E3 2010 or “Two Rooms, Eight Walls and the Coolest Thing Ever,” Part 4

25 Jun

Nintendo got 3D right – righter than anyone else. Ever. By far. Think about the 3DS – just the basics:

  • No glasses required!
  • No image degradation or color saturation loss compared with 2D displays!
  • Parallax control so viewers can adjust the images so the 3D effect is perfect for them, not for some average person with an average distance of 2.5 inches between his/her eyes.

But that’s just based on the basics, as I said. Wait, there’s more. I was backstage at the Nintendo Press Conference on Tuesday, June 15th, and as each new 3DS feature was described, my jaw got closer and closer to the ground. It’s a game machine… it’s 3D… it has a gyroscope and accelerometer built in… It has Wi-Fi connectivity and shares data with other 3DS’s in the background… It has a 3D CAMERA!… and it PLAYS 3D MOVIES WITHOUT GLASSES!… I swear if they’d said it was a phone, too, I would have dashed back onto the stage and snatched the prototype and run like the wind! I half expected to hear it would tuck me in at night!

When I got my hands on the 3DS at the show, I was blown away again. The feature set sounds good but the proof is in the pudding – in the product. And Nintendo’s got some mighty tasty stuff coming. Pilot Wings – incredible. Nintendogs – even cuter than before and more engaging. Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid – gorgeous. Kid Icarus is coming back plus there’s a Mario Kart, plus a new Zelda(!!!!!)! Not a bad set of games to brag about as you’re launching a new piece of hardware. And there was a tech demo, shooting game that was probably my favorite thing of all. The movie trailers were outrageous – best 3D visuals I’ve seen. Tangled looked great and How to Train Your Dragon was a revelation. Both were sharp, clear, convincing. Every title – movie or game – was a hardware-selling brand, each one looked cool and each was genuinely enhanced in some way by the 3D effect.

The 3D effect is basically perfect. I mean PERFECT. And the games and movie trailers shown on 3DS were stunning, enhanced and flat-out cooler than they could possibly have been in 2D. I was on the fence about 3D when I entered the Nintendo booth. By the time I left, I was floored.

I was completely wrong about 3D. Not a fad. Not going away. Here for good – and that’s a good thing. Nintendo deserves to sell a gazillion of these things. And I want the first one off the line!

As a consumer, I’m in. Sign me up. Price no object (or not much of one). As a game developer, well, sign me up for that, too. How do you design a game that really exploits stereoscopic 3D? Beats me… How do we take advantage of a 3D camera built into a gaming device? No idea… How do we integrate gyroscopes and accelerometers into control schemes? Got some ideas but nothing solid… I mean, how could anyone NOT want to play with this tech?

I’ve been hoping something like this would come along since Origin and Looking Glass supported VR headsets in Wings of Glory and System Shock back in the mid-’90s, but I never actually believed it would happen. Well, it’s happened. The Nintendo 3DS changed everything for me.

Please, please, let it be the success it deserves to be. And all you TV manufacturers out there (or Sharp at least), get with the program and let me buy a TV that’s as cool as Nintendo’s little game machine. I know there are issues with view angles on parallax barrier technology, but come on, get cracking, solve the problems and let me give you a bunch of money so I can have my 3D, okay?

I should stop. I know it. But the 3DS is – seriously – the coolest hardware I’ve ever seen at E3… It’s nothing short of magical, both in the effect the stereoscopic stuff had on me and in the way the tech works. Not that I really understand how it works – not yet anyway! The 3DS was – dare I say it? – almost Disney-like in the magical feeling it evoked in me and I suspect you’ll have a similar reaction when you get your hands on it. And note that I said “when,” not “if.” That was no accident. Trust me – you’re gonna want and you’re gonna get a Nintendo 3DS.

Okay. Let me catch my breath. Two more things tomorrow and then I’m outta here and onto other things. (I’m really going to try to keep this blogging thing going from now on!)

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26 Responses to “E3 2010 or “Two Rooms, Eight Walls and the Coolest Thing Ever,” Part 4”

  1. dfan June 25, 2010 at 2:13 am #

    Well, it’s about time! Those VR headsets / shutter glasses / etc. were the bane of our existence back during the System Shock days.

    This is how I remember 90’s technology:

    1) Full-motion video was going to be the next big thing! It had to be in every game! Then people finally realized it all sucked and it faded away. (Some of those Terra Nova scenes are up on YouTube… ouch.)

    2) Then VR was going to be the next big thing! It had to be in every (3D) game! Then no one bought the damn headsets and it faded away.

    3) Then 3D graphics cards were going to be the next big thing! Ha ha, I’ve learned my lesson by now. You can’t fool me, no one’s going to pay a hundred bucks for some 3D card that only a couple of games are going to support… oops.

    • wspector June 26, 2010 at 12:31 am #

      I hear you on all the flavor-of-the-month “innovations” that didn’t pan out. And, as I said, I was on the fence about 3D, myself. The 3DS really is special, though. I think it could even change YOUR mind!

      Still, there was something special about slapping a Forte VFX1 on your head and looking around Citadel Station… or strapping on a CyberMax and looking around the cockpit of a WW1 fighter looking for enemy plans… (Of course, that was made even more special when the thing would catch on fire and start smoking – talk about a virtual reality experience… being in a burning plane wearing a burning VR headset… True Story!) Anyway, if the optics had been better, who knows whether that stuff would have caught on… Oh, who am I kidding?!

      We had some fun, though, didn’t we? :-)

  2. dharris30 June 25, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    Warren if you don’t think 3d is going away do you think the proper way to do it would be for a non-glasses approach only? Or do you think Sony and Microsoft have a chance? Not that MS has said anything about getting in the 3d arena.

    twitter: @tallgamer
    http://www.donald-harris.com

    • wspector June 25, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

      I don’t think the glasses approach to 3D is doomed or anything – far from it. The commitment to 3D on the part of content providers and creatives at all levels is higher now than ever before.

      I DO think that the need to wear glasses has traditionally been the biggest thing holding 3D back from long-lasting mainstream movie success – whether in the 1920s, the 1950s or the 1980s. But, clearly, glasses and 3D tech, generally, are better today than they were in those earlier incarnations of 3D media and the content of modern 3D movies is far higher than it was back in the days of Bwana Devil or Metalstorm.

      Having said that, I suspect that once people get a look at glasses-free 3D, demand for 3D content of ALL sorts is going to go up, regardless of the delivery system. And, along with that, people’s expectations of quality in content and presentation will go up, too. Glasses-free 3D pretty much rocks, that’s for sure, and I think it will, ultimately, ensure that 3D sticks around this time, and in a big way.

  3. jeffool June 25, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    “I swear if they’d said it was a phone, too, I would have dashed back onto the stage and snatched the prototype and run like the wind!”

    Recently Satoru Iwata mentioned the possibility of 3d video chat, so, just maybe wifi-calling!

    http://www.industrygamers.com/news/3ds-may-have-3d-video-chat/

  4. dharris30 June 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    3d calling I dont see how that is possible or even what that what would really look like. I call that totally false.

  5. lontraprovocax June 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    @dharris

    The only thing that 3D video calling needs is two cameras for stereo (one frame per eye) and a 3D screen to display it. The problem would arise in having to double the data-rate and that when you’re in 2D, lagging and pixelating problems aren’t too much of problem, but might be if your eyes are trying to make a 3D image from the screen (headaches?).

    The second issue with the 3DS doing 3D video is that the current version of the 3DS has the dual cameras on the back of the device, and hence would only work in one direction at a time. Though they’ll probably just add another camera before launch

  6. dharris30 June 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    You are right I do remember seeing two cams on the back. I really wish I could have got a good look at the system powered on. I was to busy working the floor and could not stay in line for 3 hours to get my chance to look at it. :(

    Donald Harris
    http://www.donald-harris.com
    twitter: @tallgamer

  7. boymacwerter June 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    I have long believed that Nintendo has an endgame vision of the future of video games that they have held for a long time and it is something pretty similar to the holodeck in Star Trek: The Next Generation. They are just moving closer and closer to it in incremental steps.

    …I love Nintendo!

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