Minecraft developer says narrower arms provide a more feminine look
Minecraft developer Jens Bergensten tweeted earlier this week about testing a three-pixel arm model, a slight modification of the standard four-pixel arm that Steve has been swinging around for the past five years. It seemed like an odd thing to do, so we asked him why, and he told us.
It struck me as kind of an odd thing to change, especially so long after the game opened to the public, but as it turns out the Minecraft forum poster who said the change was made to accommodate female character skins was right on the money.
"The reason why we wanted a 'slimmer' Steve [the default Minecraft character] was because the broad-shoulder Steve would look masculine even with a feminine skin. Minecraft is played by both genders, but girls would sometimes feel left out," Bergensten explained in an email. "We weren't interested in doing a 'female' character, so no boobs or anything, but making the arms thinner and slightly slanting the shoulders (the arms on the slim model are slightly lower) did wonders to the overall feeling for the character. The same non-gender reasoning was one of the reasons why the male Steve sound effects were removed from the game a few years ago."
As it turns out, this isn't a new idea, either. "This was actually in the pipeline several years ago, but our server backend didn't support custom player profile settings (only custom skins)," he added. "Soon we'll be able to define lots of stuff via the profiles, and changing the player model is the first step."
There's no word on when the new "slimmer" model option will be rolled out to the public. Mojang released a new Minecraft snapshot yesterday that uses a "threaded render batch system" to improve rendering performance. Details are here.