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The seduction of realism

Posted by Michael on April 22nd, 2006, in Development

When modeling a character in 3D, we have often felt the inclination to model it in a realistic way. Even though we know that a certain level of stylisation is much more desirable for our games. The same applies for natural effects in real-time. When trying to show rain, the urge to draw every raindrop is great, even though in the most realistic of media (film), raindrops can hardly be seen.

A similar thing seems to happen when creating autonomous characters. It is very easy to fall into the trap of realism: to analyze human behaviour, break it apart and put it back together.
This reminds me of an imaginary machine I invented as a child to prove or disprove the existance of the supernatural. It was basically a xerox machine for humans, inspired by teleportation. The idea was to analyze the human to be transported down to the level of atoms and then recreate him or her exactly with “off the shelf” atoms. If this copy had a soul, the existance of the supernatural would be disproven. :)

A similar thing happens with AI that attempts to be naturalistic: it breaks apart human behaviour and then puts it back together. And in the end result something seems to be missing: the soul is gone! With Drama Princess, we should attempt to create the illusion of the existance of a soul, an not the soul-less copy of a human organism.

Pingback by Drama Princess » Blog Archive » AI from the outside

Posted on May 5, 2006 at 12:10 pm

[…] When reading articles about AI for games, even when the authors say that they’re only interested in the appearance of intelligence rather than its simulation, they almost always fall for the seduction of realism. I think this may be related to the fact that almost all of these authors are programmers. Programmers are problem-solvers. And in their eagerness to solve a problem, they might oversee the most important aspect of the process: defining the problem. This is why, I think, they often end up trying to reverse engineer human behaviour rather than solving the real problem. […]

Pingback by Drama Princess » Blog Archive » Oz Project

Posted on May 25, 2006 at 5:21 pm

[…] Interestingly, they also mention the problem that I refered to earlier as the Seduction of Realism: When attempting to marry a technical field like Computer Science with a cultural activity such as story telling, it is extremely easy to become sidetracked from the artistic goals and to begin pursuing purely technical research. (Michael Mateas) […]

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