Cloud Imperium Games, developers of the multi-million dollar crowd-funded space sim MMO Star Citizen have announced a partnership with Faceware Technologies. Faceware will help provide a new feature to Star Citizen: real-time, player-driven facial animations for their characters.
The emerging technology uses Faceware’s LiveSDK, a facial motion sensor that’s releasing soon. Star Citizen is calling its in-game feature Face Over Internet Protocol as a play on the standard Voice Over Internet Protocol.
“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, 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.”
The unique motion capture technology is capable of instantly streaming your own facial movements onto your character’s face in the game world. The feature can be used with a standard webcam, though the quality will vary. The technology has been used for years to produce thousands of digital faces for video games and movies. Star Citizen will be the first game to use it in-engine.
“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.”
Star Citizen has been in development since 2012 after a successful Kickstarter campaign where it raised over $2 million. Cloud Imperium Games never stopped crowd-funding, continuing to offer promises, rewards, and future subscriptions to backers. As of May 2017, Star Citizen has raised an astonishing $150 million.
The game’s lengthy development has been the subject of controversy regarding funding, development time, and worker conditions. No release date has been announced.