Though Team Bondi, the developer behind L.A. Noire, could have easily remained complacent with the MotionScan technology they utilized for their recently release detective crime thriller, the company has come out to say that they have plans to expand the performance capture tech to include entire the entire body.
It might be a few years off but Robert McNamara, the writer behind L.A. Noire, has said that the team hopes to one day be able to capture actors in full costume as they act out each and every action in the game.
As a device for facial animation capture the MotionScan tech works quite well, but, at times, its technological basis catches up with it. Mostly as a result of seeing a fully realized face attached to a developer-animated body, many of the character animations in L.A. Noire feel a bit spotty at best.
By using a tech similar to MotionScan in order to accurately, and vividly, capture the movements of an actor from head to toe, Team Bondi could help alleviate that disconnect between motion capture and animation. Where gamers in L.A. Noire needed to only focus on the eyes of their suspects, players of future Team Bondi titles (like perhaps an L.A. Noire sequel) might have to focus on body language as well.
Unfortunately, Team Bondi, if they were to begin work on such a tech today, probably wouldn’t be able to deliver a product until a couple years time from now, so gamers who were hoping for a quick upgrade shouldn’t hold their breath. And, of course, Team Bondi hasn’t outright said they are working on the tech, only that it is something they would like to explore in the future.
Luckily, the MotionScan tech is also in the hands of many other game developers who are using the same tools in order to create their own experiences. While we don’t imagine they will rely as heavily on reading facial expressions as L.A. Noire does, there are still many more ideas to be mined from the tech.
It’s only the tip of the iceberg for facial animation, and L.A. Noire has set a new precedent — one that we hope many developers aspire to surpass in the future.
What do you think the future has in store for MotionScan facial capture technology? How would you like to see the tech used in future titles?
L.A. Noire is out now for the PS3 and Xbox 360.