CeBIT is a trade show for the digital industry held each year in Hannover, Germany and you can consider it to be something like the European alternative of CES. CeBIT 2011 is currently is starting tomorrow on March 1st and will continue until March 5th, but it seems that stereo 3D technology won’t be the big thing this year and most likely we are not going to have some big announcements during the trade show. What you should be able to see according to CeBIT’s website and the information available from different exhibitors attending are 3D-capable laptops, 3D cameras/camcorders and 3D photo frames, 3D monitors and 3D HDTV sets using different technology and some stereoscopic 3D-related services and software solutions as well.
Game Developers Conference 2011 is another interesting annual event, targeted at game developers, that will also cover stereoscopic 3D technology. GDC 2011 commemorates its 25th edition this year, and is held in the Moscone Center in San Francisco between February 28th (today) and March 4th with five days of lectures, panels, tutorials and roundtable discussions on a comprehensive selection of game development topics taught by leading industry experts. But apparently stereoscopic 3D technology is also not a big thing this time as well. With the most interesting sessions at the conference probably being about the “Development Process of Nintendo 3DS” by Hideki Konno from Nintendo as well as “Stereoscopic 3D Demystified: From Theory to Implementation in STARCRAFT II” presented by Dominic Filion from Blizzard Entertainment and Samuel Gateau from NVIDIA.
And if you happen to visit any of these events, feel free to share some interesting things you may have seen there in the comments below as well as links to reports from other sources about what can be seen that is related to stereo 3D technology at CeBIT 2011 or GDC 2011…
As I’ve already mentioned yesterday, the much anticipated patch 1.1.0 for the game StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty has been released yesterday in USA and today in Europe, although there were some delays on the Battle.net maintenance. So now the game has official stereoscopic 3D support for Nvidia’s 3D Vision active shutter glasses among a lot of other improvements and fixes also introduced in the update.
One of the first things you’ll probably notice after patching the game is the stereoscopic 3D panel available in the game options for control over the depth level and convergence level. A Nice addition, but unfortunately not doing so well with the 3D Vision IR transmitter’s hardware controls… the in-game settings override the functions of the IR transmitter and keyboard shortcuts and you cannot enable/disable the 3D mode from it or control the depth level, so you need to use the 3D options panel only!
Most of the small details that were previously in 2D like the mouse cursor and units’ health bars are now rendered in 3D mode. And although still some objects in the HUD remain rendered in 2D like text balloons over units and some of the in-game objects for example and these rendered in 2D over a 3D environment with higher depth may not look very comfortable. The good news is that there are just a few minor things left, so it is not such a bother. As already mentioned the mouse cursor is rendered in 3D changing its depth to match the level of depth of the objects you place it over, however for deeper holes or structures reaching high it is not yet working perfect, although it is still Ok.
What came as a bit of disappointment is the removal of the stereo 3D rendering of the cutscenes which are not pre-rendered movies, so they remain in flat 2D although they are consisted of 3D objects rendered in real time. The reason for that decision is probably due to the dynamically adjusting the level of depth/convergence in these scenes, because they do not match the normal settings that work for the game and thus Blizzard has probably decided to leave them out of the S3D for now (the stereo 3D mode gets forced to off by the game in the cutscenes).
The default levels of depth and convergence that are set in the StarCraft II patch 1.1.0 may seem a bit extreme for most users new to stereo 3D, so you might want ot lower the sliders a bit, but more experienced 3D users should be Ok with that and will probably be happy to even increase the depth levels a bit.
So the Patch 1.1.0 is definitely a good improvement for StarCraft II including the stereoscopic 3D support, however there is still some work to be done in the next patch for the game in order to make everything work not just Ok, but perfectly well in stereo 3D mode. So maybe in Patch 1.2.0 for the game we might even see the game receiving 3D Vision ready status after Blizzard makes it even better working in stereo 3D mode.
And here is a short 5 minute gameplay video from the first single player mission in StarCraft II with the patch 1.1.0 applied and of course in stereoscopic 3D mode. The video is available on YouTube 3D, where you can watch it online, but better download it from the links below in order to watch it with the 3D Vision Video Player or the Stereoscopic Player on your computer. The video is in Side by Side format, 1680×1050 full resolution and with all graphic details inside the game maxed, there is no AA applied however. In the video you’ll be able to notice some of the issues I’ve mentioned above that still need some work, although even now the game can be comfortably player in stereo 3D mode. Feel free to share your comments and experiences while playing StarCraft II with the new patch 1.1.0 applied in stereoscopic 3D mode…
Another interesting update today is the official release of the StarCraft II Patch 1.1.0 that was supposed to make the game perform great in stereoscopic 3D mode by using Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology. Well the patch is now already available in USA with the European release expected in a few hours, unfortunately because of that fact I’m still not able to try it, so everyone from the States is welcome to report on the improvements in the stereo 3D support in the new patch. Of course aside from the official 3D Vision support the 1.1.0 patch for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty brings a lot of other improvements and fixes, along with balance improvements of course.