Sony Bend’s Mysterious PS4 Game: New Information Surfaces on Animation, Physics and More

on December 13, 2014 6:08 PM

We’ve known since the launch of the PS4 that Sony Bend is working on a game for Sony’s new console, but the house of PlayStation has been absolutely silent about it.

Not a word was said at PlayStation Experience, and basically the only information we have is from career opportunity ads. Recently Sony published another one, seeking a Senior Staff Character Technical Director, and it includes a lot of interesting tidbits:

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Primary Location: United States-Oregon-Bend

Description
The Senior Staff Character TD will help drive and contribute to the technical development of characters and animation for AAA products with a specialized focus on creating character rigging methods, animation tools, and pipelines.  A Technical Character Artist will be responsible for creating tools and processes that assist in all areas of Character animation production to achieve the highest artistic quality, in the least amount of time, keeping hardware limitations and performance in mind.  Responsibilities include defining the technical quality standards, overseeing the development of art pipelines, and setting technical production goals.  Must poses the ability to collaborate at a high level with a wide-range of development team members outside of direct discipline such as Directors, Programmers, Character Artist, Animators, and Designers to achieve the highest artistic goals as they relate to the game design and within technological considerations. 
Principal Duties/Responsibilities:
Develop character rigs and skeletons that meet the technical limitations of game engines while insuring the characters movements look as realistic as possible.
Develop and implement skinning methods to achieve realistic deformation for faces, bodies, and clothes, including the creation of tools and scripts to assist in completing these tasks quickly and efficiently during production.

Develop animation tools to assist in the creation of character animation and motion capture clean up, using layers, blends, FK and IK setups, etc.

Develop tools and methods for synchronizing character animations with object animations in game.

Develop methods for animating character attachments like props, cloth, and hair procedurally and through baking out animations from character rigs.

Work directly with animation programmers to implement all in-game animations defined by the game design and within technical limitations.

Has a leadership role within the art team.  This entails contributing to schedule management needs, providing guidance to support the diplomatic resolution of complex problems, providing input on team performance reviews, facilitating career coaching etc.  Trains and mentors other technical artists in developing advanced technical skills and artistic abilities.

Keeps aware of industry trends and technical techniques, evaluates competitive products, and determines areas we can improve or innovate in to best the competition, communicates innovations in a convincing way, and collaborates with the leadership team to develop plans for implementation.

Provides input on the technical methods to achieve the artistic goals and vision through all phases of the game development cycle from pre-production through final product release.  This entails ensuring all animated events are of the highest technical quality and uphold the integrity of the games design and artistic vision as a whole.

Serves as a technical resource for all phases of production and other studio art and technical needs.  This includes, but is not limited to conducting general research, developing cutting-edge tools and techniques, and testing new systems or tools.  Providing training, transmitting industry related information and conveying concerns in a constructive way by providing solutions to those concerns.

Independently undertakes research and information gathering prior to the commencement of a new task to ensure game design needs, reference materials, artistic direction, and technological considerations are all effectively managed to meet the defined goals.

Required Skills/Knowledge:
Highly proficient in Mel scripting, object rigging and skinning both mechanical and organic assets.  Some knowledge of python, java, C++, and max scripting is a plus.

Highly proficient in the use of 3D animation software to create animation rigs, skinning characters, and animation testing.  This requires mastery of 3D software and the ability to analyze photos, videos, and concept art reference, to help achieve the desired quality of character animation and deformation.

Knowledge of Havok for rag doll, cloth, and hair setup is a plus

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Looks like the game is definitely aiming for a realistic approach to animation, which combined with the realistic textures we learned about a while ago, seems to indicate that we won’t see a stylized or cartoonish experience.

It’s also interesting to learn that it will use motion capture, it will have a mix of baked and procedurally generated animation for clothes and hair and both organic and mechanical assets.

It will also use Havok for rag doll, cloth and hair simulation.

Interestingly, the game definitely looks like an AAA experience. Not only it’s mentioned at the beginning of the ad, but “credit on several shipped AAA titles” is desired, and you normally don’t ask for that if you don’t plan an AAA game yourself.

The question remains: when will this title finally be unveiled? We’re out of big events for now, so we’ll possibly have to wait until E3 or beyond.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.
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