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For all the success and longevity of games like Fallout and Skyrim, Bethesda Game Studios has never had a strength when it came to the look of its character models. Even in the most recent Fallout and Elder Scrolls games, humans look stiff and puppet-like. They also look ugly. But for Starfield, the upcoming massive space role-playing adventure from Bethesda, the development team is changing how it does things.
In a new promotional video for Starfield, Bethesda lead artist Istvan Pely revealed that the company is evolving how it designs characters. Instead of drawing models from scratch in a 3D rendering application, the studio has begun scanning real-world people to bring into the game.
“We’ve always allowed the player to create really interesting, unique characters. With this game, we’ve definitely leveled that up,” said Pely. “The tech is based on scanning real-world models similar to the photogrammetry we do with our landscapes. We’re applying the same thing to our people as well.”
This is something that other game studios have done for years. While the tech is probably not exactly the same, BioWare scanned model Mark Vanderloo as the basis for Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. Players know that game for its intimate character interactions, and Pely made it clear that Bethesda wants to replicate that for Starfield.
“We want all the personal interactions with NPCs and other characters in the game to be as impactful as possible,” he said. “For that, you have to believe these are real people.”