The Uncanny valley

Gizmodo has a surprisingly lucid (for a non-game publication) article on the “Uncanny Valley” here which is well worth reading.

One of the things There.com did ”right” (and is, IMHO, still out of reach for other virtual worlds) was to get ”right to the edge” of the Uncanny Valley without falling in. I would estimate that getting this right ”easily” a huge % of the art and creative resources in There’s development.

And, by the way, we’re still working on it. The original designer of There’s Avatars has been working with us to take them up ”another” notch without losing their current charm and appeal. And, ”no” this is not to say There is going to re-open, but we still work on improving the platform for whatever may come next.

Anyway, it’s a good article.

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  1. #1 by A sad person on 2011.04.17 - 5:47 am

    your not the real Micheal Wilson are you. Everybody iss saying that

  2. #3 by There_forever on 2011.03.02 - 9:57 pm

    Personal opinion : After going through the experience of ‘There’ shutting down, I think that more people would be willing to pay a monthly fee now than before it shut down. I would have never had a problem with a monthly subscription and I know a lot of people that wouldn’t mind either. I was always in favor of a ‘small There’ and had made that proposal here and in other websites-forums.
    One thing I would like to say regarding 2005 is that back then the members were much much fewer than in 2010 and also, (by getting new hardware in 2011) the cost to actually run There.com would be much smaller than in 2005. I think that it would be good to have some research done and add up the numbers you just see that a $20-25/month fee would work out.
    Lets see… $25 times 1000 users is $25,000 per month. Just from subscriptions. I am sure at least 1000 people would come back. How much would it cost to run a 3 island There for one month (not including rebuying everything needed to restart it)?

  3. #4 by Thumdar on 2011.03.02 - 7:10 am

    I like how you made sure to state “…take them up ”another” notch without losing their current charm and appeal.” It really is true ~ There avatars have true charm. The breathing, the way they would look at different spots and change facial expressions when standing by themselves ~ miss those guys. The closing of There has defined what is good about virtual worlds and no other world (so far) has come close. That is not a biased opinion ~ it is the truth.

    Three islands only, $24.99 per month and minimal development and maintenance. Couldn’t that be profitable? An off-topic question, but there it is.

    • #5 by Michael Wilson on 2011.03.02 - 3:58 pm

      Please see my comment in Myths about “Pay site versus non-Pay”: There was a pay site in 2005, and was continuing to lose money when Makena took it over.

      Whether it’s $5/month, $10/month, or $20/month, or $25.00 a month, the question is how many people will pay that on an ongoing basis. That’s the problem. And it’s not just the hardware/hosting: you’d need at least some operations support, an engineer or two, and staff. (Using the public to support the code base is not an option, unfortunately). When you add up salaries, medical, and all the lovely taxes, FICA, blah, blah, blah, it’s a significant amount of money.

  4. #6 by Andrew Meyer (Ceashure) on 2010.11.05 - 6:11 am

    I was just thinking about this the other day. Bug 24 in the DX9 client had to do a lot with this. I think the shininess of the avatar was producing a barbie doll effect essentially pushing There right off the edge into the uncanny valley. I hope you took that bug serious, because it had a dramatic effect on how I perceived the avatar. Instead of the avatar being a part of me, I felt as if I was just controlling a plastic barbie doll.

    BTW, why did There.com choose to use DX9 anyway? Would it have been beneficial to drop DX8, update the existing OpenGL code to support OGL 3.0+ (including support for shaders) and have a single code base for all distributions (windows and mac). Wouldn’t this reduce costs and time by not having to update 3 different code bases? In addition you could have focused on developing the MAC and perhaps even Linux binaries from the OGL code base. It would be interesting to hear why you made the choice to continue with a windows proprietary sdk (directx) instead of further developing the cross platform one (OGL).

    (If you feel this would be best answered via email please feel free to do so.)
    -Andrew Meyer aka Ceashure

  5. #7 by Rick on 2010.11.05 - 2:53 am

    im sure youl find a way of re openning it michael i know how hard you tried to keep it open and i know youl be able to bring it back everyone has to be patient! thank you

  6. #8 by Ken on 2010.11.04 - 11:24 am

    Mike,
    NO ONE is complaining about how the avies looked, just the fact that they are unavailable to us.
    If you can take it up a notch, great!! Either way, the fact that your interested in making improvements is good news!
    It’s been almost 8 months, a long time to think about why the first attempt went south.
    Now that the Republicans are “kind of” in charge, I’m sure the economy will turn around quickly which leaves me hopeful that the opening date of March 11, 2011 was just a year short of the real opening date of March 11, 2012.
    What is it about that year that rings a bell? Oh yeah, that’s the year the world ends LOL
    Not holding my breath but Hope springs eternal in There.com.

    • #9 by Michael Wilson on 2010.11.05 - 5:22 am

      Now that the Republicans are “kind of” in charge, I’m sure the economy will turn around quickly

      Don’t count on it. Most of the current deficit was run up by the prior administration (don’t take my word for it – you can look it up yourself), not the current one. We just didn’t notice because we were all regaling in the fake riches of an economy built on housing loans built on fake credit (you can look that up too). (In a way, the whole economy was operating on a virtual basis. 😦 ). No, I’m afraid all we’ve got to look forward to is 2 years of bickering, posturing, and arguing while the government seizes up over partisan differences. Sigh.

      • #10 by Ken on 2010.11.05 - 1:01 pm

        Mike,
        OMG YESSSS Until “they” figure out that WE THE PEOPLE were the ones that put them in office, there is no doubt that the juveniles in Congress will continue embarrassing all of us with their petty, childish “bickering, posturing, and arguing while the government seizes up over partisan differences.” WELL PUT Mike !!
        I recently bought a T-Shirt of a rather cartoonish pic of GW with the bubble text ” Trust me” and below that the title “LIFE IS CRAP”
        I wore it to vote on Tuesday. And no, no one took a swing at me which kind of surprised me considering I live in Florida.
        Once again, it was a vote for the lesser of two evils, or more.
        Just think, the money that the x CEO of WWE spent in a losing cause would keep There.com open for at least a decade. Picture Linda, in Zephyr, paintballing with Phill41 .. TOO FUNNY!
        A sad commentary about today’s politics!
        Hmmm, kinda off subject .. sorry.

      • #11 by there_forever on 2010.11.05 - 4:12 pm

        This crisis has put millions of people in a very difficult position. My brother is having trouble with the bank for 4000 euro and he can’t even find a job. It’s like you said MW, fake riches. It was just a matter of time till the whole thing got out of hand.

  7. #12 by Taelos Katran on 2010.11.03 - 3:59 pm

    Agreed, albeit I am somewhat biased ^_^

    “Real Cartoons”: One key thing that kept There avatars from falling into the Valley was their “cartoon” nature. They were decidedly “cartoons” yet deceptively “real” due to the innovative programming behind the avatars. Other virtual worlds of dubious moral fortitude focus on realistic skins, attachment points, and animations yet completely miss the mark. Beauty is only skin deep. I often show videos of There avatars to many not familiar with There.com and the reaction is always the same. With their breath taken away the comment is always how they are animated to be so “real”. Quite an accomplishment for an avatar with just two fingers, two thumbs, and two teeth.

    “Batteries Included”: The other big thing There got right was including the batteries with each and every avatar from the second it is created. All of that cool avatar realism came for free, with no learning curve, no scripting, pills or messy creams. No one else has that right. No one.

    ‘tu

  8. #13 by Brandyn_1 on 2010.11.03 - 11:14 am

    It is a start MW! The avatars did need updated! Thats awesome to know that its in the process of the Re-opening if it ever does =D Thats Awesome!
    -Brandyn_1

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