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Old 07-30-09, 03:45 PM   #11
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Default Re: EQ2 Shader 3.0 upgrade

Originally Posted by ChrisRay View Post
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.)).
Wait what? X800 proved to be faster for shader model iterations from 1.1 to 2.0 I included SM2.0 stuff because I'm not sure if EQ2 had any SM2.0 code or not. It was certainly coded for Direct X 9,Even if EQ2 had no connection to Direct X 9.0 what-so-ever, and despite the fact that it seemed to process a lot of vertex calls on CPU (stencil shadows especially), X800 would still have a leg up due to its faster SM1.1 performance.

Did you miss this part of my post: In SM 1.1 x800 is twice as fast roughly. You don't think that could explain much of the variation in performance between x800 and 6800

Indicating that everything SM1.1 compatible and up ran this game well is completely disingenuous. There was quite a difference between card grades and manufacturers. As indicate in this Hardocp summation: "The VisionTek XTASY X850 XT is definitely the card for you if you are going to be playing EverQuest 2 a lot. The results of our testing in this game were quite surprising given that it is a “The Way it’s Meant to be Played” game. When it comes right down to it, the VisionTek XTASY X850 XT offers a better, more immersive, gaming experience in EverQuest

About the other games I provided, Far Cry 2 was also not a "Shader 2.0" game in the sense that it used only SM 2.0 shaders. Same with Half Life 2. I used [then] shader-heavy game performance on 6800 & x800 to draw real-world correlation to both the RightMark Shader analysis results (including shader performance SM1.1 to 2.0) and to the performance we saw in EQ2. Even if EQ2 used NO direct x 9.0 code the fact that X800 kicked the poo out of 6800 on SM1.1 code still explains some of the variation. Of course, games at the time qualified as "SM2.0" if they used anything pertaining to Shader Model 2.0 spec, or anything not allowed 1.1-1.4 (floating point targets for instance).

There was nothing surprising about EQ2's 6800 performance except for the fact that EQ2 didn't use dynamic branching despite it being an nVidia "optimized" game. That was where people felt duped, and you helped reveal this marketing inconsistency. I think people mostly were just dissapointed how it ran on any platform. The strangest thing about EQ2 was that it was heavily marketed by nVidia. Someone failed in the chain of communication to tell them that there was NO SM3.0 code there

By the way as far as your "EQ2's performance is not limited by the shaders it uses": "You dont believe that implementing SM 2.0 was a magical performance fix for the slow performance in EQ 2. I agree. But that doesnt neccasarily mean there arent certain areas in the game that could benefit from a more unified lighting model. If you have any reason to believe otherwise. I'd like for you to share it. Obviously the entire game wouldnt need to be filled with SM 2.0 type shaders. There are many shaders in HL2, Far Cry ect which dont need high precision longer instructons." I'll let you guess who said that

Anyways, we completely agree about them not bothering overhauling their shader code unless it is trivial to do so. And SM3.0 is a great shader model, and is quite similar in terms of capability to DX10 and most likely DX11.
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