Why adding 3D graphics to games was a bad idea

Lara Croft
3D wasn't always an improvement. 1D, anyone?

I'm getting a bit sick of 3D graphics. When 3D was first invented, back in the early cretaceous period, the first-person shooter, the flight sim and the RPG all got better.

But platform games got worse. I used to quite like Sonic the Hedgehog but all the 3D versions did was make me get lost and feel sick. And

Tomb Raider

? A gorgeous woman in tight clothing running round shooting endangered species with automatic pistols? What on Earth is there

not to like

? The camera control, that's what.

I sometimes think that my favourite things in World of Warcraft are the 2D graphics that make up the icons. (I'm a healer so that's often all I see.) 2D graphics are reassuring. They tessellate neatly, they don't get covered up by annoying foreground clutter, they don't need to worry about lighting or shadow and they don't break up into horrible low-resolution mosaics when you get too close to them.

Collectible trading card games are successful, partly because of the very real aesthetic appeal of an array of beautiful cards laid out before you. Beautiful two dimensional cards. World of Warcraft already exists as a TCG variant. I'd like to see a computer version of the TCG. Magic: The Gathering did this and it was mostly awesome.

But maybe we need to squeeze the constraints still tighter. Why not a one dimensional game? A single stream of coloured pixels scrolling past you, that must be manipulated according to certain rules. There are lots of puzzle games that would work well in this format and I'm not the only person to have thought of this.

One obvious advantage of this format is that it doesn't take up much space on your screen. If you can play defender in your web browser favicon, you could easily play a 1D game in the horizontal ruler underneath your toolbar. And lo! A whole new way to waste time at work would be born. And Lord knows, you can never have too many of those.

Pretty much the only problem with this vision of the future is that, if 1D games became popular, it wouldn't be long before we would see 3D versions of them. First using forced-perspective isometric displays and then eventually fully 3D coloured worms, spiralling off into the Z-plane with the second joypad or nunchuk controller required just to steer the camera.