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EverQuest II Graphics Overview - Page 1 of 2

INTRODUCTION

The EverQuest II graphics engine was specifically designed to take advantage of capabilities that will be offered in future graphics processing units (GPU). However, it also happens to be very successful at taxing today's most powerful GPUs.

Sony Online's EverQuest II

EverQuest II requires a DirectX 9 compatible graphics card with pixel and vertex shader support. Although 64 MB of graphics memory is required, 128 MB is recommended. The graphics engine is capable of producing per-pixel lighting and special effects that include bump mapping and environment mapping.

SYSTEM CONFIGURATION

The following hardware and software was used during EverQuest II game play.

  • Processor - AMD Athlon 64 3400+
  • Motherboard - AOpen AK89 Max (nForce 3)
  • Memory - 1GB Corsair PC3200 XMS Extreme Memory
  • Hard Drive - (2) 80GB Western Western Digital, 7200RPM, ATA-100, 8MB Buffer
  • Sound Card - Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS
  • Sound - EAX 4.1
  • Graphics Card - NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra @ 400MHz/1.10GHz
  • Graphics Driver - ForceWare Beta Version 67.02
  • Fast Writes - Disabled in BIOS to Reduce "Stuttering"
  • Image Setting - High Quality for Trilinear Filtering on all Texture Stages
  • Antialiasing - 4X Forced in Driver
  • Anisotropic Filtering - 8X Forced in Driver
  • Negative LOD Bias - Clamped to Reduce Texture Aliasing


  • Fraps - Version 2.5.0

Notes

  • Fraps was used to capture the screenshots that appear in this article.


  • In order to generate the best image quality and reduce texture aliasing, all driver-related texture filtering optimizations were disabled and negative LOD bias was set to clamp.

DISPLAY SETTINGS

The display settings in EverQuest II consist of the categories listed below. Clicking on a category link will activate a pop-up window that displays the in-game configuration options for the selected category.

Note that the detail display settings in the accompanying screenshots are based on having selected a Performance Profile of Very High Quality.

Display Categories

PERFORMANCE PROFILES

The overall display setting in EverQuest II is based on a series of pre-defined Performance Profiles. The Performance Profile, which resides under the Performance Category, establishes the baseline detail settings.

For example, if Extreme Performance is used, the resolution of all in-game textures is set to low and the lighting and shadow quality are both set to minimal. The following table lists the Performance Profile assignments for the key Display Categories.

EverQuest II Performance Profiles

Once a Performance Profile is applied, the detail settings in each category can be fine-tuned as needed. For example, after a Performance Profile of Balanced is applied, the lighting quality can be changed from average to high. However, when a default setting is changed, the Performance Profile will automatically change to Custom. The following is a list of the settings that can be assigned to the texture resolution, lighting quality, and shadow quality categories. Clicking on a category will reveal the in-game settings menu for the selected category.

Detail configuration settings are normally based on the assignments that are made when a Performance Profile is applied. For example, if a Performance Profile of Balanced is used, shadows are of average quality and the shadows and character shadow selections are checked. Selecting the Quality Profile will add torch shadows.

EverQuest II Shadow Display Settings

Under the Extreme Quality Performance Profile, shadow quality is set to high and all of the checkboxes, with the exception of off-screen shadows, are checked.

General information and comparative screenshots will eventually be provided for many of the Display Categories. The first revision of this article will cover the Performance category.

PERFORMANCE CATEGORY

The Performance Category contains pre-configured profiles that range from Extreme Performance to Extreme Quality. Configurable settings include screen resolution, which ranges from 1024x768 through 2048x1536, refresh rate, and screen mode (full vs. windowed). Additional settings include triple buffering and sliders to set the graphics resolution, texture resolution, rendering distance, and complex shader distance.

The scene depicted in the image below was taken on the Isle of Refuge and contains a number of graphics elements that can be manipulated with the in-game menus. The images are based on a resolution of 1024x768 with 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled with the graphics driver image setting at High Quality.

Underneath each image are three links. When clicked, the links will display a screenshot from the same scene based on the selected Performance Profile. The default image is based on the Extreme Quality Profile. Note that this comparison applet is done using JavaScript.

Performance Profile Comparison - Scene 1
Show Extreme Quality
Show Balanced
Show Extreme Performance

Performance Profile Comparison - Scene 1
Show Extreme Quality
Show Balanced
Show Extreme Performance

The chart below lists the frame rate, as reported by Fraps, for each of the Performance Profiles. The Extreme Quality profile enables environmental shadows, which causes a severe impact on performance. The effect of environmental shadows is prevalent in the second screenshot as shadows appear in the wooden structures and the water (toggle the screenshot between Extreme Quality and Balanced).

Performance Profile Performance

Full-sized, high-quality screenshots of this scene can be downloaded by clicking the appropriate link:

Performance Profile Image Size
 
Extreme Performance 1.04 MB
 
Very High Performance 1.18 MB
 
High Performance 1.18 MB
 
Balanced 1.28 MB
 
High Quality 1.39 MB
 
Very High Quality 1.39 MB
 
Extreme Quality 1.37 MB

The frame rate is shown in the upper right corner of the screen. The graphics driver image setting was set to high quality and 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering were enabled.

Next Page: More on Performance Category and Widescreen Letterbox

Last Updated on January 15, 2005


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