Monday, April 5, 2010

Nintendo 3DS

First off, welcome to my blog. I do not know exactly what this blog will be about, but sometimes I have thoughts or ideas that I want to share and others might be interested in reading so I figure I will try out this blogosphere stuff.

Onto the actually content of my post! (is this a post? or a blog? what do I call it? blogging is hard.)

There are a lot of rumors about the new Nintendo 3DS that was sort of announced not too long ago. The 3DS has me intrigued for a few reasons, first because I don't need to wear glasses, and the second more important point is that this is an entire platform that will require developers to create games with 3D in mind! My mind has been going crazy with all the possible things you can do if you have an actual visual depth you can play with in a game. My first thoughts are to trick the player by playing with the in game depth and the actual visual depth if it is possible. I want to see if I can make background objects pop out while foreground objects appear as if they visually deeper than the background objects. You can also mess with the players vision a bit by having something like a sphere appear as green in one eye but blue in the other. Maybe you can do something where the screen is messed up for one eye so you have to close that eye to see what is going on because the other eyes view is fine. These are both probably very bad ideas but just some thoughts I have been having on the possibility of a 3D platform.

Now for the more technical stuff related to the 3DS. A lot of my numbers are based on assumptions and rumors that have been coming out so I could very well be wrong on a lot of this stuff. I am going to assume that by the name 3DS that this system will be backwards compatible with previous DS games, meaning that there will be 2 screens and I would hope that they are both 3D capable screens. Now Sharp has announced screens that can do this 3D visual technique that is claimed to be used in the 3DS and these screens can have a resolution of up to 854x480 which is incredibly good for a 3.4" screen. For a 3D effect in a game you will essentially need two render targets for your scene, one for each eye, and if you have 2 screens doing 3D on both you would need 4 render targets! so lets say that these awesome screens support 32 bit color, you would need a minimum of 6.56MB of video RAM to have 3D on both screens at once (you only need 5MB if it is 24bit color). That is more RAM than the Nintendo DS has in total (4MB, but the DSi has 16MB). This doesn't even take into account the processing power that is required to render an entire scene 4 times each frame from presumably 4 different view points. I am going to venture a guess that this will have the same limitations that the DS has where you can only do 3D on one screen at a time, and for dual screen 3D you will have to essentially cut your frame rate in half so that you can draw each screen every other frame.

I really hope that developers can mess with 3D depth on 2D elements, I would really love to have a menu where options visually pop out. and if this is possible there are a million awesome possibilities for 2D games with 3D visual depth to them. I do have my worries about how the 3D effect will look, it seems like the screen will have tiny slits that are slanted so you can only see certain pixels with one eye or the other. This sounds like it would greatly reduce the viewing angle of the screen to a small sweet spot where the 3D works and if you are at any other angle the effect is broken. This made me realize that 854x480 is the total screen resolution but for the 3D effect to work each eye is probably only seeing every other column of pixels which is essentially cuts the resolution of the screen in half so each eye is only seeing what looks like a 427x240 screen and that you would only need half the amount of video RAM previously mentioned to get dual screen 3D showing, which seems much more manageable.

In conclusion, I can't wait to see what Nintendo has to show at E3 this year, and I hope it meets and maybe exceeds my expectations. Now it is late and I am rambling on as thoughts come into my head. If you made it this far, I am impressed! Thank you for reading and hopefully you like it.


  1. I hate to sound like a jerk and nullify any excitement you have in your post, this is just my thought. I feel that it will have something like the Wii, where sure we thought that the Wii would be great for pin-point accuracy, and constant movement recognition in a 3D environment, and even though it does all that, it does it very poorly. Look at Red Steel 1, the game flipped out when you aimed outside of the sensor bar, sometimes the pointer would jiggle in some parts of the screen, it would just be a horrible gameplay experience. Disregarding the Motionplus, the real way anybody was able to make good fun games out of it was not stressing the Wii Remotes' special capabilities in games, but combining it with simple gameplay. A good example is No More Heroes. In NMH, the player swings beam swords around using "A", then when the player wants to administer the coup de grace they swing the Wii Remote as needed. It's a simple one action move that is usually recognized, unlike the second or third action.

    Another example, to bring it back to DS was Dawn of Sorrow, the mechanic where the player had to draw a pattern on the bottom-screen was heinous, as often the drawing ability of the player sucked, therefore bosses were awfully hard. Scribblenauts did this right (sort of, the controls are tough, but Scribblenauts 2 will have better controls) in that when the player drags an object around, they see the object they're dragging, and not rely on the ability to draw accurately with the stylus. Very few people have the ability to draw on with a stylus, therefore less and less gamees are relying on that mechanic.

    What I'm trying to say is, wait till the 3DS comes out so we can see what it can do, find it's limitations, and work within the limitations. Natal and the Move (Arc was so much cooler) will need to find the niche in their respective products that will make them become good gaming accessories.

  2. I completely agree with you, Victor. I am keeping my hopes in check on this one. I fully expect the 3D effect to be similar or worse than what you see in the theaters right now, and most developers will probably not do anything interesting with it for the first year or so of its lifetime. But if the 3D works well, there could be a lot of potential for some really interesting games on this platform. Only time will tell.