EQ2 and Shaders 3.0

With EQ2’s recent content patch, the Shaders 3.0 were pushed live.  I’ve been looking forward to them ever since they were initially announced and some example screenshots were posted by the devs.  Unfortunately, their release isn’t going as well as hoped, as pointed out on this thread in the official EQ2 forums.  Problems reported are things like “too dark” and “missing textures” and even completely black screens.

After reading that thread I went in to the game and enabled the Shaders 3.0 for myself.  The next time I logged in they were active.  My reaction is quite mixed, but overall negative.  1st off, I completely agree that they make the whole game too dark.  I turned my ambient lighting to full, and it helped a bit but my characters still looked goth/emo with black circles around their eyes.  I went ahead and disabled the v3 shaders and went back to “normal.”

On her other blog, Stargrace made this post about the shaders.  In the comments she mentioned Profit UI’s “night vision” button which I’d completely forgotten about.  And then I decided ot write this post so I logged back in to EQ2 and took a bunch of screenshots in Shader 1, Shader 3, and both states of using night vision buttons.  I also took 1 shot where I simply turned the ambient lighting all the way up but didn’t use the night vision button.  TBH it mostly looked to me like that’s all the night vision button did was turn the ambient to full, but I’ll let you be the judge.

Sorry about the graphical jaggies.  I don’t take screenshots at full quality since it makes them in to huge files if I do.  It does look better when I play.  Really.

This 1st shot is my coercer wearing the “Opulent Gold Blouse” from the city status merchant and player-made Sandcloth Pantaloons.  The shot was taken with Shaders 1.0 in normal lighting during the day.  The 2nd shot is done with Shaders 3.0 in normal lighting. 3rd shot is Shaders 3.0 with maxed ambient light and the 4th shot is Shaders 3.0 with the night vision button from the Profit UI used.

Shader 1, Sandcloth Pants, Opulent Top, Regular Lighting
I put on a few more outfits and took shots of them also.  Sadly, by the time I turned off the Shaders 3.0 and re-logged, night had begun to fall so even the Shaders 1.0 start to look pretty dark.  I should have taken the pics indoors next to a light source, I guess.  Ah well.  Next time.

As it is, as an fyi, all Shaders 3.0 shots from now on are using the night vision button.  None of the 3.0 shots are left at “normal” light levels.  All shots are in sequence of “Shader 1 normal light on the left, Shader 3.0 night vision in the middle, and Shader 1.0 night vision on the right.”

Here’s a fun one — I did not change the outfit at all in the next shots, yet the pants changed color to blue.  Go figure.  And the rightmost shot is in Shaders 1.0 with the night vision on so you can see how much more of a difference it makes in the 1.0 shaders vs 3.0.  And isn’t it odd that the dark boots went to a light gray in the newer shaders?  And yeah, her forehead does gain the black box when in night vision mode in the 1.0 shaders.

Next is the Robe Of Erudite Grace.  I think it comes from the Erudin Library instance, in case anyone wants to farm for it 😉  Shader 1 on the left, 3 on the right, and you can see from the background (I hope) that the Shader 1 shot was taken at night vs the 3.0 shot being taken in day.  In spite of that, the character model looks brighter in 1.0.  At night.  See what I mean about 3.0 being dark?  Notice also that the white boots changed to gray in 3.0.  And holy washout in night vision on 1.0, Batman!

Full night had fallen by the time I took these next 2 shots in 1.0 though, even with the nasty washed out night vision setting. This is the Robe of the Kage-Zonn from the Vigilant zones.  Nice robe for pet users.

And of course, no series of shots of female characters in EQ2 can be considered complete without “the dress” so even though this is a quest reward in Sentinel’s Fate, it’s still using the “formal dress” model, so here ya go:

So. . . .whaddya all think?  Shader 3 better or worse?

Posted on May 29, 2010, in EQ 2. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I think a lot can be said for the fact that these shaders are turned OFF by default for everyone logging into the game. If you’re that proud of something, and it works as it should, naturally I would assume that they should be turned ON by default, and not hidden away.

    I ended up turning mine off. While I did like the look of buildings, the flesh tones really were horrid. My white kerra was charcoal gray, and my gnome was as pale as a ghost.

  2. I think it is an excellent point that the shaders are turned off by default.

    Although the new shaders looked great at times the work on them is not that good. Despite the very long time they have been hyped, even postponed several times I thought the results would be better. “Meh”, is my impression of the looks.

    What is not “meh” bu instead a resounding “WTF?” is the amount of black screens and right out crashes I’ve had. All crashes have been in the Guild Hall. Granted, the crashes made me log out (in disgust) and play other games. Shader 3 is to blame. I tested without the shaders and all was well. I think the problem might be related to AA and AF. At least I’ve read a dev post that AA and AF breaks the shaders, or the other way around.

    Anyway: Meh and Much Ado…

  3. The Shader 3.0 are fairly rough still, on my computer they crash a lot in the guild hall and in my house, I suspect though there that two in game objects are causing it.

    Other than that I’ve left them on and forgotten that shader 3.0 is on often, very good in other zones, mostly lighting problems though and to me it looks like something the artists would need to go through and correct. If they can do that the game can really look a lot better, and it would be a massive revamp for the entire game.

    On performance there is also a new update in the works, will have to see how much this improves things, shader 3.0 is a whole new look for EQ2, it just needs some polishing to get it fully ready.

  4. Love EQ2; have been playing since servers went live.

    Tried new shaders 3.0, happy to say that I had no crashing problems like some players reported. Found it somewhat underwhelming, not exactly as impressive as the screen shots shown last year.

    Loss of frames-per-second was minimal, but just like shadows – I turned the feature off again. EQ2 game engine already gives a very average performance on modern day high-end hardware (in my opinion) without extra eye candy getting bolted on to steal away more FPS.

    At the end of the day – I felt the new shaders currently added nothing, and the game looks better with them off. Either my ATI 5970 renders things a little differently than Nvidia whom Sony endorse, or a lot of things look unnaturally shiny with the 3.0 box ticked, including the tree mobs in Nek and my cloth armor.

    I still love the game though…

  5. Although it may seem strange, there may still be someone SOMEwhere “rockin’ out” in EQ2 with a graphics card that cannot handle or use the Shaders 3.0 system. If they were turned ON be default, it would be very difficult to get into the game to turn them off if you have a computer that keeps crashing with them on. As proud as you may be of the new Shaders 3.0, you don’t want to crash people by default then have to deal with the hours of customer support and complaints.

    I do not use Profit UI so I do not have the “night vision” button. Turn that off and try to walk around . . . very dark. I can “fix” it by turning the Overall Gamma at max and turning the brightness up and the contrast down, but that tends to “wash out” some of the colors. Although I DO have to say, it made the night visions (ultra, infra, and sonic) actually worthwile and meaningful . . . ESPECIALLY at night! It gets DARK! Kinda reminded me of EQ1 where, if you were a human at night, you were basically blind.

    In some lighting, though, I find things almost TOO bright. There’s too much reflection on some things . . . and everything appears . . . well, “wet” for lack of a better term. My cloth cape looks like I covered it in the same vinyl/plastic my parents used on their couches in the 60s . . .

    And yes, the colors of some items DO change, and some dramatically. Especially on the npc and player character models. The landscape looks remarkable, but they still need to tweak the character models a bit.

    One BIG complaint I have is, if I change ANY graphics setting or if I go from full-screen to windowed-mode (or back) my entire game screen turns black and it LITERALLY takes between 2 and 8 minutes (I timed it) before I can see the game again. And I have a new Alienware (not top-of-the-line, but good nonetheless) that shouldn’t have that much problem with that.

    I still have high hopes for Shaders 3.0, though. I consider this the Gamma Test of the Shaders (just like every update, it’s never fully tested until it goes live) and look forward to the tweaks, fixes, and any future upgrades they make.

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