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If everything is scaled by a constant factor, can you tell that the world is smaller or larger?

I think you could look down at the ground and see that it's "closer".
But how do you know what should be the correct distance? What visual clues give it away?

Edit: The player controller has an FPS camera!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are we also scaling things like gravity? Otherwise that can be a tell — the bigger things are, the slower they fall relative to their own height, if the gravitational acceleration isn't scaled to match. This catches a lot of vehicle-based games, which can feel "floaty" if gravity isn't increased above Earth standard because of the larger character scale. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Dec 7 '18 at 17:16
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The player can't.

The player can only estimate the size of objects on the screen by comparing them to other objects on the screen. When the player has no reference object where they can estimate the size from their real-world experience, then they can only guess what scale the world is in. They could be playing a character with the size of a flea or with the size of a giant. They won't be able to tell.

A good experiment in this regard is the genre of "rats maps", a popular theme for player-made maps in Counter Strike and other late-90s/early-2000s era first person shooters. In this mapping theme, the players feel as if they were shrunk to the size of rats while they play in a regular-scaled room. But actually the player-characters are still the regular size. What's scaled up is the world around them. Nevertheless, the illusion works pretty well. Why? Because the players recognize a lot of objects they know from real-life and see that they are about 20 times as large as they should be. So their brains tell them "with that many objects being 20 times larger than usual, the most logical explanation is that you and the other characters are shrunk to 1/20th of your normal size". which is actually unlikely because of how gravity works and because of the square/cube law, but our primitive monkey brains don't realize that :)

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You can't tell if it's done correctly.

Take an FPS with 1-meter scale (people are 1 meter tall, etc). Everything looks good.

Now shrink everything by 90%. Everything will look the same.

This is of course barring weird things like making it SOOOO big that your character gets jittery as you move away from the center because of float rounding issues.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that floating point accuracy is relative to magnitude. So if you scale everything up by say 2^24, you'll get rounding errors the size of a unit instead of a 2^-24th of a unit. But your objects are 2^24 times larger, so the size of the error relative to the content / positions hasn't changed. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Dec 7 '18 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's very interesting. I'm wondering what effect I'm thinking of that I've seen then. \$\endgroup\$ – Almo Dec 7 '18 at 21:18
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Normally, you can’t tell. One note however: In VR, your camera is controlled by the HMD the player is wearing, giving the player much more control over the view. If the world is scaled but the translation of movement from the real world HMD to the game world camera is not, then it will be quite apparent. For example, if the camera starts at the same scaled up height as the rest of the world, the player would appear to be floating in the air and would not be able to reach the floor, even if they were to lay on the ground in the real world.

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