Super Stardust HD 3D Story

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We first heard of Sony’s 3D plans when our producer, Phil Gaskell, asked us to think about a stereoscopic 3D version of our PSN hit Super Stardust HD (SSHD) in summer 2009.


Our first reaction was that it sounded interesting, but we were doubtful whether 3D would ever work or be even possible to do for SSHD for a couple of main reasons. The first one was that we were really concerned over whether we would be able to develop a proper 3D version of the game without compromising full 60 frames per second gameplay.
Also, we hadn’t personally seen proper 3D images in action and the premier of Avatar was half a year away. So, we got to work and thought about how on earth we are going to be able to render TWICE the amount of stuff than before as now we basically needed to get the refresh rate from 60fps to 120fps to produce stereoscopic pictures.
For the more technologically inclined people reading this blog, here’s some insight on what we had to do.
We had been working on our next version of our game engine for over a year and replaced the core engine with a newer one. As the engine is highly modular it was mainly a matter of adding stereoscopic cameras and configuring the engine to render everything twice. That was, of course, just the beginning: after that we had to optimize a lot, as we now had 8.3ms instead of 16.7ms to render a frame.
Luckily, we had 50 per cent of the SPU power left, so we tapped into that.
The main challenge of making stereoscopic SSHD was mainly drawcalls and
polygons – we have lots of objects with lots of polygons and massive particle effects. We solved the issue by moving vertex processing from GPU to SPU and merging as many objects as possible to one drawcall. Previously, every asteroid chunk and every enemy was in a separate drawcall; in the stereo version they go out in a few fell swoops.
We had the first 3D version of SSHD running in autumn 2009. We didn’t have a proper 3D television at that time and we had to use paper anaglyph red-and-green (or cyan to be exact) glasses to see the 3D image on our monitors. The images we could produce didn’t even have proper color in them, but it was still really impressive.
Even though we didn’t have a final 3D Bravia television during that time, we were able to produce a much talked version of the game for the CES 2010. When we finally got the final Sony Bravia 3D TV with active shutter glasses to our offices early in 2010, we were blown away. When playing our game, things were literally seen in a new dimension. This was REALLY cool stuff!
3D certainly has a bright future ahead and we are happy that we had a chance to develop the first 3D PS3 game that runs 720p resolution in 60fps for both eyes, meaning that we are actually having 3D SSHD running in 120fps! The improvements we did for our engine are also benefiting the gamers of 2D version as well. To summarize, the 3D version includes:

  • 3D mode of the game running 720p at 120fps (60fps per eye)
  • 2D mode of split screen co-op mode updated from 30fps to 60fps
  • 4x antialiasing support in 720p and native 1920x1080p support in 2D mode

The 3D update is free to all existing SSHD gamers enhancing also the 2D mode, so don’t forget to update your game even though you haven’t got your 3D television (yet)!

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  • Couldn’t they have left the Red/Green mode in, so that those people without a 3D TV could still experience the effect?
    It just seems a waste that they had this working and then decided to remove it…

  • How annoying was it to develop in anaglyph and keep sending builds to SCE to see if they work right with Active Shutters?

  • Also forgot to say loved the demo’s yesterday in London, fell in love with the game, can’t wait to play in, got my 3D Bravia yesterday.

  • I can´t wait to get my 3D Bravia that can show me all this 3D stuff. Just e-mail me Sony so you can send it to me.

  • I love when people talk about the tech behind their games, so thanks Ilari that was interesting. Can’t wait to see SSHD in 3D some day. Not forgetting seeing more of Dead Nation too! ^^

  • Very nice that the ‘default’ game has been improved. I have no chance of a 3D display anytime soon, so this upgrade is a welcome addition.

  • so, if I won the original game. Is it worth me downloading the new version ??
    I have no 3D TV but are the other tweaks in it worthwhile ??
    Actually is there a forced update anyway ??

  • damn, not “won”, but “have”

  • I agree with jweaver, what about giving us the possibility to play in anaglyphs since it already has been developed ? Thx for the updated perfs anyway :D

  • Hyvä Housemarque, hyvä Suomi! :D

  • Ken Kutaragi was right: 120fps!

  • That was a really cool read! Very interesting!
    I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a Plasma 3DTV today, thus enjoying Super Stardust HD in 3D A LOT!! :)

  • Hi guys! Thanks for the comments. For all of you wondering if its worth downloading the new update I say – of course it is!
    The guys wondering about anaglyph version and why we didn’t have that in for the 2D version, I can say that we didn’t have time to optimize the gameplay experience as it is very dependent on colors. When we got the 3D television, the experience was totally different. The anaglyph helped us to get to a certain point, but it wasn’t good enough quality to develop the final version.
    We were really pleased to update the 2D version as well. I updated my own “2D version” yesterday that reminded me how fun this game is!

  • I hope to see a new superstar dust, maybe with online coop, 3d bluid in from the ground up, and in a bigger world, i like to see a world where you go trouth the asteroid kind of like the end of star wars o_O !
    Anayway SSHD was a blast when it was release, and its still is.
    So maybe we will see Dead Nation in 3d ? ;p

  • Somebody really needs to invent a set-top box for 2D TVs that accepts a 120Hz 3D signal, and downgrades it to an anaglyph, that can be viewed on any television.

  • Anyone having problems with the V5 update? I just tried.. i am told there is a new version.. I select it, and I get “Please Wait” and after about 20 seconds 3 beeps and my PS3 resets.

  • That’s cool that it updates the 2D version also, i’ll download it later. SSHD has been on my PS3 for a few years, always enjoy dipping into it for a blast. (Remember the Amiga Super Stardust? I miss the tunnels :D )
    I can understand about dropping the anaglyph mode, i’ve tried that with Invincible Tiger and it’s a fine effort but it really only works well on foreground detail, making the main character quite blurry. I had to switch back to 2D after playing just one level as it made my eyes tired.
    All i know about the current 3D tech is that it’s miles ahead of anaglyph in terms of quality and effect, but i’ve yet to even experience a demo, let alone spend some time trying out the tech in the comfort of my own home so it’ll be another while yet before i jump on the 3D bandwagon.
    Cost is decidedly prohibitive also atm but over the coming months more 3D titles wll be added making that 3Dtv a more attractive investment i’m sure.
    I can’t wait to see what happens wth a game designed specificly for Move and 3D, should be (could be) very interesting indeed! :)

  • Me and 2 of my older children get headaches viewing 3D images for more than 10 mins at a time.
    I remember this stuff 15 years ago. Didn’t work that well then either. Human eyes haven’t changed much in that time.
    Doesn’t really bode well does it?

  • Smashing game, the update brought some very welcome changes like the 4xAA and 1080p rez. Hopefully we will be seeing this engine in Dead Nation :D

  • @jweaver
    Same here mate. Trying to update through the game causes the PS3 to crash and reboot.

  • To get the update to work, I needed to download and install again, then all was good.

  • Great stuff!
    Now, if only someone would be so kind as to send me a new 3D tv I could view all this on, hmm…

  • I leave in Poland. Which stores can I go to to try the “3D thing” on PS3? Is it available anywhere so I can witness it myself?

  • @jweaver don’t press X immediately when the update info comes up, wait a bit for the yellow light on the PS3 to stop flashing so much and then do it. Worked for me when have the same issue with this and recent updates to Home and Uncharted 2

  • Forgot to say even though I’m not really getting this 3D thing (and it be a long time til I get a 3D TV if at all after finally getting 1080p HD 6 months back) I just wanted to say I still love this game and it’s right up there with Shatter as being my absolute favorite PSN games. And I was an owner of Super Stardust AGA on my Amiga 1200 too and was very happy to hear the original soundtrack available in the PS3 game too. Please can we have all the music on the PS store’s soundtrack section. I’d buy it without hesitation.

  • I love you guys, you were the first game to get a trophy patch, now among the first to get a 3D patch, Stardust is one of my most played psn game, and I can’t wait to try your new game Dead nation.
    Good luck!

  • This is/was one of my favourite games.I did the (forced) update & the game is no longer usable on my original PS3 (FW 3.15).I will not be updating the firmware so the reality is that purchased content is retrospectively being disabled. Other original PS3 owners beware!.

  • In reply to comment 28, the game update isn’t mandatory or forced (at least for me) – I can skip it by pressing circle.

  • I still love this game. It’s still very disappointing that SCE chose to exclude FW 3.15 users from the PSN – I can’t see my SSHD high scores or those of my friends any more, this update will stop the game functioning with my console so I can’t see the improvements that it brings and I can’t buy any new PSN games or play newer games from disc (Red Dead Redemption requires a FW upgrade, for example).

  • @ Carnivius_Prime
    Your suggestion to delay starting the install fixed the update crash problem I was having. Thank you very much.

  • same problems as some other people reports them:
    update notification and after a few seconds several beeps and reboots the PS3

  • @Zepinephrine
    Glad I could help :)

  • I have a 61″ Samsung DLP with a LED light engine! The TV is 3D ready but when I hit the 3D button on the remote it says “Not Avalible”!!! [DELETED]!!! Any one know what is going on? I have updated the PS3 software and the Super Stardust HD game software.

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