Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 04, 2012
Can anybody explain to me the point of SOEmote?

So SOE developed a new technology called SOEmote. It captures your facial expression via your webcam, and transposes it onto the face of your Everquest II character. A technological miracle! But what exactly is the point of that? I don't know how at what zoom level you tend to play your MMORPGs, but I have never ever played so far zoomed in that I could actually see facial expressions of avatars. In fact my guild in World of Warcraft had instructions on our website explaining how you could get the camera of WoW zoom out more, which can be helpful in some raid situations.

Do you ever zoom in far enough into a MMORPG to see the facial expressions of other player's avatars? What do you think is the point of SOEmote?

I have a feeling that "Image Metrics" integrated their face recognition software for free into EQ 2 in order to have a reference and a playground.
Well when I play the game I don't zoom in. When I am in the cities I always zoom in to look my character closer and see his armor and face e.t.c. I do this for other characters too...I zoom and look them too

Sometimes, when I am in a nice landscape I hide the UI zoom my character and take screenshots with the background landscape or with the corpse of a bad monster I have killed..

I for sure care a lot for the face of my toon..we play RPG after all not tetris
As I commented on my own blog when I wrote about this, while I was playing Rift I saw groups of players sitting around in circles in both the main cities and some of the smaller ones, roleplaying for hours at a time. I saw this most days over the six months I played. Those players were facing each other, talking in /say and using emotes frequently. For players like that, this will be a great asset.

Secondly, it's a fantastic tool for mechanima artists. Video games don't exist just to be played, they are raw material for all kinds of writers and artists. I would expect to see a lot of stuff popping up on YouTube using SOEmote. I already have a few ideas myself although whether i'll get around to completing them is another matter.

On the general question of whether I look at the faces of my characters in game, yes I do. Exactly like Giannis, I do it both in cities and for screenshots. Also in the Dressing Room function. I look at other player-character faces closely often too. The SOE press release makes it quite clear this isn't intended for use in combat situations. EQ2 is chock-full of non-combat content where this can and will be used.

Last but very much not least, there's also the option to use the facial imaging in a pop-up window in-game. I plan on making speeches to my guild using it and if it's possible I will set my group window up to show the faces of all the group members.

Maybe it won't work. Maybe it will look so terrible no-one will want to use it. Those are separate issues. If it does work and does look half-way decent however, finding things to use it for is not going to be a problem.
Obviously, this way Everquest designers can get actual data on people feelings at certain parts of game. After all, you got to recognize emotion first to emote anyway, and transfer it to server anyway, so writing it into database is single extra line of code.

And emote part is just to give you incentive to turn camera on.
I believe this will take Erotic Role Play in MMOs to brand new heights.
Meridian 59, the 1st person graphical MUD and MMO released in 1995 pre-dating UO by 2 years, was decades ahead of it's time in this area.

I remember many hours of players face to face in guild halls or taverns RPing and talking, using the smile, wry, sad, and angry commands to change their avatar's facial expressions as they played.

The game is also free to play now having been released to it's dedicated community, and is notable for having prolific designed Brian "Psychochild" Green work on the game as well.

Other fascinating features were guild halls integrated into the world that could be rented or captured, political system where if a guild lost faith in the guildmaster they could vote in another if a majority supported someone else, a skill based system instead of levels, a world full of completely unique and original lore and hidden secrets throughout.

Many savvy design decisions and basically inventing the MMO genre, including the monthly subscription.
SOEmote is pointless in a game about 20 people pressing buttons in co-ordinated sequence to kill a pixellated dragon.

However perhaps it could be the start of something new: multi-player worlds that people actually live and interact in rather than just play "don't stand in the fire".

The cyberspace we dreamed about back in the 1980s (William Gibson and all that) was so much more than the games we play today have yet delivered. Maybe it will happen.
The only point I see in SOEmote is:

1.) Role Players, which are a relatively small audience and from basic impressions it seems like a decent amount of resources went into SOEmote.

2.) They are using it as an advertising tool. To say, "Hey, you! Look at this! Its shiny! And.. And.. Cool!"

When you consider how many blogs have written about SOEmote the latter option starts to look pretty plausible..
Perhaps the point is to attract attention to their otherwise largely forgotten old game. Mission accomplished!

I quite agree with though. I'm never zoomed in that far. Plus, EQ2 avatars are so painfully ugly that even facial expressions don't help.
Man, not expected this lack of vision to come from you Tobold.. but SOEmote is just the beginning.

How long will it take before our character speaks aloud (in game) what we say. Then combined with facial expressions this opens up a whole new dimension designers can play with in designing the next generation RPGs or MMO's.

How long before the need for a mouse and keyboard goes out of the window entirele for character control... swipe your hands in a "sign language" to have your avatar act it out on screen..

Movie stuff is becomign reality.. There are enough examples; like with Star Trek and those handheld gadgets.. (smart phones/pads) like with a glass of water appearing out of nowhere (we starting that with 3D printing).
If the avatars faces were worth looking at, you might decide to zoom in a bit more.

I think it's a really cool feature, especially for those rare birds that are actually playing MMO's to RP.
As others have said, "I might zoom in more if there was something to look at," but also... in the video of the frog test, I thought I remembered the SoE guy saying they were catering to RPers. Not raiders.

From what I saw of the technology, it has a little ways to go to be truly impressive. However, when implemented into a set of character models DESIGNED for it, and it could make for a very interesting experience.

It's one of those 'little touches'. If you're zoomed out a decent amount, I expect you won't see the jarring, horrible elements so much, and mostly get the overall impression - which is where the thing will make its biggest impact.

I see a lot of bloggers complaining about not enough self-insertion, and about wanting their MMOs to be meaningful worlds, instead of reading which mob to kill next then going to it... This technology is a step in that direction, and you'd have to assume it should be making those bloggers delerious with hope.
Ah, the infamous "distancemaxfactor" command... taught to every new player on Malygos.
Seems strange for an old game. I imagine it would be better in a game designed for it. Testing it out first does sound like a good idea though. Given how much new MMOs seem to crash and burn. Last thing anyone would want is their company image ruined by a bad game.
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