So, it's been a quiet news week, and I was recently playing another game, and I wanted to share some things with those who are interested.
This game also has halflings in it, and it got me to thinking that perhaps I had been spoiled for good halfling design early on, by a game that cared very much about making them look like real creatures, real people, and a species that is healthy and normal all on its own, rather than a deformed derivative of something else...
So, take a look at these models:Halfling Base Models
These characters here the 'average' middle range models for male and female halflings in this game, displaying as minstrel and hunter. They have wonderful body proportions – naturalised, balanced and functional. They don't have human-child-like proportions, or any deformations suggestive of dwarfism at all, and they also clearly aren't humans of any scale, either. In this character creator, you can modify your body type, along with the other options, so here's a quick follow up picture – male and female halflings at the two extreme ends of the body spectrum:Male HalflingFemale Halfling
It's not a huge difference, of course – it's actually quite subtle, but it's enough to create a subtle feeling of difference between your character and the next one over, even before you get to hair, skin, eyes and cosmetic choices, etc.
Amusingly, for halflings in this game, it's less a choice of how much substance you want to have, and more... how 'comfortable' a life you've been living before taking to adventure. Male halflings choose to balance between upper body bulk and pot belly, while females choose to balance between upper body bulk and how prominent their hips and bum seem. It's kind of amusing, and you can still find a very nice middle ground if you prefer.Female Halfling Variation
Hips – Middle – Shoulders. Subtle, but noticeable.
In terms of their size ratios, here are some comparison shots for halflings alongside human equivalents, both off the base models, and some existing established characters:Halfling and Human Base Model CompareHalfling and Human Character Compare
So, we can see from these shots that they aren't derived from the human models at all; they're their own unique things. They're slightly more compact and sturdier in their general proportions, but not enough to make it stand out or look out of place – just enough, rather to make them look fit and able-bodied, and not scrawny, while still being so much smaller. It's more or less perfect, in fact. Yes; the head to body ratio IS larger than it is on the humans, but only by a subtle amount, not a lot – and it looks GOOD. Their heads don't seem tiny, but they also aren't overlarge for their bodies or bobbled at all either.
Added bonus - here's a male stout-axe dwarf as well. He looked pretty good – stout and stocky, but not ridiculous, and you aren't left scratching your head and wondering how he can even exist:Male Dwarf Base Model
Sure, this game doesn't have motion-captured face scans... which are excellent if you just so happen to want your character's face to look exactly like one of those very specific particular six faces that BG3 has in its arsenal (and you're out of luck if not)... but they make up for it with quite a large amount of face shapes and options, as well as details you can add or select.
So, what about a better look at the actual models themselves?
This is Harla. She's been defending middle-earth for the last fifteen years. Female Halfling Dynamics Base
As you can see, she's small, but ready for anything, and despite her stature there's no likelihood of her ever being mistaken for one of the local human youths – who at age nine and ten-ish, are all actually taller than her. We quickly realised that the faulds she normally wears aren't really that good for a model study, so I asked her to change into the outfit that better shows off her hips and legs. Harla was a bit embarrassed about this, but relented. We went thought a few dynamic poses and actions just to show off the dimensions of her body a little better.Female Halfling Dynamics
A few backflips and sparring poses later, and we can see that this is a body model that is solid and strong – capable and well-balanced, and perfectly suited to its own frame and shape. Nothing is over-balanced or exaggerated, and she looks completely believable as a healthy, natural living creature (Okay, a liiiiiitle bit of distension on the arms when she throws herself into the backflips, but it's very quick... I'm lucky the screenshot caught it at all).
We then went outside and took a few more shots, just for fun; here's some comparisons with some of her human friends, and a few of her halfling companions as well:Human and Halfling Female Direct compare, plus Costumes
Some size and proportion comparisons in our formal wear; this outfit is ceremonially bequeathed upon each kin member who earns their place as one of our most qualified guardians, in commemoration of the first guard, who is no longer with us, but was the best of us, and who always wore this outfit (the hat is an important part of it – Harla only likes to wear hers on very important occasions). We also have sneaky burglars and some cosier gear for colder climates.
These next shots show that some halflings come with more, er, baggage to worry about than others. Remember; good support is always important in times of war. Harla thinks that Gerania's high-visibility tanking outfit is a bit over the top. Gerania wonders how Harla manages to be seen by her allies at all, when she blends into the grass under a mass of trolls and uruks...Halfling Tanks (For Fun)
Danas, our erstwhile warden joined the gathering late, as usual. He thinks that as long as he stands up straight and tall, and keeps a strong posture, no one will ever know how knuckle-whiteningly terrified he gets in battle. Rosabella likes to encourage him to keep this up; it makes his coin pouch easier to reach. Danas never understands where Rosabella gets all the money for new outfits from... he never seems to have as much as he thought.Halfling Male and Other Costumes
So... what's this all about?
Well, what it boils down to is that these are some really well designed halflings; they look good, they look believable, they're well proportioned and well balanced, and they fit their own bodies in a comfortably natural way. They don't look like human children. They don't look like lazily squashed or scaled down humans either. They don't look like humans with dwarfism, and they don't look unnatural or deformed...
And, in case you haven't spotted it yet... this game is Lord of the Rings Online, and it's Fifteen Years Old
. This is an example of doing it right, and it's also a open question: if a fifteen year old game can have models that look this comfortable and well-designed, then why can't BG3 (Or, it must be said, other contemporary D&D CRPG titles)?