The game Portal used to cost money, well not it doesn’t and you can get it absolutely free for a limited time – until May 24th it’s available for free over Steam, so hurry up and get your free copy. You need to have a free Steam account to be able to get the game, and if you still don’t you can register one now. The best thing is that Portal also looks quite good in stereo 3D, so you should really go and get it while you can. Of course the game is now a few years old, but it still offers quite unique experience and graphics and with the added depth perception when played in stereo 3D mode it gets even better.
Portal has a 3D Vision profile already available and the game is rated as Excellent, but it does have a few minor glitches that may annoy you. For example you are recommended to disable HDR and the Bloom effects from the graphics options, but since the game uses a lot of high contrast colors you can still see some ghosting and the depth effect is not the best possible you would want. So I’ve played a bit with Portal and its settings and as a result here are a few tips that might help you get more out of the game when played in stereo 3D mode, including my custom convergence settings that add a bit of pop-out to the game and not only depth.
You should start by enabling the developer console from withing the game, as you’ll need to type a few commands in it. In order to do that when you start the game from the main menu you need to select Options, then choose the Keyboard tab, click on the Advanced button, check the box next to Enable developer console (~) and then click Apply. After that you’ll be able to call in the developer console by pressing the ~ (tilde) key on your keyboard.
Then you need to run the following commands in the console:
These will tweak a bit the colors in the game as the very bright spaces near dark objects in the game tend to create some ghosting and with a bit of tweaking the gamma you can significantly decrease the negative effect while the game will still look quite good. You can think of this as a sort of anti-ghosting measures that are applied by limiting the gamma brightness level on the white. You’ll still see top/bottom ghosting, but that is another issue that is more of hardware related than software and it is expected to be there. You can place the above lines in the configuration file for the game in order for them to be automatically loaded, otherwise you’ll have to enter them in the console each time you run the game!
You can also try my custom convergence settings if you want to get better depth results with just a little bit of pop-out effect, just a bit not to create uncomfortable visuals. With the idea to avoid one of the side effects when you get some pop-out in the game and the crosshair is not rendered in 3D, but remains a 2D object (and you cannot replace it with the Nvidia laser sight in Portal). When you get close to an object that will seem to stick out of the screen your crosshair may start to seem doubled (although it should not), and if this is annoying for you, then you can just disable it again with a command from the developer console.
Just type in the following command to disable the crosshair:
The above settings were made on a Samsung 2233RZ monitor, so they may vary a bit on other displays and you are more than welcome to experiment and share your experience and results. Maybe these settings work just fine on other displays, but there might be even better combinations or maybe you can find more tweaks that can help. So share your experience and findings below. And don’t forget that you can get the full Portal game for free from Steam until May 24th, so do not wait!