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Everquest: New Graphics Engine Screenshots
Dialogue, 2004-07-28

We continue our week of Everquest features with a series of screenshots highlighting the new EQ Graphics Engine. Below is some of the material from SOE about the engine itself, followed by select shots showing off what it can do.

Enjoy! And make sure to head on over to our EQ Giveaway Contest once you're through!

New Graphics Engine Fact Sheet

In order to keep EverQuest fresh and competitive, the EQ team is undertaking a major project for the game: introducing an all-new graphics engine for the current game, which will be activated for every player.

With the new engine, users will see better frame rate performance on their current DX9-compatible video cards. Both the collision system and graphics engine have been completely rewritten from scratch, while keeping old art assets and with no changes to system specs except requiring DirectX 9. The new engine also boasts better collision detection, which will make it easier to click on objects in the world as well as for NPCs to find more accurate paths.

Graphically, players will notice characters and zones with much greater detail, a new sky with stars at night and moving cloud patches, smoother animation on new models, faster loading times, algorithmically generated weather particles such as snow and rain that will puddle, and higher quality lighting.

The EQ team is also currently evaluating plans to slowly upgrade other live areas within the game, but with the huge amount of zones, player- and non-player character models, art and textures throughout the game, this will not be a sudden process. There will be a gradual change over time, but the greatest and most immediate changes will come about in future expansions.

New Engine features include:

  • Environmental Effects
    • Better special effects for rain and snow
  • Sky
    • Realistic sky gradient
    • Advanced star rendering
    • Multiple cloud patches moving independently
  • Animation and Skinning: Advanced animations with animation blending and stretching of skin.
    • Hierarchical bone-based animation of models
    • Animated textures (both color map and bump map)
    • Animation mixing (each bone can perform a separate animation)
    • Animation blending (between successive animations, either additive or averaged)
    • Single-bone skinning supported for original assets
  • Asset Handling:
    • More efficient loading of geometry and textures
    • Option to turn off rendering of a piece of a given object
  • Bump Mapping
    • Standard bump (normal) mapping (zones and characters)
  • Collision System: all new code
    • Faster in many ways
    • Numerous bugs in old system eliminated
    • Client & server share the exact collision code now
    • Line of sight tests in all zones should now be possible without substantial CPU penalty
    • Improved targetting
  • Lighting: Higher quality dynamic lighting supporting features such as flickering candles.
    • Normal maps for dynamic and static per-pixel lighting (diffuse and specular)
    • Use of glow and gloss maps for self-illuminating and specular intensity
  • Texturing
    • Tinting of skin layer
    • Single layer texturing for NPCs includes color map, bump/glow/gloss map
    • Two texture layers for old character art (for skin and clothes)
    • Color keying as required for transparency on old art assets
    • Detail texturing as required for Luclin terrain, etc.

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