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Wednesday, April 17, 2002

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Wolf Requirements Clarified [Update]
10:22 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Even after Aspyr Media's announcement of the game going Gold Master, it seems Return to Castle Wolfenstein is still causing a stir in the IMG Forums. One of the main concerns being voiced is about the high system requirements for the game, with people wondering whether their systems can handle the title. Both Glenda Adams and Brad Oliver of Westlake Interactive have made recent posts to try to ease concerns by clarifying the situation.

In Adams's post, she notes that a bug in OpenGL affecting the Rage 128 is the reason the card is not recommended. It also seems id Software had a big say in what the final specs for the game would be:

The specs for Wolf were changed to 500 MHz/Radeon at the request of id and Aspyr. The game plays similarly to the PC in nearly all cases, but there is a bug in OpenGL on the Rage 128s that causes extreme slowdowns in certain cases. Rather than ship a game with specs that could be potentially unplayable on some scenes with the Rage 128, the minimums were raised.

The decision was made to increase the requirements even though many gamers would be happy with their performance on a 450/Rage 128 machine because id wanted the minimum to reflect a 20 fps average for most levels. Setting minium requirements isn't an exact science—what is playable to one person is dog slow to someone else. Performance for the final RtCW is slightly better than the last MP test, so gamers will have to use their best judgment in whether they think the game will run well on their machines.

Brad Oliver also posted later that disabling fog might help Rage 128 owners avoid performance gaps. Here's part of his post:
I suspect that if you found performance of the MP test acceptable, you won't have too many issues with the real game on a Rage 128, keeping in mind you might have to disable fog on some levels to keep performance up.
The second part of Adams's message lets gamers know that this situation is only the beginning. As future games (and especially first-person shooters) get more complex, the requirements are only going to go up. This should not come as a shock to many gamers, as there were quite a few machines upgraded in order to play Unreal and Quake II:
On the subject of VRAM, 2002 is a brand new world for games. 32 MB of VRAM is easily the minimum for most games that are shipping this year on the PC. Even an older game like Max Payne can push 40-50 MB of textures onto a card in high detail settings. Games always advance to push the hardware—16 MB video cards are going to be obsolete by Christmas (Max may be the last game we do that has a min spec of 16 MB). Heck, we're negotiating for a game now that at the highest levels uploads 100 MB of textures in a scene!
So do keep in mind that system requirements are not an evil whim of a publisher, but rather a realistic look at what it takes to run ever more complex games at an acceptable rate. Thanks to Oliver and Adams for helping set the record straight.

Update: Thanks to ATI's Eric Jaeger for clarifying that the bug is not in the Rage 128 hardware, but rather in the implementation of OpenGL on the Rage 128. The bug has been fixed in Mac OS X, so only Mac OS 9 users should be affected by it.

RtCW System Requirements Thread
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Archives  News  Wolf Requirements Clarified [Update]