Ah, the uncanny valley — making "realistic" characters in video games resemble creepy robots wearing human skin. Not long ago, NVIDIA had an impressive go at traversing this precarious divide and now Remedy, with its (currently) Xbox One-exclusive title Quantum Break, feels like it might have cracked this difficult nut.
In a 33-minute interview with Polygon's Brian Crecente, creative director Sam Lake goes into a bit of detail about the "opportunities" the latest consoles are providing developers, one of which is the chance to finally get computerised humans looking like, well, human. Given the photo-realistic art direction Remedy's taken with Quantum Break, getting people moving and talking just right is understandably important when portraying any sort of serious narrative:
Today we stop talking about next-gen and start talking about current-gen. Obviously, as it always is, it keeps on evolving and getting better and better as we go forward ... I'm really, really excited by the things we see at Remedy daily on screen ... but the opportunities with what we have for Quantum Break is not like story-telling technology ... just the character stuff, just the fact that it really feels that we now have digital doubles of the actors. They're real-time, in-game and all the small nuances [are] happening.
Especially with Quantum Break, with the live-action component, in many ways it feels we have managed to cross that dreaded uncanny valley. Now we have an experience where we have side-by-side the game with digital doubles of the actors and those same actors then in [the] live-action show and together that makes one experience that feels seamless and cool.
Of course, there's a bit more to a compelling story than just the actors, but Lake's got solid credentials with Max Payne and Alan Wake under his belt (oh, and Death Rally, as Lake joking includes during the interview).