The window to your soul hold the key to success

It’s all in the eyes. Heard that before? Actors and truth-benders have turned it into a mantra but a study of Psychological Science done by Dartmouth College has concluded that without a pair of realistic eyes, chances of believably replicating life are slim. Thalia Wheatley who conducted the study with Christine Looser said: “There’s something fundamentally important about seeing a face and knowing that the lights are on and someone is home,” a rule that can easily be applied to video game characters. There was a phase not too long ago where virtual humans were all blessed with ridiculously shiny eyes, undoing all the work done by hours of motion-capturing and photorealistic texture mapping. One such game that springs to mind is Uncharted 2. I remember my amazement of the voice acting, gorgeous graphics and subtle movements of the characters actions but when Chloe looked back at Nathan after being handed a beer with eyes that appeared empty and covered in gloss, the facade was ruined. Michael Fahey of Kotaku who first wrote about the study praised the recent Enslaved for getting it right and featuring peepers full of soul, something Ninja Theory are ever so good at. Their first game, Heavenly Sword, was a little over-dramatic but the great work done by Andy Serkis and the team made the cut-scenes a genuine thrill.

Wheatley and Looser’s study began with the photographing of doll faces and videoing them morphing into similar-looking human mugs (seen after the jump), asking volunteers to pin-point the moment when they believed it appeared most lifelike. That with other studies all resulted in test subjects determining that eyes are the most important feature for instilling life. I would like to add that coming in a very close second has to be the mouth. It’s what I personally notice first and something I focus on in video game characters, hoping that the virtual cake-holes don’t just look like slabs of rubber with a slits, as so many tend to do. Not to harp on about it but Rockstar’s upcoming L.A. Noire looks to have mastered the art of lip movement with their ultra-sensitive capturing technology. Possibly a byproduct of making believable gangsters and 50s criminals whose eyes are often obscured by squinting or fashionably tilted hats.

The full study is quite interesting for anyone trying to breath life into inanimate objects. Get the eyes as realistic as possible and the rest should follow suit.

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TIME’s top 10 video games of 09

TIME magazine have put together their top 10 lists for the year with video games being no exception. There are a few oddities and some serious questionable placements too that will no doubt cause many an arguments to come. Taking the number 1 spot is unsurprisingly Modern Warfare 2 which I can only agree with. It was a fantastic experience that will linger on for many months thanks to all the multiplayer options available. Next up comes Batman: Arkham Asylum. I am yet to see all the brilliance I keep getting told BAA features but don’t deny that it is a good game. I just don’t believe it’s a great game. I think it is a definite top 10 but maybe not so high. More confusion for me comes with DJ Hero. Just why is it at number 3? Why indeed is it in the chart altogether? TIME believe that it offers something new to the genre of rhythm games but neglected to mention its disturbingly poor sales. Each to their own I guess. Borderlands follows at number 4 which I personally would have placed at number 2 due to it’s continuing offerings of fun. New Super Mario Bros. Wii sits right in the middle at 5 which seems a bit harsh to me as it’s not only selling like crazy but a Mario platfomer in its purest form. I’m glad Halo 3: ODST gets a mention because I feel that game has been given some unnecessary criticism but was surprised to see both Assassin’s Creed 2 and Uncharted 2 only place at numbers 9 and 10 respectfully. I suppose not all games can chart at the top but I would have expected them to do so. Read on to see the full chart and have a little think as to what would your top 10 look like…

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PS3 turns 3!

It’s been a long hard slog but on the third anniversary of the PS3, Sony have found a good place in the market and look to be doing all they can to stay there. Yes, the PS3 is three years old! There’s of course a mass of marketing from head office but I won’t bore you with that, just give you a few facts; As of the end of September 2009, around 27 million PS3s have been the centre of many living rooms or bedrooms ranging from 20GB to 250GB models. Sony have appeared to be the most experimental when it comes to downloadable content with games like Noby Noby Boy and .detuned allowing developers more freedom and creativity – regardless if you like them or not! I don’t see the appeal of .detuned myself but appreciate it’s place on PSN. It’s been tough for the system to establish itself with the initial hefty price tag forcing people to ask if they actually need another console – especially when the PS2 was (and to an extent, still is) thriving. Read on for more!

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Slim pickings

There’s never been a better time to buy a PS3 than now what with all the rather spiffing deals around. Much like this one I found in HMV. Two out of three games that are all the leading titles in their respected genres plus the console itself for such a favourable price? No wonder the PS3 is doing so well in the NPDs. It’s going to be interesting to find out how all the consoles sell over Christmas seeing as they all have exclusive triple A titles. The only prediction I’d like to make right now is the obvious one of Nintendo selling crazy amounts of Wiis. As for the other two, well, it could very easily go either way.

Things can only get beta

Man down man down!

If you’re not already aware, an Uncharted 2 demo has been playable in multiplayer form for all who preordered the game. As of 7pm last night (UK time) Sony/Insomniac lifted the exclusivity and anyone who owns a PS3 can download the 1.3gb demo and join in the fun! Considering the size and the speed of Sony’s servers I’d imagine it would take a fair bit of time to download off PSN so best start asap if this indeed tickles your fancy. It’s available up until October 12th which is another reason to start coughing at your place of work, sprinkle water on your head and fake an illness in order to head home early. What will greet you is as follows:

  • Four maps – The Ice Cave, The Temple, The Village and The Plaza
  • Deathmatch, Elimination, Plunder, Chain Reaction, Co-op Gold Rush and an extract from one of our Co-op objective levels
  • The Machinima mode, where you can run around the levels and tweak the camera so you can create movies which you can then watch in Cinema mode
  • Cinema mode, where you can watch movies of your online matches, or your performances in Machinima mode, then upload them and send them to your friends (as long as they’ve got the Beta to watch it on of course)
  • Twitter option – enter your twitter account details and you’ll automatically tweet status updates of your online progress
  • Store items – we’ve included a selection of the Skins, Boosters, and Taunts as well as all the Co-op Weapon Upgrades for you to spend your hard earned ingame cash on

Like many the twitter option will remain untouched as the social network site is already a wash with random updates so being being potentially spammed by the game would surely annoy. We won’t have long to wait once the beta has finished either as the game goes on sale October 16th here in the UK.

{Thanks Euro PS Blog}

Bundle!!

Slim and pretty

UPDATE: Just to confirm, there will also be FIFA 10 and Need for Speed Shift bundles coming October too!

Everyone loves a bundle don’t they? I don’t mean how a portly kid yells ‘bundle!’ as he jumps upon an already pile of bodies but the type of bundle you get with video games. CVG reports that Sony UK today confirms the rumoured 250gb PS3 Slim bundles to be true after all. For the handsome sum of £284.99, the PS3 Slims will have a staggered release depending on the specific bundle. October 1st will see packs containing either 2 Platinum titles are inFamous. 16th October will get an Uncharted 2 bundle and the 19th has a special Blu-Ray edition featuring Wolverine, Batman The Dark Knight and a remote. Japan have lucked out once again as an exclusive Final Fantasy XIII themed PS3 Slim comes out December 17th to celebrate the release of the game. With a white case rather than black and typically Final Fantasy motif of lead character Lightning, it’s bound to sell like Pokemon with it’s 41600 yen (around £283) price tag. And why wouldn’t it? It looks awesome!