Next month gamers will be able to get their hands on one of the most anticipated titles the year, L.A. Noire. Rockstar Games' latest Team Bondi-developed title will not only feature the quality storytelling that the company's properties have become known for, but the most realistic facial animations ever seen in a video game. This week Remedy Entertainment, developers of last year's Alan Wake claim they have new technology in the works which could bring Alan Wake 2 visuals that overshadow those used in L.A. Noire.
The technology behind Remedy's new facial animation software was created by John Root, lead animator at the studio. Root has held many lead roles with other major developers including Epic Games and Disney, so he knows a thing or two about animating.
Instead of manually animating facial features, this new technology allows the animators to capture an actor's face in real time, and finely tune the features using installed sliders, thus streamlining the process and reducing errors.
Root claims that this new tech is a lot more accurate than the standard motion capture technology being used in the industry, already proving to be accurate to within 0.5 millimeters on one of Remedy's future projects. It wasn't stated if this future project was in fact Alan Wake 2, though it would be foolish not to use it for the sequel.
Edge got a look at the tech in action, which is already producing some impressive results. But aside from realistic expressions, Root is setting his sights on getting below the skin, and assessing how blood flow and skin color changes with facial movements. If this is the work of just a single studio, then the next few years could be a very interesting hike through the uncanny valley.
While the first Alan Wake was a solid title, the facial animations left a lot of room for improvement, which is probably why Remedy is developing this new technology. From the latest L.A. Noire trailer, it's obvious that the game is going to look amazing, with facial animations so accurate that players will have to utilize them to solve crimes in the game.
The in-depth look at L.A. Noire's technology showed just how much Team Bondi is blazing a trail for the game industry at large, so Remedy will have some serious work ahead of them to back up their claims. But if the new techology is as good as they say, then the future of the Alan Wake franchise just got a lot brighter.
There's no official word on when Alan Wake 2 will be released, though a recent job posting indicates that the title is in development. Until then gamers can pick up L.A. Noire when it hits stores on May 17th for PS3 and Xbox 360.
Which game are you looking forward to the most, Alan Wake 2 or L.A. Noire?
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Source: Edge Magazine