Put in The Work

I haven’t played Deus Ex: Mankind Divided yet. I plan to, but I’m on vacation and therefore on laptop aka pleb mode. I am sort of glad that I’m not playing it right now, because I’d be playing it on PC and lo and behold, the PC version wasn’t fully baked on release.

Now, I’ve been a professional game developer for something like 17 years (minus a few when I was between jobs) and I know that any game feature is more than just a simple addition, but you’d think that (if you’re doing a PC port) FoV adjustment and and quality mouse options would be close to the top of the “to do” list. As a game development veteran I also know that by the time you’re nearing release, the “to do” list isĀ nothing but “the top” and even then some things have to fall off.

I can forgive (to a certain degree) substandard performance on some system configurations, especially cutting edge configurations as those are just as new to the devs. With consoles you have one set of hardware to build to, with PC you have virtually infinite combinations. I can forgive a sparse “options” screen for most things, including graphical options, so long as there’s at least some control. I can even forgive being locked to 30fps, even though YES, you CAN tell the difference, especially when you’re closer to the screen as on most PC’s. Mouse Acceleration and FoV have to be two of the most contentious PC toggles however and so many devs initially ignore them.

Mouse Acceleration is an issue because PC gamers prefer precision, it’s why many of us will play PC ports of games designed on controllers using a mouse, though for me it’s usually just first person that I opt for the mouse these days. Mouse Acceleration destroys precision and essentially treats mouse movements as being as sloppy as controller analog sticks.

FoV is another contentious issue like fps, though just as (if not more) valid. Game images, especially first person games, feel different when they’re 1-2 feet away from your face as opposed to 5 to 10 feet away. Even when I’m playing on the big screen in the living room however I tend to want and FoV closer to 90+. Some of this just comes from conditioning, having grown up with large FoV games and/or the option to make the FoV larger. Some of it is just feel. I don’t feel like less than 90 FoV feels right for a lot of games from a play standpoint, but (and this is likely the real reason why everything starts below 90 FoV) it does “look better” from an artistic point of view due to less image distortion. Trust me, it’s the kind of thing that Art Directors say to a room of blank-faced, blinking designers. We do the same to them just as often.

Either way you cook it though, FoV and Mouse controls are super important to PC gamers and I’ve got to believe it could save a lot of headaches for people to just get on board and offer those options right out of the box for PC titles. A game like Deus EX: Mankind Divided is a perfect example. Great reviews from “critics”, but currently “mixed” user reviews on Steam and most people down voting it are complaining about these or other technical issues. I know it’s not easy, game development never is, but if you’re going to do a PC port, do it well, especially when we know the simple reasons why so many rub people the wrong way and they’re not (or should not be) massive changes.