3D Gaming is Not Dead. It Just Needs to be Reinvented – Part One
Too many naysayers and analysts are saying that 3D is dead. Even within the video game industry, folks are saying that 3D gaming is headed towards the way of the dodo. But in what these people and manufacturers are not telling the consumer is that the hardware will always be around. Sony revealed that the option will exist in all their new televisions, and other companies may well follow suit. While 3D is no longer the rage, customers are getting the technology whether they like it or not.
Sadly, if the technology was not rushed out the door when the craze was at its height, then maybe time could have been spent to make the 3D work right, especially for gaming. The problems often addressed has been considered and glasses free 3D viewing is developed. The problem is that it has not arrived in North America in force. In Japan, Toshiba’s Regza line of 3D displays are available for purchase and development into this technology is ongoing. The only unfortunate problem is that nobody really cares these days.
With one major hardware hurdle overcome, the other is with how software developers think outside of the box. Not many games look good in 3D. Even though first person perspective type games are better because it offers a window to the world, platformers, puzzle games, rpgs and simulations (using the top-down perspective) do not truly benefit. They are still relatively two-dimensional.
Now if players were left wondering if they can truly reach that next ledge due to an optical illusion, then there might be something. God of War III had a few of those moments, but that was not the aim by the developers. An older game, Tron: Evolution had some well executed concepts but sadly, it did not reinvent the game of light cycles.
To see that made into a 3D game could have been interesting if it was changed into a simulator game. To play that from a driver’s perspective with a HUDs display to indicate where everyone is would have been fun. And to have the arena rendered in 3D to give a sense of scale would have shown how vast it is. In this mode, to have the light walls push out of the screen and towards the player might have tested the limits of what 3D displays can do. Sadly, no games ever go that far. Many cinematographers have often wanted to throw that rock right at the viewer’s face, but the video editors do not stretch those limits out long enough to make it feel dangerous. The same can be said for the developers for video games. They do not want that stick to hit the proverbial nose.
3D should not be a window to another world. Instead, it should be a splash to the face. The few games developed for Nintendo’s 3DS have the right concept. In Aqua Moto Racing Game, the idea is to have the water feel like it’s splashing the face of the gamer. But sadly, most games do not do that.
Perhaps some augmented reality has to happen like some of William Castle’s films where a vibrating device was put under the seat. In Universal Studio’s 3D stage attractions, the people sitting on first three rows are sprayed with water. Although that kind of interaction does not happen with play-at-home games, that kind of added integration is needed. There’s a reason controllers have built-in vibration devices now. It gives players a chance to respond to some in-game force. Sadly, no developer has decided to go further with it.
To make 3D gaming succeed requires integration with gizmos and gadgets to make players feel like they are part of the action. In part two, perhaps the resurrection requires augmented reality and motion controllers to be realized further to ensure 3D games can respond to the environment. That way, it will not fade away into the Twilight Zone.