I know the portrait thing has come up in various ways across the forums, but I'd like to focus on it here. Sorry if this exact thing has been suggested before, but I couldn't find it.
The painted character portraits are fantastic, I love the style. But, like many others, I find it a bit restrictive in character creation because I want the characters to match their portraits.
Unfortunately, though generating a preset portrait for every combination of face, hair colour, hairstyle, skin tone etc. may not be a huge effort on Larian's behalf, it would create an end result that is incredibly difficult or tedious for the user to navigate.
So why not do it the other way around? Let the portrait reflect the designed character, rather than designing the character to match a selected portrait.
There have been suggestions to capture the 3D model in the portrait box, as was the case in Dragon Age Origins, and while that works well enough it lacks the charm of the current portraits.
I'm wondering if it is possible to implement a procedural system that, using layers and tints, allows the game to dynamically generate a current painted-style portrait based on the choices made for the character model. Each hair model and face texture would be linked to a grayscale 2D image that can be layered into the portrait; each hair colour and skin tone is linked to a colour range that can be tinted onto the corresponding layer. In a sense this is similar to what Larian are already doing by hand - try flicking through them quickly and you'll see how they fit a set template - the hair changes but the face beneath stays the same. This way the components of the portrait can still be artistically hand-painted, but the assembly process is automated.
Start with the standard head shape. This is tinted by skin tone and overlaid by the face of choice (a possibility for each face to have alternates with different expressions to cycle through when the process is finished, even?). The next layer is the hair (or perhaps split into two, one behind the base head), which is then tinted to the chosen hair colour.
Cycle through smiling, sneering, etc. if that's implemented, and voilŕ, a painterly portrait that reflects the character!
And if you're feeling lazy, you can flick through a gallery of preset portraits (similar to choosing a portrait in the current system), wherein the process is reversed and the character model is updated to fit the portrait design... but this can then be tweaked to the player's liking, with the portrait updating to match!
As far as I can tell, given that colours etc. are presets rather than sliders, the portraits could even be pre-assembled and baked with every combination, the game just drawing on the appropriate image for the assembled character... But to have the portrait dynamically created would allow for a new level of mod-friendliness! Adding a new hairstyle? Create a 2D representation to be added into the portrait pool, and link it to the new mesh. New skin tone or facial tattoo? Same thing. Easy.
It's simply the most elegant solution for the issue that I can think of, and though it's not likely to make the game by launch, I'd love to see it implemented post-release.
If I could code, I'd make a prototype to illustrate this. If you like this idea, and can code, I'd be eternally grateful if you'd make a prototype and post it in the comments!
Last edited by ColdSpiral; 07/06/14 05:48 AM.