Face to Face
"What does it mean to be alive?" is a question that is more interesting now than ever. Face-to-Face is a fictional interactive short story with gameplay elements where the player is talking to what you believe is an online friend in a futuristic virtual reality chatroom system. It can be played both in PC and in VR. The game explores the illusion of human interaction in the digital interfaces and chatroom services we have become so familiar with. As technology develops at an alarming rate, many of us start to know the digital world as a part of our lives. This game explores how our physical form can really manifest itself in the digital world and questions our own present, physical existence.
The short story itself can be completed in around 5 to 10 minutes, and it is only so short because of the large number of animation I would have to do for the 3D model if I extended it. There is a overall creepy tone that transitions into glitch effects. I used the blue and white text boxes because it is meant to resemble the imessage text bubbles, emphasizing the notion that this is just a normal chat room platform.
You can play the game for free at https://lizuyu.itch.io/face-to-face
With little background or knowledge on 3D modeling, I still don't know why I decided to dive head-first into one of the hardest parts of the medium. I was always facinated with faces, so it makes sense for me to want to model myself as one of my first attempts at game-ready 3D modeling. However, the combination of 3D modeling, coding, animation, and game design in the span of 3 months made me dissatisfied with a lot of the assets in game.
Video of all the expressions assets I created:
Modeling the head might've taken a while, but doing all the 3D animations for each sound and vowel was an even longer task. Even with references to how each sound is made in coordination with the mouth movement, it was hard to animate finish completely due to the fact that I had not done the rigging of the teeth properly. I also realized later while doing the animation that a lot of mouth movements have minuscule movements that make all the difference, such as placement of teeth, the upward curve of the lips, etc.
Due to the amount of time this took, expressions can’t be done in conjunction with the mouthing of words. It breaks the expression or it doesn’t look exaggerated enough on the mouthing. I will try to learn how to make the animations look better for the future, but my script had so much dialogue that I had to focus on completing the project first. In retrospect, I would like to spend more time animating the model.
Overall, I had quite a fun time doing the animations and modeling for different expressions. It really taught me a lot about myself and my small variety of expressions. Creating a self portrait in 3D feels surreal, like watching a talking clone of myself, its creepy. As technology continues to develop, people can't shake the feeling of discomfort as they look at a game CG that is too realistic or an environment too perfect. I think this exploration served as a means of being comfortable with the frightening potential of future technologies and questioning what it means to be alive in the so-called "real" world.