear pants! Also I really like the random face idea...actually makes the Seeds more identifiable to you can't choose the face you are born with.

    48. Missing avatar

      Todd Moegerle on

      @Nerd Kingdom
      You've spoken repeatedly about the appeal of studying social interactions. In this update as in a few others, you've called out game play ideas specifically geared towards facilitating that endeavor. I'm curious (and forgive me if this has been answered elsewhere already), is the study of player interactions something you plan to actively pursue from a research standpoint as part of your ongoing maintenance and development of the game? Are there plans to publish periodic articles on your latest findings and statistics?

      With the right player density I'd find that to be a fascinating value add for a game like this. The concept outlined in this update - that of having special servers where the players have very little control over their facial appearance and certain physical attributes - is particular interesting. Its rare for the fictional world of a game to actually teach you something about the world you live in. I'd love to see that concept nurtured in a project like TUG.

    49. J.L. on

      Armour: Great! Function over form, but of course that function can also have form (and less is not more in that case, ha!)...

      Random face: I don't know. I am split there, I think. On one hand, either full random or none, on the other, always prefered creating whatever I want at the time, because it is about living out a fantasy, after all... But as long as I can make my own server and have that option (but also completely random option, to stir things up) I am happy. (c:

    50. Missing avatar

      coyotek on

      Wow. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for recognizing, acknowledging, and then taking a tangible step toward fixing this really glaring issue with games. I'm going to up my pledge immediately.