I’ve done the dastardly deed and upgraded to 3D for PC gaming: but is it worth all the fuss and nonsense?  Is it worth spending a month’s wages on it?

The Quality and the Performance

Let’s get one thing straight: take what nVidia or ATI or Samsung or Sony tell you with a pinch of salt.  Did I say pinch?  I meant a MOUNTAIN of salt.

Well maybe that’s a bit dramatic.  Maybe a modicum.  Yes, a modicum.  What a great word.

Consistency

The point of products made by nVidia, IZ3D and DDD are to make money.  As well as to make the games and videos that you own somehow take on a 3D appearance.  They all achieve results in different ways, and they all achieve them with varying degrees of success.  nVidia have a bit of software that only works with their graphics cards, and it’s an add-on to your graphics driver.

iZ3D and DDD are less connected to particular vendor’s hardware: but let’s face it – if you’re car manufacturer gave you the supercharge kit for free when you bought your car, why would you go buy or invest in something made by someone else as well?  For a laugh?  I DON’T THINK SO.  So, nVidia guys get it without thinking and don’t bother looking at alternatives.  If your graphics card is made by ATI or Intel or Shamookamookamooka you’ll have to look at IZ3D and DDD.

So let’s get this straight, oh beautiful reader.  Different manufacturers for the graphics card, different people writing software to turn stuff into 3D, different companies making the monitor, TV, or projector, and different people sitting in front of them.

And let’s not even start on the source material itself: some early 3D films just had one or two tiny little segments in 3D that, if you were lucky, made someone’s fingernail appear to touch you inappropriately.  Nowadays, 3D production on films like The Green Lantern is PROPER WICKED with the entire film, even the boring “I LOVE YOU!!” scenes, with 3D on it.

For gaming, that means a game from 1983 will work less well, no matter how much you spend or how much you drink / smoke / inject, than a game made last year with 3D in mind.  Knowing this, the manufacturers have published nice pretty lists.  nVidia’s list is really extensive, and when you start up a game it (sometimes irritatingly) tells you exactly what to expect from the game.

Darksiders Intro Trailer

Let’s take a game like Darksiders, which is a brutally ridiculous game that I, for some reason, can’t stop playing.

The nVidia rating for this is “Excellent”, which means it should be excellent, right?

What they mean by excellent is that it’s playable, and that any glitches won’t make your eyes explode.

iZ3D doesn’t even list Darksiders as compatible.  So good luck with that.

But to confuse matters, that doesn’t mean it *won’t* work, it means that they’re not sure if their system, and the hardware their system works with, will be any good.  I.e. : suck it and see.

And it’s supposed to do what exactly?

It’s SUPPOSED to make your genitals implode with their lack of usefulness.  It’s SUPPOSED to be brilliant.  But what with experience being so inconsistent, you can go from playing a brilliant 3D title to a game that’s is so appalling in 3D that it will give you a migraine.

In every title I’ve played, using a 3D solution will, definitely, give you Depth of Field.  They do not emulate perspective.  WHAT?  WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE you cry.  Sorry my sexy readers (phwoar!  God you’re gorgeous!) but I can’t explain it any other way.

Think of it like this, if you will, while I get undressed.  When you’re on a train looking out the window, the things in the background move at a different rate to the things in the foreground.  There is perspective.  And things are specifically smaller because they really, definitely, absolutely are further away.

An explanation of what I mean from Father Ted

So you’re looking at a flat surface, and your head is TRICKED into thinking things are far away, when they actually aren’t.  They’re smaller because the computer made them smaller when it drew them onto the screen.

Depth of Field, however, means your head sees smaller things behind the bigger things.

Why the HELL is this so important?  Well, because it’s a trick.  It’s not 3D, it’s depth of vision, and if the game you want to play don’t know that some other manufacturer is going to try and make the player put some things “behind” others, all kinds of things go wrong.  In Darksiders, the little tiny yellow marker that hovers above enemies when you’re about to slash their guts into 1722 is in front of everything else on the screen, but it’s the right size.  In Grand Theft Auto 4, shadows are all over the place, and don’t correlate *at all* to the place they really should be – so you have to turn them off.  In Crysis, the gun sight (or crosshair) has no depth at all which (back to the perspective versus depth-of-field distinction) means you’ll be firing at completely the wrong angle to hit something – so you have to use one in the 3D software instead.

My poor brain.

Now I know, you’re all sitting there in your naked states, quietly wondering whether I look good naked.  And if you’re not, you’re thinking I’m slating 3D.

But wait: this DoF trick is AWESOME.

Let me say that again in bigger letters:

 

IT IS AWESOME

 

(Sometimes.)

Something else can go wrong?

Oh yes, oh yes.

Although it’s not so bad since I rearranged the furniture in my office and changed all the lighting, you can get this nasty thing called Ghosting.  It’s like, well, you know: deja vu.  But worse.  Like, you’re constantly getting deja vu.  On repeat.  You’ve seen Deja Vu right?  Well that film is awful.  And let me tell you, watching that over and over again once in each eye but like so fast that you see the whole film in its entirety every 60th of a second is nausea inducing.

If you want to know about it, go look at the 3D Vision Blog where he writes stuff about it whenever he writes a review.

If you can’t be arsed lemme just tell you right now sonny Jim, avoid it.

Worst of all, you can just end up with the wrong kit.  The wrong software inside the HDMI socket on the back could see it incompatible with your PS3 or XBox, or the monitor itself just might not work with your chosen manufacturers 3D software.  Or you could be one of those unlucky people who read the Daily Mail, but that’s just life.

What’s it like to play?

OK yes back to the games while you lube up.

So: split-screen co-op play obviously fails.  It’ll require you to get extra glasses, and when you do start playing you’ll be fighting for screen space with your co-op player and everything will just look odd.  In fact, just don’t bother.

Getting help from a friend who’s already played this boss and knows what to do, or which ledge to grapple onto, or just to laugh at you uncontrollably as Lara Croft yet again fails to roll when you CLEARLY pressed [X] you BITCH – FAIL.  They can’t see what you’re looking at.  To them, it just looks like Esther Rantzen.

Fog and smoke hanging around on battlefields, lasers that really do go from the front to the back of a room, knowing how far away a corner is on a track, mountains and hills that are genuinely “further away” than the background, and being able to tell how close you are to environmental objects and targets: yeah, that rules.  Totally utterly rules.

Performance

In the shop when I bought the glasses and the 3D monitor (for thou canst not use any old monitor, forsooth) the man said, “your frame rate will drop”.  I thought maybe he was talking about the number of glasses I get through in a year, which is just ridiculous because I don’t even WEAR glasses, so I just scowled at him and walked away.

Now, I have to confess.  I have spoilt myself somewhat this year.

First, I sped up my PC for (almost) free by a super-duper 50% by turning up (overclocking) my old Quad Core processor, which would have melted it were it not for a Scythe Mugen 2 fan that I fitted.  I had to buy that specific one just because it looks like it could be a weapon.

Second, I went a bit mad and bought an ASUS GTX 580 – one of the latest graphics cards for PCs – to replace my old one.  Then, just today, I plugged my old one back in again so that it could do nothing but calculate what happens when the Frak Cannon ammunition hits the wall instead of my CPU having to do it.

Of course, I still want a new case for it, a new processor and motherboard… ah the list goes on.

Needless to say, my PC is now SCHMOKIN.  3D Mark 11 (a gaming benchmark programme) rates my PC as 4820 3DMarks.  Which is nice.  Apparently that’s still slow for a PC of my stature and if I pay money they will show me a web page that tells me where to spend more money.  So I haven’t.  Cos you wouldn’t, would you.  Not really.  No.  Period.

Of course, what really matters is how games work.  So let’s look at some benchmarks from within the games, with 3D off and 3D on.  The settings will be the same for both 3D and non-3D modes cos this is just about showing whether the frame rate drops and by how much.  Anything below 20 frames per second will make you annoyed.

Just Cause 2

These are from the Conrete Jungle Benchmark within the game.  I always crank everything up for no reason other than I can show off.  Sadly, this affects the fluidness of the game, especially in 3D.  Check it out, 23fps without 3D, 14fps (YUK!) with 3D.

jc-cj-offjc-cj-on

Obviously, I could be less of a show off and turn down my settings from Very High High On and YES PLEASE, and that would help, e.g. 32x CSAA.  I mean really, why would I want that.  Tsk.

Anyway the game plays great at 23fps.  OH ACTUALLY sorry it’s 24fps if you round up.

ALRIGHT?

WHY ARE YOU ARGUING WITH ME?!

Here’s the other in-game benchmark, Desert Bumrise, again off on the left, on on the right.  This time it’s a drop from 40fps to 24fps.

jc-ds-offjc-ds-on

The solution here would be to rape my bank account and get some more fps, which means, stupidly, that I need to spend another £800 on a new motherboard, CPU, and another GTX 580 so I can run two graphics cards together at the same time.  Oh and another £100 on a new power supply.

I could also use the ASUS Overclocking Utility that came with my graphics card…  But that scares me right now.

Mafia II

OK so one of the only other games I have that runs benchmarks of its own content: Mafia 2.  First we have the bog-standard, on-install video settings.  At the top, 3D is off, at the bottom, 3D is on:

m2-off-low

m2-on-low

Yep you read right, a drop of almost 1/3 of my framerate (which mathematically speaking isn’t so bad since, in theory, the computer is having to do twice the work).  But then we go to mad town, with all the settings way up, and Physics Effects turned on to the max:

m2-on-low

m2-on-high

Now the rate drops from an almost acceptable 40fps to under 24fps.  The game complains; the World ends.

Be serious…

Who in their right mind would spend a total of £1600 on that kit just so that smaller things appear in front of bigger things.  Nobody, that’s who.  No-one.  NOBODY.  Look out of the bloomin’ window.

3D movies, though – well that’s cool.  Especially the naughty ones.  And pictures, they’re good too.  Yeah, I might get a 3D camera – 3D pictures are cool.  And don’t say “ew those specs” because I used to love those red 3D picture binoculars and I never threw a wobbly about those.  But then, I wasn’t buying them.

Oh I’m losing track.  Let’s instead concentrate on AMILLIONBYTES’S’S SUGGESTIONS TO 3D LAND on how to get this working.

aMillionBytes Suggestions to 3D Land on How To Get This Working

Number One: Cheaper, transparent costs, re-usable kit.  Yes, you heard it – work together bitches.

Number Two: Set an industry standard measure for 3D games support, and then publish it.  Together.  As one.

Number Three: Get your connectors and software standards sorted out.  Go with the best one and stop doing stupid dumb-ass things to confuse consumers because you want to make money.  You know it’s Displayport.

Number Four: Stream 3D content.  Stop making me use one vendor’s product to watch videos in 3D on my PC (i.e. Trampburn a.k.a. Arseslap a.k.a. Fanflange a.k.a. Firefarx).  I.e. standardise bitches.

Number Five and Number Six are really important so they appear together: Give me your next version kit to me so that I can show off and kiss it.  I can be your tipping point!

Will I send it back?

NO.

NO I WILL NOT.

Do I look at other people’s PCs and go – ew – that looks odd?  Yes I do.  Yes I do wander why the depth perception is wrong.  Yes I point and laugh.  HO HO you silly 2D people.

But seriously – it’s really, really good.  Let me rephrase that:

It was expensive, hideously expensive, but the effect is good.

And the technology shows promise – like an X-Factor contestant you like even though you hate her because she’s on the X-Factor and her teeth are where her eyes should be, and if you spend too long looking at her you get a migraine.

Yes.

YES!

THAT’S IT!

3D IS LIKE THE X-FACTOR!

And I ❤ it.  And you will too, or hell I’ll put on a Simon Cowell costume and ruin your dreams.

Now put your clothes back on and stop staring at my crutch.

So rude.