CK3 Dev Diary #07 - Characters & Portraits

Greetings!

Today we’re taking a look at what makes up a character in CK3. As you already know, the game revolves around characters and all the things they get up to, so to make it interesting we have to make sure that they have as much personality as possible!

To start off; each character still has skills and traits, just like in CK2. Their skills determine how well they can do different things, a character will high Diplomacy will be well-liked, while one with high Martial will excel as a commander. The main source of these skills are traits, the foremost of which is the Personality Traits.

Unlike CK2, where personality traits were much like any other trait, we’ve decided to put more emphasis on the personality traits in CK3. In CK2 you could easily end up with 5-8 personality traits without much effort, but then what really defined you? It was hard to get a grip on who a character really was, something we’ve improved in CK3. Personality traits now have a massive effect on the behavior of each individual character, so when a character is Greedy you’ll really feel it. To emphasize this, characters tend to not have more than 3 personality traits so that you can at a quick glance tell who they are (other types of traits are of course still unlimited).

Personality_traits.png

Personality Trait icons. Can you guess which one is which?

We’ve also added a feature where a character's personality is summed up in two words, which is then displayed in their character view. This is very useful when, for example, assigning vassals or getting agents. A ‘Rapacious Blackguard’ might not make for the most loyal vassal, but quite a good agent, while an ‘Honorable Empath’ would be the opposite!

character_portraits_01.jpg


Prestige and Piety remain in CK3, though with a new element to them. In CK2, you accumulated prestige that you then spent on various things - this rarely made much sense, why would launching an invasion suddenly make everyone like you less, for example? Therefore we’ve decided to split the currency part of prestige/piety from the perception part. In CK3, all prestige and piety accumulated by a character will contribute towards their Level of Fame/Devotion. These have various effects, for example, your Level of Fame increases the opinion of all secular rulers (as it did in CK2), give your more Knights, and unlocks special interactions - such as invasions should you be Tribal. Your Level of Devotion increases the opinion of the clergy and allows you to declare better Holy Wars among other things. These levels range between 0-5, with 0 representing disgrace. Instead of only losing prestige when doing truly dishonorable things, such as breaking a truce, you now also lose Levels of Fame, making the whole thing more of a hard choice. Accumulated prestige and piety can be used for various things as a currency, just like in CK2, prestige being used for vassal interactions, decisions, and war, while piety is the primary resource used when interacting with the church.

Exalted.png


Before moving on to the Portraits themselves, I’d like to mention genetic traits! Traits such as Strong and Genius were much sought-after in CK2, and you often went out of your way to breed those traits into your direct line. In CK3 this is even more involved, with genetic traits having multiple levels that you can improve with successive generations (which can be sped up by inbreeding!), and there’s also more of them. Genetic traits will often have a visual effect on your portrait - the Beautiful line of traits will make your characters more-and-more symmetrical, for example. On the negative end of the spectrum, we have traits such as Ugly or Albino, which will reduce symmetry or alter your character's skin tone respectively (the Middle Ages were full of prejudice).

Now, without further ado, let's move on to the Portrait section, hosted by our very own portrait artist, Nils!

So, when it comes to the visual presentation of characters in the game, we've chosen to switch out the 2D "paperdoll" style portraits of CK2 for full animated 3D characters in CK3. While the portraits in CK2 undeniably have their charm, going 3D just gives us so many more possibilities for all kinds of dynamic features.

Every character has a DNA in which their appearance is defined. Each facial feature that we can control has its own gene. And there's a great number of those to give us a lot of variations and an endless amount of possible faces. For example, the nose alone has over 10 different parameters that define its shape. Compared to just one in CK2.

Another thing we wanted to change is how much of the character we display in the UI. This is, of course, the middle ages we are talking about, where a person's clothes are a more important indicator of who they are than even their facial features. So it made sense to show more of the body than just head and shoulders. How fancy and expensive a character’s clothing looks will give you as player information about their rank. The larger frame also allows us to show different animated poses, and as Alex mentioned above they give a hint of the character’s personality. Additionally, we can do more with body types as well. Characters have different heights (yes including dwarfism and gigantism) as well as different weights and body composition, something that is affected by their lifestyle and traits. So if your character is a gluttonous hedonist, chances are they will have a body rather on the stout side of things while if they are a legendary warrior their pecs and deltoids will also likely be of the legendary variety.

character_portraits_02.jpg


Other cool features that the 3D system allows us to do is seamless aging and disease overlays. Now you can see your toddler gradually change into an adult and eventually (barring any unforeseen incidents...) to an elderly 100-year old. Should your character, heavens forbid, catch a serious illness their appearance will reflect that with suitably repulsive skin texture overlays.

We will have a more in-depth look at the portraits in a future dev diary, so stay tuned for that!
 
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LukeCreed13

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Now that I think about it: what are the icons at the right of the traits? Ambitions?
 

Fulbert

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The trait icons look beautiful but I'm not sure how easily readable they are going to be. CKII's icons were sometimes difficult to interpret without a tooltip the first time you saw them but once you learned the icons you could easily reconise them as they were high-contrast and easy to read. These I'm not so sure about. But then again mmo players have been dealing with pretty splodges of colour for icons for ages so maybe I'm just being picky.

The portraits though? Plain awesome, nothing to comment apart from that.
 

Cronus865

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Unlike CK2, where personality traits were much like any other trait, we’ve decided to put more emphasis on the personality traits in CK3.

I thought the traits didn't feel anything like each other in CK2 and affected much different things outside of the attributes they gave you so I'm confused by that first part. Is there a good example of how you'll be putting more emphasis on personality traits in CK3?
 

Bandua_of_Gallaecia

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How moddable is the transference of genetics? Would it be possible to, say, create a family where they have a prevalence for strength and almost all of them have black hair and blue eyes? Except for those three blonde haired, green eye kids. But take no notice of them.
It would, however those three kids would have the inbred trait, and their uncle would be rightful king.
 

Krajzen

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With every dev diary we realize how much could be enhanced in ck2
 

Taniwha

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On the negative end of the spectrum, we have traits such as Albino or Ugly, which will cause your character to not be as pleasing to the eye…

That's a really unpleasant and insensitive way to describe Albinos, especially considering how much prejudice they suffer for their appearance.
 
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Spaninq

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upload_2019-12-10_9-47-44.png

My take on what traits are represented by what pictures. A few of the pictures felt like better representations of certain traits than the CK2 versions of traits, but I stuck to the original CK2 symbols and mentioned which ones fit better in my opinion. I honestly can't decide where the other humble/honest trait goes, and it feels odd to put Groomed in when there's no obvious Uncouth equivalent, or Frail in when there's no obvious Brawny equivalent. You can tell I made a few mistakes in my attempts along the way. I wasn't sure about Cynical, but I think the clouds might indicate not seeing anything but the sky watching over you? The broken hourglass also is rather confusing, since the opposite of Patient is Wroth, but we already have a fist that is pretty close to the CK2 icon for Wroth.

@rageair Would you mind sharing a rough percentage of how correct my guesses are?

Edit: Now that I've had a closer look, Chaste is definitely the top right, since the one I labeled as Chaste is showing a magnifying glass over a map, not a ring on a table as I previously thought.
 
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Cronus865

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That's a really unpleasant and insensitive way to describe Albinos, especially considering how much prejudice they suffer for their appearance

You just answered why they made the decision for it to be that way. It's an unpleasant reality that they're looked at unpleasantly by a lot of people and it'll reflect that in the game.
 

Nyrael

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Now that I think about it: what are the icons at the right of the traits? Ambitions?

Education Traits, the ones you get after becoming an Adult. Midas-Touched, Brilliant Tactician, and such.
 

AlphaCitrouille

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The characters in this pictures look better overall than what we've seen previously. But some of them still have weird poses. Like the monk looking off the side. In other pictures some looked at their feet or the ceiling. Some variations in poses is good, but such extremes can make them look bad.

If the portrait is moving, would it be so bad and unrealistic that the character takes a glance somewhere else ? We only saw screenshots yet, I am actually very curious to see how the portraits look on a gameplay footage.
 

Nyrael

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If the portrait is moving, would it be so bad and unrealistic that the character takes a glance somewhere else ? We only saw screenshots yet, I am actually very curious to see how the portraits look on a gameplay footage.

Though they are static now, I remember that in early videos of Imperator the characters moved. So I assume its possible, but it won't necessarily happen.
 

LukeCreed13

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Education Traits, the ones you get after becoming an Adult. Midas-Touched, Brilliant Tactician, and such.
Sorry, I should've been clearer: I mean the "circles" with the chest, the crossed swords, the three arrows, the crown etc.
 

Ixalmaris

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Looks good, although I am still sad that this will make modding so much harder and that we will see less outlandish mods or total conversions like Elder Kings because of it.
Do you have any tools planned to help modding those portraits? Or at least a 2D compability mode you can turn on for specific characters?

I assume that the system can handle different types of skeletons and animations as otherwise Glitterhoof wouldn't be possible?