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I realize many of us are part of the crowdfunding initiative for both this game, Project Obsidian (which, I'll be honest, I find the most exciting all of the crowdfunded cRPGs) and InXile Entertainment's "Torment: Tides of Numenera." InXile's Torment forums have a very nice set of mechanics in place for contributing game ideas--a mechanic I have made full use of in the past several days. My basic line of thinking was this: What are the things that annoy the hell out of me in isometric RPGs? What are the things that I always want to see an RPGs but never do?

 

That train of thought led me to propose several ideas both mechanical and aesthetic. Because both Torment: Tides of Numenera and Project Eternity are very much being developed in the vein of classic, Infinity Engine cRPGs, I feel that these ideas are applicable--and, to a certain degree, vital--to both titles. As I mentioned, these are things that I believe belong in every RPG of good standing, and while some may read these notions of mine and think, "that's obvious," or, "that's too simple of a thing to bother proposing,"--and while I may agree with those sentiments--I still believe that some things simply need to be said.

 

I will do my best to fully articulate these ideas as best I can--which means I'll be writing as much as I feel necessary to clearly convey both my ideas in specific, as well as their emotional impetus. If you don't have the time or inclination to properly hear me out, please just avoid this thread.

 

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Let's Talk User-Defined UI Scaling

 

Alternate thread title: The only thing I want to see (other than a Great RPG)

 

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User-Interface scaling is a big of a big issue for me, because I have a very large (30"!) monitor. Playing games at high resolution yields not just too-small-to-read font sizes, but also renders many user-interface elements too-small-to-use. I'm not alone in having this problem, but it seems to me that most of my fellow gamers focus solely on the font size instead of the UI as a whole. At high resolution, UI elements become smaller, relatively speaking. The smaller the UI elements become, the more difficult the interface is to use.
 
This is particularly bad for RPGs and Strategy games that rely on very complicated user-interfaces.
 
What I would like to see in Project Eternity (and all other games, always) is some degree of user-defined UI scaling (and possibly also some degree of customization regarding element placement, but that's a purely cosmetic--and therefore far less vital--concern). Basically, allow us to determine what size font we want the game to display, and ALSO let us define the relative scale of UI elements--the dialog window X big, the mini-map Y big, etc., etc.
 
The main problem I see with this idea (other the the added work of implementing it) is creating art-assets for the UI that work at varying resolutions (I remember there was a but of a "hullaballoo" when Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition came out last year, when users were complaining that the UI was upscaled slightly when playing the game at high resolutions). Personally, I would rather have the game up-scale lower-resolution UI art assets to a higher resolution, than be forced to suffer through a UI so small I can barely read the text, or see the buttons.
 
Several games have toyed with UI customization--like Divinie Divinity and Diablo--where the player can drag and drop UI elements wherever on the screen he or she prefers to see them. That's a nice feature, but far from the most important.
 
I think user-defined UI scaling is important because it makes games more accessible for users with large monitors, higher-resolution displays, and those with poor vision. It also acts to "future proof" the game slightly by making the UI elements better suited for potential super-high resolutions. For example, the original Baldur's Gate can be played at 1080p resolutions... but doing so yields a UI too small to actually be usable, even on my giant monitor (setting up the game at 1080p also has the terrible effect of "zooming out the "camera" so far that the game-screen itself is unusable, but that's another can of worms). If Baldur's Gate had the ability to set user-defined UI scales, we could set the UI at, I don't know, 300%, and the problem would not exist.
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Personally, I would rather have the game up-scale lower-resolution UI art assets to a higher resolution

 

So why don't you simply run the game at a lower screen resolution? Then your monitor will automatically up-scale it for you...

 

Just because your monitor supports an insanely high resolution, doesn't mean you have to use it for everything.

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"Some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them." -- attributed to George Orwell

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Because there's more than one reason to have user-defined UI-scaling, that's why. 

 

It's entirely possible (and in my experience, very common) to have a game that you like at one resolution, only to have that resolution render the UI too small to use. It's about more than just resolution, it's also about proportion. User defined UI scaling + user-defined font sizes ensure that every user will be able to play the game in its best possible form. Farsighted people can play with smaller UI elements and text; nearsighted people can play with larger UI elements and text--and neither would have to sacrifice visual fidelity to do so.

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yea this is a high priority for me as I play on a TV screen from my couch or coffee table. I realise a lot of PC gamers play directly in front of their monitor at a desk (I still do for some games) but these days there is no real reason not to allow better UI customisation.

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Signed.

 

My wife plays on a TV from bed most of the time and she has issues with any game without UI scaling. The other thing worth mentioning is making sure all text scales too, some games allow chat text to increase in size but when a quest window pops up it retains it's default (and thus unreadable) size.

"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster...when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you..." - Friedrich Nietzsche

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  • 2 months later...

Yeah. I play from my television which is 10 feet away. Shadowrun Returns is a great example. Even at 720p, the text is on the edge of readability. I'm stuck in a situation where my pledge and the game may be rendered useless if the devs don't implement independant UI scaling or simply make the text too small at all resolutions.

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  • 3 months later...

This, I hope, is a no-brainer for them. When I can scale any web-page with the click of a button, PE should be able to scale the UI in just the same way. Even if it doesn't affect me, it's an easy option to implement, and helps future-proof the game for later higher-resolution displays. (People didn't think BG would be played 15 years later, but it was, and mods were needed to bring the games UI and whatnot up to todays standards).

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Uh here is the thing, user scalability of the UI is well in a word.... complex.  Every single element of the UI, every single graphic, has to be designed from the ground up to maintain visual quality, detail, and scale evenly from the ground up for it to work.  Designing that, making it fully functional, and also meeting the ... desires of most of the users on the forums at least... Well in a word it would be a challenge.

 

There is a reason most games don't support user controlled custom UI scaling, it really is a lot harder than it sounds.

Edited by Karkarov
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  • 3 weeks later...

I am definitely late to the party on this topic, but I have a feeling that Obsidian have already taken this issue into consideration. Screen resolutions up to around 2560x1440 were mentioned in update #36, so I think it's pretty safe to assume that UIs will be appropriate for higher resolutions as well.

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There is a reason most games don't support user controlled custom UI scaling, it really is a lot harder than it sounds.

Most commonly they just don't design the system with this in mind and then its really a hassle to fix. If in 1998 most common resolution was 800x600, today its very likely 1920x1080 among gamers or 1366x768 in gen pop(common laptop resolution).
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He's not quite talking about resolution, but pixel density.  I have a 1080p 7" tablet that would show a UI itty-bitty-like, whereas if I played on my likewise 1080p HD TV things would be a whole lot different.  The resolution is the same on both, but the pixel density is considerably different - text for example would need take up many many pixels on my tablet for it to be big enough to read, but not so on my TV.

 

Do I remember correctly that Windows will let you change effective DPI settings on a per-application basis, or is that just my WINE emulator?  I'll try this Thanksgiving break.

 

A scalable UI would be nice anyway, but I'm not getting my hopes up.  PE won't be running on tablets or anything, and those who play on big TVs are a very small group; monitors are far and away the biggest target, and in this age they're fairly equivalent in DPI (I think).

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Although, I agree that PC on TV is a minority... I think supporting it is wise for a few reasons. PE will be on linux, which makes it compatible with SteamOS, and the Steam Controller will make play viable from the couch (if it is as click friendly as the IE games).

 

Now, I am not saying Steam Machines will fly off the shelves or anything, but supporting TVs preemptively might be wise. As John Carmack has said "It is never wise to bet against Valve." I am planning on tossing SteamOS on some older hardware when it launches, and would love to play PE on the couch here and there. I don't want to have to squint.

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Haven't they already said they're designing the game to scale from 1366x768 to 2560x1440(or higher, I forget exactly)? That includes the interface.

 

I don't accept that UI scaling is easy or that scaling is the only thing necessary for playing on a TV 10ft away, the UI and gameplay have to change as well, you can't see the same detail as from 2ft away at the same resolution.

 

Playing games designed for mouse and keyboard on a TV is still an edge case, even with Steam Machines on the horizon, people interested in squad based RPGs already have a desktop, laptop, or tablet.

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Playing games designed for mouse and keyboard on a TV is still an edge case, even with Steam Machines on the horizon, people interested in squad based RPGs already have a desktop, laptop, or tablet.

Console gamers will disagree ;) Personally, I don't see myself playing games on sofa with keyboard with or without steam box. Which is nothing but streamer with input. I had a streamer for watching movies for a while and before that I just used good old drill, extension cord and IR eye to make my PC available in the living room. Honestly, it's ain't worth it, for gaming purpose I prefer my monitor any day. But I digress..
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There is no need to try to be edgy, trying to support everything. However, we shouldn't ignore today standards. This issue isn't new, I am certain our dev's are familiar with it and ways to address it.

That's just it, most devs and games DONT support this.  The ones that do are actually most often FPS'ers which are just as much about console as PC and MMO's which are designed to have totally moddable UI's anyway. 

 

Also what do you people think a TV is?  I hate to bust reality on you but any modern graphics card can connect to any modern TV and it will work just fine.  Like I have said in other threads, I am posting this from a TV RIGHT NOW. Guess what?  The text is clear as day from 3-4 feet away and I don't have "refresh problems".  You don't need to "design for TV" at all.  Unless you mean "design for 1080p" which they probably should do since that is the resolution all modern games are designed around first and the most common resolution used TV, Monitor, or otherwise.

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The text is clear as day from 3-4 feet away and I don't have "refresh problems".

You are just using a "TV" as a monitor if you're sitting 3 feet away, and the differences between budget monitors and TVs is a built in tuner most of the time. There's no reason for extra support for you at all.

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The text is clear as day from 3-4 feet away and I don't have "refresh problems".

You are just using a "TV" as a monitor if you're sitting 3 feet away, and the differences between budget monitors and TVs is a built in tuner most of the time. There's no reason for extra support for you at all.

 

You guys are sort of ..... eh....

 

My point is this.  A TV and a Monitor are the same thing.  Any modern tv when connected to a PC will react the same way a "monitor" would.  You don't NEED to do some special support for TV's and people suggesting you do have no clue what you are talking about.  The game is being designed around 1080p, that's all the "support" TV's need.

 

None of that changes the fact that making a ui "user definable" is a waste of dev time, resources, and still considerably harder than any of you are giving it credit for.

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The text is clear as day from 3-4 feet away and I don't have "refresh problems".

You are just using a "TV" as a monitor if you're sitting 3 feet away, and the differences between budget monitors and TVs is a built in tuner most of the time. There's no reason for extra support for you at all.

 

You guys are sort of ..... eh....

 

My point is this.  A TV and a Monitor are the same thing.  Any modern tv when connected to a PC will react the same way a "monitor" would.  You don't NEED to do some special support for TV's and people suggesting you do have no clue what you are talking about.  The game is being designed around 1080p, that's all the "support" TV's need.

 

None of that changes the fact that making a ui "user definable" is a waste of dev time, resources, and still considerably harder than any of you are giving it credit for.

 

Playing a game from 6-10ft away is a different proposition, requires a different interface, I wouldn't dream of reading these forums from 6ft away and the buttons and icons are clearly too small for that. There are some differences between TVs and monitors in general. People are in this thread are talking about scaling and UI for when they're sitting on their couch or in bed, and their TV is twice or more distance away than a monitor. If you don't think that requires something then you're the one that doesn't have a clue.

Edited by AwesomeOcelot
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Playing a game from 6-10ft away is a different proposition, requires a different interface, I wouldn't dream of reading these forums from 6ft away and the buttons and icons are clearly too small for that. There are some differences between TVs and monitors in general. People are in this thread are talking about scaling and UI for when they're sitting on their couch or in bed, and their TV is twice or more distance away than a monitor. If you don't think that requires something then you're the one that doesn't have a clue.

Since you don't actually read my posts I am going to quote the important bit again.

 

"None of that changes the fact that making a ui "user definable" is a waste of dev time, resources, and still considerably harder than any of you are giving it credit for."

 

I have been against the whole idea of this thread from the day it was posted.  So again, no, I don't need any "special support" and I think anyone who is asking for it needs to get over it because there are better things to spend time on.  I don't care what you are playing the game on, they don't need to bother making a user definable ui.

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Ah, good, normal "disagreeing with Karkarov" services have been resumed. I was getting worried here for a bit.

 

Anyway, basic UI scaling isn't hard. Just design the bitmap UI art assets for the maximum scale you want to support and scale them down. This is actually easier than something they're doing anyway, i.e., making a UI that works at different screen resolutions, so UI elements that depend on screen size will have to scale to that, and their content, anyway. To make it user-controllable just add a way to adjust the scaling factor.

 

Things only get significantly more difficulty if you want to support screen sizes so different the same UI just can't work on them, e.g. smart phones, tablets, and desktop computers. That'll require a quite a bit more work, in practice two or three different UI's with only the base code shared, and very likely a bunch of code written specifically to adapt to things. (Speaking from personal experience here.) Fortunately that's not going to be a concern with PE.

 

Re the playing on a TV screen thing, I think the main problem with that is the controller, not the screen size nor viewing distance. The UI could easily be scaled up so text is legible from six feet away, but I don't think many people would want to play using a mouse and keyboard while sitting on the couch. You'd need a UI designed to be used with a controller, which the devs have said is not a priority (good thing too).

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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