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Review: Wicked3D eyeSCREAM light

by David Ross on 7 April 2001, 00:00

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qafm

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Wicked3D eyeSCREAM light

What is it?

Its a stereovision thing that, when using special glasses, creates the effect of true 3D on the screen. Unlike its much more expensive 3D visors like the Revelator glasses, this system works by putting extra colours on your normal monitor and using standard 3D glasses with red/blue filters to create the effect. Very much like watching films such as Jaws 3 in 3D or any of thoses weird 3D magazine covers that were popular in the mid-80s.

 

This package is very cheap indeed – in the US the normal price is $20 and there are links to places where you can get it for $15 – in pounds that’s under a tenner. Not surprisingly therefore you don’t get much in the package for yor cash – a CD, two pairs of  black cardboard glasses with transparent coloured red/blue plastic filters, and a page of instructions.

 

.Setup

The CD has only one app on it – the actual installer program for the game settings. Installation only takes a few seconds and very little disk space (couple of hundred k, for this version at least, ver 1.02). You get a control panel where you tell it:

  • What size monitor you have
  • The strength of the stereo effect
  • Which games to use it on
  • Whether its enabled or not at all
  • Toggle 3D aiming help on/off
  • Resolution override, which overrrides ingame resolution settings

 

Quickly going through what some of these options really do:

Strength of stereo effect is an odd one. While they recommend new users go for 50 percent and gradually work up, I found that it gave me confusing visual cues which I couldn’t get my head round. It’s a kind of bastard 2D/3D setup which to me just looked ‘wrong’. It looked like things were in a strange duck-shooting gallery at the fair – things were either close, medium or far, with no gradual shades of in-between. After 5 minutes of Alice with it, I went back nd set it to 100 %, which for my eyes worked better. This gave a pretty damned good ‘real’ 3D effect (subject to bad stuff – see later).

The game selector basically whips through your registry, not your hard drive, to find suitable games. It seems to be only OpenGL stuff that it likes, with the full Quake engine range on the list for example. Given the frequency with which I manage to trash then reinstall Windows in various odd dual-boot configurations, the way it finds the games is a bit of a problem. It missed about 50 percent of my games which got ‘lost’ from the registry. Luckily I discovered that the thing works by dumping an opengl32.dll file in the game’s directory, so just doing a copy of it from Alice to Quake 3 suddenly enabled Q3 3D support. Simple. After a few days use I’ve ended up using the opengl files copy method as my standard on/off settings as its easier than the menu system…

The whole thing can be disabled from the control app too, which seems to make it go through and remove the opengl files I mentioned above during another ‘scanning for games’ routine.

3D aiming help – I didn’t find any need for this as I found aiming a piece of piss without it. Basically it’s a kind of laser pointer type thing on yor screen to help you aim in true 3D. Some people might need it -: not a rail-god like me though J

Resolution override. Forces a resolution in-game when using WickedGL. The point behind this is you really need to be using eyeSCREAM in at least 1024x768 resolution to avoid some artifacts (see later). Didn’t work very well for me given the amount of hacked-in dll files I was using, but is OK for properly installed stuff.

 

Compatability

As I said above, it seems to pretty much run anything that uses OpenGL. I’ve tried it in a number of Quake engine games (Half-Life, Quake 3, Alice) as well as Unreal Tournament engine (with OGL enabled) and Serious Sam. No real problems or configuration ussues with any of them as far as driver problems go.  I’m using Windows 2000 on a P3 at 830 with a Geforce 2 MX using leaked reference 6.47 drivers.  The only slight issue I have with it is that the Wicked opengl.dll seems to be a lttile bit slower in Quake games than the nvidia one, but as a trade-off its maybe a tad faster in Serious Sam. Certainly I had no probs with S3TC, and the difference is not drastic. What is more drastic si the need to up the normal resolution, which leads to….

 

Gameplay with it

First the bad. The reason they recommend playing at 1024x768 or higher would seem to be that it puts a srange line between each rendered row (not column) of pixels, making it look like watching a TV too close and seeing all the black bits between the dots. At lower resolutions this makes things look a bit grainy. While the Geforce Ultra boyz can handle the gigh res to get over this, for newer fast action games my MX can’t stretch to that resolution and keep it as playable as I’d like. Having said that, I persevered with it at 800x600 on my machine with Alice playing and didn’t notice after a while.

Second bad thing is what it does to the colours. Firstly, everything goes a bit too dark, which isn’t really that big an issue though is a bit of a pain if you are constantly resetting brightness if switching stereo on/off.  More importantly for me however was the red/blue problem. Multiplayer games 9 out of 10 times use red and blue as the team colours, and the 3d glasses make it very difficult to make either colour out as anything but brown unless its REALLY strong, preferably flared. As far as I’m concerned, this makes it a non-starter for most online first person shooters. Another issue which is related to the darkness is that all colours do become a bit dull and muddied, a sort of brown-green.  Finally if the glasses aren’t kept pretty close to yor eyes you can get double vision off certain things on-screen, especially things like torches and window lights where the red hue of the colour becomes disengaged from the rest of it. This best way to counteract this I discovered was to staple a rubber band onto the thing which goes round the back of my head and holds it tightly onto the front of my eyes. Classy, eh?

The good – it works, remarkably well. The 3D effect is more impressive than I’d expected. Its impossible to show you screenshots of how well it works though L I’m certainly tempted to investigate some of the flashier 3D glasses options out there to see if I can minimise the problems I mentioned above.

 

So in conclusion

What I do find a pity is that the games where I think I’d like it most, racing games and 3D god-games like Black and White, mostly use Direct 3D so can’t take advantage of it. In these the depth perspective on the scenery would work really well.

Its dirt cheap, even for a  bit of cardboard with some red and blue perspex stuck on it and a driver disk. The glasses won’t last forever, especially with heavy use. It is very much cornflake packaging carboard that the glasses are made of., but I’m sure you can find replacements from some sort of gimmick shop if they die, and you do get 2 for the price.

I’d say it’s a nice way of testing the water with this kind of technology to see if its for you. As far as I’m concerned, I can see that it works well as a technology but that it would be much better with decent 3D glasses to round it off. The artifacts (pixellation and discolouration)  created by the cheap ‘hardware’ are undoubtedly a problem. If that’s the intention behind it, to give people a taster but then want something better and pricier, it works well. At the price it’s a fun thing to try out.