“Blitz has created the first console software solution for rendering games for 3D TVs,” Blitz‘s Philip Oliver told us at GDC yesterday.
It’s another gimmick, right? Oliver is convinced not. So is the British journalist that sent us frantic MSN messages past midnight last week after seeing the tech demoed at the developer’s UK offices.
“Pat, no shit,” he said. “This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen in games for years. I can’t believe it.”
Word for word. He’d been shown a game running at 1080p and 120 frames a second, 60 frames for each eye. Steph saw it in San Francisco yesterday, and all you can hear on the recording in response is a stunned, “Wow.”
When Steph mailed last night, she said, “That 3D game was VERY impressive, by the way.”
And before you start, yes, we’re aware that Blitz is sponsoring the site for GDC. And no, that doesn’t mean we’re lying. Hit the link for the transcript of the demo.
[Long intro from Oliver about 3D media in general, how all Disney CG movies are going to be produced in 3D from now on, how the film industry's backing 3D and how 3D functionality's being built into current TVs.]
Oliver – Everyone’s doing different technologies… I personally believe that circular polarization is probably the one that’s going to take off, but they’re all doing different types, and some of the manufacturers are backing all the horses. The movies are going to be something like a year away, because they’ve got to agree on formats, both the digital formats and the physical formats, and they’ve got to decide how to address it in the TVs, because inside the TVs they’ve got to decode the signals as well.
In the electronics industry, they all want to be the format holder, so they’re all doing it completely differently. So, if someone was to produce a player, which format do they write the signal in, because each TV’s going to be different?
However, with the consoles, we can actually write software drivers. We were told by Sony, Microsoft and several other people in the industry that it would be impossible, because of the rendering speed required. Well, we though, perhaps it can be done. We know of an extremely fast rendering engine, in our technology. So let’s have a go.
This game was in development. It’s called Invincible Tiger and it’s from Namco Bandai. We were already shooting for 1080p at 60 frames a second. Now, one of the problems of the standards of 3D TVs is that a lot of them say they absolutely have to be 1080p, 60 frames a second. A couple of them will work at lower resolutions, but if you want to go out there with a game that can work on any of the 3D TVs, if you’re at 1080p, 60 frames a second, it’ll work on one. You’ve got to get your rendering engine up fast enough to do that.
Also, slightly worse than that, that will only give you one image for one eye. You’ve got to produce 1080p, 60 frames a second, but you’ve got to produce a left and right eye image, so effectively you’re almost rendering 120 frames per second. That’s fast. I mean, think of Unreal. They have problems going to 60 frames a second.
Without further ado, let’s show you the results of our game running at 1080p, 120 frames per second, and you can tell us if you think it’s any good.
Steph – Wow. Wow.
Oliver – That’s the reaction there’s supposed to be.
Steph – Oh my gosh.
Oliver – It’s awesome.
Steph – It is awesome.
Oliver – One of the things we found annoying was that when we said we were going to do this, all the blogs said, ‘Yeah yeah yeah, it’ll be rubbish.’ No. See it, then say it. It isn’t rubbish, is it?
Steph [laughing] – No. I actually backed up there for a second… Wow.
Oliver – Blitz has created the first console software solution for rendering games for 3D TVs.
[Oliver goes on to explain that the game may or may not ship with the 3D functionality, and it's unlikely anyone will know whether or not they've got the right TV to view it even it is. Also, you need the right set of glasses to see it.]
Steph – How far is this off the mainstream?
Oliver – Mainstream’s a little bit longer, but remember that gamers are early adopters. It was the Xbox 360 and gamers that drive HD TVs to market, and actually accelerated the adoption of HD TV. We’ve got some figures. I think it’s 5 million installed by the end of the year, and I think it’s 10 million by the end of next year and 25 million by the end of the following year.
When do you call it mass market? It’s going to be in the top-end TVs. There’s no point having it in an 18-inch screen.
[Oliver says that the inclusion of 3D functionality into TVs doesn't cost a great deal]
We can accelerate it. If this was in shops in a month’s time, the TVs are going to sell a lot faster. I think the game industry can accelerate it.
Steph – How do you see Blitz moving it forward?
Oliver – Our talk today was a call to arms to tell the trade to embrace 3D TV. It’s not a gimmick. It is the future, and it’s here now, so start developing for it now. I will say, that some developers aren’t going to have fast enough engines – whether or not they’re their own engines or they’re licensing it – but that’s something they can come to us for. in our talk today we gave a lot of advice on what the technical issues are and how to solve those technical issues.
If you’re a developer and you want to get in touch with BlitzTech or find out more about the firm’s 3D tech, hit this.