Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

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Vephriel
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Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#1 Unread post by Vephriel » Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:59 pm

One of my biggest graphic concerns at the moment is that Blizzard seems to have changed their anti-aliasing settings for WoD (anti-aliasing, or AA, is what reduces jagged edges in game). I'm not super technically savvy on this, so this will be a very basic explanation, but I'll do my best.

Currently on live WoW has MSAA, the multi-sampling option you can see in your graphics settings. It's been that way forever. Now understandably a lot of people can't run with maxed settings, but for those who can MSAA makes the game look lovely. I run WoW with 8x multisampling, which gives the edges of models a nice smooth finish. Here's a comparison with and without multisampling:
MSAA: Image
None: Image
See how much better it looks? In the second you have those ugly pixellated edges.

In beta, the new options (FXAA and CMAA) don't even come close to the level of polish that MSAA gave. FXAA basically just makes everything blurry to cheat and "smudge" edges, it's a really cheap way of anti-aliasing imo and it looks terrible. CMAA doesn't have the blur but it still doesn't give the same quality that the old MSAA option did. Even with everything maxed in beta I'm really disappointed with the visual jaggedness.

FXAA: Image
CMAA: Image

I'm just going to be really upset if we don't have some way to preserve the quality that MSAA gave. I like playing the game with the highest graphics settings and right now in beta I'm just cringing every time I have to look at anything close up because of the hard edges. WoD is turning out to be one of the most beautiful expansions yet and it seems a shame for it not to have a good AA option for those who can run it.
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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#2 Unread post by Xota » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:04 pm

It's probably a change in order to boost performance. But they hopefully re-add in the current AA method as an option, for the people who have machines that have no performance issues.

CMAA is only designed to be as good (visually) as 2xMSAA, with the computational costs of less than 1xMSAA.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#3 Unread post by zedxrgal » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:07 pm

Oh my. Yeah I completely see your point. Ugh. That .............. to me ............ could almost be a deal breaker. I spent a lot of money on my gaming laptop to run my games on Ultra and by the sound of it that'll be a waste come WoD. :( Doesn't make sense why they would replace the original AA.
I sincerely hope it's just a "beta is beta" thing. Otherwise. No shiny new pets etc. I mean. What's the point of updating ANYTHING to have it look so bloody poor in the end at launch. Real shame if it stays that way. Waste of time too.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#4 Unread post by Lisaara » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:11 pm

I dont think they have anti-aliasing even enabled on beta servers....

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#5 Unread post by Vephriel » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:12 pm

Xota wrote:It's probably a change in order to boost performance. But they hopefully re-add in the current AA method as an option, for the people who have machines that have no performance issues.

CMAA is only designed to be as good (visually) as 2xMSAA, with the computational costs of less than 1xMSAA.
*nodnod* Since it's still beta I'm hoping that there will be another option added down the road.

I've seen a few threads on the Beta forums that go into more detail: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1327203752
And yes, it's enabled Junrei, FXAA and CMAA are there, they just don't apply the same effect that MSAA did.
Last edited by Vephriel on Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#6 Unread post by Lisaara » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:13 pm

Even if it is....are beta servers even in top shape like Live ones are? I'd really take this with a grain of salt.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#7 Unread post by Vephriel » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:17 pm

Junrei wrote:Even if it is....are beta servers even in top shape like Live ones are? I'd really take this with a grain of salt.
Which is why I'm just expressing concern at the moment, along with other people giving feedback in the Beta forums. As I said, I'm still hoping something will change before live, but as things currently stand it appears that Blizzard might be switching to a different form of AA which may not be the best.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#8 Unread post by Lisaara » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:18 pm

Alright. I just saw a couple people saying it was a deal breaker cause of what's on beta, which just made me tilt my head a little since Beta =/= Live or what will be live. Lots of stuff is bugged on Beta.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#9 Unread post by zedxrgal » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:25 pm

Junrei wrote:Alright. I just saw a couple people saying it was a deal breaker cause of what's on beta, which just made me tilt my head a little since Beta =/= Live or what will be live. Lots of stuff is bugged on Beta.
I'm the only one that said anything like that and I said it could be. I have been through many many betas to know NOTHING is set in stone. Hence the could in my earlier post. If this goes to live, which there's a 50 /50 chance :lol: , it could be something I'd have to think about. That's a long ways off however.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#10 Unread post by Lisaara » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:33 pm

Gotcha. Then I misunderstood. My apologies. :3

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#11 Unread post by zedxrgal » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:43 pm

No worries doll. :hug: I could have worded it funny or something. I've been working six days a week 10 hour days for five of them. So. My brain could be putting out some mush. *snerk*

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#12 Unread post by Lisaara » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:06 pm

Eegads! *rushes off to get Zed a pillow and blanket and plushie of choice, stat!*

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#13 Unread post by Wain » Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:07 am

Cross fingers it is, as you guys say, just them re-working things in beta and the option will be back once everything is back in place.
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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#14 Unread post by Bendak » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:11 am

I've sent in in-game feedback about this, but it's hard to determine how much that'll make a difference. To be honest, I think the vast majority don't notice things like this. They just put the graphics to medium, high, or whatever, and leave it at that.

The puzzling thing is that MSAA has been there for a decade and now they remove it for crappier alternatives (granted, these crappier alternatives are probably better for performance on low end machines).

I haven't tried it yet, but it might be possible to force override MSAA with something like nvidia inspector (done it before for other games). But that's an extremely silly workaround!

All you can do is send in polite feedback really.
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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#15 Unread post by Danielfboone » Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:57 pm

Can't you set AA in your video driver instead of accepting the game settings? I know with AMD Catalyst, you can make a profile for a specific game that overrides in game options.
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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#16 Unread post by Vephriel » Sun Jul 20, 2014 5:55 pm

There are are multiple threads popping up in the Beta forums, but Blizzard has yet to give a response on any. One person made this summary post which explains things better than I could, but also has me worried we aren't likely to see MSAA come back. I really hope they look into the SSAA option. As for the graphics card settings, I'll certainly be trying it if possible, though a few people on these threads have mentioned they haven't had luck yet.
It seems like they've moved to a deferred rendering engine, which has a number of upsides and the downside of MSAA being impossible. There's a wordy explanation on it here: http://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/art ... edev-12342

Anti-aliasing works by taking the edge of a 3D object and making it appear smoother by making the color of the edge pixel the average of the object's pixel and what's behind the object- so if you have a black object on a white background, the edges of the black object are some shade of grey, and so on. For purposes of this discussion at least, there are two ways to do this:

-Take the finalized frame and try and figure out where the edges are and how you should be changing the pixel colors based on the neighboring pixels. This is how FXAA and CMAA work.

-Initially render the frame at a higher resolution than what you're targeting, then scale it down to the final resolution. This creates a much better-looking image, as we know exactly what color each pixel should be- if you're initially rendering at 2x the resolution, each final pixel is the average color of the four pixels that it corresponds to int he initial image. SSAA (also known as supersampling) does this straight-up and thus is super expensive performance-wise, MSAA does this by doing part of the rendering at an increased resolution, scaling the image down to the actual target resolution, and then doing the final steps of rending on the downscaled image, giving you a much bigger quality boost than FXAA/CMAA for much less of a performance hit than SSAA.

In a nutshell, MSAA doesn't work with deferred rendering because (as name implies) it delays an important step of the rendering process from before the point at which an MSAA'd frame is scaled down until after. So you only real options are AA methods that run after the full rendering process, rather than in the middle- FXAA, CMAA, and SSAA.

SSAA should absolutely be implemented in WoW, though, especially with the removal of MSAA- yeah, it's a lot more expensive performance-wise, but there are plenty of video cards out there that have more than enough power to spare to handle supersampling a game that otherwise goes as easy on the video card as WoW does.

(Note that I'm nowhere near an expert on this stuff, so I apologize if I got something horribly wrong writing the above.)

tl;dr- MSAA is most likely not coming back, but they should add in SSAA, even if a lot of video cards can't handle it.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#17 Unread post by Lupen202 » Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:46 pm

Yeah, I've tried messing with my graphics cards settings (and I have AMD Catalyst), but I haven't been able to see a considerable difference... it's still nothing like on live.

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#18 Unread post by Bendak » Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:20 pm

The deferred rendering thing makes sense. I wasn't able to force MSAA no matter what I did. In the meantime, it looks like CMAA is the best...to my eyes anyway. I wouldn't mind a SSAA option, though at the resolution I run (2560x1440) I somehow doubt it'll run very well, even with my GTX 780.
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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#19 Unread post by Vephriel » Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:45 pm

CMAA certainly looks better to my eyes as well, but it's still only the equivalent of 2x multisampling rather than the 8x I'd prefer. :(

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Re: Anti-aliasing worries for WoD

#20 Unread post by Rawr » Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:27 pm

Im running 16x multisampling right now what am I going to do if my stuff isn't smooth? :| I want Skyrim not Minecraft (tho I love both) :mrgreen:

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