View Full Version : Re:Why not new class? Or a "new luclin" gfx revamp?

07-11-2009, 05:11 PM
Developing a new engine (even just a new graphics engine) from scratch that takes advantage of today's technologies is a HUGE undertaking. One that most companies don't even think of doing (most buy someone else's engine). So when a new game is being developed, you license your engine, and build the game around that engine. If you decide to change engines in mid-development, it is usually very expensive, but still doable because you are not trying to maintain an existing customer base.

For EQ, we can't simply buy or license a new engine because all of the existing content and systems that are half of what make EQ what it is (the other half being the actual players/characters) are tied very tightly to the engine. So to change engines we would need to pretty much completely re-do all character, npc and zone graphics and layouts or find some miraculous way of converting them all to work in a new engine. To make this work, and get rid of the ensuing avalanche of problems and bugs and make it a releasable product would likely take more time and resources than creating a new game that isn't burdened by having to conform to a vast set of legacy content and systems.

So lets say you went ahead and did all that and you release the mother of all expansions that nails all this perfectly (you know, like Luclin...). Then you have the issue that some non-trivial percentage of your existing players hate the new art style, or don't like the look of their new barbarian kilts, etc. Then another non-trivial percentage of your players can't even run the game anymore because they can't or don't want to upgrade their computers to be capable of playing it (as a side note, I just experienced this when I found a problem where some dependencies on the SSE1 instruction set crept into the client executable on test. SSE1! Yes, several people could no longer play because their machines did not support SSE1). So now you're in a situation where some fraction of your playerbase are happy because you updated the graphics, but a large number of them leave.

Now you have to do the marketing to bring people back to the "new" EQ1 that may have some new content (but probably not much, since we were so busy upgrading the engine for a year or two), but is largely the same GAME with nicer graphics. I think it is VERY difficult to predict if such an endeavor would be successful.

This is not to say that we won't be improving our graphics. I think our zone and NPC art just keeps getting better and better. The engine is certainly capable of rendering some nice zone art. Our newer character model system is pretty good, and I continue to campaign to get character models upgraded--though I have no news on that front. And the memory optimizations on Test right now will hopefully alleviate many problems with bloat in the global file, etc.

In summary, I do not see a complete graphics overhaul any time soon for EQ. But that's not to say we are standing still and not making incremental improvements. There are other graphical enhancements coming. Hopefully when they do you will enjoy them for a while before turning all your settings back down to minimum and begging for us to return the stick figures. http://www.mapfiend.net/eq/images/smilies/3b63d1616c5dfcf29f8a7a031aaa7cad.gif

P.S. In terms of other engine limitations, we're fixing those as we get time as well. I just wanted to give my philosophical take on the graphics side of things--I don't make these sorts of huge decisions about the future of EQ (though certainly those in charge do listen to my input).

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