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The Uncanny Valley
June 19th 2004, 21:41 CEST by ...an ethereal being...

The Uncanny Valley is an offshoot of the work of the Japanese roboticist Doctor Masahiro Mori.  Dr. Moriís robotic creations were becoming more human and lifelike, with the expectation that they would continue to be well received.  What was unexpected was that after a point the reaction to his robots became strongly negative as they were perceived as being eerie and disconcerting.  With further refinement the negative reaction disappears, but to be well received the simulation of life needs to be very good.

The movies are a good example of this playing out.  New York can be destroyed by a variety of CGI natural disasters with ease, but the king of special effects gave us Anakinís bull riding session.  Various scenes in the Matrix sequels have been criticized for appearing unnatural.  Gollumís animation was incredible, but he was supposed to be repulsive so itís not a great test case.  Meanwhile Pixar sticks to animals, toys, monsters, etc. as their main characters.

So how does this impact gaming?  Graphics and animation are improving dramatically, but the gaming world is filled with bad lip synching, lifeless eyes and stiff movement.  The second coming of Half Life promises improvements in this area, but similar promises have been made before.

Can gaming overcome the uncanny valley or should it even try?  Does this even matter or do we have lower expectations for games?  What games do you think have animated humans realistically?  What games have unintentionally created creepy characters through bad animation?

Yes, it is another do graphics matter discussion!
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Home » Topic: The Uncanny Valley

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#12 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 04:19:53
And I command you to stop contaminating the Internet with Alabama.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#13 by mnemonic
2004-06-20 04:30:02
xmnemonic@softhome.net http://jti.developer.graphyx.net
First read about this topic in PopSci several months ago, then on Slashdot, now here.

http://www.optidigit.com/stevens/smokin2.jpg

I don't think this looks the least bit creepy.  I think CG characters that look quite realistic without putting the viewer off are possible, FF: TSW and the Animatrix CG for examples.  Say what you want about the voice acting, script or plot, but I was not reminded of undead while watching those CG characters.  Sure they weren't perfect, but I wasn't freaked out or anything.

As for game cinematics... well, rendering, shader work all matter a lot, but great animation makes it seem like the character's alive.

Realtime stuff... Operation: Flashpoint's shoddy mocap did put me off a bit.  Same with Rainbow Six a bit.

Oh boy I am tired.
#14 by BobJustBob
2004-06-20 04:40:59
Yeah, that "woman" in Last Flight of the Osiris was hot.

Dood.
#15 by Dumdeedum
2004-06-20 05:10:04
http://www.dumdeedum.com
I don't think this looks the least bit creepy.

No, he reserved all his creepy for the naked little girl with dragon picture.

As for the topic, I don't know if the Uncanny Valley really applies to games or films as they're "not real" from the get go, they don't have a physical presence like robots so it all gets filed under your suspension of disbelief.

#16 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 05:20:17
What about botox?

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#17 by Sgt Hulka
2004-06-20 05:22:24
Good Book, going cheap!

#18 by Hugin
2004-06-20 05:35:45
lmccain@nber.org
In general, still images don't freak out the monkeybrain as readily as animated CG characters do.  Talking, eating, smiling, kissing, those are the sorts of things that can be most freaky.
#19 by hangedmanAG
2004-06-20 05:40:06
www.livejournal.com/users/hangedman_ag/
As for the topic, I don't know if the Uncanny Valley really applies to games or films as they're "not real" from the get go, they don't have a physical presence like robots so it all gets filed under your suspension of disbelief.

I don't agree because there has to be some suspension of disbelief to bring a gamer/viewer in.  Plus, there are many examples that I think hit the "Uncanny Valley" like the aforementioned Polar Express (*shudder* wtf is Zemekis thinking?), the dialogue puppets of the Fallout games (in particular, Tandy - young and *shudder* old) and Janice Dickinson of America's Next Top Model

As an aside, how great a name for a scientific theory is "The Uncanny Valley".  If it was discovered by Americans it would be the "Hoffman-Shenkberg Effect" or some such.  I think the Japanese should get first crack at naming everything, from now on.

S'right
#20 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 05:53:31
Is DOA Volleyball in the Uncanny Valley?  Jiggle.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#21 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2004-06-20 05:53:51
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
#20th post

Intergalactic Turnip Festival Destroyer
#22 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2004-06-20 05:53:58
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
fuck you jeet

Intergalactic Turnip Festival Destroyer
#23 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2004-06-20 05:54:30
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
at least i got #21 through #23

Intergalactic Turnip Festival Destroyer
#24 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2004-06-20 05:54:37
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
and #24

Intergalactic Turnip Festival Destroyer
#25 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2004-06-20 05:54:43
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
suckahs

Intergalactic Turnip Festival Destroyer
#26 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2004-06-20 05:55:06
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
<--- NEVER HAS ONE THREAD SEEN SO MUCH BEAUTY

Intergalactic Turnip Festival Destroyer
#27 by DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION
2004-06-20 05:55:24
deathkillerint@hotmail.com
I think that would be ^^^ for you opencrap faggots

Intergalactic Turnip Festival Destroyer
#28 by Sgt Hulka
2004-06-20 06:17:04
Nice forehead!

#29 by Sgt Hulka
2004-06-20 06:32:41
Just hang with this one til the end and you can almost picture The Joker as the Sumo Florist.

#30 by Charles
2004-06-20 06:52:54
www.bluh.org
I don't agree because there has to be some suspension of disbelief to bring a gamer/viewer in.


I feel that motion and animation of characters adds more to suspension of disbelief than the models or model details themselves.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#31 by Bailey
2004-06-20 07:23:35
I don't think this looks the least bit creepy.

Creepy, no. Juvenile, yes.

Saving Throw vs Humanity
#32 by Dumdeedum
2004-06-20 07:54:28
http://www.dumdeedum.com
Dr. Moriís robotic creations were becoming more human and lifelike...

I just realised something...

#33 by Hugin
2004-06-20 08:03:28
lmccain@nber.org
Opinions on Ground Control 2?  Anyone?

I played the demo.  It's pretty, engine-wise. Mostly it seems pretty solid, and has the science fiction setting I like.

But I found some thing disappointing/annoying.  I don't like that tiny, largely invisible variations in the terrain can cause your units to just stop firing.  None of the gameplay or unit abilities seem particularly innovative.  Getting in and out of or targeting buildings could sometimes be wonky. Considering how good the engine looks, it doesn't seem to do all that much.  It seems solid, I suppose, but...?

Is anyone playing it?  Are the missions fun?  Are there any neato units in the full version?
#34 by Squeaky
2004-06-20 08:22:26
Fuck, looks like I'm gonna be in the market for a new video card soon. My current one has started to do all sorts of wacky shit similar to my old one. Do you guys think ATI will let me RMA this one? I've already had it replaced once through them.



...nevermind, warranty expired a while ago.

I just found me a bottle of blues
some strange comfort for a soul to soothe
dvds
#35 by Charles
2004-06-20 08:22:55
www.bluh.org
I've heard that Ground Control 2 is an RTS.  So I can safely and accurately say that it sucks.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#36 by Bailey
2004-06-20 08:33:33
I second the motion.

Saving Throw vs Humanity
#37 by m0nty
2004-06-20 08:43:27
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
The only worthwhile thing about that game is the Major Tom jokes. After that, it sucks.
#38 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 09:11:13
Have you tried Silent Storm, Hugin?  I think you might like it!

(HAR!  E'erbody in the club likes Silent Storm!)

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#39 by Dethstryk
2004-06-20 09:23:13
jemartin@tcainternet.com
Silent Storm is so fucking good.

"The Square who is not Cool with the double dipping pecker!"
#40 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 09:34:33
So I chanced upon a copy of Dungeons & Dreamers yesterday and read it today.  A lot of it is devoted to Garriot, and most of what's there was covered in the Book of Ultima or whatever it was called, but it fired up my nostalgia engines.

Mostly I want to know why we haven't had a game like Ultima 4 since Ultima 4.  I don't mean the setting or the story or gameplay - I mean a game that really tries to merge the player's personality with his character's and then shows what happens in the world as a result.  You know, a game that really tries to bring out the catharsis of art, while still managing to be a really fun game.  One that really shows that there are consequences for the player's actions and even inactions.  Where are all the risk taking independents?

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#41 by Shadarr
2004-06-20 09:55:33
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Creepy, no. Juvenile, yes.


He seems intent on testing the "not a real photo" exemption to the child porn laws.

PLUR, motherfucker!
#42 by Bailey
2004-06-20 10:52:49
It's a bustling opportunity for commerce!

Saving Throw vs Humanity
#43 by Ashiran
2004-06-20 11:29:55
I saw you actually posted on the WoW forums Bailey. What has become of you!?

Shut up Jeet.
#44 by Anonymous
2004-06-20 12:03:21
He's been assimilated.
#45 by m0nty
2004-06-20 12:39:32
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
The smell of catass follows him like a redheaded stepchild.
#46 by Charles
2004-06-20 17:37:48
www.bluh.org
Where are all the risk taking independents?


Out of business.  Or making sequels for publishers.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#47 by Charles
2004-06-20 17:38:34
www.bluh.org
Also, Jeet, would you recommend the book?  I was tempted to pick it up.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#48 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 18:45:20
I enjoyed it.  It's not terribly in depth, though - and you can often tell where the guy writing it yielded to Word's grammar demands.  Also, a *lot* of the book is devoted to Garriot, which makes sense in a way, but at the same time virtually no other early rpg's are mentioned.  It's a quick read, and enjoyable enough though.  I'd recommend getting it, but if you want the price of the book to reflect its value, I'd look for it in paperback.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#49 by yukon dance fever
2004-06-20 19:21:08
The Silent Storm demo gave me gas. Then it left lesions on my face and marked me for death.

pop quiz, hotshot: why does George Bailey allow Uncle Billy to live?
#50 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 19:26:32
Out of business.  Or making sequels for publishers.


True, but what happened with the whole promise of the "mod community" to deliver these nifty inventive games?  I hate to think that people with the creative and technical savvy to do it are terribly rare, and those few folks out there capable are instead making progressively dumber sequels for publisher.  I want to think that there is some young kid out there that is playing games and is going to grow up to contribute to maturing the medium - but every year it gets more difficult to believe that, since the only games that the kid has to play are more and more simple - but pretty - and dumb.  Where is his/her inspiration going to come from?

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#51 by Charles
2004-06-20 19:35:03
www.bluh.org
The mod community had promise of any kind?  Laff!

The mod community is a bunch of teens who've never played any of the good games.  Those young kids have never played an ultima, and don't know what they are missing.

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#52 by BobJustBob
2004-06-20 19:42:30
Jeet, you're really the wrong guy to be railing against 'pretty but dumb' games.

Dood.
#53 by m0nty
2004-06-20 19:44:22
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
I'd think Jeet would be an expert of "pretty but dumb".
#54 by Sgt Hulka
2004-06-20 20:06:49
Which game system is the best?

#55 by Creole Ned
2004-06-20 20:10:38
To say "The mod community is a bunch of teens who've never played any of the good games.  Those young kids have never played an ultima, and don't know what they are missing." is just ignorant stereotyping and cannot be used as the basis for any kind of reasonable argument. In other words, the perfect PlanetCrap post. 10 points, Charles. :D

"I don't bemoan the great paste" - LPMiller
#56 by Charles
2004-06-20 20:50:52
www.bluh.org
Ignorant stereotyping huh?  How many 15-20 year olds would you expect to have played computer games from 10-15 years ago?

"I'm not asking for much; just a job that meets the minimum legal requirements set forth by my country."
#57 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 21:13:56
I'd expect most of them to claim they've played the classics, but not to have actually done it.  I used to be amazed at the number of people who claimed to have played the original "release" of Akalabeth, even though the only way to get it was to visit a single ComputerLand store in Houston, TX and pick up one of the very few ziploc baggies that the game came in.  I was especially amazed at the number of people that were able to do this that had not yet been born when the game was in said ComputerLand.

Call Nocturne "pretty but dumb" all you want - but you'll be missing the point.  Nocturne is pretty ugly, and always was, even when it was new.  The only pretty part of it is the amazing use of lighting and shadow, which is still impressive today.  Notice how I said "use of" and not "nifty amazing technical feature, wow!"  The way the game uses lighting and shadow, along with great direction in other areas like art and sound, creates a great sense of atmosphere and style to the game.  While the gameplay might be "dumb" since it's really just an action game, I don't look at games purely from a gameplay perspective - and neither do you, even if you'd like to claim that.  If that were truly the case, you'd have no reason to play anything - anything - other than early 80's arcade games that had nothing but gameplay.

No, to me a game is the sum of all its parts, and gameplay is only one piece of the puzzle.  It's certainly a very important piece, but no more than any of the other parts that go into making a modern game.  It would be pretty horrible to play Morrowind as a text adventure, wouldn't it?  What about Thief with no sound?  Ideally, a game would have excellent graphics, audio, gameplay, story, character, and atmosphere - but very few games rise to the challenge in each and every aspect.  What most do is focus on a couple of them and do their best to really showcase what they've done in those limited areas.  So while Game A can have great gameplay, story, and character, its graphics, audio, and atmosphere might be lacking - but the game is still loved because it was able to do enough of the parts well enough that players are willing to overlook the bits that it doesn't do so well.  The same can be said for a game that has great graphics, audio, and atmosphere, but falls a little short on the gameplay, story, and character bits.

Any combination of these traits (or whatever traits/pieces that go into making a game that you want to define) done well enough, even when the remaining bits are lackluster, can produce what is generally accepted as a good game.  In other words, the game just needs to do enough things right and manage to keep the elements that it doesn't quite do so well from being just too plain bad, and it will come out as a good game.

Also, Morrowind is at least on the same footing as Nocturne for being pretty but dumb, Outlander.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#58 by yotsuya
2004-06-20 21:23:20
BTW, Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there. If you're not a Dad, call your Dad and tell him you love him. If you don't love your Dad, consider calling him and making your peace with him.

That's a beautiful way to go. Shot by Yot. In more ways than one. -mgns
I wear my sunglasses at night.
The NEW Official PCMLB League Page
#59 by VeeSPIKE
2004-06-20 21:28:08
Well, I called him, but the people at the cemetary said he was having a hard time getting to the phone from inside the vault. Maybe next year?

The media doesn't educate, it sensationalizes. That's why there's no learning curve, just repeated bouts of gross stupidity. Bailey
#60 by LPMiller
2004-06-20 21:31:57
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
Mine's dead, 8 years now. And he could still kick all your asses.

When LP says he's bringing Armageddon, he brings fucking Armageddon. - Caryn, 6/01/2004
#61 by UncleJeet
2004-06-20 21:43:33
I'm heading out to lunch with the old man in a few minutes.  Nothing quite says, "Thanks, Dad" like feasting on the flesh of a dead cow.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
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