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MrFlibble

Freedom of speech issues in gaming critique

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The Cynical Brit, a well-known video game YouTube critic, relays the details of a recent incident in this video:

This video is no longer available: The Day One Garry's Incident Incident

 

Basically a game development company used the "copyright protection" legislation to take down a video review that harshly criticized their game, and got away with it (for now at least).

 

[Edit] After the general public on the Internet was outraged by this event, Wild Games Studio was pressured to restore the original review:

? WTF Is... - Day One: Garry's Incident ?

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Not the first time I've seen this.

There's certainly a long-standing tradition of twisting the law to protect corporate interests. The outcome of this one though is quite educational, as the company was pressed to backtrack its censorship within 24 hours after the story went public.

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I think Microsoft did the same. They basically say screenshots of our application are copyright by us and we need to approve anything you write about it. You are granted permission if it is in our favor. And they also have very strict rules for pre-release stuff they send to magazines. One popular German magazine said that they can't guarantee the objectiveness their reader want and declined all pre-release CDs and instead published the contracts the Microsoft press and legal department sent them. It was a good move, because all those magazines advertising new "upcoming M$ office reviewed" were exposed to be blatant propaganda which started a debate about the publishers.

 

I think it is actually worse for gaming magazines which boil things down to a % rating where almost everything is 80-90% approval rating and everything below is total crap and if a successor is superior it has to be >90% to match the ridiculous scale however as 100 is the limit gives little room for expressing the value.

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Yep, player numbers pretty much exploded:

 

20140204-players.png

 

Luckily our infrastructure mastered the stress test. We are not used to CnCNet like popularity.

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Actually I haven't played OpenRA (lost my taste for third-party remakes that change gameplay some time ago), but it looks pretty good in that video. Still not the original thing, but nice anyway.

 

[Edit] BTW, does OpenRA do aspect correction? It's not very clear from the video.

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BTW, does OpenRA do aspect correction?

 

If that means you can use any resolution without weird stretching or black bars, then yes. It is a modern RTS game hiding in retro sprites.

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First time I heard about that. Not sure what you mean. Suggest you try it out yourself or show some screenshots for comparison.

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The game graphics were designed for CRT monitors, which use square pixels. LCD monitors use rectangle pixels.

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Both the original version of C&C and RA1 were developed for DOS and used the 320x200x256c VGA graphics mode. When run on real hardware, the 320x200 image would be stretched to fit the 4:3 screen, and the in-game graphics were created with that in mind. As a consequence, raw sprites look different from how they would appear on the actual screen. For example, you may notice that the GDI logo sprite in the DOS version isn't perfectly round, instead it has a slightly oval shape.

 

Here's a DOS screenshot from C&C without aspect correction:

P9o3Vhp.png

 

And this is how it would appear an actual screen:

CXjBoaO.png

(DOSBox can correct the aspect ratio for graphics modes that use the 320x200 screen resolution.)

 

Notice that the GDI logo is perfectly round on the second screen.

 

In C&C95 and the Windows version of RA1 the high-res faction logo sprites already have correct proportions, and as a result they look vertically stretched if you play in the 640x400 resolution which is the one to display all the other sprites correctly.

 

This is why I'm asking if OpenRA actually stretches the graphics in both C&C and RA1 (but not in Dune 2000 which wasalready developed for the 640x480 resolution) or not.

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It is a clean room re-implementation. No legacy code is used, ported or executed. The renderer is self-made using OpenGL and libSDL. I doubt those modern libraries and APIs have VGA on CRT monitor stretching workaround features.

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It is a clean room re-implementation. No legacy code is used, ported or executed.

It's not a feature of the original code, it's how the hardware back then would output the 320x200 resolution on a 4:3 monitor.

 

This article might provide some more info on the subject.

 

(Also perhaps someone of the mods would split this into a separate OpenRA topic?)

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Yeah. C&C's supposed to be slightly stretched vertically, to compensate for the fact CRT monitors used 640x400 graphics on an area which, in square pixels, would actually be 640x480. But CRT monitors aren't restricted to square pixels. They can stretch their pixels however they want.

 

Example: the C&C1 main menu logo image is supposed to be round. This is the original 640x400 image:

htitle.png

As you can see, it isn't round.

 

Now, let's stretch it to 640x480, and see it as it was supposed to be seen, on a CRT monitor that used slightly elongated pixels:

htitle2.png

And, wham, perfect circle.

 

All C&C and RA1 graphics are supposed to be stretched like that.

 

(Well, almost all. They forgot to do the opposite correction on the GDI logo in a few of the briefing videos, and they also somehow didn't do it for the C&C95 radar logos X_x)

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To my knowledge there is no sprite stretching in place anywhere in OpenRA. Interesting, I did not even know that it existed in the originals.

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To my knowledge there is no sprite stretching in place anywhere in OpenRA.

Well, it certainly should be implemented one way or other so that the sprites look what they were intended to be.

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It's not easy to implement though, since on individual sprites, the effect is generally just a single pixel on the whole thing, which would make it look quite bad when they're stretched individually. The way cnc-ddraw does it in my patch, by stretching the entire generated game field, is a lot smoother. On OpenRA, if only the actual playing field would be stretched, without the UI graphics, this would still work perfectly fine.

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On OpenRA, if only the actual playing field would be stretched, without the UI graphics, this would still work perfectly fine.

Well, I was implying something like that. Of course, one could also try resampling individual sprites but it's probably a mess to implement. Then again, it's up to the developers to decide.

Well, it certainly should be implemented one way or other so that the sprites look what they were intended to be.

File a feature request at http://bugs.open-ra.org then.

Aren't you on the dev team?

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Sure, but I don't care about that feature nor have the appropriate knowledge.

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