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3D to cost "extra 10-15%" on game budgets

But Blitz CTO Andrew Oliver feels challenges are worth it for "very cool things"

Blitz CTO Andrew Oliver has revealed to GamesIndustry.biz that the approximate extra cost of putting 3D technology into a game is around "an extra 10-15 per cent" in terms of additional content.

The company is set to release Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network next month, a title which features full-on 3D visual effects, but one which Oliver freely acknowledges won't push sales of new hardware on its own.

"I'm not expecting people to buy new TVs for this game, but I'm expecting at some point that when people want to go and buy a new TV they can look for certain features that are actually starting to appear," he said during an interview at last month's GameHorizon event.

But asked why the company was bothering to put 3D into the game, he was clear: "It's cool," he said. "We're into making games, because it's cool. There are lots of features that you put in games that don't make you more money, but they are cool and people will appreciate them."

He went on to outline some of the costs and challenges involved in 3D production, and explained further on why he felt it was a worthwhile project.

"I'd say it's been hugely expensive to do the engine and buy all the TVs, get all the drivers... that's been a pain in the arse," he explained. "But we have a very powerful engine which we're very proud of, and we're trying to push it into new areas. We're now licensing it to others, and we were thinking about what other unique elements we could add - 3D was another thing we could add that would make it unique, and once done it could go into the games.

"So yeah, we've probably sunk tens of thousands into it to-date, but we can now just put it into games. The point about 3D is that you can actually do some very cool things. It gives you extra immersion, you actually start to believe in it - our game looks like you're looking into the world, more than on TV. Ours is slightly cartoony, but you can imagine there are certain things where it will just draw you in more.

"But on how much more it costs to put 3D in - there will still be about an extra 10-15 per cent of stuff that you'll have to put into the budget of a game to make it 3D."

Being more specific, he offered some concrete examples of where some of the budget would have to go in terms of additional content.

"When we make games, we cheat - we have flat sprites for things like trees in the distance, but as soon as you put it into 3D, you can see that it's flat," he said. "Your eyes can see it's a floating, flat plane, so you have to model more things up. So you've not only got the speed issue of trying to run it really fast, you realise that you can't use some of the old tricks.

"The obvious one is the special effects - the smoke, fire and so on. We always layer up and do flat planes, but it looks really obvious in 3D. You can above four flat smoke effects over the top of each other that makes it up - looks great in 2D, but in 3D the illusion is broken, so you have to think about doing some sort of volumetric particle effects, which is really hard.

"But that's because the illusion is working really well, and you are seeing into a 3D world. You can't cheat quite as much - you have make those things more representative of the 3D world, which I think is really interesting, even if it does make it slightly more challenging."

The full first part of the interview with Andrew Oliver is available now.

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