Updated Sat, Dec 05, 2009 by Savanja
Probably my one biggest regrets during the release of Aion is that I can't upgrade my system to enjoy a higher quality of graphics. I updated for EverQuest II and again for Age of Conan, but alas I have been hit by the economic troubles that many have dealing with and I can't splurge this time. The machine that I run as my main gaming comp is very mediocre. I can run anything on the market with good stability but because it isn't top of the line, I do need to make some concessions in my graphic choices to get the best of my gaming experience and I want to share my tricks with you! Please do keep in mind that I am a typical user and not at all a professional. These are my experiences and what works well on my middle line machine.
You won't know what to change if you don't know what they do! Here is a quick tutorial on what the sliders and drop downs on your graphic panel are.
There is a huge difference between the best graphics you can get and the worst. By moving all of the settings low, I accomplish this:
By moving them all to the highest setting, I get this:
Very few machines will need to run on the lowest settings, and clearly you wouldn't want to if you didn't have to. Even during fast-paced PvP or raids, working with settings that low isn't necessary and it is not at all attractive.
Whenever I log into a MMOG for the first time, my immediate action is to go to my graphics and start setting everything up. Some games have a system detection that will (hopefully) give you the best set up for your machine. Unfortunately I used this feature in Aion and it didn't do what I had hoped and I do not recommend using it. It changed my settings much lower than I would typically run and changed my resolution to something that I would consider unplayable.
So how then do you know what will work for you? Trial and error is probably the best way, but a few tricks can get you started.
Shadows are nice to see, but they take time to render on a mediocre machine so they aren't really worth having. Turn them to the lowest setting! This will relieve stress on your video card and will make things run smoother.
Water effects in Aion look awful on the lowest setting, but this also takes time to render so rather than turning this off, set it to a moderate level using the second or third bar. I have mine right in the middle of the scale and it makes water attractive without making it use up my resources.
Background, terrain range, and object range are things I like to see. If you are playing in game, it's helpful to see what's coming at you before it smacks you upside the head. Most system should be able to handle having these at a moderate to high setting without taking too big of a hit to performance. I feel that what you gain in visibility is worth what you may lose in render speed.
Texture detail and shader quality just make everything look prettier, but the difference you will see between moderate settings and high settings is minimal. Put these towards the middle of the slider and you'll be rewarded with a bit more speed in performance.
Anti-aliasing is the best thing since pixels were invented. To avoid that awful blocky edge that can happen in game you will want to set this as high as you can. My graphic card over rides this setting in game, automatically forcing settings to the highest possible but really all you need to do is try the settings in game to see which is the highest your video card can handle.
Bloom effect is something that you want some of, but more than that doesn't really make the in-game appearance too much more appealing. I don't like harsh bloom so I have mine set on Type 1 in game. I've been reading that a lot of people prefer Type 2, but it's all personal preference. Just watch the background light (if you can find it in Asmodae!) and choose which appeals to you without making your eyeball hurt.