What's New in 1.2?

We have, unfortunately, not had the chance or pleasure of speaking with CryTek on the subject, but NVIDIA has given us a heads up on what the new patch includes in the way of SM3.0 support and the features of the SM3.0 rendering path. From what we can gather, there are two performance enhancing developments in the CryEngine made possible by SM3.0 in the new patch.

As for VS3.0, instancing is implemented when rendering grass. Instancing helps to reduce CPU and bus overhead by allowing the engine to send one model to the vertex shader where multiple "instances" of the object are manipulated and moved about the scene as necessary. With all the grass in FarCry, it's easy to see how this could be beneficial.

Under PS3.0, CryTek has apparently implemented single-pass per-pixel lighting. With this per-pixel lighting model, a pixel shader is run that takes into account and processes all light sources in the level that affect a particular pixel in one pass. The PS2.0 implementation apparently uses multiple rendering passes (one for each light) for each affected pixel. This means that in heavily lighted scenes, one (more intense) lighting pass can run, which eliminates the time it takes to setup and execute another pass, even if both implementations have the same result. It is unclear to us exactly why this is possible in PS3.0 and not in PS2.0 (we have even seen examples of technology like this running on PS2.0 hardware). We would really love the chance to go more in-depth with Crytek about their lighting algorithms.

At this point, this is all we know about the new SM3.0 rendering path in FarCry. So, theoretically, running around with your flashlight on in an outdoor (very grassy) night scene with lots of lights everywhere would offer the best performance boost that NVIDIA could see from the new rendering path. There are scenes like this in the game. We actually test a night scene with grass (the regulator level), though it doesn't have an abundance of light sources (or a flashlight).

If these are the only differences between the SM2.0 and SM3.0 paths, then all we heard about were the performance enhancing features. We do appreciate NVIDIA providing us with the patch and information before it went live on Ubisoft's website, but we would still rather have had some of this information directly from the source. Obviously, we want to present a fair and unbiased account of what's actually happening, and we should be fine as long as we take proper precautions and consider as many angles as possible.

And on that note, we've been in touch with ATI about a rendering issue that we noticed with the FarCry 1.2 patch under WinXP SP2, DX9.0c, and ATI's latest public driver (4.6). The problem appears to be incorrect mipmap selection on particular sections of the ground (usually on uneven ground) throughout the game. We've seen this appear as the result of an incorrectly set LOD in the past, but we don't know what is causing this. To be very clear about the issue, here's a portion of a screenshot of the ground right out in front of us in the volcano level.



ATI assures us that they have also been working with CryTek on their efforts. Since we have seen a performance improvement with the latest driver and new 1.2 patch, we don't have any reason to think that anything extraordinarily fishy is going on behind the scenes between NVIDIA and Crytek. We would obviously like to see this texturing issue fixed.

Since performance characteristics in FarCry are dominated by shader performance rather than the texel fill rate or the size of the texture used (especially if it's still being trilinearly filtered as it appears to be the case from the screenshot), our opinion is that this issue will not significantly artificially improve the performance numbers that we see from ATI.

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  • misnad - Monday, December 20, 2004 - link

    Hey guys, when playing an adrenaline pumping game like far cry or doom 3, how on earth does one take the time to notice the minute details??? True enough you need decent quality, but what's required the most is a decent framerate!!! Or else, we'll end up with a slideshow of hi-res pictures! My 2 cents. Reply
  • misnad - Monday, December 20, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • KJ1a - Thursday, July 08, 2004 - link

    I noticed a difference in the comparison pictures.
    I lloks like Nvidia is rendering less and in lot of the areas the quality is lower and bumpmapping is a little less pronounced as well.
    I have owned ATI and Nvidia cards and I can honestly say my games allways look better on the ATI cards.
    Look at the detials in the pictures.
    Thats my 2 cents.
    Reply
  • bangbilo - Saturday, July 03, 2004 - link

    I once was a really happy ATI customer, until i bought my 9600 ( this was before the XT ) and i liked the card at the time it was kicking the crap out of any game out there. Then one day i decided to have some fun with a thing called Linux. I started out with the Suse 9.0 distro and i quickly noticed i did not have 3D support. After a week of my life slaved over forums and people saying that this works and ATI's drivers not i decided my next card was going to be a NVidia. Ati has always had crappy support issues with there drivers in my opinion and if they would just get that fixed i would be buying me a X800 XT not a 6800 Ultra (Ordered that baby today) I love ati they have allowed me to be a somewhat descent gamer for 4 years not its time to try out the other guy. If i'm not satisfied with them and ati figures out a few things that the customers have been wanting for years. Then i might be buying me an XI800 XT ULTRA PLATNUM EDITION with CHROME HUBCAPS.... yes i said it HUBCAPS... :) thats my 2 cents

    -Bangbilo
    "pain is weakness leaving the body"
    Bangbilo@dynxweb.com
    www.dynxweb.com/sort
    Reply
  • Staples - Saturday, July 03, 2004 - link

    In some of those first few screens, you may want to fix the gamma in an image editor. They are dark in the game but not that dark, at least they shouldn't be unless you are playing at default settings. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Saturday, July 03, 2004 - link

    I could use those burgers ...

    Thanks again, Pete :-)
    Reply
  • Pete - Saturday, July 03, 2004 - link

    Craziness! Nice to see that you're on top of things, Derek. Now that you've averted an aliased crisis, head out to the grill and set some burgers to medium. :) Reply
  • Dasterdly - Saturday, July 03, 2004 - link

    Then you gotta get the Ultra Hyper (Kung Fu) Fighting Edition.
    Or dont forget the Ultra Extreme XT Platinum Edition or the GT2 Pro Turbo Extra-Special Edition.
    .
    Reply
  • bearxor - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    Wow, that little change with the AA really changed the look of those benchmarks.

    The ATi X800 XT PE Alpha 3 Pro Turbo doesn't look so bad now.
    Reply
  • nordlaw - Friday, July 02, 2004 - link

    9800 Pro's referred to as 'Older' video cards - Moore's Law is being smashed open, lately by GPUs.

    CPUs, not so, of course.

    I need a slightly better CPU so I can keep up with GPUs. ;)
    Reply

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