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At launch expectations - kodex - May 13, 2008 10:14 PM

Slowly working my way back into shareware programming after my 2 year hiatus. After working for several weeks on some applications and utilities that have been calling to me I have finally taken the plunge back into game development.

I have noticed that my OpenGL base code I have used in the past has been terribly outdated (but by some miracle still complies). I figure I would start from scratch again since my original code wasn't all that wonderful anyways. Which brings me to the purpose of my post tonight.

When you launch a shareware caliber game what do you expect to happen?

1) Be taken right into the game in a full screen context
2) Be taken right into the game in a window context based off our current OS resolution.
3) Be taken to a dialog that prompts for resolution and the such.

In the event of #3 what should the user be presented with? Is asking for color depth a bit outdated these days? Is it standard behavior to only show the config window once then require an option key at launch to display again? Should you only set a resolution when in full screen then assume a resolution based off desktop resolution (ie 80% width/height).

Am I also correct in assuming that for windowed play a opengl view is the acceptable way to go?

Thanks as always guys.

At launch expectations - AnotherJake - May 13, 2008 11:31 PM

Way past the end of my day here, shouldn't even be typing, but this is an important subject to me so I'll shoot this out anyway...

Being a type-A person myself, this has been a major problem for me as well. I've put lots of thought into this over the years. I would like to see more of what others think. I know this isn't the first time it has come up, but I've never seen a rock-solid solution.

My current attitude is that the game should initially launch into a reasonably sized window in the middle of the main screen, but always with the expectation that full screen is an option.

From there, the user should be able to transition into fullscreen without hassle -- meaning that a key combo should get them into full screen right away, without asking about resolution... in turn meaning that the full screen resolution for the game should initially be the current rez of the main screen, without asking. It should be a transparent experience.

If that native resolution sucks on performance, then the user is expected to understand that there is a thing called preferences where they should find a menu item in the app menu to get them there and downgrade as necessary. I should provide them with a dialog to adjust what resolution they'd like to run the game in full screen as. Simple.

This is the way I set up GameBase for the latest (and getting older by the day) Inkubator project. Oh, and plus it remembers the size and position of the window they want to use too, whenever they resize it or move it.

I think this is the right way to do it, but there are two issues that I haven't quite worked out yet:

1) By default, the app should launch into a window, but the user should be able to optionally decide to launch the game into full screen.

2) What key combo is the right one? Cmd-F is for find, but it could also be for full screen, so I stick with Cmd-Shift-F right now for full screen, but everyone I know complains about it and wants Cmd-F. What to do.............

At launch expectations - AnotherJake - May 13, 2008 11:46 PM

Double posting, sorry...

The idea is that the user should be able to have the majority of control over how the game is displayed, as far as sizing goes. They should be able to select any screen and any resolution that is available to them. They should be able to resize the window in windowed mode to whatever pleases them, and if the game needs a fixed aspect ratio then it should automatically letterbox and pillarbox as necessary, on the fly. And further, the program should make a reasonable attempt to remember what pleases them between launches. Like I said above, it should be completely transparent to the user if at all possible.

And display fades should be as short as possible. They don't need the extra drama when getting to their game. A quarter second display fade is fine.

At launch expectations - kodex - May 14, 2008 02:59 PM

Jake: I have noticed that several AAA games use command+m for fullscreen/window toggle. I assumed it was the standard.

At launch expectations - OneSadCookie - May 14, 2008 03:16 PM

That's what Blizzard does, I haven't seen it elsewhere?

I don't like it (command M should minimize when in windowed mode) but if it's a de-facto standard then there might be worse things than following it...

At launch expectations - AnotherJake - May 14, 2008 03:18 PM

Hmm... I can't recall seeing that off-hand, but my memory is sputtering ATM. I do remember doing cmd-d for something a while back. Maybe Starry Night?

Cmd-m doesn't seem like a bad idea though. The only problem there is that I can't think of what m would stand for. F stands for full screen, so there is some intuitive connection there. Maybe we should rename it to mull screen, hehe...

Oh yeah, I actually use cmd-m for minimize on a regular basis. Maybe it's a bad idea after all...

At launch expectations - FlamingHairball - May 14, 2008 04:01 PM

"M" stands for "Monitor".Rasp

I think that a game should start out in window mode, but should easily switch into fullscreen. Then there's Unity setup, where it displays a dialog asking about the resolution, with a tab to choose key commands. It should be very easy to quit the game to, i.e Cmd-Q quits it instantly.

What would be the problem with using just "F" to enter fullscreen? In MonsterText I use Shift-Command-F, but that is because you need F to type. In a game, as long as you are not using f for anything, I can't see a problem(Although it is a bit less Mac-like).

Anyway, I don't do a whole lot of gaming(on a computer), and I haven't actually made a real game yet, so you can completely disregard this post…


At launch expectations - AnotherJake - May 14, 2008 04:17 PM

Hairball183 Wrote:"M" stands for "Monitor".Rasp

Of course! How could I have missed that? LOL

That could mean that for Cmd-d, the "d" stands for Display!

I wonder if it would be reasonable to use Cmd-f by default for full screen for games, and then if the game, or game editor, or whatever, actually needs to use find then the full screen key combo can be demoted to Cmd-Shift-f ? I mean, how many games need to use find? Seems like a waste to kick Cmd-f out just on the basis that it should be reserved for find.

At launch expectations - FlamingHairball - May 14, 2008 04:29 PM

And "S" stands for Screen.

At launch expectations - reubert - May 14, 2008 06:00 PM

In general I think you could use cmd-anykey to exit full screen. In a game cmd-q would normally be the only key command key in use?

I generally don't mind being launched into full screen. The style and polish of the game should really be the determining factor. A game with cinematics and epic music should definitely start in full screen. Simple tetris or solitaire games definitely shouldn't, and everything else is somewhere in between!

The one thing I do object to is a game with crappy low res graphics launching in full screen and changing my screen resolution down, and / or putting vertical letter box bars on a wide screen display. Better to launch in a window if you can't put the pixels to good use.

Also if I don't trust the game producer and it goes full screen I get a little nervous. It's harder for users to get out of a hang situation from full screen.

But no matter what, if full screen is available windowed should always be an option, and have a fast smooth switch between them.

At launch expectations - stevejohnson - May 14, 2008 06:56 PM

reubert Wrote:In general I think you could use cmd-anykey to exit full screen. In a game cmd-q would normally be the only key command key in use?

Bad idea. I tap the command key with my thumb all the time on my laptop while using the arrow keys. Bringing it out of fullscreen at a touch like that in the middle of the action would be awful.

At launch expectations - reubert - May 14, 2008 08:30 PM

Fair enough. You're probably right it's a bit of a stupid idea. No harm in 'cmd-f' + 'cmd-m' + escape though.

At launch expectations - Muskrat - May 19, 2008 10:09 PM

As far as full screen or windowed goes, I think it is very much game dependent; coming down to the need for performance, which would dictate full screen, and the immersivness of the game. If someone is playing a puzzle game I think it's almost expected that they will also have a web browser open or will be checking their email, etc. Games like that are generally played for ten minutes as a distraction from other tasks. If, however, the game is a 3D story-driven RPG, a fast-paced shooter, etc., it can be expected that the user wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything else at the same time and wouldn't get much out of playing the game for a five minute stretch so fullscreen is a reasonable default.

That being said, it's always nice to give players options, so I would certainly advocate having the ability to change full screen preferences. As far as a shortcut, though, I don't think that any one will get much use, no matter the clever acronym behind it. I think that people are more likely to want to choose the screen mode based on the circumstances at a single play time rather than needing to switch multiple times during a single game. For this reason in conjunction with the fact that there is no standard full screen switching shortcut, I think that a button for switching screen modes is best placed on the game's title and pause screens rather than hidden in with the resolution, graphics quality, etc. settings because it is likely to be changed more often than those and those locations will not be missed or forgotten like shortcuts will.

At launch expectations - reubert - May 19, 2008 11:43 PM

Muskrat Wrote:I think that people are more likely to want to choose the screen mode based on the circumstances at a single play time rather than needing to switch multiple times during a single game.

Though I agree with most of what you said, I have to disagree here. I will regularly check my emails during full screen gaming for a bit of a break etc.

Your comment later on about allowing it in the pause menu is a good idea though. There's always plenty of room for buttons on a pause overlay.

That got me thinking that for the FPS/RGP/epic game that makes no sense to be played any other way than full screen, simply switching straight to windowed when paused would make sense. Then back to full screen when un-paused. Would keep me happy. Thoughts?

At launch expectations - backslash - May 20, 2008 05:04 AM

I don't think I'd be too upset by that, but I'd rather just have a button on the pause screen I think. Being able to hide the game with cmd-h is what I really look for though. Obviously, it should pause while hidden if it is the sort of game where something might happen to you while you are reading your email.
On a slightly related note, Command And Conquer 3 responsd to cmd-q by switching to a small window telling you that you have to quit from the in-game menu. That annoys me even more than just ignoring cmd-q completely. Mad