Proportion

Missed a week. ¡Lo siento!

weights & measures

Properly speaking, in One-Eyed Monsters all the characters save one are the same height: 16 pixels. Sebastian is taller at 17 pixels (I’ve recently discovered, watching the sprites actually walk around in Fareed’s engine, that I’ve drawn Seb 1 pixel taller when standing still, an oversight that’s gone unnoticed for about a year and a half). Now one pixel is a very large difference at such resolutions; Loren put together this series of proportion tests to see what sizes the doors on interiors should be:

And the following stabs:

You can see here how one extra pixel of space over Sebastian’s head makes a huge difference: in the first image, with 2 pixels of space over his head, the door looks enormous, which in the second, with the doorframe the very next pixel above his head, he looks like it’ll take his head off. The final one shows with one extra pixel, which seems the most comfortable. Now we’ll have to widen the doors, naturally.

All these will have to be shrunk now that I’ve noticed Seb is too tall by a pixel, though. I do especially like how simply a cabinet can be rendered in low-resolution and still be recognizable. Those handles are a single pixel.

resolution

So while on the subject of pixel sizes, I’ve been experimenting with screen resolution. I’ve always expected the game would be 320×240, aka full-screen on a 386. When mucking about in Unity, I one time tried changing the settings from 4:3 to 16:9, and maybe it’s because I’m a film-studies geek, but widescreen looked awesome.

Doesn’t that look nice?

Thing is, that’s easy enough to do in Unity, but in such a small resolution you can’t cheat. Simply put, there’s not way to widen the screen to make the image 16:9 when you’re only 240 pixels tall;  that’s a resolution of 426 2/3 x 240.

Now, it’s not like your computer is going to crash if the proportion isn’t perfectly accurate; we could easily enough make the screen 420×240 and it’d look fine. But in thinking about these proportions I started wondering what made 16:9 look good and what was going to be most readable.

With a large background, it’s possible that the framing that makes the background look the best will not necessarily be the background that reads the best. In my last post I put up Loren’s recently colored-in background; here’s the background cropped to different aspect ratios.

original 320×240 (3:4; standard monitor/TV screen)

320x240

320×180 (16:9; cropping some of the top and bottom)

400×225 (16:9, going a little wider and staying roughly the same height)

400×180 (20:9; wider and shorter)

Though I originally liked 16:9 because it was wider, I’m finding myself leaning towards the 320×180, which is the same width but shorter. I realize that wider with small sprites means that the characters will take up less of the screen space, meaning and leave more of the game area unused at any given time. Keeping the width but cropping the height not only makes a more aesthetically-pleasing aspect ratio (even if I’m the only one who cares about that shit), it makes the characters proportionately larger. With less headroom, the eye can stay on the characters better. And by cropping a bit at the top and bottom, we make more space for the GUI; the game resolution can still be 320×240 with letterboxing, leaving black strips to keep the inventory.

But that’s just how I’m leaning at the moment; what do you think?

bonus

Here’s Loren’s uncropped colored-in background. Me likie.

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