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.

Graphic Basics

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.

  • Anti-Aliasing - This setting smoothes out the blocky edges of
    pixels.  The higher the setting, the more blended the edges will be.
  • Bloom Effect - This is your light effect.  The various
    setting change how pretty the lights are!
  • Background - Graphics that load in the distance.  Lower
    setting limits the detail of what you see far away.
  • Water Effect - Controls the quality of how water looks. 
    Water is very graphic intensive and one of the first to get mucked up if
    your graphic settings are too high for your system.
  • Shadows - Controls the depth and darkness of shadows that are
    cast by characters and items in game.  This is also fairly graphic
    intensive as it needs to move and render for nearly everything in game if it
    is set on "high".
  • Terrain Range - Controls how far away you can see the background
    and world graphics.
  • Object Range - Controls how far away you see objects such as
    other characters, mobs, etc.
  • Texture Detail - Textures cover nearly everything in game. 
    A higher setting allows for higher detail.
  • Shader Quality - Quality of detail on background and characters.

High Versus Low Settings

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

Getting the Best for Your Machine

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.

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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.


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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016