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Anybody want to buy some rat meat?

You reckon Patrick Stewart is ever sorry he took that Star Trek gig? He’s done the voiceover for about half the games I’ve bought in the last ten years, including Emperor Apple Doll here.

Not knocking Oblivion, which is five or six years old. Even the latest and greatest games, they still haven’t got people quite down yet, especially faces. Dead Space 2 that I’ve been raving and drooling about is good in some scenes (the back of Isaac’s head looks spectacularly real) and creepy in others. I mean, unintentionally creepy (the intentionally creepy faces are excellent).

For the just-released L.A. Noire, they famously strapped real actors into chairs and made them act for some computerized facial scanning doohicky that reproduced the expressions later on game characters. Being able to perceive a liar is apparently important to the gameplay. Yet in all the trailers I’ve seen, the faces look ultra creepy.

I’m a great believer in the Uncanny Valley. Things that look alllllmost but not quite human are guaranteed to give people the jim-jamms. We’re wired to read changes in facial expression that can be measured in millimeters. It’s going to be a while before modeling programs get that good.

Though it would help if 3D modelers would stop making teeth and eyeballs self-illuminate.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 18, 2011, 11:39 pm

That last line is a pet peeve that probably needs explaining. In 3D modeling, self illumination is a textural quality you can give object. It isn’t an actual glow that lands on nearby objects, it’s more that shadows can’t be cast on an object with self illumination.

And invariably, for reasons I don’t understand, 3D designers give teeth and eyeballs that quality. Well, I’m sorry, but shadows DO land on teeth and eyeballs and it looks creepy as hell when they don’t. I don’t want big ol’ white molars winking at me from the back of somebody’s mouth.

And eyeballs without shadows look like they don’t have lids. Brrrrr.

Comment from Mitchell
Time: July 18, 2011, 11:50 pm

Self-illuminating eyes mean that they’re really all just Goa’uld.

From what I’ve read the voice acting stuff is easy and faily lucrative, which is why a lot of big names are getting into it for movies and games. Which in turn is really horking off the people who USED to be able to make a living doing voice-acting.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 19, 2011, 12:02 am

That’s Hillary Clinton above and here:


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 19, 2011, 12:06 am

Wow. It is. Horrible.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 19, 2011, 12:17 am

Well, my shift lead here at work is a vendor at the various cons, and has met most of the principle actors. Patrick Stewart does a couple of large shows each year, and seems to dig the attention..

Of course, the one to hang with is Brent Spiner, who is a total cut up, and is in love with one of my shift lead’s co-vendors, called “Better than Sex” chocolates (basically a 50/50 mix of high quality chocolate and honey), and has been seen dragging several of the other actors to that stand (of course, the fact that the wife and daughter of the owner are both HOT doesn’t hurt)…

John De Lancie is a bit of a jerk, but not an insulting one…

George Takai bought out Jed’s entire stock of “Set phaser to FABULOUS!” merchanise at one con, and passed it out to his entourage as gifts…

various others have made appearances, but that would take too damn long to type out here…

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 19, 2011, 12:23 am

Mitchell – What if your Go’auld is actually a Tok’ra?


Comment from Steve In Tulsa
Time: July 19, 2011, 1:44 am

I am oblivious of Oblivion.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: July 19, 2011, 4:36 am

It’s hard to imagine a creepy dude like that having Patrick Stewart’s voice.

Comment from MIke C.
Time: July 19, 2011, 8:17 am

I hate it when entire threads pass by at something like 70,000 feet over my head. Bring back the damned chickens…

Comment from surly ermine
Time: July 19, 2011, 12:44 pm

Yup, you’re gonna mod that puppy Weas. I can smell it. It starts with little peeves like that and soon you can’t stand to look at it anymore. I agree, Bethesda has some odd looking character models. Nice they make their toolkits available though. Almost like “Well, we got ya this far, have at it.”

Just started playing the Eve Incarna trial. Incredible character creator. Best looking character models I’ve seen. Unfortunately you can only wander around your ship quarters for now, everything else is 3rd person spacecraft view.

Comment from Guy T.
Time: July 19, 2011, 2:52 pm

Maybe I’m too tolerant of the uncanny valley, but I thought the faces in L.A. Noire worked well in the game. The character actor casting is particularly impressive. There’s one guy who makes a single brief appearance as a taxi driver, and I’d swear I’ve seen him in a half-dozen black-and-white oldies, except he can’t be older than his mid-thirties.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: July 19, 2011, 3:03 pm

Sometimes the actors do really well. Mass Effect has some actual actors doing voices, and I think they o really well…

Comment from Deborah
Time: July 19, 2011, 3:27 pm

@Mike C. I hear you. My only computer game connection is that my son looks like the guy on the “Half-Life” box.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 19, 2011, 3:58 pm

I thought your son was a dead-ringer for the UPS guy.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Comment from memomachine
Time: July 19, 2011, 4:10 pm


What I want to see is a computer game where the designers aim directly for the Uncanny Valley in order to creep people out.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: July 26, 2011, 2:01 pm

What a coinkydink. I’ve been on an Oblivion jag for about two months now. Downloaded it to my xbox360 (only took 28 hours!) back in early June, and have been playing nonstop.

They must have spent their budget on Stewart, because almost all the rest of the males in the game are voiced by one guy. The women get by with two voice talents (every female orc has the same southern California like-my-tube-top? trailer-trash voice). Whoever does the voice casting at Bethesda should be taken out to the backyard and required to dig his own grave.

GTA: San Andreas had much better casting; very realistic. Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Penn as dirty cops? Oh yeah.

And BTW: dunno about self-illumination, but the wrinkles Bethesda puts around the eyes to make the the characters “old” would be more believable if the bloom of youth weren’t so conspicuously over-present everywhere else on their fizzes.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 26, 2011, 2:16 pm

My favorite was the warrior who took her helmet off and turned out to be a black woman with corn rows and an American accent.

Yeah, nothing says Medieval England like a sister with corn rows.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 27, 2011, 3:14 am

if she held the weaponized antler sideways while ooking and screeching then I’d say all historical veracity is observed.

Nubian infantry is at best used as skirmishers, if you can convince them that juju is good and they recently had some nourishing baboon steak. Sooner or later they tend to forget the objective and the massive infighting brawl commences.

Prussians or Hessians are my by far favorite infantry or cavalry. Discipline, training, technology, fearlessness, I’ll re-enact any campaign happily with a few regiments.

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