It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
"I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem may have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed — by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object."
The phenomenon in video games where objects, people or places appear to be totally different sizes than what they should be. This is common in the Overworld Not to Scale
, where your character seems to be about half the size of a city. (Western RPGs
don't seem to fall under this, and many later JRPGs
have begun averting it.) Also, in many Real-Time Strategy
games, infantrymen are ridiculously large when compared to vehicles and buildings. The difference in scale is particularly noticeable when dealing with transports that can carry multiple infantry, and it's very rare that an aircraft carrier will be large enough to contain more than a handful of aircraft.
This is a case of acceptable Gameplay and Story Segregation
. Making everything the same size would require either extreme zooming out (which would make the object in question too hard to see) or zooming in (which would disallow an overall view of the thing in question).
Lately, this trope is getting discredited; better graphics have indeed made it possible to zoom in enough to see otherwise tiny soldiers in good detail, while maintaining the ability to zoom out and see large vehicles and most of the battlefield - with soldiers either very small, or (depending on the game) so tiny they're shown as symbols. Still, it will probably remain a case of Tropes Are Not Bad
, since it can be a hassle to have to constantly zoom in and out in order to command efficiently.
See also Video Game Time
, which is improperly scaled time. Compare Clown Car
and Clown Car Base
, Bigger on the Inside
, Space Compression
, Thriving Ghost Town
, Perspective Magic
, and Large and in Charge
. Bonsai Forest
is a subtrope
open/close all folders
Role Playing Games
- The Pokémon games, especially inside the Pokémon Gyms, which often contain several floors of seemingly complex puzzles. There's also the Pokémon Centers, buildings that are 1-story and 6 tiles big outside but are two floors of 50-60 tiles inside.
- In HeartGold and SoulSilver, whichever Pokémon is at the head of your party will follow you around outside. None of them are anywhere near actual size, but it's especially funny when your Wailord or Lugia isn't even twice the size of the player character.
- Pokémon also return to their Pokéball depending on their size when entering a place. For example, human sized Pokémon or smaller will follow the trainer in buildings. Larger size Pokémon, like Lugia, will be returned when entering buildings. This does NOT, however, explain how a 28' long Onix is able to fight with other similarly sized creatures in a room that doesn't look to be more than 20'x20'.
- Neverwinter Nights contains an especially jarring version of this - any tiny hut can turn into a dungeon the size of the whole city district the original hut was in as soon as you step in, with no explanation.
- Bahamut Lagoon does much the same, but with the added bonus of strangely absent squad members.
- Possibly lampshaded in Final Fantasy VI, as well as one of the Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku games, where a damaged house with no door in the frame only lets you two steps into the building instead of bringing you to an expanded map of the inside of the (ruined) house like any other building in the game.
- In most Roguelikes, as well as in old-style tile-based games like the majority of the Ultima series, every object or creature is exactly the same size.
- In Divine Divinity, characters and buildings are out of scale with the map, with characters traveling from one end of a kingdom to other in a very short time. The sequel should avert this.
- While Shining the Holy Ark only has a small overworld map this is very much in effect with your lead character dwarfing the landscape.
- In World of Warcraft bosses tend to tower over other members of their own species, with no real explanation given in-universe. Out of universe, this is so the players can easily target them even if they are being swarmed by the rest of the raid.
- In Star Trek Online Deep Space 9 is about five times bigger than it is in the show. Cryptic explained they did this because the station's canon diameter of 1451 meters is small enough that it looks silly when swarmed by player ships, many of which are about that size themselves.
Real Time Strategy/Turn Based Strategy
- Age of Empires III deserves special mention. Transport ships can carry a truly ridiculous number of ground units, since unlike the previous games its bases carrying capacity on unit stacks, rather than individual units. Screw science vessels, you can carry a dozen Heavy Cannon (horses included) across islands in one trip. In a canoe.
- On the other hand, Age of Empires III was notable in this regard for having impressively ginormous ships, particularly frigates and monitors, which seem closer to proper scale than previous incarnations in the series and the genre in general.
- Age of Empires II was bad about the scale of Transport Ships to some of its units. The Persian War Elephants and the Korean War Wagons, in particular, appear almost the size of Transport Ships themselves, yet ten of either can fit in a ship.
- Age of Mythology can fit around 20 elephants in a small tent around the size of a medium sized room being carried by a giant roc. On the other hand, the bird is only attainable when worshiping a specific god...
- Better yet, there are certain siege units that can garrison units. You can then garrison these siege units into transport ships!
- The Anno Domini series started out with a really bad case of this, but became progressively better with every instalment. Anno 1503, for instance, had the town's denizens reach up to the first story of their houses (ratio 2:1), and the ships were only about three or four times the size of the wooden docks at which they were docking (making them much smaller in comparison with the citizens, of whom only a handful could fit onto one such ship). Hell, even the military unit sprites were a little smaller and thinner than the civilian models, due to them being manually controled by the player, yet they were barely shorter than the city's stone walls. 1701, which was its 3d successor, had exactly the same problems. By the time 1404 came along, however, the ratio between the houses, civilians and soldiers was finally cleared up in a realistic manner. The ships, on the other hand...
- Also notable in Civilization 4, where it is possible to zoom in on your cities to see the various buildings and wonders you've created there... and any garrisoned units, towering high above even the tallest of buildings. If you happen to build the Colossus of Rhodes, it's interesting to note that he's effectively a miniature next to the actual soldiers.
- Closer to aversion in Civilization 5, though. Units are still numerically smaller, with physically larger soldiers, than reality by a huge proportion, but it's a smaller huge proportion — twenty pikemen who together take up one tile, instead of three pikemen who tower over cities.
- Egregious example from Command & Conquer: Red Alert, where infantry are about the same size the light tank or APC (which can, of course, hold five of said infantry). Some levels in the campaign actually take place inside buildings which, if infantry were the same size inside and out, it would be theoretically possible to build an entire base in the hallways of that building.
- It gets even weirder in the mission packs, as some of the indoor missions feature TANKS and PILLBOXES, and others DO build a base inside, featuring refineries and Chronospheres.
- In the newer installments of the Tiberian Story Arc, where infantry units are more or less to scale with vehicles (however, buildings are still ridiculously small when compared to units and terrain: GDI barracks are the size of a large tent, their vehicle factory resembles a tiny car repair shop and the NOD temple is no larger than a one-bedroom home).
- It's hilarious when you build a GDI Juggernaut. It's taller than the factory that builds it, so it has to crouch and be pushed out since it's a walker and cannot walk when crouching. The crouching juggernaut is so big one wonders how the factory had enough room in it for the equipment needed to build it in the first place.
- The GDI and Nod buildings are mostly underground as shown in Renegade.
- The Mammoth MKII in Tiberian Sun goes even. In actual gameplay, it doesn't appear much bigger than an average car, but in two FM Vs featuring, it living up to its name, is fucking gigantic. It's well over a hundred feet tall, in terms of width is nearly as big as a construction yard (which is much larger than it is in gameplay).
- Also, compare the size of ships. In Generals and Tiberium Wars, warships are very large, almost to scale (The GDI aircraft carrier you can see in a few Missions in Tiberium Wars is about the size of a small base itself). However, these are stationary and unplayable objects in campaign mode. Meanwhile, the Red Alert series has warships that can be built and controlled by the player, and the largest ships are at best twice the size of a heavy tank.
- Which lead to the somewhat amusing sight of being able to shove 5 Soviet Mammoth Tanks into a transport half the size of one.
- This also carried over to the Command & Conquer spinoff Renegade. While the buildings are fairly realistic in size in the singleplayer campaign, they are quite tiny in multiplayer, possibly because they would take too much space on the maps otherwise (and be too confusing to navigate inside).
- This can be jarring, since a building that is practically a level in itself in single player contains exactly one small room in multiplayer.
- The size of the Multiplayer arena also had the problem of being hilariously tiny. Namely in one of the shipped maps, the area between bases is so small it was barely a courtyard.
- This is arguably justified in the first couple of games given that the player is commanding the troops behind the lines, with a software named EVA that renders squads of units as individual units seen in the game (so a single unit represents more than one)
- The RTS Empire Earth is horrible scale-wise. The Humongous Mecha from the future ages are Humongous only in name. A miner is bigger than a tank, and nuclear bomber fighter jets are smaller than their bombs. The bombs are smaller than most tanks.
- And lets not get into EE2's Prophet unit. It's a guy wearing a sign that can summon volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes etc. He is bigger than the volcano's crater.
- The Terran Science Vessel in Starcraft is a medium sized unit, but one level of the Zerg campaign is set inside one such vessel, which features several spaces in which it seems one could fit buildings that are much larger than the unit is. (With some creative use of cheat codes, or the map editor, it would indeed be possible to insert well over a hundred Science Vessels unit into the Science Vessel map.)
- Don't even mention the Battlecruisers. It seems that capital ships are to scale with buildings. The top of the Terran Starport even looks like a to-scale battlecruiser dry-dock.
- Supposedly battlecruisers are 560 meters long, in comparison to command centers which are supposedly 3 by 3 stories (about 12 meters) but in game look much bigger. Though that might explain where the starting buildings come from in the second game's campaign missions (except the starports).
- And then in a cutscene in Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm, a battleship makes a crash landing in Korhal, and it seems to be about half as big as the city it lands on. Even at the angle it impacts it still extends past the clouds.
- Adding to scale oddities, from what can be determined from the game's FM Vs, the Battlecrusier's are actually smaller than the science vessels. However, in the Board Game, the Science Vessel is smaller than Marines and Zerglings.
- Most of the other units have identical scaling to each other as they did in Starcraft, excepting the Ultralisk, which is the size of a Thor now.
- Also a Dropship is significantly smaller than a Siege Tank, but still can take two onboard. This is especially funny when a small fellet of dropships arrives and starts dishing out tanks until there is no place for them, while dropships are barely visible.
- The game plays hob with distance scale, too. It's apparent in the original game, and very clear in gameplay videos of the forthcoming 3D sequel, that the air units only hover perhaps ten feet above the battlefield, whereas in-game references and cutscenes show them spending most of their time in orbit.
- Which is why you can repair a battlecruiser (air unit) with an SCV (ground unit). Meanwhile you can blow away the battlecruiser with anti-air but not the SCV. Relative speeds are also out of whack, so you can shoot down a hypersonic fighter by having a ground creature spit acid on it, the supposedly huge starbase-shaped science vessel is one of the fastest units in the game and the hovering high templar is slower than both a normally walking marine and a normally walking zealot of the same race.
- The most common, yet least noticeable, is the SCV. In-game, it looks like construction-oriented Power Armor, about the same size as the seven-foot-tall Marines/Marauders/Firebats. They're actually huge compared to Marines, that glass windshield is in fact the cockpit.
- And in Starcraft II, it gets even worse: the Thor is a Terran Humongous Mecha that looks appropriately huge compared to a Marine. When airlifted by a Medivac dropship, the ship can only carry one at a time, as they are fixed underneath the ship like a helicopter carrying a container twice its size. Some playing around in the editor reveals that dropships are about twice the size of a bus compared to a Marine. And then there's the Odin, which in-game is slightly bigger than the Thor, but is too big to be carried by a huge-ass cargo that can carry three Thors.
- StarCraft II has a really weird meta example: during mission briefings, characters on the realistically-scaled Hyperion observe the combat situation on the planet-of-the-mission... which uses gameplay footage with the RTS scale. Although his is cleared up somewhat in Heart of the Swarm, where the Hyperion has nearly twice the tonnage of a regular battlecruiser when you control them side-by-side. On the other hand the fluff claims that modern Gorgon-class battlecruisers are larger than outdated Behemoths like the Hyperion, though it has been extensively modified.
- The Zerg Leviathan attacks with tentacles that look narrower than a zergling, the Heart of the Swarm mission "Conviction" suggests those tentacles are Nydus Worms, one of the Zerg "buildings".
- Very obvious in Warcraft 3, where pretty much every unit in the game doesn't appear to fit in the doors on their buildings. The hero units are pretty much always bigger than almost any other unit...
- This is also used in World of Warcraft to make instance and raid bosses stand out from the crowd. Certain items also change the size of the player characters, making them unable to enter buildings.
- Although it also applies to a lot of the architecture and objects as well. While it may be understandable that a Titan dungeon has doors that tower over the heroes, it gets a little silly when you realize that a single shelf and accompanying books on a bookshelf in a night elven inn are taller than a night elf.
- The lack of scale in WC3 is especially obvious with units that are used for transport can fit units larger than themselves inside. Creative use of the Unit Editor can allows one to fit an infinite number of units inside a transport (by making transports than can go inside transports).
- In Super Robot Wars, all units are the same size on the map, and are even animated the same size (human-sized units are sometimes, but not always, an exception), even if some mecha on your force are a mere 10 meters tall and one may be over a kilometer and a half. It's particularly obvious when your entire army launches from a battleship that appears smaller than they are, or when Tekkaman Blade is able to cut the Z-Master in two.
- Super Robot Wars has a tendency to use smaller battle sprites for Real Robots than for Super Robots, but the trope still applies. In Super Robot Wars Z, King Gainer's sprite is half the size of Daitarn 3's sprite, but Daitarn 3 is actually supposed to be about ten times taller than King Gainer. Maybe even eleven times.
- Averted in the 3D Super Robot Wars NEO for the Wii, where the units are shown to scale, at least on the map screens.
- The rampant amount of this that would be required is likely the reason for the usual style the units are depicted in being Super-Deformed.
- As of about Original Generations the style has switched to more stylized SD that in addition to looking more like their full sized depictions also have clear size distinctions in the unit sizes. Notably 2L sized units which encompass everything from Battleships up to the occasional planet sized monsters (2L basically means really really big and has a wide range so they don't need to make up a size distinction for said occasional planet sizers) barely fit on the screen.
- Less noticable are the actual mecha sizes, all of which are represented at the same height, which is pretty egregious since some series, like Code Geass, feature 5 meter mechs, some, like Mobile Suit Gundam, feature 20 meter mechs, while Neon Genesis Evangelion features 40 meter mechs.
- Similar to Super Robot Wars is SD Gundam G Generation, which has a few aversions. The spinoff game Gundam SEED: Generation of C.E. uses full-scale machines for combat FMVs, but on the map they still take up one space each. The games starting around G Generation Spirits have battleships take up multiple map spaces, and even marks off critical parts of the ships like the bridge and launch catapults.
- Prior to Wing Commander Prophecy, the ship types in the Wing Commander series weren't proportionate to one another at all, leaving one wondering how you could stuff 100+ fighters in such a tiny carrier, if one wasn't quick enough to apply the MST3K Mantra.
- Prominent in Battle for Wesnoth - units are the same size as villages, which are represented as single houses the same size as mountains, trees and mushrooms. Large units such as dragons and Woses (tree-men) are little bigger than small units such as goblins. A motto of BfW's designers is HAPMA (Hexes Are Possibly Miles Across,) meaning that they vary greatly in scale, and that units can represent squads of 10s or hundreds, or single individuals, again depending on circumstance.
- Since the game is open source, this trope has caused some conundrums among its sprite artists as they attempt to keep the game's different races and units to some sort of scale with each other. The urge to squeeze more detail into a sprite, especially once the engine supported oversized sprites that extend outside a hex, has lead to an arms race of "Creeping Biggerism" as the sprites of supposedly small units like dwarves and elves grow larger than that of trolls and cavalry.
- Given the ship-to-planet size ratio in Sword of the Stars, either the destroyers (the smallest ship class with about 100 crewmen) are each about as large as Madagaskar or the planets are just small, terraformed moons. Either way, the scale is way out of whack (though it must be argued that having a realistic size would probably not be very fun, given its ways of handling combat).
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War has fairly large buildings, large enough for some races to have trouble building complete bases on certain maps. Transports, however, are distinctly Clown Car-ish, mostly because units are transported by squads instead of individually: The Imperial Guard Chimera can hold up to 42 soldiers in some expansions; in others it holds a mere 28. Other races can manage maybe 20-30 depending on squad sizes and the number of transport slots.
- This trope is especially obvious in some cutscenes (which uses the same models as the game itself), with one featuring a character clearly being taller than the vehicle that transports him while another has a Space Marine (a three-metre-tall Super Soldier) being smaller than a normal human. This was in fact such a common complaint that the sequel has vehicles scaled far more realistically compared to infantry, with the inevitable result that each side can only effectively deploy three or four vehicles at any one time.
- It should also be pointed out that in DoW 2, the units are more or less perfectly to scale... With their tabletop counterparts. This was a point of pride for the designers.
- Fire Emblem. Your units are never much larger than a guy on a horse, but depending on the mission they may take up as much space on the map as a house.
- The scale also changes completely between being outside and being inside. For example, archers are usually restricted to a range of two spaces, which results in them shooting at things from very far away when outside, but only shooting a few meters at best when inside.
- Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn were a little more realistic, but there is still the problem of units being taller than doors and jars that are larger than horses.
- The Nintendo Wars games suffer from the same problem. On the map, your soldiers are as large as buildings. Not so much on the battle screens.
- This can be a little justified since it's not really a soldier, but a unit of many soldiers.
- Rise of Nations, especially if you play the maps that represent real countries. It's possible to easily make a row of tanks from coast to coast of Japan... with a dozen tanks.
- Zigzagged when you aren't playing on such a map. Ground units are to scale with ground units, sea with sea, and air with air, but none of the groupings are to scale with each other or with buildings.
- Transport Tycoon has annoyed nitpicky players for ages with the sizes of ships and planes compared to that of trains and road vehicles. Due to the scales involved with such varying vehicles, it's unavoidable; a truck and locomotive are pretty close to each other in size, but an airplane dwarfs the locomotives in real life, something that isn't possible to do with sprites. Ships are an even bigger problem, as real life railcars are the size of the shipping containers carried by the ship, and there are over 2000 containers on each ship. Don't even get started on the sizes of air- and seaports.
- And then there's the whole clown-car effect of a train 5 squares long coming out of a depot 1 square long. And Open TTD removes the length restriction on trains entirely.
- Also, each tile is more than 600km long. That means, an average house has five times more area than the republic of Ireland.
- The Heroes of Might and Magic series is another example where rings are as large as the most powerful dragons.
- In 8Realms, pretty much everything just takes up one tile, whether it's a cottage or a mountain.
- Shattered Union has this, especially jarring when your infantry could go and play Godzilla in cities.
- Dwarf Fortress, in which Bronze colossi appear as the same size as kittens. There is no size variation, just ASCII. This affects everything depicted by the game engine, making gems and seeds appear as big as Dwarves and elephants at the same time!
- Dwarf Fortress actually has a size statistic for its creatures but it is mostly used for internal calculations.
- Map tiles suffer from inconsistent Bag of Holding attributes that most players would never part with willingly. You can store an infinite number of rocks on a single square and an infinite number of animals in one cage. Despite that, only one creature unit stand up in a given square at any given time.
- Trees used to take up a single tile before the DF2014 update, making them an exception to the space oddities. Wagons are an older exception, taking up a 3x3 chunk of space and requiring a path 3 tiles wide to reach your trade depot.
- Europa Universalis III always depicts your troops in a province as a single gigantic infantryman who towers above the tallest mountains, even if it's actually tens of thousands of soldiers with cavalry and artillery mixed in.
- Starships in Star Ruler are to-scale with each other, but not with celestial objects. A size 2500 space station (about the size of a planet) has a crew of around ~200,000. The planet it is orbiting has a population of at least ~100,000,000. The not-to-scale design is present to ensure that ships and stations are actually visible without having to zoom in constantly.
- Shining Force III is very fond of this trope. Battles either take place in normal sized buildings/towns or outside where every character is the size of a mountain. This is pretty much a staple for most of the Shining games.
- Whether to play this straight or avert this in HeartsOfIronIII is a menu setting.
- Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds: assault mechs can be transported in ships that they dwarf. Especially notable with the Imperial AT-AT, which being a Humongous Mecha towers over not only the transport ship, but also the building that constructed it.
- This was part of the problem with the original Mech Commander in its use of sprites. Fine differentiation between unit sizes was not clear, and only extreme size differences were visible in the available scale (like say the difference between a 25-ton Commando and the Atlas that weighs four times as much). Tanks tended to blur together into a 'large and dangerous' or 'small and fast' class based solely on the size of their sprites, regardless of any individual unit's capability. The inability to immediately distinguish between light and medium or heavy and assault 'Mechs was part of what led to the use of full 3D models in the sequel, where all units are in-scale to each other.
- Lampshade Hanging in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, where the main character comments on the owner of a dungeon as practicing the darkest of magic because of the space distortion.
- Played straight in the Star Control series - not only do ships battle around "planets" (which in some cases have a smaller diameter than the length of some of the longer ships), if you pay attention, the Landers when sent down to a planet not only can travel around whole planet in moments, they're bigger than Ireland! But... can only hold twelve crewmen.
- The environment in the Wipeout hover racing games seems to be scaled to size for someone sitting at the height of the camera. This of course means that the ships are tiny or alternatively that the environment is gigantic. The first person dashboard view is only marginally lower, meaning the 'dashboard cam' sits about five metres above the roof of the other ships.
- The alien spaceship seen in Area 51 in Tomb Raider 3 is about four times bigger on the inside.
- This might be intentional because it's, you know, alien.
- The dirigible in Prince of Persia 3D is pretty damn big from the outside, but on the inside, it's one third of the game.
- At the end of Super Mario World, Bowser fights Mario in a small helicopter, which contains himself, the Princess, at least two Mushrooms, and as many massive bowling balls and Mechakoopas as needed. In this case, it's actually called the Koopa Klown Kopter, and has a clown-like face on it.
- Every inside area in Super Mario 64. You've got the Igloo in Snowman's Land, which is about 5 feet by 3 feet on the outside and holds a large room with multiple stories, enemies and coins on the inside; the volcano in Lethal Lava Land, which is absolutely massive on the inside; and the Pyramid in Shifting Sand Land, again way larger on the inside of the building. Possibly also the Hotel Delfino in Super Mario Sunshine.
- Since Banjo, an adult bear, is established to be fairly tall, Many of the NPCs in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie can probably be assumed to have been scaled up for the sake of making interaction with them easier.
Shoot 'em Up
- In Repton, Boulder Dash and pretty much all games of the rocks-and-diamonds genre, all objects are the same size. Your character can pick up hundreds of diamonds that are as big as he is.
- Most of the bosses in Touhou are supposed to be roughly the same size as the player characters. In-game sprites generally have them about twice as tall. Then there's the matter of the backgrounds, which give us things like giant flowers or tombstones, and can make certain levels seem much larger than seems likely.
- Animal Crossing. Most buildings, most notably, your character's house in its larger stages and the town museum, have interiors that wouldn't fit into the outside building.
- The Starfleet Command games have a real problem with this. Often one can collide with planets, revealing that your ship with a crew of a few hundreds is roughly 1/4 the size of the planet Earth.
- Likewise the Starfleet Academy game mostly gets this right, and planets and stars are even somewhat reasonably sized. But a few problems remain, for example starbases aren't that much bigger than an Excelsior-class ship. Considering the ships are supposed to dock inside the top of the "mushroom", it'd never work.
- The Harvest Moon series. The degree to which this is so varies from game to game, with Magical Melody probably being the worst offender.
- In Escape Velocity, many large warships' sprites are only slightly larger than their destroyer and light capital brethren. Some of the larger ships appear to be bigger than most planets. The game's scale is a bit messed up.
- Also, the Polaris Striker and Dragon share the same in-universe length (50 meters) yet the sprite clearly shows the dragon being longer. (This is possibly a mistake by the developers.)
- The playfield of Star Wars (Data East) has R2-D2 noticeably larger than the Death Star.
- Hankin's The Empire Strikes Back depicts the Imperial AT-ATs as colossi bestriding the planet Hoth, towering over the horizon and capable of circumnavigating the planet with just a few dozen steps.
- Warhammer40,000 has the infamous scaling issue with it's human-sized miniatures. Space Marines are suppose to be 7 foot tall supermen clad in power armor (which the sheer bulk would make them almost 8 feet in height) whereas Guardsmen are average and, quite frequently, malnurished conscripts, putting them at a maximum height of around 6 feet. Miniature wise, both are identical in height. This applies to the vehicles too. If the Leman Russ was in correct scale with the Guardsmen, every time the turret fired it would bisect the tank commander standing in the hatch.
- Historical wargames are sometimes forced to invoke this for realistic gameplay. A unit of troops might, for instance, represent a brigade of French infantry from the Napoleonic wars. As such, the rules are geared to represent such a unit - that 2 inch square base with a dozen figures on is actually a large area of ground with a couple of thousand men. But that means a model farm to the same scale as the figures might accommodate the base quite comfortably, while in real life the soldiers would have had to be stacked on some form of multi-layer shelving to even try to fit in. Under-scale miniature scenery so that the 'footprint' of units and terrain is consistent is one way to deal with this.
- Inverted from the usual in Monsterpocalypse. Monsters tend to be on scale with each other, with most being around 60 meters tall. Buildings, on the other hand, are generally much smaller than they should be, with (going by monster height) a 120-meter empire state building, and a football stadium where the field barely manages 30 meters. Units are entirely out of scale with each other. The Mighty Joe Young-sized Frontline Ape is hoisting an armored car overhead, but the ecoterrorist Green Fury van has roughly the same mass as the ape. That's a big van.
- Dungeons & Dragons has an interesting version of this on the meta-level when it comes to creature "sizes". They are roughly blocked out as "tiny", "small", "medium", "large", "huge" and "gargantuan". Medium creatures take up a single 5-foot-by-5-foot "square", going downwards they are decreasing percentages of a square, and upwards takes 2, 3 and 4 squares. However, there's large variance for what counts in each size: for instance, a 4'6" Dwarf and a 7'8" Goliath are both said to take up a single square. Thus, fluff-wise and for those who use miniatures, different creatures are quite to scale, but mechanically one entity could be twice the size of another and be considered "the same".
- Most of Tecmo's Captain Tsubasa games use the same proportion to construct a player's body, leading to a few characters who are supposedly giants like Jito shrinking down to the same size as the rest of the team, except when he's in the Skylab Twin Shoot cut-in, where he's suddenly bigger.
- The Zoids anime has an interesting inversion. While the toyline clearly shows its scale with cockpits and pilot figurines, the Anime takes certain Zoids (notably the Ultrasaurus and Death Saurer) and makes them bigger, often by a few orders of magnitude.
- Robot Spirits, Soul Of Chogokin and other toylines featuring Humongous Mecha from multiple series usually have this problem by necessity due to the wildly varying sizes of different Super Robots. For example, while Mazinger Z and Daitarn 3's SOC toys are about the same size, in "real life", Mazinger is 18 meters tall while Daitarn is 160.
- The real winner, though, would have to be Revoltech's Gurren Lagann action figures. Original GL is about the same size as Tengen Toppa GL. Anybody who is at all familiar with the series should see the problem here.
- Let's face it. It's impossible to scale those mechs properly. Even if Original was the size of a flea, and TTGL was somehow the size of Jupiter, that wouldn't come close.
- Transformers has this in multiple places (A more comprehensive exploration of this can be found at the TFwiki's page on Scale):
- The toylines have several different "size" scales (Legends, Scouts, Deluxe, Voyagers, Leaders, Supremes, and so on). This can result in a Scout-class freight truck Transformer looking positively tiny next to a Voyager-class sports car (like Bumblebee). In particular, the Animated toyline has amusing size mismatches involving Prowl, in particular his Deluxe-class form wherein the motorcycle he transforms into is larger than Deluxe-sized Bumblebee's hatchback car!
- Combiner Scales: First, Combiners can be portrayed being of inconsistent size to their component robots (Menasor, who is made of sports cars and a truck, can nearly match Bruticus, who is made of military vehicles, in size; The exception is Superion, who would really be the size of a large building due to being made of several aircraft including a Concorde). Second, component robots in a combiner might be out-of-scale with each other (Landcross from the Victory toyline, who is made of a speedboat, a Space Shuttle, a jet fighter, two different classes of trucks, and a sports car). Third, Combiners are shown to be inconsistently large or small in portrayl (Constructicons who are smaller than Megatron combine to form a Devastator more than quadruple the Decepticon Commander's height).
- Transformer subclass scale: Micromasters and Minicons are sometimes portrayed with very inconsistent scale to regular Transformers (Some Minicons are shown to become human-scale hoverboards and motorcycles, yet their human-sized robot modes are the same size as Minicons that become small trucks, and both of them are portrayed as being smaller than Armada Optimus Prime or Armada Megatron's forearms!).
Wide Open Sandbox
- Grand Theft Auto: Every now and then in the GTAIII era, you'll walk past a storefront with doors either too tiny or a little too big for the character scale. These storefronts are simply filler they didn't have time to scale properly.
- Stars! does a poor job of this during the combat playbacks. It suffers from the classic "Everything takes up one tile" problem whereby huge starbases and tiny scouts take up the same amount of space.
- In addition, there's no concept of limited ammo on ships fitted with torpedoes, so even the smallest scouts can fire indefinitely. It's assumed they're produced on-ship somehow.
- Sins of a Solar Empire has units to scale with each other. This is especially noticeable when watching bombers attack a capital ship; it ends up looking like flies trying to land on an ornate stick.
- However some bombers end up shooting missiles as large as the bomber's own cockpit. Makes you wonder where they keep the ammo.
- The planets and suns are also really small compared to ships. Even the strike crafts end up looking as big as Ireland or Georgia.
- In EVE Online, one of the smallest player-usable spacecraft is about as big as a 747◊. The larger ones◊ can be up to several kilometers in length.
- For a little sense of scale, that's the Eiffel Tower in the very bottom left corner. In addition, that 747-sized ship is a dot hanging somewhere around the right side of the Minmatar bar.
- For a better view of the small ships, here◊ is another image, which does not include the largest ships (it includes dreadnoughts, but not carriers, motherships, or titans).
- 1944 : Battle of the Bulge gave us pretty realistic take of unit measurement, with infantry being so tiny and tanks are obviously on scale. However due to the Short-Range Long-Range Weapon and Fog of War rules being obeyed here, having your infantry team, M3 Scout, or even British Churcill, suddenly confront a Tiger Tank may induce Oh, Crap and HSQ reactions.
- Except for the infantry being approx 30 per cent bigger than real people, most of the stuff seen in Act of War has a very accurate size (including warships!), the fact the game is still visually easy to play shows the amount of care the designers had to make it as realistic as possible.
- While we may recognize it was not as perfectly made as other games, lots of Command & Conquer fans loved the considerable amount of realism EALA put in Tiberium Wars and Kane's Wrath, with well scale-sized units and infantry squads, add to this the excellent particle, light and texture effects and you may understand why it's along with Generals the best EA C&C and so many guys felt disappointed when they found Red Alert 3 and Command and Conquer 4 have gone back to cartoonish graphics and units awfully out of scale.
- Homeworld and its sequels tried to keep unit sizes at a sane ratio, and the typical strike craft is so incredibly small compared to carriers or larger ships that you can actually imagine everything fitting together, or at least close together. It doesn't, however, deal with resources well: you can still fit all the necessary materials for those sixteen capital ships and four cruisers in the main base, even if you can't stuff the ships back in, afterwards.
- Another noteworthy thing is that the ships change scale with distance to the camera, so you can still see them when zoomed out fully. It's particularly conspicuous on the research ships, which overlap when zoomed out fully. There is a patch to turn this "Non-Linear Inverse Perspective Scaling" off, leaving all ships to scale at all times, whereupon it becomes difficult to select or even see your strike craft. Homeworld 2 directly provides an option to turn NLIPS on or off.
- Also, there's the Star Wars themed HW2 mod Warlords, which has properly scaled units, from Tie Fighters to the truly gargantuan Super Star Destroyers.
- Supreme Commander, and to a lesser degree its unofficial spiritual source Total Annihilation, have no problem producing incredible size differences, largely because only one unit has an actual human inside it. The differences can be truly massive. Dozens of lower-tier human-sized or tank-sized units can fit inside the typical battleship's profile, and the experimental units are so massive that some of them can literally crush opponents.
- It's also worth pointing out that the smallest units in SupCom are about the size of AT-STs anyway (your basic attack mecha is the size of a large pine tree). The big stuff is HUGE.
- Also noticeable is how the Transports are precisely large enough to accommodate the units they carry. Even better, you actually see the unit hanging from under the transporter. Even more satisfying, some units have enough free movement while in transport that they can shoot down at enemies below! In the SupCom community, this goes by the lingo of "Ghetto Gunships".
- It is also nice to watch as various air units clash in dogfights. Even though they're the worst scale offenders in the game, flying at a fraction of the real altitudes jet-fighters of today would do, it's still an impressive altitude of hundreds upon hundreds of meters when compared to usual RT Ss. "Factory Units" that can also act as carriers too could conceivably carry all the units it does ingame.
- Star Wars: Force Commander has units that are about the size you'd expect them to be, ranging from basic infantry to AT-ATs. As a result, you can't see the freaking infantry without zooming in.
- Company of Heroes, a World War II RTS, has units that are relatively correctly scaled; at least, it is plausible that a squad of riflemen could fit inside one APC, and buildings with multiple stories are frequently seen, towering above the infantry hiding among the rubble.
- End War keeps units to scale, to the point where you can zoom in and see the individual soldiers that make up a platoon of riflemen die individually, or watch them pile into IFVs for transport without looking wrong at all.
- Except for the Spetsnaz's smaller transport helicopters and their platoons of four tanks, which look unlikely to entirely fit in just one Spetsnaz transport helicopter like they do.
- Ground Control 2 allows infantry to garrison inside buildings, so the buildings are scaled properly, and ground vehicles look about right, too. However, the Drop Ship still has a bigger hold than its volume suggests.
- In Impossible Creatures, even size 1 creatures were larger than humans, so even a cockroach-wasp would be enormous. But in version 1.0, certain creatures (most notably ant-rats) would be size 0, letting them surround and instantly destroy large enemy creatures. Also, they could go through spaces 1 tile wide, letting them reach henchmen hiding in normally safe corners.
- Men Of War has every single unit in the game on a consistent scale. The heaviest tanks, like the Tiger II, IS-3, and T-29 are all freakin' enormous.
- Star Wars: Empire at War and the expansion, mostly. Infantry, Fighters, and Heroes are larger than what would seem realistic, but it's mostly excused. Home One is supposed to be the size of two ISD's, Arc Hammer, being a factory ship, is correctly sized and armed, the difference between normal ISD's and the two hero ones (Accuser and Admonitor) is minimal, Executor is, well, the FREAKING EXECUTOR, the Gargantuan is a weapons platform (although how it can fit inside a Gallofree Transport is beyond me...), Merciless is barely larger than normal Aggressor-class destroyers, and both Hound's Tooth and IG-2000 are, like the Millennium Falcon and Slave 1, heavily-armed freighters, and are appropriately sized. The size differences between Red/Rogue Squadrons, Dark Squadron, Han, Chewie, Boba, Vader, Palpatine, Yoda, Luke, Tyber, Urai, Bossk, IG-88, Silri, Mara Jade, Kyle Katarn, Blizzard 1, and Sundered Heart is negligible compared to other units (except Luke's X-Wing in Forces of Corruption, which is the size of a fookin' transport) With fighters and infantry, they're still small enough that each individual squad/squadron needs a to have a picture. Forces of Corruption also added land transport vehicles, which are actually large enough to realistically carry 9 squads of infantry. The only time scaling looks funny is if a dogfight is happening around a Star Destroyer and one switches to cinematic mode.
- This looks funny because the fighters and transports are HUGE. In the movies they are almost invisible if an entire capital ship is in shot, so there's a very good reason for this exception.
- The RTS series Total War features castles so large that entire battles take place within their courtyards. Catapults and artillery are suitably many times taller than infantry, and are usually operated by 5-10 visible infantry units.
- Except when it comes to moving armies via ship. You can fit an entire 20 unit army (anywhere from 500 to 2000 individuals) on a single small ship.
- Although the units are to scale, Total War does tend to fall into Thriving Ghost Town a lot: in Rome, the Eternal City can never get a population above 32000 or so, for game-balancing reasons, and none of the cities have anywhere near enough residential space. It also had issues with some fauna, like trees in Germany, being absolutely huge. And operating on Rule of Funny, there is a cheat that allows you to access the dreaded oliphants that tower over any soldier or building in the game.
- Total War Rome II is probably the most accurate yet. Cities are absolutely massive and each unit has its own transport ships to accommodate it. You can even see the troops standing on deck during the battles to show that yes, just about everything here is to scale.
- World in Conflict does a decent job averting this: the infantry units are represented as squads of five men, who are individually so small that you only see them as tiny specks on the screen from the tactical view. If they weren't individually highlighted with green circles like all other units in the game, the infantry players would have had trouble finding their own units again.
- Combat Mission averts this in a very practical way. The player controls the displayed scale with a single shortcut key. Units can be displayed realistically, or can be scaled to various constant sizes, irrespective of their distance from the camera. Thus you can scale everything up to the maximum to spot lone, camouflaged infantry at distances of several kilometers or more across the steppes, or scale everything realistically for close battles, when judging the effects of elevation, or just to enjoy the view as everything moves between command phases.
- Para World mostly averts this, except for the water transport units, which are ridiculously tiny relative to what they can carry (since units take up one slot therein no matter how big they are, you could fit 10 dinosaurs in a small boat. Or on a giant turtle... however that one's supposed to work.)
- Notably averted in American Conquest, where barracks are indeed the size of a regiment, and you often need to zoom out to manage your fleet.
- Another impressive aversion in Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds, where the vehicles and buildings are in proportion, and both ships and the Martian Tripod Terrors are huge.
- In Ultima VI, while some inventory objects and other sprites are off-scale, the towns themselves are all part of one big continuous overworld map. The dungeons are half-scale compared with the overworld. The entrances to the dungeons on the overworld are in the exact same locations as their exits inside the dungeons.
- The X-Universe series, what with its varying objects in space, from astronauts, small ships, capital ships, stations and jumpgates tends to make size differences very visible.
- Freespace (aka Descent: Freespace) is one of the only games to advertise this fact. The US cover art of the game showed a gigantic alien battleship spanning 4 pages of the fold-out over. A tiny dot was circled on the front with the caption "This is you". Players who managed to reach the final levels of the game would be surprised to find this depiction in sizes was accurate.
- In the sequel, though, Shivan juggernauts (supposedly just under 6 kilometers long) can be picked out clearly as they orbit the Capella star, from dozens if not hundreds of millions of miles away. This seems to suggest that either the juggernauts orbiting the star are either five orders of magnitude larger than they actually are, or Capella the equivalent amount smaller than we think it is. Note that the real Capella is more than twice as massive as our own sun. The ending sequence directly contradicts this, too, showing the juggernauts near the star as being much smaller than the star itself. Based on the scale shown by that cutscene, the juggernauts really should be completely invisible from the player's point of view, hundreds of millions of miles away.
- Tachyon: The Fringe also advertises its realistic scale. In the game, various sectors contain truly gigantic starbases (so massive that they often caused framerate problems), with the player's hangar being only a small opening when looking at the entire structure. It can take several minutes (even using afterburners) to fly around the thing. The same is true with cruisers and carriers, although to a much lesser extent. The problem with planet scale is solved by having the planets and moons as backgrounds.
- The incredibly awesome Ad Astra freeware space simulator game is also completely on scale.
- Ace Combat also averts this to a smaller degree (at least recently), with aerial combat may span hundred of kilometers range of engagement...and don't expect air-to ground warfare (especially those belongs to Air Strike Impossible section) is easy, since the target is so tiny and you're moving rather too fast.
- Zoo Tycoon mostly averts this. The animals are up to scale in comparison to the people. The buildings are also relatively large so that it doesn't really look out of place when a guest enters it.