Stumbling Toward 'Awesomeness'

A Technical Art Blog

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quantic Dreams

This is what it looks like on the other side of the uncanny valley.

No longer working for Crytek, maybe I can comment on some industry related things without worrying that my opinions could be misconstrewn as those of my former employer.

EuroGamer visited Quantic Dream this week, the studio working on the game ‘Heavy Rain’, who’s founder, de Fondaumière, arrogantly proclaimed that there was ‘no longer an uncanny valley‘, and that there are ‘very, very few‘ real artists in the video game industry. (A real class act, no?)

So their article starts with “We can’t tell you how Heavy Rain looks, sounds or plays…”, which I find kind of ridiculous seeing as how the studio’s only real claim to fame right now is the hype of it’s co-founder who casually claims they have accomplished one of the most amazing visual feats in the history of computer graphics (in real-time no less!).

Across the world there are thousands of outstanding artists chasing this same dream, from Final Fantasy, to Polar Express and Beowulf; people have tried to cross the ‘uncanny valley’ for years, and are getting closer every day. At Christmas you will be treated to what is probably one of the closest attempts yet. (Digital Domain’s work in Benjamin Button)

Not really having any videos to back up the hyperbole, they gave the EuroGamer staff a laundry list of statistics about their production.

I have yet to see anything stunning to back up the talk, 8 months after making his statement about crossing the uncanny valley, they released this video, which was just not even close, to be frank.

It looks like they aren’t using performance capture. Without markers on the face this means they have to solve the facial animation from elsewhere, usually a seated actress who pretends to be saying lines that were said in the other full body capture session. There’s a reason why studios like Imageworks don’t do this, it’s hard to sync the two performances together. If they have accomplished what other’s have not, with much less hardware/technology, it means they have some of the best artists/animators out there, and I say hats off to them.

But with every image they do release, and every arrogant statement, it is digging the hole deeper. The sad thing is they could release of of the greatest interactive experiences yet, but their main claim is the most realistic cg humans yet to be seen, and if they fail at this, it will overshadow everything.

At least they know how their fellow ps3 devs over at Guerilla must have been feeling for a few years now.

posted by Chris at 6:53 AM  


  1. Agree! They are doing great work, but far from even the best currently out there.

    Comment by Oskar — 2008/12/13 @ 8:03 PM

  2. Wow, is that screen at the top from the game!? It looks so photo-realistic I can almost feel my hair getting wet in the rain – the “heavy” rain that is…

    You just know that the Quantic art team give a collective sigh of desperation every time Cage is recorded shooting his mouth off with claims they can’t hope to match.

    The original “Casting” video from back in 2006 didn’t get anywhere near the Uncanny Valley – it just looked bad because of terrible rigging.

    Good luck with that!

    Comment by eden — 2008/12/14 @ 9:19 AM

  3. I’ve been saying the same thing for a while, Chris… unfortunately it is easy to wow non-devs and even many devs with this sort of thing. It irks me on so many levels it is definitely not enough to be contained within a blog comment…

    Comment by Rob Galanakis — 2008/12/16 @ 6:53 AM

  4. But at the same time it is funny (sad) to see how much the games media is eating all this up and already proclaiming Heavy Rain the future of characters in games…ah well…

    Comment by Seth Gibson — 2009/02/25 @ 3:03 AM

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