Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rein Myopic on Stereoscopic?

Epic's Mark Rein is interviewed on GamesIndustry.biz this morning, and among the juicier quotes they latched onto is this one:

Q: Ubisoft has said that their going to be using 3D - or stereoscopic - technology in games...

Rein: That's dumb.

Q: So there's not going to be an Unreal Engine that supports it then?

Rein: It does already. I have a 3D Monitor sitting in my office and stereoscopic has worked on Unreal for a long time. [snip] So unreal works fine on stereoscopic, it's just that you've got to change out your screens to use it - that's a big accessory.

I really like Mark, but I think he's missed the point on this one. I don't believe that 3D monitors are going to be what the console manufacturers latch onto, if in fact they decide to differentiate via stereoscopic 3D. It'll be via LCD shutter glasses with the TV you've already got.

LCD shutter glasses have the downside that (a) they are glasses, so you have to wear them and look dorky, with which I am well acquainted, and (b) you need a pair for each person in the room.

The upside, however, is that they are cheap (e.g. sub-$100 products exist with 2 pairs of glasses, so within range of a pack-in peripheral with a high-end title if MS or Sony were to do in real volume), you can ship them as a peripheral along with a USB dongle to drive the shutter (or maybe can be done via the existing IR on the 360 or PS3?).

You can drive existing HDTVs at 30hz per left/right field, which works, but will make your retinas bleed. The more interesting way to drive it is at 60hz per field, on 120Hz LCDs. Anyone who's shopped recently for an HDTV knows that 120Hz refresh is one of those differentiator features that is rapidly becoming a checklist item that will exist across all products in the near future.

Another cool think you can do is two-player games where each player has a full-screen view.

As an aside: You could probably do some other cool social/family games where you flash stuff intermittently on the screen in a way that everyone can see it except the person with the glasses on. Kind of like the 'isolation booth' in old game shows.

Anyhow, it means that adding stereo to a console is probably more of a $25-ish peripheral, not a 'buy a new TV' option as Mark interpreted it.

That being said, I'm not bullish on a feature like this being anything other than a science project mid-console-lifecycle (note that some science projects actually do ship). It's more like something they might go big with in the next cycle.

1 comment:

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