How Do You Make A Race Of Intelligent Plant People Sexy?

How Do You Make A Race Of Intelligent Plant People Sexy?

ArenaNet character designer Kristen Perry was presented was presented with a thorny task when asked to cultivate the plant-like sylvari race for Guild Wars 2: Finding the balance between green-skinned humans and tentacle monsters.

When you imagine plant people, those are the two images that immediately come to mind. Either you’ve got green elves with leaves for hair, or Swamp Thing. One is lazy; the other hideous. What Kristen needed to do was splice together trimmings from both branches of the plant people family tree and come up with a happy medium.

The solution was to create an illusion of anatomy. The figure was not formed from a human with leaves on top of it, but rather a human shape made from grown plant parts. This originates from specific growth sockets. The primary growth socket starts at the small of the back, where a tail might grow. Like many fruits and vegetables, there are two ends: the main stem and the opposing divot (which makes a really good belly button). Graceful leaves sprout from the growth socket, curving around and through the body to simulate the desired musculature. I used stems and broad leaves to articulate the carpal tendons and the flesh of the lower arms. Hosta leaves spiral out at the shoulders in a teardrop shape to form the deltoid “muscles,” while branches spring from the clavicles. Scientific anatomy turned out to be creepy, but garden-variety fantasy anatomy was just what was needed.

What she wound up with is a rather gorgeous race of sentient-plants reminiscent of the tree people from the Doctor Who episode “The End of the World”. As a hopeful Guild Wars 2 roleplayer, I’d take a pair of shears to that any day.

Kristen Perry on Designing and Redesigning the Sylvari [ArenaNet]






  • Kristen (if I recall correctly) did the designs of the characters in HL2 for Valve.
    She’s still kicking arse.

  • Why do plants have boobs.

    (I doubt anyone else here would know, but there’s actually a sci-fi novel fairly tounge in cheek that deals with sexuality and other stuff amongst a race of plant people and humans)

    • yes! what is the name of it?

      it’s all very very contrived. why not just a single asexual/androgynous model? and not just boobs, but why lips, ears, eyes, nose, legs, arms? Are they somehow optimal? there is potential here for great originality instead we have endowed but modest plants. bizarre bizarre bizarre.

      • *Pushes glasses up the bridge of my nose* Well, if you read the extended lore you would know that these people were borne from the combined forces of a human and centaur duo 200 years in the past.

        Thus, they would inherit characteristics from both. It’s not inconceivable that they appear humanoid and share the beliefs of the centaur progenitor. To their credit they decided that female Charr (cat-like people) would either have little to no breasts or they’d go all out with six! So they obviously went with the former.

        Also, it is a game. With plant people. That literally pop out of a tree. Realistic physiology and evolutionary development isn’t really on the spectrum

      • You have to take into account that people will be playing as these characters. It would be much harder for a person to immerse themselves into a character if they were playing a carnivorous tentacle cactus with suction cup feet.

  • Interesting that there are leaves covering the female chests. I would have expected to see flowers where the female breasts are, and fruit or nuts in the males groin.
    Given that they are the way male and female plants breed, at least in a human context…

    These models are great though. I especially like the way the leaves form the different muscles and the body.

    I’m looking more and more forward to Guild Wars 2, but I’ll need to finish my copy of one first 🙁

  • GW2 fanbois can try to defend this as lore-based as much as they want (and I am usually one of them). But it’s pretty obvious: sexy plants that are basically sexy humans who swing whichever way they please are supposed to capture a target group of consumers. Metrosexuals play MMOs too ya know…

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