Sunday, 4 December 2011

Unit 3: Environment - The Uncanny - Heavy Rain


Figure 1

When seeking out the Uncanny one can find it in the complexities of symbolism but when sought technically the mere simplicity can be captured in an incomplete photograph. In the realm of 3D models the Uncanny is captured the closer you venture into the pristine interpretation of a human being, to the point that the artificial being may as well be a moving prosthetic or a fake automaton. When forcibly repelled one cannot help but feel as though a point is missed with regard to this ideal of creating an artificial life, particularly when the story is the focal point of the feature as Reviewer Ross Miller of “The Verge” observes:

“It's not perfect, but with a game that lives and dies by its story, the characters had to sell the narrative — or at least not get in the way. (Miller: 2011)
To those that have not heard of Heavy Rain it is what some consider to be an interactive novel which has the player deciding the fate of 4 on screen protagonists. There are points when one can choose to kill off all 4 of its cast and still get an ending. The story of Heavy Rain has multiple endings and multiple plot points (being comprised of a 2000 page script). Possibly the most intriguing element is that the story was so well thought out leaving nothing to interpretation or continuity.


Figure 2

Prior to the games release the trailer for Heavy Rain consisted of a casting couch where a digital representation of one of the characters auditioned for her role in a chilling kitchen setting. This was most unique alluring one to believe that the characters of the game were in fact real, but the trailer was met with mixed praise as reviewer of Joystiq Nick Doerr observes:

The problem with their initial video, many people cried, was the inability for viewers to suspend disbelief. Some emotions seemed awkward and the mouth movement of the character was a bit twitchy at times. (Doerr: 2007)

Figure 3

Heavy Rain was comprised entirely of Psychological Horror in which people were being kidnapped by a serial killer (known as the Origami Killer) during the rainy season and were left to drown in rain water. The protagonists consisted of a reporter, a private investigator, an FBI specialist & the man who is suspected of the crimes of killing and kidnapping. What made the concept the most interesting was even a slight deviation or on screen slip could alter ones ending dramatically causing one players story to differ from another as reviewer Chris Roper of IGN observes:

If you're in an action sequence, missing one prompt might not mean much other than that the fight or chase would play out a little differently. Rather than taking out the bad guy right then, you might get knocked down but get another chance right after that. Miss too many and the bad guy might get away, but like I said, the story will continue on, no matter the result. (Roper: 2010)
Figure 4

Heavy Rain eluded the Uncanny Valley one could attribute this to its awareness of what the public would construed as “eerie” hence why the story itself is dark in nature. Each situation, even the setting and concept art prior to it feels incredibly uncanny but one could believe that this only heightens the experience of a story about a serial killer. Maybe the fact that the game try’s to treat itself as a film with actual cast goes against its nature but the genre and mise-en-scene co-ordinate well with its direction, this could be attributed to why the game works so well.

On the other hand maybe the hardcore gamers of today are used to this uncanny valley of video games with so many being released with HD graphics and high resolution texture & bump maps. Maybe this Uncanny Valley only applies to specific situations or specific faces, or maybe when one has something to reference the original face to (such as Tron Legacies Kevin Flynn).


Figure 5

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List of Illustrations & Videos

Figure 1. Aurélie Bancilhon in Heavy Rain "The Casting". (com) [Online image]. At: http://cdn2.sbnation.com/imported_assets/845500/uncanny-rain-rm-timn.jpg (Accessed on:04/12/11)

Figure 2. Cut Finger Off in Heavy Rain (com) [Online video]. At: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1eGF2_MWQ8 (Accessed on:04/12/11)

Figure 3. Aurélie Bancilhon in Heavy Rain "The Casting" (com) [Online video]. At: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuitbK5kO90 (Accessed on:04/12/11)

Figure 4. Heavy Rain Artwork by Quantic Dream (com) [Online image]. At:
http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b399/neottix/UCA%20Unit%203%20Album/HeavyRainResearch.jpg (Accessed on:04/12/11)

Figure 5. Tron Legacy - Kevin Flynn (com) [Online video]. At:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_vRiyG6xdo&feature=related (Accessed on:04/12/11)

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Bibliography

Miller, Ross. (2011) Uncanny: L.A. Noire, Blade Runner, and gaming's quest to capture humanity At: http://www.theverge.com/2011/06/22/uncanny-valley-la-noire-blade-runner-heavy-rain/ (Accessed on: 04/12/11)

Doerr, Nick. (2007) Heavy Rain devs have "conquered" the Uncanny Valley At: http://www.joystiq.com/2007/12/18/heavy-rain-devs-have-conquered-the-uncanny-valley/
(Accessed on: 04/12/11)

Roper, Chris. (2010) Heavy Rain Review At: http://uk.ps3.ign.com/articles/106/1067755p1.html
(Accessed on: 04/12/11)

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