News: 11 March 2016 - Forum Rules
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Author Topic: How important is it to not cross the overscan boundary for NES games?  (Read 2904 times)

Chaos Rush

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I'm talking about how most NES and even SNES games avoid placing menus and such within 8 pixels from the edges of the screen. I've heard that you shouldn't expand menus to the edges of the screen for this reason, yet emulators have the capability of displaying that area anyway, and my go-to method of playing NES games is using FCEUGX on my Wii with a CRT, and despite using a CRT I can still see areas that supposedly aren't supposed to be seen. I can't test on a real NES though.

I'm hacking FF3 right now and I've found the necessary offsets to expand the sizes of menus, and I would like to do it in order to maximize the amount of screen space available for text. Yet I've been told I shouldn't do this. So my question is, how important is it to respect this rule in 2016? In other words, is it wrong to do this:

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Disch

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despite using a CRT I can still see areas that supposedly aren't supposed to be seen.

CRTs are notoriously inconsistent.  Just because it's visible on your CRT doesn't mean it's visible on all CRTs.


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So my question is, how important is it to respect this rule in 2016?

Who is your audience?  Does it include people who want to play this game on a CRT?

If yes, it's very important.  If you don't care about people wanting to play the game that way and only care about people playing on more modern outlets (emulation or flatscreen), then you can ignore the rule.


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In other words, is it wrong to do this:

That screenshot looks fine.  CRTs usually don't chop off 16 pixels... so at worst the user might have *some* of that 'B' chopped off, but probably not enough to make the text unreadable.

I'd say just don't put text ALL the way on the edge and you'll probably be fine.




EDIT:

Here's a good reference:

http://wiki.nesdev.com/w/index.php/Overscan#For_game_developers

KingMike

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First video game I played in my house was Super Mario World, after it came out.
Still had Mario's name and the coin counter cut off. Though the TV I was using then was probably from the '70s, so that might be beyond the statute of limitations on how old we should be supporting. :D

I do recall reading that 16 pixels was Sega's recommended safe size.

Slightly less old, but I do remember the Gradius III HUD being difficult to see on CRTs, using only the top and bottom-most lines of the "safe" area.
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henke37

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Use sound judgment. Nobody is going to complain if a border is cut off. But they can be quite loud if parts of the text is missing.

dougeff

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My old CRT TV cut off 10 pixels from the top and 10 from the bottom, but in the corners, where the screen was round, it was closer to 14 pixels lost. Left and right only lose a few pixels.

My new LCD flatscreen cuts off 0 pixels. And, annoyingly shows 8+ extra pixels of background color on the left and right. It makes lots of games look like crap.
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KillerBob

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Fully agree with what Disch said. Also, with overscan it's not just a case of some screen area being hidden from view, some games depend on it to look as they were intended, as there are often garbage displayed at the edges never intended to be seen. But game developers approach seems to have been as inconsistent as the CRT's of the day. Super Mario 3 looks like shit without overscan, while Castlevania 1 & 3 hide part of the HUD with it.

FFIII doesn't appear to hide junk at the left and right sides of the screen, the only case I can think of are some of the short cutscenes where the screen is shaking and ending scene which looks bad without it. I understand the big problem you're facing with the limited screen space in the battle windows, but will the extended windows completely remove the need for any abbreviations?

Bregalad

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PAL NES hides the left and right 2 pixels by design, no matter the screen. This is includes a modern flat screen TV. So you'd probably want to avoid any important information there.

For the rest, just use common sense. If part of the window border is missing, it's no issue. Text shouldn't be placed on the left or right corners, though, even though Castlevania III does this, and it DOES look ugly on my real PAL NES. Many Squaresoft SNES games such as Chrono Trigger also place window border at the very left and right edges of the screen.

What I'd say is try to keep the left and right borders clear, if you can. If and only if somehow you have to lower the quality of your translation significantly because of this limitation, then do enlarge the window and don't ever come back to this decision.

Chaos Rush

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Thanks for your guys input, everyone. I've decided that I'm gonna go ahead and have them extended, and my personal "rule" is that as long as actual text stays clear of that area it should be fine.

FFIII doesn't appear to hide junk at the left and right sides of the screen, the only case I can think of are some of the short cutscenes where the screen is shaking and ending scene which looks bad without it. I understand the big problem you're facing with the limited screen space in the battle windows, but will the extended windows completely remove the need for any abbreviations?
Not completely, but it's reallllly useful. I now have space for 11-character enemy names so very few had to be abbreviated when using the FFIII DS enemy names.
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KingMike

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Many Squaresoft SNES games such as Chrono Trigger also place window border at the very left and right edges of the screen.
Losing the border isn't the bad, but I think extending the window to the edges of the screen may have been a necessity for the HDMA palette stuff. (FF6 placed a black border around the screen)
The Magical Land of Wozz I think did that too, also due to using gradient (HDMA) windows. Although Wozz may have gone the border route too.
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