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Old 01-13-2008, 01:00 PM
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CES 08 TN Games - FPS gaming vest

I posted about TN Games and their FPS gaming vest a while ago and to be honest was a little skeptical about the whole thing.

For those who do not know about the FPS gaming vest here is a little blurb from their web site:
Video game characters live in a three-dimensional world, but gamers have only been able to experience two dimensions... until now. The 3rd Space™ Vest from TN Games takes gameplay beyond sight and sound, creating spatial awareness of the world your characters inhabit. Unlike traditional force feedback devices that rumble or buzz, the 3rd Space™ Vest gives you precise impact where it happens, as it happens. Get pounded with body slams, crushed with G-forces, and blasted with bullet fire.

TN Games computer hardware and software revolutionizes the way people play video games and redefines the concept of interactive entertainment. Get dialed in with 3rd Space™.
Well I spotted their booth at CES in the Gaming pavilion and thought I would stop by, ask some questions. snap some photos and see if I could check out the product first hand.

One of my first concerns was the size of the air compressor and would it effect your gaming experience. The compressor is a remote device that you can place under or on your desk and is not attached to the vest at all. As you can see from the image to the right, It's a little bit bigger then a hard drive

The vest itself is where the compressor is connected and where you connect the vest to your PC via a USB cable. The next shot is a new version shown with their racing car setup and simulates full g-forces against your body.

click to enlarge

However I was more interested in the FPS side of the vest. One of the first things that caught my attention when I first heard about the vest was the work they did with IW and Call of Duty 2. There's official drivers for support of Call of Duty 2. With that said, there is nothing released for Call of Duty 4.

But this is where the the cool stuff comes in. TN Games offers DSK support free of charge to anyone who wishes to mod vest support into their favorite game.
Add 3rd Space™ functionality to your games. Visit the developers page to download and enable body slams, crushes and bullet fire in your games.

The game driver allows players to feel the 3rd Space™ vest in current game titles. Visit the games page to find out currently supported titles.
Back to my hands on experience with the vest. Other then the compressor location and how it affected game play I was concerned with the fatigue you would experience wearing the vest. Was it too heavy, would it distract more from the game then it added?

Well believe it or not, the vest was very light and comfortable, however you do have to wear it snug for the air pistons to offer their full effect. The air compressor and USB cable lines did not effect my game play, however I was standing and not sitting down while trying out their proprietary game built to show off their vest.

While not my cup of tea, they do offer their own game
to show off the vest and it's features.
click to enlarge

So, after starting the game and getting a feel for the vest and the control setup (via a laptop) my first reaction from being shot in the back was to immediately turn around to find out who the hell was shooting me and to return fire. Now I could not hear the sound from the laptop (hey it's a very loud trade show) nor was there any on screen indicators that hinted to where I was being shot from. It was the reaction to being shot (ok felt like a poke) in the back via the vest. Granted this was a laser beam game, which does not interest me at all but I was immersed into the game like never before.

Not only does this bring a new level of immersion to a game, I can only imagine what this could do with a visual stunning, next gen game like Call of Duty 4 or Crysis. The other thing is, you now have an advantage over the other guys/gals by being able to react to where the shots are coming from without having to pay attention to any visual indicators on screen.

I was also told with games like Call of Duty 4 you could even add weapon recoils to the vest to offer the feeling of the saw pulsating against your shoulder. - very cool

Another new product that they where showing off was a HTX helmet, pictured below

This helmet will share a compressor with the vest and offer you the next level of FPS immersion into your favorite games. The helmet will simulate those dreaded head shots as well as the impression of bullets whizzing by your head. No not via speakers mounted in the helmet but by more air jets shooting streams of air past your head.

All in all I was very impressed with the vest and helmet from TN games. The vest appears to be quality made and even fit me (not your little skinny gamer). I walked away with a feeling that this could be a lot of fun, however the only draw back right now is the limited game support. If modders where able to get these in their hands, I bet you would see the community start putting out drivers left and right for this thing.

More info can be found at TN Gamers web site.
- All our images from the show can be found here.
- SDK info can be found here
- Also note that Doom and Quake support should be already available.
- Crysis retail, HL2 E1 and even Medal of Honor Airborne already supported
From their web site:

Game support
There are 3 different ways that our 3rd Space technology (product driver) is enabled within various games:
Direct Integration (DI):
With DI, the 3rd Space control code is added to the game by the game developers. The vest control software is actually contained within the game disc itself.
Titles: 3rd Space Incursion™, Call of Duty 2™ (3rd Space version)

3rd Space Game Driver Software:
The 3rd Space Driver, developed by TN Games, is software which runs on your PC that adds the 3rd Space effects to a particular game during game play. This one piece of software communicates with multiple game titles. The 3rd Space driver is not part of the game itself, and the 3rd Space controls are NOT contained on the game disc. Below is a list of game titles (and versions) which 3rd space effects can be enabled by the 3rd Space driver. In order for the 3rd Space effects to work, you will need to be playing an official licensed version of the appropriate game. This list will be updated, and new versions of the driver made available for download, as more titles become supported.
Titles: Crysis™ (Retail Version 1), Halflife 2™ - Episode 1 (Steam Version), Halflife 2™ - Episode 2 (Steam Version), Medal Of Honor Airborne™ (Retail Version), F.E.A.R™ (Retail Version 1.0), Enemy Territory Quake Wars™ (Retail Version), Quake 4™ (1.4.2), Doom 3™ (1.3.1).

Game Mods:
Mods are a separate piece of software which runs on your PC that adds the 3rd Space effects to a particular game during game play. Each mod is specific to a particular game (and specified version). The mod is not part of the game itself, and the 3rd Space control drivers are not contained on the game disc. In order for the mod to work, you will need to be playing an official licensed version of the appropriate game.
Titles: Quake 4™ (version 1.4.2) Mod version 1.0,Doom 3™ (version 1.3.1) Mod version 1.0.
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