Revealing new details in the development of EA Sports HyperMotion and EA’s MMA title.
Electronic Arts is continuing its research in AI-powered animation technology. EA’s data scientists recently published AI animation engine research specific for MMA games. The posted video and paper cite a prototype engine developed by EA Redwood City and EA Vancouver employees. The prototype implements neural networks with a sizeable motion-capture animation library to create the basis for a “synthesized” motion engine.
The paper, Neural Animation Layering for Synthesizing Martial Arts Movements, describes a machine-learning engine with terms and technology that resemble FIFA 22’s HyperMotion technology. Notably, EA Sports Vancouver develops both FIFA and UFC titles.
EA’s Animation Research and Development History
Earlier this year, SGO reported on EA Data Scientist Sebastian Starke’s research and the implications his team’s prototype engine may have on future EA Sports titles. EA Sports confirmed with SGO that Starke is performing his work under EA’s research and development wing. Additionally, EA Sports also expressed to SGO in March that EA has not implemented Starke’s prototype engine in EA Sports games.
Moreover, EA Vancouver Senior Engineer Fabio Zinno is a co-author of both prototype engines cited in Starke’s published works; Zinno has a track record working on both FIFA and UFC.
Since March, EA Sports Vancouver has advertised its new HyperMotion engine that deploys machine learning with motion capture data. In an interview published on Polygon, EA Sports Vancouver Lead Gameplay Producer, FIFA 22 Sam Rivera describes an engine that resembles Starke’s work:
“What that algorithm is doing is learning from all the data for that motion capture shoot… the technology allows us to transition in the middle of the animation to a different type of animation if the situation changes.”
“…it creates that solution, it creates the animation in real-time. That is very, very cutting-edge technology. This is basically the beginning of machine learning taking over animation.”
It appears that Starke and Zinno’s AI animation research informed the EA Sports HyperMotion technology. To what extent is unconfirmed at this time.
HyperMotion for MMA
Most notably, Starke is continuing his research with EA Vancouver’s Zinno. Starke’s latest paper, posted to GitHub in June 2021 under the category of AI4Animation, proposes a “deep learning framework to produce a large variety of martial arts movements in a controllable manner from raw motion capture data.” The 2021 paper continues the AI animation research we wrote about in February and March but is now specific to MMA games.
Starke and Zinno’s 2021 MMA animation research paper may reflect EA’s desire to develop the unannounced EA Sports UFC 5. EA Sports UFC 5 is unconfirmed at this time.
HyperMotion is a result of machine learning technology. According to EA Vancouver, HyperMotion has been three years in the making. Coincidently, Starke’s GitHub page showcases his AI animation research dating back four years. Moreover, it notes that Starke presented his research publicly at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver three years ago.
Lastly, the co-author of both animation research papers, Fabio Zinno, worked on the core fighting engine for Fight Night Champion and UFC and he has been a Senior Software Engineer for EA Vancouver for the last three years performing AI animation research for FIFA.
According to the HyperMotion Polygon article, EA Vancouver is the team responsible for developing the AI algorithm specific to FIFA and EA Vancouver indicated to Polygon that HyperMotion may have use cases beyond FIFA.
In summary, EA Vancouver may have used Starke’s research in machine learning animation to inform its HyperMotion technology. Secondly, we know Zinno has worked on animations for FIFA and UFC for EA Vancouver, and he is credited as a co-author on Starke’s AI4Animation machine learning research, including the 2021 MMA paper.
It follows then that perhaps HyperMotion, informed with the latest MMA fight engine research, is coming to EA Sports UFC 5 next.