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Baldur's Gate 3 "feels so alive" because it used mo-cap and 248 actors to bring its characters to life

"Which means Shadowheart's iconic head wiggles were Jen’s actual head wiggles."

Baldur's Gate 3 promotional screenshot showing Shadowheart ponder a mysterious device.
Image credit: Larian.

Baldur's Gate 3 drew on the expertise and motion-capture of 248 actors to bring its cast – including NPCs – to life.

That's according to performance director Aliona Baranova, who posted a lengthy thread to Xitter over the weekend to detail exactly how much work goes into making your favourite games feel "so alive".

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"[For a]lmost ALL the dialogue we recorded, we ALSO captured the actors mocap data," Baranova explained. "That means all 248 actors, ALL the NPCs and not just the companions put on a mocap suit and their movements, gestures, and physical choices were recorded and sent along with the audio files for the animators to use in game. which is why the performances feels so alive."

The exceptions to the rule? Animals, of course, additional dialogue – Baranova gives the example of when you see a birds eye view of a character running while speaking – as well as cinematic cut scenes and, "occasionally", when an actor was injured or unavailable to record the mocap along with their voice lines.

"Which means the iconic head wiggles [Jennifer English] did as Shadowheart were Jen’s actual head wiggles," Baranova says. "The militaristic and alien like movements of Lae were Devora Wilde's physical choices for the character. Neil Newbon's theatrical flare as Astarion are all part of the actors choices."

"As a performance director, our job is to work with the voice director, and our focus is the actors body, their movements, how they physicalise, and embody their character and making sure that the body is connected to the voice," Baranova explains (thanks, PC Gamer).

"When you watch the in game dialogue you're not only hearing the actors voices but you're also seeing their physical performances as well as the beautiful work of the animators at Larian Studios, of course, who used the files we sent to create the finished product."

Larian has released its first "major" update for Baldur's Gate 3, with the developer stating it will target a rather substantial 1000 bugs, as well as "balancing, flow issues and much, much more". As Larian joked, it is so immense, the patch notes couldn't be detailed in their entirety on Steam, as they exceeded the platform's text limit.

This first chunky update follows Larian's announcement that Baldur's Gate 3 will be making its way to Xbox before this year is out.

After sitting down with Xbox head Phil Spencer at Gamescom earlier this week, Larian revealed it had dropped Series S split-screen as a "solution" to bring its RPG to Microsoft's consoles.

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