I ever wondered why Starfield NPCs look a little weird when they smile? While the animation is a marked improvement over previous Bethesda RPGs, it just feels weird when they grin. And now a tech artist has shared his thoughts on what’s going on, or more specifically, what’s not going on.
Accordingly X user Delaney King, a character and technical artist who has worked on a number of games, Dragon Age Including everything is due to a missing (or non-functioning) muscle. Specifically, it’s about that Orbicularis oculi muscle does not contract, giving the impression of a rather forced smile. Bethesda apparently didn’t include this small muscle movement in their facial animation. This in turn leads to this strange smile.
We can totally understand what she means. Just looking at the screenshots provided, I remember nothing more than British comedy magazine Viz’s “Insincere Smiles” film. ““This muscle has to contract for a smile to be perceived as a real smile,” explains King. “The apples of your cheeks should also rise, otherwise it will look like you are actively resisting smiling and leave a constipated impression.”
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One thing I noticed about Starfield is that the characters’ smiles have a problem with the orbicularis oculi muscle not contracting to create a “Duchenne smile.” pic.twitter.com/2JdR95L3Uo
– Delaney King (@delaneykingrox) September 10, 2023
King also points this out András Arató, better known as Hide the Pain Harold, as a real-world example of someone whose eye circle doesn’t contract as much. And how StarfieldAn NPC’s smile can appear forced, regardless of whether he is being honest or not.
She also criticizes Starfield for revealing the upper whites of his characters’ eyes, noting that such a move should be done intentionally. In short, Bethesda still needs to work on their facial animations. It also deals with some other mechanisms of smiling. It’s an insightful thread worth thinking about, especially if you plan on getting into character design.
Maybe Bethesda will sort this out The Elder Scrolls VI. In the meantime, there’s always the short-term solution of being such a relentless idiot that no one ever smiles at you. At least that’s my excuse for every terrible, selfish, mustache-twirling in-game decision I’ve made.