May 19, 2006

Dry Water in the Uncanny Valley, and more

by Andrew Stern · , 4:50 pm

Been too busy to post, but would like to share a few links:

6 Responses to “Dry Water in the Uncanny Valley, and more”


  1. michael Says:

    David Cope’s Experiments in Musical Intelligence is the Aaron of the computer music world. Like Cohen with Aaron, Cope has been working on EMI for many years (since 1981), and has successfully generated compositions that human beings actually like and that expert judges have found indistinguishable from human compositions in the same style. I’m looking forward to meeting Cope when I move to UCSC and having discussions about AI-based generative art.

  2. andrew Says:

    The Heavy Rain trailer, which I highly recommend everyone take a look at, shows no gameplay — it’s effectively a cutscene — but is very technically impressive in its realtime visual fidelity. It did make my stomach turn a bit, when I focused too much attention on the eyes.

    Even with the Uncanny Valley in full effect, and no hint at all about how this will be interactive, the trailer is certainly visually seductive within a character-based drama domain. Its seductiveness reminds me of Lionhead’s “The Room” demo at the 2005 Game Design Challenge at GDC (which had no characters, but was dreamy and evocative).

    Just as modern first person shooters can cause motion sickness, next-gen characters may cause a similar amount of physical queasiness. Weird.

    It’s very interesting to think about how to make more abstract-looking characters that are comparably visually compelling. We’re faced with that problem/challenge, if we attempt to make a commercial interactive drama that can compete in the marketplace, and at the same time avoid the uncanny valley.

  3. andrew Says:

    btw, on Clive’s oxymoronic comment on interactive narrative: like Cope’s comment on computer creativity, I think Clive is using a different, perhaps stricter definition of interactive narrative than we are.

    Could even be a bit akin to how when a sophisticated technology gets implemented that used to require human intelligence, it’s not considered AI anymore.

    (If I seem to be obsessing about Clive’s comments, it’s because I consider him one of the sharpest and most observant game and technology commentators out there, which has made him the successful journalist he is.)

  4. Wanderings of the Errant Digeratus Says:

    [...] , critical theory

    I came across the following, written by Clive Thompson, today, via GTxA: For years, people — particularly in the video-ga [...]

  5. Jeff Says:

    Clive Thompson’s article is intelligent and well-written. However, I guess I think that the “valley of the uncanny” is a destination that we should strive for instead of avoiding. Quantic Dream’s previous effort, The Indigo Prophecy, calls realist aesthetics into question from the very first lines of Lucas Kane’s monologue (“we think we see the world as it is, but really we only see the surface”). Realism is only part of what Quantic Dream is aiming for. Magic realism and surrealism are just as much as part of their supernatural thrillers (and the work that Guillaume de Fondaumiere did with Arxel Tribe before joining Quantic Dream, such as Faust: Seven Games of the Soul). The uncanny is an important aspect of those movements. So, while David Cage and his team may not be consciously going for the look of a Goya painting, it’s ok with me if they end up with that appearance. Yea, though I walk throught the valley of the uncanny, I shall fear no evil. :)

  6. Grand Text Auto » Serious Games in the NYT Arts Section Says:

    [...] ened the paper to find a big spread on serious games by Clive Thompson (whose journalism I blogged recently), leading with a screenshot of Peacemaker d [...]

Powered by WordPress