Matt Heiniger is one of our Tech Artists, and he’s here today to walk us through some really kick-ass tech we’re using right now. If you’ve followed us on Instagram, you’ve seen some of the images. Next week we’ll be posting a contest where people in Seattle for PAX West can enter and win the chance to be scanned into our world. Meanwhile, check out this fascinating technology. — Sanya
One of the biggest compliments we get on State of Decay is the diversity of the cast. It features characters with a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, abilities, and sexual preferences. This is no accident. State of Decay is first and foremost designed to simulate the survival fantasy for everyday people. Sure, the game features lots of Zeds that are terrifying, gooey, exciting, and just plain fun. But it’s really a game about people.
We want you to live out your own personal survival fantasy. Part of that is giving you a character that is relatable to you. But by “you”, we mean all of you, not just those of you who are muscular, dark haired white dudes that look like you were ripped from a Calvin Klein advertisement.
But in order to pull this off, we need to make a lot of characters. More specifically, a lot of faces. But here’s the thing: Making human faces is hard. Like, really hard. As social creatures, our brains are hard-wired to analyze tiny details of human faces in micro seconds in order to assess another human’s intent. Because of this function of our brains, any unrealistic feature of a digital face just looks wrong. The viewer may not even be aware of why it looks wrong, just that it does. This phenomenon is known as the uncanny valley. Historically, this has been a concern within the film industry. But as video games continue to increase in fidelity, we too are entering the uncanny valley. As such, we must put an increasing focus on getting facial features just right. Either that, or go highly stylized. But that’s a whole different direction.