The concept is great, but the execution? Not really.
These days we have gone very far when it comes to the quality of CG in movies and video games. With beautiful fluidity of movement and fluidity of the image, many companies are able to use computer graphics to create beautiful, detailed scenes with an extremely realistic look that blends perfectly with live view shots, or in the case of video games, which immerse you in the game.
As a result, this level of CG quality – or at least, something close to it – has pretty much become expected of most digital productions. So when this video of a new virtual tourism service created by the travel company JTB and two other companies came out, people were blown away by the horror of the graphics.
For a program that aims to convey the beauty of Japan to those who live abroad, it certainly doesn’t do a good job. Not only are flat graphics, lacking the fine detail that accompanies many gaming experiences these days, but transitions and camera movements are blurry and hurt the eyes. From the few snapshots shared in the video, it looks like a video game you might have played on a computer around 1997, or the kind of graphics you might have seen on the Nintendo 64 a quarter ago. century.
JTB collaborated with media company Fun Japan Communications and virtual events company FIXER to create this Japan’s extended reality (XR) virtual experience, which is called Virtual Japan Platform. Supposedly, you can use it for shopping and sightseeing in a virtual space, but as one Japanese internet user put it, “CG is so bad it has absolutely no appeal. it reminds me of playing Second life 15 years ago.”
Even the president of JTB, Eijiro Yamakita, has his own avatar. It’s not as squeaky as the lame punch he exchanges at the end of the video with Fixer president Seiichi Matsuoka, however.
CG が ひ ど く て 全 く 魅力 が な い ん だ が。 15 年 以上 前 の セ カ ン ド ラ イ フ を 思 い 出 す。
– (@ cakari14) April 8, 2021
The operation of the service is probably very similar to Second life, In reality. Users access make their own avatar, that they use for travel and discover Japan, while interact with other Avatars along the way. Unlike Second Life, however, this is a paid service; it seems that users must buy each zone to experience it. Businesses and organizations can also register to use the service in order to sell specialized products and experiences to users.
The service is available now, but user registration opens slowly, starting with the Asian members of JTB and the joint project of Fun Japan Communications “Fun! Japan ”, which uses the media to present Japan. Over time, they intend to expand membership to members from other countries as well. By 2024, they hope to amass 10 million users.
Judging by the reviews from Japanese net surfers, however, they might not be close to this number:
“Wow, it’s not often that a project fails so badly.”
“Did they do this on a Sega Saturn?” “
“Wouldn’t working with a game company to use their CG engines have been so much better?”
“Look at this … I’m so embarrassed for them.”
“It’s too much…”
“It should be ‘Funny Japan’.”
“If it’s virtual interaction, they already have a good model to work on in things like VRChat. As a VRChat user, I am amazed. It’s so dull.
“I thought it was an amateur game until I realized it was made by three companies lol. It’s a little naive of you … “
“Don’t take it out on them! They wanted to save money. I totally understand.
“Games created by independent creators that you can buy for 100 yen (about US $ 1) on Steam can do better than that.”
“Art projects for college students are better than this. “
▼ The architecture doesn’t look too bad, at least.
If you fancy exploring Japan digitally but aren’t particularly impressed with the graphics this digital experience offers, don’t worry, there are many other ways to discover Japan via the internet, especially now, in light of the pandemic. The Ghibli Museum, for example, has a virtual tour on YouTube, and the all-new Super Mario World has an interactive website tour that you can explore. You can also visit the 47 prefectures via YouTube and even spend the night in a samurai castle from the comfort of your home!
While these experiences might not be the same as visiting these places yourself, they are at least something to sate your desire to travel until it is safe to do so. At the very least, we can promise the visuals are much, much more satisfying!
Source: Official YouTube / JTB, Twitter / @ cacari14 Going through My Flash News game, TravelVoice
Images: Official YouTube / JTB
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