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#1 Jan 15, 2019 2:19 AM

MiharuTheDragoness
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The Problem with Bianca in Reignited

My video essay on Bianca is finally done! This is something I've wanted to talk about for quite a while now, so please give it a watch and let me know what you think!


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#2 Jan 15, 2019 6:34 AM

MrX-Link
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Re: The Problem with Bianca in Reignited

Nice work on the video, you're the first person I hear describing the issue with Bianca's changes in-depth like that, and I couldn't agree more with your points! I've noticed some tiny but significant changes to her as well, and I'll share some my thoughts. (Sorry for the text wall!):

Throughout the entirety of my first Reignited YotD playthrough I have been bothered quite a lot by Bianca's character design in general. Even graphically, though she looks great, I feel like she has lost a massive amount of intimidation. From the very start in the opening cutscenes, Bianca doesn't just act like a clumsy, inexperienced villain sidekick, but she also looks like it from the get-go. I'm talking animation, but also very tiny, subtle elements that cause this, such as the colour and size of her robes and her eye shape. Might seem very nit-picky but this really does make all the difference!

Notice how in Reignited the length of her sleeves are almost comically long and she keeps waving them around due to her now fluent and vibrant animation style. It radiates "apprentice" and really adds to the kind of clumsy/tryhard image you described in the video. Her animation in general is a lot more directed towards trying hard to act like a superior being rather than knowing it. In PS1 YotD, you her animations appear more "sassy" and confident, like she actually knew what she was doing when talking to Spyro. Now, that impression is very hard to find.

The graphical overhaul of the worlds and Bianca's model make the robe colour appear lighter, but most importantly less contrasting with the background. The problem with contrast is that the smaller the contrast is, the more something seems to blend in. If you want something to appear dramatic or intimidating, purely increasing the contrast will already make a big difference. For an impressive, masterful teacher or sidekick appearing in front of a player for dialogue, a high-contrast light appearance will give the impression of someone to look up to (will get back to that later!). For intimidation and threats, if you go for a singular colour, a high-contrast dark appearance will make all the difference. PS1 YotD has incredibly bright graphics due to the console's limitations and colour depth, and the biggest culprit here is actually shadow processing. Reignited's worlds look so good largely due to shading and colour blending, but this makes almost all worlds appear darker and therefore Bianca's robes blend in more.

Another problem of overhauling graphics is what to do with the accuracy of assets. Sure, we've got more powerful engines now, but does this mean we can give people fingers, add extra limbs, change the size of emphasized elements or body parts, or add legs to Sparx? With this also comes how accurately you want Bianca to look like a bunny, and how you turn 2D sprites for eyes into a 3D eye rendering. There's something slightly uncanny about lowly polygonal character models. A lack of realism and even simply rounded shapes means a character appears more sharp, which is easily suspended by your mind if you think about it, but for intimidation and villainous characters, this sharpness and literal edginess benefit the scare and threat factor. To look more bunny-like, Bianca now has almost "fluffy" colour matching in her fur, a cute and accurately rounded head, and her eyes have gone from a 2D (almost humanoid) oval shape to 3D ovals with a flat bottom, giving off even more inherent cutesy animal vibes that we respond compassionately to by instinct. Really doesn't help to try so desperately to be a villain and then to look like that. I'm not saying that a realistic-looking cutesy anthropomorphic bunny can't appear to be intimidating, but it's the fact that she also acts so tryhardy and clumsy that dramatically cuts into her intimidation factor.

Coming back to "looking up" to an intimidating character is something so crucial that it was immediately visible to me from the get-go: Camera angle. At any point when Bianca's in diamonologue with Spyro, the camera stays behind Spyro and has Bianca to cover about 2/3 of the screen height, nicely in the middle. While this is all golden ratio and all that jazz, which makes it appealing to look at, it makes Bianca appear smaller and less imposing than she did in the original game, where her head pretty much touched the top of the screen at all times, making both the viewer and Spyro look up to her in the most literal sense possible. This is an absolutely crucially intimidating part of Bianca interactions that Insomniac purposely added that's really dimmed down in Reignited for the sake of realism, or rushed oversights. Bianca's old model may be out of proportion (with Spyro) too to work better with the camera, but even proportionally accurate Bianca can look more intimidating with a simple camera height and angle tweak. The current camera angle makes it great to show her character development to realise she's come to the realisation she's not evil; if camera angles became gradually lower as Bianca progresses morally, it would greatly emphasise development. PS1 Bianca did this by simply removing the (then bigger) hood that made sure her model did not actually touch the top of the screen to lower her intimidation, but in Reignited that effect is simply not as strong when it comes to camera positioning.


Now as you mention, what's really evident is her overall, cutesy and adorable look that you have also stated to be part of the charm and essentially a double-edged sword when it comes to her character development. I'm wondering why they went that specific route, and the idea of it being purely fanservice immediately comes to mind for me. Bianca is without a doubt one of the most loved and memorable Spyro characters, especially in the furry community but really just in general too. She has always had a similar kind of charm as Elora, except it was executed better and gave players more emotional attachment through her character development, voice acting and looks. Bianca is a well-loved character with physical and emotional attractiveness to many, and so it was crucial for TFB to perform well on her design to appeal to the fans. What developers usually do when a character blows up in popularity like that is to use their new tools to emphasise what's loved about them in whatever way possible. This can clearly be seen in Bianca: all that she's loved for is there: gorgeous model/animations, adorable looks, and a high amount of time spent on her voice acting and very specifically romance and feelings for Hunter, which is very thoroughly emphasised from the get-go; people always remember a good love story. Character development (aside from romance), however, isn't really something that people go and fangirl/boy over and may have been deemed as less important. This is a huge problem for remakes and sequels to games and films where developers try too hard to appease their fans and in the process leave other character details in the dark, consciously or not. Bianca feels so different compared to how Elora feels because Elora didn't have any development to sacrifice and could just have her points of fan interest enhanced the same way as they did for Bianca: graphics, animation, romance.

On the other hand though, since Reignited YotD was largely outsourced and the game was already delayed, I also feel like a lot of features and details were simply overlooked. Whether that is due to the pressure of a time constraint or due to the development quality of the outsourced studio is beyond my knowledge, but if there isn't time, money or workforce to go and look at issues like these in-depth, there will always be simple oversights like this. And there are way worse oversights, such as the lack of cutscene subtitles. Perhaps it's all unrelated to fanservicing or to pressure; oversights happen to the best of us, and as long as the developers and/or publisher acknowledge that and don't make a big deal about it that's fine (Looking at you, Activision).

I also still like Bianca a lot in Reignited despite this criticism, but Insomniac really did a better job at the narrative aspect of her, particularly visual storytelling. The difference is quite notable and the fact that you're bringing it to light is a welcome sight!

(Phew, that rant went on longer than expected. Sorry 'bout that, I get too excited about anything Spyro-related tongue)


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#3 Jan 31, 2019 7:17 PM

MiharuTheDragoness
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Registered: Apr 10, 2018
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Re: The Problem with Bianca in Reignited

New video on Elora!


OG fan. Aspiring voice actress. Spyrotuber.

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#4 Feb 20, 2019 7:24 AM

MiharuTheDragoness
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Re: The Problem with Bianca in Reignited

Sheila video!


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#5 Feb 20, 2019 4:49 PM

ThunderEgg
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Registered: Feb 01, 2019
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Re: The Problem with Bianca in Reignited

oh oh! I'm excited for your Hunter analysis!

It's nice to see other people commenting on the design changes. I don't run into a lot of discourse on this online, so thanks smile

Last edited by ThunderEgg (Feb 20, 2019 4:53 PM)


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#6 Mar 07, 2019 7:25 PM

MiharuTheDragoness
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Registered: Apr 10, 2018
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Re: The Problem with Bianca in Reignited

ThunderEgg wrote:

oh oh! I'm excited for your Hunter analysis!

It's nice to see other people commenting on the design changes. I don't run into a lot of discourse on this online, so thanks smile

Well, you're in luck! Just dropped today!


OG fan. Aspiring voice actress. Spyrotuber.

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#7 Mar 15, 2019 3:59 PM

ThunderEgg
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Registered: Feb 01, 2019
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Re: The Problem with Bianca in Reignited

Just watched it! I personally prefer OG Hunter, but that's due to the curse of nostalgia. wink

You make some really good points. Points that are, like, supported by something other than personal attachment to the original games. Which is good for making a successful argument. I have a better understanding of why so many other people like Hunter in RT, now, so thanks for that. gem


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