The big reveal for Star Citizen at this year's Gamescom is the integration of Faceware's "3D facial motion capture", which will allow players to emote via their in-game avatar's face using, well, their face. The developer is labelling it as "Face Over Internet Protocol" or FoIP and will require sensor hardware from Faceware itself for the best results, however, it can work with a webcam though the "quality of facial detection may vary".
The introduction, which for the most part uses the face of actor Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth from HBO's Game of Thrones), is rather neat. The motions of Star Citizen technical director Sean Tracy are well-captured, including eyes, eyebrows and even ears.
The multiplayer demo from around the 4:20-mark is less impressive and plays almost like a... machinima? That's the best way I can describe it. I'm guessing it's because the other models have less sophisticated facial rigs and texturing, so regardless of their gesticulations, it's hard to tell if their happy, sad or having a stroke.
At face value (ha!), it seems the next step now that games have mastered text and voice communications. What better way to add more realism, more feeling, than to have players be able to emote in real-time, without the use of smiley faces and thumbs-up?
I can already see a problem though: not everyone is going to have their face captured during play, especially if it needs special hardware. Mass meetups are going to be a combination of manically-emoting necromancers and their Uncanny Valley, zombie-like minions (i.e. their mates).
Still, it's a start. What do you think, Liam?
My thoughts exactly.
Star Citizen: Faceware Announcement [YouTube]