I just saw the LA Noire production trailer by Rockstar Games where they present their incredible motion-face-capturing–system. With this technique they can translate facial expressions from a real life actor onto a video game character nearly without a loss of credibility. I was really stunned by in-game results and was further thinking about how such a technique could influence the game-market in the future especially in case of storytelling.
I think we all agree that until todays game-makers were primarily limited in making realistic characters through the technical limitations in animating authentic emotions. They got very clever in compensating this issue through atmosphere, storytelling or even break down game-mechanics to simplicity (all what moves wants to kill thus be faster) and therefore until today we got incredible good and also clever games.
Regarding the technique presented in the trailer I consider a dramatic shift in the market. No need to say that this technique is a borrowed principle from the movie-industry and practically fills a gap between games and movie industry by pushing the skills of an actor into video game worlds. With this technique the played emotion of an actor now unfolds in an interactive story. The right usage of this technique could bring love, sorrow or better to say real empathy in the game. The imagination that decisions in videogames in future could be based on your interpretation of feelings is really inspiring and will bring us a new generation of games – I hope.
But what does that mean for the market? This technic doesn’t seem to be available at our next department store. If emotional storytelling will be too expensive for small studios (you don’t have to pay the technic, actors must get paid too) then emotional storytelling will be a privilege of the big fishes in the industry. The market could even more split up into the two segments storytelling and game-mechanics. The independent developer could be forced to focus more an innovative gameplay or clever mechanics than in trying to compete with such an untouchable and expensive storytelling procedure. I just want to say if such a technic gets state of the art there will be a lot of pressure for small studios. Because what today still works as a compensation will then be neglected. No complaining about the good old times where emotion still was a creative product of design will help us out. So I suggest let’s prepare and make quickly some friends in drama school .
I really like to read your comments as those thoughts are still fresh and need some adjustment.