Friday, December 12, 2008

Graphical polish

I've long hoped that some of my wishes regarding the ingame graphics would be addressed. Here is a short list of the areas I believe are in need of improvement:

-Waterfalls. First and foremost. They are very much at odds with the rest of the incredible environment. They look out of place, and are not believable due to the lack of particle effects. The waterfalls all look as if they have too much body. The effect being used is simply to push a texture over a flat plane, which works fine for say, lava, but a new system is desperately needed for waterfalls, especially considering how realistic the rest of the water is. This image shows how waterfalls are the same bright white-ish colour at all distances:

-Draw distances.
I've always said that the maximum frill distance should be increased. Since book 14 though, the rest of the draw maximums seem to have been DEcreased. For those of us with the graphical horsepower, we should be able to push draw distances, and LOD (level of detail) thresholds out as far as we want. I shouldn't see Duillond suddenly vanish as I walk towards the downs; I shouldn't see Bree festival pop into being where there was bare land. Ruins in the Lone-lands should be visible as far as the terrain is.

-Atmospheric blending. I love the weather effects in this game. However, Middle-earth seems to be full of strange places which bizarrely affect the normal weather patterns. Get too near to a goblin shrine, for instance, and the rain instantly stops, and dark clouds begin to circle overhead. Trestlebridge's falling ash also used to be able to stop rain, but this was specifically addressed. In short, I would like all localized special atmospheric effects to BLEND with the dominant regional weather pattern, and not supersede it. Instances, of course, would be exempt from this rule, but places like Annuminas would not. It is silly to think that it is always raining in that part of the city. Players really enjoy seeing familiar places in different conditions. More variable effects through blending would help a great deal.

Remember that Forochel fog effect? Imagine if it could be applied in a controlled fashion to the Barrow-downs, or to Bree-town for the morning.

-Bears. Yes, bears. Of all the creatures of Middle-earth, they are quite possibly the most poorly textured and animated. When compared to the more recently designed creatures, such as the Saber-kittehs with their fluid animation and believable coats, the bears just don't measure up. It is particularly important because bears are an available Lore-master pet. Seeing them barrel down the street in their semi-random gait is a bit disconcerting. Being a large fan of bears in the actual sense, I would very much like to see them upgraded.

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