First Aid for the 3D-Illiterate
Stereoscopic 3D Gaming Basics
This page was released on: December 6, 1999
Last update: March 28, 2004
Contents:
Requirements for Real 3D Gaming
Native 3D Games
Todays gaming: 3D-API's
Some popular games and their 3D-API status
3D for all Games becomes a Reality
Popular 3D-Glasses Drivers (ELSA, Metabyte)

HOT: Game Driver Specs
HOT: Game Driver Compatibility Chart

 

The most popular way to play games in real 3D is by using so called LCD-3D-shutterglasses. They allow for stereoscopic 3D images in full resolution and color on a normal monitor.

Requirements for Real 3D Gaming

In order to play games in stereoscopic 3D you usually need these items:
- a fast Windows 98/ME PC (Pentium 2/3/4, Celeron, K6/Duron/Athlon)
- a normal (cathode ray tube) monitor capable of at least 120 Hz vertical frequency (refresh rate); LCD-displays won't work!
- some LCD-shutterglasses (glasses listed on the Stereo3D.com Top 20 are recommended)
- a 3D-accelerator VGA-board  (nVidia based boards are recommended for stereo-gaming)
- driver software for the card and for the glasses
Native Stereo3D Games are outdated!
In the past there were some games which had support for 3D-glasses build in. There were also some patches for certain games which upgraded them for the use with 3D-glasses. All these games and patches are now outdated. For a list of such 'native' stereoscopic 3D games complete with in-depth information and patches check the native 3D-games pages.
Todays gaming: 3D-API's
Nowadays 3D-glasses can be utilized for almost any game which supports one of the 2 popular 3D-acceleration API's (application programming interfaces). These interfaces are the way the game communicates with the driver of your 3D-VGA-graphics-acceleration-board. Only two 3D-API's play a role in todays market. These are Direct3D by Microsoft and  OpenGL. Glide by 3dfx is discontinued.
Here are some popular games and their 3D-API status:
Game
3D-API
Duke Nukem 3D, Need for Speed1, Outcast
none
Need for Speed 2 SE
Glide only
Quake 1, 2, 3
OpenGL only
Tomb Raider 2, 3, 4, 5
Direct3D only
Unreal, Descent 3
Glide, OpenGL and Direct3D
There are countless 3D-accelerator boards on the market, all with fancy names. These names usually mean nothing. The only thing that counts is the 3D-chipset!
Examples for popular 3D-accelerator-chips are the nVidia GeForce series and the ATI Radeon series. There are many more. Almost all of them support at least Direct3D and OpenGL.
Real 3D for all Games
The reason why 3D-API's are important for 3D-glasses is the fact games written for these interfaces supply genuine 3D-information in a standard format. These 3D-informations (i.e. depth-informations, Z-values) can be utilized by special universal 3D-glasses-drivers to create real 3D-imagery.
Popular 3D-Glasses Drivers
nVidia

nVidia, market leader in 3D-chipsets released their own stereoscopic reference driver. It'll work for all nVidia based boards and is available for free.

E-D Stereo Driver

Stereo wrapper, targeted at ATI chipsets by glasses-distributor eDimensional, no free download

 

Stereo Game Driver Specs
Developer Metabyte Wicked3D
(offline)
Metabyte Wicked3D
(offline)
Metabyte Wicked3D
(offline)
nVidia ELSA ASUS VRStandard VRStandard Scitech eDimensional
Driver eyeSCREAM 2000 (discontinued) eyeSCREAM
Pro
(discontinued)
eyeSCREAM light (anaglyph only)
(discontinued)

3D Stereo Driver
for all nVidia gfx chipsets
Revelator Driver
(discontinued, use nVidia driver instead!)
ASUS VR
(discontinued)
VRCaddyPro
(aquired by X3D in July 2003, discontinued?)
VRCaddyXP
(aquired by X3D in July 2003, discontinued?)
GLDirect 3.0
(stereo3d features discontinued since ver. 4.0)
E-D Stereo Driver
Distributed as -eyeSCREAM driver
- Eye3D game driver
- i-glasses H3D driver
eyeSCREAM
Pro
eyeSCREAM light 3D Stereo Driver
(you need the VGA-driver plus the Stereo-driver)
- driver for ELSA boards
- generic Revelator driver
VR 100 driver
(embedded in VGA-driver)
VRCaddyPro
(uses WINx3D)
VRCaddyXP GLDirect E-D Stereo Driver
Availability no free download! update available full version $15
free demo
full version $15
free demo
free download
configuration hints
discontinued free download download
free trial, full version $15
download
free trial
full version $19.95
free demo
free for eDim customers
supported OS Windows 
95/98/Me
Windows 95/98/Me/2000 Windows 95/98/Me/2000 Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP Windows 95/98/Me Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP Windows 95/98/Me Windows 2000/XP Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP Windows 
latest Version
(as of March 28, 2004)
5.02beta
(Aug. 2001) 
1.04
(July 2001)
1.04
(March 2001)
56.64
(March 15, 2004)
2001 ? 31.40
(Oct. 7, 2002)
March 2003 3.0
Version tested
(for Win9x)
4.12 4.12.01.0116-0020 (generic) 6.31 1.01
Type wrapper wrapper wrapper VGA-driver VGA-driver VGA-driver wrapper wrapper wrapper wrapper
supported
3D-API's
D3D, OpenGL, (Glide on 3dfx) OpenGL OpenGL D3D, OpenGL D3D, OpenGL D3D, OpenGL D3D D3D, OpenGL OpenGL Direct3D,
OpenGL
supported
VGA-boards
Most of the current chipsets by NVidia, 3dfx, Matrox, ATI, Intel and S3
(no OpenGL on certain boards)
Most of the current chipsets by NVidia, 3dfx, Matrox, ATI, Intel and S3 Most of the current chipsets by NVidia, 3dfx, Matrox, ATI, Intel and S3 all newer nVidia- based boards, from TNT1 upwards ELSA consumer boards &
some 3rd party boards with NVidia chipset (no OpenGL on 3rd party GeForce)
only ASUS with nVidia chipset Most of the current chipsets by nVidia, 3dfx, Matrox, ATI, SiS, 3DLabs and S3 Most of the current chipsets by nVidia, 3dfx, Matrox, ATI, SiS, 3DLabs and S3 Most of the current chipsets ATI (and others?)
T&L support yes (?) ? ? yes no (?) yes yes yes ? ?
Resolution half-res half-res full-res full-res full-res full-res full-res half-res/full-res ? half-res
Supported
Modes
sync-doubling sync-doubling anaglyph (red/blue) page-flipping, 
anaglyph (red/blue), interlace, Sharp, dual-output for projection
page-flipping interlace, page-flipping line-blanking, page-flipping, interlace line-blanking, sync-doubling, (page-flipping for ATI only) sync-doubling, 
page-flipping &
anaglyph (red/blue)
sync-doubling
Stereo-Quality
(Direct3D)
Rank 3 - good n/a n/a excellent excellent very good not tested not tested n/a not tested
Stereo-Quality
(OpenGL)
good very good very good excellent not tested very good n/a not tested not tested not tested

 
Drivers can be combined with 3rd party Glide- and GL-wrappers.
 
Game Driver Compatibility Chart
                     Driver >

Glasses

Wicked3D Driver
nVidia 
Reference
Driver
ELSA
Revelator Driver
ASUS
VR100
Driver
VRCaddyPro
plus WINx3D Driver
O.K.
O.K.
O.K.
O.K.
O.K.
Eye3D-PCI O.K. K.O./O.K.(9) K.O./O.K.(9) O.K. O.K.
K.O.
O.K.
O.K.
O.K.
O.K.
ASUS K.O. O.K.(10) K.O./O.K.(1) O.K. ?
APEC-VR97 # Cyber3DVisorVirtual Eyes
K.O.
O.K.
O.K.
O.K.
O.K.
H3DCruiser K.O. O.K. O.K. K.O. O.K.
H3DTerminator O.K. K.O. (?) K.O. (?) K.O. ?
O.K.
O.K.(11)
K.O.
K.O.
O.K.
eyeSCREAM # H3D O.K. K.O. K.O. K.O. O.K.
Revelator # MSI(!?) # Gainward(!?) K.O. O.K.(2) O.K.(2) K.O. O.K.
VRSurfer K.O. O.K.(7) K.O. O.K.(5) O.K.
CyberMaxx # i-glasses(VGA)
K.O.
K.O.
K.O.
K.O.(3)
O.K.
VFX-3D K.O. ? ? ? O.K.
SimulEyes # fanatix # StereoEyes # 
CrystalEyes3
K.O. O.K.(8) K.O. K.O. O.K.
3D-Max # 3D-SPEX # 60GX
CrystalEyes2-ENT # CrystalEyes-Wired
Cyberboy # CyberShades, 
K.O.
K.O.
K.O.
K.O.
O.K.
VFX-1 K.O. K.O. K.O. K.O. ?
Notes:
(1) Reverse control tricky on ASUS (hit the 3D-on/off hotkey until you 'catch' the right orientation!), newer ASUS boards like V84x0Deluxe don't work!
(2) Revelator doesn't work on VGA-boards without power on pin 9 and causes problems on some DDC-controlled monitors
(3) Initially I gave a partial O.K. (for ASUS-interlace only) in this cell, since ASUS provides an alternate line format, which fits these HMD's. Unfortunately the Interlace mode starts at 100 Hz. HMD's usually don't like this. Sorry!
(4) There's a slight chance that the VFX-1 may work on some VGA-boards. Also some of the mentioned shutterglasses may work with a combination of WINx3D and VRCaddy.
(5) It works, even in Page-Flipping!
(6) Depends on VGA-chipset used; page-flipping works, line-blanking doesn't work
(7) on ASUS boards only, more info
(8) more info
(9) problems with stereo-orientation control, only chance is to hit stereo-on/off-hotkey until stereo-orientation is correct
(10) ASUS requires entry StereoViewerType=2 in the registry, may be unstable on some configurations
(11) use entry StereoViewerType=10 in the registry

K.O.-Conditions can often be salvaged by building a homebrew replacement controller for your glasses.
Also check the Shutterglasses-Comparison-Chart!
 
 

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  Christoph Bungert, Germany