Sunday 18 March 2007

Tiana recently asked whether anyone had used dwarves in their Sim stories. The idea intrigued me, so I decided to do a few experiments to see how well it would work.

Many of you are aware that I use SimPE to modify the stretch factor of my Sims to make them taller (Sigefrith) or shorter (Alred) than average. I could get into a discussion of the factors I use and how they translate into real-​​world heights, but I will save that for another post if anyone’s interested.

Suffice it to say that I consider 57.5″ (1.71m) to be average, i.e. a stretch factor of 1. 54″ (1.63m) is the smallest I’ve gone, which is a factor of 0.9481. Matilda and Lili have this height. Theobald is the tallest at 63″ (1.91m), with a factor of 1.1111.

Those extremes represent the limits of what I have found gives an acceptable appearance. Very tall Sims get quite gawky-​​looking, and they have an annoying habit of locking their arms straight at their sides when they stand, straighter than human elbows can allow, which looks odd.

Also, many Sims animations are created for Sims at normal height, which means that some animations look strange for Sims at unusual heights. However, within the range I use, the only problems I have are with kissing and hugging, since taller Sims will kiss the forehead of their partner instead of their lips, and in a hug the shorter Sim’s head will sometimes pass through the shoulder of the other.

Now, according to the Wikipedia article on Achondroplasia, the most common form of real-​​world dwarfism, the average height for male dwarfs is 43.8″ (1.32m) and for women it is 40.6″ (1.23m). According to my calculations, this gives a scale factor of about 0.77 and 0.73.

For my experiments, I used scale factors of (from right to left) 0.8 (Ethelmund), 0.7 (Gunnilda), 0.6, (Alfred), and 0.5 (Colburga). These would translate to heights of 46″ (1.37m), 311″ (1.2m), 35″ (1.03m), and 28″ (0.86m), respectively. An average male dwarf, then, would be slightly smaller than Ethelmund, and a female slightly taller than Gunnilda.

Four short Sims.

For comparison purposes, we also have Hetty, who is 56″ tall (1.68m), or a factor of 0.9778. The old man is also standing there, but the heights of children is another topic entirely. (He is supposed to be 45.2″.)

Three short Sims and Hetty

It appears that Sims’ heads and necks are not modified at all, and the thickness of their torso and limbs does not change. This gives them an appearance somewhat consistent with achondroplasia.

Now let’s see what goes wrong when they start moving.

Broken knees

The first thing I noticed was that the legs don’t seem to be scaled evenly along the length, giving this broken knee effect on the shorter Sims when they bend their legs.

Broken knees

Ethelmund and Gunnilda had this problem too though it was not as noticeable.

Broken hands

Hands are also constructed strangely for certain animations.

Broken hands

In some animations the hands will go to the point in space where they would go for a Sim for normal height, with frightening results. Here Ethelmund is being complimented and is laying his hand where his chest should be.

Hand going through a head

I thought that sitting might be a particular problem. Here the men are in the process of sitting. Ethelmund doesn’t look too strange, except that he is levitating. Alfred has some real problems. (Emma is 411″ (1.5m).)

Attempting to sit

Here it gets worse.

Passing through furniture

Unfortunately once they are sitting the problems don’t go away. Ethelmund looks almost normal, but Gunnilda and Alfred are both passing through the bench. Apparently they are trying to put their feet in the usual place, but their legs aren’t long enough.

Passing through furniture

They are also attempting to lay their hands where their lap should have been, with strange results. Colburga has her hands passing through her sleeves.

I did not attempt any other animations, but I think there would be similar problems for many of them.

I should also add that when two Sims of different heights are talking, they do not look each other in the eyes. This would be a real problem with a dwarf since everyone would talk over his head. It might be possible to use SimPE to tell the game to treat him as a child, which might cause other Sims to look down as if he had a child’s height, but I did not test this.

From the looks of them, I thought that a Sim of a height somewhere between Alfred and Gunnilda would look the most like a stereotypical fantasy dwarf. However, it would be a challenge to take pictures of him where something was not going wrong with his body. It’s probably possible, but I wouldn’t attempt to make a dwarf be a main character. I think it would be too frustrating. This last picture makes it seem tempting though!

They look cool here though!