A developer explained why CD Projekt RED and Ubisoft had somewhat unusual-looking NPC children in their respective games.
You only need to take a look at the images below to confirm: Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla had children NPC look different than what you’d expect. There is an explanation for it from a developer who works closely with character modellers. Let’s see what Ehrand had to say:
„The proportion of a child is different than an adult. They usually have a bigger head-to-body ratio than adults and is hard to replicate without looking goofy. It’s even more difficult when you try to replicate a specific age because a child body changes so much in so little time when they grow. And because of their different proportion, it often would mean that they have a unique rig and that they can’t just reuse adult animations (they could with re-targeting but it won’t look right).
This all adds to the cost in a production pipeline because they would need a unique model, with a unique rig and with their animations set. In big open-world games, there are usually rig templates that every character would need to fit on so that they don’t need to animate thousand of characters. Which is why they will often just scale an adult to be able to re-use their whole animations set at very little production cost,” he wrote, adding that a variety of child models have to be made from scratch to populate big open worlds.
So in short, while Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio/SEGA (Yakuza) and Square Enix (Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 1) did not have such issues, CD Projekt RED (who already delayed Cyberpunk 2077 a few times… and they’d have had to delay it again if they’d have had to work on children NPCs) and Ubisoft only wanted to rush and cut corners. With the latter, it seems to be pure greed.