Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feature some really creepy child models, as evidenced in the images above and below. Players have been posting close-ups of the NPCs from both games on social media, wondering if child characters are difficult to make or if there is another reason behind this.
In response to a viral Reddit thread, user Ehrand – a game developer who works closely with character modelers – confirmed that children are indeed difficult to recreate realistically and studios sometimes try to scale down adult models to minimize production costs.
Here’s how Ehrand explained these looks (verbatim):
The proportion of a child is different than an adult. They usually have a bigger head ratio to body than adult and is hard to replicate without looking goofy. It’s even more difficult when you try to replicate a specific age because a child body changes so much in so little time when they grow. And because of their different proportion, it often would mean that they have a unique rig and that they can’t just re use adult animations. (they could with re-targeting but it won’t look right). This all adds to the cost in a production pipeline because they would need a unique model, with unique rig and with their own animations set. In big open world games, there are usually rig template that every character would need to fit on so that they don’t need to animate thousand of characters. Which is why they will often just scale an adult to be able to re-use their whole animations set at very little production cost.
Ehrand added that a variety of child models have to be made from scratch to populate big open worlds.
That explains it!