Killzone 3 dev explains the ups and downs of 3D technology

Killzone 3 is coming in 3D. Now this isn't a surprise but it's due to blaze a trail for future First Person Shooters using the technology to further immerse you in the world. Killzone's Guerrilla Games, considered rendering every bullet in 3D because it 'looked incredibly cool' flying overhead but apparently the reality of such a venture was super-tricky. This according to the game's producer, Steven Ter Heide, who we recently quizzed to find out about the intricate trials and tribulations of working with 3D tech. So read on to find out how 3D is used in development and why Guerrilla Games see it as more than just a passing fad...

What additional challenges does a developer face when producing a game in 3D?

We can’t speak for other developers but for us it was pretty straightforward. Our content already was fully 3D, as in that the whole world we create already is fully realised in 3D. Everything has depth to it already. On the technology side, we of course have to increase performance in a smart way as we now have to render everything twice, once for each eye. The biggest things we came across were design issues we had not seen before, things like HUD elements or especially the crosshair, where do these ‘live’ on the screen. We have to take depth into account and these unnatural objects now need to feel natural and sit comfortably at the right depth not to become jarring.

How tempting is it to overdo the 3D effects - like having tons of stuff flying out of the screen into the players face?

Haha, that’s always a temptation. At one point someone on the team asked if we could render all the bullets flying around because it was incredibly cool to have these fly overhead. The sheer number of bullets flying, of course, proving a little more than just impossible.

Above: Thousands of bullets fly around in every level. You couldn't ask PS3 to render all that in 3D... could you?

How early in the development timeline of Killzone 3 did you know it would be 3D?

We started on it from day one. Being part of Sony of course means we’re closer to the fire, and when we learned of the 3D initiative we just asked to get a prototype TV as soon as possible. Everybody always talks about the importance of immersion, and 3D really helps that sense of immersion, placing you in the world. So for us it felt like a good idea from the start.

What elements of the Killzone series has the introduction of 3D enabled you to build on or ramp up?

Killzone has always been about immersion, putting you in the middle of this epic war. So those elements where we have things crumbling and going off all around you are the moments that work best in 3D. That said, we’re not making special content for 3D, we’re just enabling what we’ve always done to be viewed in 3D. Its still early days with the technology, even the movies are still getting to grips with what 3D can offer. So I think we will learn to take better advantage of 3D in the future.

How much more financial investment is there in a 3D game? Or do they just cost the same to create as a non-3D game?

Given that for us we don’t need to do that much for 3D to work, its a relatively small investment given the overall budget. There’s a couple of guys who are occupied with 3D, and their work mostly contributes to 2D being faster and better as well.

One of the main issues 'cynics' have with 3D is that it's 'gimmicky'. How do you see 3D? Is it an essential component of Killzone 3 or is it more of an optional extra?

Its an optional extra. For those people that enjoy the immersive experience, 3d will greatly contribute to that feeling.

What's your favourite 3D-only set-piece in Killzone 3?

There aren’t any 3D only set pieces, the game is exactly the same in 2D and 3D, and we do not create anything special for 3D. I think some pieces are more impressive in 3D, as you feel that you are in the middle of it a lot more.The ‘cheap’ tricks we talked about before are the most obvious ones, where all of a sudden your knife is floating in front the screen. We frequently see people reach out and try and grab it. Cheap, but very effective :)

Above: Now might be a good time to get out that fancy 3D knife. He's seen you!

Have you had to exercise restraint in some modes of the game when it comes to 3D - for example in multiplayer? We'd imagine extended play sessions of Killzone 3 multiplayer, if played in 3D, would mess with your eyes!

It’s something we’re testing at the moment, finding the right balance between immersion and chaos. It's early days for the technology, some people take to it immediately, others need some more time to adjust. As with the adoption of stereo sound, colour TVs or more recently HD. The benefits are clear, and we need compelling content. 3D is an option, if people experience any stress, the game is always playable in 2D.

Finally, if you had to make a prediction, will all future Guerrilla PS3 games be in 3D?

That's a difficult one to answer, not sure if all games benefit from 3D in the same way. I do think 3D is here to stay though, even though we’re not ready to talk about any future titles. Let's first ship Killzone 3.

16 Aug, 2010


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  • mrhongkongdave - August 19, 2010 1:19 p.m.

    the other good thing about 3d tvs is that in the future you'll be able to play local multiplayer on one tv fullscreen by splitting the signal to each set of glasses i.e. one set configured to see what the left eye should see only and the other set to see what the right eye would see. Also the Mrs can watch tv with one set of glasses and you can play games using a another seperate set using the same tv!!!! Each set of glasses will have built in headphones. Check it out on the net, sorry no time to look for links.
  • mrhongkongdave - August 19, 2010 1:14 p.m.

    Samsung LN46C750 is under $1500 3d plasma I'm saving for UN55C8000 55" Class (54.7 inch diagonal) 1080p 3D LED HDTV- NEW £2800 ($3700) it should fit the wall mount for my samsung 55 led. Killzone 3 is the only reason for me wanting 3d!!!!
  • FRANKO - August 17, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    I'm selling my kidney just to get 3D tv for KZ3
  • sleepy92ismypsn - August 16, 2010 9:53 p.m.

    Man, I really want a 3dtv but I just bought my second hdtv and I would have to sell my entire game collection(about 100 games) and my ps3 just to be able to afford one. I've seen killzone 3 in 3d at a sony style store and it looks amazing and one of the bullets came out of the tv in slow mo. The guy at the store told me the tv would cost from $4000-6000. have you seen the brutal melee kills in this game? Holy shit!
  • Clovin64 - August 16, 2010 6:31 p.m.

    Its nice to see a developer who believes that they can do something really interesting with 3D gaming in the future, but theres no way I'll have a 3D TV within the next couple of years. I finally got a HD TV earler this year and I plan to stick with it for a while.
  • Turboash - August 16, 2010 6:22 p.m.

    "considered rendering every bullet in 3D because it 'looked incredibly cool' " Are they unaware of how quickly a bullet travels!?! Even if it's a tracer, all you'd see is a line of light, not the bullet... idiots.
  • FRANKO - August 16, 2010 6:18 p.m.

    I'm getting 3D TV 1 day before Killzone3 is out.
  • EliteM0nk3y - August 16, 2010 4:45 p.m.

    I think 3D is a gimmick until they find someway to get rid of the glasses *cough*N3DS*cough*. Until then I am fine with standard 2D gaming. Still looking forward to this game though.
  • ihitthedrum - August 16, 2010 4:33 p.m.

    @Charlie_Fubar If buying a 3D-TV was worth the investment for you, then that's fine and dandy. However, most of us can't find justification of that price. Everybody spends more money where their interests lie. So no, we're not all "broke as a joke" and we don't care that you worked your ass of to get your TV.
  • Charlie_Fubar - August 16, 2010 3:37 p.m.

    Ok 3D haters listen up! Go EFF yourselves with your old LCD screens. If you havent played wipeout HD/Fury in 3D or MotorStorm Pacific Rift in 3D, then you CANT OPEN YOUR MOUTH ON THE 3D SUBJECT. Gaming in 3D is way better than gimmicky 3D movies. Im tired of reading all these comments by people who have never experienced this luxury. Also, I worked my ass off 60 hours a week all summer to afford my brand new series8 samsung LCD-LED and pay my mortgage. Most of you are crying really cuz youre broke as a joke. Grow up and/or GET A JOB!
  • CreeplyTuna - August 16, 2010 3:04 p.m.

    im with hobogonigal. jjust got a 50 inch plasma and dont't even like the way 3D looks, and i would rather buy a new guitar or drumset, cuz those would be much more worth while to me than a tv
  • Hobogonigal - August 16, 2010 2:18 p.m.

    @SweatyCrease I don't know. Over here in Australia 3D tvs are $3000-$5000. Surely I would rather wait and buy one when the prices at least start to get lower like the HD tvs did. I think currently I would rather go on holiday or something rather than buy a 3D tv, regardless 3D movies/games. I do get your point though, HD tvs were said to be the standard for a good couple of years and then all of a sudden the industry comes along and expects everyone to ditch their new tvs and jump on the 3D bandwagon.It all comes down to the fact of: would you rather spend $3000 on tv or something else possibly more worthwhile?
  • Tronto13 - August 16, 2010 2:05 p.m.

    from the sounds of it then, Sony are pretty much forcing Guerrilla intodeveloping in 3D.
  • SweatyCrease - August 16, 2010 12:02 p.m.

    @hobogonigal I don't think the price is the major issue, it's the fact that everyones just bought HD TVs that are now old hat. Lots of people would have justified buying an expensive TV on the basis that it would be future proof, and now bam, you must have shiny new 3D.
  • Camoxide - August 16, 2010 11:56 a.m.

    The game is basically an advertisement for 3D T.V.s 3D games seem more appealing to me than 3D movies
  • oufour - August 16, 2010 11:41 a.m.

    i've already got a pick for prettiest game of 2011.
  • Hobogonigal - August 16, 2010 11:12 a.m.

    First! It seems like most developers are trying to get to grips with the software in time for when 3D tv prices lower and more people go out and buy them. At the moment though its pretty cool to be able to play games like this in 3D, but is only available to those willing to pay a whopping amount of money for the benefit. I think I'll wait for lower prices personally but am excited for the time when I can play these awesome games when developers have mastered 3D effects.

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