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Okay found this post in you know where, yep, swtor.com again (you can find the link here: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=269692), anyway apparently this guy who posted has some experience in the gaming industry. Anyway I'll just post the lnfo for you all to see. Enjoy
I used to work in the game industry back in the day and it's given me an appreciation for some things that have been showing up in TOR that some might not have noticed. They really are stepping up their game for an MMO. Let's look at some screenshots to see what I mean.
Seen here on ship thrusters
And here on in the Bounty Hunters class video on characters themselves (very noticable on the bountyhunters back pack.
This is a must have for a Star Wars game because so many things are meant to light up (Including lighsabers of course as well as light panels, blasters etc.). But their use of it on character models is very cool.
DEPTH OF FIELD
I really only noticed this today with the release of the Bounty Hunter class video.
If you look to the background on the right-hand side of these screenshots from darth haters dissection you'll see what I mean.
It basically simulates the focus of a camera, allowing you to blur the background or foreground for dramatic effect. This has been seen a lot in FPS games recently.. but I think this may be a first for MMOs.
SWTOR Forum user Caanon pointed out that there was a Dev blog about this very subject. Including video.
This is a texture effect that allows you to simulate high lighting detail on a model without adding thousands of polygons to render.
In this shot you can see it most pronounced on the tubes around the Inquisitors neck and waist, and probably on the walls of the ruins on Koriban.
BLOOM / HDR LIGHTING
This was hard to find a good screenshot of, and is also fairly common now, but it's impressive to see in an MMO
It's kind of like a glow effect, except that it's related to light reflecting off of things rather than the things themselves generating the glow.
This is basically shininess.
A good example is found in this dissection from Darth Hater
Notice how shiny the armour is compared with the troopers skin.
Notice in this shot that the chest piece of the Miriluka and the droid are shiny, where as the cloth of the robe is not. This is pretty normal to have in games now-a-days, but their seems to be a lot of levels of shine per texture here, which really looks great IMO.
SELF SHADOW AND LIGHTING
Notice how the characters cast shadows on themselves and also receive lighting and shadow from external sources like the saber in this picture.
Characters are also effected by environmental shadows and lighting. Which is very cool. You'll notice it in a few of the videos. When a player runs under the shadow of a tree for instance, the shadow passes over the player, not just darkening the entire character model, but realistically mapping the shadow over them. VERY impressive.
FANCY PARTICLE EFFECTS
You can see these all over the place (explosions and what not. But this shot really shows them off well I think:
Anyhoo.. I hope everyone appreciates how well the visual aspects of this game are coming together. We've gone from "stylized reality", which to me meant blocky models and muddy textures, to a what you see today. I'm not sure if it was a conscious change, or just the natural progression of their original vision. But I'm happy as hell.