Wasteland Diary – Doctor Kron
Today a woman with imploded head came to me. Only eyes and teeth were left but everything else was fine. Her eyeballs looked great.
Wasteland Diary – Doctor Kron
This morning a guy came to me – also with an imploded head. The weird thing: his eyes … were not eyeballs!
Instead, his eyes are basically bent planes. How does this guy look left and right?

Source: Fallout 4
Wasteland Diary – Doctor Kron
I investigated a bit further and looked from behind into the guys head (wasn’t too hard since it’s already open). Interesting: Instead of moving the eyeballs via bones, only the eye-texture is moving along the surface:

Source: Fallout 4
Maybe he’s a Synth? Anyway, it’s a really nice trick because by not using a full sphere as eyeball you save:

  • polygons
  • two bones
  • and of course the skinning information for the eye
The eyes seem to be controlled via shader and I suspect that somehow the shader can react to the surrounding world because characters can directly stare at me.

Source: Fallout 4
Wasteland Diary – Doctor Kron
I contacted some colleagues for opinions and Dr. Med. Schindler stated that this technique might be problematic when you want slightly animate the flesh around the eyes when they move.
Normally you would just skin the flesh with a low percentage value to the eye-bones (which we expect to not exist in this case).

But on the other side: Somehow they make it happen to synchronize eye-movement and eye-lid, so maybe even more fleshy-interaction would be possible?

Source: Fallout 4
Prof. Dr. Schaika suspected that there might be bone-limits or other performance-relevant reasons while Dr. Dr. Unger mentioned that this technique is very interesting for cartoon-characters where the eyeball can’t be spherical like in this example where the eye is more shaped like a cylinder:
Another reason to make the eyes like that could be that it was just easier and/or faster to do. Especially when it comes to fit the eyeballs to the different faces which can be fiddly work. In conclusion I can only say that it’s a very interesting approach but the why will be a secret.
If you read this diary and originate from the Bethesda-Vault, feel free to take a Brahmin, come over and tell us the whole story about the mysterious eyes of the wasteland.

Update 1
jakkarth mentioned this great article about how eyes where made in Zelda, which looks like a very similar technique: read the article.
Update 2
Terazilla wrote a really interesting technical assumption how such a system could work in detail. Read the comment.
Update 3
RocketBeans presented a small Bloodborne Glitch which fits well to this article. :)

6 thoughts on “Fallout 4 – Wasteland Eyes

  1. Sean

    I bet the shader just provides jitter as in normal human gaze while still allowing the eye to follow via the bones, which provides a center to return to.

    Reply
  2. anonymous typo notifier

    The link in Update 2 is wrong (copy-pasting from Update 1? :) ) It should point to Reddit instead.

    Reply
  3. ëRiC

    Super interesting! I can imagine that you set up the animation rig right away with the UV transformation that’s driven by a usual look-at handle. So when exporting … ? You either have a realtime rig and re-do the same ingame. Or you export the UV offset in separate animation channel. Might even be into a value of an unused bone. (we do this for blendshape values)
    But actually I suppose they have it combined in some way: have it animated + have realtime influence.

    Reply

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