The man in charge of 3D games development at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe discusses this amazing new technology with eu.playstation.com.
Why is the team at Evolution Studios best suited to 3D development?
We at Evolution have been messing around with 3D for about five years. What's more, I employ two guys who were previously at British Aerospace, Ian Bickerstaff and Simon Benson, and they've been working on 3D for 16 years, building flight and F1 simulators. So we were pushing the technology before SCEE even started talking about making games in 3D. It was a nice coincidence that we were doing a bit of prototyping on a small scale and then we heard the company was actually interested in making 3D games, so it was very natural that we got all of our stuff converted first. And, because we had the knowledge, we were able to help educate everyone else about how to convert into 3D.
Having followed the technology for that many years why do you think it's started to explode in the past year or so?
What we have now is a convergence of very high quality displays at affordable prices that can show really high quality 3D combined with great content. What we're seeing with the power and ability of PlayStation 3 is really high quality 3D stuff that's going to make people want to go out there, buy the TVs, upgrade the console and enjoy the whole 3D experience. And I think that's the first time we've ever been in that position.
The other factor is that many cinemas have been upgraded to digital in the past few years and that's very good for the publishers as they can control the distribution of film now. Good quality 3D is compelling, it's amazing to watch, people want more of it and we're following it up with good quality gaming.
What was the "eureka" moment for you in terms of seeing this technology in games?
The first time we got a driving simulator running in 3D, about five years ago, we came away absolutely amazed. Driving is one of those experiences where you need depth to really do it well; you're perceiving speed, you're trying to plan your breaking point, trying to find where to put your car in a corner. It's no coincidence that all the F1 teams now train their drivers on 3D simulators.
What's really amazing is that we are now starting to understand 3D in a creative as well as a technical sense. The games that you will see coming out in 3D are mind-blowing; we are really starting to exploit 3D and understand how to use it as a medium in the games and I find that really exciting.
What hurdles do developers face when creating a game in 3D?
The main consideration is that we are already pushing PlayStation 3 to the maximum in terms of processor power and so a lot of optimisation has to be done on the games running in 3D. It's not a significant amount of cost in terms of the rest of the development budget which is great for us because we can add 3D content to games and we don't have to adjust the price to do that. Some games that have got a lot of pre-rendered content are more tricky in that they've got to have a 2D as well as a 3D version of the rendered content. So in that case, there probably will be a bit more of an impact on the development cost although we still don't think it will be that significant.
What do you think of the possibilities of combining PlayStation Move with 3D?
I think it's very, very exciting. What we've done with PlayStation Move is to take that spatial control of gaming into a very accurate and very dynamic realm; it's really taking it to a new level. You can just imagine the possibilities of controlling something in 3D outside of the screen and looking at it being controlled in 3D within the TV screen. What's fantastic for us is that this is the first time this has ever been done. The games we've already converted are great fun and we're still only dipping our toe in the water. Once we educate all of our teams on how to create 3D content and how they can use PlayStation Move in 3D, you can just imagine what they're going to start producing.