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eyeSCREAM light by Wicked 3D





Author: Spot
Posted on: 6/3/2001
Discuss: In the forums



Introduction
EyeSCREAM light is a software package designed to break through the barrier of the 2D surface known as your monitor and allow you to "step inside" some of the most popular OpenGL 3D games around. They use the concept of stereoscopic viewing to create a 3D effect in the PC game realm by using the combination of their own OpenGL driver and a pair of anaglyph glasses. To help explain their point of view, here's a quote I snagged right from their site.
This patent-pending software takes advantage of the high processing power of current generation PC's to render a high-quality 3D stereoscopic view through anaglyph (red-blue) glasses without requiring expensive LCD shutter-glasses. It transfers all processing to the PC instead of making eyeglasses do half the work.
In good old LWD fashion, I'll try to help you understand a little more about stereoscopic viewing and anaglyph glasses so you understand the product a little better. Have you ever been to the theater to see a 3D movie and you had to wear the funky red and blue 3D glasses? If you have, then you already experienced 3D stereoscopic viewing through anaglyph glasses. Anaglyph glasses are the "red-blue" type and are most commonly used due to the low cost of manufacturing. You might be wondering exactly how these types of 3D glasses work? I'll try to explain the concept behind them. When you look at a color through a lens or filter (3D glasses) of the same color, the color seems to have disappeared. To make it simple - if you printed some blue text on a white background and then looked at it while wearing the same color blue glasses, the text would appear to be missing. BUT if you looked at the same blue text through an opposite color lens (red) the text will appear to be very dark. If you have ever looked at an image created for this type of 3D viewing, you will notice that there are basically two separate images superimposed upon each other - one for each eye. The blue image is offset to the right while the red image is offset to the left. Standard 3D anaglyph glasses have a red left lens and a blue right lens. In this scenario when looking through them, the left eye sees the "right" image while the right eye sees the "left" image - hence creating a 3D effect. Maybe a picture will help explain this concept a little better.




Contents, Installation, and Options
When you purchase EyeSCREAM light, you receive two sets of anaglyph glasses, a CD, and a simple instruction sheet. If you have ever bought a retail video card, then you know there's usually a few shareware games or demos along with it to show how "cool" the product is. I pretty much assumed eyeSCREAM light would do the same thing, but there were none (not that anyone actually installs the demos anyway).

Installation is nothing out of the ordinary - "Yes, I want to install", "I Agree", "Yes - I accept", blah blah blah. Immediately after the program is installed, eyeSCREAM light scans your drive searching for compatible games that can be used. Let's take a look at the few options that are available.


Monitor - This one is pretty self-explanatory. Pick the size of the monitor you are using.

Stereo Effect Strength - This is the option that allows you to choose the "strength" of the 3D effect. You will not get a "true" stereo effect until this setting is on 100%, but definitely start lower the first time using eyeSCREAM light. I set it to 50% and I recommend that setting to any first time user. It does take some experience to get used to, so I wouldn't jump right into 100%.

Stereo Driver - Here, you can turn the stereo driver on or off. This is probably the setting that will be used the most. If you want to play without the 3D glasses and the stereo effect, set this option to disabled. You should also note the "games" button located in this area. This is a list of the supported games eyeSCREAM light has found during the latest scan of your system. I am not going to list them here because there are too many, but if you would like to see the complete list of supported games, it can be found at Wicked3D. I should also note that every time you enable the stereo driver, you are greeted with the same warning that you already agreed to during installation. I think they are really covering their ass when it comes to users getting sick or nauseous during game play - and for good reason, but we'll get to that later.

3D Aiming Help - There are three options under 3D aiming help - "disabled" (default), "laser pointer", and "crosshair". If you need help aiming in the 3D world, you can choose whether you want a laser pointer or a crosshair. Personally, I left it disabled.

Resolution Override - You can use eyeSCREAM light to override the resolution set inside the games. I left this setting disabled as well, but you can choose anywhere between 640 x 480 up to 1280 x 1024 if you want eyeSCREAM light to have control over the resolution.



Does It Work?
You're probably wondering if eyeSCREAM light really achieves the 3D effect that is claimed. The answer is yes - BUT there is more to it then a simple yes. You can not expect to install the software, set the stereo driver to 100%, slap on the glasses and be playing Q3 in no time... there is a learning curve involved. As I mentioned in the options, I recommend setting the stereo driver to a low setting (as does Wicked3D) and then working your way up to 100%. This learning curve may take a few minutes, a few days, or forever depending on how your eyes and your mind handle it. I got quite a few headaches the first few times playing with eyeSCREAM light, but I guess that's why they put the warning message up every time you enable the stereo driver.

I've been using eyeSCREAM light for about two weeks now and I must say there are some really good benefits from it, and there are some major setbacks. When using the stereo driver at 100%, the 3D effect looks absolutely incredible. I really didn't expect it to work as well as it did. I found myself wandering around staring at things because they looked completely different than what I was used to. I ended up getting quite a few rockets up the tailpipe because of it, but the 3D effect works well. It really gave Quake3, Half-Life, and Unreal Tournament a completely new feel. Here are a few screen caps from Quake3 with the stereo driver enabled and with it disabled.

eyeSCREAM Off eyeSCREAM On
eyeSCREAM Off eyeSCREAM On


You probably noticed the images with eyeSCREAM light turned on are much darker than with it off. This is where part of the setbacks come into play. When using the stereo driver, game play IS much darker. Depending on the game, and where you are in the game, this can really be a drawback. In certain areas, I found it difficult to see opponents, which obviously makes it difficult to shoot opponents since they tended to blend in with the surroundings. You can, however, crank up the "brightness" level in some games such as Quake3 which helps the darkness problem - but it is still worthy of noting in case certain games do not allow this feature. I should also mention that much of the color is lost when using the anaglyph glasses, but that problem is due to the nature of the glasses and not eyeSCREAM itself.

Another drawback is the performance hit in frames per second. In order to create the 3D effect, eyeSCREAM light has to render two separate images for every frame. This is obviously going to take a toll on the ever-quested high FPS that we all seek. A few benchmarks were run in Quake 3 to determine exactly how many FPS were lost.



When eyeSCREAM light is turned on, Quake3 lost 63.9% FPS at 800 x 600, 72.8% FPS at 1024 x 768, and 74.9% FPS at 1280 x 1024 which was a LOT bigger loss than I expected. These tests were done on an AMD 1.2 GHz T-bird (12 x 100), Asus A7V motherboard with an Asus 7700 GeForce2 GTS 64MB video card running Q3 Demo 1, 16 bit color with the sound ON. If you like to play games at 1280 x 1024 or higher and you are planning on using eyeSCREAM light, you will want to have a better system than this one (unless 21 FPS is all right with you). If you do have an older video card and want to use eyeSCREAM light - you should expect to play at some of the lower resolutions. Wicked3D is obviously aware of the performance hit since they state their "software takes advantage of the high processing power of current generation PC's" but you should keep this FPS loss in mind if you decide to purchase the product. Make sure you have the hardware to run eyeSCREAM light or it will be a waste of your money.


Conclusion
The idea behind eyeSCREAM light is great, and it adds a completely new effect to some of the most popular OpenGL games around, but I won't recommend purchasing it because I feel the negatives outweigh the positives. As shown earlier in the screen captures, using eyeSCREAM light darkens the game quite a bit which can be very detrimental to game play. Although it may not happen to everyone, I got quite a few headaches during the "adjustment period" of using the stereo driver. It's nothing that a little aspirin won't cure, but you may need some patience to get over the initial learning curve. Finally, the FPS hit is something that should be duly noted. If you have an older video card, don't expect to play at high resolutions or 32bit color without taking a major hit.

EyeSCREAM light is a fun item to play around with due to the visual effects, and Wicked3D did a good job in creating a cheap, effective way of bringing stereoscopic viewing to computer games. I would however, like to see future releases of the software add a little more light to games to help game play. If you do happen to purchase eyeSCREAM light, I suspect it will end up on the shelf after the first two or three weeks. As PC hardware becomes faster and faster, I could see it this product become more mainstream; but unless you currently have a top of the line system I would wait on this purchase.









Copyright © by LWD All Rights Reserved.

Published on: 2004-01-25 (14609 reads)

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