SOEmote, We Like It

I thought SOEmote was a complete joke at first, but not because the idea is silly. I thought the technology wasn’t there, and that this was just another one of SOE’s odd projects, but it turns out SOEmote is a reality. “SOEmote is really easy to use. Plug in your webcam, open up the SOEmote panel, hit Calibrate, select a voice font, and ta da you’re done,” Dave Georgeson told PCGamer.

Both Graev and I think the idea is actually really neat. Check it out.

You all know me.  I love immersion.  I think role-playing, despite how corny it can sometimes come across, is one of the MMORPG fundamentals lost in today’s market.  Role-playing is tied directly to the social aspect of MMORPG’s, which itself is nearly gone as well.  So when an idea like SOEmote comes along, I say why the hell not?  Anything that gets people talking, socializing, looking at their characters as a means to express themselves rather than just a vessel for their loot is worth a shot.

Ideas like SOEmote are exactly what we need in MMORPG’s.  That might be overstating it a little, but I think the immediate social aspects are only the tip of innovative possibilities for this tech.  I remember when I first saw the Kinect.  I thought about how cool it would be to have a special tool that sits on your monitor that allows you to talk to NPC’s, interact with the world, and physically take control of your character.  SOEmote is a good start.  Building the tech into interacting with the game world itself is the next step after they get it working well enough for role-playing.

Is it weird to see a frog actually animating like a person, and will it be odd hearing your friend talking like an ogre?  Sure, but that odd, uncomfortable, geeky feeling takes me back to that same awesome feeling I had role-playing in taverns, pretending to be a wandering Druid or a crazed Necromancer, and having a lot of fun ‘living’ the experience of playing a MMORPG.  Give it a shot, naysayers.  You might actually enjoy playing a MMORPG for once.

  • I’m with you Keen. My first reaction was “Wha…?!” but after I’d had time to process it my feeling was “why not?”

    Maybe it will come to nothing. Maybe no-one will want it. Maybe it won’t work. Even so, better an attempt to do something new and interesting than yet another dungeon.

    And like you I remember the time when you expected an ogre to tork lik an oger and a dark elf to raise an eyebrow and sneer when she joined your group. Anything that pushes back in that direction has to be worth a try.

  • hah, yeah, I like it, too. I can remember when my gaming crew first adopted voice chat – I was the longest hold out against it. To me, in my head, those typed words always sounded like they were coming from the character that spoke them and voice chat just ruined that, utterly.

    ah, I can’t really imagine this being the solution to that, but I still like it, and I love the thought behind it that brought it into existence.

  • I think that has great potential and hope it spreads to other games.
    Hopefully too they will ensure that the voice and face tracking are well sychronised (lag parity) or we are going to not just have to deal with talking frogs but talking frogs with lipsync issues.

  • Hehe, I just wrote an article about this myself saying how crazy it all sounds 🙂 The voice font thing just sounds nuts and whilst the facial emote system is pretty cool, I’m not convinced it’s really going to be noticeable in game.

    At least SOE are thinking outside the box though!

  • How did SOE adopt this to such an old graphics engine and could it be just as easily done with Rift or LOTRO or other games, is what I am wondering. But yes – right with you Keen – absolutely an immersion watershed moment for MMOs.

  • I think this is such a cool idea. Is it a must-have feature? NO, but its a cool idea and shows in a lot of ways more innovation than most other MMOs have been showing… and yet this is for a game thats really old by now.

  • @copptertopper: I think EQ2 represents a very familiar territory for SOE, and since it still has a moderately successful number of players who are dedicated to role-playing and social gameplay, it makes sense to use it as a testbed.

    The same tech has been used in Assassin’s Creed, Red Dead Redemption, and other motion tracking games that try to mimic faces and realistic motion. I would hope the tech can be used in all future games like EQ Next and non-SOE games.

  • […] including a hefty dose of the usual cynicism but I will state that I empathise most with Keen’s emphasis that we shouldn’t stiffle innovation in the industry when it (very rarely) […]

  • This looks great! Imagine how version 3 of this tech will function with smooth tracking and improved voice modulation! Kudos to Sony for innovating.

  • I like the creativity behind it and can see how this would be a big addition for RP servers, but I can’t see how this will catch on in a general sense. I don’t want the camera trained on me while playing and I would always get annoyed when someone would choose some voice modulation to talk in Vent, but I could be in the minority.

  • This type of thing will always remain optional for the foreseeable future because it requires a camera. Optional is fine, though. As more people use it and enjoy it, others will want to join in.

  • Great write-up. Agree whole-heartedly.

    I’m actually mostly the antithesis of a “role-player”, yet I believe strongly in treasuring the social aspect of MMORPGs. Some of my current best friends and friends I will have for the rest of my life came from playing MMOs together. Y

    ou can’t put a value on something like that.