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Retreading Old Games... In True 3D!

Contrary to what I've said about it over the last couple entries, I have not completely given up on Planetside 2.  It's quite the game for the price of zero moneys down, and the only game in town if you're looking for a truly massively multiplayer first person shooter, so I can humor quite a bit of fault of the game.  Heck, that it makes me feel so miserable to play it may actually be proof of how much I'm enjoying it.  I'm still waiting for a Station Cash sale so I can put down what I deem to be a reasonable amount of money to have "paid to win" by buying some decent guns actually worth investing certifications into unlocking their attachments.

But, though I've not quit Planetside 2, it has fallen to a lower priority to play because I've just received my 3D Vision 2 kit in the mail and Planetside 2 is somewhat incompatible with it.   I've tried it, there's some limited compatibility with the general terrain, soldier depth, and icons (such as those related to waypoints).  However, the iron-sights on my gun are skewed so neither my left nor right eye are seeing down the sights correctly, some GUI elements are rendered at screen-depth, and the shadows are a complete mess.  Oh well, I can still play Planetside 2 just fine, I just have to leave the 3D vision turned off.

My decision to buy a 3D Vision kit was made long ago.  It started with the choice to go NVIDIA instead of AMD for video card; for a long time, my going ATI (later bought by AMD) was the reason why I could not use shutter glasses.  When I purchased my Viewsonic VX2268WM monitor about a year ago, it was a monitor I picked rather deliberately because it is listed as "3D Vision Ready" by NVIDIA for possessing a 120mhz refresh rate.  I rather enjoyed using shutter glasses in the past and wanted to have a system compatible with doing that again.  (Although, I understand these days there's actually fairly affordable 3D monitors which do not require shutter glasses.)  I have learned that this impulse buy may have been a mistake, though: the VX2268WM does not have sufficient resolution to be 1080p compatible, and it also lacks the "lightboost" technology that prevents games from seeming dimmer while playing them in 3D mode.

It's a pity that the Nintendo 3DS had such a poor implementation of 3D.  Nintendo did not properly enforce 3D standards amongst a lot of the developers making titles for the machine, resulting in a very poor presentation of the advantage of going 3D.  Furthermore, a tiny screen that is being steadied by hand is a poor platform for presenting depth perception right.  While I was initially optimistic upon hearing that was a stereographic display was going to be Nintendo's latest gimmick, thinking it may herald a widespread adaptation of 3D at last, they may instead have slowed down the adaptation of this technology by demonstrating how to do it wrong.

That said, having received my 3D glasses is giving me a great reason to retread some old games.  (At least, better than my usual reason, being that I'm a creature of habit.)   I have had less than a day to really play with them so far, and it's been an unusually busy 24-hours for me in terms of frequent interruptions to my procrastination, but here are some of my experiences:
  • Hawken - Listed by NVIDIA as one of the "3D Vision Ready" games, I'm actually not very impressed with Hawken's implementation.  It seems they went for an implementation where many the objects in the game are rendered in 2D (such as enemy mechs and your cockpit instrumentation).  However, these are presented as 2D stand-ups at the correct 3D plane.  As a result, sure it's 3D Vision Ready, and quite playable, but you get none of the joy of seeing the grooves and curves in the objects as you normally would, and that circumvents a great deal of the appeal of having true 3D.  Oh well, at least the projectiles and the terrain are 3D enough.
  • Guild Wars 2 - I've heard this game is fantastic in 3D vision and, indeed, it really is.  Even your mouse pointer in the game is adjusted to be at the depth of whatever you're currently pointing at, and I don't know if any other game that does that!  I realized while playing Guild Wars 2 that a lot of the things they did were actually deliberately added in order to take better advantage of a true 3D platform!  For example, all that dodging you do is great when done in true 3D, you really get a good sense of avoiding impending peril.  Remember those points you visited that had triggered the camera through a sweeping vista shot?  That's right, it was done so you can ooh and aah over how it looks in 3D.  Indeed, while Guild Wars 2 has its moments of jaw-dropping beauty (as a good persistent world does) I found those moments to happen exponentially more often while wearing my new shutter glasses.
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim - Oh, sweet Jesus, I did not expect yesteryear's smash hit to actually score an "Excellent" in 3D Vision compatibility, but it does, and it is fairly awesome as a result.  The crosshair renders in 2D, but it can be disabled and the "laser sight" is a good solution, unless you go into stealth mode which is rather distracting because now your eyes have to deal with the stealth icon appearing on opposite sides of the cross hair depending on which eye you are looking through.  There are other problems with Skyrim, such as shadows and water reflections being off, but it turns out that the mod community has made a fix for that, and it seems to work flawlessly.
The best may have yet to come, and I've yet to play either Batman: Arkham City nor Just Cause 2 with 3D Vision yet, and I imagine both of those titles would be absolutely breathtaking with their "3D Vision Ready" compatibility ranking.  There are also some games that could be more compatible, such as Dishonored and Dark Souls, which should be fun to at least try with the glasses on, and both of them have community fixes out for them.

Of course, all that retread also reintroduces me to the old problems I have had with these games, and first up is how much of a craven altaholic I have been.   No, you didn't read alcoholic, you read altaholic, which basically an addition to restarting several alternate characters ("alts" for short, hence altaholicism).  It's a habit borne of being bored of games and finding enjoyment in trying other character concepts, which works fine for awhile, but eventually you discover the now-engrained habit of starting new characters promptly stymies all attempts to progress naturally through the content in the game, which greatly limits the longevity of the appeal of an RPG.

At the moment, I think I would like to try to complete Skryim (again), and the opportunity to play the game in true 3D is probably the last, best chance I will ever get.  In fact, I'm even running a plugin of my own creation to better facilitate character progression through all this add-on content.  But, as I said, I'm once again ruining my potential enjoyment of the game by dwelling on what kind of character I really want to develop.  The new release of the Dragonborn add-on includes the ability to get back the points you've invested in entire skill trees, so it really is possible to have an all-in-one character now who switches specializations as you want.

Still, I'm at a loss as to what to develop first... I'm thinking maybe a Sorcerer which (by the Elder Scrolls definition) is basically a tank mage: you primarily work with spells, but you wear heavy armor, which has no conflict with spellcasting in this game.  The reason I went this route is because, while spells are fun (and quite pretty to use in 3D vision) I hate how thin skinned robe-wearing spellcasters are, and it's just annoying to have to reload constantly when you crumple under minor damage continuously.  However, this is complicated because, thus far, I've had to lean on weapons just to overcome the low mana my starting character has.

Guild Wars 2's glorious 3D Vision implementation make it very much a game I want to play right now.  Of course, altaholicism was one of the reasons I stopped playing Guild Wars 2, and solving that problem is going to be a bit trickier.  All the classes in Guild Wars 2 are quite fun to play in their own right, and they can all play a role in the holy trinity of tank, healer, or nuker (although some are slightly better at that role than others).  When choice of class is largely a choice of flavor, it's made all that more difficult to choose by virtue of how unsubstantial that choice is!  Honestly, considering some content in Guild Wars 2 unlocks specifically to certain races and background choices, the solution to altaholcism in this particular game may be to choose to play all the classes.

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