3d TV

Hello 3d gaming

I have now had to chance to spent a decent amount of time trying out my panasonic 3D 42″ TV. I have been intrigued by the demos of 3d content I have seen and in particular the consequences for gaming, and what prolonged gaming feels like.
3d gaming
There seems to be enough 3d content out there to warrant the upgrade. Xbox, Ps3(games and 3d blu ray), and Sky 3d all having things to offer
The first extended game I had was a few hours on Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3. Initially this was a disorientating effect using the in car view, the layers of HUD information being closer than the car details meant it was a little harder to take in the peripheral information from the HUD. After about 20 minutes though I think my brain adjusted and it became a very compelling experience. If anything it was braking that became more obvious, and some of the turn in points and reference points were more obvious. I have been playing driving games for a long while and have seen others struggle a little with the concept of slowing down for corners as unless you immerse yourself into the experience mentally you can’t feel the forces of the car. The 3d certainly helped with this. Spinning out was also a bizarre experience and it seemed to be quicker to deal with that and have the situational awareness.
Equally wearing the glasses has an odd bubble effect that makes it feel a bit more like it does when you get in a car. After the initial 20 minutes adjustment I felt no more odd finishing the session than playing normally.
Next up was Black Ops on the Xbox 360. Turning the 3d on was a bit more fiddly than in GT5 as the TV did not respond automatically and you have to select side by side 3d, the PS3 switches things automatically. (It seems Sky 3d doesn’t switch either).
The HUD crosshair is a little distracting initially as it breaks the immersion, there is an option to turn this off but that seemed to crash the machine! That aside the experience is brilliant IMHO. I had played through most of the game already but the last few chapters in 3d were amazing. The disorientated running around towards the end with the “numbers” zooming around was a stunning piece, and I am looking forward to going back and trying things like the first vietnam sequence.
However the test was really to play the online training multiplayer with bots and with @asanyfuleno. I found that I felt more in control and aware of my surroundings. I think this may be similar to the driving game mental model. I know that in FPS’s it takes me a while to feel the levels. I felt instantly connected to the environment and whilst this would still not equate to pwnage online I felt the 3d levelled me up, at least in situational awareness.
The view down iron sights and cross hairs is also remarkable.
As with the driving the glasses did not get in the way, but seemed to place you somewhere other than the room you are actually in. This was not something I was expecting to happen, but thinking about it it makes sense.
The third game was Tumble on the PS3 with Move. I have said before how fantastic Tumble is with the tactile feedback and I have to say it is very much enhanced by the feeling of space crated with 3d. The need to use the shadows of the blocks as reference points just melts away.
So a nights gaming on 3d was enhanced and from my point of view will only get better as we get more used to it and designers take advantage of it. I think being an old school gamer I will still play 2d games and with a 4 year old in the house (where the advice is to not use 3d for under 7’s) means we can’t do all 3d gaming yet. However as many of the games I end up playing are 18 rated that is not such a big issue.
There was an additional serendipitous happening when I purchased the TV from Best Buy, whilst waiting for the box to come out of the stock room I got talking to the head of the 3d TV section, who also happens to run a startup creating 3d displays(more of that in a later post). It was fascinating to be talking to someone who knew a lot about the subject. Its one of the reasons I like Best Buy, no pressure or hassle salespeople and when you do talk they know their stuff. This was by contrast with my experience when I popped into Comet to get an extra audio optical cable, the salesman was pleasant enough but when he asked if he could help me I was not expecting to have to explain to him what an optical audio cable was for. He also made the usual “pay more for cables as the signal is better” type of comment which for many digital things simply isn’t true anymore.
So…. shop in Best Buy!

Passive and Active 3d TV x 2 or x 0

We seem to be on the cusp of a 3d TV revolution. There are real 3d TV’s in real shops to buy. They are expensive (ish) but the massive growth in flat screen digital televisions, the introduction of high definition and the HDMI cables and sockets to drive them has had a knock on effect to create the base for 3d TV’s to enter the market.

The speed this has happened is stunning. It was only a few years ago that we got our first large LCD TV. It was by no means a common sight in stores, the cathode ray tubes bulked up most of the space in the tech shops. We may have adopted a little early as ours only goes to 1080i or 720p not full HD at 1080p as its called. However its been a great TV and having HD content to drive it, in particular from the games consoles has been superb.
Now though its getting a bit washed out. It needs a replacement. I went to experience some 3d TV’s to see if it was worth it yet and found myself in that awkward upgrade path dilemma. The two I looked at were very different and felt very different. A passive cheap glasses version and an active “glasses need batteries” one. Like all these things I am sure you get used to them eventually but I could see the frames flicking in the active one, not in a really obvious way but I could feel the tech working. The passive glasses over the top of regular glasses give the same feeling as when you put your specs on in the morning and you eyes and brain struggle for grip.
So, yes the pictures were in 3D, though they seemed to be more cut out layers (in the football anyway) than the depth of the cinema experiences like Avatar.
The thing I did not get to try though was 3d gaming. I am wondering if the fact that TV watching is a passive activity that we sit back and wait for the entertainment means we notice more the effect of the glasses. After all we have been watch TV all out lives and are pre disposed to know how it feels. Gaming on the other hand brings an expectation of getting in there and doing things. I suspect that may be more of a draw to a 3d TV.
Game content, and virtual world content of course lends itself to being rendered in full 3d. The model of the world in many games is already fully 3d. We known that the door over there is 5 metres away and the tree swaying the in breeze is off to the right and 30 metres away. Objects are places in virtual environments, hence they are already instrumented to allow a virtual camera to render them in 3d. That feels like it will make for much more obvious and less planar 3d experiences.
Soccer and TV on the other hand has to deal with a finite number of cameras to sense and understand the depth of an image. Whilst every pixel in a scene of a game may be addressable with an xyz component we don’t yet have cameras that understand every photon arriving at them and its relative position in the world.
So I am left wondering if there is a combination that works well here. Does a passive experience only need a passive 3d system, an active game experience an active 3d system. Probably neither.
With systems starting to sense where we are in the world I think the use of 3d glasses will fall away rapidly. Specs are a barrier to entry for a mass use device like TV. They are not such a barrier to gamers though. Kinect will known who is where in a room, not full precise eye tracking but its a massive leap forward, all it needs is the devices showing the pictures to know where to send them. I.e. be truly active and like the eyes of a painting follow you around the room your visual and audio experience is tuned to you.
It is not so far fetched as you can see here a system that tracks 2 people in a room and projects the correct left and right images to them.
The nintendo 3DS which is a single user game console has very smartly added no glasses lenticular 3D. Though it has raised another concern over 3d visuals (I am starting to sound a tad luddite) and children under 7’s eyes.
Given what I felt wearing the early specs it does feel as if there is a pull on the eyes. Yet as in the article above a totally glasses free system such as the 3ds seems to have less effect and have less impact.
So I really don’t know. I feel that being a gamer is really the driving factor here. More interesting and immersive experiences. Being a metaverse evangelist working worlds that already have 3d and that can also be made more natural for people to enter and understand also makes sense. As an early adopter I don’t want to be too early though and miss out as we did with Full HD. As a parent I certainly don’t want to cause any harm to the predlets.
So TV industry and games industry. What is going to convince me to make this buying decision ?