Let’s get right to the examples: Here are four shots from Aspyr Media’s release of Otto Matic, the first Mac game that supports both TruForm and FSAA simultaneously. As you can tell from the captions, the four shots are a showcase of what FSAA and TruForm can do to an already gorgeous game. As I said above, while playing Otto I noticed no perceptible speed hit caused by enabling FSAA – quite a thrill!
2x FSAA and TruForm Enabled
4x FSAA and TruForm Enabled
As you can see, there is a very interesting difference between multisampling FSAA and the method that 3dfx used. With the V5, 2x FSAA was sharper and “edgier” than 4x FSAA, but with SmoothVision this scenario is actually reversed -- 2x FSAA looks much blurrier and fuzzier than 4x does! The reason for this is simple: the multisampled FSAA is using interpolation (an educated guess) to determine the color of the anti-aliased pixels, the more samples being used will result in a greater precision of the final result. At 2x FSAA, the AA engine has fewer samples to choose from, and thus the averages are less accurate; at 4x FSAA the amount of pixels being sampled is four times greater, and thus the interpolation has less error and more precision. That being said, at 1024x768 I could not see a difference, performance or otherwise, between 2x and 4x. At 640x480 and 800x600, the effect of FSAA is quite dramatic. The smoothing effect is much more obvious when actually moving around the game environment than it appears in these static screen shots.
Other games I was able to test with FSAA include Unreal Tournament X Preview II, Red Faction and Black and White; supposedly a future update to Myth III will allow both FSAA and TruForm support, while Return to Castle Wolfenstein should also ship with both techs enabled. Spider-Man and Harry Potter will also support FSAA out of the box, and all future Westlake-ported titles based on the Unreal engine (such as Undying) will also include support.
The effect of TruForm is quite subtle, and will vary radically from game to game. In a low-poly-model game such as Myth III, I expect it to have a tremendous effect on the smoothness of models and the accuracy of lighting. However, games with very high-poly models such as Wolfenstein will see minimal enhancement, mosty in the form of more accurate lighting on character models. The good news is there is almost zero speed hit for enabling TruForm, so there will be no reason not to have it turned on in games that add support for this feature.
I’ll save the FSAA frame rate comparisons for later, as they are fairly boring. Let’s get right to the action: Quake 3 Arena.