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Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained

Duck and Cover speaks with Interplay's Chris Taylor, Lead Systems Designer on Project V13, their upcoming Fallout MMOG, who explains the nature of the concept art and the various project 13 screenshots released along the way. Word is: "I'd like to point out those weren't even 'alpha' screens, just 'Proof of Concept'. The current models look different. We still want a somewhat stylized look so we can avoid the 'Uncanny Valley'."

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26. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 4, 2010, 18:53 saluk
 
It may not be the dictionary definition, but I think in general uncanny valley is just about how the closer to reality something looks, the more glaring it's faults. One of the reasons pixar is so successful is they are artists first, rather than just trying to represent reality. None of their characters look like a real human, they all look like almost photo-realistic cartoon characters. All of the movements are exaggerated, faces are more expressive, eyes are more prominent. in fact, with Avatar, although it is not obvious, they went through a similar process in how they designed the Navi in order to avoid UV.

In this case? Definitely looks like a cop out. it worked well for borderlands, and I think "stylized" is a great look for the fallout world (fallout 3 was realistic but also quite stylized in ways). But just being stylized isn't enough, it has to be purposeful, and the art design should be cohesive, and say something. "Stylized" doesn't say much without knowing what style it is lol! But as Chris Taylor said, the screens are just concepts at this point, so we'll see how it turns out.

The funny thing is that fallout vegas is being developed by many of the people who worked on fallout 2, while if this goes through, most of the developers for fallout mmo will not have worked on any of the fallout games - bethesdas OR interplays.
 
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25. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 4, 2010, 10:17 Beamer
 
No, it's pretty much a cliff:
Here's the chart describing it.

That's a vertical fall.
 
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24. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 4, 2010, 09:58 PHJF
 
Mass Effect characters like Miranda fall well enough into uncanny valley. Remember it's a valley, not a cliff.  
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23. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 4, 2010, 01:36 Beamer
 
One slip up in animation, one polygon poking oddly through another, one fuzzy texture can and will bring otherwise perfect gaming experiences to a screeching halt

True or not (in opinion I suppose, and I'll accept arguments each way), that's not really the Uncanny Valley, which is solely due to physically looking too similar to humans but not quite right. Nothing about backstories or dialogue factor into it.

Outside arguably of Heavy Rain (which I haven't played and likely never will - it's not my kind of game, although those I know that have played it speak very highly and all mention that they had an audience of non-gaming spouses watching), I don't think any video game yet has graphics that approach the uncanny valley. They're all still too far off. Nothing is remotely humanlike enough to almost fool you.

 
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22. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 4, 2010, 01:01 Jerykk
 
As the technology continues to expand and improve so do our expectations, and our willingness to overlook shortcomings is diminished.

I don't know, I found it very easy to care about the characters in Dragon Age. I generally tend to be very willing to overlook shortcomings in presentation as long the more important elements (like gameplay and writing) are strong. Just because you don't have to use your imagination as much as in the old days doesn't mean you can't.
 
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21. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 4, 2010, 00:52 PHJF
 
They didn't look close enough to real to be unsettling due to the lack of animation.

Which collaterally renders null any attempt at humanizing said characters. BioWare love to equip their characters with such elaborate back stories and lively dialog and voice over but they fail time and again to draw any sort of attachment or interest on my part because I am reminded consistently that the objects on my screen are just that: objects, not fully-realized characters.

In yee olden dayes everything was copacetic because the technology so limited the extent to which developers could render characters, worlds, etc. Things like voice overs were left to the players' imaginations. Now developers are burdened with detailing intricately every facet of their games as to bear the utmost of players' scrutiny. One slip up in animation, one polygon poking oddly through another, one fuzzy texture can and will bring otherwise perfect gaming experiences to a screeching halt. Perhaps that is why those such as myself perpetuate the idea that video games as a whole are not progressing but regressing. As the technology continues to expand and improve so do our expectations, and our willingness to overlook shortcomings is diminished.
 
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20. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 23:48 Beamer
 
Also, this is an interesting watch and simplistic explanation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNdAIPoh8a4
 
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19. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 23:44 Beamer
 
Mass Effect is the definition of uncanny valley. Characters have almost no facial animation outside their mouths, a feature quite true to BioWare form. It's just easily overlooked because 75% of characters NPC or otherwise are aliens.

That's not really the definition. It wasn't unsettling, it was just stupid. They didn't look close enough to real to be unsettling due to the lack of animation.

Polar Express is probably the best CGI definition. You're 100% right with the eyes. Polar Express's humans were very close to realistic, but... not. The animation was very slightly off, the lighting was very slightly off (leading to waxlike skin), but it was the eyes that creeped everyone out. They were dead. No one is creeped out by most computer games because the animation and models aren't yet realistic enough to reach uncanny valley.

Googling +"polar express" +"dead eyes" gives you 44,900 hits. Swapping dead eyes with uncanny valley gives about 10% of that.


Interestingly, Entertainment Weekly has written about the Uncanny Valley several times, and researchers have discovered that it affects monkeys as well regarding CGI (they prefer faker fakes.)
 
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18. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 23:29 PHJF
 
Mass Effect is the definition of uncanny valley. Characters have almost no facial animation outside their mouths, a feature quite true to BioWare form. It's just easily overlooked because 75% of characters NPC or otherwise are aliens.

While bad lip syncing surely stands out, true life comes from a characters eyes; any cartoonist will tell you that. Her eyes are what made Alyx Vance such a tangible, believable character.
 
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17. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 23:10 Beamer
 
Uncanny Valley has definitely become a CGI term. It first hit the mainstream with all of Robert Zemeckis' dead-eyed CGI films like Polar Express. Bluesnews favorite Robert Ebert used it to describe the failure of rotoscoped CGI. 30 Rock has also used it a few times, often to mock Polar Express. It's since been used fairly regularly, with the Heavy Rain guys writing about how desperate they were to avoid it.

While I'm surprised to see gamers unfamiliar with it, this is a PC site and it falls more into console-style gaming, as PC games don't tend to go for as cinematic an experience as, say, Heavy Rain.
 
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16. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 22:25 WyldKat
 
PHJF wrote on May 3, 2010, 20:12:
Uncanny Valley is used less as a CGI term than a term of robotics. Video games don't have a lot in common with android development.

This.

Thing is, the creepy living dead expressions some games have is because they simply have either inferior technology, bad artists, or both. Look at titles like Mass Effect 2, or Heavy Rain, they feature realistic graphics and the characters are believable, not unintentionally creepy. Again, it's a total cop-out and my opinion is that Interplay is trying to push out some shovelware quickly so they get to keep the rights to the MMO. Sort of reminds me what Cryptic did with STO, actually...
 
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15. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 20:12 PHJF
 
Uncanny Valley is used less as a CGI term than a term of robotics. Video games don't have a lot in common with android development.  
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14. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 19:14 Sepharo
 
Cutter, you'll have to turn in that gamer card then I suppose.

I would say that yes most average folks haven't heard the term but I would expect denizens of the internet and especially informed gamers to have heard it.
 
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13. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 18:48 Cutter
 
Not that it makes you a moron or anything, but I'm willing to bet most geeks and readers of sites like this have heard of the term. But yeah, I'm someone who also uses Wikipedia several times a day to look-up terms I've never heard of.

No, I doubt they have, seeing as this particular geek has been gaming since the 70's, ran a BBS, wus MUDding before there was a graphic internet, has played most everything there is and even worked in development at EA for a few years. My life has pretty much been surrounded by games and games development. So I know that when I say I've never heard the expression, that it's a pretty safe bet most other people haven't either. It's a term that is both uncommon and cumbersome.
 
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12. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 17:54 Silicon Avatar
 
Like it or not Bethesda DID resurrect the franchise. Fallout was dead as a doornail after the second game. Interplay milked it for a couple of crappy Fallout tie-in titles after that and then went belly up.

I like the original Fallout as much as the next guy, but if you can't see that Bethesda bought up the IP and rescued it from Wasteland obscurity then you're so clouded with nerd-rage that you're not worth talking to.
 
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11. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 17:53 NicklePop
 
How can you hate Bethesda and ES?

Oblivion was a failing and downgrade, but still .. they make great games.
 
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10. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 17:29 WyldKat
 
Icewind wrote on May 3, 2010, 15:09:
WyldKat wrote on May 3, 2010, 13:08:
now that Bethesda has successfully resurrected the franchise

*snicker*

Daddy lets you post on his computer?

You kids are so cute when you try to enter our hobby.

What point are you trying to make here, exactly?

Nevermind... after looking up your posts I see that you are an Elder Scrolls/Bethesda hating person that makes a lot of trolling comments.
 
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9. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 15:54 Riker
 
Cutter wrote on May 3, 2010, 14:43:
how is it possible you've never heard of the uncanny valley? that just blew my mind

You're being sarcastic, right? I've never heard the expression either. And I very much doubt most people have.

Not that it makes you a moron or anything, but I'm willing to bet most geeks and readers of sites like this have heard of the term. But yeah, I'm someone who also uses Wikipedia several times a day to look-up terms I've never heard of.
 
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8. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 15:10 WyldKat
 
Cutter wrote on May 3, 2010, 14:43:
Anyway, "styilized" is now just another way of saying "we're copying WoW". There is just no way Interplay can do this justice.

Pretty much! I was disappointed that TOR went "stylized" too, I'm a bit tired companies are catering to the lowest common denominator. We already have a stylized post-apoc online game, it's called Borderlands. Then again we have a realistic looking Fallout-ish MMO even if this one sucks, it's called Fallen Earth and it's fun though lacking a bit in dialogue/storyline.
 
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7. Re: Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained May 3, 2010, 15:09 Icewind
 
WyldKat wrote on May 3, 2010, 13:08:
now that Bethesda has successfully resurrected the franchise

*snicker*

Daddy lets you post on his computer?

You kids are so cute when you try to enter our hobby.
 
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