Baldur’s Gate 3 Players Called Out For Their Basic-Arse Character Creations

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Baldur’s Gate 3 Players Called Out For Their Basic-Arse Character Creations
Behold! The sum total of all your character creator choices. (Screenshot: Larian Studios)

Mere minutes after I posted my take on Baldur’s Gate 3’s character creator, Larian Studios (coincidentally) announced the release of a third hotfix for its long-awaited CRPG, which contained this intriguing morsel:

“Before the fixes, let’s share something you’ve created yourselves (this is your own fault) through your choices in character creation. We took the most popular choices in character creation, and recreated this. We thought our analytics system wasn’t working! We checked. It is.”

I love her lack of energy! Go girl! Give us nothing. (Screenshot: Larian Studios) I love her lack of energy! Go girl! Give us nothing. (Screenshot: Larian Studios)

“Congratulations, you’ve basically made the default Vault Dweller. What the hell guys. We gave you demon eyes, horns, and even tails. We are sorely disappointed. Go crazy. We worked hard on this!”

While my first reaction was “good lord y’all are boring,” after I marinated in it a little bit I realised there’s a powerful message here.

Even when presented with a wealth of options and opportunities, people will still default to making what’s comfortable and familiar: themselves. Shouldn’t that mean, then, when game makers implement these character-creation engines they should add options that reflect all of what humanity has to offer, rather than just a narrow band of it?

That goes beyond even my constant gripe about hair and skin. It means body types, facial hair, head coverings, and skin conditions (my life for vitiligo skin option so I can create my own Winnie Harlow). Games in modern settings need accessory options to include hearing and mobility aids. Hell, I’m sure the creative minds at Larian Studios could find a way to D&D-ify a hearing aid.

It also means making sure that a game’s world is as diverse as the characters being made for it. We need to see all different kinds of people — short, tall, fat, brown, hard of hearing, blind — in order to create the rich worlds boasted about on the back of game boxes (yes, games hardly come in boxes anymore, but work with me here).

That’s a lot of work, I know, and given the recent discourse about crunch I am loath to suggest anything that would make developing a game like Baldur’s Gate 3 more arduous. But hopefully, even when a game doesn’t have the resources to offer a robust character creator, developers can use findings like Larian’s as a reminder to better avoid the common trap of “make everyone look like me” and perhaps think a little bit outside of the beefy-white-guy box when creating their main characters and NPCs. Switch it up a little bit, as a treat!

So yeah, take a minute and have a chuckle while also understanding just how important it really is to be able to see yourself in the games you play. That said, c’mon y’all, do better, at least give the guy pink hair or something.

Comments

    • Exactly. Just quietly its also where/why some of the flack about enforced character diversity comes from.

      Not that its quite as applicable here with such over the top detail and the fact that this is a fantasy character system with fantasy races and so forth, but it can be frustrating to see 90% of the work character models goes towards representing 10% of the players, leaving you with a character that almost everyone else has chosen.

      • The only game I can think of with “enforced character diversity” is Rust. For the most part nobody is “forcing” anything, which in fact is the point of the article.

        Although really, this also illustrates the stupidity of the hysterical overreaction from some forum users whenever there is an article requesting what should really be some pretty simple diversity options such as a skin tone slider and a couple of alternative hair styles.

        It’s not a huge amount to ask even if it’s allegedly only of relevance to 10% of a game’s players. FFS, nobody is demanding dragon heads with five eyes and three legs here, that kinda shit is entirely on the devs.

    • Paragraph 5: Even when presented with a wealth of options and opportunities, people will still default to making what’s comfortable and familiar: themselves.

      • Which is a problematic line, given it assumes that “themselves” is a tall, muscled white male.

        Well, perhaps, but is a pretty heroic assumption to start with. Obviously if you have 15 different white anglo hair styles and only a couple of alternatives your average is going to trend towards the median. Not every player with a dark skin colour is going to be comfortable with the one token afro hair style on offer.

        And seriously, anyone finding it weird that demon eyes, horns, and tails don’t somehow filter to the top in an averaging algorithm doesn’t understand basic statistics. All of these elements are competing with tattoos, glasses, scars, beards, mohawks and dozens of other forms of personalisation. Unless you want your character to look like a clown you are going to choose only one or two, not all of them plus sprinkles and chocolate sauce please. Any averaging exercise is inevitably going to purge all flavour items straight up front.

        It also somewhat misses the point. We know that white skin and chiselled anglo looks are strongly favoured traits in large parts of the world due to a mixture of a history of colonialism, racism, class, and the dominance of Hollywood stereotypes in the media.

        In any case, clearly everyone is NOT simply picking themselves, they are picking a slightly whiter, more muscled version of themselves. If people were defaulting to “what’s comfortable and familiar” we wouldn’t be seeing hundreds of thousands of slightly modified versions of George Clooney, we would be seeing online games full of balding, overweight neckbeards.

    • “Been hearing all this media coverage how white men get what they want when they want, so if im gonna role play a person, guess I will see what all the fuss is about.”

      First battle, rolls a 1, dies.

  • Weird article. Like, if most people want to make boring white guy, who are you to say that’s wrong? Maybe the majority of the people playing are boring white guys. Maybe some portion of that just skipped through character creation to get to the game.
    At least partially the problem is the same reason humans and blood elves are two of the most popular races in WoW – despite so many other interesting options, a large portion of the public just want to play as boring plain (and often white guy) humans (or in the case of blood elves -until the recent skin colour additions – sexy white humans with pointy ears).
    As long as the options are there for non white guy humans, that’s all that needs to be done.

    • It’s a little odd I agree.

      There’s always two categories I find… The people who want to play themselves, and the people who want to play like the most opposite and far from themselves character they can.

      I fall into the second group myself. As a guy, I typically prefer playing female and/or ‘monster’ race characters. And to be clear, since I know someone always thinks it, I fucking hate the ‘bikini armour’ shit with a passion and it’s why I flat out can’t play a lot of asian RPGs or such if I’m being honest. Because I roll my fucking eyes and go “She’s dead if a strong breeze looks at her wrong…”

      My main in WoW has been a female orc basically since vanilla… And it was great having full plate armour that looked like it would actually serve as protection in combat.

      Also… Femshep for life.

      • For sure. It’s the developers calling this out directly though, which I think is what spawned this all. You don’t often see that kind of … direct encouragement, if that makes sense.

        • It’s good to see the devs themselves calling it out, rather than (no offense meant), journalists or talkbacks or anything like that. Seeing metrics on some such thing is interesting to, as it was with Mass Effect.

          But, as stated in the article, and in my comment, sometimes people do want to recreate themselves. Other times, they want more. I guess the real metric I’d be interested in, is do they *stick* with the same type of character across multiple plays?

          • But does it need to be ‘called out’ at all? Devs haranguing players for creating the characters they want is both bad form and optics. There seems to be plenty of ways to share the information without attacking the players, even if their tongue is in their cheek with it.

          • @akeashar, eh I suspect they’re doing it in advance rather than letting the slew of articles bound to pop up do so.

    • You’re a fool, and probably illiterate too. Nobody said it was wrong, just that it was boring and disappointing, you know, like most actual people are.

  • // Hell, I’m sure the creative minds at Larian Studios could find a way to D&D-ify a hearing aid. //
    So I’m probably going to get shit for this, and I do get why people want it, for representing themselves, etc.

    But here’s my problem with arguments that take it as far as setting it in the game’s own lore/universe as to why such options should be available, especially when magic in fantasy settings gets involved…

    Do you think a disablity or missing limb couldn’t be resolved or regrown through a little magic in a setting where you can literally resurrect people from the dead and they’re perfectly healthy after?

    Taken to a logical extreme if you have magic capable of removing a disablity that could potentially make you less combat effective, in the case of a fantasy adventurer for example, you’d absolutely fix it. There might not be anyone around to resurrect you, but if you can magic away a disablity that might get you killed you might avoid the need entirely.

    I’m all for adding the options, but the logic arguments saying they should be in because they can be made ‘lore friendly’ and such simply don’t fly when you actually look at it logically.

    And here’s the thing, it really doesn’t even need to make sense for the option to be there in a character creator.

    • It’s a fair point to ask. In D&D given the option does exist, would someone want to go through a hard life missing a leg or an arm, when they could possibly have it regrown by spell etc? I do get the purpose of inclusion, but for all practicality sense of the world itself, would they in *that world*?

  • I genuinely don’t understand people who, when confronted with a character creator, just create themselves. It’s so weird.

    • I either create the most bizarre thing max settings on sliders will get me, or I try and create myself. Sometimes it’s fun to role play as an entirely new character (or even species), other times it’s fun to implant yourself into a game setting and play as yourself in whatever that situation may be. Often I’ll do both. Depends on the game and how I’m feeling at the time. Then again I don’t look like most people in the first place.

    • Honestly, aside from what I mentioned in a previous post I think game trailers have a hell of a lot to answer for here also.

      I wager a lot of people think the ‘best’ way to experience the game is how the game gets advertised to them, whether they realise it or not, which usually ends up as some generic white guy.

    • Heh i dont even create a character i just go with a preset i like, change the hair/facial hair, eye colour and increase the size of the tits if playing a female character and am able to do that and bam, im done and im off playing the game.

      It never takes me more than 5 mins to create a character in any game

  • Y’all are missing the point. Character creators are a virtual Barbie game. Once you get tired with the novelty of playing virtual Barbie for an hour or two it’s time to get sensible, take off Barbie’s disco skirt, fairy wings and rainbow wig , put back on something sensible and get on with actually role playing mums and dads with Ken and the girls.

    Although for my money, if I have to watch someone’s arse bounce around directly in front of me for the next 60 hours I’d prefer that arse to be the arse of a reasonably attractive female, thank you very much.

      • We all know fishy plays by a set of rules unto himself.

        Now we just wait for the back pedal of “it was sarcasm, can’t you tell”

        • You seem to be confusing me with a prude. But look, please continue with whatever straw man it is you think you’re fighting.

        • Are you two going to go around condemning straight men for stating they find women more physically attractive than men?

          Because that’s about the extent of ‘evil’ and objectification angora’s comment reaches.

          Like fuck, god forbid anyone ever admit they prefer the physical attributes of one gender over another because they’re being HONEST about their preferences.

          • Didn’t you know? Preferences are racist, sexist, fatphobic, homophobic, transphobic and above all else, fetishistic and objectifying.

            Oh… But all of that only applies if you are a straight white cos male.

            At least, this is what I learnt in sociology at good ol’ La Trobe

  • Developers are shocked when it turns out the majority of Early Access gamers want pretty standard characters. Turns out the vocal minority, really is the minority of gamers. News at 11.

    Perhaps since its basically in Paid Beta, they were expecting players to go off their nuts with weird and whacky designs, rather than either creating something they want to play, or just something meeting minimum visually enjoyable requirements before getting into the game itself.

    I’d say wait until its out of Early Access to see what the bulk of people would then create. Until then, its an incomplete mess that only the die hards would really be playing.

    • Ding ding ding, this guy gets it.
      I know when I started the game, I messed with the character development based entirely on character abilities not on how the character looked. I chose one of the default heads, and I chose to be a half-elf.
      When it came to choosing “who I dream of”, I was like, uh I don’t know enough about D&D to know who half-elves hate, so I thought oh well I’ll make her a half-elf since I assume they like themselves… or do that? Ah stuff it I want to get on with the game.

      Also talking race relations when it comes to D&D is pretty hilarious, since this is a game where the race you choose literally gives you advantages/disadvantages over other races, ONLY because of your race.

  • It’s D&D. There should be some element of ‘your stuck with it, no re-rolls’. That is what made D&D fun and interesting in the first place.

  • So, i havent played ANY of the baldurs games, so i dont know how much of this comes into play, but with alot of created chars, if they are going to be behind a helmet the entire time except for cut scenes, i simply dont put much effort into the created char.
    *shrug*

  • It really depends on how much I like the look of the other races but 90% of the time I just make a human me with healthy dose of world based influence.
    It’s less boring than people think because as a Maori with European heritage it’s a tough one to get right in many games where it can often be left out of the diversity quad of European, Asian, African and Latino that most consider to be the end all.

    A couple of standouts were WoW where I fell and in love with the trolls and SWTOR where I couldn’t get past the Mirialan even if I tried.

  • I don’t go crazy because it usually ends up being gaudy but I always make something interesting and attractive. I alternate between male and female, so if I was a male in one game I’ll be a female in the next. Keeps things interesting. I don’t need a character to look like me to be able to roleplay as them, I actually have an imagination…

    • You have an imagination but can’t imagine yourself in a fantasy setting or why some people enjoy doing that?

      I can’t tell if your joking or not, I guess I will just have to use my imagination.

      • Considering one of the greatest fantasy novel series, Thomas Covenant, is entirely about a modern man transported into a fantasy setting, its clear that it can be quite imaginative.

        It is a nice twist tho, someone lacking the imagination to imagine someone else roleplaying themselves in an unusual setting.

  • Whole lot of preaching going on about what should or shouldn’t be done in a role playing game in this thread… which is fucking hilariously ironic.

  • Larian: With our new character creator you can make exactly the character you want!
    Players: *Makes the characters they want
    Larian: No. You’re doing it wrong!

  • “We gave you demon eyes, horns, and even tails. We are sorely disappointed. Go crazy.”

    Okay Larian, but what if I don’t want to be a Tiefling?

  • “Players created someone who looks a bit like you. My God, doesn’t he look boring, why would anyone want to look like you?”

    Hey, fuck you right back, buddy.

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