As some of you might know Perpetuum currently is running completely on shader model 2.0 shaders. This decision has been made a long while ago, when we only started out on the game, for several reasons:
- We wanted to target as many people as we can.
- We wanted to keep the required PC specs as low as we can.
- We didn't have much experience with DirectX and wanted to start working in a smaller sandbox first.
- With some work we managed to put everything we wanted visually into shader model 2.0 in the end.
We've reached the limits of shader model 2.0 a while ago, and the game really looks better than we would have ever thought. However at this point there's no real option for real visual upgrades without either switching to a higher shader model or going through significant hacks that reduce client performance and mess up the codebase.
This post is advance warning that we'll be changing the minimum requirement for Perpetuum from shader model 2.0 to shader model 3*. As the vast majority of you have hardware that supports SM3, the change will only affect a handful of players.
Do note that changing shader models isn't a silver bullet that will make the game look better magically overnight. This change is necessary in order for us to move the 3D engine forward to more current visual techniques and will take effect when we roll out the first such change, about a month from now to give proper warning. Initially the changes will focus on client performance as opposed to visual upgrades, and we'll gradually move to making things look better when we feel the client is performing well enough.
* For those who are not that tech-savvy, shader model 3 is supported by GPUs manufactured since around 2005, specifically the AMD/ATI X1000 series and above, and the nVidia GeForce 6 series and above. While the Intel GMA series GPUs do have SM3.0 to some extent, they are not officially supported.