Screen Resolution

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Posted: 28 Sep 2018 22:54

Screen Resolution

One aspect of Nia that I've spent far more time on than I anticipated, is the game resolution. By default, RM will push out a game at a dimension of 816x624. This was fine back in the year 1802 (tic), but only using a portion of screen real-estate today is a huge waste, and a turn off to many gamers too. The current trend in game production is to go for realism, so a retro 2D JRPG isn't going to appeal to a very large audience, today this is certainly a niche market. That doesn't mean that you can't break free of that niche and create a game that appeals to a broader audience, just look at Stardew Valley with an all-time peak of 64,256 players, that's excellent for a 2D RPG, especially in 2018. But retro games don't have to be made for retro specs, retro gamers like for their games to work on modern computers, browsers, and consoles too and there is a huge modding community that works hard to make old classics play on modern machines.

Experimenting

Screen resolution was one of the first issues that I had to solve. I wanted this resolved as early as possible and before world building so that I had a clearer picture of how the game will look to players which in turn will determine map design. I've gone as far as to factor in the overworld size and display resolution when considering screenshot and wallpaper opportunities. I have no idea if seasoned developers do this sort of thing or if this is just a total newb move on my part.

One thing I learned during this stage, was that resolution and screen size are not the same thing. For example, you can play an 816x624 resolution game inside of a 1920x1080 window. In fact, this is exactly what was happening early on with Nia and it was no small task to fix this until I found some code that someone else had already developed. Once I fixed it, I instinctively went with a 1920x1080 resolution inside of a 1920x1080 window. But the general public seemed to dislike how small that made everything appear, even though it also gave everything a more polished and crisp look.

I also considered an odd resolution of 1104x624 which kept the size, but extended the sides to fill in the screen on 16:9 displays. I eventually decided to go with 1280x720 because it is a very common display type, looks decent, and fits well both on 1920x1080 displays as well as 1366x768 displays which to my surprise, is still the most commonly used resolution on PC's world wide, although 1920x1080 is the most common in the United States.

res-compare.jpg


An early screenshot of Port Sebastian illustrating various resolutions. This town still needs a lot of content.

One great thing about RM is that games made with it will automatically ignore windows scaling so that's one less issue to contend with and all testing so far renders the game in full screen (optionally, you can toggle fullscreen on/off with F4) and at what I think is a decent resolution.

Best Choices

I still have a couple of issues to resolve but for the most part, I think the current settings will work for the vast majority of most screen sizes that people use today. But after hours of testing, I've narrowed down the best resolutions for RM games to the following settings:

Low: 1104x624 (room size 23x13 with just a tiny bit of black on the sides that's barely noticeable)
Medium: 1280x720 (room size 27x15 with a slight horizontal scroll)
High: 1536x864 (room size 32x18)

1536x864 is my personal favorite and the resolution I would want to play in. It is high resolution and makes everything look super crisp in the same way that 1920x1080 does but without making everything look too small. It is also a true 16:9 ratio and divisible by 48 for perfect tile filling and on top of that, it is also divisible by 8 which is nice for users with slightly older video encoders. That being said, the Medium setting above will be the default setting for Nia.

Browsers

While getting a handle on resolution for a PC port is difficult enough, the browser version is suffering. For some reason I can't seem to get the game to fill the entire browser screen, even when pressing F11 to push the browser into full screen. I've also been encountering some other browser related issues and I can see why a lot of games that started out as browser based were eventually abandoned in favor of a PC version.