What it's like to perform in a virtual fantasy world in Baldur's Gate 3

A woman in a motion capture suit eating crisps while sitting in a workplace kitchen or canteen. Small ping-pong-st...

You might believe there is little overlap between TV soap operas and video games. But you might be surprised if you talk to people who have worked on both.

No, we're not discussing battle royales at the Queen Vic or warp pipes.

However, we are discussing what it's like to perform in a high-profile game.

For the majority of actors, finding a consistent, long-running role can be challenging, but soap operas can offer one.

According to Jennifer English and Devora Wilde, working on the fantasy role-playing game Baldur's Gate 3 provided them with a similar level of stability.

The eagerly anticipated movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as the half-elf cleric Shadowheart and is set in the Dungeons and Dragons universe.

Although she has performed in video games before, this was her longest-running project.

That shouldn't come as a huge surprise because Baldur's Gate 3 reportedly has 17,000 different ways to end.

In 2019, Jennifer first learned she had landed the part. She has since devoted countless hours to recording lines and whole-body motion capture sequences.

On the left, a female character with short, bob hair and a straight fringe looks sad or contemplative. She's wearing a suit of armour with a large, circular silver chest guard and ornate shoulder piece. She's bathed in an orange, candle-like glow. On the right, a photo of a real human woman sitting in a work canteen/kitchen eating crisps while wearing a motion capture suit. It's skin tight, with small, ping-pong style balls .ted around the surface. She's also wearing large, over-ear headphones around her neck
In the game, players can recruit and make friends with Jennifer's character Shadowheart.

She says, "I didn't realize how difficult creating this entire universe is before starting this.".

There is a lot going on; it's not just your typical kitchen sink drama. And you have to think that up on your own, in your imagination. ".

There are difficulties that you wouldn't encounter on a typical TV or movie set when acting for video games.

For instance, before their surroundings are added later on a computer, actors recording motion capture must mentally picture them.

Additionally, Baldur's Gate 3 introduced some fresh and distinctive elements with its branching storylines.

Because decisions made by players in the game can change the course of the narrative, the actors must record multiple takes of a scene while making minor changes to the script each time.

Lots of work and studio time result from it, which means a steady job.

Jennifer wonders when actors get to play characters for that long outside of soap operas.

Devora Wilde, a castmate of Jennifer's, plays the githyanki warrior Lae'zel. She has previously appeared in Hollyoaks, a popular UK soap opera.

Even when you're portraying a mythical creature with green skin and pointed ears, she claims that getting into character can quickly become second nature.

"At one point I was in recording every single day," she says.

"By the end, you can easily adopt the persona. It has really merged with your identity. ".

A woman wearing a motion capture suit. It's skin tight, with small, ping-pong style balls .ted around the surface. She's wearing over-ear headphones and laughing. She's on some cushions/crash mats on the floor. Her arms and legs are outstretched - she looks as if she's just landed after falling backwards.
Devora had to use a motion capture suit to record her movement in addition to her voice.

Jennifer also disclosed that actors and directors revised the script as they went along, changing certain sections while it was being recorded.

"Shadowheart was very different at the beginning of recording," she claims.

We played and created a character that is incredibly complex. Conversation and teamwork are the sources of that, she claims.

Jennifer isn't convinced AI will take her job any time soon because of this, despite her worries about the technology.

"AI is frightening to us, but can it capture the depths of human emotion that actors bring? Can it match our surprising creativity?".

Speaking of human emotions, Baldur's Gate 3 allows players to flirt and form relationships with either male or female companions and places a strong emphasis on love, lust, and romance.

The characters of Jennifer and Devora were also involved, which required acting out some potentially awkward love scenes.

Devora expressed her satisfaction with the fact that game developer Larian used specialized intimacy coordinators to ensure actors felt at ease during romantic scenes.

Although they are frequently used in filmmaking, the creator of Baldur's Gate 3 says they are the first to use them in a conventional video game and that they hope other developers will follow their example.

One woman in dungarees smiles while another woman wearing a motion capture suit kisses her on the cheek. They look happy and comfortable in each other's company - it's a warm, affectionate scene.
While filming her motion capture scenes, Jennifer met her girlfriend.

Jennifer acknowledges that there was some weirdness during the recording, but the story of the game never went too far.

"I never experienced any 'yuck' during a recording session. And my "yuck" threshold is quite low," she adds.

Another challenge that you probably wouldn't encounter on the Hollyoaks set is presented by the romance aspect of the game.

You may have seen posts that went viral about a love scene involving a human who can transform into a bear.

Larian claims that they were temporarily suspended from the platform after the scene was revealed on TikTok.

Devora, however, finds it amusing.

"It just demonstrates how insane this game is in the best way possible. " .

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