I have decided to do a preemptive blog about scope implementation, before you start seeing videos of it and make assumptions. I know for a fact that some of you will have strong feeling about this, so better you hear the facts from us.
Lets start off with some definitions so everyone is on the same page here.
This is what the vast majority of FPS games have, and it is what you will start seeing from us too. What you are seeing is the whole screen zoomed in to the level of the optic you are using.
I am going to call this “traditional scopes” for the rest of this little article.
What you are not seeing on this particular image is a slight blur around the edges. This will be added so that you don’t have the advantage of having the full screen zoomed and in full visibility. While you are able to shoot with both eyes open in real life, your eyes are not focused in at both the inside and the outside of the scope at the same time.
What you will start seeing shortly will be something like this:
This is what you have been seeing from us so far. Only the area inside of the scope is zoomed. People call this many things such as “PiP (picture in picture)” scopes, or “R2T (render to texture)” scopes, or the way less accurate “3D scopes”.
Before we get to all the hard questions. Let us talk about some of the good news! It means that we have a way easier time implementing more scoped weapons, and we will likely see people using the SVD now that it has a functional scope. We are also getting an additional 2-3 new scopes in the near future because it is now viable.
I have about 20 things I could easily point out, but I have not had the time to do so, so I WILL UPDATE THIS “FAQ” LIST SOON.
Q: Are the images above final?
A: Not even close. You will see many updates to the reticles, effects and fidelity of the current and future scopes.
Q: Are you moving away from R2T scopes for good?
A: We are never saying never. I would personally like them, but not at the expense of player base and a bad reputation of poor performance.
We are not necessarily abandoning “render to texture” scopes for good, but we do have to deliver a functional product to you guys, and what progress we had made with render to texture scopes is simply not able to deliver on mass scale. A testament to that is the fact that we have had a working prototype in game for the better part of 2015, and yet you don’t see people use it - for a reason.
Q: So why are we moving away from the R2T scopes?
A: TL:DR version is that it is very expensive for performance, and especially so for low end PC’s. And with lots of people that will be playing soon, we need to start working on balancing assets.
Q: How come Insurgency & RO2 has these “R2T” scopes and SQUAD does not?
A: The scale and complexity of their environments are far less than what we will end up having - and already have. If the choice has to be between immersive large scale environments that we can have helicopters and other big assets on and slightly more immersive and expensive scopes, the choice will be the big environments every time. Also their view distances are far shorter than ours.
Q: Why not just make it toggleable, have both so if the player has a high end PC he can just use render-to-texture scopes?
A: It is certainly an option in the long run, but by that logic we have to make 2x the amount of work to achieve the same goal. This is not something that would be very responsible to spend our development hours on at this phase of our product where we have to deliver a product for Steam Early Access.
Additionally, it is another one of those topics where you can gain advantages by choosing one over the other. A topic which is nearly as hotly debated.
Q: Why don’t you just use render to texture outside of the scope and have the primary renderer inside of the scope to have higher resolution?
A: Several reasons. For low magnification scopes (let's say below 4x), you are basically doing the exact opposite of what they are intended to do - you are making the surrounding environment lower resolution and giving you a performance drop - making your CQB worse - not better.
Additionally, you would still require a higher resolution of the surrounding environment than what we currently have inside of the scope (256x256), so you will likely just make it way worse this way.
There are also a fairly long list of disadvantages of having R2T scopes that are just as unrealistic and immersion breaking as zooming the whole screen. Such as bit depth of the rendered image, what we have now is like looking at Super Mario - that breaks my immersion. There is also the problem that you actually get a different viewing angle to your target than what you should be getting. I’ll probably elaborate that with an image later on.
In conclusion let me re-iterate that we are not necessarily abandoning render to texture implementations for the final product. My prediction is that the technology will see a bunch of uses especially in relation to vehicle interfaces, but that is a story for another day.
Like I said earlier in this post, I will update with some more info soon.