So the other day while chatting about Dragon Age Inquisition with friends, it occured to me that the NPC’s are all blue/grey/green or otherwise light eyed. Not a dark eye colour to be had in the land. Above is a screenshot of Vivienne De Fer. Who is clearly POC but has blue/grey eyes.
Below we have other NPC’s in the game: Josephine Montileyet of Antiva & Ambassador to the Inquisition, Ser Barris of the Templar Order and Dorian Pavus, of the Tevinter Circle at Vyrantium.
Notice, all are coded POC but have light eyes. Now, it is not strange that a POC would have light eyes, what is strange however, is that all the NPC’s in one game seem to all have a colour that falls on the lighter side of the spectrum.
In previous Dragon Age games, NPC’s and PC’s created by the player had a wider variety of brown and dark eye colours. So this seems odd to have such a think excluded in a new game engine (Frostbite on PC) and on next gen consoles.
So I noodled about this on twitter and tumblr, and got a variety of answers. The one that I was leaning towards but had not outright said was that perhaps the reason of this omission was due to othering POC characters, to make them more palatable if this change to them makes it easy for a player to see them as not POC.
The other thing I got was a lot of BUT YOU CAN’T DO THAT IN THE CC (Character Creator!) which wasn’t my point. To which I cobbled together this reply from a few tweets:
To be clear, my post yesterday about eye colour in #DAI was for NPC’s not the Character Creator. The devs have access to and can create assets players cannot. IE, I cannot replicate some eye colours that NPC’s have.
But it would stand to reason, that NPC’s could have colours outside the blue/green/grey palette they all seem to have. I know how hard it is to make an Inquisitor with dark eyes, believe me I’ve tried. But that wasn’t my point.
And saying players can’t create a dark eyed/brown eyes character doesn’t explain why all the NPC’s have a light eye colour. Or to add on the old argument about hair choices. Why so few? I’m spending lots of time with this character, so more options.
To give them more character, be more representative of diverse people would be great. I won’t even talk about lack of body sliders in CC.
So that leaves the open ended question, why are all of the NPC’s, especially those of colour given a narrow spectrum of eye colours? Is it because of accidental othering? Or limitations of the engine? Which seems a bit ridiculous considering the amazing landscapes, water effects and animations you get as you traverse the game world.
Or worse, is it just lazy coding? Nothing sinister other than a failure to add more hex values to the eye colour palette for both inner and outer iris?
Hopefully time and patches will tell whether this is a bug or a feature.