Today we continue with third installation in our Living with 3D series of articles. You can read the introduction to the series here
, our first experience with AMD HD3D
and an introduction to NVIDIA 3D Vision here
. In this article, we focus on gaming experience with NVIDIA 3D Vision. 3D Games: How we got here?
The introduction of 3D games is proving to be one of the biggest motivators for 3D adoption on PC. The problem with 3D as it stands now is that unless you have experienced it you more than likely do not know what to expect from a 3D game whether it is NVIDIA driven or not. This could also apply to any other form of 3D content and the misconceptions out there seem to outnumber the truths.
These misconceptions could easily be attributed to the current climate of 3D marketing and some less than accurate (and I am being kind by labeling it that way) marketing practices
. To be fair to the PR departments out there, it is very difficult to convey 3D when not doing so in person, as its a complete subjective experience
. When marketing HD resolution it is easy to slap up a screenshot and compare it to SD, anyone can see the differences and easily agree on HD’s supremacy... 3D is a whole another ballgame
. If you post up a 3D screenshot the problem that you have is that only those that already have a 3D setup can view them... which doesn’t do a whole lot for you when you are trying to attract new customers. What we tend to see instead are static 2D shots depicting scenes in which images appear to pop out of a 3D screen. The connotation here is that watching 3D content will transport you to this netherworld of screen images flying around your room, explosions will be so in your face that you will feel your eyebrows burning and watching a 3D baseball game will have you ducking the ball every time someone hits a line drive.
The problem I have with this is that this is more often than not the exact opposite of what you will experience. If I could sum the 3D experience up in one word it would be "depth". When you put your 3D Vision specs on and fire up a game the first thing that hits you when the 3D kicks in is depth. As you fire up a 3D game a few things happen. First the software detects that you have launched a game file (via .exe association) and the hardware knows it needs to get ready for some 3D action. Before the splash screen of the game even loads the glasses dim almost immediately (the active shutters begin doing their job) and you know something is about to happen. Depending on the gaming title you can be caught a little off guard, if the beginning cut scenes and menu navigation are not rendered in 3D you find yourself wondering if everything is working correctly. Once you click play and actually get into the game the initial experience can be breathtaking.
On the great games it seems as if someone just flipped a switch and knocked the backside of your monitor back a few hundred feet. All of a sudden this game which you had previously thought was pretty cool and 3D in its own rite takes on a life of its own. More than images popping out at you, it seems as if you are looking through a window where everything has depth to it. Essentially 3D Vision gives your gaming experience depth perception. In a racing game the leader actually appears to be in front of the car in second place... and you can almost perceive the amount of distance the leader has on the follower. In a first person shooter
your rifle now has depth. The muzzle appears to be a foot or two in front of the rear sight. When playing an RPG
your top down view takes on a whole new meaning, you get a sense that you are high above the battlefield looking down upon the combatants.
There is also a downside. There are games that do not work well in 3D, the whether they visually stunning or not. The negative experience can run the gamut from lackluster 3D performance with little added enjoyment to downright unplayable titles. NVIDIA has developed a ranking system
to give would-be 3D gamers an indicator as to what type of 3D experience they can expect from a given gaming title. Here’s how it works, NVIDIA breaks down the 3D compatibility of games into six tiers. At the top end we have NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready, essentially these games are going to be the pinnacle of your 3D gaming experience. Earning a 3D Vision Ready rating generally means that the game was designed from the onset to support 3D Vision. In most cases NVIDIA has worked closely with the game developers to ensure that 3D Vision is implemented correctly and results in a stunning 3D experience. NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready Titles: Out of 16 titles, three are just demos
Moving down the tiers the names are pretty self explanatory; Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor and Not recommended. The thing to note here is that the dispersion of rankings does not seem to favor or penalize any certain genre. In the 3D Vision Ready tier you have Just Cause 2
, a third person shooter and in the Not Recommended tier you have Rogue Warrior, also a third person shooter. With 3D Vision currently supporting over 500 gaming titles you are sure to find numerous titles in every tier but the good news is that you will find the vast majority of supported games in the Good and above tiers.
So it’s great that NVIDIA had a ranking system, but how exactly does that translate to gameplay and more important your 3D experience? As I mentioned previously, when you launch your game, quite a few things happen. The rating system even comes in to play as your game is firing up. The NVIDIA software displays an onscreen overlay that states the 3D rating, suggested setting tweaks that will improve your 3D experience as well as any known 3D issues, such as "water does not render in 3D"
and so on. This information stays on screen as long as you need it and can be toggled on and off. Generally the higher the 3D rating the lower the 3D issues and suggested tweaks. I found the overlay to be incredibly helpful as the information I needed was right in front of me and could be toggled off at any time. The last thing I want to do when I am ready to game is ALT+TAB out of the game to search through a driver for known issues and adjustments. The entire process of playing a game in 3D Vision is identical to playing that same title outside of 3D Vision. You simply double click the games shortcut and you are in business as 3D Vision starts up automatically, Should you decide that you are not in the mood to get your 3D Vision on then you can easily hotkey out of it via CTRL-T, there is no need to end the game and restart as you can essentially "hot swap" in-and-out of 3D Vision on the fly.
This brings up a good point. With many gamers/enthusiasts that I have spoken with that are not entirely familiar with 3D Vision or even 3D technology in general, there is the misconception that 3D is an all or nothing deal. I have been asked repeatedly how difficult it is to read an email (or other similar general computing task) in 3D. To clear up any confusion, 3D Vision is not a full time implementation. The 3D only kicks in once you are launching/inside of an application the NVIDIA software detects as a 3D application (game, photo viewer, 3D Blu-ray, etc) and the software automatically shuts off the 3D once you exit that application. For general non-3D computing tasks 3D Vision is transparent and has no effect.
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