What If Gordon Freeman Had A Body?

You've got to hand it to him

(I was going to title the post Gordon ‘The Body’ Freeman, but I figured people would just think it was porny fanfic). James Benson, the chap behind the splendid Dance Fortress video has gone for a rather different tack for his next project. He’s cut a new trailer for the original Half-Life, demonstrating how the game might look if Freeman was a real physical presence rather than just a hand with a gun. The first-person perspective remains, but it’s now augmented with believable arms. Arms that open doors, climb ladders, prise open vents, raise to protect the face from leaping Head-Crabs and even pick up and don a certain pair of spectacles that have fallen to the floor. I would like to play this non-existent videogame.

One might argue that it possibly interferes with Valve’s aim of backgrounding Gordon’s presence in favour of your own (see also: silence, no Gordon character model in HL2), but that hyper-physical take, akin to Mirror’s Edge or Dark Messiah, rather seems to suit the game well.

Of course, deftly cut video footage and actually playing from that perspective are two different things, but let’s enjoy the fantasy anyway:

Apparently this is 99% composed of original animation bone skeletons, models, skins and whatnot, which makes it even more of an accomplishment.

Thanks, DrazahLn.


  1. Gap Gen says:

    I’ve always said that Mirror’s Edge was an engine waiting for a game, and this kinda proves how much better FPSs would be with a more physical approach to the character’s interaction with the world. It would be a massive tragedy if BG&E2’s tech demo didn’t turn into a finished game.

    • CMaster says:

      At the RPS North meet, we had a good chat about how much the “refrigerator box” sucks and feels restrictive. Well, I say chat, it was more me and Lewie evangelizing to the rest of them. (while disagree about Mirrors Edge)

    • starclaws says:

      Ya we need more Operation Flashpoint and Mirrors edge style games. Seeing a hand and forearm is good. Seeing your shoulders, knees, and everything else is great.

    • coldvvvave says:

      I disagree.

    • MattM says:

      I like the refrigerator box. I get a really unpleasant jolt whenever a first person or ots third person game steals control from me to play some animation.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Matt: That isn’t really what the refrigerator box is all about. A game which realises the player’s presence shouldn’t be taking control from the player any more than one that just realises the weapon’s presence. Taking control of a player’s body away from them is not part of giving the player a body, or even a logical continuation of it.

    • innokenti says:

      Agreed. Dark Messiah used the full-body to great effect. It made the sword-play and stuff even more awesome.

    • CMaster says:

      Yeah, getting rid of the refrigerator box isn’t about making you watch more animations. You can keep the whole “floating camera” thing if you want still, no need to draw the hands and legs.

      It’s about being able to get over that waist-high pile of rubble because you can climb over it. It’s about being able to crawl through gaps. It’s about being able to fling yourself sideways or down to the ground when necessary.

      It’s quite possible that Brink has shown us the way forward in this arena with the SMART system. Unintrusive, but lets you slide, duck and climb within a shooting environment.

    • Hellraiserzlo says:

      Here is some simple logic, when there are first person animation they slow down the game(=bad), you see those movements that don’t match yours as you would have done irl, it sets you away from the world as an observer or player and more into the mindset of someone who is guiding a character.

    • MattM says:

      OK, I guess I could get on board for not being stopped by easily climbed obstacles.

    • Lilliput King says:

      That’s the worst logic I’ve ever heard and has nothing to do with this discussion, as we’ve already covered.

    • Nick says:

      I think Brink would be better if you could see your body. Free running without a body feels weird.

    • Hellraiserzlo says:

      If hl actually had those animations it would still be awesome…but a tad less impressive\fun.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      This half-life video honestly isn’t the best example with which to be discussing breaking the refigerator box as it does commit the sins of using animation sequences which would only work if you took control away from the player, which would do the exact opposite of building immersion. It’s more akin to how alot of FPS developers put their cinematic trailers in first person, kind of like this Bioshock trailer:

      It really depends on how your going about this. Being able to see limbs other than the arm holding the gun are nice touches which can work in the right game. Mirror’s Edge is an interesting game but it is worth noting that playing it did make me feel like I was mearly steering somebody at time.

      And again with unconventional FPS actions like sliding or hanging onto rails, which can work, but it is important to make the player feel they are in direct control.

    • suibhne says:

      I don’t see it often mentioned in discussions of “embodiment” in first-person games, but this was an area where Far Cry 2 absolutely excelled.

    • Victite says:

      Mirror’s edge had a good formula, in that the animations for certain situations could be used for any other situation (hanging from a wall could be used for hanging off a cliff, sliding under a pipe could be used for taking out enemies, etc etc) but a combat-oriented FPS would have trouble using the same animations for different situations. When stealing a gun from a dead enemy, the corpse would have to be in the exact same fetal position every time, otherwise the animation might look weird (EX the player’s arm moving a corpse arm off of the weapon would look strange if their is no arm on the weapon in the exact spot as the animation requires).

  2. Teddy Leach says:

    This is so utterly amazing. I love the hyper-physical take, it really boosts my immersion in the game.

  3. Lorc says:

    The exaggerated rubberiness that is his hallmark (especially visible on that loader robot) put me off at first, but I’ve warmed to it since. There’s no reason that animation can’t have styles just as graphics can.

    • LionsPhil says:

      That style is at odds with the rest of Half-Life, though. Fine for TF2, not so here.

      This…really doesn’t look that good. Although I laughed at the vents, vents, and more vents.

  4. CMaster says:

    Reminds me a lot of Far Cry 2, which makes a big deal about having hands.

    Also. Those sounds. Those rooms. Those set pieces. Half Life is a fucking fantastic game and so many little things just drag me straight back to it.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Word. The whole video was just an enormous nostalgia trip for me. Clearly made with a lot of love.

    • fitzroy_doll says:

      Agree with the comparison to FC2. One problem with fully animating the player is waiting for the animations to finish before control returns. I spent some time mashing keys, trying to get Warren out of danger “get out of the boat! get OUT OF THE BOAT!” as a mortar shell whistled in, while he continued at his leisurely pace towards death.

      Also similar to Crysis – which if I remember correctly had hands and feet.

    • Dhatz says:

      crysis would be a pathetic joke if they didnt do the body properly and try to sell it for graphics. however the shoulder textures were insanely lowres, it was just lame when i observed it in vehicle. crysis 2 done much better job.

    • Foosnark says:

      Yeah. Just the sounds make me want to play it again. First HL1, then HL2.

  5. HermitUK says:

    I do love being able to see my hands and body in an FPS. Really good way of further anchoring the player in the world.

    A couple of the shots there, especially the one where Gordon’s knocked down by the Cascade, and trying to prise open the door, remind me of similar scenes in Crysis 2. Benson’s animation work is impressive, as always.

  6. inertia says:

    Wow. Just damn bloody damn damn good. But I feel you’d have to strip some of it down if you wanted it to play well, otherwise it would just feel too scripted.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I think in an actual game, it could work really well and still feel relatively unscripted. It’d take a dev a great deal of time and effort though.

    • Ricc says:

      FEAR 2 had some first person “doing things” animations, iirc. There is a lot of awkwardly sliding into place in that game, though.

    • HermitUK says:

      Crysis 2 did some of this. Your arms grabbing ledges to pull you up, for instance. And there’s a point early on where you open a door by prising it open with your hands. The combat sections from the trailer wouldn’t entirely work in a game, but again Crysis 2 did have a feature where you’d raise your weapon up if you were too close to a wall – It gave the impression that your gun was actually physically in the world, rather than floating on top of it as so often seems the case in other FPS games.

      It wasn’t a patch on the first game, but Crysis 2’s first person animations were pretty damn awesome.

    • Dhatz says:

      wanna know where Crysis 2 massively disappoints? camera clips through hands at important animation when you force increase the FOV, they just done the same lame job of a camera as everyone else.

    • HermitUK says:

      Yeah, Dhatz, that was a shame. I had to leave the FoV on default and learned to live with it. And FoV increase in Crysis 2 had other issues. It’d clip through corners of walls if you were at the wrong angle, which was also annoying.

    • calpin says:

      I think this could work and really add something to the game, I always loved Mirror’s Edge but could never quite put my finger on why. It’d be great to see if the effect transferred to a game with a more solid feel to it.

    • KenTWOu says:

      HermitUK says: Crysis 2 did have a feature where you’d raise your weapon up if you were too close to a wall – It gave the impression that your gun was actually physically in the world…

      Actually, only Crysis did this everytime and everywhere. Crysis 2 raise your weapon up only when you are ready to use its new context cover system.

      Dhatz says: wanna know where Crysis 2 massively disappoints? camera clips through hands at important animation when you force increase the FOV, they just done the same lame job of a camera as everyone else.

      Crysis 2 doesn’t dissappoint here at all, cause It has additional console command for hands and weapons FOV – “r_DrawNearFov =”.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Mmmm makes me want to play Half Life. I’d forgotten how good the music was.

    • CMaster says:

      Fun fact: Plug your Half Life CD into a CD player (assuming you have both of these things). Skip track 1. Enjoy the full HL soundtrack coming from some proper speakers (assuming you have those).

    • Jonathan says:

      Funner fact: Play a different game that expects to play music from the CD with the HL CD in the drive, then spend ages trying to figure out why it’s playing the wrong sounds.

    • Edawan says:

      There’s a few games that work as audio CDs. My first experience with that was with Warcraft 2.

      I always wondered how they could put a full game AND a full audio CD on one disc…

    • kikito says:

      I once played Quake I while a Roxette CD was in. Very atmospheric.

    • Dhatz says:

      cd players can only recognise the lower type which is audio cd.

    • MattM says:

      Back in those days games could still be just 10 or twenty megs leaving plenty of room for the soundtrack.

    • arccos says:

      Good ole’ Redbook audio. I loved the Mechwarrior 2 soundtrack.


    • Gormongous says:

      Interstate 76 for me! CD is too scratched for a drive to play it, but a stereo handles it just fine.

    • James T says:

      Playing HL1 with The Dust Brothers’ Fight Club soundtrack in the tray works unbelievably well, I recommend it highly.

  8. Hodag says:

    God I love this game. I play through it and its sequels once a year just to keep me grounded on what good game design actually is.

    • gganate says:

      I do that too, but I’ll always love the original more than any of the sequels. The weirdness of Half-Life, the bizarre alien designs, the labyrinthine expansiveness of the underground base, the fantastic soldier AI, the great weapons…it all comes together and creates a superior experience compared to Half-Life 2 and its episodes. City 17 and the combine always felt like poor rip offs of stormtroopers and generic sci-fi totalitarianism. Great games respectively, but I wish Valve had taken the series into stranger territory.

  9. Very Real Talker says:

    that’s cool for a trailer, but it won’t work in a videogame. It would be just a series of annoying first person cutscene, nothing more. Stop saying this kind of shit is the future of fpses because it’s not.

    • inertia says:

      Very Real: Yeah, but more of a feeling that the player is more than just a hitbox and a pair of hands, glued to a gun, *is*.

    • Dworgi says:


      And it worked well in Mirror’s Edge (for me, at least) without feeling like first-person cutscenes. I think what would be vital is that you could still look around while you were doing things. Ie. you’d press a button and you COULD look down at your hand, or you could look around (within reason). Locking the view to look at what you’re doing would be irritating and is a cardinal sin of first-person games that I think Valve are smart enough to know not to do.

      As long as you never took control away from the player, I think physical embodiment would be an amazing addition to nearly any first-person game.

    • kikito says:

      Brink says hello.

    • Dhatz says:

      its really disappointing people dislike the best concept just because they have seen it done bestially wrong. animations have to be dynamic almost a AI to itself, otherwise we dont get anywhere. thanks for every Mirrors Edge, FEAR or Crysis. What was lame is Crysis 2 didnt have dynamic feet angle based on terrain like the first one(or it didnt work when i observed it).

    • DrGonzo says:

      Agree with the OP. Nothing as unnatural in a game as seeing the characters bodies. It disconnects me from everygame I’ve played with it in. It looks very wrong too, with bodies and limbs seeming very thin and freaky.

      I prefer Half Life’s way of doing it, then I use my imagination to fill in the gaps and end up far more immersed. You end up with either annoying animations having to play, or a completely unnatural looking Thunderbirds body.

      Still, very cool video nonetheless.

      • vorell says:

        I think its funny everybody is overlooking the fact that in the subsequent HL expansions, more specifically Blue Shift you see Dr.Freeman from another characters perspective. So they fill in the gaps they claim to have left for your imagination. Although consumer imagination is a powerful thing when it comes to writing and has been heavily utilized by the gaming industry over the years, sometimes to better or worse effect. I have seen many instances where content has been left out of a game or underdeveloped, only for the developers to say when questioned that it was a stylistic choice, that they wanted players to use their imagination.

        I personally think that a body and a voice to a playable can be hundreds of times more immersive if it is done correctly. I loved the character bodies in mirror’s edge & dark messiah not necessarily for the cutscenes but because it gave me a feeling that my character was a physical part of their world. I remember how much I smiled when I walked up to my first wall in mirrors edge and faith put her hand on it. Unlike condemned bloodshot where one time I walked up to a wall and then I noticed how off the proportions were since the hand & gun are merely sprites on the screen. (A wall outlet was bigger than my shotgun because my camera was against the outlet but the gun was being drawn over it.)

        In RE6 I was shocked because I have been telling my friends for years that I wish there was a shooter where if you tried to run through areas with poor footing or across something a person can’t feasible run across you would trip. RE was the last series I expected to incorporate that. (If you try running over a dead body, your character will trip and stumble a little on it.)

        In Mass Effect commander Shepherd clearly has a voice but it also designed so that it doesn’t speak over the player’s own voice because you get to dictate what he says. In dark messiah the protagonist is voice acted but then all the major plot decisions are voiced by your actions, not his voice.

        Another example is the Dead Space series. In the first one Isaac is a silent protagonist with the exception of grunts, sounds of pain, etc… His silence almost broke the immersion, meanwhile in Dead Space 2 they gave him a full voice and it not once spoiled the immersion for me, it enhanced it. Why? Because it was well written and well-acted. His dialogue followed a lot of my own logic, and when shit hit the fan, he would vocalize the anger I felt towards some of the monsters. (After a fight if a monster had pissed me off I would stomp it to pieces.)

        On a final note, many people claim they want to throw themselves into the game and that’s why more protagonist detail breaks immersion for them. The instant they tell me Gordon is a 27 year old MIT graduate working in a secret facility, that immediately breaks any chances I have of placing me, personally, in his shoes. From that point on my mind knows I’m playing a character and not myself.

        In summary, it can be done, it can be effective, but if a studio is going to bother with it, they might as well do it right. Same can be said about 3rd person games. I once saw a comment about Dead Space 3 that reminded me of many 3rd person games.

        It was roughly as follows:
        “I enjoy 3rd person shooters, just like I enjoy movies in theater, but there’s always some tall guy in my way, blocking my view of what’s going on.”

    • rayne117 says:

      Troll doesn’t mean “someone who disagrees with you”.

  10. Alexander Norris says:

    The best part of this is that it makes it much more obvious that you are wearing a tank as a suit. Gordon moves quite ponderously except when dodging at which point he sprints like a cheetah.

    I wish this game would get made.

  11. bleeters says:

    Oh. And I’d just stopped having the nightmares about the Black Ops assassins, too. Woe is me.

    Worth it though. That was impressive.

  12. iniudan says:

    A hand with a gun ? I am pretty sure it was a symbiosis of a hand and a crowbar that was on my screen.

    • phlebas says:

      Gordon “The Crowbar” Freeman?
      Nope, still sounds dodgy.

  13. karry says:

    “Valve’s aim of backgrounding Gordon’s presence in favour of your own”

    How do you figger ? Was that the same aim that made Valve to put Freeman’s face all over the damn box just a year later, on a GOTY edition, and every Half-Life cover ever since ? If they wanted what you are claiming they wanted – they would’ve abstain from ever assigning him a face in the first place. So i dont buy that.

  14. frenz0rz says:

    I want for a day when every FPS incorporates a full-body model for the player.

    When I first played Butcher Bay in 2004, I was utterly dumbstruck. What a brilliant way to bring new life to this tired old genre! Surely it’ll catch on? Apparently not. Well, aside from Mirror’s Edge, I cant think of another game that has bothered to incorporate it.

    What a shame.

    • Ravenger says:

      I love the feeling of ‘being there’ that Mirror’s Edge had, but it was by no means the first game to have a full body presence.

      Thief: Deadly Shadows was one of the first games to have what they called ‘body awareness’ where you could look down and see your own body.

      Left 4 Dead also let you see your own body – invaluable for looking where your feet are when walking on ledges or making jumps, but for some reason they removed that from L4D2.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      The Riddick games do it exceptionally well.

    • nayon says:

      Crysis 1&2 have it

    • Dhatz says:

      frenz was just speaking of riddick, also I know FEAR, Crysis (all 4 installments of these), Condemned(Monolith is so superior). Bulletstorm only when it needs it. Also a mod for STALKER CoP does it. in L4D2 i think they realised the anims werent good enough, so they went with the lame usual way. Brink didnt try enough. If Gordon wasnt stupid, hed have helmot to the protective suit and it would made the no face scenario appliable to cover art. Biggest problem is you have to morp animations just about all the time, condemned doesn’t do this and as result the arms can clip body when aiming gun downwards.

    • gilgamesh says:

      Then you’ve never heard of Breakdown. Such a criminally overlooked game!

  15. _Jackalope_ says:

    The amounts of times I screamed like a little child when playing through Ravenholm in Half Life 2 and how freaked out I was in Half Life 1 as that tentacle tapped about on the floor tyring to find me is a testament to how immersive they both are. But I did find the absence of aphyscial presence quite jarring sometimes. Also the lack of voice really bothered me. I understand the reasons, but even just a few cursory replies from Gordon in conversations couldn’t be so bad.

    • Dworgi says:

      I don’t like first-person voices, but I do like having a body. If the voice is wrong, it just jars and kills all immersion for me.

    • Dhatz says:

      the disembodied weapon platform approach is always wrong. Regarding voice we need one that sounds like inside our head, it has to be different than the outside sound, and that I never seen done (good enough). When they try, it ends with intensity being realistic. Really disconnecting if they dont even try, like FEAR 2 or COD/MoH I never noticed when I spoke. If someone was gonna do it detailed, then they should get the forces that move our cranium while we speak, they could get that data while voiceacting. Games never give you control over conversaion either, im gonna buy first AAA game that gives me “STFU button”.

    • _Jackalope_ says:

      Indeed if they got the voice wrong it would be a disaster, but I don’t really think Valve would’ve messd it up. All the other character voicework was superb. If Freeman is silent to allow my voice be his, then most of the time he would’ve been a petulant coward constantly telling everyone “No. YOU go in the explosive thing of death, while I run away” or “Why can’t I just take ALL these men with guns with me” or “EEEEEEK!”

  16. skyturnedred says:

    Anyone else reminded of Trespasser when he was waving the pistol around?

    • idiotapocs says:


    • Teddy Leach says:

      That’s exactly what I thought of when I saw it.

    • DrazharLn says:

      I thought that was the weakest part of the video. I don’t have much experience handling pistols, and no experience with a real, fires bullets and kills people gun, but it looked very limp in his hands, not like he had a solid gun that he was thinking of shooting anytime soon.

    • quantumdot says:

      Yes, definitely.

  17. DrazharLn says:

    Alec, you *almost* spelt my name right. I don’t blame you, though. It is quite a strange name.

    I’ve been thinking some more about whether this would be a desirable system in a game and how complicated it might be to implement. The section at 2:23, for example, that feels great to me, even just watching and not playing I feel there, but when Gordon/I leap back and into cover a few seconds later I’m not sure how easy it would be to control that (I want to move backwards fast and get into cover (what if you’re near two bits of cover, which do you choose?) what buttons do I press to indicate that).

    Peeking round the doorway at 2:40 and elsewhere was also very effective, IMO, but just a few seconds later we move part of a guard to get at the gun. In terms of controls, that’s probably easy (press e to pick up weapon I’m looking at) but in terms of implementation you need to have Gordon move the actor’s body in a natural way to get at the weapon.

    How do you do that? One option would be to have set death poses and manually made animations for the action, another option would be to calculate at run-time a natural movement. The former means you lose ragdolls and face potential boring repetition, the latter is a reasonably complex computing problem and might end up just as repetitive.

    On whether this is a desirable system, it could certainly make me identify much more with the player character and has the potential to provide a lot of emotional and physical data to me in a very intuitive fashion (whether I’m tired, wounded, compassionate, efficient, callous, frustrated, despairing etc). I think that these are desirable features for a lot of first person games but there might be a danger of trying to be to realistic. Realism has its place and I’d love to see first person games where you play as non-humans with this kind of system, but as was discussed in Sunday Paper’s last week, jumping is important. Movement has to feel right for the game, and I wouldn’t want some misguided desire for realism meaning we move away from glorious, crazy things like trick jumping, wall running etc.

  18. sexyresults says:

    Loved it

  19. Dhatz says:

    force feed their own shit to developers who do the flying camera with gun.

    • DrazharLn says:

      I don’t think that’s totally necessary. There’s plenty of scope for more than one type of FPS game. What we (I) want is a palate of games in many different flavours. Bodyless FPSs have a place, even if they don’t deserve to dominate as they do now.

    • arccos says:

      I agree with DrazharLn. The idea is to question the conventions that are becoming so ingrained to the point that they are not even a conscious decision for some developers.

      There’s plenty of room for variety, as long as the developers know enough to provide it.

  20. The Hammer says:

    I’d absolutely love to play sommit like this, but only so long as the visual fluff doesn’t get in the way of actually being able to aim, shoot, and control my avatar. If that were to be taken away from me for more than three seconds – as it is in Far Cry 2 – I’d be miffed. If it gets too obtrusive, then I’ve often found the gameplay feels broken up.

  21. Quasar says:

    My arms are augmented.

  22. apa says:

    Hands and body are the new black (in games).

  23. arienette says:

    While playing Portal 2, at one point early on in the game I looked down, saw I had no legs and for a few minutes the whole immersive experience was ruined. That doesn’t happen often, but there’s no real reason not to have a presence now.

    • Dhatz says:

      try standing over portals, the hitbox is way too obvious to show off those animations, Valve doing the budget as always.

  24. nayon says:

    This video reminded me of how much more interesting and diverse the first Half-Life was than the second.

  25. Guiscard says:

    Awesome. I loved the bit with the glasses, about time those got knocked off the amount of explosions that man’s been subject to.

  26. ceebux says:

    I keep reading this article’s title as “What If Gordon Freeman Had A Booty.”

    Which would make for a significantly different experience.

  27. skinlo says:

    Not a major fan of it myself, the legs in L4D1 were bad enough, glad they removed them. It worked in Mirrors Edge because that game was basically designed for it, but I wouldn’t want it in a Half LIfe game.

    I’d rather they focus on other stuff than put fully animated arms and legs in.

    • gilgamesh says:

      If it works in Mirror’s Edge there’s no reason why it can’t work in any other game. It just needs to be done properly.

  28. whateverJ says:

    Looks good but without proper controls it’s just scripted animation taking control away from the player, which is a bad thing, right? I don’t know how these controls would work with anything short of this: link to youtube.com And then we would still miss haptic feedback.

  29. Dominic White says:

    Echoing what a lot of other people have said – we need to kill the Floating Camera with Gun protagonists that are standard form for shooters. It’s outdated and kills immersion. Having a degree of body awareness can make you feel so much more attached to the game-world.

    As others have said, Chronicles of Riddick did this excellently back as far as 2004. Melee combat felt SOLID. When you got punched, you felt it. When you fired a gun, it was held in your own hands. When you were pulling the weapon from an enemy, it felt like a struggle. We need more of that.

    • Dhatz says:

      the 2004 is written in gold, so many great games thatose years. Now theyre all about raising numbers, NO you can’t have the candy, 4!

    • Urthman says:

      we need to kill the Floating Camera with Gun protagonists that are standard form for shooters. It’s outdated and kills immersion.

      I totally disagree. Mirror’s Edge is a fantastic game, but not every game needs to be Mirror’s Edge.

  30. mollemannen says:

    the combat reminds me of smod tactical : project life. if you haven’t checked that out give it a go. floating point aiming and a laser sight gives that mod a spectacular feeling.

  31. kyrieee says:

    Having messed around with the HL SDK a lot I’m really curious about how this trailer was put together.

  32. Wizlah says:

    Jesusfuck that was superb. If that was a mod, I’d had have a hard time playing anyuthing new for a while.

    like the arm/crowbar/lambda at the end.

    Finally, an important question – which came first louise bourgeois’s spiders or gonarch? cos the first time I went into tate modern and saw one of those fuckers in the turbine hall, I nearly shat myself and looked wildly about for heavy weapons.

  33. Sunjammer says:

    I remember when Thief 3 got into this and everybody was up in arms over how laggy and wrong it was to enslave the player to an animator’s whim. Now apparently we are sort of cool with that.

    This looks like a half life made up entirely of the set piece animations in Call of Cthulhu Dark Corners of the Earth (which wins every competition, ever). Half Life was crisp and delicious. This would make it slow and syrupy. Probably delicious still but yeah.. Not the same.

    • Baines says:

      It is only enslaving to the animator’s whim when done badly. When done well, it is realistic execution of your desired action.

      People complain when it takes four seconds to open a door in a firefight, as you watch your character put away his gun (because he can only open a door with his dominant hand), slowly turn the handle, and slowly push/pull the door open. People get upset when you get a pointlessly extravagant animation in a time-sensitive situation (or just experience it too often). Yes, that canned stealth kill animation might look nice, but when the player is being shot at, they just want something fast. People complain if when climbing a ladder, you want to suddenly let go and drop to the ground, but the game insists you finish going to the next upward rung before you can let go.

      Okay, people complain even if something takes a half-second more than “instant”, but that is a fair cost of realism. Climbing a ladder isn’t a magic elevator ride where I can levitate up a quarter-rung and stop. That behavior only works in a no-body FPS because the player doesn’t see hands. And maybe I should have to make a commitment that will last for the next half-second and will move my character upward a full eight inches. (Though the game better let me let go at an instant, even mid-climb. Because you don’t finish your climb before making an emergency drop.)

  34. BigJonno says:

    It was MMORPGs that made me realise how stupid the whole floaty perspective with a gun thing is. Most MMOs let you zoom in to a first-person perspective, but very few render any part of your body in this mode. When you take the gun away, you really feel how distanced you are from the proceedings, despite the supposedly more immersive viewpoint.

  35. Revisor says:

    For a great feeling of body created in a game, also see Condemned:

  36. sicsemperjohn says:

    Why are we all arguing, and ignoring how ridiculous-yet-cool it was when the tentacle chopped Barney in half vertically?

  37. empty_other says:

    I would like to see my body, but it is not necessary as i rarely look down.
    But what they SHOULD have is a visible shadow..
    It kinda unerve me when seeing an npc’s shadow, but not my own… Maybe i’m a vampire?

    And i’ve killed a few in COD just because i saw their shadow around the corner… Poor people, there was nothing they could do.

  38. Davie says:

    My soul was crushed when I realized this was not an actual mod.

  39. Megagun says:

    DISCLAIMER: I haven’t played Mirror’s Edge or any of the games that supposedly do this kind of thing really well.

    An interesting video, but I fear that we won’t see anything this believable in a few years, due to two main problems: simulation and controls.

    You see, to get a result as amazing as this, we need to simulate a full human body, and derive animations from that. Which is hard, and I think will require quite heavy computations.

    Let’s do a little physical exercise. Stand up and find a large space to move around in. Grab a hold of an object roughly shaped like a weapon, and hold it as if you were holding said weapon. Now run around a bit. Have someone nearby you clap their hands, and as soon as they clap, you stop and try to shoot said person. Make sure you’re running away from said person for maximum effect.

    It’s hard. Isn’t it? And sluggish. If you’re unlucky, and one of your feet isn’t touching the ground, you’ll have to finish your step, lose all the momentum you’ve built up, turn your body around and using your weapon (unless your weapon of choice was a Melee weapon. Don’t want anyone to get hurt! :D)..

    Now take what you’ve just learnt, and implement it in a multiplayer competitive FPS. Can you hear all the whining pro FPS players already? No longer they’ll be able to do instant 180 degree turns! Oh noes!

    Okay, time for physical exercise number two: the weapon pickup. Stand away from your partner in crime, place an object on the floor, stand up, and start picking the object up. Once your partner in crime claps their hands, you turn around to look at them, whilst still trying to pick the object up.

    Did you manage to look around at the clappy hands person? Did you feel the resistance of your body on your actions?

    So, what does this all mean? Why are we doing physical exercises some dude on some random internet blog tells us to do? Glad you asked! It’s simple, really: to show you that having a believable in-game character requires you to give up a lot of control.

    Furthermore, from our exercises we can conclude that cancelling a move, such as picking up an object, can be difficult. There’s two obvious ways we can implement such a cancelling move in games: a button, and a human body constraint. The button to cancel a move should be self-explanatory. The human body constraint basically calculates if you can continue the action based on the player input. Picking up an object and the player tries to look directly behind him? Cancel the action. Unfortunately, this introduces another problem: how do we communicate to the player that he stopped picking up the item? We simply can’t do that with a small screen with relatively low FOV, and no real body-awareness.

    Indeed, awareness of the own body is a major pain in the ass. You might not think about it often, but the awareness of a human being about the location of his body parts is quite amazing. Close your eyes, now scratch your ankles. You were capable of doing it, right? Now, instead of scratching, hover your left arm just over your left ankle, without touching it. I’m sure you were able to do this quite accurately. Unfortunately, there is no way we can simulate this action in a game properly, without requiring the player character to actually look at his ankles.

    Onwards to the next impressive bit in the trailer video: the combat. Indeed, the combat is quite nicely done, yet quite impossible to achieve using today’s hardware. How can the player communicate to the game effectively which wall to lean against, or which object to lean against, or what object to hug, or what object to avoid bumping in to?

    Unfortunately, there’s no way we can achieve a high precision of control, especially not if we keep console controllers in mind (let’s face it; most games are multiplatform these days). Even with a keyboard, I doubt an unambiguous controlling mechanism can be achieved for actions as displayed in the trailer.

    Well, okay, I lied. There is a way to fix all this. A bidirectional direct brain interface between the player and the game. The player thinks “I want to lean against this wall right here!”, and the game just does it. Furthermore, the game will provide the player with a sense of the player character’s body; both location and other senses.

    Sadly, I doubt I’ll use a bidirectional direct brain interface perpheral within my lifetime. A shame, for it would be amazing.

    • Sunjammer says:

      Cool story bro, but Euphoria and smart computer men are already doing this stuff with greater and greater proficiency. Animation blending has advanced a lot the past few years.

    • kyynis says:

      For example, Wolfire is doing pretty nifty things with Overgrowth engine. Wonder how well it would translate from third person perspective to first.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, people played up what a huge deal (and how expensive) the Euphoria tech used in GTA4/Red Dead Redemption was, but Wolfire have already replicated most of it on a tiny indie budget. Their animation/ragdoll blending is great. Get hit hard and you won’t just drop – your character will go foetal, clutching at whatever part got hit, in clear wince-inducing pain.

      Apparently none of it is hugely advanced, either.

    • briktal says:

      The animation is one thing, but how do you get the player in a first person game to a) control it b) know that it is happening. Say your character gets punched in the stomach. Does he automatically bring his arm down there or do you have to press a button? Either way, how do you know your arm is down there if it outside your field of vision?

  40. Zarunil says:

    I really wish more FPSs showed the player’s body. For me, it is so much more immersive.

  41. gshauger says:

    Doesn’t add much…if anything it detracts from the experience.

  42. Balm says:

    Swing at head crub in ventduct, picking up the gun of the guard, those and others look and feel to much like QTE.

  43. pagad says:

    I am pretty sure the Halo games had a full body model that you could look down at.

  44. propjoe says:

    Having realistic arms (as seen in Far Cry 2, mentioned above) is great, but any time I can see my feet in a game, it’s weird. They look like they’re either too close or too far away, and it makes me feel like I’m not coordinating my movements correctly. Creating a realistic sense of space in a game is incredibly hard. Recently, just for fun, I took measurements of my entire house and built it in the Source engine. The result was bizarre. Nothing was quite right. The ceilings were too low, and the rooms were too wide. It made me realize that the world of a game is entirely different from reality. The limited perspective of the monitor warps how we perceive things.

  45. Kevin says:

    Let’s hope that Black Mesa doesn’t get delayed (again) because they decided to bring this guy onto the team to re-do all the animations in their mod.

  46. Synesthesia says:

    this is exactly what i love about Brink and M.E.. I think it always helps not to be a camera with a SPAS 12 duct taped to its side, floating on marty mcfly’s hoverboard.

    Loved the glasses detail, also.

  47. Harbour Master says:

    This is all in that new Black Mesa mod, right?

  48. Shwa86 says:

    Great. Black Mesa will see this and it’ll just have to include it.

    …and this is AWESOME!

    • quantumdot says:

      Sigh. Duke Nukem Forever much?

      (I want Black Mesa as much as the next guy, but adding in every shiny bauble that comes by does not a good game make)

  49. Daniel Carvalho says:

    I’ve been saying this for years everywhere I can, my website, emails, twitter etc… supposedly realistic FPS games which heavily depend on immersion should get with the program and include the players torso / body. This is something Crytek has succeeded on. The player being a floating camera just doesn’t cut it any more. Something RAGE has completely messed up on.

  50. amer95 says:

    omg! this would be so Epic if this game had a great graphics and better Weapons sounds it would be more epic if Gordon freeman could throw back that Grenade at 2:51 :D