Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

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Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

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By Kris Roberts

Kris Roberts is the head of Robertsmania, a brand new independent video game developer.  For the past nine years, Kris worked for Rockstar Games and Angel Studios as a game designer and most recently served as the lead multiplayer designer for Red Dead Redemption.  Prior to that, he was a senior designer on the Midnight Club series of open city racing games.  Kris Roberts is a long time hobbyist in stereo 3D and is currently very interested in 3D systems designed for the consumer market.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by cybereality »

Great article man, even if it is a little centered on Nvidia. It brings to light *the* major problem with stereo 3d at the moment (well, actually its been a problem for many years) which is that nobody can agree on any sort of standard. Even today when we have HDMI 1.4, there is still confusion as to which devices are actually HDMI 1.4 compliant or what other legacy formats need to be converted to and from this new standard (ie side-by-side). The industry is still a mess. Don't even get me started with the glasses and IR protocol madness. But on the bright side, stand-alone Blu-Ray 3D and PS3 does seems to be pretty much plug and play, so that is good from a consumer standpoint. The biggest issue right now is with PC support.

Nvidia has always been the leader in this field, and that has not changed. However it doesn't seem like they are going to be able to hold this for much longer. Their whole "game" on the PC stereoscopic front for the past couple years was to monopolize the market and force display manufacturers and consumers into their "walled garden". Get consumers to buy their video cards, buy their glasses, buy their "certified" displays, buy the "3D vision ready" games that were part of their "meant to be played" program, etc. Get license fees from the display manufacturers so they could provide the product to the 3D market that Nvidia controls. Seems likes a pretty good scheme (scam?). But HDMI 1.4 basically blew that whole thing out the water. In order not to totally lose relevance, they basically had to support the HDMI 1.4 standard and that was why they reluctantly brought out 3D TV Play. But now people can buy their own "uncertified" displays, non-Nvidia glasses, etc. So they lose a major revenue stream and also some power in the market. However it does keep consumers buying their Nvidia-brand video cards, which I guess is their bottom line. But with AMDs HD 3D initiative, they will quickly lose this edge. The DDD and iz3D drivers are both very nice quality, although maybe not as polished and plug-and-play as the Nvidia drivers. But people like choice, and not everyone wants to pay top dollar for a video card when AMD has comparable hardware for much less money. So it will be nice to see the market open up a bit more once HDMI 1.4 becomes more relevant in the PC space. At the moment there are still a lot of compatibility issues with legacy hardware (meaning all of it) not to mention the fact that HDMI 1.4 is limited to 720P which is a joke for PC gamers. So many things wrong with this situation. Really, its going to be years before I see this settling down at all. Exciting times, for sure.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Chiefwinston »

Thanks Kris, yes Nvidia has had a nice 3D solution for many years. Unfortunately, the writing is on the wall for PC gaming. Yeah there will be a lot guys flaming me for saying this- because this is a PC centered site. But I believe PC gaming is on life support. The PC's current level of hardware development will be were console gaming will be in the next generation. I hope I'm wrong. But a simple trip to most stores will reveal a large well orginized console gaming section. Look at the PC section- kinda depressing. So with that lack of $ cloat= less concern for harware support (3D projectors).

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Neil »

I don't know about that. Do you think it's possible that a lot of ordinarily retail boxed PC games are being transitioned to digital distribution models like Steam? The big money makers are still the MMOGs, and if I remember correctly, over 90% of them are still based on PC.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Chiefwinston »

There's no doubt the PC has its great games that make money. I play games on all the current systems. The PC pie looks to be getting smaller every year though- not good. At one time the PC was the only way to play high quality AAA games. That has changed. I could be wrong Neil. Its more an observation from my consumer point of view. Software piracy has also bitten the PC. Its considerably harder to pirate consoles. A PC game is avialable for free download the next day after its release. That cant be a great feeling for a PC game developer trying to pay his bills. I would think it would make that platform less attractive.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Neil »

Hi Chief,

What I'm suggesting is that maybe the games are being transitioned to a digital model and aren't appearing in retail stores in the same abundance because they are no longer being sold that way. Retail copies are easily pirated, but digital versions by Steam (for example) don't work unless you are actively logged in. Ubisoft has something similar.

I have no numbers to back this up, but digital downloads may be what brings PC back. Of course, then there is the cloud computing specter hanging over everyone's head - including console... :mrgreen:

Regards,
Neil

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by cybereality »

I doubt the PC gaming market it going anywhere. It may not be the core market for a lot of developers, but I still think it is an essential revenue stream for many of them. I mean, in 2010 the PC gaming market brought in some $15 Billion in revenue ( http://www.pcgametrek.com/pc-gaming-industry-2010/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ). $15 Billion dollars is not exactly what I call a dead market.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Chiefwinston »

It might be $15 billion down from $16 billion down from $20. It looks like a downward trend. I have no numbers to back this. It's only based on observation. Theres currently 4 primary gaming platforms: PC ,360, Ps3, and the Wii. The Wii has ate a huge share of the gaming dollar pie. The PS3 and 360 have eaten an equal amount from the gaming dollar pie. The PC has probably the smallest piece of the gaming dollar pie. Yet, a good gaming PC rig will set you back $1600. Making it the most expensive base platform by several factors. The gaming experience on a PC is not 4 times better performance wise. My point being cost is hurting PC gaming. A bad economy, new competition from tablets, and some pretty good gaming alternatives makes me think the trend is down. But on a stereo 3d gaming/entertainment front- life is good. Real good. As a matter of fact it's in fantastic shape. Integration into existing and upcoming platforms looks permanent to me. Passing fade remarks of 3D have no relevance.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by cybereality »

Actually the PC gaming market was only at $11 Billion back in 2008 ( http://kotaku.com/5181379/pc-gaming-mar ... -fun-facts" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ) so there is actually a significant amount of growth happening here. Keep in mind this includes the casual PC gaming market (Farmville, etc.) in addition to stuff like MMOs (World of Warcraft) and other more traditional PC games (Call of Duty, etc.).

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Chiefwinston »

I kinda took a different approach to this set of 3d equipment. I actually had 2 benq pb6240 pjs in my grasp with new bulbs for about $500. I took one look at a Panasonic VT25 and it changed my 3d course forever. My boat is with HDMI 1.4 now. All gaming hardware will have to work to this spec to go into my ultimate game room. One big surprise to me with HDMI 1.4 is 3d blu-ray. 3d blu-ray on a vt25 is KILLER. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it is.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by KrisRoberts »

I dont think PC games are going away any time soon. Most of the boxed PC games I have gone to the store to buy recently have actually taken me directly to Steam after installing the initial assets from the disk. I think the days of store bought PC games is going to end before the games themselves do.

But I dont think its a PC vs Console debate anyway. At the moment there is so much content for stereo 3D gaming on the PC that its really important to me and something I think the display manufacturers and (obviously) video card people should be on top of. The critical part is getting things to work easily for the average consumer - whether they want to play console games, pc games, or both. I think we'll get there.

From a developer's point of view there are many dilemmas. I don't think we have seen a game yet that embraces stereo 3D in a truly innovative/progressive way to make it an absolutely core part of the experience. My hunch is we will see more people making an effort in that direction with independent PC projects rather than console console games. Their success may determine whether the next console generation focuses on stereo 3D or not.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Likay »

KrisRoberts wrote:I dont think PC games are going away any time soon. Most of the boxed PC games I have gone to the store to buy recently have actually taken me directly to Steam after installing the initial assets from the disk. I think the days of store bought PC games is going to end before the games themselves do.
I literally hate this part! To play your own bought game you still need an internet connection and still need to activate your game. I don't mind at all today but what happens if companies decides to take down such services in the future such render every game useless. Just idiotic!
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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Chiefwinston »

Yeah I'm not a big fan of the digital distribution model. I like having a nice looking game case with cool looking art on the box. A computer crash or the provider simply closing shop are very real possibilities.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Fredz »

KrisRoberts wrote:I don't think we have seen a game yet that embraces stereo 3D in a truly innovative/progressive way to make it an absolutely core part of the experience. My hunch is we will see more people making an effort in that direction with independent PC projects rather than console console games. Their success may determine whether the next console generation focuses on stereo 3D or not.
Innovation in the gaming field has always happened in the console market in the past (touch screens, Wiimote, balance board, kinect, etc.) and even moreso with stereo 3D. We've seen mechanical shutters for the Vectrex (3D Imager), LC shutters glasses with the Famicom 3D or the Segascope, VR helmets like the Sega VR and Virtual Boy or more recently the SolidEye stereoscope on the PSP. In the end, even if many of these attempts have failed, consoles have always been the field were innovation happens.

On the contrary, I can't remember about any innovation on the PC side for the last 15 years concerning stereo 3D. Shutter glasses have appeared in 1995 on this platform and in 2011 we're still at the same point : always the same old technology used in the same way (ie. shutter glasses) and still less than an handful of native S3D games (even less than in the old MS-DOS days).

There are even more native S3D games on the PS3 than there have ever been on the PC, and recent reviews of the Nintendo 3DS have already demonstrated very innovative ways of using S3D, autostereoscopic screen or augmented reality S3D games for example. So I really think innovation will come from the consoles, I've really no hope for the PC.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by KrisRoberts »

Those are excellent points, but I remain optimistic and hope to see innovation on both the PC and Consoles. What seems different to me with whats happening now as opposed to the past is that consumer grade displays are finally available. I'm not expecting pc or console developers to produce specialized hardware to support stereo 3D, rather we're finally at the stage where you can count on a growing market of people who have 3D capable sets and want compelling game content.

I guess the main reason I think the PC is viable is because the barriers to entry are so low. Hobbyists, students, and independent developers can use the PC to experiment and make games with virtually no investment beyond a computer and display. Heck, I'm using XNA studio to play with some game mechanic ideas I want to explore in stereo 3D. I know others who are doing so as well.

Doing anything on a console has so many more hurdles and costs that its pretty much out of the question for many people outside established studios. Any console game MUST be fun without stereo 3D which is also why I expect the big guys to continue to see it as a bolt on feature rather than make it an absolutely core part of a game that requires it.

But who knows, hopefully we'll see cool stuff and progressive games poping up all over the place.

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Re: Kris Roberts Reports on CES 2011 and HDMI 1.4 Compliance

Post by Fredz »

It would be nice to see this happen on the PC, and you are right that the barrier to entry is very low and gives the opportunity for independant developers to find new ways for creating stereoscopic content. But this situation has existed since 2001 with the release of the NVIDIA stereo driver and I've not seen any innovation in the use of stereoscopic 3D since then.

Hopefully some developers will take the plunge some day and will offer us news ways of interacting with stereo 3D, like eye tracking for immersive orthoscopic rendering or augmented reality games. We'll see...

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