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Old 07-30-09, 11:07 AM   #10
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Tulsa
Posts: 5,101
Default Re: EQ2 Shader 3.0 upgrade

EQ 2 is/was shader model 1.1 game. Not a 2.0 game back then. The idea that the X800 alledgely ran it better or worse back then had nothing to do with 2.0's performance on either piece of hardware. So please dont start with the X800/Geforce 6 benchmark and history lineup. It totally does not matter and is actually irrelevant to the problems this game had in the first place.

I spent an enormous amount of time on this issue working with Nvidia on the EQ "Stutter" problem. And it has nothing to do with the games shader usage and implementation. Infact alot of people seem to blame the games performance entirely on its shader 1.1 implementation and thats entirely unfair to Sony. The game had alot of issues when it was first released primarily due to the fact that the game probably wasn't very optimised back then. You can put in a Geforce 6800 or even a Geforce 7600 and get pretty decent gameplay experience. Infact my laptop uses a Geforce 7600 GO with an AMD turion X2 and the game plays exceedinly well on it.

Alot of people believed EQ 2's performance problems were related to SM 3.0 back when the game was released. ((And yes Geforce 6/7 cards will get gains from this usage because its entirely angled at decreasing shader workload by increasing the amount work a single line of shader code can do in a single pass. It's possible that the changed they are talking about are possible on X800 hardware. But I seriously doubt they'll bother using a DX 9.0 extension path that theres only a few remote users of these days that'd actually benefit. IE SM 3.0 is still alive and kicking and will probably be around for several more years to come because SM 3.0 is actually not that far behind DirectX 10. Alot of SM 3.0 optional features simply became mandated by DX10. . SM 2.0B has been dead for quite some time and has no real life to it these days.)).

EQ 2. To this day and always has been a primarily CPU limited title. Sony is working now to take some of the shader 1.1 code and make it run more efficiently on the GPU so that the CPU does not get stalled waiting for shader requests. In contrast and comparison. Even Everquest 1 uses more complicated shaders than EQ 2 does. As it uses pixel shader 2.0 for almost every normal mapped surface in the most recent expansions. I actually expect the SM 3.0 to have very little impact on today's hardware because the game just isnt simply bottlenecked by the GPU. But rather the CPU. Sony is going to have to completely move to a GPU accelerated geometry method for the game to see an enormous speed up by a better implementation method.. Which would hurt backwards compatibility. The beauty of tweaking pixel shader code is it can be toned down/turned off without effecting your lowest common denominator gamer. The same cannot be said for vertex shading. This is why you see alot of "Graphically revamped" MMORPG's focusing on lighting, water, and procedural textures rather than new animations and geometry density.

Curiously. They are talking about working on the games foliage. So that might be a chance to see geometry instancing used to actually improve the CPU bottleneck. But he mentions its down the line.
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