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Never understood the concept of uncanny valley

Sander Cohen

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Characters and their faces should be getting more realistic but up to a point, beyond that is this strange valley everyone is talking about. I love photorealism and I encourage every dev that makes these types of games to continue striving for ultimate realism. Why not? I’ll still be knowing I’m playing the game because I’ll have controller in my hand and shit is moving on the screen based on my input. Yes, I want it too look as realistic as TV program.

I heard people who want devs to make characters more gamey when they come close to photorealism. You want this distinction between real life and games. I say nah, blend the shit together. Why stop the technology in its natural progress?

I never felt this unease when characters on screen started to look real. Don’t understand it really, must be something psychological that’s not activating in my brain. It’s still just stuff on screen, real physical robots/androids might be something different.

In what camp are you guys in, photorealism or keep it gamey?
 
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kunonabi

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If you can do photorealism well and the genre calls for it then full steam ahead. However, for most things stylized usually fits better and and allows for a wider variety of expression.

Honestly, what really gets me is mocap especially facial animation. It just looks like shit to me these days. Silent Hill 3 was far more effective for me than stuff now for some reason. Like Naughty Dog facial animation in particular always looks terrible to me.
 
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GymWolf

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This is uncanny valley


It's also the stuff of nightmares.

We had a transgender politician here in italy for a while that looked suspiciously similar to this...emh, lady.
 
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Photorealism is fine for anything but human faces. You can't convincingly recreate human expressions and emotion. Facial performance capture is just all-around awful and awkward both for games and movies.

Good art direction will look better than massively expensive attempts at photorealistic human characters.
 

Majukun

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not that difficult of a concept...if you deviate enough from photorealism your mind is able to understand that you are not looking at anything natural but only at a representation of something.

when you get really close to photorealism but you miss the mark, your mind stop seeing it as a depiction and more as a real thing, but whatever is off compared to realism makes your brain wary of it, which traslates in that thing looking creepy and unsettling to you
 

iorek21

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This is a form of uncanny valley:

It's not really about the realism, it is more about certain distortions that might appear when things look too close to the human image, but with glitches that break the "empathy levels" of the viewer. L.A Noire had a lot of those moments during interrogations, faces were very realistic, but sometimes characters would force expressions that weren't common for for us, hence the uncanny valley effect.

Now, if you look at a game like TLOU2 or Spider Man Miles Morales, you don't have this effect since animations are top notch.
 

GymWolf

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This is a form of uncanny valley:

It's not really about the realism, it is more about certain distortions that might appear when things look too close to the human image, but with glitches that break the "empathy levels" of the viewer. L.A Noire had a lot of those moments during interrogations, faces were very realistic, but sometimes characters would force expressions that weren't common for for us, hence the uncanny valley effect.

Now, if you look at a game like TLOU2 or Spider Man Miles Morales, you don't have this effect since animations are top notch.
Morales is not really close to tlou2 when it comes to digital acting tho.
It's good\great but tlou2 is god tier, also ND is sensibly better at doing faces in general.
what is that from
A medal of honor game...or an horror movie possibly.
 

iorek21

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Another example is Mass Effect Andromeda:


People complained a lot about the human/asari animations, but not so much from turians, salarians or krogan. That's because those races way more distant from humans, so we don't really get that weird feeling.


Morales is not really close to tlou2 when it comes to digital acting tho.
It's good\great but tlou2 is god tier, also ND is sensibly better at doing faces in general.

Yes, you're right. I just mentioned Morales because it's the most recent game that surprised me with animations and such.
 

GymWolf

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What's interesting is thinking about where this deep-seated fear of things that look almost human but aren't comes from.
A brain defense mechanism acquired through evolution?

like the animals that develop a sense for particular colors in the savana to see the lions a bit better or some shit.
 
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iorek21

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What's interesting is thinking about where this deep-seated fear of things that look almost human but aren't comes from.

I'm no expert, but I've studied a little of those theories for my Master's Degree. From what I've gathered, this comes from a kind of "psychological defense" mechanism, which is meant to warn us from various threats; even Freud discussed a little bit about it using E.T.A. Hoffmann's Sandman as an example.

Although stuff from games/movies are more common issues for us in the contemporary world, this "mechanism" manifests itself in other forms as well, such as the fear of certain bugs, reptiles, people with some kind of deformity or corpses.

It's a very interesting field of study.

Edit: Freud's text is called Das Unheimliche, for those interested in the subject.
 
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Griffon

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What's interesting is thinking about where this deep-seated fear of things that look almost human but aren't comes from.
Soulless corpses being animated like pupets is a terrifying thing.
 
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Kuranghi

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What's interesting is thinking about where this deep-seated fear of things that look almost human but aren't comes from.

A way for your DNA to help you avoid procreating with abnormally developed humans and inheriting their "defects"?

Like strong yellows and greens being unappealing when associated with food or skin because it implies rot/disease?
 
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Pantz

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I'm with ya. Never felt weird about it or even knew it was a thing until hearing others talk about it. I think I'm immune to it. And yeah, anime style is best.
 

Wonko_C

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This is uncanny valley


It's also the stuff of nightmares.

We had a transgender politician here italy for a while that looked suspiciously similar to this...emh, lady.
Like OP, I really don't get the Uncanny Valley, that looks like a real person to me. If this wasn't a gaming forum I wouldn't believe you that is a game character.

Then again I'm easily fooled by digitally de-aged characters in movies, like CLU from Tron Legacy, Luke, Leia and Commander Tarkin in Star Wars.
 
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brian0057

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Like OP, I really don't get the Uncanny Valley, that looks like a real person to me. If this wasn't a gaming forum I wouldn't believe you that is a game character.
The video I posted above explains why the Uncanny Valley is a thing.
It's due to ambiguity. There's nothing objectivelly wrong with the model but something about it feels... off.
One possible explanation is that it has something to do with threat assessment and possible danger.
There's countless species of both plants and animals that pretend to be other creatures in order to hunt and capture their prey. Something that looks almost human but not quite human enough triggers our fear response.

That's why stilized individuals are more appealing than photorealistic ones. Movement also plays a large role in this. The example of a corpse moving like a puppet explains why zombies are scarier than just a corpse laying still.
 
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Wonko_C

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The video I posted above explains why the Uncanny Valley is a thing.
It's due to ambiguity. There's nothing objectivelly wrong with the model but something about it feels... off.
One possible explanation is that it has something to do with threat assessment and possible danger.
There's countless species of both plants and animals that pretend to be other creatures in order to hunt and capture their prey. Something that looks almost human but not quite human enough triggers our fear response.

That's why stilized individuals are more appealing than photorealistic ones. Movement also plays a large role in this. The example of a corpse moving like a puppet explains why zombies are scarier than just a corpse laying still.
I know it's a real phenomenon, I just don't notice when things are off unless it's taken to the extreme, like with those human-like robots in the pictures above. Maybe it's just because I'm shy and tend to avoid eye contact when talking to people.
 
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GymWolf

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I know it's a real phenomenon, I just don't notice when things are off unless it's taken to the extreme, like with those human-like robots in the pictures above. Maybe it's just because I'm shy and tend to avoid eye contact when talking to people.

The shapeshifting aliens are gonna come for you first during the invasion, stay alert dude.
 
May 8, 2016
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Hmmm...it's like. Don't FMV games exist for the photorealism purpose? If something's too photorealistic it can take me out of the game, like with DMC5...it tried to be photorealistic and game-y at once but that, I consider uncanny valley. Photorealism with survival horror however, gimme more of that! REmake being the prime example.
 

kiphalfton

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So it sounds like the reason why so many people have an issue, is because it's creepy or scary? Wouldn't doubt it since most people here on this forum have admitted to being too scared to finish RE7...

If that's what it is, it just sounds like it's a matter of people being overly sensitive. Also part of the blame lies with the devs making facial animations crappy.
 

GymWolf

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So it sounds like the reason why so many people have an issue, is because it's creepy or scary? Wouldn't doubt it since most people here on this forum have admitted to being too scared to finish RE7...

If that's what it is, it just sounds like it's a matter of people being overly sensitive. Also part of the blame lies with the devs making facial animations crappy.
I just laugh when i see uncanny valley stuff, i doubt that anyone in here bail out from a game just for that.
 

DaGwaphics

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It's more of an issue with VR. In most test groups, players have a very negative reaction to photorealistic characters in VR. Your brain knows their eyes are dead, sending a signal to dislike/distrust/attack the character. Many even experience physical illness.
 
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DonkeyPunchJr

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A way for your DNA to help you avoid procreating with abnormally developed humans and inheriting their "defects"?

Like strong yellows and greens being unappealing when associated with food or skin because it implies rot/disease?
If I just had to make a guess, I’d say it’s that humans are REALLY good at detecting very subtle facial cues that clue us in to the person’s emotional state and intention. And that makes us very sensitive to situations where we see a virtual person that is almost but not quite human. So, it’s not so much a specific adaptation, but rather a side effect.

Or, maybe it makes us good at detecting psychopaths that are good at faking real emotion.
 
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I prefer realistic over stylized most of the time, but I can still ge tthat discomfort. More often, I get that uncanny valley feeling when I look at some people with plastic surgery.
 

Reality Czar

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It is about recognition, about being able to tell a human face from a non-human face. If you can do that, then you understand the concept.

I don't see the point of being in a camp tbh. Games will use a variety of styles. There are realistic looking games like Resident Evil Engine and Unreal Engine games. There are cartoony games like BOTW. There is plenty of room for both.

Uncanny Valley is mostly useful as a term to denote a lack of skill. These people are tasked with re-creating the human face and have failed to do so to a convincing matter.

We have come to a point where rocks, trees, clouds, all manner of things can be realistically replicated, but there is something off-putting in a poorly animated or rendered human face.
 
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