Friday, December 17, 2010

L.A. Noire: "The Technology Behind Performance"

In gaming circles people like to talk about pixels, gigahertz, graphics card memory, vertical sync, frames per second, texture quality, anistropic filtering, anti aliasing, motion blur - because technology is what enables the art form of video games to connect with the human soul. Look at the early adventure games - the only way to tell a narrative at that point in the history of game development was to provide text and a static VGA color image consisting of 320 horizontal lines of pixels and 200 vertical ones. A series of primitive monaural bleeps and bloops were the accompanying chatter in this primordial era of our hobby, and gaming was done almost always done in a social setting - standing up at an arcade.

Yet these early games had charms beyond the visual or audible which proved irresistable to the denizens of 1980 and eventually evolved to become one of America's favorite pastimes. We are now at a crossroads (actually we may have been here for a few years, its one of those extra large crossroads) where video games have evolved to a point of startling similarity to real life. This facial animation technology trailer from L.A. Noir is just demonstrating the latest paradigm shift in an ever advancing quest for virtual reality.

What you see in this trailer shatters -- absolutely obliterates anything that has ever come before it in terms of how lifelike the characters look when they are speaking and reacting to speech. Its a game changer. Mass Effect, Uncharted 2, Enslaved and Starcraft 2 all feature top notch facial animation, but this technology is leaps and bounds beyond what we saw there. It is the future, and to be honest this is what I expected from Half Life 3 - not from a relatively new studio, even if it is a Rockstar backed production. Its going to be tough for Gabe and the team at Valve to top this.

Make sure you are watching in 720P fullscreen.

No comments: