One thing that has bothered me for a while now has been Tikrid‘s AI. Her character is supposed to be physically awkward but effective, but the standardized animations belie that. She fights normally, she moves normally, as does every NPC in the game. So for the most part, for narrative purposes, I’ve resorted to breaking the cardinal sin, telling you why she’s awkward instead of showing you said awkwardness.
Without being able to alter her fighting style, the best I could do was make her gangly by dropping the weight slider down. There’s also the tan lines I’ve placed on her face – a story I will elaborate on further in v3.01 since most people seem to assume it’s dirt (Basically, when I constructed her face, I thought it’d be typical of her to try on war paint on the hottest and brightest day of the year, and come home with a tan line that stayed on her face for months).
In Darkened Steel, I was able to direct her a little more and have her commit faux pas – knocking urns over, crossing sacred boundaries, and stepping on traps – but she still does them with the same grace that is intrinsic in all NPCs. In other words, she feels a little more clumsy than awkward. After all, she’s bound to the matrix of the game, and the people who designed its animations wanted them to look impressive. For the most part, they succeeded.
However, while explaining this on the Nexus forums, I realized I’ve come across animations that aren’t really utilized in the vanilla game, mostly because they are patently ridiculous. For example, in the video below are the IdleLaugh and IdleGetAtttention – idles that for whatever reason do a head-first dive straight into the uncanny valley.
There are some animations though, that fall in the tenuous space between the impressive and the absurd. Animations that are just realistic enough to simply be, well, awkward. While it’s impossible to change Tikrid’s fighting style, in the next version I hope to add little touches here and there that unintentionally match her character. Given her background as a guardsmen, the IdleSalute and IdleSnaptoAttention actually fit perfectly, and having her stand at attention whenever you speak to her is one way to show her awkwardness instead of telling it.