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11Aug/150

Please consider stereoscopic gameplay once again

This article was also published as a featured blogpost @gamasutra(link)
2016 will be the year of VR. Maybe. Before, let’s look back to the stereo game feel:

Please consider stereoscopic gameplay once again

For ten years now I have worked in CGI movies and TV-shows, and I witnessed the transition from 2D into 3D Animation, and then into Stereoscopic.

I must say up front, I am like 90% of my colleagues, not convinced about the utility of stereoscopic vision into passive video medias:

It works well for establishing shots but I feel confused when action sequences are divided in shorter cuts, (I read somewhere that our brain needs more time to apprehend a 3D picture than a 2D)
And most directors are not familiar with the fact that strong depth of field (the in-focus region in the frame) is friendly with stereoscopic vision (I want to look at that Pandora butterfly, but even though my eyes are targeting it, it remains blurry), which does not happen if I’m in control of the camera...

Therefore what could be right for passive video medias is not necessarily so for videogames. But let me try to convince you to give it one more try.

I have been playing in stereoscopic vision for quite some time now, and I love it.

After all, a videogame (cinematics excluded) contains one continuous shot !
Nvidia’s Nvision allows to toggle between classic and stereo (with just Ctrl+T), and it is jaw-dropping with a lot of games. Let me try to summarize what is, for some games, better in stereo:

Gameplay Improved.

Platformers need stereo. I mean it. Mario in full 3D relies a classic “noon shadow” just bellow him to help the player anticipate his landing zone when jumping. But try New Super Mario World 3DS, and you won’t require this anymore! You know exactly where your character is, because you sense it, he is included into the set, not projected on a flat screen.

So for games that require great precision with the player’s placement (and punish him for any tiny mistake), playing in stereo improve a lot the game feel. Regarding my platformer experience, I played these in stereo: Darksiders2, Lord of shadow, Styx and DevilMayCry, and I was very happy with it!

Immersion: more drown than drawn

We could agree the more we sense a virtual world, the better we feel immersed in it.
I’m not talking about being emotionally implicated into a game, of course any game can achieve that (and it is probably more related to the narration), but I think photo-realistic games misses a point: they are beautiful: But beautifully flatten.
You have to play them in stereo to have the one little something they lacks: Volume.
I can suggest you to play, Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed’s, Evil Within, Remember Me, MGSV, Batman Arkham’s.
Specifically in this last, feeling the whole Arkham city when slowly gliding is really priceless, it is quite an experience on its own!

And what is a videogame talk nowadays without mentioning FPS ?
Well, the main focus here is to be the character, and to see the world through his eyes, his own perspective; stereo play very fit this point of view (if the camera shake is not crazy), and it gives the player the feeling of its avatar’s depth perception.
I successfully stereo played Skyrim, FarCry, Deus Ex, Dishonored, totally worth a try!

Relative set elements make more detailed sets !

This is a point I was not thinking about as a direct consequence to a stereo session, but now I have to write here that stereo make your image “prettier”, but in a weird way !
Of course, stereo needs the computation of two pictures instead of one (but does NOT half your framerate), and some fx could be glitched, so basically the graphics are not better.
What I mean by a prettier picture is that you are able to catch every little object that dresses the set, and distinct them from each other. When the camera moves, every single props silhouette is changing, its volume is very neatly cut from what’s behind.
In a flatten picture, a set of props is a mass, reduced to a global perception of several stuff, a stack of mixed colors. With stereoscopic vision, and when the camera moves, you feel every volume, as tiny as they are, and the general feel about that is an image more “accurate”, more precise... it feel almost like when you improve the resolution parameter!
I could not illustrate better that feeling with Luigi’s Mansion, when on top of the beautiful graphics and stereo, turning on the vacuum makes the whole props of the room jiggling, which improves a lot this effect.
I can also quote here Mirror of Fate or Witcher 2, but also some First person Explorer like Dear Esther, Ethan Carter which gives you the time to completely explore the set in every little details.

The “miniaturization effect”

As stranger as that could sound, I feel sometimes that playing in stereo miniaturize the assets!
You may feel in stereo, particularly on a very wide screen, that the assets are very near you, “at arm reach”. Their perception, accurate in volume, feels real, but often represent biggest objects for a desktop screen in the real life! So my brain fight this conflict by faking their scale: they feel like toys.

The biggest “toyification” I had was in LA: Noire, and I think that is quite related to its stylization.
Some could tell that it deserves the purpose of the game, but due to the artistic direction of the game, I do not feel it, and I quite appreciate it to be honest!
After all, we play games here; So it is natural to play games with toys !
I can list other games in which I had this miniaturization-feel and it is often the most cartoonist-ones, like Alice, Saints Row, Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed, and the wonderful Stacking.

The darkside, and its cure.

Be sure of one thing, game developer mostly have no time, no money, and no interest into putting efforts into the stereoscopic effect of their games. I imagine that the number of gamers that play in stereo will not worth it.
So yes, playing PC games in stereo could be a nightmare:
There are glitches: UI with no depth, shadow not in their volume, volumetric fogs or fx blinking, objects waaaaay to close to the camera.
But don’t worry, there is a salvation, http://helixmod.blogspot.fr (I’m not related to this website)
This site gather home-made stereo patch that fix almost every glitch per game !
I’m not related to that website, but be sure the day this guys stop doing this, stereo gaming will die.

Conclusion

I’m not playing 2D games in stereo, but with slow/platformer/explorer games, I really want you to believe me that stereo is definitely an improvement into the realtime interactive entertainement.
Yes VR is coming, but for a lot of actually available games, stereo is compatible and enhance the experience.
Please, give it a try ^^.
My rig is an ASUS VG278HR screen, with a Nvidia GForce and Nvision driver installed.

 

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21Nov/120

Bloody Typing (my second smartphone game) is realeased !

Bloody Typing

My second game is realeased on both Apple and Android Market !

It is a typing game: you kill ennemies when you type their "names".
It is fun, it is arcade, and it WILL improve your typing skills !

Apple iOS App Store link    &     Android Play Store link
It is done in Unity3d, in c#.


It contains:

MODE STORY: unlock one by one all words categories to unlock next levels.
4 environments are currently infested by evil vampires !
Words categories are:
Graveyard: "Color","Sport","Common"
Misty Forest: "Animal","Stars","Plants"
Ruined Castle: "Body", "Bitter biters", "Phobia"
Mad Lab: "Science","Dino","Extinct species", "Medical"

Each story levels end by a BOSS, that can be only killed by a famous quote!
MODE ARCADE: Scoring challenge to type faster, making big scores on longer words.
TIMED CHALLENGES: Beat your score on a fixed duration, perfect mode for public transports!

To have tested my game myself, I can assure you it will really help you to type faster.
It helps memorize the keyboard layout, and on top of that you also learn some vocabulary !

Three difficulty modes assures that casuals could access every corner of the game,
by the way hard difficulty and scoring let the game "Easy to learn, Hard to master".

3 Virtual keyboard layouts are available right now: QWERTY, DVORAK, AZERTY
You also had the option to hide the keyboard, for a very challenging blind game !
Learning or improving how to type with fun ! Write enemies names to kill them.

api
29Jun/110

There is always a first step…

And mine is today. Hum... tonight.

I always wanted to write stories, share pictures I had in my head. I do not know how to draw, but I know (quite a little) how to be understood by machines.
So, here I am, in my last PhD year, doing my first videogame, from scrath to the very end, and publishing it. In android market !

Yes, when i learnt infography, I wanted to write the stor of Final Fantasy 24 in 2024. Now I don't.But I still love rpgs^^.
First things first, I made a quick puzzle game. No lot code, no lot assets, no lot game modes.
It was so looooong to finish ! Yes I have also a job and a thesis to make and write, but this adventure is started from.... 6 months almost.

Well, it is done. And this first step is the start of my devblog, my new site dedicated do game desining, and... a whole new life !

   
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