MotionScan Technology Comes to Video Games

Photo courtesy of RockstarGames.com

Gamers, get excited: Rockstar Games is coming out with L.A. Noire, a detective mystery game that incorporates the reading of facial expressions into its storyline! The game is set in 1940s Los Angeles. Playing as Detective Cole Phelps, gamers will get to interrogate suspects and investigate crime scenes in order to solve cases. The key to finding the perpetrators of the crimes lies in being able to clearly read the facial expressions of all the witnesses and suspects Phelps interrogates.

Team Bondi, L.A. Noire’s developers, utilized MotionScan technology in order to capture actors’ facial expressions from all angles. These expressions are incorporated into the character animations, and are crucial to how the player solves the mysteries. During interrogations, the player is given a number of options: believe, doubt, and disbelieve. They need to analyze the character’s demeanor, including their facial expressions, in order to decide which option to choose.

Journalist Brian Crecente quotes Team Bondi head Brendan McNamara: “ ‘We always knew, when we wanted to go down this route and make a detective game, that the key part was getting the witness in the room. The key part is the interrogation. Can you break them?’  Rockstar’s Jeronimo Barrera said the team even played around with the idea of forgoing the subtleties of the interview for something more Grand Theft Auto, the idea of beating a confession out of a suspect. ‘But we realized it was actually way more interesting to watch the performance and see if the suspect is lying or telling the truth,’ he said.”

L.A. Noire is an obvious departure from their previous titles, such as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. By placing so much weight on the characters themselves, and the nuances of their non-verbal communication, the focus is more on storyline and plot development than action. The amount of detail that the player must pay attention to will probably turn off a good portion of the PS3 and Xbox 360’s demographic. However, for the “thinking gamers” who also have an interest in non-verbal communication, L.A. Noire will likely be a huge hit.

With MotionScan now being incorporated into video games alongside the motion detecting technology of the Kinect and the Wii, the gaming industry is tapping into a whole new level of play styles. Gameplay is becoming less passive, and more involvement is required from the players themselves. MotionScan technology could add realism and depth to games across all genres. It will be interesting to see what developers release in the future, and if they will utilize this new technology.

Will you play L.A. Noire? Do you think MotionScan will catch on throughout the gaming industry, or is it just another gimmick? Will gamers even have an interest in a game like L.A. Noire?

For more information on the technology behind MotionScan and L.A. Noire, check out this video:

3 Responses to “MotionScan Technology Comes to Video Games”

  1. donna says:

    will be looking forward to this one!!

  2. Keith D. says:

    A good many PC gamers will take to this concept if the reaction to Half-Life 2 is any indication. I’ll definitely pick it up when it comes out because I’m curious to see how well they pull it off.

    It’s a matter of whether they get it right enough to be read or not to me. I’m usually pretty good at picking out the innocent and the guilty in true crime shows and breaking news stories having followed Eyes for Lies’ blog for the past year, so I’m anxious to see what kind of performances they demand from their voice/character actors and whether they’re using a consultant that has experience with deception detection in an interview setting or not. It could be brilliant, or half baked.

    This will be a niche at first, but if done properly it could grow into much more in the years ahead with the advent of technologies like Kinect. The next stage will be in having a game system detect what a player is looking at, and reading his/her facial expressions and reacting back to those. Gamers could be in for quite a ride in the next decade!

  3. Tyko Brian says:

    Well I hope the game developers will adopt MotionScan into their games because till now games seemed to lack the real emotions of the characters: the NPC’s facial emotions. MotionScan is a major leap forward in the history of gaming.

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