Resolution, Depth, & Refresh Rate

Post: #1
I'm writing some wrapper classes to make opening appropriately sized and configured windows and screens easy. One of the goals also is to provide lists of resolutions, depths, and refresh rates available for a display so that a GUI can be easily created to pick between them and preferably only be able to pick valid combinations. One thing I'm wondering about mostly is bit depths and refresh rates.

On the one side some games come with one and only one bit depth so you would only want a list of resolutions that support a given bit depth, some games also are made to support many bit depths. On the other side I'm not sure if there are any games at all that require a certain refresh rate and even if it was possible would it be a good idea to allow a user to pick this in your game since you could probably get a good idea of their preferred refresh rate from the properties gleaned from the current display setup before you game takes over.

All in all my questions are really these:

Is it more common for a game to support one and only one bit depth? Or is it more common to support a range of bit depths?

Is refresh rate a factor in your games? Are their good reasons to allow user controlled refresh rates in your game?

One of the things I'm trying for is to make the most common senario the easiest, but since I haven't done that much actual game programming I'm not fully sure what the common senarios are.

Thanks for any input you may be able to provide.
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Post: #2
The OS will dither to lower bit depths, so there's no reason not to support 16bpp. Especially on very old hardware (iMac DV) supporting 16bpp is good for saving VRAM. 8bpp, however, is very slow (the OS renders to 24bpp and then diffusion dithers...) so I wouldn't bother with it.

Refresh rate shouldn't be a factor if the game is written with time-based animation. But, some aren't-- Shoot Things, for example, really wants to get a 60Hz display mode. You can never require a certain refresh rate, though, because some hardware like the eMac won't have it.

In general, I think it is best to default to the user's current display mode. Unless you are fill rate limited (3D games, lots of fragment programs) it's essentially free to stretch your content to fill the whole screen, on modern hardware...

Don't forget about aspect ratios, either-- some hardware supports stretched modes, i.e. 1024x768 @ 4:3 and 1024x768 @ 3:2 or 16:10. There are four aspect ratios out there: 5:4 (15" studio display), 4:3 (CRTs), 3:2 (15" PowerBook), and 16:10 (Cinemas).
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