When it comes to character faces and animation, are we finally leaving the "Uncanny Valley"

Anything to do with games at all.

Which game (current and upcoming) has the most convincing characters?

Death Stranding
2
22%
The Last of Us 2
4
44%
Star Citizen: Squadron 42
0
No votes
Uncharted 4
1
11%
Halo 5: Guardians
0
No votes
Quantum Break
1
11%
Hellblade
1
11%
Resident Evil 2 Remake
0
No votes
Devil May Cry V
0
No votes
Injustice 2
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 9
User avatar
NickSCFC
Member
Joined in 2008

PostRe: When it comes to character faces and animation, are we finally leaving the "Uncanny Valley"
by NickSCFC » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:48 am

Green Gecko wrote:I'd go so far as to argue that without the uncanny effect, the entertainment value is reduced, because it's no longer awe-inspiring, we simply experience it like a movie or photo or something else. Which is, and this might be partial to my personal preference for stylised graphics, boring. It removes an element of artfulness and, for example, replaces drawn elements with photography and motion capture, which is less interesting. We start to lose things like Wipeout, Metal Gear Solid and other franchises you probably associate with the PlayStation that are in fact stylised games, if we pursue this idea of realism that, I'm not shy about claiming is effectively pointless, I don't really see the value in it for games as a medium when compared to films. It also surely draws attention away from more intrinsic important elements of the medium with vast swathes of budget thrown at a fallacy which overall reduces the quality of games. So I don't really get excited about seeing the technology develop in games; I'm interested in the technology itself, but as a customer, I'm not attracted to it.

For me these games aren't stylised, and I don't think they were ever intended to be.

WipEout always strived to have realistic graphics, the style comes from the UI (Designers Republic) and the futuristic design of the tracks, the rest is grounded with realistic lighting and textures (at least what could be achieved at the time).

Metal Gear Solid has always tried to look as close to film as possible, the cut scenes in the 1999 original were, at the time, the closest thing we'd seen to a movie in a game outside of FMV. Yes the tech, costumes and weapons are a bit out there, but Kokima has always aimed to make the setting and characters as realistic and cinema-like as possible, the only thing that's really stylised is the accompanying Yoji Shinkawa artwork.

As I've gotten older I've grown to have a preference for realistic looking games, though that doesn't mean that I'm put off by artistic looking games like Okami, Journey or Shadow of the Colossus. The tech shown in this thread simply allows developers who are aiming for realism to get closer to their goals, it isn't to the detriment of those developers who aim to be more artistically liberal with their design. The main reason we're seeing more realistic looking games is the increase in the average age of consumers.

Image
Oblomov Boblomov wrote:I remember playing through one of the female character's campaigns in Tekken 2 just so I could desperately try and fit in a wank for the ending video
User avatar
Knoyleo
Member
Joined in 2008

PostRe: When it comes to character faces and animation, are we finally leaving the "Uncanny Valley"
by Knoyleo » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:20 am

I don't think you know what stylised means.

User avatar
NickSCFC
Member
Joined in 2008

PostRe: When it comes to character faces and animation, are we finally leaving the "Uncanny Valley"
by NickSCFC » Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:13 pm

Knoyleo wrote:I don't think you know what stylised means.


Go on...

Image
Oblomov Boblomov wrote:I remember playing through one of the female character's campaigns in Tekken 2 just so I could desperately try and fit in a wank for the ending video
User avatar
Green Gecko
Director
Joined in 2008
Location: Sussex
Contact:

PostRe: When it comes to character faces and animation, are we finally leaving the "Uncanny Valley"
by Green Gecko » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:18 pm

Metal Gear Solid as a franchise is not a hyper-realistic graphic style.. there are some aspects of realism like environment but the characters and machinery have just as much in common with a graphic novel or anime as they investigate fantasy ideas and aesthetics like high gloss, superfluous metals, exaggerated muscles and all sorts. An artistic style isn't necessarily only the appearance of things as they relate to real life but also the subject and how the objects are situated and presented together to inform the meaning of the work. The purpose of the illustrations that accompany the game and why they are featured anywhere is that they are the graphic artist's concepts before they get translated into a game engine that uses specular lighting, shadows and bumpmaps etc. to add a realistic element, instead of going for something like cel-shading or lineart (which one of the PSP games did). They were famously featured (and I am more specifically referring to the original MGS) as the portraits for whoever you're talking to on the codec, which was a massive narrative element of the game, yet they chose not to use the in-game faces - even though they could have easily rendered them in high polygonal detail in such a small window, for those full-screen sequences. The characters in the game still resemble the concepts, with exaggerated facial features like chiselled noses, bone structure and slightly exaggerated or (under-exaggerated) eyes. So it's mimesis, not realism. You could say it is more realistic than some other games, but Realism ultimately aspires to look exactly the same as real life and depict situations that actually happened or might happen in a realistic way (hence the casual usage of the term). There is very little about MGS that can in that sense be considered "realistic". That's what makes it a good action fantasy/sci-fi game.

Otherwise you may as well claim the Matrix is a realistic film. I would say MGS has more in common with the Sin City films than it does with something like Scarface (which isn't especially realistic either), just without the black & white (you can replace that with blue, green and yellow however).

Realism, sometimes called naturalism, in the arts is generally the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, or implausible, exotic, and supernatural elements.

MGS and Wipeout are the exact opposite of that.

A game like Grand Turismo or Medal of Honour: Frontline or Call of Duty 2 is a realistic game because it attempts to replicate reality in keeping with motorsport which isn't usually a fantasy concept with element we can relate to that exist and both of those FPS games mimicked films like Saving Private Ryan and TV like Band of Brothers, which were in turn based on actual events.

Kokima has always aimed to make the setting and characters as realistic and cinema-like as possible

Cinema isn't and was never supposed to be realistic, as it has its roots in theatre, and more originally resembled animation, you wouldn't really be able to tell the two apart at times. Cinema exists to depict things as they not usually are and in general story telling is about telling things that may not have happened, but that isn't intrinsic to the aesthetics of film. Film down to the cellulose/silver stock and camera and lighting used has inherent stylistic elements that games might emulate. Contemporary films shot on digital media using arrays of optical sensors etc. instead of the impression of light on a chemically reactive substance, in the raw edit, are so true to life (essentially scanning the world around them) that they typically have a huge amount of colour correction and digital alterations applied to make them more like film, so that they cannot be realistic. So in other words, new films have to be corrected to look less realistic.

Cinematography like camera-movements, focus, zoom, depth of field and exposure etc. are designed to enhance reality, not replicate it. An example of realistic cinematography would be the shaky-cam made popular with films like the Blair Witch or SVP. It really took quite a long time for cinema to turn around (especially with the advent of colour film) to recreate some aspects of reality, but as it faces the same fallacy as video games in this respect, it struggles, and that's why style and form exist instead, because it is usually better to apply the "flaws" of the medium for expressive purposes as that is more entertaining for the audience. In turn video games try to emulate films many of which aren't realistic even if they use photography of real life objects and people. Some of the motion direction and camerawork in MGS is not realistic at all, borrowing heavily from unrealistic films and manga/anime (like the Matrix did), that along with its content, I would say is a big stretch to claim it's a realistic style.

There's absolutely no way that Wipeout is a realistic graphical style. Here is some concept art from the PS blog from lead designer of 2048 for Vita, the most recent game (I think):

Image

Image

This scenario describes being pursued by zombie ships in an environment that's reflective of most of the maps (notwithstanding the ones based on European cities which are more realistic) in Wipeout.

Image

Image

My argument more seriously put is that any trend towards realism no matter how good the technology gets is the undoing of the art and eventually cancels it. If MGS or Wipeout were truly realistic games, they wouldn't really be worth playing.

NickSCFC wrote:The main reason we're seeing more realistic looking games is the increase in the average age of consumers.

I don't think the age of gamers means there's a higher demand for realistic content. I think the realistic content increases (or is about the same probably) because content creators have unoriginal ideas of what is marketable and publishers are less willing to take risks, so you get this obsession with likeliness and technology because, simply, it's an easy sell for consumers, and it gives developers something else to do but just make an interesting or fun game that hasn't been done before and sell that (which, unfortunately, often nobody buys). You only have to look at a game like Fortnite or actually any Epic Games game to see that. As we age I think we want to escape reality more than put ourselves in the shoes of something we might be able to experience if we really wanted to, like going to a shooting range, playing paintball, going golfing or driving a car very fast, but perhaps that just reflects my interests in life.

It's the same formulaic approach that fells American movies for years. They are really stuck in a funding cycle of making blockbuster action movie after blockbuster action movie with more and more special effects because nobody wants to stand a risk of making a loss, and yet so many of those films are pretty boring imo and by critical standards too.

You're not completely wrong Nick I just think it's a misnomer for games to look more like films to mean they are trying to be more realistic. I think it's very difficult to have a truly realistic game that's any fun to play, which means bad games. Of course it has its place in things like simulations but only Ad plays those and he's complaining all the time. And I think the uncanny effect is a bit of an endless tunnel that's part of the wider fallacy of aspiration towards more and more "realistic" games.

Support GRcade | t: @GRcade | FB: GRcadeUK | YT: GRcadeVideo | Twitch: GRcadeUK
Image
Image
User avatar
NickSCFC
Member
Joined in 2008

PostRe: When it comes to character faces and animation, are we finally leaving the "Uncanny Valley"
by NickSCFC » Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:30 pm

Green Gecko wrote:
There's absolutely no way that Wipeout is a realistic graphical style. Here is some concept art from the PS blog from lead designer of 2048 for Vita, the most recent game (I think):

Image

Image

This scenario describes being pursued by zombie ships in an environment that's reflective of most of the maps (notwithstanding the ones based on European cities which are more realistic) in Wipeout.

Image

Image


Most concept art has that painted style to it, it doesn't mean anything at all.

Green Gecko wrote:My argument more seriously put is that any trend towards realism no matter how good the technology gets is the undoing of the art and eventually cancels it. If MGS or Wipeout were truly realistic games, they wouldn't really be worth playing.


You're not getting my point, I'm not talking about games being realistic here, I'm talking about realistic graphics.

Who cares if there's giant mechs and aliens in these games, they can still have realistic graphics. Look at Star Trek or Star Wars, full of aliens and unrealistic space ships, but it still has live action characters, setting and machines which are realistic.

Image
Oblomov Boblomov wrote:I remember playing through one of the female character's campaigns in Tekken 2 just so I could desperately try and fit in a wank for the ending video
User avatar
Green Gecko
Director
Joined in 2008
Location: Sussex
Contact:

PostRe: When it comes to character faces and animation, are we finally leaving the "Uncanny Valley"
by Green Gecko » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:41 pm

Do you think that those screens of Wipeout 2048 are realistic? I can't agree with that. My point by displaying the concept art is that the stylistic elements inherent in the art director's and their artist's output does make its way into the final renders, examples like the lighting effects and glowing in those screens and pretty much any other Wipeout example seem obviously unrealistic to me. I say the same thing about the illustrations in boxart/manual and other published materials for MGS and the way the characters are modelled and rendered in the game (or not, for example in the codec sequences). The linear geometric structures that form the track and surroundings in that 2nd Wipeout screenshot and most of its tracks are in no way practical in real life and so objectively those inclusions are unrealistic and form part of the total image. I don't think it's true to say that the content in the frame of a image trying to be realistic can't make that image less realistic, because it is part of the image. This is circuitous.

Oh well. I think you're missing the difference between realism as a style in and of itself and other styles mixed in, as you asked what was meant by a "style", and how games can't really be realistic if they are emulating films, which I tried as best I can to explain critically.

What you're talking about more is photorealism or hyperealism, in that certain aspects of games like faces and eyes, global illumination or ray-traced lighting etc. are trying to exactly recreate what a photo might look like i.e. the way that light actually behaves to create an image similar to what we perceive, and I'm adding more detail to your arguments that games are inherently more about reproducing and representing reality rather than replicating it exactly, which isn't a bad thing. My argument is that this is exactly the existential point of video games which are largely fantasy forms of art, as are, say, films heavily featuring CGI (games are CGI because they do things that don't exist). To then take that same continuum from the past and suggest that Wipeout and MGS were successful in their efforts to be realistic, even given the technical limitations at the time, because maybe the lighting is better and models more detailed than a 16-bit game is absurd to me because they were not based on or very successful in reproducing realistic images.

But it is semantics, I appreciate that part, despite the comparisons I draw being interesting to me you basically want graphics to be "better" which to you means "more representative of reality". I think that undoes games to some extent and often makes them worse, and the more realistic they get, the more the uncanny effect prevails.

Like I previously said, the technology advances are interesting and useful in certain types of games but I don't think they enhance games as much as the industry and consumers think they do. And part of my argument is that therein the stylistic elements of games are under-appreciated, by for example, not recognising that games like Wipeout do a lot more than try to achieve realism in order to look the way that they do and the resulting cultural impact they have.

I'm not missing your point (although I think you're making more of an observation than an argument so there's nothing to contest anyway), just expanding on it and slightly reframing it with more accurate terminology and some historical reference in answer to the question you posted because, I thought I would probably be good at that.

I'm not talking about games being realistic here, I'm talking about realistic graphics.

I think they're somewhat inextricable due to so many aspects of games being fantastical in nature but what you are talking about and posting examples of in this thread is specific kinds of rendering, motion-captured animation, sub-surface scattering of flesh tones/textures, hair and so on which of course might be used in a game without that game actually being or looking realistic overall, because to do that would nullify the content. I'd look again at my point about the filmic comparisons because those are mechanical and technical effects particular to film as a medium and so if you are copying them, it can't be realistic, it's stylistic or "film-like". For example forced depth-of-field effects, colour-casting/grading, lensflares, over and underexposure of certain light sources, excessive bloom etc. prevalent in many "realistic" games are not actually realistic. If a game was trying to be truly realistic it wouldn't feature these element at all, but they persist because, games are trying as usual to recreate films rather than reality.

Star Wars

It's a better comparison than Wipeout for sure because Star Wars at least used to pursue the appearance of a world worn from living and some (but not all) structures and ship designs that actually make sense and the lighting for example is sometimes very realistic, largely due to it being as you say a part live-action film. But there are obviously unrealistic elements. I've compared Star Wars to realist films such as WW2 films in past criticism, seeing as they're both about war. Despite the similarities of both glorifying war in unrealistic ways because war is strawberry floating horrible, the aesthetics of Star Wars are overall not realistic but some parts could be considered photographic. It's a fantastical and unreal film that uses actors heavily made up in fancy dress and all sorts of practical effects and CGI to promote those fantastical and unrealistic elements, meaning it's purpose is not to be realistic and the claim it is kind of does the film a disservice because its success is to be fantastical and all-encompassing, in its fantasy, quasi-realistic aesthetic and world building. Maybe some movements and machinations are comparable to the real world, like the way actors in fancy dress behave and move and some effects like explosions recreate or were actual pyrotechnics, so there is some verisimilitude, but it's not a realist or realistic film.

So... some games will probably get more realistic and technology improves but that doesn't automatically translate to realism.

I have no idea why I'm writing this.

Edit: I think it might actually be better to term the kind of "realistic sci-fi" stuff you're looking at as "other reality" or romantacism, as per some good quotes:

Realism can be defined as a technique used to accurately represent reality, also known as verisimilitude (Cambell, in McAdams et al)


Therefore a game with fantasy content as part of its imagery can't be realistic, even if elements of it resemble the same elements in reality.

Romanticism on the other hand:

Realism is a direct contrast to Romanticism, as it does not beautify [1], or makes things more appealing [2]. Romanticism typically shows fantastical situations, whereas realism uses facts to depict ordinary everyday experiences (DoMarco, in McAdams et al).


[1] [2] Both things that games do all the time.

I think it's quite interesting that most games could then be considered romantic in historical context as opposed to realistic, regardless of what their aesthetic is like, which is perhaps less important than I thought.

Support GRcade | t: @GRcade | FB: GRcadeUK | YT: GRcadeVideo | Twitch: GRcadeUK
Image
Image

Return to “Games”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Frank, Red 5 stella, suzzopher and 49 guests