Banjo’s text too tiny for SDTVs, but Rare refuses to fix it

Thursday, 6th November 2008 06:22 GMT By Nathan Grayson


How tough is it to scatter readable text throughout a game? According to Rare, it’s like pulling teeth. From an enraged bear. Thus, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts’ under-sized utterances likely won’t be going up a font size – at least, not within the foreseeable future. Said Rare community manager George Kelion, in a post on NeoGAF:

“Unfortunately, this is an issue that doesn’t look like it will get changed. I don’t want to bore you with the technical side of things (I really don’t understand it all myself), but the long and the short of it is that the text you see in the demo will be the same as that which you find in the retail version of the game.”

The main reason? Apparently, Rare’s resource well just can’t dribble out the needed funds.

“I’m sorry that we weren’t able to address this issue as nothing would please us more than turning all your complaints into gleeful responses, but it’s simply something that’s too expensive in terms of time, resources and money to alter.”

We’re not really sure what to make of this. A Microsoft-owned second-party with plenty of previous HD-generation experience? Dead Rising this ain’t.

Thanks, CVG.

By Nathan Grayson



  1. JPickford

    “I don’t want to bore you with the technical side of things”

    I love it when developers hide behind non-existent technical issues.

    Going from the demo, the real problem is the game has too much text anyway.

    #1 6 years ago
  2. Tonka

    Why didn’t they realize this? As you pointed out, Dead Rising had this problem years ago. It’s a known issue. I’m quite surprised to say the least.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. JPickford

    We did a few games for Rare back in the NES days and they were super keen on making the text clear and easily readable. Obviously you couldn’t make the text especially small on the NES anyway but there were all sorts of rules about colour use and keeping away from the edges of the screen etc.

    #3 6 years ago
  4. Robo_1

    Well that’s gone from ‘pick it up when it’s cheap’ to “don’t bother’ then.

    Poor show really, when a MS owned studio cries about not having enough funds to fix a problem which is going to seriously damage the game for a sizeable percentage of players. Even more so when you consider that this is supposed to one of MS’s ‘casual friendly’ games, which is the very audience least likely to own a HD TV.

    #4 6 years ago
  5. morriss

    Community Development Manager isn’t a developer.

    #5 6 years ago
  6. JPickford

    He’s the spokesman for a developer. In that respect he’s a developer.

    #6 6 years ago
  7. morriss


    #7 6 years ago
  8. JPickford

    No what? How does it add to a discussion to make tedious distinctions like that?

    He brings up (bollocks) technical issues so it’s perfectly reasonable to question them.

    #8 6 years ago
  9. Blerk

    Don’t argue with the developer about who counts as a developer, morriss. :-D

    #9 6 years ago
  10. morriss

    I know a couple of community development managers and they’ve got as much technical knowledge about what makes up a videogame as I have. i.e. none.

    They are people responsible for generating a community spirit around a game, and that’s about it. I could do the job if I wasn’t so bloody talented.

    #10 6 years ago
  11. JPickford

    Sure. I bet Reggie couldn’t make a console to save his life but he’s still the spokesman for Nintendo.

    #11 6 years ago
  12. morriss

    Anyway, maybe it’s just that the two people I know are the exception, no point in arguing about it.

    Fact is, they should fix it.

    #12 6 years ago
  13. Blerk

    I think the point John’s trying to make is that this guy’s the spokesperson and as-such is non-technical but he’s probably just relaying a message from the developers. Who tend to be hairy and unwashed and deemed unsuitable to talk to the actual community, for fear that they might tell them to “fuck off” and call them “whining little bitches”. :-)

    #13 6 years ago
  14. morriss

    Or it could be a case of them telling him verbally, him not really understanding, so he doesn’t want to start talking about something he actually can’t defend if someone on the internet says “Why don’t you try shifting the flux capacator to the left and use 34 kilojules instead of the mandatory 30.”

    Best just to say, “I don’t understand the tech – this is the official line. The End”.

    Imo, anyway.

    #14 6 years ago
  15. Shatner

    morriss: demonstrating his credo of adequate reasoning when making a point.

    morriss: also demonstrating his intimate appreciation of today’s development environment

    EDIT: What a shame he didn’t say those things the first time instead of a belligerant “no” eh?

    I wonder what angle of attack morriss would be applying if this were on another.. …nah, I won’t go there. :D

    As for me, my personal preference is to always have subtitles switched on if a game supports it. From reading the stinky NEOGAF crybabies, the font size and its duration on the screen are troublesome. I’d probably be more concerned about the latter as I have a big screen but am sure I’m a pretty slow reader!

    In my experience, game text is actually quite a big chunk of work. Typically it’s got right and people tend not to question the bits that work, only those that don’t. But text positioning, localisation, subtitles, and text/voice synching tends to just be a lot of time consuming work for something that has minimal payback in terms of overall gameplay. It’s a necessary evil though. I think some people would be quite surprised to learn just how much text is in a typical game and how much effort it can be just to make things readable.

    I’ve noticed with Rare games that they’re a bit sly. There’s usually very little spoken word in any of their stuff. It’s all gesticulations and grunts and such. (the Lego games also do this). From a budgeting and work perspective this is a decent idea as you’re not going to have to localise and re-record the voicework and you don’t have to worry about subtitling either.

    I don’t know if there’s much, if any, spoken word in this latest Rare effort but if it’s like their previous output I’d assume not. As such, if they’ve saved money on that side of things they could re-invest it in addressing people’s concerns about the text.

    As for spotting it in the first place. This is the problem with game development. When you’ve already read that text hundreds of times you lose a little appreciation of what it’s like to read and digest it for the first time. You lose that all important “first time” appreciation of most of the game through thousands of hours of seeing it over years and years. It’s possible that this is a contributing factor to the text issues reported in the game.

    Still, I’d rather have a good game with shitty text than a shitty game with good text.

    #15 6 years ago
  16. Tonka

    But is there a technical issue or are MS just being scheap bastards? Knocking the fontsize up a few notches would lead to text areas becoming taller and then you would have to move them around or start scrolling and god knows what.

    I hate it when clients say things like “Could we make the text bigger” at the end of a project. It really can fuck things up.

    #16 6 years ago
  17. Kiekebeest

    it’s not only that the text is too tiny, the colours are crap as well. :D

    #17 6 years ago
  18. JonFE

    Wasn’t there a report just the other day on the certification of XBL Arcade games that must be playable on a 14″ CRT TV or something along these lines? Couldn’t they have added something similar for disk-based games?

    It’s silly to have a kids-oriented game so heavy on small-sized text.

    #18 6 years ago
  19. Psychotext

    Well, on the bright side the more attention this gets the more likely something is to be done about it.

    #19 6 years ago
  20. Blerk

    Yeah, just like Capcom fixed up Dead Rising. Oh, wait…!

    #20 6 years ago
  21. Psychotext

    I said more likely… not guaranteed. :P

    #21 6 years ago
  22. Syrok

    To be fair, at least half of the new games (that I have) have text that is too small on an SDTV.

    #22 6 years ago
  23. JPickford

    I think this game stands out because it throws a lot of small text at you.

    #23 6 years ago
  24. Psychotext


    #24 6 years ago
  25. patlike

    Cheers. Sorry for the lack of updates. Been decorating this weekend. And I did a trawl this morning but my browser crashed before I could write it all up. And the dog ate my homework.

    #25 6 years ago
  26. David

    Why are people even using SDTV’s any way :/

    #26 6 years ago

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