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Friday, June 19, 2009

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Vendetta Online: Detail Textures, Graphics Adjustments
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Guild Software has posted an update on the news blog for its massively-multiplayer online space strategy game, Vendetta Online. Upcoming changes discussed in the entry include the introduction of detail textures and adjustments to graphics support for older hardware.

First and foremost, I had Ray drop detail textures into the engine. This is a feature that allows the primary texture on an object to be modulated with a secondary "high detail" texture; so when the first begins to look blurry, the second comes through and creates the impression of increased surface detail. Combine this with specularity and bump shaders, and you can add a lot of detail. This is particularly important with Very Large Objects, since they tend to have much more obviously "blurry" textures. Large or small, however, detail textures can have a big impact on the perceived visual quality of objects in the universe. Adding detail textures only took him a few hours, but handling the more aesthetic tradeoffs and balancing that against shader performance has been an ongoing process.

We had been planning to add this feature for years, but just "hadn't gotten around to it". Although they have general applicability on any object, the need for detail textures tends to be greatest with large objects. For this, and other reasons, we've historically tended to avoid "really large" objects, preferring clusters of smaller objects to yield more detail. However, as part of the greater "Universe Redux" process, I'm looking at getting some physically-bigger content into the galaxy. If I'm going to spend the time to repopulate most of the galaxy with more asteroids, I would just as soon add in some new types of asteroids, and giant ice, and other features that can add to the tactically complex environments that will become that much more central to future gameplay. Aside from this, you'll also begin to see a lot of added detail on ships like the HAC and Constellation, as well as our stations and the like. Some of the current asteroids, like the broken tan-color chunks, will be among the first to get the added improvement. All in all, detail textures add a significant bit of enhancement for a relatively small amount of development work, which is exactly the sort of graphical update that is worthwhile when convenient (despite all our pressing gameplay needs).

Detail textures will only be visible to people with "fairly" modern hardware (ie, only six years old, heh), as it will only be present for shader 2.0 capable cards.
Read the full post at the link below.

Vendetta Online News
Guild Software
Strategy First
Vendetta Online

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