I was watching a technology demo for a new graphics card today — not that I can afford a new GPU, but I like to keep up. We’re quite fortunate right now that the gaming consoles suck — it means that it’s never been cheaper to have a gaming PC that can play pretty much anything at the best settings.
Anyways, at one point in the demo, they seemed immensely proud of their new achievement: that they could now render a wookie in stunningly realistic quality “hair-by-hair.” with more than 100,000 hairs modeled by the software, hardware and whatnot. Push.
Hold-the-phone. Sidebar. Wookieepedia? Really?
Pop. Now… it strikes me that 100k hairs is a little on the low side for a Wookiee. I’m no expert… don’t even want to be one (Wookieepedia? Really?), but good for them. Hirsute and furry can now enjoy video games.
But then something distracted me… something that is very real and very obvious in many video games. In video game where you play with a third person perspective, you will even perceive it on the player character as well as those around you. It’s annoying and it breaks the magic… sometimes subtly and sometimes garishly.
It’s the fact that things are not planted on the ground. By things, I mean feet, wheels, pods… whatever you might expect a moving item is attached to the ground with. And I’m not opining about low gravity environments or places in games in which feet shouldn’t be attached to the ground… I’m talking about ordinary scenes where the character should be walking on the ground in a relatively normal way.
In the following video, you can see my character’s feet shuffling when she takes a small step. The animation to “walk” is clearly not attached to the way the feet hit the ground. I submit that fixing some of these more obvious things is more important than a realistic Wookiee (although I admit it’s not quite as “cool).
They do clearly try hard to make it work — the speed of walking and the animation of walking are pretty close… but it is clear that the character animations are not “attached” to the world.