Q&A From the team behind BATTLE RAGE: THE ROBOT WARS
Stourbridge, England. Data Design Interactive – a successful video games publisher and games developer – With the impending UK release of BATTLE RAGE: THE ROBOT WARS a third person shooter with elements of a beat’em’up game that allows a player to control giant robots. This being the first real ‘REAL 3D’ console game, by using stereoscopic glasses on the Nintendo Wii, the team behind the development taken time out of their schedule to provide an insight into the game’s 3D engine. Below, Rob Dorney Art Director and Karl White Technical Director talk about some of the main aspects of the game.
1. How is it real 3D?
KW: Most computer games are created using 3D models but the player still only sees a flat image of these on their 2DTV. Each image is flat just like a photo. You can try to imagine depth from shadows and the size of objects, but really each frame of the TV image is totally flat. In the ‘real world ‘ we see objects in real 3D, objects are solid and they appear near to us or far away. Our in-game stereoscopic render works the same way that our normal eyesight works in the real world by providing a different view to each eye, so our in-game objects appear as real 3D objects. It really does separate the game environments and characters according to their distance from the player, the effect of which is very immersive. The stereoscopic effect forces your eyes to refocus when you look around the environment, just like they would in reality.
RD: With any graphical advances like this, the effect is more pronounced in some environments than others. In BattleRage’s case, the designers took particular care to lay out the environments so there was plenty of very selectively placed items that help accentuate the 3D immersion.
2. How important will 3D gaming be?
RD: We feel there had to be a next step away from 2D control methods and 2D screen imagery- it’s been done for 20 years now. The next evolution in control has come from motion sensitive devices, the Wii remote being the primary commercial success in this field, and the next visual advance will certainly be into 3D interactive entertainment. We saw a trend forming with TV manufacturers and the movie industry starting to look into 3D and felt the video game market should also be at the forefront of this revolution. Titles like BattleRage will sow the seeds with many developers and we’re convinced there will be many other titles that try their hand at developing new 3D rendering technology, as we have.
3. How does it work?
KW: Having two eyes we see two slightly different images with each eye. The brain works out from the slight variation in each image the correct distance away for everything it sees. Our stereoscopic effect essentially works by drawing the game environment twice – once for each of your eyes. The rendered images differ because each eye will see the environment from a slightly different perspective, with objects in the immediate foreground being seen very differently in one eye than the other. It’s this difference which makes the stereoscopic 3D effect work. These two images are then overlaid; one in red, one in cyan and the combined images form a new stereoscopic image. The red and cyan lenses in your glasses block out the colours that make up one of those images allowing us to ‘tell’ each of your eyes what they should see.
We chose the colour separation technique so that the effect could be seen by anyone (including people who are colour blind!) and without any special hardware. Instead we spent time refining the effect so it would be as effective and immersive as possible. There have been films which use the same process but due to how the film is displayed, personal eyesight and slight colour differences in the lens to view the film, the images are often blurred or a ghosting effect happens, which spoils the 3D effect. With the video game we run a personal setup to correctly align the player, TV and lens to provide a perfect 3D experience.
4. Plans for more?
RD: Very much so; the press feedback we’ve had since announcing the technology has been exceptionally positive so it’s very clear to us that the market is ready for the ‘next big thing’. We’ve invested considerable time, cost and manpower into both engine-side technology and peripheral technology, to make immersive 3D titles and BattleRage will be just the first to reap the rewards of this investment. Other titles include games for all ages, styles and genres. We have just applied for patents on new technology using the Wii motion sensing devices to detect your head movements so not only can you see in 3D you can actually move around in 3D. Tilting your head will look around objects or moving closer to the screen will view the objects close up and the player will move around a world by just looking in the direction they want to move. It is very close to virtual…. reality a sort of 3D-VR simulation device, but I’m afraid that at this stage I’m bound by NDA so can’t talk too much about those, sorry!
5. What is the future for 3D gaming?
RD: The future is exceptionally bright for 3D video games. We think you’ll see developers exploring all manner of new immersive experience technology in both the visual area and in tactility. There will no doubt be casualties where people push a boundary too far too early, but for the first time in a while, innovation seems to be at the forefront of developers imagination. In the immediate future things like inventive control devices, more use of voice recognition and 3D rendering technology will be pushing back the traditional boundaries of entertainment.
RD: The original late 80’s VR revolution was probably a little before its time, but it proved that people were fascinated by immersive experiences. Nowadays with much more accessible and powerful technology at our disposal, not to mention a bunch of very talented and creative programmers and designers, there really is a 3D revolution upon us. If for no other reason, BattleRage will be remembered as the game which really started it all!
BATTLE RAGE: THE ROBOT WARS is a third person shooter with elements of a beat’em’up game that allows a player to control giant robots. It will offer standard visual mode or visually stunning 3D graphics mode. Battles between the robots take place on carefully selected battlegrounds (so called “arenas”) and they are short, quick, brutal skirmishes. The player can fight alone (versus one, two or even three opponents) or in a team against a common foe. Every robot has its own weapons (for melee and distance combat), additional enhanced weapon types can be collected on the arena.
The player can customize their robot’s parameters in the single player and multiplayer modes to create their own unique fighting style. Also many new, powerful robotic upgrades will be waiting for the player to unlock in the story mode. The Tournament has begun.
* Single player and Multiplayer modes.
* Arcade mode with a separate Storyline for each of the robots characters.
* Robot Customization.
* Compelling mechanics (Rage, Rush, Power Triangle).
* Special Attacks (push, stun and other unique abilities for each robot).
* Robots allowed to fight with 3 weapons at the same time (two ranged and one melee).
* 8 unique starting robots.
* 20 weapons.
* 10 arenas.
* Innivotive 3D graphics.