Sony has given an in-depth explanation of how the devs at Naughty Dog were able to provide the characters in The Last of Us 2 such true-to-life facial expressions.
With The Last of Us 2, it’s easy to forget you’re playing a video game at times, and part of that is due to the lifelike facial animations. Over at the PlayStation Blog, Naughty Dog animator Keith Paciello talks about just what goes into making video game characters emote so faithfully to real life. Paciello shows how different player actions cause different facial animations by showing how Ellie looks while studying paintings.
“You as a player, are aiming with the controller for Ellie to look at the painting, which is triggering a ‘look at target’ placed by a designer. On top of that, I animated small eye darts (saccades) within the character’s facial idles to try and indicate an overall thought process. So animated eye saccades sitting on top of the eye-aim, work together to create what looks like focus and thought process.”
There are about 20 different emotional states for the 25 key characters in The Last of Us 2, and they’re utilized during gameplay sequences to reflect the situation. Leading and supporting characters, and even Infected, will change their facial expressions to react to script beats, dialogue, encounters, and ambient moments.
“We were looking at and talking about how to make a blade of grass even better [in game]. In doing so, we panned up, and there was this blank face on the character.
I was like, ‘Oh.’ It was then I wondered how we could, across the entire game, add these emotional beats to the characters, so at any point, you can tell what that character is feeling,” Paciello explains.
Of course, specific gameplay sequences required their very own, unique facial animations, like a moment from a flashback where Ellie sees a t-rex statue, and that encounter on the beach. But let’s not think about that.
[…] rest of the Edith Finch game is a free PS Plus game in May, and you really should set everything else aside, and put this lovely adventure on […]
[…] June 2022 PlayStation State of Play had so many announcements that it was easy for something to get lost in the shuffle. […]
[…] this is not a gaming review. I have a played number of games that have blown me away, such as “Last of Us” (without doubt one of the greatest games I’ve ever played). However, “Hello Games” amazed me […]