Inside FIFA 22’s New AI Driven HyperMotion Animation Powered by PS5 and Xbox Series X
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 03:00am 21/07/21 | Comments
We speak with EA about seriously kicking off its next-gen football campaign with the addition of HyperMotion and taking full advantage of the extra power that the PS5 and Xbox Series X provide.
HyperMotion sounds like one of those words you’d find on a peripheral from back in the 1990s. Like, say, a fancy N64 controller that was apparently better than the standard pad because it featured… HyperMotion. In the case of FIFA 22 it’s more than a fun buzzword. For the latest installment in EA’s digital representation of The World Game, HyperMotion refers to a new AI-based method and way in which the development team has updated both the in-game animation and the controls for next-gen platforms. That is, the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S versions of the game.
Above all HyperMotion aims to make the foremost digital version of football more realistic. Even though FIFA 21 made its way to both next-gen consoles last year, it’s this second outing where the team is flexing its development hamstrings before running out onto the pitch.
By taking advantage of the dramatic increase in both CPU and GPU power of the new consoles it’s implementing a feature that has been cooking for years. Yeah, HyperMotion has been in development for quite some time.
“The machine learning component has been in development for three years,” Sam Rivera, Line Producer on FIFA 22 tells us. “Looking back at when we began investing in developing the algorithm that learns and writes animation in real time, it was a big investment in technology. Just from the sheer amount of data we’re dealing with and of course there was the training of the neural networks. But, it's finally here and, yeah, it's really cool.”
“Looking back at when we began investing in developing the algorithm that learns and writes animation in real time, it was a big investment in technology."
Understanding exactly how it works might require some advanced knowledge in the ways of AI, but the summary does a pretty good job of capturing just how impressive it is. Basically, EA has captured player data from a full 11-v-11 game of soccer, the moves, the passes, the tackles, the shots, and from this trained AI (machine learning) to be able to create animation in real-time. Over 8.7 million frames were poured through.
And from this realistic animation that is built off of player input, to replicate the real-thing. To look as good as any bit of motion capture, and also be responsive and not reliant on “hitting play” so to speak and watching a pre-recorded animation file play out. To give you an idea of how impressive it is, players (that is football players on the FIFA 22 pitch) will be able to gauge where the ball is, calculate how many steps to get to it and then different steps will be different lengths as they would be in real life. Previously there would be a transition between running or strides and getting in-front of the ball.
At a distance it may be subtle, but the outcome is realistic -- especially when watching a volley.
“There are a lot of components in getting it up and running,” Sam Rivera continues. “You need to go to the stadium, you need to get the players, you need to get the licences, you need to go to do so many things. And then on the other side, the quality of animation has to be high. With FIFA 22 it's ready and you get that quality animation -- the intensity, athleticism and physicality. And you get it all through machine learning. Being this big investment, you can definitely expect to see and hear more about HyperMotion in the future.”
“We have a team that looks at the future, looks at different technologies we could use,” Sam Rivera says. “We’re building stuff for the future right now, and it’s always like that. Even though the game releases annually, not all features in development become part of that annual cycle. A lot comes from years of development, developing these new features. And really, it’s not easy to innovate in a football videogame. Like, you have pretty much all the concepts from football already in there. You have all sorts of passes and shots. Everything I've seen in real football is already in FIFA.”
Another new feature coming with the PS5 and Xbox Series X version of the game is advanced positioning for players, where all 22 players can make six times the decisions per second. And in the process move around in a more realistic fashion. Less robotic movement, better runs, and better runs for the real player - you. This side of the next-gen update wasn’t built off of the machine learning tech that drives HyperMotion, but instead came about from the pure additional hardware power that comes from, well, new hardware. Also coming, more detailed stadiums that feature more personality and life - again, bolstered by that fresh new-console feel.
““We’re building stuff for the future right now, and it’s always like that. Even though the game releases annually, not all features in development become part of that annual cycle."
But back to the on-the-pitch player stuff, bringing all of the new animation and behaviour together is a complete rewrite of the ball physics. Now, this is something you might have expected to be perfected by now but, well, that’s not the case. In FIFA 22 the ball moves as it should, and with the team comparing in-game movement with that of real-life and creating tests and simulations and red lines on a screen to follow it’s made sure that the end result is as spot on as it could be.
“[For the next-gen versions] it's not as simple as just adding a new mechanic because the mechanics are, well, football,” Sam Rivera explains. “We need to invest in technologies that create and improve fidelity and responsiveness. And for that we have a team of people, looking at what's going on across the videogame industry and what's going on in other industries that could help the videogame industry. You almost need to have this ability to see into the future and see what's coming. And with that we haven’t even released FIFA 22, but we're already thinking about the next game, and the next next game.”
“There are lots of possibilities,” Sam Rivera tells me. “You can create a lot more player personality, a lot of team personality with the help of machine learning. It’s a great tool for that. Now, I can't really say much about the plans we have internally but as I mentioned, there's so much potential with a technology like this to create a more authentic version of football. HyperMotion in FIFA 22 is the beginning of something big for FIFA.”
FIFA 22 releases October 1, 2021. HyperMotion technology only available on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Stadia versions of the game.