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 Post subject: What resolution should my game be? (MAME resolution audit)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 6:59 am 


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Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 2607
Hello all.

I exported MAME's database to XML, filtered out the resolution tags using grep, turned each line into an SQLite insert statement in Emacs and ran the whole thing as a new table in SQLite.
According to my technique the following are resolutions by popularity.

Oddly 640x480 came in 2nd which seems fishy.
Usually these resolutions are ~300 x ~200.
Oh, and the super tiny resolutions are for displays on pinball machine score boards.
One other thing it doesn't count physical screen rotation so a 240x320 game and a 320x240 game both count as the same thing. :roll:

https://pastebin.com/TzwXSL7p
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 Post subject: Re: What resolution should my game be? (MAME resolution audi
PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 8:43 am 


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I think it mostly depends on whether you it is an horizontal or vertical game, and which aspect ratio you which for it to run at.

If you're developing for a 4:3 monitor, then I think 320x240 or 640x480 would be best. The difference mostly comes down to how much detailed you want it to be; that is, a 320x240 game scaled by two will occupy the same resolution as 640x480, so the only difference would be whether you want to draw the sprites at native 640x480, or to scale the ones drawn at 320x240.

I'm pretty certain that many, if not most, of those resolution would be scaled to 4:3 on an actual cabinet (some missing a few scanlines on the top/bottom, others on the left/right, etc), so all those different resolutions can be a little misleading. For example, 256x224 is NES NTSC resolution, and 256x240 is NES PAL resolution.

Similar with 16:9 resolutions; for example, 1280x720 or 640x360 (or similar; depends on whether you want the game to occupy the entire screen, because then you'd want to use a resolution that the monitor supports natively. Might support one lower than 1280x720, but I'm not certain).

And, if I'm not mistaken, Daioujou, for example, has a native aspect ratio of 2:1, but is scaled to 4:3 on an actual cabinet.

Of course, the actual playing area of the game doesn't have to be the same as the monitor's aspect ratio (unless you're going with an horizontal game, and you want it to occupy the whole screen, or you're going with a vertical game on a vertical monitor (3:4), again, also occupying the whole screen). Some games use a nearly square playing area, like ChoRenSha (don't know if it's actual square, but it's close).

You might want to play around with them a bit, and see what you think feels the best. :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: What resolution should my game be? (MAME resolution audi
PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 8:15 am 


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It totally depends what you are going for. This now is me speaking as an game developer and specifically as an artist.

If you want your shmup to use oldschool pixelart I would recommend sticking with something in the vicinity of 320x240 and having good scaling support.
If you are using prerendered 3D for most things, I would go as high as full HD, maybe even more, depending.

An important thing is of course aspect ratio, and for shmups this is not just a matter of what monitors people have, but what makes sense from a gameplay perspective.
Widescreen format for a vert would be somewhat awkward I imagine, but the extra screenspace could be used for HUD, in both tate and yoko.
For horis widescreen can work just fine imo, as it is more natural to the way our eyes take in things.
Widescreen horivert would potentially be the worst of both worlds. Jamestown does this, PLUS horizontal scrolling, and while I don't think it's a bad game, I don't think this helps.


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 Post subject: Re: What resolution should my game be? (MAME resolution audi
PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 10:06 pm 


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An yes, I was thinking only of 2D games, given that the emphasis on MAME games' resolutions.

ptoing wrote:
An important thing is of course aspect ratio, and for shmups this is not just a matter of what monitors people have, but what makes sense from a gameplay perspective.


Yeah, the playing area is the most important thing; you can always add letterboxes/pillarboxes to match whatever screen aspect ratio the user has, which, while (possibly) not the best result, is always better than undermining the gameplay experience by focusing only on it. And you also have to keep the horizontal scrolling (for verts; vertical scrolling for horis) in mind, as they also affect how the game feels.

Personally, I really like 3:4 for vertical STGs and 4:3 for horizontal ones. I think they have a good balance between vertical distance to see enemies/shots coming, and horizontal space for moving around.


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 Post subject: Re: What resolution should my game be? (MAME resolution audi
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:35 am 


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ptoing wrote:
If you want your shmup to use oldschool pixelart I would recommend sticking with something in the vicinity of 320x240 and having good scaling support.


One thing to mention here is to render to the 320x240 buffer then scale the buffer. Never render sprites at double resolution and then have them moving and rotating on a high def grid.
New developers almost ALWAYS get that wrong.

'I'll just double scale my sprites and keep them moving in 1920x1080"
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 Post subject: Re: What resolution should my game be? (MAME resolution audi
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:34 pm 


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Pixel_Outlaw wrote:
ptoing wrote:
If you want your shmup to use oldschool pixelart I would recommend sticking with something in the vicinity of 320x240 and having good scaling support.


One thing to mention here is to render to the 320x240 buffer then scale the buffer. Never render sprites at double resolution and then have them moving and rotating on a high def grid.
New developers almost ALWAYS get that wrong.

'I'll just double scale my sprites and keep them moving in 1920x1080"


I agree in principle, but it is not a gamebreaking issue. As in, if your game is good, it wont make your game really any worse. For a good recent example see ZeroRanger.
And depending on what kind of aesthetic you are going for it can work, but it has to look intentional. An indie game in which it works, imo, is Death Road to Canada.


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