Video Games and the Uncanny Valley

Acepilotf14

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...I lieked that history lesson.
 

Ennui

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Dammit, now all of you know about the uncanny valley and I can't reference it in discussions seeming all smart-like 'n such.
 

ailevation

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Very interesting and informative. The video kinda generalizes games into 2 separate categories, what about games that are "stylized-photo realistic"?
 

Warped

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ummm I look at Gears of War and at the time and even today it looks very nice. but since its in a sci-fi universe and it still looks Earth like, the game did really well. Same as the Halo series. some games are very realistic, some are semi-realistic and others just look different (Kameo/Ratchet) and they're still pleasing. and yes when i play a game i generally want to get away from the real world for some time, so some days i want real and some days i want off the wall fake
 

Laivasse

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You can't have a discussion about this on a HL2 forum without mentioning the standard that HL2 itself set nearly 5 years ago now - a standard which new games still consistently fail to live up to.




The fact that Valve made such a good job of the photorealistic approach so long ago - technologically speaking, at least, it's a long time ago - makes me think that slip-ups in photorealism are less a problem of technology than it is with the approach developers take with it. Granted, it's a 'stylised' photorealism like ailevation says, but it's still less stylised than, say, GTA4.

Too many game characters feature only superficial verisimilitude - a human-looking face which only seems human until it moves, or speaks, or until you examine its features very closely. Valve on the other hand put a strong emphasis on genuine facial movements with very little exaggeration, then bolstered that with a good script and voice acting. They also managed to avoid giving their characters that shiny, covered-in-lacquer feel that so many less convincing NPCs have.

EDIT: Speaking of Valve, one should also give them credit for showing the same attention to detail when they tried their hand at the stylised approach, in TF2. The facial technology, character design and the voice acting create some of the most believable unbelievable characters I've ever seen. Same goes for the 'Meet The...' vids, I see people comparing them to Pixar's work all the time.
 

Russian Mafia

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I agree with Laivasse, and I am glad he typed that all out because I wouldn't have.
 

Krynn72

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I hate when people assume stylized art takes so much less time than realistic art. Thats not the case at all.
 

Acepilotf14

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Stylized art just takes more time in different areas, more of the fun or the challenge rather than trying to pull you into the game.
 

Tyguy

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interesting.....but lets go for the curve
 

morgs

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Stylization ftw. Very interesting video, it's true how game characters are photo realistic, made to be just like humans, just look so bad because they're let down by poor animation and voice acting. Like has been stated, HL2 actually managed to have very good looking character models and pulled off the rest quite well (go Valve!)

The thing i like about stylization is that you can take it anywhere you want to. I also find that in trying to create a game with photo realistic visuals, it pushes so hard that some areas are sacrificed quality wise. e.g the inability to have HDR and AA on at the same time, or textures unloading etc.

I play a game like Monkey Island and think Wow! Because it's set in a world so impossibly unlike ours, but then I play a game like Call of duty 4 and think "I see this in the news every signle night, I don't care how good it looks, it's just not interesting.

Just my oppinion, I play games to get away from reality, not to simulate it.
 

Dekstar

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One thing GTAIV has gotten right with photo-realistic movement is that you don't just turn immediately. I see this happen in so many sports games too, where you just glide when turning or turn instantly.

Also Laiv is right. If there were rep points I'd give him a bajillion and three.
 

ThunderDawg

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I hate when people assume stylized art takes so much less time than realistic art. Thats not the case at all.
I think he meant that stylized is easier because you don't have to continuously break new ground trying to mimic real life, and instead get to use more creativity to generate and animate a stylized character. How old is Mickey Mouse? 80?

In other words, we have a long way to go to achieve perfection in photo realism (the far peak in the valley), but stylized animation has been around for æons.
 

MJ12

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This thread should now be about posting the worst examples of the uncanny valley.
 

15357

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Now that reminded me too much of TOEFL listening sections.
 

Lizardizzle

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One thing GTAIV has gotten right with photo-realistic movement is that you don't just turn immediately. I see this happen in so many sports games too, where you just glide when turning or turn instantly.

Also Laiv is right. If there were rep points I'd give him a bajillion and three.
Indeed, I was so put down how you just slide when you turn in Left 4 Dead and you look down at your feet.
 

Sledgehammer

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I also strongly recommend checking out many of the other videos from his channel, several which are better than this one.
 

Kadayi

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Seen this a while ago and its a good explanation as to the problems of the medium.

I think Valve have broken good ground with Alyx in moving towards realism with the expressions and lipsynh etc, however the fact that she backs off constantly if you walk towards her, so she can be in full view all the time did break immersion for me a lot in the game tbh.

Also I really do not understand what Bethesda were thinking when the unleashed the potato face maker with Oblivion. Did anyone ever make a nice looking person with that thing? were their any attractive NPCs in the game at all?
 

kupocake

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Thoughts:

- "Uncanny Valley" should be - if it isn't already - a slang term for Vaginoplasty.

- The Final Fantasy characters he exemplified aren't in the least bit 'stylized' in the sense he was using. Just because they have outrageous anime haircuts and utterly nonsensical clothing doesn't mean that the character models aren't shooting for photorealism in terms of the visual. Perhaps he had another Final Fantasy in mind before the video was composed.

- Overall, it's quite a good video about something everyone knows already, with fair delivery that is almost destroyed by the helium inhaled before each take.
 

MultiVaC

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I think this sort of thing is very much on the near side of the uncanny valley, and is just totally incompetent character modelling. I don't think we've reached the uncanny valley yet, since the characters that inhabit it are disturbing because they are "too close for comfort" to real humans, and would give you the feeling that you were watching a photorealistic animated corpse, for example. People wouldn't really be able to isolate what they didn't like about it, it would just "look wrong". I think we're a long ways away from it in gaming. I'm not sure if we'll ever even see it because games may simply sidestep it after CGI animators wrestle with it, while realtime graphics aren't even capable of it yet.
 

Saturos

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Uncanny valley was originally a term derived from A.I. and robotics research wasn't it?

In that field, supposedly the term meant that one day when androids reach the level of sophistication and inarguable likeness of a human being, people would feel uncomfortable because something about them is still just, "not quite right". This uneasiness people would feel is the uncanny valley in the robotics field anyways.

BTW, I can't view the video, but I must say that videos games has come nowhere near uncanny valley yet no matter what games are on that video.
A few games probably, like HL2 which I must concur, is probably the closest any game has come to this point.

Also, stylized art is not any more difficult than photorealistic art and vice versa. Both has their own unique challenges I would imagine.

The Mass Effect devs also did a pretty good job on character modeling and animations imo, although sometimes human skin can look plastic-ey.

Futhermore, I'd say many games could come very close to "uncanny valley" if it were the environmental graphics we were talking about and not character models.
If there was such a thing that is which there isn't. Far Cry 2's photorealistic portrayal of Africa was damn near shocking and realistic imo. Too bad that game was a tad on the boring side.
 

Darkangel

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*The Emperor guy from oblivion*
Bethesda seems to be the king of messed up NPCs, I'm amazed that their animators haven't been fired yet.



I've been watching the videos this guy has been making for a while, they're all pretty interesting.
Here's his youtube channel

As for the uncanny valley, this Cry-engine 2 screenshot always sort of creeped me out:

 

CR0M

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The secret to lifelike human faces in games is so simple, it's just a basic anatomical principle - any artist will know what it is straight off. Yet most developers still don't do it - because it takes longer and thus costs more.

Valve got it right. Crytech also got it right. I can't think of any other developers that have yet.
 

DEATH eVADER

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Dammit, now all of you know about the uncanny valley and I can't reference it in discussions seeming all smart-like 'n such.
We have many ways to extract information, just be thankful I didn't need to use the drill
 

Tagaziel

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The secret to lifelike human faces in games is so simple, it's just a basic anatomical principle - any artist will know what it is straight off. Yet most developers still don't do it - because it takes longer and thus costs more.

Valve got it right. Crytech also got it right. I can't think of any other developers that have yet.
Huh? Whazzat?
 

MuToiD_MaN

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Ya, I'm a bit confused too.
Yeah, we're all ears. What is The Principle?

Also HL2's shorfalls in leaping the U.V. are the improvised (non-scripted) behaviors of its NPCs. Though that's definitely more acceptable than disproportionate faces, creepy teeth or the like, it's definitely noticeable.

Definitely a good video for gamer who's never heard of the Uncanny Valley to watch.
 

Sheepo

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It's wierd, I've definitely heard and known about this exact phenomenon, but I've never heard it referred to as the 'Uncanny Valley'. Though now I can't remember what I had heard it called.
 

Stigmata

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Yeah, we're all ears. What is The Principle?

Also HL2's shorfalls in leaping the U.V. are the improvised (non-scripted) behaviors of its NPCs. Though that's definitely more acceptable than disproportionate faces, creepy teeth or the like, it's definitely noticeable.

Definitely a good video for gamer who's never heard of the Uncanny Valley to watch.
I think The Principle is that you're supposed to construct an NPC's face as if it's actually a face, with a skeleton and musculature underneath. You wouldn't model and animate a gun without knowing the precise size of the parts and how they move, why wouldn't you do the same for a human face?
 
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