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fredag, 20. november 2015, 08:22

“I never really think of him as a hunk of metal or a robot,” says actor Stephen Russell. “And I imagine he might say the same about himself.”

Russell is talking about his performance as Mister Handy, a role he reprises in Fallout 4. As players are now discovering, this iconic automaton has evolved quite a bit since Fallout 3. But, mind you, we’re not just referring to the utilitarian machines roaming the wasteland, which might seem somewhat similar to those in the previous games. Russell also voices a very special Mister Handy: Codsworth, the steadfast servant to the Lone Wanderer – both before and long after the bombs have dropped. It’s a star turn for the resourceful robot, who emerges as a key character in the player’s journey. And it’s a role that Russell cherishes because of the range of emotions it allows him to convey.

“I was best off voicing him if I would treat him as any other sentient being capable of joy and frustration, pleasure and pain, affection, anger, exhilaration, exhaustion,” Russell says. “He has a lot of heart.”

The Eyes Have It
What lies within the heart of Codsworth? And how specifically has his model changed since Fallout 3? Before we jump ahead, it’s helpful to look back at the bot in general. “The truth is, Mister Handy’s design already brought a lot of character with it,” says Senior Character Artist Dennis Mejillones. Indeed, the household helper has a rich history that fans cherish. Beyond his celebrated legacy, though, is the fact that all robots in the Fallout universe were designed so the fictional would feel functional. When crafting any of the robots in Fallout 4, Mejillones tells us he kept one thought in the back of his mind: How would these things work in the real world?

Mejillones credits Lead Artist Istvan Pely for a specific piece of feedback that he found particularly helpful: “This has to feel like a home appliance,” Mejillones says. “Like something you’d want to buy to have in your home.” So the design team scrutinized the mundane for inspiration – everyday items like toasters and blenders. Some of these references are noticeable in Mister Handy’s eyes. “The part that covers his actual eye pod was designed after a 1950s scooter,” Mejillones says. “It has that fun, friendly feel.”

Those eyes aren’t just amiable. They’re key to delivering the range of emotional expressions that Codsworth conveys in the game. For starters, the eyes are big, which makes them less threatening. “Bigger doe eyes give you the sense of something more cute,” Mejillones says. “The smaller the eyes, the scarier things tend to be, especially with machinery. It’s very predatory.”

But it’s not just the size of the orbs that matter. Along with all kinds of geometric elements that can be found in the ocular orbs, Mejillones also added an iris to each eye. “The moment it started opening and closing and focusing on you, it immediately added all this character,” he says. This was especially important because Codsworth doesn’t have an actual mouth, so the eyes have to do a lot of the work when it comes to expressing emotions. “He can do a cocked-head kind of thing, via the lens, and it reads really well,” Mejillones says. The animation team also fiddled with the individual pods, moving one forward, or having the other pods bobble around to enhance that friendly feeling. “It’s all in the eyes,” Mejillones says. “It really gives him life.”

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