Face Anim Test

Hey Folks! Decided to do a bit more facial animation/expression work today, adding some more poses and features. Plus, I grabbed one of the sample faces I made before and converted it to work with the face rig. Here's a preview:


There are a few things going on here.

First, the same expressions you saw yesterday are here, plus a new one for fear. I wired them up to keys on the keyboard so I could test them at will.

Second, there's an additive blink applied at random intervals. The blink animation was made in Unity's animation editor and added as an additive layer, but the code decides when it happens. Basically a straight random chance, but it has to finish playing (~1s) before a new blink can begin.

Finally, I added some random pupil movements. As with blinking, this was an additive layer, except I dipped my toes into Unity's blend tree feature to control the up/down/left/right via code. Basically, each of the eye positions is a separate animation, and the code just tells the animation controller which to apply when (and how much in each direction). Again, pretty straight RNG for this, though I had to add a bit of extra code to make sure it didn't fire less than 0.5 seconds since the last movement (to avoid seizure-like movements). Also, the eyes can roll back into the head, unconscious style, so I have an upper limit for the random movements.

Overall, not bad! Certainly not bad for a couple days spent learning completely new systems. Any animator could probably do a better job than this, but it's enough to get the point across for now.

I might see about adding more variety to the faces (both phenotype and expressions), and assuming I can without a ton of work, it's back to the prototype! I can see how hard it is to rig this up to game code to reflect each of the crew's current states. And/or maybe use this in pop-up dialogues when viewing an interaction.

Assuming this works, I think it'll be a cool addition to the UI. Should make it more lively!

Tags: Ostranauts


spacecowboy's picture

Dan, this is lovely! I can't wait to see the Steam page for this game that's being shown to us. My dreams of having a space crew sim in the near future in our own Solar System is coming true!

ra1's picture

It looks like you are really investing into bringing the crew to life. Its hard to create deep characters that the player can fall in love with. I hope this endeavor fares better than "The Mandate".

matsy's picture

I am very impressed, looks amazing. Great work.

dcfedor's picture

@spacemedic, that's the hope! Hours of watching Firefly, Alien(s), and Cowboy Bebop, wishing I could further explore those settings may finally be granted!

@ra1, yeah, that's one of the biggest risks here. A lot of the game hinges on the characters being memorable and interesting to watch, which is basically the AI hill many devs die on :)

Also, I had to look up what happened to "The Mandate." Weird. They seemed really close to release, and then nothing? One would think it'd be in everyone's interest to at least release what they had. Couldn't be worse than just dropping everything and walking away. Could it?

@matsy, thanks! "Amazing" might be pushing it, but it's at least quite eye-catching. Even if, as Kaaven put it elsewhere, it's "creepy." :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

ManJones's picture

My main complaint is the blinking. It just looks wrong like hi eyelids are extending a good quarter inch away from his eyes before covering them.

Rovlad's picture

Well, yeah, it's not as natural as in HL2.
But hey, a little bit of uncanny valley never hurt anyone. It's a part of UI, and as such is supposed to draw your attention, not be photo-realistic.

dcfedor's picture

@ManJones, that's because they do! In this game, people breathe through their eyelids, so the lids zoom out from the face to scoop in air ;) (But seriously, this face would need a lot of work to look good. Probably starting with more bones and/or more animation talent.)

@Rovlad, we may be safely on the wrong side of uncanny valley here. Like in cartoon country :)

But yeah, priority #1 is getting the information across. I'll probably still want to make it pretty at some point, but if it gets the idea across that Jones is insecure/lonely/elated right now, that's enough for the player to decide if it warrants more attention or not.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

ManJones's picture

Hey that was my ONLY complaint everything else looks alright for what I presume is a first public test.

Malacodor's picture

That guy looks a bit like a fish with that small mouth.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

dcfedor's picture

Yeah, it's still quite rough around the edges. I sort of hacked-together the example portrait from my prototype to fit the Perlin face style, which has different face proportions and shapes. The result is not pretty :)

I'm hoping that if I come up with a more standardized face shape, and design all face types around the same template, it'll at least look passable (and more consistent).

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games