Choosing a character portrait is one of the key decisions to spend hours mulling over in any decent CRPG. That’s why it’s awesome to see someone using the power of publicly accessible AI to generate fantasy mugshots for classic examples of the genre such as Baldur’s Gate. Indie app dev and documentary editor Alex Hay has created some great examples, which he’s shared on Twitter with Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition devs Beamdog and their CEO Trent Oster.
Hay used one of artificial intelligence research lab OpenAI’s image transformer models, called DALL·E 2 to generate portraits in the style of the first two Baldur’s Gate RPGs. There’s more examples of what Hay’s been generating on the Dungeons&Dalle Instagram account, or here on Twitter. Hay used this as a prompt for DALL·E 2 to generate images based on the legendary hamster-loving barbarian Minsc, for example:
"A portrait of a giant bald barbarian with purple face paint. A hamster sits on his shoulder. The scene is at sunset and he wears armour made from leather. Epic fantasy art, sharp, award winning on Artstation, 4k HD"
You can see the result below:
I’ve been using the amazing DALL·E 2 by @OpenAI to create D&D character portraits & the results are 🤯— Alex Hay (@mralexhay) July 20, 2022
You can see more here @DnDalle or on insta:https://t.co/zIuotoOU4F
cc @BeamdogInc @TrentOster @gdb pic.twitter.com/4AwUgix681
Some of the images generated by the AI weren’t as choice as the one Hay singled out, but they impressed Oster enough for him to comment that he’d only managed to get “hot garbage” when he made a similar effort using another AI tool, Midjourney.
One of my many pastimes as a teenager was fiddling around with character portraits in Baldur’s Gate and its sequel. I had two standard characters I used to play as: The Orc With No Name, which used a basic half-orc portrait for obvious reasons, and Dutch Quaid, a medieval fantasy themed Arnold Schwarzenegger look alike made out of a pack of celeb portraits. You can see the latter here, along with some other early 2000s stars such as Ben Stiller, Seth Green and Orlando Bloom. Teen CJ would’ve loved all this AI business.
Tools like DALL·E 2 could help solve another issue in RPG character creation too. Stewards of the Baldur’s Gate series Larian took players to task over the shockingly boring self-insert characters they were creating when the latest game in the series entered early access back in 2020. Plonking together all the most popular choices in Baldur's Gate 3’s character creator left Larian with what they called the “default Vault Dweller” – a very white, brown-haired man in what appeared to be his late 20s. At least be a tiefling, people.
Larian announced in April that Baldur’s Gate 3 launches out of early access in 2023. That still leaves you with plenty of time to fiddle about with some AI and make yourself look a bit more like a bad-arse mage instead of some random lad from accounts. You can sign up to the DALL·E 2 waiting list here. Hop to it!