The Last of Us Part II continues to blow us away with every trailer and gameplay we see of the upcoming sequel. The most noted comment was how seamless everything looks, transitioning from gameplay into cutscenes with almost no effort whatsoever.
The Last of Us Part II co-director Anthony Newman discussed Naughty Dog’s adoption of new “motion matching” technology, which gives the development team a much smoother transition into cutscenes, with “as little blending as possible.”
In all our previous games there’s been this really distinct state machine where we say, ‘Play a run animation. Then play a turn left animation. Then play a turn right animation.’ The way motion matching works is it takes this massive bucket of animations, just hundreds and hundreds of animations, and chops them into little tiny bits. When you define the path that a player or an enemy wants to take, rather than saying, ‘Play this and then play that and then play that,’ the system actually looks at the bucket of animations, finds the ones that matches the path that you’re already taking, and blends them together frame-by-frame.
It’s this totally new way of doing traversal. With every foot plant, every turn, there’s as little blending as possible. That’s applied to our NPCs. That’s applied to the horses. That’s applied to the dogs. We even have these dogs and horses and mocap suits running around getting the data that we needed for this really intricate system.
The Last of Us Part II releases exclusively for PS4 on February 21, 2020. In other news, the game’s narrative lead believes the sequel is around 50% bigger than its predecessor.