TECH NEWS – EA files a patent for a system that allows developers to capture and reproduce faces with an emphasis on authenticity.
Electronic Arts has filed a patent for a new approach to facial modelling and animation that aims to enhance realism. The creation of lifelike human models capable of expressing authentic emotions has been a major goal of many game developers since the beginning of 3D gaming. This could be the next big step – at least for EA. The publisher has been criticised in the past for the awkward facial animation seen in Mass Effect: Andromeda. More than five years after the incident, it seems Electronic Arts is keen to improve on this.
It should be remembered, however, that EA has filed a very similar patent in 2020, and 3D character rendering is unlikely to improve by leaps and bounds as a result of a single patent.
Simply put, Electronic Arts’ latest patent describes a system that allows developers to capture actors’ faces in more detail by combining 2D images with texture maps of facial structure. In all likelihood, this will not make the task of creating hundreds of models in a game as huge as Dragon Age: Dreadwolf any easier. However, it does allow artists to make certain scenes and important characters really shine.
It’s worth noting that Sony has also filed a similar patent. That version also focuses on implementing an AI system, however. The latter will help animators by automating the process to a certain extent.
This kind of technology would be extremely useful in the development of large-scale RPGs with many different character models – which, coincidentally, are among the projects EA is publishing.
Some significant facial animation improvements can also be seen in recent details of Bethesda’s Starfield. It’s an area where some of the publisher’s previous games have shown gaps. Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim have been highly rated. However, there were a number of stiff models and not very impressive animations. This contributed to the goofiness that the publisher’s games are often known for. Many big publishers tend towards greater detail and authenticity. Here’s hoping that awkward conversations with unconvincing NPCs will soon be a thing of the past.