Note: This post began as a reply to this topic on KhangND's Talk Page. But this post turned out so long I decided it would be better to post it as a blog.
This message discusses two points. The first is a confirmation of the established rules regarding the artwork used in character infoboxes, and the second is on what I think should change. Due to the length of this post I can understand not wanting to read through the whole thing. The main point I want to talk about is the second one, so due due to the length I have separated each point with a header. To substitute as a TL;DR you can skip directly to the second header.
Current Artwork Rules and Priority
Sorry for bringing this topic back up because it seems like it's been discussed at length already, but I just wanted to say my personal thoughts on it. I'll start by saying I really like current priority system (from what I can gather of it):
- 1. Infoboxes should contain all of that character's official artwork from the mainline series games only. Bonus artwork, such as the commissioned art made for the Awakening DLC, is not included.
Examples: Seliph, which contains his FE4 and FE5 artwork only despite modern depictions in the Cipher and spin-offs. Sephiran, which shows his FE10 artwork only, as despite also appearing in FE9 he has no official artwork from that game.
- 2. If there is no official artwork from the mainline series, then artwork from a spin-off game is used if available; granted that it portrays that character in a way comparable to their mainline series counterparts. Expanding on that, I presume the following would occur in these hypothetical scenarios:
- a. If the next released character in Heroes was 'Spring Julius' (which would have him dressed in a bunny outfit), then it would not be used despite him having no official mainline artwork since that would be considered inaccurate to his appearance in FE4. If Heroes released 'Julius' as standard, then that would be used.
- b. None of the 'Mirage' character artwork from Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE would have been used as it would've been considered inaccurate to their appearance in whatever mainline series game they originated from. This thought never would've been considered since all the mirage characters already had mainline official artwork at the time of the game's release - but if we pretend Virion never had his FE13 artwork released, his artwork from TMS#FE wouldn't have been prioritized over his Heroes artwork for those reasons.
- Right now we use exclusively Heroes art for this section since that's currently the only Fire Emblem spin-off with actual character artwork. The only other FE spin-off is TMS♯FE, which predominantly used original characters rather than already established characters from previous games. Super Smash Bros. is also its own series and not regarded as a FE spin-off despite containing FE characters. In the future, more spin-off games could be created as a source for artwork; such as the upcoming Fire Emblem Warriors.
Examples: Azama, who's FE14 art hasn't been released yet. Michalis, who doesn't have any official art from any of the four mainline games he's been in. Tsubasa Oribe, who's only appearance was in a spin-off game.
- 3. In the instance of there being no artwork produced for/from a video game, then artwork from a licensed art book is used. This specifies complete, full body art pieces, and not stills from a comic panel (unless that's the character's only documented appearance). In the instance of multiple art book releases, the most recent is chosen.
Examples: Julius uses artwork from Fire Emblem TREASURE (1999) over the Super Tactics Book (1996). Forrest uses art from the 4koma Book as neither his FE14 art has been released nor has he been added to Heroes yet.
- 4. In the lack of other forms of licenced artwork, their appearances in the official Trading Card Game are used, both the original and Cipher. Again artwork must show the character in a clear, full body manner and be reprehensive of their mainline appearance. It should just be the character themselves, and pieces with a background or text are not to be used. I see original TCG artwork used almost exclusively over Cipher versions, but I presume that this is due to the original TCG using consistent full body poses over the more dynamic poses that tend to appear in Cipher.
Examples: Wolf, who uses his TCG art since his art from The Complete licensed book is a scan featuring other characters, a background and text. His Cipher artwork is also dynamic and has a background. Rickard suffers similar issues with his art from the Archanea Chronicle book, and the image from the manga adaption is also unfit as it’s a still from a panel. Dolph uses his TCG art since his official art from FE1 isn’t full body. Shade, who's only appearance was in the Cipher game. Of the several art pieces from the Cipher, her least dynamic pose is chosen.
- 5. If no artwork is able to meet the above criteria, then content from the games themselves are used. Ideally this content is directly extracted from the game and is not in form of a screenshot. In-game CGs are avoided as the infobox artwork (unless that's the character's only documented appearance). Character portraits are preferable over their battle Sprites/3D models.
Examples: Both Cervantes and Darin use their in-game portrait. Forseti uses an image from battle screen out of a lack of more preferable options. Maira is a worst-case scenario, who lacks a usable image entirely.
Correct me if any of what I have listed above is false. This is just what I was able to gather from looking across various articles. I also apologize if these rules have already been written down and established – I tried looking in the Wikia FAQ and couldn’t find anything regarding this topic. As I said before I think this is a great system and is a logical way of doing things. I have noticed a few inconsistences however like how Julia uses her TREASURE artwork over her Heroes depiction. Is this a mistake? Or are the previous examples a mistake?
Order of Artwork in the Character Infoboxes
Now to the main part of my piece. I personally believe that, regarding official mainline artwork, the most recent depiction should be the default. With the current system, the default artwork on display is from their first appearance. Now this isn’t inherently a false way to handle things and I understand why the infoboxes are currently like that. But I feel that as a Wiki it is of upmost importance that we represent each character as accurately as possible within the infobox. This is for two reasons:
- 1. The first image that appears on the article often becomes a top hit when using a search engine.
- 2. With the release of Echoes, an influx of new users will use this Wikia with some being newcomers to the series. When they click on an article, the image should represent what they are looking for. This is very important for users who are new to the Wikia format, and might not be aware of the 'tab' feature and gallery. If the main image is closer to what they were expecting, then it would seem more welcoming and could potentially incline these users to continue using this Wikia over others.
In that regard, I believe that making the infoboxes for the Gaiden/Echoes characters use their Echoes artwork as the default tab a no-brainer. Along with the reasons stated above, it also creates consistency with the rules above and be in align with other professional Wiki policies.
When using artwork as per priority 4., the most recent date is applied. It would make sense to apply official art in the same way. Let's also use Bulbapedia as an example of another Wiki. Bulbapedia is the most popular Pokémon related Wiki on the internet. They always use the most recent piece of official artwork as the main image. This includes their article on Red, which uses his artwork from the most recent main series game 'Sun and Moon'. An interesting thing to note here is that this artwork is actually not the most common 'representation' of Red throughout the Pokémon series. In most games he appears as a child, but he just so happens to be older in this particular iteration. Despite this, the adult picture of Red used on this article is also the top hit when searching for 'Red Pokémon' on Google because of it. I use this comparison since I think it would be a good analogy to compare with the Ike page on this Wikia. In FE10 Ike is physically older and could be a point of content in regarding potential issues with the 'use most recent artwork' system. I feel that having Ike represented with his FE10 iteration over his FE9 one is still more reprehensive of his general appearance across the series than the image used on the Red article.
My final explanation on my reasoning on why this system should be enacted is that, currently, modern representations of characters seem to be the versions Intelligent Systems themselves push the most in their media. While the Super Smash Bros. series is not technically apart of the FE line of games, the FE characters that appear in that game use their most modern appearance. Ike was updated to his FE10 appearance in Smash 4. It's also clear to see Marth's design in Melee and Brawl where based off his artwork from FE3, while his Smash 4 iteration used his updated appearance from FE12. It's just in Smash either; its across all forms of Fire Emblem media and the newer designs for Marth are also the basis for the Cipher and Nedoroid figures.
I am not saying that the most recent artwork is a better representation of characters over older ones, as that is simply untrue. I am saying that as a Wikia it would make sense to use this system as it would be way to inforce rules, make for a smoother user experience, be in align with other professional wikis and be a fair estimate on how Intelligent Systems themselves plan to take that character in the future. I think it's fair to predict that future representations of Gray for example will use his Echoes design over his Gaiden one and that will be the version they use when he is added to Heroes.
Here is an example of the infobox change using Marth:
Artwork of Marth from Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem.
Artwork of Marth from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light.
Artwork of Marth from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem.
Artwork of Marth from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.
If you have gotten through this then congrats! I honestly didn't anticipate to end up writing this much. I also know that my arguments needn't have been as lengthy and detailed as they ended up being. I guess that's what happens when you've got a bored person who's been conditioned to write essays! Let me know your own thoughts on any of the topics I brought up, regardless of you agree or disagree.