Crusader Kings II - Dev Diary 7 - Character Portraits and Modding

Crusader Kings II - Dev Diary 7 - Character Portraits and Modding

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podcat

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Since there was some discussions and curious people in the last dev diary thread I thought I should take a break from HOI3: For the Motherland and describe how the character portrait system works. If there are any art questions perhaps Danevang who is doing the actual art can answer those for you, I will focus more on the technical aspects. Remember that all of these pictures are still very much in progress and things will change and a lot of things will be added.


The primordial goo

The way a character looks is based on two things: inheritance (we call this DNA) and other factors (we call these properties). Your DNA is created when you are born and cant be changed. Its a mix of your characters parents DNA plus a small "mutation chance" to simulate genes from ancestors and to make people look different despite not having millions of characters. Properties on the other hand change during a characters lifetime depending on traits, social status etc.

For example DNA will tell if you inherited the big 'ol family potato nose and blond hair (and if not it might cast some suspicions on what your mom was up to while your dad was busy crusading) and properties will tell what kind of hair style you prefer and if you are likely to wear a crown because you're king and how fancy your clothes are.
Currently there are 11 DNA genes and 6 properties for each character, but its not unlikely that we will increase these during the project.

Below is a picture showing inheritance, sadly none of our female portraits are ready for showing yet so I'v shown only the male line:

stenkil.png

You can also see the effects of properties, our character in the middle is a king with a crown and one of his sons is a bishop, above him is his late father. This picture also shows the effect of aging. We currently have 4 age levels for the portraits so you will see your characters grow wrinklier, get bigger ears and their hair thinning and becoming white.

The DNA is scriptable in history files for character if we want to make someone look like their historic counter part (arguably this was more important in EU: Rome because the romans were pretty good at making statues so we could see what people looked like), then during startup the game will run through characters outwards from scripted ones and propagate their genes for a plausible result for all the ones not scripted.


Hey, you said this was about modding not biology!

ok ok, lets see some code and I'll show you how characters can be modded.
Character portraits are described in two files, one for the graphics and one for scripting logic around properties.

Graphical portrait setup
Code:
[COLOR=YellowGreen]# portraits.gfx[/COLOR]
[COLOR=YellowGreen]# graphical look of character portraits[/COLOR]

[COLOR=YellowGreen]# middle age[/COLOR]
portraitType = {
    name = [COLOR=Magenta]"PORTRAIT_norsegfx_male1"[/COLOR]
    effectFile = [COLOR=Magenta]"gfx\\FX\\portrait.fx"[/COLOR]
    layer = { [COLOR=YellowGreen]# GFX_TYPE:[d|p]INDEX:COLOR_LINK[/COLOR]
        [COLOR=Magenta]"GFX_character_western_background:p0"
        "GFX_western_male_clothes_behind:p3"
        "GFX_western_male_headgear_behind:p5"
        "GFX_western_male_beard_behind_midage:p4:h"
        "GFX_western_male_base_midage:p2"
        "GFX_western_male_neck:d0"
        "GFX_western_male_chin:d1"
        "GFX_western_male_mouth_midage:d2"
        "GFX_western_male_nose_midage:d3"
        "GFX_western_male_cheeks_midage:d4"
        "GFX_western_male_head:d5"
        "GFX_western_male_eyes_midage:d6"
        "GFX_western_male_eyes2:d6:e"
        "GFX_western_male_clothes:p3"
        "GFX_western_male_beard_midage:p4:h"
        "GFX_western_male_ear_midage:d7"
        "GFX_western_male_clothes_infront:p3"
        "GFX_western_male_headgear:p5"[/COLOR]
    }

    hair_color_index = [COLOR=Cyan]8[/COLOR] [COLOR=YellowGreen]# which DNA gene sets hair color[/COLOR]
    hair_color = { [COLOR=YellowGreen]# dark, base, highlight[/COLOR]
        { [COLOR=Cyan]15 8 0[/COLOR] } { [COLOR=Cyan]173 158 102[/COLOR] } { [COLOR=Cyan]255 255 255[/COLOR] }
        { [COLOR=Cyan]10 10 10[/COLOR] } { [COLOR=Cyan]125 100 82[/COLOR] } { [COLOR=Cyan]255 255 255[/COLOR] }
        { [COLOR=Cyan]30 22 18[/COLOR] } { [COLOR=Cyan]194 132 97[/COLOR] } { [COLOR=Cyan]255 255 255[/COLOR] }
    }

    eye_color_index = [COLOR=Cyan]9[/COLOR] [COLOR=YellowGreen]# which DNA gene sets eye color[/COLOR]
    eye_color = {
        { [COLOR=Cyan]58 109 193[/COLOR]}
        { [COLOR=Cyan]120 74 46[/COLOR] }
        { [COLOR=Cyan]34 103 36[/COLOR] }
    }
}
The name for the portrait type specifies that this is used for the norse graphical culture group and that he is male and middle aged (the number at the end sets age). The portrait is made up of 18 layers (this can change between ages and cultures as well if wanted) and each layer has a string describing it. Lets use "GFX_western_male_beard_midage:p4:h" as an example. This specifies that it should use an image from the GFX_western_male_beard_midage icon strip (specified higher up in the file), that it should use property 4 :)p4) from the character to decide which beard to pick and the last ":h" means that it should be colored using the characters Hair color. If we had wanted to connect to DNA instead of a property (like for the nose) we would write :d4 instead of p4.

Layers are free to connect to the same property and this is done quite a bit for clothes and beard/hair etc that needs to show both behind and in front of other layers. This is what GFX_western_male_clothes looks like for the first 3 options:

western_male_clothes.png

Further down are hair and eye colors specified. For hair there is 3 colors for each property so we can tint hair highlights differently from base colors etc.

Property scripting
A separate file "portrait_properties.txt" specifies what properties a character should have. These are updated on major changes on the character like a new trait, a new title etc and also randomly once in a while. Scripting properties looks like this this, any property not mentioned will basically have a random value picked (so if we don't specify anything for hair/beards you will just get a random beard):
Code:
[COLOR=YellowGreen]# p3 clothes[/COLOR]
[COLOR=Cyan]3 [/COLOR]= {
    [COLOR=Cyan]0[/COLOR] = { [COLOR=YellowGreen]# mail armour[/COLOR]
        factor = [COLOR=Cyan]1[/COLOR]
        modifier = {
            factor = [COLOR=Cyan]2.0[/COLOR]
            martial = [COLOR=Cyan]5[/COLOR]
        }
        modifier = {
            factor = [COLOR=Cyan]100.0[/COLOR]
            has_job_title  = job_marshal
            OR = {
                is_ruler = no
                is_theocracy = no
                NOT = { religion_group = christian }
            }
        }
    }
    [COLOR=Cyan]1[/COLOR] = { [COLOR=YellowGreen]# fancy shirt[/COLOR]
        factor = [COLOR=Cyan]5[/COLOR]
        modifier = {
            factor = [COLOR=Cyan]10.0[/COLOR]
            OR = {
                has_job_title = job_treasurer
                has_job_title = job_chancellor
            }
        }
    }
    [COLOR=Cyan]2[/COLOR] = { [COLOR=YellowGreen]# Catholic vestments[/COLOR]
        factor = [COLOR=Cyan]100[/COLOR]
        modifier = {
            factor = 0
            NOT = { religion_group = christian }
        }
        modifier = {
            factor = [COLOR=Cyan]0[/COLOR]
            OR = {
                is_ruler = no
                is_theocracy = no
            }
            NOT = { has_job_title  = job_spiritual }
        }
    }
}
The top level is the property, so 3 is the same as :p3 in the graphical description we showed above. The next level in specifies which entry among the icons to pick, this script basically selects between 3 options: chain mail, fancy shirt and a more spiritual outfit. The factors you see are just percentages, but if something is specified with a value of 100 or above it always overrules any other option after it.

Alright, hopefully that was clear. So lets test this with an example. We want to add another layer connected to property 6 to our portrait. lets call it "props" so first we declare a sprite like normally in our gfx file and refer to it in the portrait description at the very end with "GFX_western_male_props:p6". Then we add a rule in the properties script like so:
Code:
[COLOR=YellowGreen]# p6 props[/COLOR]
[COLOR=Cyan]6 [/COLOR]= {
    [COLOR=Cyan]0[/COLOR] = { [COLOR=YellowGreen]# empty, dont use props, this is default[/COLOR]
        factor = [COLOR=Cyan]1[/COLOR]
    }
    [COLOR=Cyan]1[/COLOR] = { [COLOR=YellowGreen]# new prop. overrule all if character qualifies[/COLOR]
        factor = [COLOR=Cyan]100[/COLOR]
        modifier = {
            factor = [COLOR=Cyan]0[/COLOR]
            trait = [COLOR=Red]cool[/COLOR]
        }
    }
}
This means that if our character gains the "cool" trait and we have done our modding correctly his portrait will be changed to something like this:

cool.png

Looks like this
*puts on sunglasses*
wraps up this developer diary.

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

(disclaimer: there probably wont be any sunglasses in the real game)
 
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podcat

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Just a technical question: how often are these factors checked? As in once a month, once a year, only on game load? If I name John Knottinghill as my spiritual lord then change him to chancellor, will his clothing change immediately? Keep up the good work. Thanks.
This is subject to change as we come up with more things that can change the look but right now always if you get a new trait or a new title or job. I think I also put in a random update once a year, but I cant remember right now. That would depend on performance impact if it stays in the final version but could be used for changing hair styles etc every few years if wanted by modders etc.
 

podcat

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podcat

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I'm loving the portraits! I cant wait to see how beautiful you will make the female portraits.

If they are really impressive one might think twice about choosing a ugly smart one over a stupid pretty one :p
I think we should all focus on her huge tracts of land :p
 

podcat

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I am sure you could mod the Savegame file for one specific chracter, or remove it alltogether for all in the graphics files somewhere.
yeah
 

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Also, I noticed the character's name was Erik Stenkilsson af Stenkil. Does this mean patronyms for Nordic/Gaelic/Russian cultures will be in the game, or was it just coincidental?
there is some of that in the game but I dont know all the details which nationalities its supported for (a few anyway). I'm not on the CK2 project atm, I just wrote the portrait system so Doomdark can probably answer this better in a later diary.
 

podcat

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A quick question: will skin color be treated the same way with RGB values than hair or eye color?
no its too hard to draw that way and make it look natural. skin color needs to be drawn for each layer, so you need a new base set of sprites for each culture/race/etc

I'm guessing the kids still have the generic portraits, right?
right now yes, the system supports showing dna for kids however so its subject to change (or could be added by modders), but drawing kids is much harder since they change look so much every year and its hard to pick one look that works for all ages below 16.
 

podcat

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Here's the funny thing: in bed girls alsways compliment my soft skin. They have dificulties believing, that over the muscles there is such a young skin :D
I love our forum sometimes


The background is very dark. I understand you are going for a middle ages feel, but I feel like the three witches are gonna come out and start telling people it's their destiny to be king of Scotland. Couldn't the background be a nice pleasant spring day? Or maybe a nice crisp winter day of you are old and the fiery pits of hell once you are dead.
dont worry too much about the looks for now. this was the earliest portraits drawn and there was only one background done as well I think. everything is subject to change.
 

podcat

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But genetics can be simplified by the Mendel laws. It's not really about simulating genetics, but simulating phenotypes (i.e. appearance). Also, Mendel laws can be calculated, as they are binomes. I'd really like this to be modelled into the game.
one reason not to go with genetics laws is that we have a limited set of characters unlike in the real world where there are billions of people. This means that there is a high risk of everyone looking like each others inbred cousins at the end of a long game if we model dominant genes. We also dont use genes from parents that might have been passed along but not become visible in the child. To simulate this to an extent we also have a small "mutation factor" of a few percent every time new dna is generated. In Rome we needed a pretty high mutation factor (20%) to make things look different enough but we are going to have more portraits and options and characters here in CK2 making something like 2-5% more of an option.

to support genetics rules we would also need a whole new rule system that would have to be made scriptable/moddable and we didnt think the result was worth the effort when it could also bring all sorts of problems with it.
 

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I guess here is where actual 3d portraits would be beneficial (no need to have tons of pre-rendered layers, and diversity of facial features limited only by number of textures). Perhaps in CK3? ;) How about 'ethnic groups' of portraits - would there be more of them than in CK1 (Muslim and Christian)?
absolutely. a system like that lets you blend bone structure as well as part of the DNA so will let you get really cool results, but its a few magnitudes more work to do, so yeah maybe for CK3 if its successful enough *hint hint*
 

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But what about eugenics and marriage strategy?

How will the AI choose brides? If only the stats count, then the strongest individuals and their genes will survive and this will lead to the same effect, won't it?
I'm not in the know for character ai because I'm on a different project now, but I would find it likely that ai is mostly going to be concerned with what titles etc a potential bride brings along as well as diplomatic situation. Stats will be secondary to the impact of those. Unless of course if you are breeding some übermensch heir :)
 
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