If 3D gaming is going to take off, it’ll have to find a way to reduce eye strain during lengthy play sessions. For one Nintendo 3DS game designer, that means being mindful of the way 3D effects are applied.
Masahiro Sakurai is a veteran game designer who is now working on Kid Icarus — the first proper sequel to the NES classic — for Nintendo 3DS. When asked by CVG whether he’s felt any eye strain with the handheld, Sakurai said the issue is most pronounced when there are a lot of objects flying towards the user.
Sakurai’s solution? Focus more on movement away from the user. That’s it. Sakurai didn’t elaborate further or give any examples of how this would affect the game.
I’m not completely satisfied by the explanation. When I tried the Nintendo 3DS at E3, my most profound 3D moment happened when a dinosaur nearly popped out of the screen during a scream of rage. To hear that such moments must be used sparingly is disheartening.
But at least the explanation shows that Nintendo developers are trying to address eye strain at all. Nintendo was already burned once by the issue; the infamous Virtual Boy would actually pause and remind players to take breaks. Those who didn’t heed the advice got headaches.
Nintendo’s other eye strain solution is built into the 3DS hardware: Players can reduce or switch off the 3D effect entirely with a slider on the side of the device. Again, it’s no cure-all, but at least it will allow people to keep playing without interruption.