Here are some of the stories that’ve stemmed from our created characters.
Mass Effect Andromeda’s character creator, much like many character creators before it, is atypically lit, meaning that characters may look different in the bulk of the game compared to the way they looked when first lovingly crafted. You know the deal: you stand in a blue and black void, a single light source coming from everywhere and nowhere simultaneously lights your character in a dim orange glow. You dedicate countless hours to crafting your character’s face, only to get into the game itself and find scars are deeper, makeup more exaggerated, teeth more prominent and skin tone notably lighter or darker than intended. It’s time to dejectedly close the game and start over.
Sometimes, however, players don’t start over. Maybe we’re too excited to start playing the game, maybe the intro cutscene was long and we don’t want to sit through it again on launch day. Sticking with these characters in spite of their odd inaccuracies can lead players to create really interesting lore about their character that was never intended by the developers.
Today, we’re going to talk a little about one of our own accidental character creator stories, as well as a couple of IGN fans who had their own accidental lore stories to tell.
Ryder’s Overbearing Makeup (Mass Effect: Andromeda)
My Ryder in Mass Effect: Andromeda has far too much blush and eye shadow applied to her face, an amount that often looks comical to see during serious conversations. She also has a prominent facial scar on her left cheek. When building my version of Ryder all of these attributes looked a lot less pronounced. I added them to her because at the time they looked cool without thinking much about potential plot implications.
Once I saw Ryder in game, and realised my mistake, I decided to come up with a story to explain her garish appearance. I started to view a Ryder who had been scarred accidentally at a young age and been bullied about it while growing up. As a result, she was very self conscious about her scarring as an adult. Her solution? Overcompensating with makeup.
Why did my Ryder go as far as she did with her makeup? She hoped that if she went a bit overboard then that would be the first aspect of her face people noticed rather than her scar. She felt it better people’s attention be initially drawn by a mistake she could fix than something she couldn’t change.
This ended up adding an element of unintended significance to her character’s eventual romance with Peebee. While Ryder never stopped wearing her makeup, she found someone who she would probably have shed the makeup for if it were an option out in the Andromeda galaxy.
Facial Damage and an Accepting Nature (Dragon Age: Inquisition)
When making himself a female dwarf in Dragon Age Inquisition, IGN reader Daniel Hobson found himself momentarily distracted caring for his young son and, without noticing until it was too late, covered his character in maximum intensity full face scars. By the time he noticed his mistake the character was locked in and, rather than faff around starting over, Daniel decided to stick with his heavily scarred lady dwarf.
His personal lore to explain the scarring was that she was an outcast from Dwarven society in the lead up to becoming the sole survivor of the explosion that sets the game in motion. This heavily scarred Inquisitor was already used to being shunned societally, something not helped by the assumptions many made about her role in the explosion, and as such her feelings of isolation only grew stronger. Her full facial scars became a beacon to all who met her that she was the Inquisitor, the one who survived what should have been a fatal blast.
This caused Daniel to play his Inquisitor as a very open character, one adamant on inviting anyone and everyone into the Inquisition as a way for these outcasts to find a family and a purpose together. She became a very generous and caring Inquisitor, driven by a desire to give others the opportunities many refused to afford to her. Daniel also noted that playing a character with facial scarring that he didn’t decide on having meant that eventually securing a romance was all the more rewarding for him.
Half-Elf Racism (Skyrim)
While messing around with facial attributes in the original release of Skyrim, IGN reader Austin Stephens accidentally made the face of Tanimura, a high elf woman he was working on, a lot rounder than he had intended to. Not noticed until getting past the character creator, Austin decided to roll with his own lore about the character being Half High Elf, Half Imperial.
Because a lot of the elves in Skyrim are overtly racist, particularly high elves, Austin roleplayed Tanimura as having been cast out of elven society by nature of her half Imperial birth.
She ultimately carried a lot of personal baggage surrounding this societal rejection, regularly standing against the Thalmor elven supremacists because they believed in the superiority of a race that shunned her for attributes she couldn’t control.
Austin often had Tanimura wear a hood to disguise her elven ears and pass for human in nord cities as a way to avoid their anti elven racism, and at one point got herself arrested killing someone who threatened to assault a dark elf.
Looking Eternally Inwards (Mass Effect Trilogy)
When creating her version of Commander Shepard in the original Mass Effect, IGN reader Erin had resigned herself to the fact her character was probably not going to look great. The character creator seemed to make every version of Shepard look a little bit odd, and as such she didn’t pay too much attention to the ways her character’s appearance might change as resolutions and textures improved.
Erin’s accidental character creation story isn’t about the first Mass Effect, it’s about the ways her Shepard changed when imported through the rest of the trilogy. In Mass Effect 2, Erin’s Shepard’s cheekbones, eyebrow height, lip size, and level of lip protrusion all became more exaggerated and pronounced. This didn’t look too bad on a paused upgrade screen, but looked noticeably more odd when viewed in game. She had also for some reason become permanently cross eyed in gameplay, an attribute which never went away.
Erin mentally excused it as a result of dying and being rebuilt by cerberus, and thought little more of it.
When imported into Mass Effect 3, these exaggerated attributed had reached their peak. Erin didn’t mind though, as far as she was concerned Shepard was still looking pretty good for someone who had been dead fairly recently. Besides, Shepard now had a space wife, survived a suicide mission, and was traveling the universe with a group of friends who revered her. Why should she care that she looked a little strange?
Erin had the option to redesign her Shepard in Mass Effect 3, but opted not to. Over three games she became unexpectedly attached to her kind hearted, eternally surprised, duck-faced Paragon.
So, now it’s your turn, readers. Have you ever accidentally created a character whose appearance you justified with your own story? Would playing through an entire game with a character who didn’t look quite right drive you to frustration? Let us know your experiences down in the comments below. If you’ve got picture evidence, even better.
Source: IGN Video Games