Fortnite has been constantly updated from an early access fort-building game to a popular social space to spend time with friends, but amid the endless iteration, the expression has still been restricted to the emotes that the game contains from Epic programs. Epic has just acquired a business named Hyprsense that will use a basic camera to place the facial expressions directly on a video game character, which sounds like a great fit for Fortnite.
Hyprmeet was launched in open beta in September and while the application is no longer available, it’s easy to imagine how good even a tiny bit more facial expressiveness might be in Fortnite’s slower-paced, non-violent Party Royale.
Since it launched, Party Royale has hosted many social events, such as concerts, trailer premieres and talks about race in America, making Fortnite a platform as much as it is a game. Despite the potential, the acquisition today came with no plans to incorporate the latest tech in the game, and remarks from Epic CTO Kim Libreri actually mean that this investment could first be for developers.“Bringing on the Hyprsense team enables us to […] approach the goal of giving all creators full control over expressing their vision down to the smallest nuance,” Libreri says.
For Unreal Engine, Epic has previously explored inexpensive ways of motion capture, like using the TrueDepth camera of an iPhone to produce a depth map of a face, but being able to use a webcam you already own, as the software of Hyprsense allows, could make facial motion capture available for even more developers. With Hyprsense workers joining Epic’s active game production and “digital human” teams, we can’t tell for sure where this motion capture technology will show up first, but what is obvious is that expressiveness whether from player characters or NPCs — seems important to Epic’s increasingly social future.