3D gaming: everything you need to know

Dell's own PC gaming brand, Alienware has also been working with Nvidia to bring its new £450 AW 2310 120Hz gaming monitor to market this month, with Adam Griffin, Dell'sEMEA Product Operations Manager, telling TechRadar that he has already started playing through Half-Life 2 again, "but this time using the 3D Vision glasses and our new monitor, because it is a very different game…very immersive and very cool. It now has that extra added edge to it, that makes you want to play all the way through it again."

ALIENWARE DOES 3D: New £450 3D monitor is the latest for gamers

Griffin clearly thinks we have reached a sweet spot for mass adoption of the new tech, noting that, "price points are much more accessible now, in addition to the increased understanding of what 3D can bring to films and games that blockbuster movies like Avatar have created."

But does he think that this means leading PC game developers such as Valve might go back and rework their PC classics to optimise them for 3D? And what more might developers do to push the experience forward?

"It wouldn't surprise me, there are only a few minor glitches that would need to be fixed to make the overall experience [of Half Life 2] better – things such as water effects and so on that look a bit weird right now in 3D," says Griffin.

"More generally, there is still a lot of work to be done, with things like first person shooter games, for example. You look at the cross-hairs on some fps games, and it sits right in front of your eyes in 3D, which is really not a comfortable playing position for it to be. But there is definitely an opportunity for PC gaming companies to reinvent some of their key PC games for the 3D experience."

The console market will no doubt begin to drive the masses towards 3D later in 2010 with the arrival of 3D PlayStation 3 blockbusters such as the aforementioned Gran Turismo 5, but for now it is purely PC gamers and early adopters – those that are buying Nvidia's kit and Alienware's new 3D monitors – that are leading the way.

"Absolutely," agrees Griffin, "which is why I am always proud to be part of the PC gaming industry. These are the people that blog passionately about what they love and hate about new technologies, and they are the people that we rely on for that all-important feedback that helps us to develop the Alienware brand to make sure we are delivering what is required in the market.

"Both Dell and Alienware are currently monitoring the 3D laptops market, as we think there could well soon be an opportunity for us to bring out our own 3D laptop solutions," says Griffin, with an obvious nod to the early attempts of manufacturers such as Asus to offer laptops with 120Hz 3D-capable screens.

The future?

Chris Chinnock, President of specialist display research and analysis firm Insight Media, told TechRadar recently that, "it is safe to say that most games and all AAA games will be authored in 3D by 2020."

This, he added, "does not mean they will all be played in 3D, but the capability will exist to do that. By then, I also expect decent performance from auto-stereoscopic displays, which means no glasses. Head/eye tracking will be widely used to improve the stereo effect."

Speaking to PC Zone recently, Sefton Hill, the director of Batman: Arkham Asylum said of the future of 3D gaming: "From our point of view 3D is just something to consider now, simply because the technology is here… there is now not much of a barrier in terms of getting the 3D to work well, the barrier now is really more about designing games that leverage the 3D tech in the best ways.

"Bringing in elements of motion control will really help when properly used alongside 3D – so things like head-tracking, where you can move your head and look around to view objects in a proper 3D space."

Likewise, Stephen Viljoen, the CEO of Slightly Mad Studios – who created a superb 3D experience for Need for Speed Shift on PC, gives a glimpse of things to come:

"I think what will happen next is that we will start designing around the potential of the 3D projection… when we start working with weather effects and you have totally convincing rain splashing out of the screen towards you and so on. That's when it will start to get really interesting."

Adam Hartley