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Field of View - what it is, why it matters, and how consoles differ from PCs

AndyD

aka andydumi
Jan 24, 2007
19,100
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What do you mean?

At high FOVs there is visual distortion of the image that doesn't just magically go away as you increase your distance to the screen.

I think he means you cant just say 60 is perfect for all situations. As 60 may be good for a TV at ten feet, but 60 is wrong and 90 is good for a monitor at 2 feet. And of course 180 will always look distrorted.

The point is that each tv/monitor size/distance setup has an optimal FOV setting. And games should be designed consciously of this, and allow us to change the setting.

However, as a higher FOV means a lot more displayed on screen, and a lot of console centric games struggle with pushing graphics as it is at 60 FOV, moving a 90-100 FOV for a PC and monitor setting would add a lot more geometry and probably make them unplayable. So they optimize for the lowest possible setting (lowest FOV) and pray that most people will play on a large TV at a large distance.
 

Vaporak

Member
Aug 15, 2006
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I hate low FoV's, they're one of the only things that makes me nauseous. One of the many reasons why I can't really stand console shooters.
 

Sentenza

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Dec 3, 2011
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I think he means you cant just say 60 is perfect for all situations. As 60 may be good for a TV at ten feet, but 60 is wrong and 90 is good for a monitor at 2 feet. And of course 180 will always look distrorted.

The point is that each tv/monitor size/distance setup has an optimal FOV setting. And games should be designed consciously of this, and allow us to change the setting.
Bingo.
That said, generally speaking I fiercely dislike low FOV settings.
 

Durante

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Oct 1, 2006
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A 90 horizontal FOV feels perfect no matter what distance and it doesn't hinder the gameplay.
That's just wrong. At standard TV distances 90 is too high for most normal display sizes.
The "correct" FoV is easy to calculate from the viewing distance and screen size. Eg. on my monitor I use 90 and on my projector it's around 80.

That doesn't change the main point of the thread though, which is that locked FoV sucks. It's a bit like locked 3D depth and convergence, in that it is a parameter that really needs to be individually tuned for each display device and viewing circumstances. You'll never get a good result by just picking some value and hardcoding it.
 

TheExodu5

Banned
Nov 27, 2007
38,096
2
0
Ottawa, Canada
To everyone throwing out fov values, keep in mind some games define FOV vertically, and others define it horizontally.

I've never heard of a 32" PC monitor.



On a widescreen monitor/TV maybe. But not as good on a non widescreen TV/CRT monitor.

90 horizontal fov was the default for Counter-Strike and Team Fortress Classic on a 4:3, at least. It looks fine.
 

DaBuddaDa

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Sep 12, 2004
10,804
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This and mouse acceleration & smoothing making your cursor feel like it's pushing itself through a vat of molasses are my biggest pet peeves of this generation's generally shitty PC ports.
 

Mr_eX

Member
Feb 22, 2011
1,282
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Singularity has the worst FOV I've seen. After playing it I would feel nauseous for hours. It's better playing on my TV but even then it made me nauseous just not as much. This is the only game that has had this effect on me. It's too bad because I really liked the game.
 

dLMN8R

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Dec 14, 2007
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The UI shouldn't have anything to do with FOV, and everything to do with aspect ration and resolution.

If you design your engine correctly, it should be a few minutes of work.

I meant games that already have a configurable FOV, but no way to change it from within the game itself.



That's not a very good gif. It does just look like you're backing up.
Well that's kinda the point. Without moving, you can see more from side to side in a natural way. It has a similar effect as backing up, because when you back up, you can also see more from side to side.
 

Phuturephunk

Banned
Oct 12, 2011
126
0
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Right outside NYC
I usually run most of my PC experiences at 85 if I'm given the choice. Even at that range it still slightly fisheyes, which is understandable because no games give you the ability to change the actual focal length of the camera, which would keep things from fisheyeing in the first place.

Edit: Well, technically since you're effectively projecting a 3 dimensional image onto a 2 dimensional plane and then viewing that, the degree of view is focal length...eh whatever. I fucking hate fisheye.
 

Dennis

Banned
Jul 7, 2009
46,556
1
0
1080p on a 32" screen for computer work.....yikes!

One of the great tragedies of modern PCs is the complete standstill in resolution development.

Where is my 30" 2160p screen goddammit!
 

Rapstah

Member
Jul 20, 2009
13,183
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1080p on a 32" screen for computer work.....yikes!

One of the great tragedies of modern PCs is the complete standstill in resolution development.

Where is my 30" 2160p screen goddammit!

On your desk based on those CoD shots you insist on posting.

It's kind of sad that console games are locked to lower FoVs by standard, I play 360 on a monitor and it's annoying to switch inputs and play Halo right after having played some wide-FoV game on PC.
 

Clear

Deer/Dur
Feb 2, 2009
11,735
6,141
1,245
As far as I'm aware FOV is just a product of what numbers are plugged into the projection matrix for all render options, changing those values should be trivial but its kind of such an integral thing its probably not given that much thought beyond what "looks good" by the engine lead.

Pushing more towards a fish-eye view used to be popular because it exaggerates the sense of depth, making environments seem bigger and forwards motion seem faster.
 

RotBot

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Sep 9, 2007
2,277
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Here's an example from Counter-Strike: Source I made a few years ago.






These are the default FOVs for the different monitor aspect ratios, from 5:4 to 16:9.

I think 4:3 is set to 74 HFOV and 16:9 is 90 HFOV. VFOV is set the same. They're scaled the same to give a better sense of how much more you're seeing. With the lowest FOV, you can only cover people coming around the wall from the left. With the highest FOV, you can also cover people coming from the alley on the right.

Most console games basically take the second image designed for old 4:3 TVs and cut off the top and bottom to fit a 16:9 screen instead of giving you the last image.


Here's the 74 FOV version overlaid on the 90 FOV version.


The drawback is that everything on the screen is smaller, but if your screen is big enough or you sit close enough, the extra visibility outweighs the size reduction.

Widescreen Gaming Forum is a good resource for finding FOV settings for a game.
 
Dec 4, 2010
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So lower FOV means less displayed on screen, means less to process on the GPU.

This is the only reason for the horrible FOV in most games. Cutting down on what you need to render allows for more bald space marines.

If its a pc only game then there is no excuse.
 

dLMN8R

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Dec 14, 2007
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This is the only reason for the horrible FOV in most games. Cutting down on what you need to render allows for more bald space marines.

If its a pc only game then there is no excuse.

Right, and that's what I mentioned in my OP. A low FOV for a console game is both expected due to performance reasons, and acceptable because of how far away you sit from a TV most of the time, but those same things do not apply to the PC.
 

Windom Earle

Member
Jan 4, 2009
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Thanks for this thread. FOV is one of the reasons why I think about switching to PC gaming sometimes.

Skyrim on 360 was horrible due to the FOV. (And the loading, but that's another topic).
 

TGMIII

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May 6, 2011
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This is pretty much the single reason I can't play console FPS. If it's under 90 FOV it literally hurts my eyes but I guess that's coming from playing quake for so long at 110-120 FOV.
 

mclem

Member
Jan 16, 2007
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Yes there is. Low FOVs that are considered "ok" when sitting a decent distance from a TV still effect gameplay in a negative way.

Because you can't see as much? I'd argue that, at least, is a design decision, provided the game is balanced around it.

That said, it's a fair point about the FOV in a monitor.
 

Xilium

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May 20, 2009
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This is the only reason for the horrible FOV in most games. Cutting down on what you need to render allows for more bald space marines.

If its a pc only game then there is no excuse.

I would assume the reason they don't increase the FoV on PC is because their research shows that there are a lot of people that play their games with lackluster GPU's.

As for the people with good GPU's, they know how to edit an .ini file. From a developers standpoint, no harms been done. Most people aren't going to not buy a game because the FoV is to low.
 

Zen

Banned
Jun 24, 2005
13,050
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Honestly, low FOV is awesome for some style of shooters, and games. It can really give a weighted and intense feel because the focus on what is on screen is that much more. For something strictly competitive like counter strike, sure a wide FOV is better, but low FOV has a great place in games, it just depends.
 

mclem

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Jan 16, 2007
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How would you balance an FPS with a lower FOV? Make the enemies dumber because you have less visual information to work with?

Well, I was thinking more in multiplayer terms, so I guess that the equivalent would be to give them an equivalent FoV in their LOS tests. Or, y'know, don't, if you want to create an impression that the enemies are more powerful than you.

Ultimately, withholding information from the player is something it's perfectly valid for a designer to wish to do.
 

subversus

I've done nothing with my life except eat and fap
Oct 26, 2009
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the narrow FOV doesn't bother me but I preferer the wide FOV. Some people obviously get sick though. I used to think that it is just another fantasy of whiny PC elitists. But no, it's a real issue.
 

dLMN8R

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Dec 14, 2007
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the narrow FOV doesn't bother me but I preferer the wide FOV. Some people obviously get sick though. I used to think that it is just another fantasy of whiny PC elitists. But no, it's a real issue.

Half-Life 2 actually caused a ton of nausea in people because the default FOV as-released in 2004 was 75, which was much lower than what most people were used to at that time.
 

Dipswitch

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May 14, 2009
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Add me to the list of people that have never noticed this in games. And probably never would have. Can't see it ever bothering me personally.

'tis a timely thread though - been seeing this topic crop up more and more recently and was curious what it was all about.
 

Cipherr

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Dec 15, 2007
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I can see more....

Thats been my sole reason since Quake 3 Arena, and I hate shooters that dont let me tweak it. Its immediately noticeable and it looks horrible. 90-95 is my area, has been for years. Though I suppose it depends a bit on the game.
 

Conciliator

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Apr 21, 2011
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Anything above like 80 completely takes me out of the game. When the universe is stretching on the sides of my eyeballs I can't take shit seriously anymore.
 

Salacious Crumb

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Jul 3, 2007
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Add me to the list of people that have never noticed this in games. And probably never would have. Can't see it ever bothering me personally.

'tis a timely thread though - been seeing this topic crop up more and more recently and was curious what it was all about.

If you've never played on a PC or monitor you likely won't notice it.
 

beril

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Aug 25, 2010
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Developers - this is why field of view is something you can never "un-see" once you recognize it. It's simply unnatural to have a low FOV when you're sitting just a couple of feet away from your monitor. The opposite of looking like a fish-eye lens, it instead looks like you have tunnel vision.

I don't really buy this at all. If you'd want it to feel natural and view the screen as a window, nearly every game has a way too high FOV. Sitting 2 feet from a 24" widescreen monitor would get you a horizontal fov of around than 50 degrees. 3 metres from a 50" screen would be something like 40 degrees. No 3D game has a fov that low, but you don't really view the screen in that way so it's a moot point.

Mostly it's a gameplay thing; how much you can see on screen will affect the game and the experience tremendously. You'll need a high fov to see what's going on in a first person game but you can't really use any realword values to justify it.
 

dLMN8R

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Dec 14, 2007
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I generally like the closer FOV... I try and play the games how the developers intended.

Look at my shitty sketch in the OP - the problem is that developers' intent only holds true for consoles where you're sitting back from a TV. It's a completely different proportion when you're sitting closer to a monitor.


Anything above like 80 completely takes me out of the game. When the universe is stretching on the sides of my eyeballs I can't take shit seriously anymore.
90-100 on a 16:9 or even a 16:10 monitoe will not cause any stretching on the sides/corners of the screen.


I don't really buy this at all. If you'd want it to feel natural and view the screen as a window, nearly every game has a way too high FOV. Sitting 2 feet from a 24" widescreen monitor would get you a horizontal fov of around than 50 degrees. 3 metres from a 50" screen would be something like 40 degrees. No 3D game has a fov that low, but you don't really view the screen in that way so it's a moot point.

Mostly it's a gameplay thing; how much you can see on screen will affect the game and the experience tremendously. You'll need a high fov to see what's going on in a first person game but you can't really use any realword values to justify it.

Come on, it wasn't an exact perfect comparison. I'm not saying it should be exactly what you see looking out of a window, but the fact that things are different the further you sit away is the point here.

The difference between them, not the exact measurements, is the key.
 

Nabs

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Nov 3, 2006
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I have a problem with FOV in 3rd person titles as well. Thankfully, UE3 titles can usually be adjusted to fix this. It's just never as easy as I'd like.
 

Waaghals

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Oct 29, 2007
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I think low FOV is used for console games to give increased visibility, which helps offset the low resolution. With a higher FOV, everything seems smaller. Could be for performance reasons as well, though.

Decreasing the FOV also reduces the amount of geometry the game has to render simultaneously, can help performance.
 

Nizz

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May 18, 2007
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KZ2 and KZ3 have low FOV and I just hate it. I really hope they widen the FOV for KZ4 on PS4. I like the FOV in BF3 on PS3. Does not have that claustrophobic feeling and everything feels open.
Yeah, that's one thing I thought DICE nailed in BF3. It's not a FOV often seen in my PS3 FPS games. I wish more devs would use whatever FOV DICE used for more FPS games.
 

Spookie

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Oct 17, 2009
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I'm one of those who has real issues with FoV so much so if it's below 75 I just won't buy your game as simple as that. I don't want to be seeing there feeling dizzy because you are too fucking lazy to change the FoV on your Unreal engine game.

It REALLY gets on my tits.
 

BlueTsunami

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Oct 10, 2005
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They said the same about Widescreen ratios around the BF2 era I believe, preposterous.

I think they referring to segmented FoV's where one group is using narrower FoV vs the ones in the know using the largest possible. You get the advantage of seeing people before they see you. I'm sure they would be more open to widescreen at the time if widescreen install base were as high as it is today.
 

zephervack

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Decreasing the FOV also reduces the amount of geometry the game has to render simultaneously, can help performance.

You know, i would really like to see a benchmark done regarding this, im almost positive it doesnt really affect framerates at all, if it does, its probably negligible. I know its rendering more on screen, but the difference is so little.

To the people that say they dont notice low FOVs, I recommend you never try to do your own experiments about FOV on PC, once you realize the effects, you wont be able to go back, playing games in the correct FOV is like night and day.
 

BadData

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Jan 22, 2011
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A tighter/narrower field of view can give the impression of being more cinematic and immersive. In film, 63 degrees is already considered "wide angle." The FOVs you've been talking about are much wider, which, at least in my opinion, makes them seem a little bit more flat and fake looking (which could just be due to my conditioning from film.) In my own experience, narrowing the field of view can help you feel like you're really "there." Obviously there's a trade off: a narrower FOV can prevent you from seeing game-critical information: that's why you're more likely to see a narrow FOV in a survival horror game (where the player character is supposed to have limited abilities.)

Third person games create unique difficulties because you have to deal with camera collision. You can make a third person game look really cool by narrowing the FOV and dollying the camera back to compensate. This helps to create a sense of immediacy, and still lets you see a lot of what you need to see. The problem is now the camera's location in physical space is very far back from your character, which starts creating huge problems when you are in a tight interior and the camera needs to avoid clipping through walls.

Something to think about with FOV's is that it isn't just about the field of view, it's about the sense of depth. Obviously if you're playing a fast paced, competitive FPS, being able to see as much critical information as possible may be your top priority, but in other types of games the developer may have other concerns.