Widescreen and FOV

As far as I'm concerned, you can never have enough pixels on your desktop. Until a few years ago, buying a larger display meant buying a larger display in the same, standard 4:3 screen layout-- 640 x 480, 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1600 x 1200, and so forth. But widescreen monitors are increasingly popular. It's difficult to buy a larger monitor today without changing your aspect ratio to widescreen.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/08/widescreen-and-fov.html

siletnw, I don’t really care about the game, I’m just interested in the FOV topic. This applies to all 3D rendering engines, not just Bioshock. It’s particularly important to understand the problem because it’s getting increasingly difficult to even find non-widescreen 4:3 monitors in medium and large sizes!

Well, you’d have to care a little - since you bought it… :wink:

(my copy is in the mail…)

I am just jealous as all heck that you have the game.

I absolutely loved System Shock (and the sequel). I don’t think my current PC would handle BioShock though… I need to upgrade.

Great post though Jeff. The FoV topic is interesting indeed, at least from a software engineering perspective :slight_smile:

I find it amazing that the community already has a hack out to “fix” the FOV problem. That’s impressive.

I have a copy at home for 360 that I haven’t had a chance to play yet, but my wife has been playing it pretty much non-stop since Tuesday. :slight_smile:

This same usage scenario is how many directors now shoot film, using the Super 35 format. (Notable examples include “Titanic” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.) In this format, directors simultaneously frame their shots for the 4:3 format and the widescreen format, usually “scope” or 2.35:1 (or 2.40:1, or 2.39:1 depending on your level of film geekitude). Film boxes on most modern films now say “Fullscreen Version” instead of “Pan and Scan” since the director composed both as intended.

I was under the impression that most videogames nowadays have directors – is it not possible they use the same concept?

I’m surprised Jeff installed a game that put a rootkit on his system.
a href="http://www.gamingbob.com/2007/08/23/bioshock-installs-rootkit-including-demo/"http://www.gamingbob.com/2007/08/23/bioshock-installs-rootkit-including-demo//a

I agree that a game engine should be written to be viewport-agnostic but. I don’t agree that you “see less.”

The game should look “natural” (waves hands) in any aspect ratio. Changing the FOV ruins the “look” of a game (your Quake screenshot is a great example of this).

The real issue here is “visibility” - do you “see” as much vertically as you do horizontally? With 2 eyes side by side you have a much wider horizontal viewing area than vertical, so actually you “see” more with a widescreen viewport. Evidently the developers at Irrational realized this and have optimized the display for a widescreen viewport.

This is why movie aspect ratios are getting wider and wider - most movies are displayed in a 2.35 : 1 aspect ratio. They actually crop the film post-production in certain cases. There are actually a myriad of ways Hollywood creates wide content, see:

They shoot movies in “open matte” all the time and actually crop off the top and the bottom for widescreen presentation. Almost all of Kubrick’s movies were shot this way. And if you remember, inaccurately representing this concept to consumers is what resulted in the MGM DVD settlement a few years back.

Cropping and distorting to fit content is almost never the right way to go. I’d much rather have some black on-screen than that. If 4:3 monitor owners want a wider FOV, then they should accept letterboxing. Similarly, I can’t stand watching 4:3 content stretched and distorted to fit widescreen TVs or monitors.

Actually, I’ve read that Battlefield 2142 doesn’t support wide aspect precisely because of the wider FOV giving an advantage to wide screen players. I assume they simply live with the fact that 1600x1200 resolutions and above is still like 1 percent of the market, or that the resolution increase isn’t as useful.

I suppose an alternative explanation is that they didn’t bother with it and came up with the fairness answer after the fact.

If you’re interested in the Widescreen FOV issue, you should definately look at the issues myself and many others have had with FOV and Triplehead gaming. Triplehead gaming is where the computer renders the content of the game onto 3 displays. It used to be that in order to render 3d content at a reasonable speed, you needed a triplehead video card such as the matrox Parhelia 512. However, Matrox has since released an adapter that works with any video card and will make 3 monitors act as one large one. Anywho, to play a game on this usually requires a far greater field of view because you’re not running at the standard 3:4 or 16:9 aspect ratio. Some games that allow for user customized FOV look great. Others, such as World of Warcraft, look horrible because they lock the FOV or only let you change between 3:4 and 16:9

Here are some screenshots of triple head in action :slight_smile:



There are actually legit reasons why many games limit the FOV to known values. The biggest of these is that often the environments are built using a facade and now using watertight models. If you set a really large FOV, you can see “the man behind the curtain.”

Increasing the FOV can also increase the number of objects that the engine has to render, which could cause performance problems is the bottleneck is how many batches the engine has to deal with.

(I wonder how many times I’ll overhear a conversation on this subject this weekend. I’m writing this while waiting in line at PAX)

I wasn’t aware of the monitor issues, Jeff… But if what you say is true, this is a much bigger problem than I previously thought.

You’re confusing aspect ratio with FoV. They’re independant variables.

Irrational chose to preserve horizontal FoV (which is more relevant to gameplay) instead of vertical FoV (which is what you want). Expecting them to change the FoV because your monitor is wider is stupid - would you expect a wider FoV on a 22 inch screen than on a 20 inch screen?

Did you happen to run into any of the issues I did?




Hey Now Jeff,
Interesting post. Are you in the exclusive 4 monitor club now? I’ve heard you say before you like the 3 since your focus in a central monitor. Just wondering if you have 4 monitors now?

Nice rootkit too…

So apparently a Windows Service is now a rootkit. No wonder those hackers are so confused.

Hypervisor? Who needs those when we have dunce caps!

If you’re going to offer multiple aspect ratios, then one or the other is going to have a larger viewport. Stanley Kubrick’s movies were mentioned above. He preferred the 4:3 ratio for home video versions of his work. He didn’t use pan and scan and crop out parts of the widescreen film version, though; you actually can see more of the frame on the fullscreen Full Metal Jacket, for example.

One version or the other is going to lose content, why is it a big deal that it’s the widescreen version?