Suggestion: Solution to facelessness - Masks

As it stands right now, one of the things that remove a bit of the immersion is the lack of faces in characters.

We tend to, as soon as we see some object find meaning from it. Right now, that oval shaped head has really no meaning and since this is a brand new world, a virtual one, I believe faces are important since we tend to associate faces to a person. The lack of faces takes a bit from the immersion.

However, having faces that are static would be terrible, you might say. Well yes. If faces were implemented, the optimal thing to do is to have them sync with the movement of our actual facial structure. Technology does not allow that yet in the HTC Vive/Oculus Rift.

Next logical choice? Masks.

Our psychology recognizes masks as static objects. We know they are not supposed to move, and we never expect them to move. Therefore in a virtual world having masks as a substitute for faces makes for several things:

  1. Diversifies the appearance of the player base in a recognizable way
  2. Allows more immersion as we don’t see blank faces, they are covered so our brains assume there’s a face under.
  3. Allows for more gear to be implemented, with possibly great designs.

Final suggestion: Let us customize these masks as part of character creation. That way everyone is different but over time as you level up you can change design, assign perks, and make it stand out more.

That is my solution to the faceless characters. What do you guys think?

4 Likes

Interesting approach, I could totally envision that. I’d like to have hair too, though. I think the style of faces in rec room would probably fit pretty well in this game. You can have plenty of options and fairly low over head. I think you could easily implement ‘moods’ that randomly interject predefined sets of expressions.

You could also have facial gesture emotes, either explicitly from a menu system or trigged by certain hand gestures. Maybe chording some buttons (both grips plus left trigger?) puts you into an emote gesture mode which hides your hand movement from other players and allows you to draw patterns with your hands to Activate an emote, facial or other.

2 Likes

At this point the plan is to add faces like the NPCs:

and then do something like Rec Room where they auto-animate based on if you’re speaking or not, the pitch of your voice, etc. Then later on add eye tracking when that comes out.

That said, masks were actually my first thought here as well, and if you look at some of the super old videos you’ll see everyone running around in Japanese noh masks :slight_smile: We might bring those back as an option for people to wear as a cosmetic item.

9 Likes

Awesome! I’m hoping to see character customization in the near future, I actually was kind of missing the masks from the December stress test as those felt a bit more emotive than the blank faces that we have had since. Having a full animated face like in Recroom would be great!

3 Likes

I just joined the forums today and couldn’t help chiming in.
Oculus Home has a (barely) customizable avatar that is visible in the top-right of your menus.
If SteamVR has a similar function, it might be nice to be able to use that avatar as well at some point.

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SteamVR does not have such an avatar.

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Fair enough.
In fact, in retrospect, my suggestion is probably not a good idea. Having to incorporate avatars from two different sources would be a pain to sort out as well as being redundant as there is an avatar system already in place. I’m sure more details will be added to the avatars as game development progresses.

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Interesting Idea, would love to wear crazy masks in-game, same thing could work for facepaint too, not only does it give you a way to identify people but gives us more customization options, which this game kinda needs anyway, having said that i have no doubt that the devs have though of that aspect and it just isnt it top priority at the moment…
To expand on the topic, if character face/mask customization is going to be implemented, it would be really awesome if we could do it ourselves. Meaning we could either draw the mask/face in-game or make a a small image file at home and import it to our character, so that image becomes the face/mask… That will not only make a unique character creation mechanic, but will make playable characters truly unique to each individual player even though they could have the same class and armor.

Probably fully user customizable mask images would lead to possible issues, like writing lewd words or draw lewd gestures.

However, it could be a great place for unlockables or craft items. Could have patterns for different mask shapes, and drops of different texture/pattern overlays. Then you could assemble them in various ways to make a unique presentation.

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Ah, very Mii-like.

Me like. =D

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I like the idea of a controller-driver facial emote system. Forgive the rough photoshop and google image-sourced assets…

I think people would become fluent with a system like this pretty quickly, until it was almost second nature to manage expressions as they interacted. Additional effects could be added (“shout lines,” “sweat beads,” etc. around the head) without ever needing to override the user’s gesture input/model animation. When in their default states, of course, eyes would blink, mouths would move when talking, etc. :man_with_turban:

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Kind of like Little Big Planet on steroids.

I immediately thought of Rocket League’s quick chat system which I have become very familiar with. I think a system like this could definitely work out. If you include a way to manage a library of emotes (again, rocket league’s system coming to mind) with this then it would open up a lot of possibilities and create some interesting new rewards to strive for.