Some Thoughts on 3D Gaming

Matt Barton's picture

After watching Avatar in 3D, I've been thinking off and on about how this technology could apply to gaming. Would those 3D effects make a game more immersive, or just be another gimmick? After all, there have been many efforts at 3D games (that required the old red/blue glasses), but it seems that have few, if any, have really hit the mark. I remember a few on the Amiga, though none were very popular.

I was trying to envision what a great 3D game would look like, at least in the case of first-person shooters. The game that kept coming to mind was Metroid Prime. What I thought could well was if the HUD information was on a "high" 3D layer, that is, close to the viewer, so it looked as though you were looking through a helmet at the gameworld. Otherwise, the 3D effects in the game itself would be relatively flat, so they wouldn't distract too much or get to deal with.

I also think 3D effects could work well with strategy games, particularly RTS. One of the problems there is that it's nice to have good looking pieces with various types of info (or bars) above them. 3D seems like a good application for this; just have that sort of information "pop out" above the board, so it doesn't interfere with the rest of the graphics. I'm almost imagining a sort of "hologram panel" above the board, which you could switch on and off if you wanted. I guess it might be cool to have the board itself be in 3D, but I'm wondering if that might get distracting or gimmicky after awhile.

The final thought I had was for a scorched earth/artillery type of game. I thought it'd be neat to see the missiles and such coming up off of the screen and back down; that seems pretty neat. I also think the explosions could be awesome, with flecks of stuff thrown back at the viewer. Naturally, I'm thinking of the "3D" versions such as Scorched 3D.

Does anyone else have interesting ideas for 3D--that is, affecting the gameplay, not just as a gimmick? I was looking for a good website with info about games that require 3D glasses, but ran out of time. :)

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Bill Loguidice
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A practical answer, but no talk of the games

I think we'll know sooner rather than later. Nintendo's next handheld, which could hit as early as later this year, tentatively titled the Nintendo 3DS (http://kotaku.com/5499697/nintendo-announces-new-hardware-the-nintendo-3ds), will offer 3D without glasses, by most likely using the layered screen technology that found its way into some laptops as long ago as what, five years now? Also, Sony is supporting 3D with 3D-capable TVs on the PS3, and the same technology can be implemented in the Xbox 360, and, presumably, the Wii.

Of course, it's unlikely that many new game types will appear on the console side for a variety of reasons - at least this generation - as a result of the 3D support (beyond the standard paper glasses that are packed in with some games now), so that leaves us with the 3DS. So the question then is what type of 3D games can benefit from a dual screen handheld, since that will be the only platform with the 3D element standard and integrated, plus not dependent upon glasses? Of course we also have to consider that that's a slightly different type of 3D effect, in that the 3D won't be coming at you, but more able to go from the foreground to the background since it has to be contained on the display.

Finally, there's talk of 3D holograms that can sit anywhere in mid-air that won't require any surface to project on, but that's still probably about 10 years away all things considered, but that opens up the reality of a holodeck-like experience, save for the unlimited ability for it to "follow you" and directly interact with you.

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Matt Barton
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The 3DS certainly has my

The 3DS certainly has my attention. I'm very curious what they'll work out; I'm guessing it'll be fairly subtle. It could be neat, though, to get that sort of parallax effect in certain games, though I'm wondering if it will really affect the gameplay (seems like most 3D is just for decoration, really). There's a bit about 3D games here, though it's very wrongly labeled "in-depth" (definitely a light gloss, at that).

It's interesting about Time Traveler, though. I remember playing that game in Gatlinburg and being amazed by the effect. The game did suck, obviously, but it makes you wonder if the tech would have taken off if they'd had decent games. I always thought a Baldur's Gate-like game using similar technology would be simply amazing; love to see those battles playing out in hologram 3D. My dream is to have something like a miniatures game (a la warhammer), but played out with fully animated hologram 3D.

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Bill Loguidice
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The possibilities are many!

That article missed a big one with the Vectrex's 3D Imager. I can see leaving out the Famicom only 3D glasses (since it was only in Japan), but the Vectrex one was pretty infamous and fairly effective.

By the way, this is the one of the great videos and may show a good example of how the 3DS might work, except without having to necessarily move the system to fake it like you do as shown here on a standard DS:

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Chris Kennedy
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Arcade

My first thoughts about any new innovation in 3D gaming due to advances in display technology centered around vector games.

I'd like to play Tempest with "real" depth. I think it would be awesome. What about Battlezone? I think each of these games would have their fear factors increased. The graphic style could seriously be exactly the same as the original except with an added pseudo-dimension.

What about Zaxxon?

There are certainly plenty of new games that could be developed as well. I really liked your H.U.D. idea, Matt! I especially think it would work well with 3D Metroid games.

If companies focus on immersion of the player into their game rather than chase the, "Hey look, ma - 3D!" gimmick, I think we will see some really fun games.

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clok1966
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one of my first 4200 video

one of my first 4200 video cards (around 2003?ish) came with 3D glasses, basicly it was the tech to make any game 3D as long as your monitor (only worked on CRT, but then again way back then, they where about it) could do a refresh of 120htz. Mine did so i got hte DELUXE card (tv tuner and 3D glasses). the glasses plugged into the card and where fairly light wieght. What it did was render 2 images at 60htz (reason you needed double that on monitor). To be honest when you first seen it .. whoa (to quote K Reeves), then about 15 minutes later your head started to hurt. I tried quite a few games and remebre being impressesed at first glance but not being able to handle it (headaches) for more then 10-20 minutes at a time. I was big into the FPS of the time and tied several, i can rember it feeling a bit 3D but not adding to my gameplay experiance. I also had the V-boy and had the same problem with headaches (in fact have a couple new in box when you could pick um up for $25 with 3-4 games).

3D is alot like motion control, very cool idea, when used properly its fun, when used just to use it (like 80% of all Wii games) its bad and not worth the time.

From my understanding 3D has came along way, i hear the Movies dont cause headaches as fast as the old tech did (still see several people who complain). I have yet to see one of the new 3D movies (Avatar was as close as i got, wanted to see it in 3D , but never made it).

I See 3D as the next few years "motion" controler, a fad, I still think MS and Sony trying to jump on the "me too" bandwagon is a mistake. Unless the tech was easy to develop and cheap, they will sell alot of "Robby the Robots" to people who will never use um. The SONY eye toy was cool, but never used. MS has made tons of controlers for PC's and none has lasted. As for nintendo, it couldnt beat them with hardware so it beat them with inovation, i think the 3D thing is trying to catch lightining in a bottle twice. Unless its pretty dang spiffy and cool, i cant see it happening.

Matt Barton
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I agree, clock. Even when

I agree, clock. Even when seeing Avatar, the 3D wasn't perfect. It wasn't rock solid--I frequently found myself adjusting the glasses and so on and in general being distracted by it. It can even get annoying, needlessly distracting you from the film to go "oooooo, ahhhh" when some dust particles float towards you or what-not. What we really need is some way to make the things more solid and less dependent on perspective and such. Again, the Time Traveler hologram game came close there--it looked great. I guess that tech turned out to be untenable.

I remember being really into the stereoscopic stuff for awhile, squinting at images and such. I also enjoyed my 3D Viewfinder toy as a kid. Even those tend to have more of a "ooooh, ahhh" effect than anything serious or truly artistic. Maybe it's just the way the stuff is presented, but I've yet to see many applications for this stuff where it really made sense and just couldn't have been as effectively without the tech. It's kinda like we're stuck in the FMV era of PC gaming, where people keep thinking the key is more and more FMV rather than a new type of game (i.e., Doom).

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Catatonic
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I heard that one problem

I heard that one problem with translating games into 3D is that you start to notice the shortcuts, i.e. a lot of things are flat planes textured to look 3D, but they really aren't. And with the "real" 3D effect you would notice the flatness.

What system was being used when you watched Avatar? I heard there are at least 3 of them in cinemas. One is polarized lenses (cheap glasses, separation is imperfect - they have to run a "de-ghosting" process, needs a shiny silver movie screen). Another is shutter glasses (expensive, works on a regular movie screen). Then there is Dolby 3D, uses some kind of "interference filter", in which I believe the light for left & right eyes use different spectrums of light but still look white. (essentially, the red green & blue are slightly different for each eye but you're not supposed to notice it)

clok1966
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3D will work when they find

3D will work when they find a way to actually use it and not gimic it. I give the Wii alot of flack, but the simple reason its a success (depending on how you look at it, pure "it prints money for nintendo" , its HUGE, lasting appeal, im not to sure) is the first games used the controler well. Problem was sports games (which most of the early succesfull Wii games where) can only be done so many ways, baseball swinging a bat is really only part of game Wiimote is made for, catching, throwing, pitching all do not lend to the wiimote. games like boxing do, at least for the hands part, but the head movment and body movment, no, this is a place Natel may accel (but again, boxing is one place, but what else?) natel is sposed to be laggy, so baseball pitching (as in you simulate a hard throw) wont work well. the Wii had a great idea, it just hasnt found enough ways to use it. To many games use the wii mote just to "use it". metroid, great game, fun to play.. then all the sudden i have to open doors with a twist/push thing? it used the Wii mote.. cool.. but its boring to do over and over, a simple button push makes much more sense it doenst slow game down, those door cycles are just in game to use the wii mote... not a good way if making a game in my opionion. This is where the Wii is going ot have its problems, (well In my opinion it already does, far to many games that use the mote, but only because its there, not because its a better way to control it.)

I can see 3D this way in games, side scroller jump games with forgrounds and backgrounds in 3d! I mean look at movies that are 3D, as mentioned, alot of the 3D stuff is not part of the movie story, but put in the movie to show off the 3D (monsters vs Aliens- right at start the paddle ball, while this doesnt detract from movie at all, we all know its there for one reason only, to show off 3D). When 3D gets going (it will, for good or bad i think) how many games will have it, just to have it?

The good part of it all is.. much like the Wii, there are going to be some cool games that use it well, the bad, there are going to be alot more that use it poorly or add to the game just to show it off.

I think 3D will be a big thing, but I think it will be only a big thing for a short while. its going to sell alot of glasses and other items (which the hardware guys will love) that will sit in a box a year later, and be talked about on here in 10 years :)

Bill Loguidice
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A Vectrex 3D Imager in a

A Vectrex 3D Imager in a rough box just sold for $500: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=390176066662&ssPageNa...

I'm glad I have a homebrew version, otherwise I'd never own one!

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Boy, would this make for an

Boy, would this make for an AWESOME 3D game or what? Seems PERFECT for a great conversion to 3D!

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