Aug 29, 2008

Business - Videogaming enters third dimension

SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - Videogamers, your glasses to transport you into three dimensional space.
Visual computing technology company Nvidia (NVDA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has unveiled the first mainstream 3D gaming technology at the inaugural NVISION 08 conference in San Jose, which focused on the convergence of technology with Hollywood, games and business.
With Hollywood migrating to 3D for event movies like "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and next year's "Avatar" from James Cameron, the electronics and gaming industries have created new technology that lets home systems and PCs also deliver true 3D.
This technology uses clear 3D glasses similar to those used at an IMAX theater.
On the show floor, games like upcoming Spore and Call of Duty: World at War and recent releases like Race Driver Grid, Devil May Cry 4, and Unreal Tournament 3 were playable on 73-inch Mitsubishi 3D Ready 1080p DLP TVs and Viewsonic 3D Ready 120Hz LCD displays.
Publishers like Ubisoft (UBIP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which is developing the game based on "Avatar," are already taking advantage of this new technology for new gameplay experiences to be released next year.
"Stereoscopic technology will have gamers going back two or three years and playing older games just to see how they look in 3D," said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia.
A packed theater of thousands of engineers, designers, developers, gamers and business professionals from around the world put on 3D glasses and watched a spectacular castle siege in Microsoft's 2005 PC strategy game, Age of Empires III.
Huang also focused on the future of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. There are currently over 100 million active global gamers playing MMO games like World of Warcraft, EverQuest II and Pirates of the Caribbean Online.
"We believe the notion of an MMO and a social network will converge and create a new type of virtual world where people can meet and hang out and just chat with their friends," said Huang.
Korean developer Nurien showed off its Nurien Social Network, a hybrid game world that allows players to create and dress their avatar and then design their home.
This home serves as a 3D homepage for web browsing, watching videos and playing games like a dancing competition.
Tricia Helfer, who starred virtually last year as General Kilian Qatar in Electronic Arts' Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars game, showed how 3D technology is influencing Hollywood and her Sci-Fi Channel show, "Battlestar Galactica."
"What they're doing with visual computing is transforming a lot of industries," said Helfer. "I see on the set in Hollywood every day what computer technology is doing for entertainment."
Acclaimed game creator Lorne Lanning told the conference how game technology is opening up new opportunities for filmmakers.
"Videogame engines provide an entirely different logic to how we're thinking about making films," said Lanning.
"The game design industry grasps this easily. The filmmakers are taking some time to figure this out, but eventually they're going to get it. Hollywood loves it because using a game engine brings the budget down."
(Editing by Belinda Goldsmiht)

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