Responses on the previous post were gratifying, since nearly everyone had the same complaints that I did. I brought this up not because I wanted to pick on poor LOTRO, but because I was really curious how other people would react to it. I was worried that perhaps noticing this sort of thing was a leftover from the time when I did this for a living. Maybe I was just being a 3D art snob? Maybe the average player doesn’t notice or care about details like this? But it looks like people do notice this sort of thing.
For the record, I was talking about the texture mapping:
(Also for the record: I’m playing the game with high detail settings, and this shot is not indicative of what the game looks like as a whole. Also also: I just now tried to fire up the game and make sure I didn’t accidentally set the graphics to “ass”, but LOTRO is in the middle of an update at the moment. So let’s just go with what we’ve got here.)
The big central pillar is very low resolution, making the texture seem “fuzzy”. The floor on which it rests has much tighter mapping, thus making it look more detailed. Then the steps have tighter mapping still. This is usually a huge no-no and the artists I’ve known would go bonkers if you asked them to do this.
The general rule is that your textures should all be at the same resolution. Having the entire scene in low resolution is far better than some low and some high. The eye can fill in a lot of details and can accept a low fidelity image, but having huge variations in detail levels seems to prevent this. This is why I can go back and play Deus Ex without being offended by the graphics, but this pillar looks “wrong” to me. Until we get 100% photo-realistic games (which is not any time soon, and not even something I really want) then the brain is going to have to fill in the gaps for us. Uniformity and consistency are crucial to making that happen.
Someone pointed out that they don’t remember this area looking this bad. I didn’t think of it before, but it’s possible that this screenshot comes from a low-definition version of the game. I was still playing the trial when I took these, and and maybe it downloads a “lite” version of the client and fills in the big textures later. I don’t know that this is the case, I’m just trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.
But even if you improved the size of the texture on the central pillar, there is still this:
The texture in the orange box is the same as the texture in the green box, except that in the green one it has been scaled down AND squashed vertically. I don’t care what you do with the texture sizes, this will never look right.
Even when I was a 3D / texture artist for a living, I never rose very far above the level of a common hack. I’m just too much engineer and not enough artist. But even I knew better than to do this.
To be fair to poor Lord of the Rings here, the game often looks quite pleasing:
But the varying texture resolution is still there. Here is another example, although it’s a lot less jarring with the transitioning fade:
This doesn’t ruin the game for me or anything, it’s just odd to see a big-budget game with this kind of problem.
EDIT: Game is back up and I just hopped on for a minute. The graphics are definitely set to “Triple Awesome Overkill”. So this isn’t a problem with the settings.
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