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By Shamus
on Saturday Apr 2, 2011
Filed under:


Well, lookie what I found during a Google Image search!


It’s impossible for me to imagine this face having some other voice besides the voice of Commander Shepard. But of course, in reality that voice belongs to another face:

Link (YouTube)

Reality is confusing. And disappointing.

Comments (55)

  1. Senji says:

    Femshep is better imo. Also felt more animate, know what I mean? Male shepard just stood there like a tree without any emotions.

  2. eric says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about BioWare using actors/actresses and models as… well, models for their characters. In practice it makes sense: find someone attractive, who fits the character’s personality, and who hopefully isn’t popular enough that players just see the celebrity instead of the character. It worked well in Dragon Age because the final character designs looked a good deal different than the “celebrity inspiration”, but in Mass Effect it’s just… eerie. Once you’ve seen Commander Shepard, you can’t really think of the man behind him.

    Still, I feel even worse for the celebrities themselves. It must be creepy to walk into any given electronics store and see your face on rows of box art, and of course, there’s the stalkers to worry about…

    • Zukhramm says:

      I don’t like it. With 3D models, we can make anything, a human looking like anything we want it it’s used to make replicas of existing people?

      • El Quia says:

        For starters, creating a face from scratch and making it beautiful whatever requires more than just being able to recognize beauty. But it doesn’t matter, I don’t think that modeling a face after someone else’s is wrong or cheap or lazy. Painters do it all the time and I think they have their reasons for it, reasons that I can guess what they are, but I am not capable to explain (yes, stupid on my part, but I am not trying to convince anyone, just adding my opinion to the pile).

        What I do have a problem is modeling after a famous face, or widely recognized face, or whatever. Because it tends to break the immersion for me if I recognize the face. Heck, even when watching movies the famous actor and the character have to fight for my mind’s focus, so I guess it’s great I tend to suck are remembering faces :P

    • guy says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s standard because MoCap is cheaper and easier than making a realistic-looking character by hand.

      • eric says:

        But they don’t use facial motion capture in BioWare games. As far as I know, LA Noire is the only game to use such technology, mostly because it’s prohibitively expensive. Motion capture can be done with pretty much anyone, provided they’re roughly the right build for the character… it’s only used as a rough guide during animation anyway, you rarely capture the “exact” movements of a character in a way that can be used unaltered in the game.

        • Nick Bell says:

          Ninja Theory makes great use of facial motion capture as well. The faces in Enslaved are nothing short of amazing, and I have heard Heavenly Sword is equally impressive. Definitely expensive, but impressive when done well.

    • SKD says:

      Why would that be any different than walking into a movie store and seeing their faces on rows of DVD/BD cases? Or any newsstand and seeing their faces on half the magazine covers?

    • Irridium says:

      There’s also the issue of modeling their faces to be exactly the same as the actors.

      While the actors themselves may be hot as hell(Yvonne Strahovski), translating that into a game… just doesn’t work. Or maybe Bioware’s just not good at it.

      • Klay F. says:

        For some reason Bioware really likes symmetrical faces. Either that or they haven’t figured out yet that symmetrical faces are creepy as hell, no matter how attractive the modeling actor is.

        Even Miran-duh with her so called perfect genes wouldn’t have a perfectly symmetrical face if she were a real person.

        • Zukhramm says:

          If they really were that creepy would not the people at Bioware themselves notice that?

        • roll-a-die says:

          There’s a reason for that, to do non-symmetrical 3D moldable models is hard. And vastly more complex that the 1 set of data and constraints you need to do a symmetrical face. You can end up with 2-22 sets of data and constraints depending the level of detail you need to work with.

          Really it’s a very interesting challenge, and would also likely burden the players very much in creating an attractive face if you allowed asymmetry. It’s easier to deal with faces that are relatively offensive by default than it is to make one where if you make the slightest mistake you’re fucked for the entire time. Asymmetry is hard to deal with but can lead to good quality faces. It’s just doing that would be harder for an untrained person to do so. Symmetry is a nice balance between ease of use and quality.

          Hope that made some kind of sense, my brains been foggy lately.

          • False Prophet says:

            I wish the graphic artists would get it and move to a less photorealistic style. Current-gen games so often find themselves mucking about at the bottom of the uncanny valley, it would be great if more artists would experiment with less realistic but more original art styles.

            That said, DA2 is vastly improved over DA:O in this instance: facial expressions and other non-facial body language seems a lot more natural, the eyes don’t seem as dead or staring off into space. I think the slightly more manga-esque art style has helped here–characters look less real but feel more natural.

            • roll-a-die says:

              Not really even manga-esque, just general cartoon-esque. It’s one of the few areas where DA2 did actually improve, rather than fall backwards.

              Artists should realize that stepping back from photorealism just a step will actually help them in the long run. Simplifying things will cut down on the work, and will allow for a much more stylistic approach.

  3. NonEuclideanCat says:

    So, wait, is the guy in the GIS picture the VA for Wrex?

  4. Alexander The 1st says:

    “I’m Commander Shepard, and I think I look awesome in a suit.”

    Also, isn’t character creation fun? My characters never look ANYTHING like that, given half the chance.

    I’ll go on record as saying I think I have the worse looking characters ever.

    Though this usually involves creating a character such that the side of their face is really distorted from cheek width/cheek gaunt being at opposite ends of the spectrum, with cheek width/jaw width being really far off/really close.

    Woo for characters with 45 degree angle cheekbones!

  5. X2-Eliah says:

    To be fair, the character face editor in ME2 is downright horrible. Much more difficult to make something you want than in DA games.

    • Even says:

      I actually found the DA2 to be disappointingly limited. Granted I imported my save from ME and I was fairly happy with the face of my femshep from the first so I don’t have that much experience with the one in ME2, other than fiddling once to make a quick maleshep. I’ve had the game for couple weeks now, and I just can’t seem to get started because I just can’t get the kind of face I’m looking for, which might seem a bit petty, but it just puts me off trying to play with the characters I’ve so far rolled.

  6. Keeshhound says:

    That, Sir, is an insult to = Chimpanzees with Downs Syndrome the world over; I demand that you retract it at once.

  7. Milos says:

    This post made me look up other ME voice actors for the first time and it blew my mind.


  8. Halfling says:

    So I have never seen Mark Meer’s real face before. His voice really lacks personality. But when you combine his face, with his demeanor, and voice he seems to have quite a lot of personality. Kind of reminds me of Nathan Fillion actually.

    Anyway. I wish they would have modeled Shepard’s face after Meer now. Male Shepard comes off as very earnest, which just does not match that sort of bad ass skinhead look that they gave him.

    Guess next time I roll a Male Shep I know what to try to make him look like to make me like the portrayal more.

    Who am I kidding. I am never gonna pass up using Jennifer Hale’s voice for anything.

    • Marcellus says:

      “Kind of reminds me of Nathan Fillion actually.”
      A mix between Nathan Fillion and David Tennant, if you ask me.

      • Sean Riley says:

        David Tennant was immediately who I thought of, too. And his voice has more personality there than he did in game. I wonder if he might not be a more natural comic actor than dramatic.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Yeah. I’ve always made my Shep to look like a generally good/polite kind of guy, and the voice has always been a good fit.

      Now that I think of it, that might be part of why people dislike Meer’s performance so much, the default face really clashes with the general tone.

    • Raygereio says:

      I blame whoever was in charge of directing the voiceacters for MaleShep’s bland voice more then I do Mark Meer.
      The thing is that Mark Meer is actually capable of delivering a more then decent performance with his voice. Look up his IMDB page and check out his other work. Most of it isn’t nearly as bland as Shepard.
      It’s just that in Mass Effect he has this weird method of delivery of putting emphasis on the wrong words. It’s a way of speaking I hear often from acters that try to sound tough and badass; someone should just tell him to stop that.

      Edit: Huh, I wanted to post this reply to Electron Blue below and somehow it ended up here. I utterly failed at Internet today.

  9. Varewulf says:

    What exactly were you image searching for to find that cover?

    • Shamus says:

      “Commander Shepard”

      I was actually messing around, comparing instances of “Shepard” vs. “Shepherd” and seeing which was most common when I did the image search, for reasons that escape me now.

  10. Electron Blue says:

    Man, he really does seem a lot more animated in person. Maybe it is part modeling that makes his voice seem so bland in-game.

  11. poiumty says:

    Wow, Shamus, took you a while to finally find this. Kinda shows how little time you spend on the internet.

    And I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

    • The Bard says:

      That’s one of the things I love about Shamus. He’s like a modern monk who closes himself off from the internet. It makes his knowledge of the game-making process somewhat impressive. It’s like he learns everything he knows from books. Who does that anymore?

      Every time he talks in one of his videos I always imagine him as Mr. Fredrickson from Up. Sitting in front of his computer and waving his tennis ball-covered walker at the monitor whilst shouting at the internet to get off his lawn. That always makes me giggle. XD

      It works especially well during the Let’s Play segments when he’s griping about something. ;)

  12. Vuther says:

    We’re all aware that guy on the cover is Mark Vanderloo, right? Just wondering because I haven’t seen his name mentioned on these comments once yet.

  13. ccesarano says:

    That is the most generic looking guy.

    I feel like games are too much like Greek art, where they had mathematical calculations to determine height, proportions and precise facial features. Basically, even when a statue is made of someone specific, their features are adjusted to fit this perfect set of mathematical standards of the ideal human.

    And it looks boring. At least, in the realm of video games.

    I look at famous actors and they typically have some flaw or feature that makes them stand out. Stalone has an awfully ugly face, but you remember it. Bruce Willis has small eyes. The Mac Commercial guy has a long narrow face. Sean Connery is old. Sean Connery as James Bound has a rounder face.

    It just seems logical to me that developers should observe actual people, and sure, make them attractive, but give them flaws or features that set them apart from every other character out there.

    Choosing actual models is a bad idea, because they look for features like the Greeks drew. In the end it becomes bland and generic, and then you just have our current onslaught of video game heroes.

    Also, at first I thought this was a Homefront post. Might be more due to the color scheme of the image, though.

    • acronix says:

      Miranda`s jawline may be this gone completely wrong.

    • Klay F. says:

      I think you are being pretty unfair to the Greeks and their sculptures. The Greeks may have had some antiquated ideals of the perfect person, but their sculptures look a thousand times more realistic and life-like than anything Bioware has ever done, and they were done with a hammer and chisel of all things.

  14. Slothful says:

    I think all that needs to be said about the default male Shepard face is that you can’t actually directly edit it in the character creator.

    The programmers of the game were afraid of the prospect of someone actually using some sort of variant of this face.

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