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April 07, 2020, 10:06:59 PM

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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperTechnical (Moderator: ThemsAllTook)Is releasing a 5:4 game acceptable?
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Spectragate
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« on: February 09, 2020, 01:42:04 PM »

Hi all.

I'm working on a game that has an aspect ratio of 5:4 (the native resolution of the game is 1000x800). While I would love the game to be 16:9 at 1920x1080, the layout of the game just doesn't allow it. By that I mean the UX of the game really doesn't fit into any other layout than a very square 5:4 (it's an multiplayer puzzle-like battle game that paints me in a bit of a corner layout wise).

Should I be trying to avoid using 5:4? Is it just expected everything ships in 16:9 these days? At the moment I'm planning on just targeting PC (where this is less of an issue unless they go fullscreen), but if I ever release to console or phone/tablet, this less common aspect ratio might give me trouble. I could hire someone to try and redo the UX to fit 16:9, but I want to be more sure that it's worth it before going down that route.

Does anyone here have any experiences releasing games in uncommon aspect ratios? Are using black boarders to letterbox the sides of the screen acceptable? Is releasing a 5:4 game these days madness?

Cheers.
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Deckhead
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2020, 08:20:51 PM »

I haven't released a game in a weird aspect ratio; but as a personal thing, I hate letter-boxing. It's just wasted screen. I would suggest you put in the work to get it into a standard 16:9 resolution.
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2020, 09:07:27 PM »

Dunno the public opinion, but I personally don't mind. My main computer monitor isn't 16:9 anyway so changing it to be locked to that instead wouldn't help me. Cheesy Better to have completely adaptable to any ratio. But if you can't, I don't mind 5:4 over 16:9.
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darklight
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2020, 10:29:59 PM »

You could do the old trick of static graphics filling up the space?  Or the score table / whatever meta data your game has.
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Daid
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2020, 11:58:02 PM »

Indeed, just fill up the space. Check tetris for example, which is like a 1:2 aspect ratio for the main game area. But they still fill the whole screen with other stuff in most recent official iterations.

And maybe you can "spread" the extra space between UI elements. For example, this game of mine was designed for 4:3 aspect, but if you run it in wide screen, the extra space is spread between UI elements making it less obvious that it was designed on 4:3
http://daid.github.io/EmptyEpsilon/screenshots/helms.png
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ThemsAllTook
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« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2020, 07:49:11 AM »

Pillarboxing is fine, but I'd be more concerned about likely blurriness or artifacting from scaling an image with a native height of 800 to a 760 or 1080 resolution. Looking at screenshots from your other posts and games, I see a lot of mixed pixel sizes, so maybe this isn't as much of a worry unless you're interested in keeping to a consistent pixel grid for this one.

Unless you're targeting one single piece of hardware with a fixed screen size, adapting to arbitrary aspect ratios and scale factors is always going to be an important issue. In my current game, I use a native size of 640x360, which can scale up at 2x for 1280x720 or at 3x for 1920x1080. I've implemented an area scale filter shader for arbitrary non-integer scale factors, which does the job pretty well - an integer scale is always going to be sharpest though, which is why I chose that specific native size. For different aspect ratios, I just let it letterbox or pillarbox as necessary to fit the whole thing into the smaller dimension of the screen or window I'm occupying.

In an older project, I took the approach of adapting the UI to any aspect ratio by anchoring certain elements to the left, right, and center of the viewport, and having them move around as necessary. This can get pretty messy and has a lot of potential degenerate cases where things can overlap or be unnaturally far apart. It can be done, but I wouldn't personally recommend it.

If I can play this game on any old computer, I'll always be able to find some configuration you didn't specifically account for. The best you'll be able to do is to optimize for an ideal case, put in some kind of handling for non-ideal ones (scale filter if applicable, letter/pillarboxing or some other way to fill empty space at the edges (don't just stretch the image!)), and just hope it'll end up looking OK.
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Ordnas
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« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2020, 10:02:22 AM »

5:4 is uncommon, but I would never say unacceptable  Smiley
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Spectragate
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2020, 06:36:51 PM »

Appreciate the feedback, there's some good suggestions here.

I think the idea of trying to fill the space with some background elements could work - it certainly beats the black bars. I'll chat to the artist and see if they have some ideas there.

It's good to know that I can at least release the current demo in 5:4 and not annoy too many people. Worst case I stick to 5:4, best case I fill up the space with some background elements.

In an older project, I took the approach of adapting the UI to any aspect ratio by anchoring certain elements to the left, right, and center of the viewport, and having them move around as necessary. This can get pretty messy and has a lot of potential degenerate cases where things can overlap or be unnaturally far apart. It can be done, but I wouldn't personally recommend it.

I tried doing that for my first Unity project many moons ago...never again Crazy
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InfiniteStateMachine
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2020, 09:17:12 PM »

Personally I'm cool with anything if that's in the vision.

If you are concerned about the black bars look at Capcoms various re-releases, they do the bar filling.


Either way I say go for it Smiley
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qMopey
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2020, 01:37:14 PM »

As long as pixel ratio is maintained, it's fine. That's my opinion.

So for a 2D game as long as source pixels from images on disk are drawn as squares, then it's fine with me. No stretching to fill the screen!
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Clipper
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2020, 02:18:07 AM »

I don't see any problem with black bars. To me, they give off a cinematic feel.

But yeah, avoid ugly stretching effects.
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Ordnas
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2020, 11:39:45 AM »

Black bars would be vertical in case of 5:4.  Smiley
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2020, 04:20:04 PM »

As a player I mind games that automatically take over my window and kill the locations of my icons by resizing my screen without asking me more than anything else.

I usually play my games in a window that is much smaller than my screen as I have 3 monitors and one of them is a 4k monitor so I'm usually not using the whole thing.

Also I like windowed mode more because if the game crashes or hangs its much easier to recover than if its full screen.

Also its annoying to have a fullscreen window pick the wrong monitor which happens frequently.

I wouldn't mind having a game with a vertical 2:1 aspect ratio if it avoids the above pitfalls.

Edit: thinking about this I've realized that I would play a game that isn't even in a square window as long as it doesn't take over my monitor:

« Last Edit: February 21, 2020, 05:18:42 PM by michaelplzno » Logged

Spectragate
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2020, 08:27:33 PM »

I usually play my games in a window that is much smaller than my screen as I have 3 monitors and one of them is a 4k monitor so I'm usually not using the whole thing.

I don't think you're alone in that - I hear a lot of streamers like playing in windowed mode because they are constantly interacting with chat (at least according to Day9). Hmm, it definitely gives me pause for thought.
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