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All About 3D - Part One

Blitz CTO Andrew Oliver goes in-depth on the company's latest project - putting 3D into games - and some of its challenges

With most sections of the general public having just gotten used to HDTV and the benefits it can bring, the prospect of talking about the next big thing to happen in home entertainment - 3DTV - might seem surprisingly soon.

But with 3DTVs already on the market and Hollywood set to embrace the technology more fully this summer, here Blitz CTO Andrew Oliver explains why his company's forthcoming XBLA and PSN title - Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao, published by Namco Bandai - incorporates full-on 3D, as well as revealing some of the costs and challenges in the journey so far.

GamesIndustry.biz You've been working on your latest game - Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao - for XBLA and PSN. How's that coming along?
Andrew Oliver

It's due within weeks, we had a few bugs in it that we had to iron out. August is what we've been told, and that's what we've told Sony and Microsoft.

GamesIndustry.biz You're putting a game out there that looks like a really nice, solid action title, that fingers-crossed will do well - even without all the 3D stuff.
Andrew Oliver

Well, to be honest that's the point. It was always going to be a nice game for Xbox Live and PSN, and frankly we know that only a few people - a tiny percentage of people - will be able to look at it in 3D.

But the thing we want to do is... 3DTVs are coming down the line, but the TV manufacturers can't push the TVs because there's no content they can show. At some point the 3DTV market will be blown open by Hollywood movies as being a way to get into the home.

But we can do it now - gamers are tech-savvy people, and it seems a shame not to allow them to do it. It became a challenge internally - we got hold of some of these TVs to see if we could do it, and we can. We think it's all cool, so we'll let other techy people to see it.

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.

GamesIndustry.biz Is it worth the expense of putting 3D into a downloadable game? What are the benefits to Blitz?
Andrew Oliver

It's cool. 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.

In this particular example only a small number of the buying public will appreciate it, but as time goes on there will be more and more people. It seems a shame - I've talked to so many people who have said they're just not in a position to push what 3DTVs can do.

Well, we are in a position, and we think it's cool. We're not going to make much money out of it, I appreciate that. But we're not adding it for the money.

GamesIndustry.biz That's a great viewpoint to take, but it seems a bit too good to be true at a time when the rest of the industry is knuckling down on streamlining to sure-bet franchises and repeat products that will make the most money...
Andrew Oliver

Well, we're a solid, stable company that's been around for twenty-odd years, and we accept that we do many licensed projects. We just did Dead to Rights, and it's a cool project which is what people buy and expect to see - it's the third a series, no surprise there. And the others are all TV or movie licenses.

That gives us a really solid foundation - but we've got a passion to do new things, so this one's going out under Blitz Arcade, which is us doing our own stuff on the digital platforms. We all know that the future is digital publishing - we don't want to ignore it, and we don't want to wait until it's too big... but it's a platform where you can do small, creative, innovative stuff, so that's exactly what we're doing. That's Invincible Tiger.

You couldn't have argued that you could have made a retro, Chinese/Japanese fighting kung-fu game in a boxed product - but that doesn't mean to say it isn't fun. It's a fun, cool game and it's something that we as gamers kind off miss. There were so many of those games a few years ago, and when the industry went full-3D, it kind of broke that type of game.

There's a certain irony that we've gone back to a 2D classic, and put it in 3D - but in a different way to that which people would have expected...

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