The Surge 2 motion capture work, done by studio MetricMinds, is a major part of what makes the game's aesthetic - whether it be movement or brutal executions - work, and developer Deck13 and publisher Focus Home Interactive provided a behind the scenes look at how it all came together ahead of the game's launch. The Surge 2 will return to the hardcore melee combat that made its predecessor famous, and will launch on September 24 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
From what fans have seen so far, The Surge 2 will continue to doggedly pursue inspiration from games like Dark Souls in the way it tasks players with learning the ins and outs of its detailed, explosive combat system. A recent Gamescom 2019 trailer opened on the main character traversing the ruins of a futuristic city that's been taken over by cults, machines, and worse, and players will need to pilot an exosuit that can be customized with scavenged parts from enemies. Those scenes showed off an impressive amount of detail paid to the way the main character moves, fights, and even their mannerisms, and now fans interested in how that subtlety was established now have a lens directly into it thanks to MetricMinds and Focus Home Interactive.
In a new Screen Rant exclusive video to show off the work that went into The Surge 2 ahead of its launch, fans get a chance to examine how the magic happens in game development when it comes to motion capture. The brief video offers some insight into how action games specifically capture the movements necessary to make them believable and interesting, and also get a look at brief glimpses of gameplay. Here's the video:
Screen Rant also got the chance to pick the brain of Philip Weiss, the managing director at MetricMinds, about why motion capture is such an important technological aspect of both film and games. The veteran had a lot of insight on just what goes into the process and why The Surge 2 is a good vehicle for exploring those nuances, but first made sure to establish that motion capture tech is pretty well the same across both industries:
"The underlying technology between the two is exactly the same. The motion capture workflows for cutscenes are probably similar if not identical. Actors play their roles and are recorded with mocap technology. However, for in game animations, there are many details which need to be kept in mind during the shoot and also for post processing. For example, a game is made up of many small motions which can be blended together in realtime to reflect movements of characters controlled by players or AI. It is vital that these animations all fit together seamlessly and that they also possess the necessary dynamics to properly reflect what the character is supposed to be doing."
Those interested can check out the full interview at the bottom of this article, as Weiss had a lot of interesting things to say about motion capture and The Surge 2. It's a fun look behind one of the underappreciated elements of game design. Of course, The Surge 2 is more than just a pretty face - the game will feature refined combat experiences based on what developers learned in the first installment, while an asynchronous multiplayer experience remains a big selling point too, letting players make their mark in the world through symbols and banners.
The full interview with Philip Weiss follows.
Motion Capture has been popularized by some of the cinema’s biggest franchises in recent years (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Planet of the Apes, the Avengers movies and more...) and is now a mainstay in video game production. What differentiates the two in your mind? Do you approach them differently and if so, how?
The underlying technology between the two is exactly the same. The motion capture workflows for cutscenes are probably similar if not identical. Actors play their roles and are recorded with mocap technology. However, for in game animations, there are many details which need to be kept in mind during the shoot and also for post processing. For example, a game is made up of many small motions which can be blended together in realtime to reflect movements of characters controlled by players or AI. It is vital that these animations all fit together seamlessly and that they also possess the necessary dynamics to properly reflect what the character is supposed to be doing.
The Surge 2 focuses its gameplay on hardcore melee combat, and features a huge number of unique moves and finishing moves. What goes into the creation of these move sets? Where does your inspiration come from?
To begin with, Deck 13 prepared all the concepts for gameplay and created a vision for the combat system and the special moves. We then had the honor to work with Maciej Kwiatkowski, a massively talented stunt man and sword fighting expert, to develop these moves on the motion capture set. Our task was to combine the vision described by Deck 13, who were directing the shoot on the set, and the creative energy of Maciej, while keeping the necessary technical details in mind.
The game features 80 unique weapons across 9 weapon types. How do you replicate the feeling (size, weight...) of each weapon when capturing?
We have lots of experience building props for our shoots. Our team builds them in our workshop and we make sure that we apply the proper weight to the objects. It is vital to do a test run with the actors and make sure that the props reflect what they are meant to do. But essentially, we use common ingredients like wood and fabric to create the weapons. (It actually looks a lot less exciting than in the game...)
In what ways working on The Surge 2 was different from your other projects? Did it raise any new challenges if so, how did you tackle them?
The combat in The Surge 2 is much larger than life and we always had to keep in mind that Deck 13 wanted to manifest this in virtually every move. Keeping up this energy and making sure that the animators can successfully exaggerate the motions was probably the most difficult challenge.
How do you recruit actors for a project like The Surge 2? What would a typical job post look like, and what background or training would one need to become a motion capture actor?
We know a lot of actors already and start from our experience. The next step is to organize a casting call in which we invite actors to send us videos of their performances. In this case, we were looking for Martial Artists with superpowers.
The Surge 2 releases September 24, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
This article was sponsored by Focus Home Interactive.