Ubisoft Montréal is currently one of the only studios in the world to make stereoscopic games. "For us, it is an investment in the future," says Patrick Naud. "During a meeting with James Cameron, we had the idea. He proposed that we create the 3D game. Initially, we viewed it as a "gimmick," but by exploring the technologies and playing the game, we realized that there was something very powerful about a game in 3D."
If stereoscopy does not transform the experience of the game as such, it still allows the player to be more immersed in the virtual universe. "When we produce a video game, we create an experience," says Patrick Naud. "We combine a set of stimuli which allows us to live through this experience in various ways, and certain recipes are better than others. What we realized with stereoscopy is that the player perceives the data of the virtual world in a more precise way. Similar to the way 5.1 sound gives us more data in a movie, 3D provides a better visual immersion."
At the moment, stereoscopy has little influence on game play itself. Game developers must continue to revise their practices in order to create on such a visual level. "We really approach stereoscopy as they do in cinema," says Patrick Naud. "The important thing is to allow a comfortable experience; we want our players to be able to play for four or five hours straight. It is necessary to think of the depths of visual elements and the information which appears on the screen, such as the ammunition or the health of the avatar, which are a part of the stereoscopic experience."
Although it is not very technically complicated for video game manufacturers, who control the image to be projected, to create 3D images, the fact remains that the production pipeline must be managed more tightly. "There are direct and indirect costs associated with this kind of development," explains Patrick Naud. "To make a comfortable experience, it is necessary to ensure that each eye receives 30 images per second in a stable way. You should not create too strong a stereoscopy where the eye must focus too deeply in the screen and then outside it immediately after. We have testers who work exclusively on 3D versions to ensure that it works well."
For the moment, Ubisoft sees stereoscopy as an investment in the future, and the studio has no figures to demonstrate how the phenomenon would help them to make more sales. On the other hand, Ubisoft learns from experience, and Patrick Naud believes that it is very possible that all games will one day be made in stereoscopic versions, and that a new generation of players will ask for games specifically in 3D. "If we look at the film market, all the digital animations are produced in stereoscopy," he says. "The next portable Nintendo, the 3DS, offers 3D. These kids are going to consume 3D daily, and when they form the bulk of the video game market in 15 or 16 years, we will have an edge over our competitors." [CP] [February 25, 2011]
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