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Friday, September 02, 2005
  try ar- Double monitors double the fun
Many computers gamers are left with the feeling that just one computer monitor isn’t enough.

Plotting strategy, keeping a handle on the overall gameplay, and chatting with other players all require plenty of screen space.

Dual display gaming or surround gaming can help. When several monitors are linked together to create a board view of the action and to allow enough space for various applications to be run without loosing a sense of the grand scheme, good things can happen.

Put to work with a flight simulator, the virtual pilot can use one monitor to look out the cockpit window and the other to monitor the flight instrument panel.

For real-to-life auto racing, as many as three monitors may be needed to stimulate the view through the windshield as well as through the two side windows.

The dashboard then has more than enough space on one of the monitors.

Take two

A few difficulties need to get ironed out before you can get started with a multi-monitor game. Your graphics card is the first. Several graphics cards are available with two output ports. These must be controlled separately, however. Things get tricky, though, when only one of the output ports is digital.

Even the best monitor then ends up stuck into an analogue output port, with a loss of image quality.

Also, only few games are currently designed for dual display gaming.

Programming to accommodate two or more monitors is expensive for manufacturers, and the target group is too small at this time.

Titles that can run on several monitors come primarily from the simulation, racing, first-person shooter, and war games genres.

The current edition of the motorcycle racing classic MotoGP3 from THQ allows for the machines to shot around the racing tracks over several monitors.

Those taking advantage of online gameplay can go up not just against the computer, but also competitors off the Net.

Fight Simulator 2004 from Microsoft is similarly prepared for dual display gaming. The gamer can choose between standard routes and airplanes as well as seaplanes that can be used to land on lakes, rivers, or the ocean.

To celebrate 100 years of aviation history, this current version of the flight simulator also offers historical models.

The highlights include the Spirit of St Louis, the vehicle of choice for flight pioneer Charles Linderbergh for his historic trans-Atlantic flight.

Double happiness

PCs are not only devices that cam employ several monitors for gaming. Even small mobile consoles are getting into the act.

The name Nintendo DS, for example, stands for “dual screen”. The monitors are located one above the other and are connected by a joint. Technology that you might recognize from video cameras is at work there.

Large consoles are rarely used on multiple televisions. You would need three screens, three consoles, and three copies of the game.

Multi-screen games are not a really hot topic. Dual display of surround games is too expensive, too complicated, and not really ready for the masses. Monitors are still expensive and you need at least two of them.

Not to mention the fact that hardcore gamer would need to find place for two screens on his desk.

-hardcore gamers?-

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