E3 2011 - The 3D Update
As 3D movie technology rises in popularity, many games are moving towards providing 3D graphic options. There are several competing technologies that use special glasses. One using polarizing lenses and the other makes use of shuttering and requires a 120Hz monitor. In both, viewers will have to wear special glasses. EverQuest 2 makes use of the shuttering technique and players wanting to see their game in 3D will have to buy the 3D system which contains liquid crystal that lets light through in synchronization with the images on the computer screen. The glasses sync with an infra-red emitter and the glasses flicker, shuttering each eye at 60Hz to produce the 3D effect.
Lead Programmer Greg Spence was at E3 to show off the game in 3D, saying that the stereoscopic 3-D code was already live for gamers who wanted to enjoy the option. In fact, there were players playing the game in 3D, using the nVidia 3D Vision system. They were showing off the 3D effects at E3 in conjunction with the Sony Vaio hardware release of the F-Series laptops and L-Series PCs, all with 120Hz monitors and shutter glasses.
Placing a heavy pair of glasses over my own, I did some adjustment and moving around before I could see a well synchronized 3D image on the screen, with no ghosting. The 3-D effect is adjusted through the options UI and the depth can be adjusted quite a bit, from just a smidgeon of the 3-D effect all the way to where the figures seemed to be floating out of the screen.
“We did have a bit of a challenge with placing things in a 3-D space,” said Greg, “Elements you could see on a flat screen sometimes were hidden when it moved to 3-D.”
Greg was talking about elements such as quest text, speech bubbles and other pop-up windows like buy/sell/trade and crafting windows.
“There is still some overlap as sometimes it cannot be helped,” he continued, “but swinging the camera out one way or the other will take care of it.”
He demonstrated just that as we moved around, clicking around on various objects and NPCs. The hotbars all render on the screen layer as this particular element is not relative to objects in the world, whereas the UI windows that are relative to objects in the world will render where they are, hence the ability to be blocked by other objects. This is an issue more likely seen by players playing in 3rd person view than 1st person view as pulling the camera back from your character puts more world objects in your view and hence more objects that could possibly get in the way of quest text.
EverQuest 2 has a series of air races where players take flying mounts through a race course which will look magnificent in 3-D. A new mount – a Pegasus was also released to commemorate E3. Flying mounts are high level mounts. End game mounts in fact, but SoE will be releasing lower level mounts for the “Lowbies.” A mount at level 30 with a high jump skill that can change direction in the air, and a glider at level 60. A mount that can leap high into the air then spread out its wings to glide for a good distance.
We also got a small sneak peek at the Destiny of Velious expansion which is going to be a different kind of update for them. Instead of releasing a “box-full” of content, the expansion will be released in chunks, so players have something to look forward to every month. Not to mention that there will also be the usual preview quests that will lead up to the first content chunk. Also part of their plans are to overhaul Freeport and Qeynos in an attempt to bring the cities back to life by turning them into questing hubs for all levels, with new quests, public quests and also include race and class specific quests.
3-D gaming is not for me, as I’m one of those pitiful individuals who get headaches or even worse, motion sickness when I watch 3-D for an extended period of time. I must say though that it brings a new dimension (pun not intended) to those air-races. More information on the expansion will be forthcoming at Fan Faire.