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The DirectX Ceiling is Close!

By Neil Schneider

I came across this article, and I think it’s GOLDEN! Earlier this month, [H]Enthusiast did a special feature comparing DirectX 9 and DirectX 10 in Crysis complete with comparative screen captures from different parts of the game. What were their findings?

DX10 has an efficiency advantage because it requires less memory to do the same thing, but visually this is what they had to say:

“We did find IQ differences, but they were ever so slight. We discovered that running Crysis in DX10 provides better HDR contrast than in DX9. There seemed to be a better overall tone of light and dark colors when we compared still screen shot images. When playing the game it was near impossible to tell the difference between DX9 and DX10, and we even knew the exact nuances we were trying to realize. Taking the Pepsi Challenge in Crysis comparing IQ between DX9 and DX10 would likely end in a draw. Only upon very close examination of screenshots could we truly identify the differences.”

Tim Sweeny, Founder and CEO of Epic Games, was recently interviewed by TG Daily. Here are his remarks on DirectX 10:

“I think that the roadmap was sound, but DirectX 10 was just a small incremental improvement over DX9. The big news items with DirectX 9 were pixel and vertex shaders: You could write arbitrary code and DX10 just takes that to a new level, offering geometry shaders and numerous features and modes. It doesn’t change graphics in any way at all, unlike DX9. That was a giant step ahead of DirectX 7 and DirectX 8.“

Dare I say I told you so?

In an earlier editorial, I remarked that we are seeing diminished returns in PC gaming from a thrill to dollar point of view. 2D gaming is reaching its ceiling potential much faster than anyone anticipated. Granted, DirectX 10 is still in its infancy, and the hardware performance still has to catch up to the processing requirements of the visual potential, but the core problem remains. How can PC gaming renew its diminishing advantage over console solutions?

The next popular innovation in gaming has to be a solution where gamers sit down in front of their computer and say “WOW”! It has to be an obvious experience that is memorable, and justifies the expense associated with multi-core GPUs and high performance set-ups.

It is clear to me that stereoscopic 3D gaming is that solution. It meets these criteria because it is visually obvious. We know from 3D Hollywood cinema that stereoscopic 3D movies draw more demand and interest from movie goers, and makes for a memorable experience.

S-3D technologies require 20% to 30% more processing power than traditional 2D gaming, so that justifies the additional performance hardware in the PC market.

For the time being, while I have seen some consoles with stereoscopic 3D game play, I’m unconvinced that they have the processing power needed to drive high resolution stereoscopic 3D displays (e.g. 3D HDTV). Time will tell, but we may need to wait until follow-up hardware consoles are available that include surplus performance power to compensate for the needs of S-3D gaming. This is just an opinion, though – let’s see what the market brings to market!

Will S-3D appeal to all PC gamers? Based on studies we did through MTBS, an accurate answer would be that stereoscopic 3D gaming will appeal to players seeking superior game immersion and visual beauty. There are five to seven million hardcore PC gamers in the market today, and to start, this is the target audience worth aiming for.

According to the latest NPD report, 90% of the gamers who play online do so with their PC – the core market our stereoscopic 3D industry is dependent on, and the exact gaming environment that is conducive to needing superior game immersion and visual beauty.

As I have said before, stereoscopic 3D resets the thrill to dollar ratio in the PC market’s favor, and I am looking forward to a lot of movement in the video game industry to acknowledge this.

Post your thoughts HERE!