Wednesday, November 05, 2008

text size

It's the epitome of myopic design...

The developers play their game only on HD-TVs, so they make the short-sighted (or even deliberate) mistake of providing only one size for all the game's text: HD size (i.e., small). As a result, gamers with standard-definition TVs -- still the majority of gamers -- have to strain their eyes if they can read anything at all.

It's a senselessly common problem that has irritated me in many games. But this is the first time I've heard a developer basically tell the gamers with standard TVs that they don't matter.

Yes, HD is the future. But many of us aren't there yet. I realize that text size affects UI design. But is the difficulty really so significant that you're willing to exclude millions of potential customers?

This seems plainly ridiculous to me. Am I speaking from ignorance here?


  1. Aaron, I still only have a standard 32" Widescreen TV & don't think I can upgrade until later next year.

    It's a little premature to come out & say that gamers with standard TVs don't matter, I've had my TV 5 years now & can expect most will keep hold of their current models at least that long before changing.

  2. After reading the article, it does not really say, to me, that SD TV users don't matter. It says it is too expensive to develop for both HD and SD. That sounds reasonable, unless you think he is lying.

  3. As I said, changing text size can mean changing the UI that it fits into, so it does cost production time. But it would not have cost Rare so much if it was handled from the beginning, right? Banjo-Kazooie probably has tons of dialogue, instructions, interface text, etc. But most of it probably would be easy to change. Judging from past Rare games, most of the text is probably just at the bottom of the screen.

    Either way, it still seems like shooting themselves in the foot, because HD-TVs do not have a dominant market share. Most people still use SD, including Rareware customers, so they're saying to hell with both potential profit and courtesy.

    It's alright to create a game for a niche market. But this is Banjo-Kazooie we're talking about, not Crysis. And the other games I see this mistake in have similarly been aimed at mass market.

  4. Awww man! Get a HD tv, you'll be VERY glad you did, it COMPLETELY changes the gaming experience. Like you say, most games today aren't made to accommodate non-HD TVs, so there's no question you are missing out.

    Here's the way to justify it to yourself: you're a gamer. And not just a passive, sometimes gamer, you have a game BLOG in which you write frequently; there is no question it's your passion! Maybe even the most important of your hobbies. If you can't afford it, make it a priority; cancel your cable service if you have to, save whatever you can, but do what you have to.

    If you were the guitarist of a band and using an old, frequently out of tune (but certainly not broken) instrument, you'd save up for that guitar upgrade, right?

    Now, that being said, it is my humble suggestion that you DO NOT buy a new TV now. Wait. Wait until mid-2009. This economy is screwed more than most people think, and the prices of everything from cars to TVs are going to drop drop drop. It'll be a great time to buy. Let's just say that on this subject, I'm in the know ;)


  5. haha. Thanks, Savid. But as it turns out, music is actually my main passion and yet most of my guitars are cheap with old strings. I'm a very simple man. And I'd rather spend money on new games than improving my gaming experience.

    I have a number of family and friends with HD-TVs, so I know what it is I'm missing. I plan on upgrading; just not anytime soon. Hopefully, sometime in this coming year.

  6. Hehe, I'm just giving you a hard time ;)

    Music ay? What kind of stuff do you play? I'm a bit of a music man myself...

  7. There's a permanent link to my shotgun recordings on the sidebar. Poor recordings, poor singing, and just a small sample of the music I write. I've been making music in many styles (mostly variations of rock) for about 15 years.

    Fortunately, I'm talking with some fellow musicians about starting a new band. So perhaps I'll have better recordings with a real singer soon. I'll post here on the blog if we start performing (around Houston).

  8. I guess you weren't the only one to notice this problem:

  9. Some text in the note logs you find in Dead Space are very hard to read on a standard tv. I had no choice but to sit too close to my tv to tey to read them but even then what I tried to read was unclear.


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