Second Life photography by Sil Brandi.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Thursday, September 17, 2015
|Fantasy game art from Tradewinds Legends.|
|Tradewinds Legends uses a portrait randomizer to create fantasy-style portraits for non-playable characters encountered in-game, as well as for characters for its "open play" mode (where you play the game without following any particular storyline).
The random character generator creates characters by choosing facial features from a database of artwork. The variables are Class, Gender, Nationality (African, Arabian, Chinese, Indian, and Magical), and Career, and these constrain the availability of various elements.
At a glance it may seem that the game can crunch out an infinite variety of random character portraits. But while you can generally keep clicking the "New Character" button until something appears that appeals to you, sometimes, the randomizer just wasn't given enough content for a particular combination of Gender, Class, Nationality, and Career.
The Magical Nationality is a notorious example. "Magical" characters are genies, and comprised of stone-men (lower class), blue and green genies (middle class), and living golden statues (upper class). For the class-gender-nationality combination of Upper Class Female Magical, the generator only has enough data for one portrait type, that of an old woman. Keep clicking frantically and one minor detail facial might change.
This, of course, is an extreme example.
If you experiment with the character generator, you will find that certain combinations simply don't produce an expected variation, or the results look just like that of another combination of variables. And sometimes, even when Class, Nationality, and Career are the same, one Gender may have interesting results while another might just turn out Middle Class Merchants. On the upside, there is effort put in to reflect the four variables for other nationalities and for clothing choices.
While not exhaustive, the selection our gallery is fairly representative of the random character generator's strengths and weaknesses.
|Tradewinds Legends is definitely worth a look if you're curious about, say, what makes one face look happy and another look sad; or what makes one portrait look Arabian while another looks Indian. By changing the eyes and the mouth slightly, even if the viewer is not consciously aware of every change, the mood of the character is altered.
In the two pictures below, can you spot the differences that make the 'regular' Nandi look even happier? (Answer at the bottom of this post).