EverQuest 2 gamers can now add their own facial expressions and voice to their avatar in real-time.
Sony Online Entertainment said that its "groundbreaking" SOEmote technology is now available for free in EverQuest 2. First revealed during E3 2012 back in June, this new tech supposedly puts the "role-play" back into RPGs by bringing the unique personalities of each player to life through their virtual character, both visually and audibly, in real-time.
"SOEmote gives EverQuest 2 players direct access to the kind of facial animation technology which has been perfected for Hollywood, and we cannot wait to see what our community will create with it," said Dave Georgeson, executive director of development for the EverQuest franchise. "The EverQuest franchise continues to break new ground, and we are proud to bring new depth to the franchise by giving players unprecedented tools for personal expression and interaction."
Don't fret: this doesn't mean all characters will now sport the actual faces of their controlling player. SOEmote means the game will track facial expressions in real time: smile, and the avatar smiles. If a gamer is playing as a Ratonga and speaks into a microphone, their in-game voice will resemble that of their character or a Voice Font of their choice.
"Live Driver -- Image Metrics' proprietary, real-time facial analysis, expression tracking and animation technology -- uses standard web cams to analyze thousands of expression measurements per second and then transfer that data so that the character's expressions precisely reflect the player's in real time," SOE said on Tuesday.
SOE suggests that EverQuest 2 gamers should consider purchasing the Logitech C920 Full HD webcam for $99.99 (best), the Logitech C525 Full HD webcam for $59.99 (better), or the Logitech C270 Full HD webcam for $39.99 (good). Otherwise, users can use their current webcam and microphone, but SOE claims that some lower-end webcams tend to "do terrible things" to their throughput in low-light situations, causing very bad framerate issues in the SOEmote images.
"If your webcam has a microphone in it, you can use that. Otherwise, you could consider adding a headset or microphone so that you can use the Voice Font elements of SOEmote," SOE reports. "EverQuest 2 should detect that you activated a webcam and launch the SOEmote interface automatically, but if not, you can launch it from the EverQuest 2 start menu."
To celebrate the launch of SOEmote, SOE is inviting players to create 30-second videos from August 8, 2012 to September 8, 2012 using the new feature, or as SOE states, to "demonstrate the depth and creativity that the new innovative feature will bring to the EverQuest 2 gameplay experience." Qualifying videos will be entered to win a grand prize trip for two to SOE Live, SOE's annual player celebration in Las Vegas, and the opportunity to have their video broadcast to fellow EverQuest 2 gamers at the EverQuest 2 role-playing-themed panel at SOE Live.
For more information on the SOEmote contest, head here. To see the new tech in action, check out the video below.