Brightness slider is the darkest idea in video games

The illustration in the article titled Brightness Slider is the darkest idea in video gamesIllustration of the article titled

screenshot: Bethesda / Kotaku

“The retina is fried after being brightened to see the enemy.” Redditpos heading1 month ago Call of Duty: Cold War subreddit. His plight is painfully well known. “It’s literally very difficult to see an enemy in this game,” they write. So they dug under the hood to erase the darkness, driving away all the timid snipers who were shooting them behind. Well, the poster claims, they did optical damage to themselves.Valuable trade-offs for improvement K / D / A..

Personally, I’ve never destroyed my eyes with reckless graphic setting cheating, but I’m absolutely sympathetic to the poor. Cold war Gamer. Every month, we launch a new video game with a franchise insignia and a slider waiting for input staring at the embossed black screen. You know the deal “Slide the bar until you see the logo above barely Visible. ” of course.The· Assassin’s Creed The seal appears to blend deep into the pitch black darkness. Therefore, you can experience the Odyssey exactly as you envisioned. The bubbling churn of the Aegean Sea is covered under the precursory sky. The rolling hills of the Greek countryside taper towards the faded torches. Blood on the sand resembles a drop of oil under the full moon. Thank God for that brightness slider. I don’t want to shorten myself.

Still, inevitably, 20 minutes after the campaign, I conclude: I can’t see the shit, And the slider is a junk mechanic who is plotting against me. You will be returned to the settings menu. The bar is now firmly set on the far right and the void logo burns like a supernova. I broke all the implicit aesthetic rules set by the game developer, and I couldn’t be any more happy. Never hang out in the turbidity of the catacombs underground, and those quest NPCs hiding in the shadowed corners of the room are gracefully revealed. I have experienced this many times during my gaming career: Wolfenstein, The Elder Scrolls, The Witcher III, anything. The brightness slider always disappoints me. The presumed moody atmosphere never appears. Instead, at the beginning of most games it feels like you’re asked if you’re interested in checking your level.

Assassin's Creed Valhara is thankfully illuminated almost brightly.

Assassin’s Creed Valhara Thankfully, most are brightly lit.
screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

I wanted to go to the bottom of this. The brightness slider has bothered me many times, and I refuse to believe that I’m the only one in trouble. Sure, this is a feature that developers are suffering from, right?they Must Understand how unreliable the built-in contrast dial is for millions of gamers. So I challenged the source of the discourse. Tim Willits is a former studio director of id Software and is responsible for one of the most oppressive dim games to date. Destiny 3.. I brought him my concerns, and he confirmed my worst fear: yes, gamemakers understand that “ideal brightness” is almost bullshit.

“It’s really hard to make a game that looks like everyone wants to see. The biggest problem we have is that we love working in the dark. In the old days of Id. We never turned on the lights. There are these really nice monitors. We are trying to create a world with atmosphere and style. [that] Our levels tend to be really low light, “he says. “But few people play the game in the physical environment you want them to play. They turn on the lights and open the windows. They don’t translate.”

Not surprisingly, more than 15 years after its release, Willitz is happy to admit it. Destiny 3 Lights up all the wrong way, and Many players complaining The constant shift between a shotgun and a highly radioactive flashlight was right for the money. This was a miscalculation at many levels. As Willitz explains, the Id team spends months and even years, Destiny 3 experience. They knew these maps like the backs of their hands because of the nature of their work, so they swore in dark boredom.Willitz can probably get it done Destiny 3 Blindfolded if he wanted. But when the game is handed over to an unhappy gamer, all its horror is far more frustrating than uplifting. At such moments, after the 5th or 6th time, when erased by the imperceptible Cacodemon, people tend to reach for the brightness setting and get the problem back into their hands.

Again, there are technical issues. Not all monitors are created the same. This is a problem that becomes apparent as the settings menu continues to swell with high fidelity. (Ray tracing! VSync! 4K! 8K!) Needless to say Assassin’s Creed Rendering in Plasma 15 years ago looks different, for example, from iPhone 11 streaming gameplay on the Series X. This has always been a thorny issue for developers. In addition to the cave-like atmosphere of most game studios, and the instinct of the innate speed runners they create when fleshing out the game world, many of those brightness sliders are the machines the team uses. It tends to depend on, but this rarely represents an average consumer. “They will probably tell you that the game was developed on ASUS ROG monitors and more,” laughs Assistant Technical Director Timothy Ford. Overwatch..

Willitz agrees. “Some people have left the TV at its default and have a best-buy look. They just bought a new TV that automatically adjusts to the lights and quickly turned it off,” he said. I will. “Every monitor is very different. As soon as your product hits the market, it’s a western pioneer.”

Retinal damage, two disgraceful styles

Retinal damage, Disgrace 2 style
screenshot: Bethesda / Kotaku

Of course, all the developers I talked about for this story, after all, the brightness of video games Subjective. It may not seem like that if you were forced to personally confirm the meaning of “barely visible,” but according to Willitz, the people behind the engine also have an accurate definition of the term. Do not have. “It’s abstract. People came to me and said,” No, Destiny 3 It wasn’t too dark, “they’re wrong,” he says. “For me, it just means” how dark do you want the game to be? ” Personally, raise the slider a little. I want to see more games. “

Nina Freeman, a veteran developer of games such as Streamer affiliated with Tacoma and Twitch, reflects that sentiment. She streams many horror games on the Twitch channel and tends to ignore sliders until she joins the game, allowing her surrounding geometry to be dark enough to her liking. That could be an issue with her fans. “It’s a difficult balance between my taste and an audience like’I can’t see!'”

So is there a more elegant solution on the horizon? Will society progress beyond the needs of user-entered brightness preferences? Willitz doesn’t think so. There are too many variables and too many non-typical truths. In the near future, sliders are what we have because of all their shortcomings.

“I wish I had something wise to say, but I think we’re sticking to it,” he concludes. “What we have to deal with is the evil we need to deal with. It can be frustrating if technology tries to get too smart. We’ve been talking about this issue since 1995, when Id first started. I promise that. It hasn’t changed much. “

Luke Winky is a writer and former pizza maker from San Diego who currently lives in Brooklyn. In addition to Kotaku, he has also contributed to Vice, PC Gamer, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and Polygon.

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