3D gaming: what the future holds

"I mean, if you look at a good, pre-rendered 3D animated movie, like the recent Shrek, for example, that stuff is rendered on huge server farms to produce a very realistic-looking thing, modelling hair on characters on a strand-by-strand basis, or whatever. I mean, even to do that kind of thing on a PC, we would need hardware thousands of times faster than we have today.

"And even that, if you think about it, is just a cartoon! So what you really want is photorealistic rendering. You want ray-tracing. You want reflections and refractions of light. You want proper physics, at a particle level. You could go on forever on this…

"But if you look back at games from 10 or 15 years ago, you almost laugh at them and think how primitive they were. So 10 or 15 years from now, we will look back at laugh at Crysis 2 and say, "that was sooooo unsophisticated and naff-looking!

"10 or 15 years down the road, Crysis 2 is going to look like Pong looks to us now."

Kinect-controlled holodecks

Most excitingly, all the indications from the hardware experts and 3D gaming developers TechRadar has spoken with recently suggest that 3D-out-of-the-screen gaming is soon going to be technically possible in mass market game development.

When we eventually reach the point where developers start to marry that technology up with something like Xbox 360 Kinect, then, in theory, gamers will soon be able to realistically manipulate objects in front of them - reaching out and interacting with something in the game that appears in-between themselves and the screen.

"Theoretically, this is all possible," says Leyden. "And that would open up an awful lot of very interactive potential. You know, it's all there. Just that at the moment it is too hard to try and do it.

"But also, it first needs a mind-set change amongst developers. To figure out how to use the technology in a meaningful way that adds something to the experience, to really create something compelling out of it."

Adam Hartley