3D gaming: what the future holds

3D gaming versus IMAX 3D

The Alienware rep compares this to the experience of going to an IMAX 3D cinema, where you feel like grabbing the virtual objects floating in front of you. "The challenge, of course, from a gaming perspective is that you cannot do that with the current types of 3D tricks that developers use. You almost have to direct the scene to create this 3D effect.

"These scenes in the cinema are very, very carefully orchestrated and directed. Within current gaming, that is something that is almost impossible to do. You can do it in cut scenes, or in a game where you are on the rails - where you lose that degree of control of your character - because otherwise the pop-out from the screen is unpredictable and you can get all sorts of artefacts and things like that.

IMAX 3d: can home-based gaming ever beat the hollywood blockbuster?

IMAX 3d: can home-based gaming ever beat the hollywood blockbuster?

IMAX 3D: Can home-based gaming ever beat the Hollywood blockbuster?

"So the problem today is that most of the 3D gaming content has basically been created by that first stage easy fix, which creates 3D into the screen as opposed to popping out, which is less compelling. And I think that is why the initial hype around 3D gaming has dampened down a little bit."

That being said, Leyden is also quick to remind us that there are still some titles already out that look fantastic in 3D. "Crysis 2, for example, especially if you can do multi-monitor 3D, looks the business. Yet it is still into the screen, not out of the screen. So at the moment, that is where we are a little bit stuck.

"The first big breakout 3D hit is going to be the first game that is actually going to target 3D as its platform of choice - instead of just creating a game, and offering 3D as an add-on, which is what is currently happening. So elements of the game will be designed specifically from a 3D standpoint, which will set the benchmark for the next wave of 3D games."

Let the 3D creatives run free!

Clearly, right now, we are still in the undecided phase of 3D game development, where the true creatives are not being given the free reign (or, crucially, the financial backing) to create 3D gaming experiences that will truly take the experience to the next level.

"It's the old chicken-and-egg situation," Leyden agrees, arguing that when the installed base gets bigger, because everybody has 3D, "then there will be a more compelling argument for the studios to put more effort into their 3D work - very much like the situation with affordable 'home theatre in a box' around ten years ago, when people started paying more attention to the audio on their DVDs. It's all about that installed base hitting critical mass."

What else might augment and improve our 3D gaming experience in the future? Might we see a move to 4D-style peripherals and add-ons offering wind and ambient-lighting effects in addition to flashy, fully-rendered 3D graphics that pop right out of the screen into your eyes?

"Ha! I think there is still an awful lot of work to be done on the basics, before we get into that stuff," laughs the Alienware exec.

Still scratching the surface of gaming

PC gaming has only been around for around 25 years, and Leyden thinks that "we are still scratching the surface in terms of what we need to be doing, we need to get the realism in the games, because all games still have that kind of cartoony feel to them, in the way that they are rendered. I've still to see a game that can convince me that it is anything other than a game.

Adam Hartley