Cloud Imperium Games Adds Faceware Player-Driven Facial Animation To 'Star Citizen'

Cloud Imperium Games announced that it adopted Faceware Technologies’ real-time, player-driven facial animation technology to bring your real facial expressions and movements into Star Citizen to add a new level of immersion and realism to the game.

Faceware’s facial animation motion capture solution is widely used in the video game development industry for capturing facial animation for scripted NPC characters, but the company wants to extend that capability to offer more realism in player-to-player interactions. Faceware recently released the Faceware LiveSKD, which allows developers to enable real-time, player-driven facial animations in their player avatars. Cloud Imperium Games is the first developer to announce that it's leveraging the technology for a game.

“This is the first time any game has used this kind of technology to detect and stream the facial movements of players in real-time, and I believe it’s a revolutionary step in gaming,” said Chris Roberts, chairman, and CEO of Cloud Imperium Games. “For the first time, we’ll be able to deliver the full range of human emotion, not just voice. Our players’ facial expressions will be translated onto their avatars’ face. Combine that with a player’s voice correctly positioned in the virtual world, and you have the most lifelike player-to-player communication ever.”

Cloud Imperium Games used the Faceware LiveSDK to develop a communication feature called Face Over Internet Protocol (FOIP), which handles voice communication between players in the Star Citizen universe. FOIP also handles the transmission of facial expression details so that your avatar’s facial animation syncs up with what you’re saying in real time. The FOIP feature will work with a “soon-to-be-released facial motion sensor” from Faceware. We don’t know many details about the camera yet, but Cloud Imperium Games said that it could “detect hundreds of facial movements in a variety of lighting conditions.”

“We’re seeing more and more interest in this sort of real-time animation, but Cloud Imperium is the first game company to take it to this level,” said Peter Busch, vice president of business development at Faceware Technologies. “I can’t wait to see the reaction of Star Citizen fans as they chat, in-game, about their next mission, their ships, or what they had for breakfast. Player-driven characters could change multiplayer games forever.”

Cloud Imperium Games didn’t say when the FOIP feature would be available to try. Even if it’s available today, it wouldn’t matter; Faceware is still mum about the expression tracking camera that you would need before using the new chat feature.

Faceware Star Citizen

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  • CaseyP
    I wonder if the Intel Realsense web cams would be good for this.
  • Rogue Leader
    Great, more useless features added to a game thats never going to be finished. I love how every 25 gb update adds new ways for it to crash. And that after all these years its not even vaguely near being a coherent game. But hey at least we can make the on screen avatars make funny faces.

    The game crashing during todays Gamescon Demo was priceless.
  • danlw
    "Even if it’s available today, it wouldn’t matter; Faceware is still mum about the expression tracking camera that you would need before using the new chat feature."

    That statement is inaccurate. According to their presentation, you can use a normal webcam, and the technology will work. Faceware's camera, like a GTX 1080ti, is only necessary if you want the BEST experience. (albeit presumably not nearly as expensive as a 1080ti)

    The issue is one of the camera's FPS and lens. Again according to their presentation, standard webcams record at 30fps and at a relatively wide angle. FaceWare's camera will record images at 60fps (enabling smoother animation), have a lens with a narrower field of view (making the players face larger, and thereby allowing greater accuracy in tracking expressions), and use an image sensor better suited to low light situations (since a lot of us play with the lights off.)

    Also, the story missed another major point - it also has head tracking, making the $150 TrackIR with it's silly hat clip obsolete. And so as long as their camera costs less than $150, I'm sold.