Walking on the Ground: GPU Foolishness an Wookieepedia

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).

[stream flv=x:/blog.daveg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/feet_not_on_ground.flv img=x:/blog.daveg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/feet_not_on_ground.jpeg mp4=x:/blog.daveg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/feet_not_on_ground_240p.mp4 embed=false share=false width=640 height=360 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false /]

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.

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1 Response to Walking on the Ground: GPU Foolishness an Wookieepedia

  1. DaD says:

    I’m def­i­nite­ly not an expert in this field — I’ve only watched a few min­utes of a very few games, but my over­all impres­sion is that the mov­ing object (whether per­son or car or any­thing else) is not actu­al­ly fol­low­ing the sup­posed con­tours of the ter­rain as it should. Needs work.

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