Build-A-Wizard: Dragon Age Inquisition’s Character Creator

Shake it off, Vivienne.

We only have a few more months to wait until five years of questing and world-saving conclude in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and the question on everyone’s lips is: can I make a real cool-looking wizard or, like, some kind of really dopey one, or maybe one that looks like my nan, or Taylor Swift? That’s it: can I make Taylor Swift save the world and sing Shake It Off whenever she brushes blood and viscera off her armour? That’s what everyone’s asking, anyway.

A BioWare livestream yesterday giving a good look at the character creator revealed the answer: sure, I guess, probably, if you want! And if you provide your own singing.

Skip to 6:20 in this archive of the stream to see a pair of BioWare chaps play around with making a male human then a female Qunari. Each character has sixty-odd variables to tweak, they say, from ear position and eye colour to cracked horns and broken noses. Surely that’s enough variables to capture even someone as unique as Taylor.

That man-making ends 34:30, when they launch into 25 minutes of gameplay poking around some Dwarven ruins and beating up those poor lost Darkspawn. I didn’t catch any major spoilers, but be warned etc.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is due to arrive on November 21. It’ll have co-op multiplayer too, weirdly, but that did turn out quite fun in Mass Effect 3, didn’t it?


  1. Gog Magog says:

    Without having time right now to actually look at the video, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say two things:
    1. you still can’t customize height, which is a problem of modern games where it takes serious adjusting of cutscenes to facilitate this (eg. The Old Republic has like 3 body types with corresponding height to choose from because you only have so much money to make your stupid game full of talky talky words, and not even Saints Row included the option for much the same reason)
    2. you also cannot change body shape (how skinny/buff/pudgy character is) because while this doesn’t actually require adjusting cutscenes very much, it does mean a bit more modeling work including a clothing system that avoids heavy clipping (slight clipping being completely inevitable far as I know) and people don’t care very much about this either so whatever. Just throw more saves of worlds/minute at them. Bedazzle and stupify. Parasztvakítás. Pfuj,

    (When I make a character I like to actually customize them and I consider body type integral to that. If customization hamstrung, character don’t feel like I actually made them and I care less about them being an authentic actor on their own as opposed to an engine into which I feed the most optimal choices leading to the best ending. So at that point I very much prefer to be just straight-up handed a predefined character. Anyways.)

    • Lakshmi says:

      I like to make my characters as hideously deformed as possible – so I get childish pleasure every time Alistair or Kaidan or whichever Bioware love interest it is this time swoons at their ‘beauty’.

      Plus I’m tired of being told that all female gamers want skinny, buxom, beautiful women to play. We don’t.

      • Orija says:

        Basing how you play a game based on what other people say is rather ingenuous.

      • Wowbagger says:

        I thought the point was more that it’s what male gamers want to play as and the XX chromosomers can take a running jump?

        Not that i’m advocating that point of course, I like my weird and wonderful options as much as anyone.

        • Lakshmi says:

          It’s actually a real excuse wheeled out every time some lame underdressed oversexed female is designed – but women want this too!!! Like all women want everything the same.

      • spron says:

        And it’s not what this particular male gamer wants to see or play either!

    • Wulfram says:

      Well, you have body shape options named “Human”, “Elf”, “Dwarf” and “Qunari”. But no more than that.

      • ubik says:

        Yes, they specifically say that they had to deal with the various challenges of different body types while modelling (and designing cutscenes around, etc) the different races, and so because of that they decided they didn’t need allow for custom body types because… just because.

    • DanMan says:

      You forgot animation. The more you change the body shape, the less viable it becomes to just scale the rigging – if that’s at all possible.

    • TimorousBeastie says:

      Having previously worked on a game that has height customisation alongside extensive clothing and body shape options, I can attest to it being an absolute nightmare to work with. Every asset created needs a ton of morphs to fit right, and there are a mental number of issues with clipping and animation, before you even get to interactions with objects in a scene (try having a character pick something up when their arms can be any length. Not impossible by any stretch, but a massive headache and a lot more work).

      • gorice says:

        What do you make of this?
        link to

        • TimorousBeastie says:

          Different companies have different pipelines, so what works for one company might not work for another. With the project I worked on, the addition of a female character pretty much doubled our workload (we reused some but not all animations) given that completely new clothing assets needed made, but was worth it in the long term. If you factored it in from the beginning though you can make the process easier, which we’ve done on later projects that also have both gender characters.

          You can indeed use IK to get around the animation issues, but it can still be fairly problematic. For instance say you have a gun that has a point on it where characters hold it. With a very tall character he’ll likely be holding it with the elbow stuck well out, but with a very short character you may get into issues where the elbow will pop out of joint because it’s not long enough to reach that location. Of course you can avoid this if you know what’s required from the start of a project, but if you throw in female characters (which tend to be shorter) half-way through development after all your weapons have been made without that in mind? It becomes a major hassle retrofitting all your props to work with new stuff.

          I can see Ubisoft especially not wanting to compromise on animation quality by trying to shoehorn in female characters at the last minute, considering that’s one of their major focuses.

          On a side-note, I’m a Mandate backer and am quite looking forward to what they do with it :)

    • Big Murray says:

      I think you may be confusing this game with The Sims?

  2. RedViv says:

    Good, by December I should be done making a character.

  3. Wulfram says:

    Inquisition doesn’t conclude anything. Dragon Age isn’t a trilogy, just a bunch of games set in the same world.

    Unless the game sells poorly enough that they decide not to make another, I guess

  4. jezcentral says:

    In the God Old Days (aka the Nineties), I would spend the first evening reading the manual. Now I spend it customising my character.

    Yay, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Yeah, I was a bit thrown off by seeing character creation but not any stats.

  5. Morte66 says:

    Twitch video is awful.

  6. Orija says:

    They all seem to have swollen craniums and botox lips.

  7. montorsi says:

    It should be noted that “sixty” is a rather conservative estimate. Look at what you can do with colors and pushing/pulling/yanking the various features into different shapes and sizes.

    • kael13 says:

      I think they mean there’s 60 possible variables, but not the number of values they can take. Which, with the sliders and spectrums, is quite a few.

  8. Jamesworkshop says:

    I rarely bother, i just make things look worse, i think my imagination is lacking

    • Rizlar says:

      With these sorts of character customisation tools I don’t think it’s imagination that’s needed so much as focus. I’m only just getting adept enough with this stuff to make characters that actually look like people… my first Shepard looked like a badly scarred turtle. Good times.

      What you really need is restraint, to resist the urge to fiddle extensively with every single option, just focus on the important, defining features first and then finesse everything around them.

      • MrTijger says:

        I resorted to copypasting codes from other players to get my femshep to look at least bearable, will be fun to see how Frostbite handles face generation.

    • Henson says:

      It’s probably not your imagination. Since every individual feature is on a slider, a side effect is that you have to move multiple sliders concurrently in order for the face to continue looking good. Example: decreasing nose height necessitates decreasing eye height, mouth height, and chin height. I feel that, often, all the little steps needed to make a face idea work are difficult to intuit, so the tendency is not to stray far from one of the defaults.

  9. Henson says:

    I have to say, I’ve really liked what I’ve seen of this game’s art design. Stylish yet not jarring. Atmospheric. And yes, pretty. We’ll see if actually playing the game lives up to the same standard.

    Actually, it’s quite interesting how much Bioware have been emphasizing art design and customization, and downplaying story and characters. A clear response to Dragon Age II: “we heard you, so we’re focused on other things this time around. Don’t worry, the story stuff is still there, but let’s show you what else we’ve been doing”.

    • Rizlar says:

      Indeed, the tarot-esque cards at the start and the character portraits are really cool. In previous videos I thought they might have gone too far, got a bit contrived in the visual design, but actually it’s looking really good.

  10. heyhellowhatsnew says:

    Shake it Off is incredibly racist, and as a black person i’m really disgusted that someone from RPS posted this in an article, since RPS is known for not being like other gaming sites by calling out racism, sexism and bigotry. This is really shameful and I hope you apologize.

    link to
    have respect for other cultures. Like you used to. RPS is slowly falling into the category of those other terrible and unreadable gaming websites that are proud of their bigotry and bro-ism.

    Fix it.

    • Quiffle says:

      Okay, but how ’bout them Dragon Ages hrm? Neat stuff, that!

    • Ada says:

      I love Dragon Age, but this is the first thought that I had when I saw this article. Like, she’s going to reference that racist song?

    • AJLeuer says:

      Whoa. Slow down there. First of all, one screw-up does not imply a trend. Furthermore, your claim that “RPS is slowly falling into the category of those other terrible and unreadable gaming websites that are proud of their bigotry and bro-ism” is entirely out of step with reality. Consider: this is the same website that, three weeks ago, in the face of howling mobs of utterly deranged misogynists, reaffirmed their stance that videogames are for everybody. I understand that sometimes we sometimes have short memories, but…

      That said, you’re not wrong for being unhappy with the mention of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. But it’s a huge jump to assume the author even understands what’s problematic with the video, let alone concluding that the author does understand, but deliberately mentioned it anyways because RPS has suddenly decided to be intolerant.

      Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. It wasn’t until the Miley Cyrus trainwreck last year that I first started hearing from (and listening to) what black women had to say about it. Black people speaking out helped me understand why what she did wasn’t just stupid, but deeply problematic. I didn’t fully understand the depth of the problem of cultural misappropriation until people were kind enough to explain it to me.

      So I was clueless. I’m a little more educated now (enough that I had some faint warning signals go off when I saw the Taylor Swift video), but it still helps when people like you point out where white people have crossed the line in the way we treat minority cultures. But what doesn’t help is when you automatically assume bigotry, where in fact there is just ignorance.

      So that’s all I’m asking. Grant the author the benefit of the doubt. It’s far more likely she’s clueless or ignorant than that she really doesn’t care.

  11. Jimbo says:

    Get **DRAGON AGE ORIGINS FOR FREE** on Origin atm….

    …If there’s anyone on here who doesn’t already have it.

    link to