The Problem with 3D in Games

3deezIn an attempt to cash in on the 3D fever in the wake of Avatar, a number of Hollywood studios began retrofitting big films with 3D (Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, The Last Airbender), a move that is troubling, because films not made for 3D are often ill-suited for it. In order for a film to be watchable in polarized stereoscopic 3D, it has to follow certain guidelines: each shot must last at least two seconds, and camera movement must not exceed a certain speed. In games, quick cutting is not really an issue, but camera movement speed definitely is.

Cue Mike Hayes, president of Sega West, who spoke about 3D and other things with gamesindustry.biz. “I was talking to someone playing MotorStorm who pointed out that you do get nauseous after about 15 minutes with motion sickness…” I’m with you so far, Mike. “…which is a fundamental issue about how much 3D you can consume.”

Sorry, Mike, that’s not the problem. If 15 minutes were the most you could spend in one sitting with 3D, then 3D movies would not be wildly successful. The problem is with the game in question. The concept for Motorstorm was not created with 3D in mind, and a Motorstorm title is just not going to be palatable in 3D unless the action onscreen is toned down or the speed of the game is slowed. This is why someone would say the 3D in Motorstorm is distracting.

Let’s try again, Mike. “The good news as a developer is that to implement 3D it’s relatively cheap, and a lot of us can do that relatively painlessly.” Wrong again. Yes, you can add it pretty easily, since you already have 3D models in your games, but that doesn’t mean it will work well. If the entire game isn’t crafted with the intent that it be rendered in three dimensions, there will be issues like those with Motorstorm. Look at Clash of the Titans 3D, for example.

The more you know, indeed.

As always, conversations with important industry folks are very interesting, so I encourage you to visit GI for the full interview.

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