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mstark

DPI Scaling for PE, much more important than resolution

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DPI ≠ Resolution.

 

DPI/PPI (Pixels Per Inch) is the amount of pixels that fit on one real-world inch. It can be 120, it can be 240, it can be any arbitrary number.

 

Resolution is the amount of pixels, heigh * width, in any given area of a screen.

 

Higher DPI always means higher resolution, but higher resolution does not necessarily mean higher DPI, because the area can also be larger.

 

That's where the problem that the topic of this thread is suggesting a solution to starts, and it's not an easy one to grasp without experiencing it.

Edited by mstark

"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"

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Sorry but I didn't read all posts...

 

I just like to understand one thing...

 

 

You're asking for the artists to spend more time doing their artwork so that in 10 years from now (using the hi-DPI monitors) the game will look as good as it will look in 2014?

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Sorry but I didn't read all posts...

 

I just like to understand one thing...

 

 

You're asking for the artists to spend more time doing their artwork so that in 10 years from now (using the hi-DPI monitors) the game will look as good as it will look in 2014?

 

No, he's asking for artists to spend more time doing artwork so that people with Macbook Pros and Samsung high PPI that cost $1,200-$2,400 can have a game that looks twice as good in 2014, and people with high PPI monitors, or Ultra HD 8K TVs. In 10 years the majority of people might have high PPI displays, but the majority of gamers could have them much sooner. Go to an apple store and check out an iPad 3 or Macbook Pro. Galaxy SIII, The iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4 also have high PPI screens, compare them to a Galaxy II or iPhone 3.

Edited by AwesomeOcelot
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May be a silly question, but... I thought old-school PC gamers essentially have old-school computers ?

 

I don't think Obsidian should take care of whatever the gaming community will be in ten years.

If anyone in 2032 want to play P:E on his Ultra-High DPI Device™, it's up to him to develop a mod permitting this. Or to redraw the backgrounds. Or to buy another monitor.

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At the moment, those are indeed the only two devices (not counting Sony Vaio SA/Vaio Z) with higher-than-ordinary DPI. However, at the end of this month, Windows 8 will start paving the way for high DPI monitors to reach a more mainstream audience. In 2014, I'd estimate fully half of all screens entering the market will be 160-220dpi, significantly higher than todays 120.

 

This shift will start being very noticeable within just a year or two, whereas it took over 10 years for DPI to shift from 96 towards ~120. I don't think the PE team will be able to ignore this during the production of the game, my post just serves as an opportunity for the community to understand the issue, and voice their opinion on it :).

 

My opinion is that if it barely affects production time, counted in man-hours, (it shouldn't, if properly considered from the start), it's very much worth considering because the game will look so much better for it :).

 

Not to mention that, as the first high-DPI supporting game, they'd attract a whole new demographic of gamers. They'd get a lot of media attention just from this fact.

 

 

On your point about old school gamers:

A lot of those gamers were in their teens when these games were first released, and are now grown up professionals. I was 12-13 when I first played the IE games, now I'm 25, with a job. With this I'd like to say that we're just entering a stage of life where we can afford investing in our own computers, no longer relying on our parents, and as old school PC gamers, this demographic is likely to buy higher end systems. Much more likely than the Console gamer generation of today, who are all stuck with 6 years old tech.

 

From next year, the shift towards mainstream computers starting to have high DPI monitors will be drastic, so won't just be for people who can afford to drop $1000+ on a system any more.

Edited by mstark

"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"

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May be a silly question, but... I thought old-school PC gamers essentially have old-school computers ?

 

I don't think Obsidian should take care of whatever the gaming community will be in ten years.

If anyone in 2032 want to play P:E on his Ultra-High DPI Device™, it's up to him to develop a mod permitting this. Or to redraw the backgrounds. Or to buy another monitor.

 

Most old-school gamers I know play new games, they just play old games too. I have a "new" computer (i5 2500k/8GB 1600Mhz/Radeon 8750/m4 SSD). I've been playing Fallout: APNRPG every year since 2000. Some great people have made some unofficial patches for that game, but it would make my life a hell of a lot easier and more enjoyable if the game had been future proofed. Of course no game is, I have issues with games from 2008 and 2009, because developers are under a lot of pressure and the nature of the PC being so variable makes it difficult.

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The only "future-proof" games I know are community-developed ones.

And they're more adapting to new computers by constant modifications than really thought future-proof form the start.

 

I hope Obsidian will release a game optimized for 2014 computers, not for 2032 ones.

 

If high DPI monitors are really the standard in 2014, obviously P:E will be optimized for this kind of monitors.

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I think it's the difference between Unreal Tournament and Deus Ex. Start up Unreal Tournament, "wow this game was made in 1999 and you can put a lot of settings up to extreme and it runs fine". Deus Ex, uses the same engine, made in 2000, start it up, "why are there sparks coming from my computer".

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Future-proofing the game so that even with the advances in Display technology that are occurring right now, the game will still be playable for years to come is necessary, and is important to several of the developers.

 

With Mod support, future-proofing of the assets is going to be what really keeps everyone going in the years to come after release.

 

Doing things like this isn't just for people with Ipad 3s or Retina displays. It's so that in 2016 or 2017, when people still want to play the best RPG they've ever played, it can be done without looking like mud.

 

 

That being said, Darren has specifically forwarded this thread to the Developers, and stated that he is very much a part of the Future-proofing camp, and one of the guys Internally who is always reminding others about the need to up the assets in order to keep up with how technology is trending, especially in the case of High-DPI displays like the Retina.

 

So, be put at ease, the Gods above Ye have heard your cries, and they will be keeping an eye out to make sure the game is what we need it to be. Trust in your Devs!

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As a developer I think this thread has a very relevant concern. Even outside of the scaling issues, playing 2560x1440 @ 28" diag is vastly different than 2560x1440 @ 11" diag. Coping probably requires having a very high-resolution render and then choosing a zoom level/downsampling level that matches the current resolution/size combo. On that 11", for example, you'd probably want to be zoomed a bit more than on the 28", and their UI would probably need to take up differing % of screen area despite the same pixel resolution.

 

However, I kind of assumed that the developers would be considering this - we live in an era when the traditional PC has a vast variance in resolutions and sizes. On the low end there are netbooks and ultrabooks that can vary from 1024x600 to maybe even 2560x1440 in a few really rare instances while remaining quite small. At the same time large screens are usually 24"+, not to mention the modern usage of 1080p TVs as monitors in some circumstances, and you've got just as large of a DPI variation at the large screen end of things, not even mentioning the enthusiast tendency to have multiple screens.

 

So yeah, if they hadn't been thinking about this, I guess a wakeup call is good.

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It makes me very happy that there are more people who realize the importance of this, and keeping the game playable at native resolutions on the incredible variety of DPI densities out there :).

 

That being said, Darren has specifically forwarded this thread to the Developers, and stated that he is very much a part of the Future-proofing camp, and one of the guys Internally who is always reminding others about the need to up the assets in order to keep up with how technology is trending, especially in the case of High-DPI displays like the Retina.

 

So, be put at ease, the Gods above Ye have heard your cries, and they will be keeping an eye out to make sure the game is what we need it to be. Trust in your Devs!

Thanks for telling me! Please excuse my ignorance, but how do you know this? (I was hoping to see a shiny green "Developer" reply at some point :p)

"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"

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I was in the kickstarter comments when Darren was on, and a couple of us pointed it at him until we got a response. If I have time I'll find the comment and insert it into this post for you.

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I was in the kickstarter comments when Darren was on, and a couple of us pointed it at him until we got a response. If I have time I'll find the comment and insert it into this post for you.

Oh, awesome! Thanks so much :) I'm usually not able to follow the KS comment streams :(

"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"

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@Vix. Thanks for pointing that out - I'll foward that along. I'm definitely one of the folks in that camp (as is Josh) and someone internally who reminds people about the screen resolutions out and coming. I'll keep reminding people about high resolution screens (Retina, etc.) and to see how we can best support this so you get the clearest look. The only drawback here (as is noted) is space and video memory, but we're on PC's, so we can figure those kinds of things out hopefully. :) -Darren

 

There it is. Hopefully this puts at least one or two minds at ease.

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If the ROI on this is more than just marginal, then fine. And since that's a business decision I will leave it to management. Otherwise this isn't high on my list of concerns. I'm thinking about content at the moment. It's an interesting concept, and something I hadn't thought about, but it won't make or break this game.

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I do agree it's important to properly support high dpi, but the existing variety of screen sizes, resolutions and viewing distances already is enough to justify supporting a large range of scale factors for both the UI and the world view. And then there are tactical considerations for zooming in and out of the latter.

 

The level of detail shown in the 2560x1440 screenshot published is amazing. If they can increase the detail beyond that, great! But even if it were to go slightly blurry when you play it on a large high-dpi display and/or when you zoom in, that would be nowhere near as bad as the texture quality in most 3D games when you walk up to a wall.

 

 

By the way, even integer upscaling looks somewhat worse than the same image shown at native resolution. That is still true if you just do nearest neighbour sampling (the fact that there are twelve tiny light sources instead of three in the same area is perceived differently by the eye).

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It would be amazing if they'd provide a minimum of 3 sets of assets, a retina (2.0x), a high res (1.5x) and a regular set that'd work on most monitors today (1.0x) :). That way you'd be able to toggle the scale of everything to acceptable levels on a very wide range of devices.

 

They could either render everything at 2.0x from the start, and downsample it (with virtually no quality loss) for normal monitors, or they could render it at 1.0x first, and release high DPI patches once those renders finish :).

 

The best thing is that, if the game has the capability to handle DPI scaling (the engine would be able to scale maps/sprites, 3D objects, collision coordinates...), then either they or the fan-base could release any amount of differently scaled assets, to fit everyone's taste.

 

It would also be absolutely amazing for modders if the map sprites were as easy to change as character portraits are :) (though I can see how not easily changeable collision coordinates might pose a problem for this).

 

...always rambling...

Edited by mstark

"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"

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My blu-ray player, tv, and pc monitor all upscale DVD content to 1080p and it looks no worse than playing the DVD on a SD display.

 

With video content it's much less important than with static images, as you can't focus on details anyways.

 

Also, I think large-screen TV's nowadays have specialized hardware technology that performs much better upscaling than a software implementation running on a PC could handle.

 

Anyhow, I don't consider this issue very important for PE.

Yes, the Infinity Engine games look either small or a very slightly blurry on the hardware commonly used a decade later, but they're still perfectly playable. If the same will hold true for PE a decade after its release, I'll be happy.

 

Edit: If they keep their graphics assets around and not loose them like a certain other company, they can always make an updated re-release a decade later. No need to spend any kickstarter money on it now.

Edited by anek

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Even with home theatre setups, the quality of upscaling is pretty variable - optimally you'd find which component in the line did the best job, and make sure it and only it is set to do the scaling. It may be the playback device, the receiver, or the TV.

 

But I digress - on pixel density, sure, I can't say I wouldn't take a smaller dot pitch, but with qualifications - I believe a colour photograph is no more than a few hundred dpi. I note that even the vaunted and cleverly marketed retina display is not currently handled by MacOS meaningfully, other than scaling the entire desktop 2x - you can't set the desktop to the screen's full resolution. And yet sharp details are perfectly fine on it. I believe it's a red herring to pursue dpi presently: the issue with older games is not so much the pixels, but the large increase in viewable area, or more accurately, effective viewable area. I do not believe an increase of the kind we've seen over the last decade and a half will ever repeat, since the issue is no longer one of technology, but that of ergonomics.

 

With that in mind, I believe the most important thing needed are fairly simple forward-looking elements - making sure UI elements are not fixed by pixels like the titles of yore, and making sure the game can peg display area to screen size instead of screen resolution. The art itself is not an issue, any reasonable scaler will not degrade the quality. That said, it's unfortunate that the cheaper end of modern displays seem to lack reasonable scaling options - to the point of not even being able to leave the input aspect ratio well enough alone, or even just display the input pixel-for-pixel. This however is a hardware problem, not a game problem.

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@Vix. Thanks for pointing that out - I'll foward that along. I'm definitely one of the folks in that camp (as is Josh) and someone internally who reminds people about the screen resolutions out and coming. I'll keep reminding people about high resolution screens (Retina, etc.) and to see how we can best support this so you get the clearest look. The only drawback here (as is noted) is space and video memory, but we're on PC's, so we can figure those kinds of things out hopefully. :) -Darren

 

There it is. Hopefully this puts at least one or two minds at ease.

 

I left a comment @Feargus about this earlier on but didn't get anything detailed, good to see they at least have it in the back of their minds. Cheers for the update.

Edited by jsc

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My blu-ray player, tv, and pc monitor all upscale DVD content to 1080p and it looks no worse than playing the DVD on a SD display.

 

With video content it's much less important than with static images, as you can't focus on details anyways.

 

Also, I think large-screen TV's nowadays have specialized hardware technology that performs much better upscaling than a software implementation running on a PC could handle.

 

Anyhow, I don't consider this issue very important for PE.

Yes, the Infinity Engine games look either small or a very slightly blurry on the hardware commonly used a decade later, but they're still perfectly playable. If the same will hold true for PE a decade after its release, I'll be happy.

 

Edit: If they keep their graphics assets around and not loose them like a certain other company, they can always make an updated re-release a decade later. No need to spend any kickstarter money on it now.

 

You're right, that's why I added the example of photos, I could also add that when you pause video so it's only a frame, it doesn't look worse than a SDTV when compared to an upscaled HDTV.

 

You definitely don't want the problems with aspect and UI that we had with IE and other old games when using a modern computer. Another problem is cut scenes when they're video, for some reason maintaining compatibility with these seems particularly hard to do.

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I don't see why this would require rendering at low AND at high resolution. Downscaling doesn't cause a quality, only a detail loss, and you'd lose that detail at lower resolutions anyway.

 

In regards to upscaling of old IE games - you should really take a look at the recent developments in upscaling technology: http://filthypants.blogspot.co.at/2012/03/xbr-vs-hqx-interpolation-filter.html

 

(Note that xBR also works really well on non-comicy graphics, unlike HQx, although the blog post mostly shows comicy graphics.)

 

Of course, this is still much worse than proper high resolution renders, but I think it's something people should be aware of.

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Didn't read all of posts here but you made great discussion about not most important aspect of PE. I understand that quality of graphics is important for some but as someone said before - we play good games no matter how it looks. Even in 2034 if PE will be great game people will play it, no matter if they will see graphics that could be better in that year.

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I must say I completely agree with this thread. I want to be able to play this game in 10 years from now.

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