Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hopping In and Out of the Uncanny Valley

Kotaku is duly impressed with the upcoming EVE character creator, now running on the test server:

I've been tracking it pretty closely too. This is the first step toward EVE pilots actually getting out of our ships and walking around in stations. As you can see, if this all works it will be a much more photo-realistic and curated affair than we're used to from WoW or Second Life, including (they hope!) integrated ambient voice chat -- that is, when you talk your avatar's lips move and are audible toe everyone in proximity to you, in stereo or surround sound space. They've already got voice fonts that, given the distortion of online chat, make me sound pretty convincingly like a woman.

And all that is really just a very elaborate beta for World of Darkness, their vampire roleplaying game, which will make a metric shit-tonne of money if they can get it out before the undead become passé.

Anyhow, at this point, there's still a lot left undone before the January release, including, for example, the absence of female avatars in the current test version. Also when you turn the detail all the way up, my new iMac gets about five frames per second in the character creator. But that's when these things really pop, and you flip from feeling like you're looking at a slightly creepy overly-detailed mannequin to a captivatingly creepier synthetic person.

Once you play with this for a while and then watch tv, it also gives you a mild form of schizophrenia, where everyone's face turns like a poorly (or well) constructed assemblage of components and morphs.

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