Objection! 3D Or Not 3D

Welcome to Objection! This is where we take the time to go on-depth on current gaming issues, and let you guys continue the discussion in the comments section. This week, with the 3DS fast approaching, we're discussing 3D gaming and the way in which it seems to be encroaching on our gaming experiences. Is this a positive or negative thing for gaming?

Joining us this week is Erin Marcon, Editor over at Black Panel and contributor to many an Australian rag.

MARK: So Erin - what's your take on 3D - is it something you enjoy? Is it something you want in your video games?

ERIN: If you'd asked me that question six months ago, the answer would have been a firm 'no'. The recent crop of 3D movies generally had me nursing a headache of Scanners proportions or at the very least massaging the bridge of my nose. The effect was often quite impressive, but the size of the screen, weight of the glasses and elongated running time combined to make me a non-believer. However, about six weeks ago I attended a 3DS preview event and my opinion began to... evolve.

MARK: My experience has been a little different. I enjoyed Avatar - because I'm not an elitist hipster movie critic - and I enjoyed the 3D. Shoe-horned 3D has wound me up on several occasions, but it never gave me headaches and the bridge of my nose remained unmassaged.

When I first heard news of the 3DS, however, I lost my mind. In my humble opinion the Nintendo DS is one of the best consoles ever conceived, with an incredible back catalogue of innovative, fun titles. The thought of repeating that experience in glasses-less 3D seemed, in my mind, an idea that could not - under any circumstances - be anything less than a spectacular success.

In real life, however, I was a tragic victim of my own hyperbole. I felt a little underwhelmed. This is absolutely no fault of the device itself - which functions exactly as advertised - it's just that, once you become accustomed to the 3D effect, it ceases to be interesting. None of the game mechanics depend on it - it's simply a visual addition - and that exists in stark comparison to the DS's touch screen which, when it was first released, genuinely transformed my gaming experience.

ERIN: Historically, Nintendo has been very good at demonstrating the scope and potential of a new feature. Mario 64 sold polygonal graphics to a generation of gamers. Wii Sports instantly demonstrated the potential of motion controls. As you've alluded to, however, we don't have a killer app for the 3DS, a game that convinces us that image depth can dramatically enhance the gameplay experience.

Still, I'm already sold on the 3DS. On the other hand, I'm far from convinced by the current crop of 3D televisions. I can tell you right now that I won't be playing Killzone 3 in 3D on a 50 inch screen. Nintendo has spoiled me and I'll be holding off until all televisions allow me to turf the glasses and easily alter the intensity of the 3D effect.

It's also worth considering whether the addition of 3D is meaningful enough to justify a halved frame rate. What do you think?

MARK: I think that most are waiting until the glasses are binned before completely succumbing to the charms of 3D - especially when it comes to home consoles. That's a given. I suspect that most who have bought a new TV rarely even use 3D as a result of lack of content, and the inconvenience of it.

As for the problem of performance when it comes to 3D, I think it's a real issue. Most of the games I've played in 3D adjust for the hardware suck by scaling down the resolution and that is a visual sacrifice I'm not ready to make. I was sold on my plasma with the promise of HD content and now I'm being asked to buy a new television and not enjoy the crisp images I've now come to expect from gaming. What is this foul merry-go-round! And how do I get off with my wallet intact?

ERIN: Agreed. They’re giving with one hand, taking with another and slapping us in the face with a mysterious third hand. Setting aside the issue of aesthetic preference for a moment, a lower frame rate also has the potential to effect online multiplayer games. I wouldn’t even consider playing in 3D unless my bitter rivals on the other side of the world agreed to do the same. I die often enough as a result of latency without ceding yet another advantage to the gamers of Uzbekistan. There’s also the fact that I boast the reflexes of a 93 year old coma patient, but that’s neither here nor there.

While the new 3D tech arrived in cinemas with a great deal of fanfare, I feel like 3D gaming has crept up on us a little. Avatar brought the concept to a vast audience and convinced many of its merits. We’re yet to see something comparable in the gaming space. Despite this, I get the feeling that 3D is slowly but surely becoming the standard. Is it just a matter of time?

What do you guys think? Are you still excited about the 3DS? Are you getting one? What has your experience of 3D been like so far? Let us know in the comments below.


    I'm about to embark on a rather expensive PC build and part of that is going to involve getting a 120hz display for some real 3D goodness. If for no other reason to push the hardware :p

      Its worth it, but make sure you use good 3D games, Dawn of War 2 is by far the best I've seen, looks so amazing in 3D you will never want to play it in 2D again

      I'll be doing the same vaguely soon, but as a semi-competitive SC2 player, I know that when I'm in hard games, I'll be running the game at 120hz, not in 3d.

        I have to agree with this. If you are playing a game competitively, do not play in 3D. However, if you just want to enjoy the game and all the visuals, it is well worth it. I have had a 3D PC set up for a while and I love it.

      I've already got a 120hz nVidia 3D vision setup. My pc is fast enough to not have to worry about the framerates much, but my own personal opinion is that the technology has not matured enough yet. Plasmas and LCDs are simply not suited to the shutter glasses method of 3D (terrible ghosting), and the shutter glasses method itself is inherently flawed (both eyes actually see a different image at a different time, so any objects that are moving faster than a certain speed won't be seen in 3D and will cause your brain to interpret them weirdly when you try to focus on them).

      So far I've owned a 3D monitor and two 3D TVs (an LCD 3DTV so disgraceful I returned it for a plasma) and all of them were disappointing.

        OH I forgot one thing. Don't let my comment dissuade you from getting that 120hz monitor. Even if the 3D mode is disappointing, being able to run games at 120fps is a game changer, especially with v-sync on. I can't live without it now. :)

          Definately. I'm looking forward to that more than the 3D.

    I'm very cynical at 3D being shoehorned into movies and games just for the sake of it (OMG 3D GRAPHICS LIFELIKE REALITY AWESOMENESS) - but I think there is a place, eventually, for some sort of 3D.

    Partly this is because 3D TV genuinely gives me a headache (and just looks weird), but more to the point I think the current generation of technology is a little gimmicky. Developers, hardware manufacturers and consumers need a bit of time to get over the hysteria of 3D and work out what the strong points of the technology are.

    That being said, I'd vastly prefer more attention given to 2D graphics than a rushed adaption to 3D just so it can be marketed as such.

    As Mark Says 3D add's nothing to it, if you adjust.

    And considering the drawbacks inherent with 3D tech in it's current form. and in most cases any form until the next console generation it's rather pointless tech.

    Not to mention that in my experience 3D comes out of the screen to replicate depth.

    i'd rather have my 3D go into the screen to achieve a real sense of depth, otherwise in most cases your just replicating those old novelty christmas cards where you build up parts of the picture to achieve a 3D effect.

    "It’s also worth considering whether the addition of 3D is meaningful enough to justify a halved frame rate. What do you think?"

    The machine is literally rendering 2 scenes at the same time- to have it run 2 scenes at 60fps you'd probably need a far more powerful and energy consuming cpu, want it to cost $500AUD like the ngp will?

    All of you folks are playing laggy/30fps capped games on so called next gen HD home consoles anyway so I don't really see problem with this- it's running off a battery after all.

    Good day sir,


    I've never considered myself a hipster, and certainly not a movie critic... but I feel somewhat dismayed to have to tell you that Avatar was shite.

    Personally, I have a vision problem so 3D has never worked for me... as such I don't understand the appeal of it.

    It is my, not very, considered opinion that 3D exists to drive customers back to the Cinema, and give studios an opertunity to charge more for a movie ticket.
    Sony, and now Nintendo have gotten on board the bandwagon to move hardware... Xbox has been able to display 3D (Avatar and GOTY Arkham Asylum both had a 3D option) which is why Microsoft is being quiet about it.
    I do admire the way they've been able to dig up 60 year old technology and make it new again, but other than that I forsee it being the least used feature of the 3DS.

    I look forward to solid state holograms.

    I will never see the appeal of 3D over image fidelity and while regular High Definition TVs are cheaper than 3D (most likely always will. I simply can't see the appeal of such a gimmicky effect.

    Especially when you consider 3D has been a constant failure of the cinema since the 1950s (sure the technology is entirely different). I still can't see this taking off into mainstream broadcast, video games and at the cinema. Mainly due to the cost effectiveness of a regular 2D image.

    Honestly, 3D is a gimmick for 3DS that I believe will expire quickly. Within two months of launch, 95% of people (or more!) will have disabled it permanently.

    But even then, the 3DS can stand on its own merits, but it's just so frustrating to see them push a useless gimmick so far.

    To be fair, I said the same thing of motion controls, and it was not until the Kinect that my opinion was proven incorrect. So while 3D might be useful in some way in the future, it is NOT on 3DS.

    I'm going to wait for glasses-less 3DTV's. 3DS is under 2 weeks away and will tide me over.

    3D TV? Huh?

    I have been worried about the 3DS for a while, because as cool as the 3D will be initially, as you say in the article, it may not change the gameplay in any meaningful way. The NGP on the other hand, actually surprised me in offering a degree of innovation with the back touch panel, plus the combination of a multitouch capacitive screen traditional buttons and analog sticks. HOWEVER, an article I read on IGN this week suggests that when playing Pilotwings Resort, the player can more effectively judge the distance between objects thanks to the added depth. So if games are made specifically with this advantage in mind, it's possible that some really sophisticated platformers could be released that would simply be must more difficult to play in 2D. That would show the value and improvement that the 3DS brings to the table. For now I'm excited, yet still a little unsure. I really hope Nintendo hasn't dropped the baton with this one...

    I think there will almost certainly be some games that will have new gameplay incorporating 3D. Although I did get a Balance Board thinking the same thing... :P

    But even if there aren't, or they are few and far between, plenty of regular games will still benefit from the added depth of the screen. It won't be something all that noticeable, but it will just feel better. I'm particularly looking forward to Lylat Wars being one of these, having recently been introduced to Red Alarm on the Virtual Boy. Looking at just the one viewfinder and having that flat image, it is quite hard to navigate what's on screen. But once you have it all there in full 3D, it just all makes sense.

    I think the difference between gaming now and gaming in 3D will be more like the difference between gaming in black and white and gaming in colour. It won't make much difference, but it'll still make a world of difference.

    I would take 3D only in the home, on the big screen TV.

    The 3D option on the small screen and in a portable doesn't interest me in the slightest.

    Without innovation comes stagnation, look at the the FPS genre.

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