Getting creative with the character creator in RPGs is kind of like the game before the game—so much so that often I’ll spend more time there than I do actually playing through an RPG’s tutorial section. Finding just the right jaw line, just the right nose, just the right hair style—actually crafting the character rather than living with the developer’s default avatar gives players a sense of connection to their character. And, of course, there’s the near-universal thrill of actually seeing your character walk on-screen the first time (often accompanied by the near-universal crushing disappointment that, viewed in the complex and dynamic lighting of the game’s opening sequence, your carefully crafted avatar is in fact an ugly deformed monster with concave cheekbones and a hideous overbite).
We wanted to expand on those experiences by filming some folks trying their hand at various’ games character creators—and the video embedded above is the first in what we hope will be a new series of character creator-related silliness. Professional illustrator Kirsten Ulve has never before played Skyrim and has never before had a chance to wiggle the knobs and dials of the Creation Engine’s decade-old avatar designer—which means she’s the perfect mark to experiment on.
So we asked her to recreate some Game of Thrones characters in vanilla un-modded Skyrim. Because that’s totally easy, right?
Ulve’s process is to first sketch things out on actual paper, and then transition the sketch to digital and do revisions on an iPad. Over the course of the video, she quickly bangs out caricature-style illustrations of four GoT main characters: Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, and the Night King. But getting them right in Skyrim proves to be an exercise in approximation—the engine simply doesn’t have enough manipulation points available, or enough range in many of the settings, to properly recreate the features of the characters. Instead, the joy of the journey is in watching Ulve try to address and creatively work through the technological limitations.
We need to get her in front of a Bioware game next—something like Dragon Age: Inquisition, perhaps. Got suggestions for games to try, or interesting characters to recreate? Leave them in the comments!