By Bill Wallace
I walked into the RealD room at SIGGRAPH still excited that Will Wright of Sims and Spore fame had mentioned stereo 3D in his keynote address. I knew Neil Schneider was going to be presenting a gaming panel on stereo 3D, so after receiving my polarized RealD glasses, I took a seat in the front row. The room filled fairly quickly and I saw many people who had been at the NVIDIA stereo 3D presentation the day before for Resident Evil 5.
I recognized Andrew Oliver of Blitz Games Studios who was being seated at the panel. There was also Habib Zargarpour with Electronic Arts and Nicolas Schultz with Crytek. Before the presentation, I took a quick look behind me to see how filled the room had become and there were several hundred industry people wearing their stereo 3D glasses waiting.
After a personal introduction, Neil gave some quick biographies of the panelists. Especially illuminating for me were the personal histories of the panelists Neil went in to and how they all talked about their computer gaming experiences going back to when they were just young teenagers. These are very passionate people at each of their respective companies with decades of experience.
Neil spoke eloquently and passionately about the future of stereo 3D gaming, and then introduced Andrew Oliver. After a very thorough introduction to the various methods of achieving stereo 3D with different hardware, Andrew asked for the demo of “Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao” to begin. It amazed me to hear that many experts told him that Stereo 3D on current generation XBOX and PlayStation was simply not possible, and the challenge to innovate excited him. I also suffered from the misconception that stereo 3D on current consoles was not possible.
Invincible Tiger delivered beyond what I think anyone was expecting. That this quality of stereo 3D gaming was coming from a console solution was very impressive to me. I have seen many stereo 3D PC solutions with much greater hardware not achieve this level of sheer S-3D quality. It took me a few moments to really appreciate what had just been achieved, stereo 3D console gaming on already available hardware solutions. Gaming history had just been made by Neil Schneider and Andrew Oliver.
Andrew Oliver went on to describe how Invincible Tiger was developed to be like the old karate gaming platformers and the Last Ninja and Karateka immediately came to mind – I think this game is a great tribute to them. Invincible Tiger also has an old aged film cinema feature that made me feel like I was truly watching an old karate movie, and it brought back many happy memories of my youth. Although I only owned a Wii at the time of this presentation, I have now since purchased an XBOX and PlayStation because of Andrew Oliver and Blitz and Invincible Tiger.
Next up was Nicolas Schultz with CryENGINE 3. It is hard to describe these experiences in words, but suffice it to say for the first time I felt that movie the “matrix” had been made real. As Nicolas moved the character around the jungle forest with a running river and waterfall, I felt so immersed in the stereo 3d environment and it seemed so REAL, I felt like I could reach into the running stream and pull out a trout.
CryENGINE 3’s stereo 3D was excellently implemented and it was surprising to me that they did not require any drivers and did all the stereo 3d internally with their own game engine. Again gaming history had just been made.
Before this presentation I had misconceptions that without a driver, in-house stereo 3d was not practical for a game developer. Nicolas blasted off one side of a cliff with a rocket, and as the rocks flew out at me, it was exhilarating to see how realistic and well done everything appeared. The future of gaming was revolutionized for me, and several misconceptions I held on to were corrected and humbled.
Finally Neil introduced Habib Zargarpour, and Need for Speed SHIFT was up next. Neil had said that DDD had worked with him to get SHIFT ready and this was the first time Habib was playing this game in stereo 3D. I was sitting in the front row, and the machine everyone was using was about two seats away from me. I believe I was the closest person to Habib, so I could see his first impressions of SHIFT in stereo 3d.
I was rather skeptical that much more gaming history could be made on top of what already had happened. Well the surprises never stopped. Habib chose his favorite car, the BMW G2 and the game began.
I am not sure if it was the high quality immersive experience of the cockpit, the highly detailed perfectly done stereo 3D, or just the seemingly amazing physics, but I truly began to think NASCAR will need to partner with EA because I now see myself staying home a lot racing instead of heading out to the Daytona 500 as much. It was exhilarating and my heart began racing. As much as I wanted to push Habib out of the way and take his controller for myself, I could see in his eyes the excitement of SHIFT in stereo 3D that I think everyone in the room was feeling.
Gaming History never stopped. Neil gave what was presented as the first stereo 3d PowerPoint presentation on S-3D programming issues that he put together with Yuriy Nicksych and Syd Bolton. I have been a stereo 3D user since the very first release of Eyescream and a very active member of several stereo 3d forums and websites. This presentation actually cleared up a couple more misconceptions I had about stereo 3D and just further proved a point that Neil has driven home several times now – there are many misconceptions about stereo 3d, from the newest newbie to even some veterans, to executives, game players, game reviewers, and stereo 3d game developers.
So the next announcement by Neil I think gave the best hope for us all – The S-3D Gaming Alliance (S3DGA): an industry gaming alliance to bring standards and knowledge to everyone involved in the future of stereo 3D gaming. I believe this is needed and will greatly accelerate the introduction and acceptance of the stereo 3D gaming industry. An event that I believe will go down in the annals of history.
MTBS NOTE: Thanks Bill! Bill Wallace will be back regularly to help cover some of the leading gaming conferences around the world. Thanks again, and keep up the great work!