How do 16:9 games work in 4:3 mode?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Vince Maskeeper, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I posted this in the hardware FAQ, but it seemed to get overlooked there, so I thought I might repost.

    I've been out of the serious gaming loop since the Genesis. I have a PSX- but never really paid too close attention to the hardcore gaming world since JR High.

    When these new systems came out, I saw that some games/systems have 16x9 ability and wondered:

    What happens when you play these "16x9" games on a 4:3 set with the game in 4:3 mode?

    Are these games letterboxed when shown 4:3 - or does the 16x9 mode simply add more info on the sides you don't see when it is in 4:3 mode (or worse, does it just crop top and bottom of 4:3 to create the 16x9 screen)?

    For example: a movie, if it is native widescreen, can be shown several ways on 4:3 sets. It can be letterboxed, with bars on the top and bottom, or it can be displayed "pan and scan" with portions of the picture missing.

    I assumed that the same might be true for widescreen videogames. If the image is natively available as 16x9- then the 4:3 version would either be missing info on the sides that the 16:9 offers (4:3 mode would be cropped when compared to the 16x9 version), or the 4:3 version would be presented letterboxed as to not lose picture area presented in the 16x9 version...

    (or if it was 4:3 native, the 16x9 mode would have less image than the 4:3 version due to top and bottom cropping).

    Just curious what the 16x9 modes are offering- and how these 16:9 games compared to the version set for 4:3. I just wondered exactly how "widesceen games" worked in terms of image comparison to the 4:3 setting on the same game.

    -V
     
  2. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    I'm not the expert but...

    There's really no such thing as 4:3 native or 16x9 native in gaming. Unlike DVD there is no playback trick being performed, rather, the games are simply programmed to take advantage of different screen resolutions/geometry.
     
  3. PouyaG

    PouyaG Agent

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    The simple answer to your question Vince is that there simply isn't a game that uses 16x9 natively. By that I mean when you pop in your game for the first time, it's in 4x3 mode and if the game supports 16x9, you have to select it in the option menu (at least that's been my experience, as I always play in 16x9 mode whenever I can with my WEGA and it's 16:9 enhanced mode w/ my PS2).
    Example:
    If you choose 16x9 mode on a 4x3 TV, everything is stretched vertically. Conversely, if you play in 4x3 mode on a 16x9 TV, everything is stretched horizontally. But you probably knew all this [​IMG]
    Basically Camp hit the nail on the head...there is no letterboxing of videogames UNLESS you have a setup like mine (e.g. A TV 4x3 with 16:9 compression [​IMG] ).
    Hope that helps!
     
  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I guess that I have worded my question poorly, my apologies I understand game modes, and switching.
    What I'm asking is this:
    Does a game in a 16x9 mode offer more picture on the sides than that same game in 4:3 mode?
    or
    Does the game in 16x9 mode offer less picture at the top an bottom than that same game in 4:3 mode?
    One of the two versions has to be a compromise.
    Either the game was designed with 16x9 in mind- and the 4:3 version is missing info from the 16:9 version. Or the game was designed with 4x3 in mind- and the 16x9 version is cropped when compared with the 16:9 version.
    Has anyone done side by side comparisons?
    -Vince
     
  5. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

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    I hear ya' Vince,

    If no one chimes in on this sooner, I will run a test with DOA 3 later this evening and post my observations.
     
  6. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Just to avoid even more confusion (who new a simple question could be so complex), here are some pictures:
    If a game were created with 4:3 as its intended (or native, or maximum or whatever you would like to call it) ratio... all the availble pixels created by the game would create an image of a 4:3 shape:
    [​IMG]
    So, since the total number of pixel available were used in the 4:3 version- the 16x9 version would simply be a cropped version (because there is no additional pixels available at the sides):
    [​IMG]
    HOWEVER, If a game were created with 16:9 as its intended (or native, or maximum or whatever you would like to call it) ratio... all the availble pixels created by the game would create an image of a 16:9 shape:
    [​IMG]
    So, since 16:9 shape won't fit on a 4:3 set- the 4:3 mode would be a cropped version (eliminating pixels on the sides of the picture):
    [​IMG]
    Or, the 4:3 mode would have to be letterboxed to keep all the available picture area of the 16x9 version:
    [​IMG]
    So the issue of which aspect is the "native" aspect becomes an important issue. If 16x9 games are truely 16x9, they would have extra picture area at the sides that the 4:3 mode crops away. If the 16x9 mode is not a true 16x9, it would simply take the 4:3 image and crop it.
    So, I'm wondering which is the case.
    Hope that makes sense.
     
  7. PouyaG

    PouyaG Agent

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    Ok, I think I know what your confused on [​IMG]
    I'm sure you know this part, but indulge me for a moment [​IMG] . For any movie, someone (producer or directer I suppose) chooses what aspect ratio to film the movie in. Usually it's 1.85 or 2.35. Thus explaining the letterbox effect when watched on 4x3 TV's.
    Videogames however, work differently, simply because they are not 'filmed'. In theory...any aspect ratio can be used in a videogame, it just has to be programmed in. But as you know, we have two formats: 4x3 and 16x9. So developers are supporting both.
    So it boils down to this: In movies, there is a native aspect ratio. There isn't one with gaming. It can be both 16x9 and 4x3, the right decision depends on what type of TV you have.
    A perfect example of this would be Madden 2002 for PS2. The person with a widescreen TV can choose to run the game in widescreen mode (since EA supports it), while at the same tme, the person with a 4x3 TV will run it at the default 4x3 mode, but simply see less at the sides (as you stated).
    Hope that helps [​IMG]
     
  8. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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  9. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

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    OK. I just ran through a few tests with DOA 3 and here are my observations.

    -You definitely see more of the environments in the 16x9 widescreen mode then in the 4x3 mode. I watched the opening cinema in both 16x9 and 4x3 as well as played a few levels in each, and it is pretty evident almost immediately that the 16x9 option presents more.

    Vince, I think what Brian and others are trying to say is that most of these newer games that are found on the Xbox and PS2 are built using 3D rendered 'scenes'. For example on Dead or Alive 3, the designers probably built each level (or stage) inside a 3D rendering program such as 3DStudio Max, or SoftImage or Maya. These programs can be likened to AutoCAD in that they primarily use wire mesh frames to define objects, which can then have textures layered on top of these wire frame elements (just in case you did not know)

    So then you have a fully 3D scene, which can be looked at, from any angle you want. The games designers can use cameras however they wish to present the action happening within that 3D scene. So what happens (as appears to happen with DOA3) is that the camera follows the same set patterns to 'film' the action happening in the scene as you play the game. The cameras in this case (DOA3) are 4x3 and 16x9 depending on which one the user has selected in the Xbox dashboard. So since the camera will follow the same set patterns regardless of selected aspect ratio, the 16x9 camera is a wider-angle type of virtual 'lens' and thus will pick up more information.

    It does not appear that anything is getting cut off at the top, only that more information is available on either side. The health bars appear to extend equally as far to the sides in the 4x3 and 16x9 modes, the only difference is the wider-angle virtual camera being used in 16x9 is picking up more information.

    I hope this makes some sense to you, as it can be tricky to grasp if you have never used any 3D rendering programs and fooled around with the various cameras available.

    But the short answer I guess would be that the 16x9 ratio is showing you more in 16x9 capable games like DOA3 that have been programmed to take advantage of it.

    -I'll say this again; DOA3 on a good quality big screen 16x9 display in progressive scan is a sight to behold.
     
  10. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Have you tested this with Madden? Just wanted to be sure.
    If 4:3 missing is missing info on the sides- then technically speaking the "native" viewing aspect would be 16:9. The maximum available picture area is utilized to offer the 16:9 frame, and the 4:3 is a compromised version (cropped) of the area available in the 16:9 version.
    I wonder if this is the case with all the 16:9 games- or if it changes title by title.
    Thanks for all the info!
    -V
     
  11. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    The only game I have that supports 16:9 is Toy Commander. There is less vertical space, but a signifigant gain on the horizontal plane. Vince, you're letting too much film thought come into this. With a video game you just have to tell the machine what shape it's rendering in, that's all. Yes squish mode is also applied, but usually there is a gain, and they design the interface for both modes
     
  12. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

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    Think of it this way Vince, imagine that the action taking place inside the video game is real, and is acted out every single time that you play the game, over and over again.

    So then you as the Director (or programmer) have your choice of camera to use to shoot this scene with. The scene is always the same, it is just a question of which camera you want to use.

    So you choose the 4x3 camera and zoom in as tightly as you can on the action. You keep the focus on the main character(s) in the game as best you can using that aspect ratio.

    The next time you play the scene, you chose a 16x9 camera and zoom in as tightly as you can on the action. Now you keep the focus on the main character(s) in the game as best you can using THAT aspect ratio.

    The difference being that one aspect ratio is wider then the other, so you will capture more information with the 16x9 camera.

    The point is that the scenes in a game are not predetermined and pre framed as are films. Each aspect ratio used by a virtual camera is picking up as much information as it can as per the scope of that camera, and it is happening in real-time, every time.

    But as I said, you should see more with a 16x9 camera if both cameras are programmed to shoot the scene along the same axis, and no special framing was done in advance.

    Remember, this is all happening in real-time, every time.
     
  13. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

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  14. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    one view has to be the maximum and the other would be a modified scope of that.

    No. There is no "modified scope of" anything. Take the hockey game you posted pics of: to the CPU the entire ice surface and every player are "there" -even if they're not drawn on-screen. If the goal is not visible in the 4:3 mode but is in the 16x9 mode it's simply because the screen is wider...even though you can't see it, the goal is still there in 4:3.

    If you want to hear, "yes there is more screen info in the 16x9 versions" then there you go. But I think that's obvious.

     
  15. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

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