Before I begin with this post – please note that the information mentioned in this article is official and talks about new technology developed by Electronic Arts. However, none of the information assures that the technology is fully developed and fully functional. As far as we know these could be just concepts that haven’t been fully developed.
Yesterday we published an article about EA’s latest patent that will allow you to scan faces through images – importing the facial features from selected images onto a character model. The patent has been submitted in April 2020 and published this year, with some of the examples taken shown from The Sims 4’s user interface.
However – it turns out that this isn’t the only patent submitted by Electronic Arts that talks about new technology for character creation. We got a tip from @DancerChip regarding numerous patents that have been published over the last year or two with talks about groundbreaking technology that’s now in EA’s full ownership. Before we dig into each submitted patent please be cautious with the following information as nothing had been confirmed. Although there’s no official mention about The Sims being related to this technology, the patents come with plenty of examples of imagery that resemble The Sims Franchise.
This patent has been submitted just recently in March 2021 and got published this October.
The patent talks about groundbreaking technology that will allow the player to create a character from real life footage. The crazy part about this patent is that it suggests creation of full body character meshes, textures, clothing and animation all generated from the footage provided to the technology.
The Patent Summary
Systems and methods for generating a customized virtual character are disclosed . A system may obtain video data or other media depicting a real person , and then may provide the obtained media to one or more machine learning models configured to learn visual appearance and behavior information regarding the particular person depicted in the video or other media . The system may then generate a custom visual appearance model and a custom behavior model corresponding to the real person , which may subsequently be used to render , within a virtual environment of a video game , a virtual character that resembles the real person in appearance and in – game behavior
The patent later explains how the character creation from provided footage would be done in-game. To simplify the workflow of this suggested technology here’s how it would work:
- You’d import video and/or certain image into the technology
- The technology would then retrieve and process generic 3D model and behavior data from the footage
- …later generating into virtual character information, including both behavior and appearance from imported media
- The technology will then generate custom clothing and/or accessories from imported footage onto the virtual character
- The player then decides whether they like the determined look, animation(s), behavior and clothing generated by this technology
- If the player accepts the prompted character, they’ll be able to import the character and their assets for use in-game.
The surreal part of this proposed concept is that the technology would automatically generate textures from the footage provided. So for example – you could be seeing a texture from a T-Shirt you scanned onto a T-Shirt in the game.
A similar process would also be used for things like character behavior, look and even animations.
The patent also talks about creating custom animations from footage that you’d be able to import in the game for various purposes.
There is also a concept included below with some of the purposes for the custom character animation that you capture. The patent proposes possibilities to give your animation a name and a purpose, as well as set a custom rule on when the animation will play out for in-game use.
Okay, but what about bringing real life pets into the virtual world? EA has secured a patent for that concept as well.
This patent dates back to March 2019, and has been published in October 2020.
The patent talks about creating animals in the game from the media provided. That includes importing both animal appearance and behavior into the game. Check out the summary of this patent and one of the examples illustrated below:
The Patent Summary
Systems and methods for generating a customized virtual animal character are disclosed . A system may obtain video data or other media depicting a real animal , and then may provide the obtained media to one or more machine learning models configured to learn visual appearance and behavior information regarding the particular animal depicted in the video or other media . The system may then generate a custom visual appearance model and a custom behavior model corresponding to the real animal , which may subse quently be used to render , within a virtual environment of a video game , a virtual animal character that resembles the real animal in appearance and in – game behavior
The workflow of this technology is as follows:
- Provide media depicting an animal of your choice that you want imported in the game
- The technology determines species and possibly a breed of the depicted animal
- …later on generating a custom appearance and behavior model from the Media provided
- The player decides which imported attributes they want to see in the in-game model
- …later storing all of your feedback including Animal’s 3D Model, Textures, Animations and Behavior for use in-game
The patent has also shown a concept of what one of the final prompts could look like:
There are more patents that @DancerChip sent over to us that could be related to The Sims, but are not necessarily related to the game. Check out his full analysis of each patent:
- Generation of “engaging” NPCs for multiplayer (Also it is interesting that there is a party type scenario where there are multiple real-users and computer generated intereactive agents see Figure 4, 8, and 9) (Also interesting that it points out in a multi-platform, multi-hardware application see Fig 1)
The following are interesting features that the R&D Team is working on but could not find any indication that they relate to the Sims:
- Method to mimic player gameplay (This one might be relevant for the Sims as we know that they did a similar thing for TS Mobile)
- Some type of rendering technology (From Figures 7A and 7B, might be related to the Sims)
- Building/Environment aging system (This one seems would be a pretty cool feature they talk about time progression in the Background section)
- Generation of buildings on maps (Probably not the Sims related, but potentially SimCity as they refer to it in the document)
- Terrain and population generation (Similar to above potentially SimCity related)
So, what does this mean for the future of The Sims? It is my responsibility as a reporter to remind you again that these could be just concepts that are not yet fully developed and tested out. However, EA is now in full ownership of this proposed technology and could be using it in any of their future titles. Still, the two patents that we’ve explained in the beginning of the article hit closest to the gameplay we have in The Sims.
If this technology ever becomes a reality, it wouldn’t surprise me that EA introduces it in their next generation Sims Game. Still, at this point that is just speculation.
Until then, rest assured that The Sims 4 still has years of content planned out! There are multiple Maxis Studios and teams working on multiple projects.