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What's with all these fullscreen games? - PuppyHelmet - Jul 2, 2003 12:14 PM

Before I start, sorry if this ought to be in a different forum, but it seems to me this is an element of overall game design. My art teacher always said the first four lines of a composition are the ones defined by the frame. Smile

I'd like to know why it is that nearly every game, shareware or otherwise, that's been released in the last year or two has not had the option of displaying the game in a moveable window. To the best of my knowledge, it takes (marginally) more work to make games fullscreen than to leave them in a standard window. So why is it now standard practice for developers to hijack the player's screen?

I can understand that for complex, 3D games, like shooters or platformers, going fullscreen-only makes sense. I'm sure it has benefits for framerate and the overall look-and-feel - after all, these are more cinematically inclined genres. But why should my screen resolution change and all my applications get hidden while I'm playing a 2D board game , for cryin' out loud? Any sort of game that doesn't require constant input from the user, and therefore invites the user to multitask - do some instant messaging while you're conquering the world - ought to have at least the option of being contained within a window that can be treated like any other application, even if the developer would prefer their work to be viewed in the largest space possible.

Moreover, it's getting harder and harder to hide these games and return to the desktop without quitting them entirely. If the menubar is kept hidden, you're pretty much at the developer's mercy unless you quit entirely. It may take extra effort for us to support menus in our fullscreen games, but in my opinion it's bad etiquette to develop your program so that it runs at the expense of anything else happening on the player's computer.

This is not intended as a rant, and sorry if it sounds like that. I'm just curious to know why going fullscreen seems to be the default these days when it really ought to be a conscious choice by the developer, to suit the sort of game they're making - that is, fullscreen should be the default setting for your game if and only if the gaming experience would benefit from being set against a black backdrop. I intend to make my uDG entry this year windowed, with the option of fullscreen but not as the default. I know I'd appreciate having more games that don't assume you're going to give them your undivided attention until you quit them, and that are conducive to a more casual playing style.

Thoughts on this? I'd particularly like to hear from some designers who do consciously choose fullscreen over windowed (or vice-versa) about why they make that choice...

- Chris Doucette


What's with all these fullscreen games? - Steven - Jul 2, 2003 12:18 PM

I agree, unless there's a good reason for not having it - such as in 3D fps's (as you mentioned)

It does get annoying. Blizzard games have a good solution - command+M makes them go windowed.
Yay Blizzard!
(heh. I just got Frozen Throne yesterday Wink )


What's with all these fullscreen games? - BeyondCloister - Jul 2, 2003 12:32 PM

Well I made my Chromacell game windowed. As it is a turn based game it can easily be played while doing other things.

The kind of games I'm developing are designed to be picked up and put down with ease so suit the windowed format.

It is so much easier to hide a window behind that important word document you are working on for the deadline when the boss comes in than a fullscreen game Rasp

Of course another factor is that it is so much easier to debug the game during developement when Project Builder can be used to single step through with the game on screen.

My uDevGame entry will also be following the windowed plan.

Hope that spreads some enlightment on the twisted logic of a game developer Wacko


What's with all these fullscreen games? - skyhawk - Jul 2, 2003 12:53 PM

ALL games, FPS, RTS, Turned based, ANYTHING needs to have the option to go into windowed mode. It is the very simple courtesy that allows one to IM someone while destroying a town. Now unlike in XP, you should be RIPPED out of the game when someone IMs you, but you should have the simple option to go into a windowed type mode.


What's with all these fullscreen games? - Kjurtyl - Jul 2, 2003 12:54 PM

Hooptie also is a windowed game, although if I remember correctly we were asked to do a fullscreen version at one point which we declined. We chose windowed for the same reasons BeyondCloister mentioned.. in order that it can be picked up and put down on the user's schedule, not ours!

I agree that a lot of games go full screen for no good apparent reason, but I believe that games with metal and TNT basic tend to go full screen by default. The reasoning behind that is unknown to me however, someone more familiar with those should provide a better explanation of why.

Hey Cloister, how's Chromacell coming along anyways?

- Kjurtyl.


What's with all these fullscreen games? - skyhawk - Jul 2, 2003 01:01 PM

Quote:Originally posted by Kjurtyl
I agree that a lot of games go full screen for no good apparent reason, but I believe that games with metal and TNT basic tend to go full screen by default. The reasoning behind that is unknown to me however, someone more familiar with those should provide a better explanation of why.


WORST thing I've ever seen was a full screen calculator program.


What's with all these fullscreen games? - BeyondCloister - Jul 2, 2003 01:04 PM

OT, but by public demand Grin

The real job has kept me too busy recently but just about to release a new beta of Chromacell. Was in the middle of compiling the readme file when this thread distracted me again.


What's with all these fullscreen games? - AJ Infinity - Jul 2, 2003 01:41 PM

DOn¥t forget, browser based games like NeoPets or Gold Yard are windowed.


What's with all these fullscreen games? - stevejohnson - Jul 2, 2003 02:16 PM

My uDG entry will be primarily fullscreen, being a (sort of) RPG, made up of many little (and larger) games. However, I plan to make separate windowed versions of all of the games the larger game is composed of. Since I'll probably make it available early, if I get enough emails, I'll make a windowed option.


What's with all these fullscreen games? - KittyMac - Jul 2, 2003 02:20 PM

Quote:Originally posted by PuppyHelmet
Thoughts on this? I'd particularly like to hear from some designers who do consciously choose fullscreen over windowed (or vice-versa) about why they make that choice...

Why not? I can't speak for everyone, but for myself there are several factors why I go fullscreen without a windowed option.

Firstly, and without starting a flame war, I'd think many people prefer running games fullscreen. For instance, taking your 2D board game as an example. When one goes to play an actual board game, one clears off a set area (the kitchen table for example) and devotes that area to the game. One normally doesn't keep their homework, dinner, or other board games cluttered on the same table, no? One devotes that certain area of space for the game. Now, lets say the phone rings, one would turn away from the game and answer the phone. Hence, one should be able to quickly hide the fullscreen game and IM someone, then when they're ready to go back to the game turn back to the "table."

Going fullscreen gives the developer greater control over providing a consistent user interface and experience. Does someone really want big blue aqua buttons in a game of medieval warfare? Especially buttons which change visually from OS release to OS release, let alone from platform to platform?

Some games provide scrolling by bumping the mouse up to the side of the screen (WarCraft, for example). I think this style of scrolling is very difficult to pull off properly in a windowed fashion, since your mouse is no longer bound by the window edges.

Related to the consistent user interface, not having to deal with the menu bar, window resizing, and whatnot simplifies things when working across OS 9, OS X, and Windows. If the developer simply has a sand-box to play with, then things from the development become simpler (note that I didn't say impossible, only easier).

And lastly in my own defense, although my lastest game is fullscreen only, it hides instantly when the user pressent Cmd-H (or Ctrl-H) under Mac OS 9, OS X, and Windows (which, unless I misplace the references to "2D board game" and "conquering the world" you may have been referring to? Rasp ). I too have a beef with games which do not follow conventions such as Cmd-Q, and force the user navigate their custom menu system just to quit. Any game should be able to hide and quit at any time during the user experience.

Perhaps a more heinious crime though are games which require the user to have OS X, when the same game can run just as well under OS 9 (or visa-versa)? When looked at in this light, this is the same thing as requiring a game to run fullscreen or windowed.

Cheers,
Rocco


What's with all these fullscreen games? - jamn - Jul 2, 2003 02:25 PM

TNT Basic does full screen only at this time. I think that it is on TNTís to do list to have a windowed option available. It is probably best to present both options and have the user decide how they want to play the game.

Having the option presents a dilemma for the developer though. In some games such as turn based strategy, board games etc. it is probably acceptable to have scroll bars or some other way to navigate the screen. In a sprite and tile based arcade game though, the graphics are often designed with a specific screen size in mind 640x480 or 1024x768 for example. The player often needs to see the entire screen in order to play the game. In this case would you present the game in the next smallest size that can fit windowed in the screen? Shrink it to 640x480 so that it can be windowed in a 1024x768 screen for example. In these types of games you usually have to make a set of tiles for each resolution you are supporting so it is not a trivial matter to support many screen sizes.

-Jim


What's with all these fullscreen games? - erazorhead - Jul 2, 2003 03:13 PM

Quote:Originally posted by KittyMac
Why not? I can't speak for everyone, but for myself there are several factors why I go fullscreen without a windowed option....


those are good reasons to make a game fullscreen, but none of them cover why windowed view shouldn't be an option.
your 'kitchen table' metaphor makes sense, but i don't think the comparison is perfect. i might clear off a table to play chess on it, but on the computer i would still want to keep an eye on a download, take note if my girlfriend gets on AIM, change the song in iTunes, etc. at least as an option.
anyways, take warcraft 3 as an example... this kind of game gets (in my opinion) the least mileage out of running in a window - for reasons you mentioned (interface consistency, edge-of-screen-mouse-scrolling) and others. but people still applaud their inclusion of the option. i have used it on several occasions myself and found it to be a lifesaver.
finally, not having a windowed view option has been a dealbreaker on several shareware games for me. so there's my input as a consumer. Rasp


What's with all these fullscreen games? - geezusfreeek - Jul 2, 2003 03:33 PM

My general preference toward this is to default to full-screen, but give as many ways as possible to multitask: command-m (blizzard-style), command-h, command-tab, etc.


What's with all these fullscreen games? - macboy - Jul 2, 2003 04:23 PM

In some games, it's best to have an option, but when there's a game that NEEDS the whole screen, it's usually best to keep it fullscreen. And clicking outside the window in a game where speed/constant clicking is neccesary is not very fun.

Quote:Originally posted by Kjurtyl
... but I believe that games with metal ... tend to go full screen by default.
Sorta OT: MetaL doesn't go fullscreen automatically because it's not only for games.


What's with all these fullscreen games? - skyhawk - Jul 2, 2003 04:29 PM

Quote:Originally posted by macboy
And clicking outside the window in a game where speed/constant clicking is neccesary is not very fun.


*cough MaFFia*