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Old 08-26-2010, 09:31 PM   #1
LukeVGC
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Article on the 3DS.

Hey guys!

Haven't posted here since my PoP review way back when, but the 3DS has really got my thinking about the 3D industry as a whole and the success the handheld could bring to the presence of 3D in the home, rather than just in the cinema or indeed on the 3DS. The 'forbidden land', if you will.

Here it is - see whether you agree/disagree.

--------------------------

The 3DS - Can Nintendo’s handheld be a success and usher 3D into the mainstream?

I remember whenthe DS launched back in 2004. Critics and consumers alike were blown away by its maverick approach to gaming. By imposing the DS with hardware that was already somewhat archaic, Nintendo fought against the murmurs of discontent from tech-savvy elitists who claimed that a handheld platform without adequate hardware in the modern day would not attract enough core gamers. After all, without the ability to render vast expanses, buffer stunningly detailed textures and provide a clear sense of gaming progression in aesthetic terms, the DS was seemingly a limp and ineffective opponent to Sony’s PSP.

Yet, as we all know, Nintendo have had the last laugh. It’s launch was met with mass media attention and massive market-shares. Over 6 million were sold in North America and Japan a mere eight months after this.

What brought the DS to such consumer attention and to the forefront of handheld gaming was not a processor of immense power, nor indeed a GPU capable of providing spectacular visuals, but rather the vision of Nintendo to create an immersive experience using a simple touch-screen. To describe it as intuitive is perhaps disregarding the work done by various cell phone conglomerates of the time whom developed and honed the technology. To disregard it as simplistic and gimmicky however is to ignore the clever production designers and risk-takers at Nintendo whom strove to eradicate the idea that the industry could only move forward with behemoths of computerized power and technical nuance.

Fast forward to 2010 (and most likely 2011 given Nintendo’s ambiguous release date references) and the 3DS has much in common with its predecessor. It has arrived at a time where blockbuster franchises such as Uncharted, Killzone and Crysis are demonstrating the incredible power of modern day hardware and proving that hardware limitations on the imagination are becoming less and less prevalent. There’s no denying that these games are pristine blockbusters in their own right - to do so would be to adopt an increasingly anachronistic ‘gameplay-above-all-else’ perception of games when the entire ethos, atmosphere and mechanics of a title are often defined by its visual styling.

Yet Nintendo have once again torn up the rulebook. By adopting 3D into their new platform, Nintendo have taken a risk. Akin to touch-screen technology in 2003, 3D is still somewhat of a niche. Whilst it is the new darling of film, 3D as a consumable experience is still relatively obscure and unattainable for the majority of people.

There’s no denying however, that 3D in the modern-day has become solidified into something that works effectively and enhances your media experience - a far cry from its general ineffectiveness of the 50s and 80s. With this resurgence in both its popularity and presentability, Nintendo have sought to capitalize on the format with a new format of their own.

That isn’t to say that Nintendo have forgotten about the hardware however. Tech demos such as those of Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid that were demonstrated at E3 evidence the increased power of the platform over the DS. Indeed, with Japanese company digi3D incorporating their GPU into it, and with Ninty head honcho Satoru Iwata rather cryptically stating that the 3DS will have ‘increased processor performance’, it’s fair to say that the 3DS is a vast technical improvement over its predecessor.

But, as we know, the main selling point of the handheld is its ability to convey an imitation of stereoscopic 3D (that’s a transfer of light into both eyes which allows the brain to see a projected image) without the need for those cumbersome and awkward 3D glasses. In a day where ease of use is perhaps best typified by the iPhone, Nintendo’s 3DS follows suit with a powerful 3D experience that can be accessed with nonchalant effort.

The question of whether the 3DS will become a success is almost a non-starter. Industry experts and financial forecasters have almost unanimously agreed that the 3DS could well outstrip the some 120 million sales of the DS franchise within a few years. With the cost of manufacturing relatively low for Nintendo given their reliance on already existing technology - rather than building their own from the ground up ala the Cell in the PS3 - it’s also safe to assume that they will rake in a healthy profit on each device.

Perhaps the most pertinent questions about the 3DS is whether it can both work in a gaming-sense and propel 3D itself into something that isn’t just accessed by movie-goers, but something that can be sustained in homes up and down the country.

In a gaming-sense, 3D can often add much to the entire experience of a title. Depth perception and an augmented sense of reality are two things that Sony are quick to marquee when discussing their console support for 3D, and with numerous impressions emerging all the time about the 3DS capabilities to render a very convincing 3D-imitation, it can be said that 3D could become a staple of gaming once the handheld launches.

What about 3D in the living-room though? Can Nintendo’s console propel that to new heights?

It’s a difficult question to answer because right now, 3D as a living-room experience is fragmented and unconvincing. Having experienced a 3DTV myself, I can safely say that the format still has a long way to go.

Whilst 3D in film has evolved for the better through an experiential process, 3D in the home is still in pre-school. For one, 3DTVs are not mass market products. They are incredibly expensive, and given that only high-end manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung and LG are pumping out TVs of this kind, 3DTV is even more unattainable unless you have large disposable income because no middle-ground manufacturers are willing to invest in the technology and offer those bargain alternatives to brand-names.

Moreover, the effect of 3D within the home is still in its infancy. There are numerous ghosting problems, interference of natural light on the screen etc, and all these severely diminish the effect to the extent that the 3D ironically becomes a facet that takes you back into reality, rather than out of it.

If we’ve learned anything about Nintendo over the past few years however it’s that they love broadening audiences and evolving the industry. The launches of the DS and Wii have brought gaming to brand new markets and to people from cultures and affiliations whom might never have even considered playing games. They, more than anyone, have propelled gaming to a comparable footing with film and music over the past few years.

If anything, the will likely 3DS prove that mass consumption of 3D can be achieved. Indeed, perhaps the toughest question asked of 3D when it rose from the ashes in film just a few years ago was whether it could be turned from a fun but gimmicky and somewhat costly experience into a format that could be accessed by anyone at any time. Nintendo, even before the launch of the 3DS, have answered that with an emphatic affirmative.

The answer to whether the 3DS can turn 3D into a attainable format in the living room ala HD is perhaps then ‘yes’. It’s extremely ironic that the launch of the 3DS could push 3D into a prime position to become the new sweetheart of the home given that critics (most notably one Mr. Roger Ebert) have often lambasted the gaming industry's inability to penetrate the market like the film industry does so effectively. Indeed, the 3DS could do something that film has yet to achieve, and that is to persuade people to experience 3D not only from the cinema, or even from the device in their pocket, but from the hub of their home.

Last edited by LukeVGC; 09-20-2010 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 08-27-2010, 04:18 AM   #2
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Re: Article on the 3DS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LukeVGC View Post
3DTVs are not mass market products.
Actually they are and were for a long time.

CRTs already could do 3d in the 90s. (Elsa...) The same outdated CRTs you can now use again for 3D on PC.
And the average usual LCD can do it also. Not the perfect experience but with almost all current games.
Yesterday i updated my nvidia driver after months.
Now it's got the option for 3dvision.
Turn the option on, put your red cyan (or whatever color) glasses on and Cod4, Anno 1404, UT3, Metro 2033... run in 3D.
Actually no costs. Everyone with a nvidia-PC (not sure if ati also has the same functionality) can try it and those glasses cost nothing.
But 3d seems useless to me.

Ok, the colored glasses destroy the coloring, it's not even near the intended experience, but 3d is really there, but doesn't add anything to the games i tried.
Depth perception, and now what?
Should i aim differently because i now not only can make up the depth according to the size of the human i shoot at? 3d is necessary if you have to move your body in 3D, touch things, but for gameplay that still runs in 2D i don't find the advantage.

The 3ds? It is build from the start to render 3d. That's fine, so every game will try to make use of it, more or less. A standard is important, a standard Sony, LG, Samsung, Toshiba, nvidia afaik not share for the big screen appliance, which is bullshit for the customer. But all game ideas that i saw so far doesn't appear to me that it will be real 3d gameplay. I don't know how this could be done on a 2d-screen with 2d-controls.
Maybe Move + Sonys-3d will be something where i can find the use of 3d.

Astonishing DX11 visuals might be more important to me. 3D is an effect i already know from reality, but pushing cgi to reality is a process not finalized, so this progress is still interesting while "turning on 3D" seems poor compared to that harder ongoing development i'm more exited about.

Last edited by crackajack; 08-27-2010 at 04:26 AM.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:14 AM   #3
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Re: Article on the 3DS.

Just to clarify, I was talking specifically about 3DTVs for the room - aka - big screen HD televisions with 3D capabilities. These TVs are in no way mass market. To be mass market something has to appeal to everyone, and with the exception of people who love technology and have lots of money, 3DTVs do not. It's therefore a niche market at this moment in time.

I know you can get 3D for the PC as I updated my desktop a few weeks ago to upgrade my nVidia drivers. But it's not the same as the full living-room experience and I don't know many people who are interested in getting 3D on their PC games.

I also disagree with the notion that 3D doesn't enhance the gameplay experience. 3D allows you to be swept into a game quite successfully, and while it doesn't give any 'advantages', I very much doubt that a COD lover is going to buy 3D so they can get more headshots....

I do agree with you that a standard is important though. Hopefully the 3DS will push manufacturers of 3DTVs to work out the kinks and make them more affordable.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:56 AM   #4
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Re: Article on the 3DS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LukeVGC View Post
talking specifically about 3DTVs for the room - aka - big screen HD televisions with 3D capabilities.
You wrote mainly about the 3ds?
Big Screen?!?

3ds will be an experience very similar to PC-gaming: One player, one screen. So i thought this niche for gaming (everywhere else than Germany it is, i think) should be mentioned in this thread. A system that allows to play hundreds of games right now in 3d.
With no high costs at all for the trial option with color glasses.

Quote:
But it's not the same as the full living-room experience
why?
Connect your PC (HTPC...) to your screen and it's a living room experience. Either with those colored glasses, cheap and bad, for trial, or add 100 for glasses and get one of those rather small screens for about 200-300 instead of a standard screen for 150-200.
Living room doesn't necessarily mean to me it has to be 32in and above.
Quote:
I don't know many people who are interested in getting 3D on their PC games.
You know people who are interested in normal PC Games beside WoW?
The technology is the leading in moment, and it offers the broadest line-up. Now. Sony and Nintendo is only in the future. If someone really wants 3d now, he can get it at costs that are not extremely high. In Full HD!

Quote:
I also disagree with the notion that 3D doesn't enhance the gameplay experience.
It does nothing for me, nevertheless i see when someone thinks it lets him dive deeper into games with this added dimension.
Maybe i'm just expecting games to evolve in another direction. As a CAD engineer i am used to see 3d without actually seeing it (wireframe ftw), so it's boring to me.

Quote:
Hopefully the 3DS will push manufacturers of 3DTVs to work out the kinks and make them more affordable.
The glasses-less Toshiba is on its way. Will only cost some thousand dollars...
Glasses maker XpanD announced recently glasses that will work with all 3d screens, also with the system in 3d-cinemas.
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:21 AM   #5
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Re: Article on the 3DS.

You misunderstand me. Again, I was looking at how the 3DS might inspire people to buy big screen televisions with 3D capabilities for their living rooms and how it might elevate 3D to something that is practical for everyone in their home. Hooking up a PC to a screen, getting all the settings right, etc is not something that will be done by the MASSES.

You're also talking about PC gaming, which is not the focus of my article. PC gaming is an entirely different prospect. You say that it is the broadest option for
3D, which is absolutely true, but many of the 3DS owners will be casual gamers who have no intention of playing on a PC (through core games such as COD, Metro etc) whether hooked up to their TV or not. More than likely they will look for console manufacturers to support 3D if they want that experience. And when/if they do, they may want to be a large 3DHDTV for their room.
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:17 PM   #6
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Re: Article on the 3DS.

This is a good topic, but it isn't really a review, so I'm moving it to the industry forum.
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