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Face generator...?

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Hi all! Me and some friends are creating a character generator (CG), that will precede a cRPG game. One of the features I''d like to see implemented is a face generator. I''ve seen such in Transport Tycoon (Deluxe) but in no other game. We''ve flipped through many CGs which had a portrait option, but all of them had a database of prerendered/hand drawed images from which the user could choose. Also I''ve heard of a nice random face generator, but it seems the site is down (facegenerator.com). Now here are my questions: 1) Has anyone heard of face generating software of any kind - in-game, web-based, conventional? Please provide links or info. 2) Do you think a face generator would be a nice feature in a RPG game, provided it consists a set of well-made elements? Would you preffer a pre-made portraits, ie, would you go for better looking pictures or bigger choise? 3) What elements should such generator include? Please provide a list. (facial form, hair, eyes, etc) Have in mind that the CG (and hopefully the game) I''m talking about features 10 real life ethos, like arab, jew, gipsy, egypt, etc, and takes place at about year 400-800 ad. Thanks! Boby Dimitrov boby@shararagames.com Sharara Games Team

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Mmmmmh Is that what you''re looking for ? It took me one minute to find with google....

As for your other questions :
2) The real question is, what will I see INGAME. When I start Baldur''s Gate II, I can load my own portrait. But it doesnt change the way the sprite is drawn. My sprite is one of a few predrawn ones from which I must choose in the character generation process.
If you go for 3D objects, though, the problem is quite different.
Personally, I''d go for bigger choice. My own idea of it is in 3D, because if you really think about it, we are all based on the same few elements that are just shrunk/stretched, more or less muscled, more or less long, with different colours and capillosity, etc. A face follows the same guideline on a smaller scale. That is, it''s composed of the same basic elements for everybody, that adopt different values.

I think Poser shows that quite nicely.

3) You have to distinguish two categories : the face and the body.
The face should have :
-face shape, achieved by varying the size of different bones like the jaw, the forehead, the cheeks, the chin. By manipulating those, you get different face shapes such as heart shaped (small jaw and chin, big forehead, normal cheeks), square shaped (strong jaws), brainiac (BIG forehead), etc...
- the eyes, they can be wide open (manga style), asiatic (dunno the word in english), deep inside the orbits, or globulous. They can be converging or diverging. The colours are important too. The shape of the iris would be a nice touch. The eyelashes dont exist in tons of varieties, but at least their length should vary for man and woman.
- the eyebrows (notice I separate them from the eye) can join in the middle or be very spaced, their thickness varies.
- the mouth (lips), more or less wide, lips can be more or less "meaty" (not sure of the word there). They can have a natural detency to adopt certain position, such as lower lip forward, or upper lip, or both... you get the idea).
The eyebrows, mouth and eyes combine to create different expressions (do you really want to model muscle movements ? I assume not )
- the ears are secondary in that we cant really do anything with them (well, I know I can''t). But you should not forget them lest you want a weird looking character.
- capillosity is a bit separate because you can modify it at will (OK, you could also shave your eyebrows and lashes, but let''s assume you are not there just yet). And it''s actually extremely important to determine a ''look''. Long or short hair, with or without hairdo, a beard or not, not to mention tainted hair.
- The skin colour. It''s not a separate component, mind you. Having a black skin doesnt make a Black (just look at any old Hollywood movie where their stupid Tribalmen are withe dudes with a wig and black stuff on their face...) And variation of coulours are quite wide inside a ''race'' (this is not an answer on races, so please, if you wanna argue, do it somewhere else)
A caucasian belgian with dark skin can be darker than a pale arab, for instance.
And I don''t even talk of suntan and other make up...

(Also you have the tattooes and other markings. they are not really jewelry anymore ''cause you cant take them off)

Note that by using the proper values, you can create easily recognizable archetype.
The warrior with his strong jaw, wide chin, small forehead, heavy eyebrows, small eyes, and why not a protruding lower lip to make it look really bad...
Of course these are stereotypes, and one might argue that this is a bad thing. Now Mr Philosopher, you go and tell that to the collective mind and the generation of casting directors, writers, painters and comic writers on Earth ...

Oh, I didn''t mention the body, did I ?
Well, it''s much simpler really. Taht''s if you know anatomy and drawing, mind you. Because really, us vertebrates, we are all the same. For limbs, each limb has three parts, the outside one being generally decomposed in smaller parts that shape themselves for different uses (walking or grabbing really... oh, and flying, of course). The limbs are connected to a central part that has a part for central processes (the head), and a part for all that energy and general maintenance (the trunk). The trunk is generally separated into an upper part, containing the heart behind a strong bone, and the lungs (torso, vital parts). the lower part contains a portable chemical plant, with its different organs (belly, less vital parts). for heat problems, the genitals are generally separate.

Now you take those different parts; strectch them, shrink them, melt them together; and you can create approximately every single vertebrate on Earth and more (go ahead, prove me wrong).
If you don''t see it and you want more explanation, tell me.

hope it helps

Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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ahw, that was very cool... Also you mentioned 3 important references:

1) The Sims: yes, the facial generator I''m talking about is something like it, but with 2d objects. Like the ones the police uses to make portraits of the criminals, but with more artistic value.
2) Baldur''s Gate: First of all, I''m still not talking game. I''m talking character generator. So all you gonna see as a result is a Character Sheet, ready for printout, just like with the pnp rpgs. So all you gonna see is that portrait.
3) Poser: yes, yes, yes! It must''ve slipped my mind...! Poser is near to my idea. I don''t need such complicated tool, maybe prerendered parts and simple "switch part" button. But Poser is inspiration indeed, i should look for a demo.

Finally, I''d like to have several variations of each facial element so the user has choise. If he has chosen Arab ethos, then he''ll have to stick with the arab template, but will have the ability to tweak it a bit, like change nose size or lighten (to some extent) the complexion.

Anyway, thanks again!

Boby Dimitrov
Sharara Games Team

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I''d say find a good sketch artist (the ones that draw faces of criminals etc based on testimonies by witnesses).

I think they''ll be able to tell you what the most important features are in creating a unique face (since that''s pretty much their job)

AHW summed it up pretty good. I think facial shape is most important, then position of eyes, nose, mouth, hairline, eyebrows, ears. Then details (facial hair, marks, color eyes etc).

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I thought of something more... since you don''t seem to be interested in 3D (it would REALLY be the easiest IMHO) to create the templates faces, you might as well try MORPHING !
Rather than the old approach where you have a low part of face, cheekbones and forehead. OK, as I mentioned these are the important parts, but what I mean is that the "press a button until you find something that looks OK" method is annoying. Theoretically, you are supposed to have hundreds thousands combinations... but the fact is that they all have the same feel, since they have all been made by the same artist. Ever played Elite ? They all looked like cousins to me.

Now if you have some elastic template where you can move control nodes, add special things, etc. Have something more like sliders that you can move around to get something fun... a la Kay power tools... I move a slider around, and wow! the jaw become enormous, or the forehead inflates or deflates, but the overall picture is OK. Of course, you''d have to have an approach a bit more complicated than simply morphing a picture. Think of something more like several layers...

Mmh, yeah, 3D would definitely be the way to go ... anyway :-P

Have fun !

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Asheron''s Call has a simple face selector. You can scroll through different brows, noses and lower faces. It affects your in-game character.

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A feature I''d want in a facial generator for RPG type stuff would definitely be the ability to add very distinctive disfigurations - not just being able to change the size of the forehead and jaw, etc (which would be very cool, by the way) but also being able to add scars, birthmarks, and tatoos. It would seem like, for an RPG, that things like scars would be at least as important for creating a face with a lot of personality.

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Yep. There''s an app called Faces that you could use to get an idea of what you want to do. You might want to search on google for "sketch artist" +composite +application +police or something like that.


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