I’m attending NVIDIA’s GPU technology conference, and at the exhibition here I took the opportunity to view some 3D images on some Lenovo (and of course NVIDIA) kit.
I was impressed; yes you have to wear the special specs, but the results are superb. The images are more immersive and more realistic, and I can see the appeal.
I am still not sure though whether 3D games will take off. The screens are substantially more expensive, the specs are inconvenient, and there are not many games.
We have also seen how Nintendo’s 3D support in the DS was insufficient to generate much momentum.
The question then is whether 3D gaming will ever be mainstream. Looking at a high quality 3D display makes you think that it must catch on eventually; but it has a lot stacked against it.
One of the demos here at Adobe Max was a 3D racing game, running in Flash with 3D acceleration. It was enabled by a new set of GPU-accelerated APIs codenamed Molehill. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch remarked that with GPU-accelerated 3D, Flash games could come closer to console games in the experience they offer. Lynch also demonstrated using a game controller with a Flash game.
There are no precise dates for availability, but Adobe expects to offer a public beta in the first half of 2011. The APIs will be available in a future version of the Flash Player. Under the covers, the 3D APIs will user DirectX 9 on Windows and OpenGL 1.3 on MacOS and Linux. If no supported 3D API is found on a particular platform, Flash will fall back to software rendering.
One interesting aspect is that Molehill will also work on mobile devices, where it will use OpenGL ES 2.0. Apparently GPUs will be common on mobile devices because they enable longer battery life than relying on the CPU for all processing. I heard similar remarks at the NVIDIA GPU conference last month.
This will be a significant development, especially when put in the context of Flash appearing in the living room, built into a TV or on Google TV.