(also a repost for me)
I’m only going to do this for my current characters because I HAVE WAY TOO MANY CHARACTERS! For most of my FC switches I will be super ageist so I apologize. It’s just that I wanted to play 20-somethings characters when they first started. I’m already WAY TOO WORDY in this anyway haha.
For Medrina, once I settled on my first face claim for her back in the late 90s (she has been around a LONG time), it was a handful of photos of Thandiwe Newton. I loved her elegance and the expressiveness of her face, and she’s just a gorgeous person. When I revived Drina for Secret World, Thandiwe was a lot older and wouldn’t work as well, though I still tried to make her ingame character look as much like her as I could. I debated Zoe Saldana for a stretch, mostly because she reminds me a lot of young Thandiwe, but I was worried she was “too famous” at the time, and opted for a lesser known model, Selina Khan. I probably looked at over 100 or so people before I picked her, too. She just has a vibe to her that shows wisdom, and snark. And she also has features I felt were somewhat feline, which has always been a thing for Medrina (some people know why). I’ve always edited eye color on Medrina’s photos. Medrina’s eyes are yellow/golden. I still kind of regret not using Zoe, but Selina has still been a great choice, and seems to share Medrina’s wit. There aren’t as many photos of her out there, so I do a lot of “filler shots” with body doubles (I actually do that with all my toons if a photo suits the character, just usually making sure the face is obscured/cropped). I also use her ingame model all the time, since I DJ ingame, so I post interchangeably with the game toon and the human facades.
For Rye I was originally using Kate Winslet from her 90s modeling days. Rye also started in the late 90s. That version was VERY different from TSW/SWL Rye, and she was a vampire who ran a nightclub. She had pink hair and violet eyes, so I edited all photos to reflect that. Obviously when I brought Rye over to TSW as a non-vampire in her 20s, Kate Winslet no longer worked, and since having lots of FC photos is a preference, I couldn’t just use the old photos. I didn’t really try to look for a similar model. I wanted someone who looked sweet, and vulnerable, but like they’d experienced some hardness in their life. I was more open on eye and hair color, and didn’t want the “work” of editing every photo. Originally, I used a Brazilian model named Mariana Marcki. Eventually, though, she no longer modeled much, and had gone a different route in life, so she wasn’t “sustainable,” so to speak. I then debated a bunch of different people before picking Anja Rubik, based on a B&W street photo of her that reminded me of Mariana. Since then, Anja has become Rye’s face for me. She has a more polished/stylish look overall, which suits Rye as she’s worked her way up in the Illuminati and isn’t a shocked field agent anymore. She also looks a little harder and more seasoned. It was definitely weird to change her established face in an existing setting, though.
Sia originally started out with photos of a random girl who I think modeled for one company and did two photo shoots total with her “look,” rather than being an actual famous person. She was a character that started in a closed game I had with some friends, so it wasn’t really that relevant at the time. Once she came over to Secret World in her new iteration, though, I could no longer use the original FC. First, because about 10 photos of her with the hairstyle she had at the time existed, and second, because it was a much more public setting. Sia’s hair was supposed to be white-blonde. I had Lucky Blue Smith in one of my random “potential FC” things and I remembered he had modeled with a sibling who had similar pale hair. That was honestly it. I found dozens of photos of Pyper America that really suited the character and she was an instant fit. Personalities really seem to vibe, too.
Benja’s first face claim was the amazing Brian Molko, lead singer of Placebo. Benja is an artist and intellect and Brian’s look and vibe suited him perfectly. This was of course back in the early 2000s, so when I brought a modified Benja into The Secret World 12+ years later, it didn’t make sense to use current Brian, since he was too old, and I had the same issue with using old Brian photos, since it had been very specific shots and styles. I debated using the singer of Neon Trees for a minute, but I wanted someone a little nerdier. Then I remembered the lead singer of Panic! At the Disco, the one and only Brendon Urie. Benja is kind of a playful character, and Brendon had a stint on Vine and also made dozens of silly videos. Plus, I could look up his name and almost any words and find a suitable photo for any silly occasion. The eye color was an issue initially, because Benja was supposed to have blue eyes, but I decided it wasn’t a deal breaker to swap his eyes to brown, since literally nobody in The Secret World had ever interacted with him anyway.
Last but not least! Alana is the only character I have ever had where I chose a face claim before I established the character. I didn’t even have a name for her. I kept seeing images of the model everywhere (Tashi Rodriguez) and I was drawn to her. I had rough ideas of her being a new recruit of the Illuminati, and being from New York. Turns out that’s even where the model is from. She’s got a very chill city girl vibe that 100% suits the character I’ve developed, and I’m sure having images first influenced how I wrote her to some degree.