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December 10, 2015 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Uncanny Valley (SLVIMEO) Short film of a possible future path for VR gaming.
posted by bitmage (19 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Takes a couple minutes to get past the well-shot but fairly trite 'VR junkies can't handle reality' cyberpunk tropes of 30 years ago, and then switches over to a well-shot but fairly trite [rot13] "Raqre'f Tnzr" trope of 30 years ago.
posted by FatherDagon at 6:33 AM on December 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow, raqre'f tnzr really is 30 years old. Time flies.
posted by yeolcoatl at 6:49 AM on December 10, 2015


Needs more "people taking anti-nausea drugs to allow prolonged movement through virtual space not pairing with inner-ear kinetic sense"
posted by GameDesignerBen at 6:57 AM on December 10, 2015


Hello, rot13. It has been a long time.

I initially imagined that raqre'f tnzr was a young filmmaker who got his start making crude stop animations in a suburb of Kandahar, and had moved to L.A. and begun dabbling in CGI.
posted by craniac at 7:08 AM on December 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


i'm 14 and this is deep.
posted by andrewcooke at 7:42 AM on December 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it was fairly clever and well-paced for a short. The premise wouldn't stand up to a full 30+ minute episode but Uncanny Valley isn't trying to be that.
posted by chimaera at 7:44 AM on December 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


i'm 14 and this is deep.

You may want to take a moment to consult this flowchart, because that's a lot of smug hate to open a thread about a pretty great little short. Good production values, no longer than it needed to be, comes right to a sharp point. Connections to the old VR-junkies trope are there but they're a used to make much larger social comment than "whoa, dude, whoa", and these "Ender's game" comparisons are just wildly off-base.

There are lots of little details in here that make it worth watching more than once, too. A+ would watch again.
posted by mhoye at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


and these "Ender's game" comparisons are just wildly off-base

Except for the part where (spoiler alert) it's Ender's Game.
posted by The Bellman at 8:46 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Except for the part where (spoiler alert) it's Ender's Game.

Only so far as the "surprise, it's a real military exercise" bit goes. In every other meaningful detail - and there more than a few there if you're paying attention - they have nothing in common.
posted by mhoye at 9:32 AM on December 10, 2015


consult this flowchart

Er, no. In fact, I'm going to disagree with that flowchart quite vehemently. The flowchart wants us to get hung up on the minor differences between new phenomena and old ones, and go around saying "This is so novel! It's unlike anything we've ever seen before!" and it's attitudes like that that lead to people saying Donald Trump's political campaign isn't like Hitler because [some stupid reason]. We need more people who are capable of recognizing the worst parts of the past when they rear their ugly heads again in shoddy modern disguises.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:38 AM on December 10, 2015


Here's the thing that the nitpicking center of my brain got stuck on: Why would anyone make a system like this? They have a computer doing all the stuff that are hard for computers to do, like visual discernment, threat evaluation, and general decision making. Then they do a bunch of extra processing to prevent the VR junkies from doing those things themselves, so they can use them for the things that human brains are bad at: reflexes, precision, and ability to follow directions reliably without getting distracted.

Is this approach more effective, safer, more reliable, more ethical, more legal, easier, or cheaper than just using fully autonomous robots?
posted by aubilenon at 11:06 AM on December 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why would anyone make a system like this?

The reasons that people make a system are often wildly disconnected from why and how that system gets put to use. Gibson has famously said that "the street finds its own uses for things", but so does the military-industrial complex.
posted by mhoye at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2015


I think it was fairly clever and well-paced for a short. The premise wouldn't stand up to a full 30+ minute episode but Uncanny Valley isn't trying to be that.

You know, they said the same sort of thing about Pixels.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:14 PM on December 10, 2015


Welp, I'm with the haters. Oh, not haters. It's an OK short, in a world filled with not-OK shorts, but it doesn't hold up to much examination. There's a war full of super-hitech robot troopers being fought against #randomMiddleEasterns in a blitzed-out country, but the best way to control them is to gull drop-outs in a VR-mediated deception? in what world would that even make sense, as opposed to drafting those bums into the army and a place where you can train, feed and discipline them properly? A bum with a gun in VR is just a bum with a gun. You don't want those in your war.

And our hero (was it the guy with the really neatly trimmed facehair? I guess hipsters have standards even in dosshouses) sees through the deception (by, um, er... shooting a RL pistol?) and is so horrified he mock-kills himself, but then he lives and they send a robot trooper in to deal with him? What if the nice doctor lady was there at the time - is she part of the conspiracy, or a hapless dupe too?

And was the floating scene in the VR, or in RL, or a Visual Metaphor? Because if there's anti-gravity in that world and they're using it on the bums, I'm really confused.

I could go on, but it's a bit like picking holes in Doctor Who plots. From the point of view of internal logic, it scores a bit of a zero.

As a flashy, looks good to gamer generation, is safely War Is Nasty, Gibsonesque mix of grunge and shiny, sure.That seems to be its main aim in life. But it is a pretty dumb premise, and it treads some pretty well-trodden ground, and the production values really didn't rescue it for me. Perhaps I missed the bits that weren't derivative, but it didn't seem to have a single new idea in its head.

But then, I thought The Matrix was one of the most consistently annoying chunks of celluloid stupidity ever to pollute my retinas (admittedly, I hadn't seen Gravity at that point), so I may just not be very good at enjoying this stuff.
posted by Devonian at 2:45 PM on December 10, 2015


It must be noted that when I first I first heard about this, it was in the context of it being shopped around as the embryo of a Major Motion Picture and was being hyped as comparable to the short that "District 9" was based on. You have been warned.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:14 PM on December 10, 2015



You know, they said the same sort of thing about Pixels.


Good thing they didn't try to make a full feature out of Pixels, then.
posted by chimaera at 4:19 PM on December 10, 2015


Yep, this has "Let me make this a feature-length movie" written all over it, and it's dumb for all the reasons Devonian pointed out. Studios: if you're going to make a dumb VR movie, make Ready Player One, because that's at least fun dumb.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:50 PM on December 10, 2015


Well sheesh, lotsa vitriol I didn't think it was THAT bad but then I don' really have any interest in video games or nihilistic techno futurism so I'm not a connoisseur. That said I always fantasized about a punitive video game that as soon as you shot someone clamps would come out to restrain you and hold your eyes open so you'd have to watch some horrifying 3 hours of filmic brilliance that would bring whoever you just killed to life and make you feel so abjectly awful about killing that all you'd have left when the clamps came off was the desire to do away with yourself.
posted by Pembquist at 6:13 PM on December 10, 2015


GameDesignerBen: "Needs more "people taking anti-nausea drugs to allow prolonged movement through virtual space not pairing with inner-ear kinetic sense""

Well, their VR uses the nose thing and doesn't cover their eyes. So I guess it's supposed to be doing something neural at which point you might as well hijack some inner-ear nerves while you're at it. And the best access to nerves is through the nostrils, as everyone knows. And also it makes them float.

Which is actually the smartest part of this. Rather than deal with the limitations of current VR, make the VR tech sufficiently advanced to be magic. And the floating makes for a nice visual metaphor.

People have poked holes in most of the "tricked into military" premise, but I want to add: the generic middle-easterners really haven't thought of any better tactics than running and leaping directly at the robots?
posted by RobotHero at 6:53 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


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