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Ken Levine responds to BioShock widescreen issue

Ken Levine responds to BioShock widescreen issue

Image cropping, schmism-schmopping. BioShock is awesome and nothing will stop that.

BioShock is a great game - earning itself the first ten out of ten mark I have ever given out. Sure, there was one (and only one) flaw with it, but even that was something which could easily be got around.

Still, not everyone is as deliriously happy about the game as I am and widescreen owners in particular have been moaning about certain cropping issues which are being discussed at length in the forums.

Apparently, the game will display perfectly in 4:3 ratio, but if you switch to a widescreen format then you'll see the top and bottom of the screen cut off. See those red areas in the image? Widescreen gamers don't get to see those bits, no matter which version they play.

In an official response to the problem, Ken Levine - Creative Director for the game and a man we should all bow before - has said the following on the 2K forums.

"Hey guys-

Sorry about all the conflict. IG development people (specifically Chris and Rowan who are both on vacation) were trying to take a day off today (we've been working about six months 6-7 days a week). I'm trying to see what everybody's concerns are and consult with the staff.

I know people are frustrated, but we are dealing with internet time here. It wasn't until 7 pm EST that I was able to even talk to anybody in our Australian studio, which is open today (9 AM their time).

I hear you that not everybody was thrilled with the PC launch. And I'm trying to collect information and see what the facts are. PC game development does not function in a matter of seconds or hours, especially when most of the team is on vacation. But I hear you, and we're looking into the issue. I'll only ask you have a bit of understanding as to the time scale that software development issues must occur in.

Best regards,

Ken Levine"


See that? That's a sign of a real man, working through his holiday to apologise to gamers about a small problem in the best game ever, even though its not even seen a worldwide release yet.

Think the BioShock-love has gone to my head, or is it a perfectly natural response to a game of this quality? Give us your diagnosis' in the forums.

32 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Bauul 22nd August 2007, 12:48 Quote
I bet you it gets fixed in the first patch.
Phil Rhodes 22nd August 2007, 12:51 Quote
Well that's astonishingly easy to fix anyway, isn't it? Just wind up the FoV angle. Probably a one-line code change.

Phil
Jamie 22nd August 2007, 13:07 Quote
Nice to see a response, hopefully he will announce that they will not be changing anything.
Ramble 22nd August 2007, 13:15 Quote
And I thought avatars were only meant to reach 85x85. For shame.

Hopefully they'll fix the bug.
K 22nd August 2007, 13:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
Nice to see a response, hopefully he will announce that they will not be changing anything.

That's a pretty negative reaction. It contradicts what the developers originally said about widescreen too.

A good fix would be the option to play in either FOV in widescreen, HOR+ or VERT-, it's a ridiculously simple fix either way.
Jamie 22nd August 2007, 13:24 Quote
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting more FOV in the game but games don't make themselves and at some point there was a decision to extend vertically onto 4:3 and not to give widescreen more FOV than standard format.
K 22nd August 2007, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting more FOV in the game but games don't make themselves and at some point there was a decision to extend vertically onto 4:3 and not to give widescreen more FOV than standard format.

Before or after they confirmed the complete opposite? ;)
BioSniper 22nd August 2007, 13:38 Quote
There is a slight typo in the article;
Quote:

Apparently, the game will display perfectly in 4:3 ration

May want remove the N on the end of ratio there.
Vakuum 22nd August 2007, 14:12 Quote
I just hope they fix the AA issues in Vista so I can enjoy this game even more :)
Seems WinXp users are able to force AA on this game, but no luck for vista users as of yet in either dx10 or dx9.
Jamie 22nd August 2007, 14:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by K
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting more FOV in the game but games don't make themselves and at some point there was a decision to extend vertically onto 4:3 and not to give widescreen more FOV than standard format.

Before or after they confirmed the complete opposite? ;)

I bet the confirmation came from someone who didn't know or didn't bother to find out what the developers had or were doing.
Silver Shamrock 22nd August 2007, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
I bet the confirmation came from someone who didn't know or didn't bother to find out what the developers had or were doing.

The confirmation came from Chris Kline, a lead programmer. This has been pointed out to you in a previous thread and even says so in the actual article itself.
wafflesomd 22nd August 2007, 18:28 Quote
Who cares?
mikeuk2004 22nd August 2007, 18:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wafflesomd
Who cares?

Exactly

Everyone else, Shut up and play the dam game. :) Id be more worried if the game is a flop than the aspect ratio.

On another note. What does FOV mean? I hate all these abbreviations.
Jamie 22nd August 2007, 18:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Shamrock
The confirmation came from Chris Kline, a lead programmer. This has been pointed out to you in a previous thread and even says so in the actual article itself.

Yes because he has a good track record for being correct doesn't he.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Kline
Theres support for full scene Anti Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering with HDR and Shader 3.0 on the newer graphics cards like the Nvidia 8000 series and the later Ati ones
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeuk2004
Exactly

Shut up and play the dam game. Id be more worried if the game is a flop than the aspect ratio.

On another note. What does FOV mean? I hate all these abbreviations.

Field of view
Awoken 22nd August 2007, 18:59 Quote
FOV - Field of view probably
Hugo.B 22nd August 2007, 19:00 Quote
Joe martin is so Bioshocked(yes, I had to use that expression) that he's beginning to sound like a 2K rep.
mikeuk2004 22nd August 2007, 19:03 Quote
ah, now I get you :) Cheers for clearing that up.
ElZog 22nd August 2007, 19:16 Quote
It's the use of securom that is annoying me, rather than this problem which has already been fixed (a member of the 2k forums has apparently made a patch for it). I hope the anti securom patches come soon (from official or otherwise sources) as I really hate software like that when I am a legitimate owner of the game (securom limits the user to 2 installs of the game, including on the same computer if the OS is changed). Also I hear the limited edition DVD and soundtrack are really crap and many of the figurines are arriving broken.

Game should be awesome, but seriously, so many things have suddenly popped up today.
DougEdey 22nd August 2007, 19:20 Quote
No, the issue has been responded to.

Basically this is what happens when you use securom.

Install Game -> Securom checks server -> Server says 0 have been installed -> Securom marks game as installed -> Servers record it as #1
Install game -> Securom checks server -> Server says 1 have been installed -> Securom marks game as installed -> Servers record it as #2
Install Game -> Securom checks server -> Server says 2 have been installed -> No more installs
Uninstall Game #1 -> Securom checks server -> Server says 2 have been installed -> Securom marks game as uninstalled -> Server goes to #1
Install on 3rd PC -> Securom checks server -> Server says 1 have been installed -> Securom marks game as installed -> Server records 2 installs

Basically it's 2 concurrent installs, you MUST uninstall the game before reformatting or upgrading hardware
Fod 22nd August 2007, 19:25 Quote
that should probably time out after, say, 3 months...
ElZog 22nd August 2007, 19:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougEdey
No, the issue has been responded to.

Basically this is what happens when you use securom.

Install Game -> Securom checks server -> Server says 0 have been installed -> Securom marks game as installed -> Servers record it as #1
Install game -> Securom checks server -> Server says 1 have been installed -> Securom marks game as installed -> Servers record it as #2
Install Game -> Securom checks server -> Server says 2 have been installed -> No more installs
Uninstall Game #1 -> Securom checks server -> Server says 2 have been installed -> Securom marks game as uninstalled -> Server goes to #1
Install on 3rd PC -> Securom checks server -> Server says 1 have been installed -> Securom marks game as installed -> Server records 2 installs

Basically it's 2 concurrent installs, you MUST uninstall the game before reformatting or upgrading hardware

While I am glad that the situation is not as bad as it has been made out, constantly needing to inform the copy protection folk is still pretty stupid.

What about if I need to go pee while playing, do I have to tell the Securom guys then too? :p
K 22nd August 2007, 20:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
Yes because he has a good track record for being correct doesn't he.

Irregardless, you are correct in your original assumptions that they are confirming this as a design choice:

http://www.2kgames.com/cultofrapture/home.html
Quote:
THE TRUTH ABOUT WIDESCREEN
August 22, 2007
We understand there has been some concern about the implementation of widescreen mode in BioShock. Hopefully, we can clarify how we’ve chosen to do this.

The first thing we want to make clear is the mode we developed the game on and the optimal mode for playing the game is the widescreen mode. 90% of our development stations were widescreen displays: artists, programmers and designers.

- BioShock was primarily developed and tuned for widescreen mode. Artists and designers worked with widescreen displays and chose a field of view (FOV) that best reflected their intentions with respect to the way the world is perceived, the perceived speed of movement of the player relative to the world and the amount of the world they wanted to be viewed for the best game-play experience. We went through dozens of iterations and finally settled upon a widescreen aspect ratio that best suited the gameplay experience.

- When playing in widescreen modes the game makes use of the full screen resolution, and does not crop or stretch a lower resolution image into a wide screen one. For example, at 720p the game renders natively to the full 1280x720 resolution.

- Once this FOV was established, we chose to keep exactly the same horizontal FOV for standard def displays, so as not to in any way alter the gameplay experience.

- Instead of cropping the FOV for 4:3 displays and making all 4:3 owners mad in doing so, we slightly extended the vertical FOV for standard def mode: we never wanted to have black bars on people’s displays. (This way, everybody is happy…) This does mean that people playing on a standard def display see slightly more vertical space, but, this does not significantly affect the game-play experience and, we felt that it best served our goal of keeping the game experience as close as possible to the original design and art vision on both types of displays. Reports of the widescreen FOV being a crop of the 4:3 FOV are completely false.

One thing we can assure you that all these decisions were made with the best interests of the game in mind. We didn’t save any money or development time by choosing this set of parameters. We did what we thought was the best thing for the game: developing and optimizing it for widescreen displays, and making the decision not to do the usual crop for 4:3 displays. As a consumer, you certainly have the right to disagree.

We understand that not all users might not be happy with these choices and we will be looking into options for allowing users to adjust FOV settings manually. But as we mentioned earlier, changes to video game code do not happen in minutes or hours. We appreciate your understanding.

- Elizabeth

Although I suspect 90% of this spiel is damage control from the company line, it is nice that they do say they will be looking at a way to adjust the FOV manually. Although their 'artistic choice' of going with VERT- is a bit bizarre in my opinion (because the viewpoint they've used is entirely unnatural for a first person game, really), it's good to see that the slew of people trying the hotfix for HOR+ say that the game is far far better with an expanded view. So, yeah. I just hope a 2K 'fix' finds it's way to the 360 version too.
TomD22 22nd August 2007, 20:51 Quote
All things considered, that reply on the bioshock website (quoted above) does seem like the biggest load of bullshit ever. The fact of the matter is, the widescreen view is cropped and reduced compared to the 4:3. They claim, they designed on widescreen first, then made it work with 4:3 as an afterthought by adding more vertical view. Which is of course ridiculous - if widescreen was the priority, the "correct" view, the one which all their design effort went into, the one which they believe offers the perfect experience (as he claims in that post) then the 4:3 would have had the sides cropped off, not the widescreen having the top and bottom cut off.

All of which is totally irrelevant anyway, as (at least as it's been explained to me) you can just tell direct x to render a scene to a particular aspect ratio and it will - no need for a half-arsed solution in the first place.

All of which means - thank god for widescreengaming forum :D There's already a hack to give the proper fov for dx9 out, and hopefully a dx10 one will follow.

This reminds me very much of stalker a few months ago - they did the same thing, claimed "native widescreen support" but actually just cropped the view - wsg forum had a hack soon enough, and it was fixed in a patch soon after that. Everyone (eventually) happy. BUT it looks like the bioshock people are setting up to refuse to patch it, actually having the gall to say they intended it to be this way! Funny if it weren't so annoying....
Jamie 22nd August 2007, 21:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by K
Irregardless, you are correct in your original assumptions that they are confirming this as a design choice:

I thank you :)
drakanious 22nd August 2007, 22:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by K
Irregardless, you are correct in your original assumptions that they are confirming this as a design choice:

Ha-ha, he said 'irregardless'.
K 22nd August 2007, 23:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
I thank you :)

Well, it doesn't mean it's a good choice! Hah.

And there ain't nothing wrong with double negatives.
wharrad 23rd August 2007, 01:27 Quote
Ach guys, is this really that much of a problem? If they crop it the otherway 4:3 people will complain. It's a lose lose situation on a really minor issue (in my opinion of course). Maybe the only way to please everyone would be an option of width/height croppage in the settings, which seems like alot of effort for little gain.
Bladestorm 24th August 2007, 09:54 Quote
Finished downloading and got around to playing the demo last night, encountered three things with it fundamentally right off the bat :

1> The view felt wierd, mostly in the lacking height feeling like I was trying to stare though a letterbox to some extent, tops of peoples heads and upper details missing or being very close to the top of the screen.

2> Didn't run anywhere near as smoothly as I'd hoped at native resolution (1680*1050) with some of the options turned down a bit.

3> Could be imagining it and getting the view and frame rate chipping in, but the mouse movement felt odd, like maybe horizontal and vertical movement were happenning at different speeds.

I ended up turning the resolution down to non-widescreen (1152*864 I think, which the readme reccommended for "high end systems") which eased both of the first two problems, though it did cause the game to look a bit notably pants and pixelated at times, more so than turning off the high detail options already had done.

Went on and played a bit it though and it felt good, I particularly liked the hacking and the friendly drones happy buzzing, though I felt myself missing the depth that was back in SS2.

Overall I think it confirmed it to go on my "to buy sometime" list, but if anything it felt a little dissapointing after all the reviews and my prior enthusiasm, I think probably it'l get backburnered untill such time as I actually get around to buying an 8800GT(640) + vista, which might not be that soon since I'm uncomfortable paying how much they still ask for those cards considering how long its been since they came out (past experience is banging away at the back of my mind that they normally would have released new cards 6+ months ago .. so surely if I bought one they'd come out with a new one within a few weeks which was a lot faster for less money as happenned with the 7800GT ;p)
Jamie 24th August 2007, 10:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bladestorm

Went on and played a bit it though and it felt good, I particularly liked the hacking and the friendly drones happy buzzing, though I felt myself missing the depth that was back in SS2.

You can't really compare the depth of the demo to the full SS2 game. There is loads of things missing from the demo.
Da_Rude_Baboon 24th August 2007, 10:14 Quote
Interesting comments bladestorm as i was about to post almost the exact same thing. :D

1 - The view felt weird for me too and i am also running 1680x1050, to much vertical squash.

3 - Mouse movement also felt weird, it was slightly jerky and movement seemed to stop suddenly instead of a gradual slow down. Weirdly after a cut scene or in game movie it sped up for a while. I think it is a graphic issue as it was worse when standing in flowing water and got better when i turned down the options a bit.

Overall though i did not think the graphics where as good as everyone has been banging on about tbh but the game is definetly atmospheric and quite creepy.
Bladestorm 24th August 2007, 10:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Da_Rude_Baboon
Interesting comments bladestorm as i was about to post almost the exact same thing. :D

1 - The view felt weird for me too and i am also running 1680x1050, to much vertical squash.

3 - Mouse movement also felt weird, it was slightly jerky and movement seemed to stop suddenly instead of a gradual slow down. Weirdly after a cut scene or in game movie it sped up for a while. I think it is a graphic issue as it was worse when standing in flowing water and got better when i turned down the options a bit.

Overall though i did not think the graphics where as good as everyone has been banging on about tbh but the game is definetly atmospheric and quite creepy.

I think Tim's article on the games graphics in DX10 vs DX9 could prove quite enlightening, that or a bit dissapointing, but probably the former, we'll just have to wait and see what he has to say I guess.

And I felt the very first supposedly scary moment upon arrival in the city spoiled a touch because I was trying to spin around and see what was going on, not so much in a "its dark and scary" way as in an "ack where's my flipping view gone!" immersion-breaking kind of a way, but that might just be me :)
K 24th August 2007, 12:11 Quote
I think the one major difference between DX9 and 10 is that the shadows look a bit better in the latter mode. Exciting!

I do hope they do something about the FOV though for both formats. An option to switch between the default intended view and a wider view is surely the easiest way to appease everyone whilst saving face?
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