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Author Topic: EQ2 the Uncanny Valley  (Read 9337 times)
Raven
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on: June 10, 2004, 07:37:42 PM

I've been unable to explain to anyone else, or even myself, why I actually prefer wow graphics over eq2 graphics, but that was before I read this article.

There might be something to this theory. At least for me, anyway.
schild
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Reply #1 on: June 10, 2004, 07:43:18 PM

I've personally yet to see cgi humans that look good enough to be creepy to me. The best ones I can remember are the ones in FF: The Spirits Within.

What's creepier to me is those boys in japan who dress up as anime girls. That scares the shit out of me. If I could dig up a screenshot I would, but thankfully I can't.
geldonyetich
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Reply #2 on: June 10, 2004, 07:50:23 PM

This is why I prefer highly stylized cartoon-like animation over attempts at photo-realism.   It's not real, the developers know it's not real, and they're encouraging you to have fun with that instead of focus on it.

This is not to say that Dead or Alive, or it's spin off Beach Volleyball, didn't create something quite passable.   However, close attention would reveal that this too was just a highly stylized, somewhat animish, graphic presentation.

Still, I suspect there will be the day (possibly quite soon) when we're able to capture something that seems extremely human in appearance and render it in beautiful 3D.     To think otherwise isn't giving technology enough redit.    

I just hope it doesn't so happen that each and every game seeks to emulate it.   The Zelda: Wind Waker look made a far better game than photo realism ever would.

Venkman
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Reply #3 on: June 10, 2004, 11:13:47 PM

What makes CGI humans creepy to me is a combination of look and minute animation. Most CGI human wannabes look dead. They simply don't move naturally. They aren't coded with every single tiny tic and eye movement than the average person does. They all look like comatose zombies the more realistic they look.

When heavily stylized, the mind simply stops looking for deeper comparisons. There's no real solid frame of reference between a Warcraft Human and a real-life one, so there's no real way for the mind to hook onto something about the Warcraft Human that "doesn't feel right". None of it feels anything other than artisically interesting and escapist immersive.

Games trying for ultra realism start with models first, realistic ambient movement a way distant third. That, to me, is the next leap. When people look at a CGI character and don't think it "doesn't feel right", we'll be ready to jack into the matrix and call eachother coppertop. But we're a way long way from that. This is mostly because nobody wants to spend the time on something that has no real direct value yet  when taking the Stylized route is cheaper.

I will say that while EQ2 screenies show zombie-like toons, when they start talking with voiceovers in game, some of the not-feeling-rights goes away.
geldonyetich
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Reply #4 on: June 11, 2004, 01:41:32 AM

Motion capturing can get some surprisingly realistic looking animations created.   So far I'm not aware of anyone taking the time to motion capture a face.

Sky
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Reply #5 on: June 11, 2004, 08:47:32 AM

Yeah, enjoying the wooden 'realistic' models in Thief III right now.

But hell, ever since I played Wind Waker I've been saying stylized is the way to go, screw photorealism until the polys and animations can catch up.

Alluvian
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Reply #6 on: June 11, 2004, 09:15:22 AM

I will try and dig up the pictures, but the textures we have been seeing on the EQ2 art was seemingly placeholders for the real skin textures.  They have shown the new wood elf facial textures and it really makes a WORLD of difference.  The textures they have shown till now are not even textures, they have been flat colors.  The stupidest part is the amount of awful shots they have floating out there.  If you are not done with skin textures, don't release 27 million shitty looking screenshots.  People have already made their first impression of your game people.

Not to say the textures fix everything.  They don't.  Many will still dislike the graphics.  I like the new textured character models (of which they have still only shown a few shots of on message boards, none even on their homepage, dumbasses), but things like the ANIMALS are just fucking wrong.  Almost as bad as the EQ1 horses.  The joints are entirely in the wrong places.  EQ modelers have never been to a fucking zoo in their lives.  They can make fantasy creatures fine, but when it comes to a cow or a wolf they are fucking awful.  I mean christ people.  Open up a fucking encyclopedia and look at the bone and muscle structure before modeling and animating a real creature.  My wife could do SO much better.

The newbie areas have things called 'deer' that are actually almost perfect representations of dik-dik's, but they are NOT deer.
kaid
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Reply #7 on: June 11, 2004, 09:15:45 AM

The other advantage of more stylistic art in games is that it holds up to the test of time better. If you are going for a consistant feel and theme for the graphics even slightly less high quality stuff can stay fresh for a long time because it looks like it belongs in that world.

The more detailed your characters and more life like the worse they will hold up when compared to new games as they come out that will invariably do it better.

I believe that warcraft probably chose wisely in their style even though it dosn't appeal to everybody the reasoning behind it is very sound. Those who do like the graphics will likely be pleased with them for years to come.

Kaid
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Reply #8 on: June 11, 2004, 09:24:10 AM

Oh forgot I was going to post the before and after texturing picture when I found it for eq2. This is a good demonstration of what alluvian is talking about and why we cannot figure out the reason they bothered releasing so many pics when the change is this drastic.


http://brianmayzak.4t.com/Woodelves.jpg
Sable Blaze
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Reply #9 on: June 11, 2004, 10:04:12 AM

Hmm, that IS quite a difference. I'm actually rather impressed. I"m a big fan of dark elves, and was pretty concerned about how...peculiar...they look.

In fact, the whole CGI/realism thing had the game looking like a giant claymation movie (a'la Sinbad in Feydwer or some such).

I've swung back and forth on EQ2 for so long now I'm not sure what to really think about it. I guess I'm really an optimist at heart. I'm still curious about the game and will probably give it a shot--if it ever ships.
HaemishM
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Reply #10 on: June 11, 2004, 10:18:57 AM

Yes, the new EQ2 textures look a world apart from the shitty original.

But I still prefer style over technology. Throw all the polygons and bump mapping and pixel shaders you want at something, it still isn't going to mimic real life. Back off the tech, and apply some artistic license in there. Some of the most "realistic" artwork in history lacks the life and animation that more stylized artists like Gustav Klimt achieved.

Art IMITATES life, it doesn't replace it. How you imitate life is what's important in artwork, not how many colors you choose to use.

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Reply #11 on: June 11, 2004, 10:29:45 AM

Quote from: HaemishM
Art IMITATES life, it doesn't replace it.


Sometimes I wish art replaced life. There's only a handfull of people in the world who can do this, Gerhardt Richter is one of them. All of these are Oil on canvas if you're wondering.



Signe
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Reply #12 on: June 11, 2004, 10:59:09 AM

I like Richter and I actually own a print of the Tisch 1982 painting as I prefer his abstracts.  His photo-paintings are fascinating, though, and really challenge your ideas of perception.  I don't think anyone can surpass his talent in this particular style.

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Rodent
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Reply #13 on: June 11, 2004, 11:57:48 AM

I've argued for years that gaming took the leap to 3d a bit too fast. Looking back at the games that came out just before 3d hit the bigtime and a few years after, it's only now that we're seeing the 3d games catching up the the artistic value of the older titles.  My own personal favorite genre of Adventure games really took a big dive into the crapper, compare Monkey Island 3 with Monkey Island 4.

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Reply #14 on: June 11, 2004, 01:45:53 PM

Trying to make adventures in 3D failed across the board anyway IMO. Not even the so much appraised Grim Fandango cut it for me.

Quote from: schild
What's creepier to me is those boys in japan who dress up as anime girls. That scares the shit out of me. If I could dig up a screenshot I would, but thankfully I can't.

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Signe
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Reply #15 on: June 11, 2004, 01:50:16 PM

For fuck sake, Des!  Don't do that!  I've never seen those things before and I hope I never see them again.  

I still like you a lot, but you're pushing it!

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schild
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Reply #16 on: June 11, 2004, 01:53:08 PM

Quote from: Signe
For fuck sake, Des!  Don't do that!  I've never seen those things before and I hope I never see them again.


See, now those EQII models ain't looking so bad, are they?
HaemishM
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Reply #17 on: June 11, 2004, 02:04:56 PM

OH GOD MY EYES! IT BURNS LIKES VD!!!!!!@12!@!!!

Alluvian
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Reply #18 on: June 11, 2004, 02:10:30 PM

Quote from: schild
Quote from: Signe
For fuck sake, Des!  Don't do that!  I've never seen those things before and I hope I never see them again.


See, now those EQII models ain't looking so bad, are they?


Holy crap that is just weird.  I like how he says you don't have to be gay, he just likes doing cosplay while playing a role...  okay...  Maybe it is not gay per se, but gay is so much less creepy.  Why can't you just be gay damnit.  I can live with that much easier.  So, he is like a straight guy who just likes to hook up with other straight guys or gay women?  Huh?  Freak.  I think this has to be added to the geek heirarchy somewhere at the very bottom.  Like next to furries with a double arrow linking them.
Mesozoic
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Reply #19 on: June 11, 2004, 02:13:53 PM

I brought this same example up with regards to WoW vs EQ several months ago.  But I suppose with the board wipe, all things old are new again.

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Reply #20 on: June 11, 2004, 02:22:11 PM

Quote from: Alluvian
Quote from: schild
Quote from: Signe
For fuck sake, Des!  Don't do that!  I've never seen those things before and I hope I never see them again.


See, now those EQII models ain't looking so bad, are they?


Holy crap that is just weird.  I like how he says you don't have to be gay, he just likes doing cosplay while playing a role...  okay...  Maybe it is not gay per se


No... to quote Francis from PVP.

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY.

ajax34i
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Reply #21 on: June 14, 2004, 01:13:21 AM

Quote from: kaid
Oh forgot I was going to post the before and after texturing picture when I found it for eq2. This is a good demonstration of what alluvian is talking about and why we cannot figure out the reason they bothered releasing so many pics when the change is this drastic.


http://brianmayzak.4t.com/Woodelves.jpg


Big part of the difference, though, IS the fact that the "newer" model actually is looking somewhere, instead of having slightly divergent eyes and a stiff neck like a doll.  In the game, she won't look to the left like that, she'll stare straight ahead like the current models.  That picture is made for advertising purposes.

It'll be a big day in gaming when they actually make models' eyes follow the stupid camera in real time, or actually converge properly on whatever object in the world they're supposed to be looking at (like their target).

But that's a lot of vector calculations for a lot of eyes in a 60-person raid, I suppose.
Elohite
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Reply #22 on: June 14, 2004, 02:50:01 AM

SWG and CoH characters already look at their targets as long as they're in a good front arc (not their eyes perhaps but they do look in the right direction)... they will also vary angles of attack to match flying and small targets
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Reply #23 on: June 14, 2004, 06:50:42 AM

Quote from: ajax34i
Quote from: kaid
Oh forgot I was going to post the before and after texturing picture when I found it for eq2. This is a good demonstration of what alluvian is talking about and why we cannot figure out the reason they bothered releasing so many pics when the change is this drastic.


http://brianmayzak.4t.com/Woodelves.jpg


Big part of the difference, though, IS the fact that the "newer" model actually is looking somewhere, instead of having slightly divergent eyes and a stiff neck like a doll.  In the game, she won't look to the left like that, she'll stare straight ahead like the current models.  That picture is made for advertising purposes.

It'll be a big day in gaming when they actually make models' eyes follow the stupid camera in real time, or actually converge properly on whatever object in the world they're supposed to be looking at (like their target).

But that's a lot of vector calculations for a lot of eyes in a 60-person raid, I suppose.


I think, THINK, SWG models eyes follow the target as well as the head. I'll have to check into that again. There are several MMOGs that have the characters head track the targeted object, at least in a forward arc until the point at which a normal human neck would no longer be able to crane that far. AC2 even has the body turn slightly to allow further range of motion for visible arc tracking.

Knowing SOE and also going on the statement that the encounters will be scaled so that the largest amount of people needed for any raid encounter will be 24 (although you could certainly bring more, I would imagine), they'll probably do the vector calculations for the eyes to add that extra little bit of realism. Personally, I'd like to see someone make a decent head of hair in these games. All the textures in the world so far have sucked in trying to mimic a realistic head of hair, at least in MMOGs. For me, that would be a huge step in making the models look more real.

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kaid
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Reply #24 on: June 14, 2004, 04:54:33 PM

I have seen pics of the new textures in the straight ahead mode and they are still night and day better it gets rid of the plastic look and is much much more reasonable.

I still cannot figure out why they continue to show screen shots of non furry/scaley races while they are doing retextures on them.

Kaid
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Reply #25 on: June 14, 2004, 09:43:53 PM

Quote from: ajax34i

But that's a lot of vector calculations for a lot of eyes in a 60-person raid, I suppose.


Well the direction to point them is is really just simple very well understood trigonometry (and you can probably cheat at that too) and you don't really have to make a sphere move in it's orbit you could just shift the center of a texture left/right/up/down so as to have it's center intersect the line from the object you were looking at to simulate an eyeball moving in its socket.

Even if its not really A LOT of cycles it IS cylces that could probably be better spent elsewhere.

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kaid
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Reply #26 on: June 15, 2004, 08:06:48 AM

Eye movement also unless you are in first person mode or the model has HUGE eyes likely would not be noticable. Blinking sure but for the most part when in third person mode you are not seeing a lot of the close up detail anyway. Heck in swg many races due to dark skin complexion were basically shadows when in 3rd person mode as you could not see their facial features hardly at all due to lighting.

One race that made good use of the facial emotes in swg was the mon cals because their features are SO exagerated they are easy to see and look very well done.


Kaid
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Reply #27 on: June 15, 2004, 08:41:22 AM

Yeah, then you had the male human whose emotions boiled down to 10 different painful grimaces.  "Entertained" was the worst.  Whoever made that emotion needs some serious counseling.  I don't think he knows the meaning of joy.  The terminator did a better job of smiling on his first attempt.
kaid
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Reply #28 on: June 15, 2004, 09:39:24 AM

It always amused me they made the alien moods very noticable and especially for the mon cals well done but man the humans which they should do great looked awful. Most of the human looks went from dumbfounded grimaces to a look of shock and or awe with mouth hanging open.

Kaid
Dren
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Reply #29 on: June 15, 2004, 10:00:54 AM

Quote from: ajax34i


...

It'll be a big day in gaming when they actually make models' eyes follow the stupid camera in real time, or actually converge properly on whatever object in the world they're supposed to be looking at (like their target).
....


FFXI does this now.  Eyes blink too.

*Edit* The characters' heads turn, not sure about the eyes, but for the most part the effect is quite immersive.
kaid
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Reply #30 on: June 15, 2004, 01:37:41 PM

Heads tracking things in a 90 degree or so forward arc is pretty common in the recent mmrpg and it does add to the immersiveness when your guy looks at his target.

So far I know Swg does this, Coh, FF11, and I think horizons and there may be others.

Eye tracking may come but frankly head tracking is noticable eye tracking really would be tough to see and likely not worth production time at this point.


Kaid
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