Video Game Characters Now With Realistic Facial Expressions
A new video game is being released from Rockstar Games, the company that brought us the seminal Grand Theft Auto and cinematic Red Dead Redemption, and it looks like they’re out to raise the bar on gaming graphics yet again. This time, they’re refining the nuances in order to achieve a hyper-realistic gaming experience, focusing on creating characters with facial expression that don’t look like they come from the darkest depths of uncanny valley.
In L.A. Noire you are a 1940s detective in a dark and violent world, solving brutal crimes committed by the liars and cheats who inhabit the underbelly of postwar Los Angeles. As you track down murderers and interrogate suspects, being able to determine whether they’re telling the truth or lying like a low-down dirty rat is obviously essential to cracking the case. One of the key components to this will be your ability to read people’s facial expressions and body language—trouble is, even in the most realistic of games, the accuracy of this kind of fine-tuned communication often leaves much to be desired.
Using new MotionScan technology, Rockstar have created what must be the most realistic facial expressions ever seen in a mass-produced video game. Each minute detail is captured in a 360 close-up achieved by surrounding the actors with 32 cameras, to record and digitally reconstruct the subtle and precise movements that ultimately make up an expression. Allowing for the player to interpret the character not just from their actions, but by the ticks and tell-tale signs that we unconsciously give away.
So has a new standard been set? Quite probably, but we wouldn’t say we’re completely out of the uncanny valley just yet.
Watch the trailer for the game below, which is due out Spring 2011.