Uncharted 4 Dev Flaunts New Milestone in Face Animation

Naughty Dog says new systems will allow characters to "emote more" than ever.

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Uncharted 4: A Thief's End developer Naughty Dog has discussed the improvements made to its facial animation systems since Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us, saying that face models now animate with "between 300 and 500 bones."

In an interview with GamesTM , writer Josh Scherr contextualised the improvements by comparing them to previous Uncharted games and The Last of Us, which he said used "about 90 and 100 'bones' in their faces."

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"We've completely revamped our facial animation systems," he said. "Think about that, how detailed Joel and Elli's pained facial expressions were, how well the game captured the respective actors ... Now, the faces have anywhere between 300 and 500 bones."

"[This] lets us emote more, with all the 'bones' we can put onto [faces] - you pan round the camera to look at Nate's face when he's climbing and you see him grimacing and all this kind of stuff ... we're pushing detail on a macro and micro level that I think people are really going to respond to," added lead designer Ricky Cambier.

Unlike previous Naughty Dog titles, for which "some of the animations might have been sample at 10 or 15 frames per second to save memory," which code would then interpolate to run at 30 frames per second in-game, the new tech can "afford to record [animations] at 30 frames per second so that [they] look that much smoother."

Speaking about the visual fidelity of other PS4 exclusives, Cambier said Killzone: Shadow Fall was "pretty damn impressive looking for a launch title," while The Order: 1886 is "one of the best looking games [he's] seen on any system ever," but says developers are still in early days with Sony's latest console.

"If you look at the first Uncharted and how that looked versus how The Last of Us looked ... I have difficulty fathoming that we'll have that kind of graphical leap in the next several years. The reality is, we probably will as we learn the systems better, so it's all up from here, and that's exciting."

Naughty Dog has said it is targeting 60fps for Uncharted 4, but the studio won't push the PlayStation 4 game that far if it compromises the overall experience. According to director Bruce Straley, the Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - Gameplay Demo was locked at 30fps, though the game is now achieving a higher frame rate.

In March, Sony delayed the Uncharted 4 release date until Spring 2016. Take a look below for a gallery of up-close shots of Uncharted 4's characters.

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