A lot of fans of the upcoming video game sequel The Last of Us Part II are already pre-ordering their copies due to the new trailers and how improved the gameplay is. One feature of the game has quietly improved for the better, and co-director Anthony Newman says it will be the new standard for animation.
The Last of Us Part II sets the bar high for animation
The visual of this upcoming video game sequel is so stunning, but the fans are more focused on the gameplay and what comes next for Ellie. Game developer Naughty Dog, however, has added a host of new improvements to its traversal animation system. Newman said that these changes started the motion matching technique, and he dare says that it will set the new bar high this time around for animation.
Newman explained that the motion matching system is all about animations blending together frame-by-frame.
It’s this technology for characters moving through a space like running, walking, jumping, and that kind of thing. In all our previous games there’s been this really distinct state machine where we say, ‘Play a run animation. Then play a turn left animation. Then play a turn right animation.’ The way motion matching works is it takes this massive bucket of animation, just hundreds and hundreds of animations, and chops them into little tiny bits.
When you define the path that a player or an enemy wants to take, rather than saying, ‘Play this and then play that and then play that,’ the system actually looks at the bucket of animations, finds the ones that matches the path that you’re already taking, and blends them together frame-by-frame.
It’s this totally new way of doing traversal. I think, as you play the game, you must have noticed just how fluid the player feels. With every foot plant, every turn, there’s as little blending as possible. That’s applied to our NPCs. That’s applied to the horses. That’s applied to the dogs. We even have these dogs and horses and mocap suits running around getting the data that we needed for this really intricate system.
The full game sequel will launch on PlayStation 4. It will be available on February 21, 2020.