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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Bioshock - Widescreen and Securom Woes

Default Bioshock - Widescreen and Securom Woes

August 23rd, 2007, 00:08
A couple of issues have exploded for Bioshock. We mentioned the widescreen problem yesterday and Cult of the Rapture has responded:
We understand there has been some concern about the implementation of widescreen mode in BioShock. Hopefully, we can clarify how we’ve chosen to do this.
The first thing we want to make clear is the mode we developed the game on and the optimal mode for playing the game is the widescreen mode. 90% of our development stations were widescreen displays: artists, programmers and designers.
- BioShock was primarily developed and tuned for widescreen mode. Artists and designers worked with widescreen displays and chose a field of view (FOV) that best reflected their intentions with respect to the way the world is perceived, the perceived speed of movement of the player relative to the world and the amount of the world they wanted to be viewed for the best game-play experience. We went through dozens of iterations and finally settled upon a widescreen aspect ratio that best suited the gameplay experience.
- When playing in widescreen modes the game makes use of the full screen resolution, and does not crop or stretch a lower resolution image into a wide screen one. For example, at 720p the game renders natively to the full 1280x720 resolution.
- Once this FOV was established, we chose to keep exactly the same horizontal FOV for standard def displays, so as not to in any way alter the gameplay experience.
- Instead of cropping the FOV for 4:3 displays and making all 4:3 owners mad in doing so, we slightly extended the vertical FOV for standard def mode: we never wanted to have black bars on people’s displays. (This way, everybody is happy&hellip This does mean that people playing on a standard def display see slightly more vertical space, but, this does not significantly affect the game-play experience and, we felt that it best served our goal of keeping the game experience as close as possible to the original design and art vision on both types of displays. Reports of the widescreen FOV being a crop of the 4:3 FOV are completely false.
One thing we can assure you that all these decisions were made with the best interests of the game in mind. We didn’t save any money or development time by choosing this set of parameters. We did what we thought was the best thing for the game: developing and optimizing it for widescreen displays, and making the decision not to do the usual crop for 4:3 displays. As a consumer, you certainly have the right to disagree.
We understand that not all users might not be happy with these choices and we will be looking into options for allowing users to adjust FOV settings manually. But as we mentioned earlier, changes to video game code do not happen in minutes or hours. We appreciate your understanding.
A community work-in-progress workaround for PC players can be found on the 2K forums.
Meanwhile, community liason Elizabeth has posted on the Securom issue, with confirmation that the copy-protection scheme only allows two installs if you don't uninstall first:
hey guys,

first, let me say this. you DO NOT NEED TO USE THE INTERNET EVERY TIME YOU PLAY THIS GAME. it is only the first time.

second, you can uninstall and reinstall this game, and if, by chance, you have 2 computers you want to simultaneously play this game on, you also can do that.

if by some chance you are reinstalling this game without uninstalling it first, a lot, there is a chance you may have to call securom and get a key, or deactivate some older installations.

but if you upgrade your hardware next week, you'll still be able to play the game. if you revamp your system and need to reinstall bioshock, just uninstall it before you go through the overhaul, and then do your reinstall.

calling it "hardware fingerprinting" is a bit alarmist. we do not transmit any of your data to any companies.

really, the only people who will be concerned about any of these security measures are those who are rapidly putting bioshock on many pcs… if you use the game as you normally do, you won't notice this at all.
Finally, Ken Levine commented on the 2K forums about these issues:
Sorry about all the conflict. IG development people (specifically Chris and Rowan who are both on vacation) were trying to take a day off today (we've been working about six months 6-7 days a week). I'm trying to see what everybody's concerns are and consult with the staff.
I know people are frustrated, but we are dealing with internet time here. It wasn't until 7 pm EST that I was able to even talk to anybody in our Australian studio, which is open today (9 AM their time).
I hear you that not everybody was thrilled with the PC launch. And I'm trying to collect information and see what the facts are. PC game development does not function in a matter of seconds or hours, especially when most of the team is on vacation. But I hear you, and we're looking into the issue. I'll only ask you have a bit of understanding as to the time scale that software development issues must occur in.
Who are IG? It's 2K Australia, Ken.
In general Bioshock news, Shack is the latest site with an interview:
Shack: How does it feel to have the game hit such a critical mass of hype? It seems like suddenly the buzz shot through the roof.
Ken Levine: There's a book called The Tipping Point, which is not about gradual change, but a point where things radically change. It talks about prime rates, where things go off a cliff, up or down, and the reasons why. BioShock, and I think video games in general, I think we in the industry misunderstand how gamers think. We think most gamers are like us—journalists and developers—where we scour every page for information, but in reality, most gamers think about games like we think about Diet Coke or Oreos.
More information.
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August 23rd, 2007, 00:08
Its all gone monty python!

Its just silly.
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August 23rd, 2007, 00:55
I agree, it's quite amusing. But it's a long ways from being a dead parot.

And I do hope they widen the FOV for widescreen. Then everyone can complain how widescreen is fisheyed at the edges.

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August 23rd, 2007, 01:19
Lol, I love reading forum threads like these. It's amazing how people can go on and on about why their opinion of things is better than the other guy's opinion of things, and even the developer's view (all accompanied by a dramatic THAY LIED TO US!!!1 of course). In the end, it seems the 4:3 players are getting the worse end of the deal, because they have more vertical viewing range!! I want my option to have black bars on the top and bottom of my screen, damn it!! I'm missing out on Bioshock's immersive view of how the game should be! (For the record, apparently bigger vertical viewing distance does not matter as much as bigger— than intended— horizontal viewing distance in terms of atmosphere/claustrophobic feel…)

Hehe, what a mess.
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August 23rd, 2007, 01:33
we will be looking into options for allowing users to adjust FOV settings manually
I consider user-adjustable FOV a necessity in FP games. I'm rather surprised and disappointed that they omitted it. I hope they rectify that.

As for activation: I loathe activation schemes, but I'm significantly in favor of activation schemes that allow one to manually deactivate an installation (like Adobe, and, I guess from this information, Securom) versus ones where you cannot (Microsoft Windows). Of course, I'm left with the same concern I have with any game that I buy that requires online activation (part of my dislike for Steam). Will I be able to install and play it in 10 years? 20? I play 20-year-old games now, so I may just want to do so 20 years from now. So, all in all, I'm very disappointed about this. Despite buying it, I may have to resort to black-hat means to play it someday.

It's safe to say I'm regretting my early purchase a bit. In my personal media blackout to avoid spoilers, I wasn't aware about activation and didn't notice the fine print on the box. But that's my own failure to perform due diligence before purchase. Ah well, live and learn. I'm sure I'll perk up once I start playing it in a few months.
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August 23rd, 2007, 02:41
The bottom line is this - people playing the game in their usual settings will not notice a thing. I tend to play 1900 x 1200 and switched to 1024 x 768 to check this out and could confirm the difference - by comparing screenshots!

Also, the activation system is based around preventing people from installing on 12 machines at once. Is there a legit reason to install a game on more than 2 systems at the same time within a short time period?

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August 23rd, 2007, 03:48
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Also, the activation system is based around preventing people from installing on 12 machines at once. Is there a legit reason to install a game on more than 2 systems at the same time within a short time period?
Hi, txa1265. I'm not sure if you are asking a previous poster or myself, but I would say no. In fact their allowance of allowing two is pretty nice. I only need it on one system at one time. But that isn't my point.

I have two main problems with activation. The first (inability to manually deactivate, like with MS Windows), while my most vehement complaint, is not relevant here if the information is correct. If I can deactivate it before I install it on a new system, I'm content with this issue. Although they need to remain flexible because of things like crashed HDs where you cannot uninstall. But I assume they handle that gracefully. So no issue there with Bioshock.

The second, however (long-term installability), is a complication of nearly all activation schemes. Many people may not care about the latter issue, but I do. There are other arguments against me on this one, but none of them satisfy me.

Well there's a third issue with some, that of being able to loan a game to a friend as long as you uninstall it first, something I strongly believe should be allowed, but that's a complicated issue and is only possibly relevant to Bioshock (I haven't read the EULA) and not at all with the activation system.

As for the FOV thing, I wasn't making a big deal about it. But I do feel that all FP SP games need to make FOV user adjustable, even if only from a console. To me, it's as much a personal taste thing as is brightness or difficulty.
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August 23rd, 2007, 04:00
I actually agree with you - my point is more that the internet is practically exploding with the cries of users unable to install a single copy of the game on all 20 of their BFF's computers …

Seriously, every activation system sucks. They are all short sighted and view games as disposable commodities that are single owner rather than the (sometimes) pieces of history that we collect and seek many years after the companies that published them are dead. I recently got a nice Realms of Arkania box on Goozex - what would I have done if that required internet activation?

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August 23rd, 2007, 04:13
I recently got a nice Realms of Arkania box on Goozex - what would I have done if that required internet activation?
There was an Internet then?



Sorry, couldn't help being a smarta$$. Actually, that was part of the point,right?

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August 23rd, 2007, 04:41
me, I hate widescreen.

It should be banned =[
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August 23rd, 2007, 05:18
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
me, I hate widescreen.

It should be banned =[
Must be horrible considering with two eyes you are fixed to widescreen. Perhaps you should try using an eyepatch ARrrrr..
Last edited by zakhal; August 23rd, 2007 at 06:27.
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August 23rd, 2007, 06:14
just for clarity Ken Levine's apology this morning was specifically on the Widescreen issue

The subject tag was "A note from Ken on the widescreen concerns"

Not a big deal but I was incorrect when I emailed you Dhruin that is was on both issues.

I'm sure if he was aware of the other issue at the time though he would have included that too.

Nice doublespeak coming out of 2k though.

Elizabeth's comment clears up a technical misunderstanding but she's not getting to the root of the issue.

I agree with you guys ghun and txa to a point but this particular game is possibly the worst choice for SecureROM to introduce this new "feature".

The game has optimizations for Vista, the new, hardly used OS. People are trying out the game on their Vista machines to test out the Dx10 features.

Then they go back to their regular OS, put it on their laptop for work o-), then put it on their kid's computer because they'd prefer to let them screw their own machine up while you you screw yours up and its asking for trouble. Especially if Junior wants to check out how it runs on his Vista as well.

It begs the question is if this wonderful new sales saving added value (2 installs max) was one of the reasons there was no Multiplayer option.

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August 23rd, 2007, 08:22
@Lucky, I doubt too many people have a bunch of computers beefy enough to run Bioshock nicely just lying around the house.
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August 23rd, 2007, 09:13
And BioShock isn't a game the kids should play anyway
I must say I was concerned at first, but with the details clarified (uninstalling frees up the installation slot again) I am fine with this. As for the play it again in 20 years issue - well thats legitimate, but I am fairly confident that by that time some sort of abandonware site will be able to help us out of our misery
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August 23rd, 2007, 10:59
Its just silly to activate a product I already own. And what if the company goes bankrupt five years later? Or what if the publisher is no more after ten years and I want to reinstal the game? what then?

With the older games its no issue. Its sad that game industry has chosen this path. It doesn't really serve customers' intrests'. I'm not actually quite sure what are we paying anymore.. I buy the disc and stuff but I need their permission to use my product.
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August 23rd, 2007, 13:29
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
There was an Internet then?



Sorry, couldn't help being a smarta$$. Actually, that was part of the point,right?
Yeah, I know - I was just making the point about the fact that some of us are playing much older games where the companies are long since defunct.

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August 23rd, 2007, 13:52
Originally Posted by Dez View Post
Its just silly to activate a product I already own. And what if the company goes bankrupt five years later? Or what if the publisher is no more after ten years and I want to reinstal the game? what then?
So, what's your solution? Hardware-based copy-protection has the same problem — they need low-level drivers that stop working with operating system and hardware changes. Give up copy-protection altogether?

With the older games its no issue. Its sad that game industry has chosen this path. It doesn't really serve customers' intrests'. I'm not actually quite sure what are we paying anymore.. I buy the disc and stuff but I need their permission to use my product.
The reason it's not a problem for older games is rather interesting. There was one point in history where CD-ROM's were about the same size as hard disks, and CD-ROM burners were very expensive. That meant that there was no practical way of making copies, so no extra CP was needed.
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August 23rd, 2007, 13:58
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
The reason it's not a problem for older games is rather interesting. There was one point in history where CD-ROM's were about the same size as hard disks, and CD-ROM burners were very expensive. That meant that there was no practical way of making copies, so no extra CP was needed.
And the thought of downloading 700MB over 14.4 was abhorrent …

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August 23rd, 2007, 15:22
Yup, there was that too. I remember when doing a ca 2 MB download of NetHack felt like a chore…
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August 23rd, 2007, 18:31
More worrying is that the latest version of securom copy protection that is used apparently installs a rootkit - one that cannot be removed totally from your system once in place.

And even better, if you installed the demo you've already got this lovely rootkit in place.
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