Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Inspirations, or why you need a new graphics card

So last week I visited my home and got some new inspirations for the general setting. I tried my best to catch a little bit of the landscape and bring it into NWN2, so far with some success. So here are some first WIP-screens of the farmlands around the fictional town of Niederhoeve, in which I tried to capture the general idea of the landscape I'm trying to form. The downside is, how do you make wide grasslands without grass? You can't, and the area will just be plain ugly if anyone gets the idea of disabling the Render Grass option in game. But, if you leave it enabled (I hope everyone will), you'll get the idea why you need a new graphics card. My trusty 8800GT ran the area smooth, but the noise from inside my computer told me it was sweating really hard. Anyway, here it goes...






14 comments:

Michael A. Sinclair said...

I turned on grass in Oblivion after finding I only lost 2-3 FPS. It makes all the difference. If only I could get NWN2 to run smoothly _without_ grass. Or bloom. Or anything including the minimum settings. Gods that game runs horribly slow.

Michael A. Sinclair said...

Oh, gorgeous screenshots, BTW. I'll have to get a new computer to play on your world, but it looks worth it.

Casa said...

Actually, Grass doesn't slow my NWN that much down normally. And as I said, the area (even though being a giant 32x32 area) runs very smooth for me. Just the loud whining from under my desk told me the card's probably working hard.
In general, it's always been the shadow options in NWN2 that made the most impact for me, and the most powerhungry seems to be the "Render Far Shadows" option. This one can be turned off without having much impact on the immersion at all, especially when you lower the viewing distance (another way to get quite a few more fps). With Far shadows off and the viewing distance a bit lower I can leave all other options pretty high and still get playable fps - the visual quality I make my screenies with is the same I use for playing.

Ben Harrison said...

Lovely areas/screens, Casa! Your blog's really making me want to give the NWN2 toolset a try, but the little passively cooled GPU I bought for NWN1 & modding (9400gt) would apparently be woefully underpowered.

I guess NWN2 (and my forbidden love affair with Oblivion) will have to wait.

Keep up the good work!

Casa said...

Are you sure that card can't run NWN2, Ben? I know the 9400 is on the lowest end of things, but there have been success stories even for onboard graphics - and the 9400GT is 2 years younger than NWN2. I'd give it a try, maybe on medium settings.
But guys, a good graphics card isn't really expensive anymore, and oooh what a new visual world it opens. ;)

Ben Harrison said...

You're probably right, Casa -- my problem is that (like you, I think) it irks me to run a game (especially one that I'd play partly for its visual beauty) at low/medium settings. Once I'm in a better financial position, I intend to build myself a new rig with SSDs and a high-end GPU/sound card.

Till then, you better keep posting screenshots for me to drool over!

Sherincall said...

Wonderful screenshots. Like Ben and Michael, I'll likely get a new PC once Middleforest is finished. Till then, I see no point in it.. other than giving Fallout 3 a try, but that can wait. I'll play the first two yet again.

Michael A. Sinclair said...

I've been able to get some excellent performance out of Oblivion even with high graphics, but that's because of community action. There's lots of texture replacers that reduce the graphical requirements without sacrificing visual quality, script replacers that optimize the world, mesh replacers, and so on. Most of these are simply not possible or feasible with a game like NWN2. So while I can run Oblivion with high graphics at playable FPS on an onboard card, but I can't touch NWN2 on minimum graphics.

Sherincall said...

What are your system specs? Maybe I could do something like that as well..

Michael A. Sinclair said...

Windows Vista Ultimate
AMD Turion64 x2 (2.0GHz)
2GB RAM
Nvidia GeForce Go 7200 (256MB)

If you'd like, I can make a post on my Oblivion blog about the mods I use to boost performance. Rather not derail Casa's comment page too much more, though. :P

Casa said...

But I like comments! This post set the new record. :D

As for the GeForce thingie you got there, I can see why NWN2 doesn't run that good. Oblivion is a little bit older than NWN2, and for NWN2 I built myself a cheap PC just good enough to play the game - I went with a cheap 7600GS card back then, and the result was... well, not horrible but pretty close. I changed that card to an ATI X1950 Pro later which ran the game good, but still not really smooth at my desired settings. The first card that got there was my current 8800GT really, although my laptop runs the game quite okay too - it uses a 8600M GT chip with 256MB RAM... should actually be comparable to the 7600GS I had first, but even though being a notebook chip it runs the game much better than that old PC... well, it was an Athlon XP 3000+, not really cutting edge even back then. ;)
Of course Obsidian has done a few engine optimisations as well over the time, maybe that's the reason. Anyway, back to the toolset, to get some new screens up soon.

Ben Harrison said...

Michael, I'd appreciate you posting those performance mods somewhere. By your Oblivion screenshots I'd assumed you were playing on a -much- more powerful setup. At the risk of spamming Casa's comments (more), I'm running:
Windows XP (SP3)
Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.66GHz
2GB RAM
GeForce 9400gt 512MB

Anyway, random question about NWN2, Casa: Can you build/place running rivers and streams, as in whitewater/rapids? "Real" rivers are always something I sorely miss in NWN1.

Casa said...

Ben - Water's still something I have to experiment with a little. You don't have running water, and what's even more disappointing, the water doesn't run around your char if you walk through, splash or any movement. Compared to the wonderful water in the Witcher, that was one of the first things that disappointed me right away when I first played NWN2.

However, there are still many water options and optical tricks one can use. There are quite a few sliders for waveform, cripple, water can be coloured however you like, and there are placeable effects for waterfalls, shore waves etc, so it's at least a definitive upgrade to NWN1. It just bothers me that the water just does nothing when you jump in... maybe a good topic for a rant, might do a NWN2/Witcher comparison sometime. I should do some water screenshots next time. :)

Oh, and Ben - you should try running the toolset, your comp should really be up for it. Both my computers have slower CPUs and the same amount of RAM. Only the graphics card is better, but I think yours should be up for the task, can't be much worse than the 8600 mobile chip in my laptop which runs game and toolset fine.

Michael A. Sinclair said...

Posted a list of mods here.