Graphical Theories :: An Article on the Future.

posted by on 19th May 2008, at 8:40pm

Since the release of Jagex’s “An Image of the Future” a week or so ago and the more recent “An Image of the Not-Too-Distant Future”, I’ve been thinking about what sorts of things the new level of detail could provide. As well as the increase in polygon count (which in turn, allows finer and more details to be added in as scenery), the possibilities are endless… or at least they are if you don’t know (or care) about the limits and restrictions of the coming upgrade.

Imagine this; a fully recreated RuneScape in which the standard of graphics detail is comparable to newly released games such as GTA4, or even Final Fantasy XII – of course, it’s impossible, especially if the game’s to remain browser and java based. However, Jagex constantly push the limits of their software and do some pretty amazing things and although I’d like to see them spring something of this magnitude upon the players on the day of its release with no warning – they like to hype it – and so do I. That’s what this article is about, I’m going to explore the possibilities of a graphical change to RuneScape without being ‘realistic’ and I’m certainly not going to make sure the theories are ‘viable’. Why not? I hear you ask. Because it’s more fun this way.

Weather, which is usually created with particle effects, is one of the first which comes to mind. We’ve got snow and smoke in various places such as the Smokey Well and the Ice Mountains, but you’ll notice they look really bad, ‘pixelly’ and annoying – mainly because particle effects can and will use up a lot of the computer’s memory, especially if upgraded to a substantial extent. In the end it’d cause a lot of lag and subsequently rants on the main forums. I’ve no doubt the majority of the people who’d complain will be on low spec-ed computers, but that’s beside the point. Jagex has always wanted RuneScape to be a browser based game and unfortunately that does limit a lot of possibilities. Weather effects, though with almost an inevitable chance of being improved, will unfortunately be limited by Jagex’s somewhat stubborn determination to keep RuneScape on the browser. Nevertheless, imagining a RuneScape with a weather system mimicking that of the real worlds is really quite exciting, even if it is highly unlikely weather on RuneScape will ever become that advanced.

Night and Day, though more of an “RS3-style” theory becomes more viable as the addition of Shadows and Lighting are thrown in. As you could quite easily see on the official image they’re already in the upgrade and will improve the look of the game significantly. Not only will it add a touch of realism, it’ll distract the eye from the cartoony feel of the game and make the whole atmosphere look a lot more grown up. Moving away from observations and more into speculations, I find that the idea of sky and clouds (maybe even a sun) shouldn’t be too hard to place into a ‘vision’ of the new look. Reflections, much like particle effects and shadows is another memory eater which would work very nicely when it comes to water and metal. Whilst on the topic of the game’s paint-like water; transparency and particle effects (to create air bubbles) could again, an additional touch of realism could be added into the game by expecting players have good computers.

Other things which could see upgrades are;

  • Magic Spells such as Fire Blast and Superheat
  • Special attacks and the Crystal Bow’s ‘arrows’
  • Monsters! An improved Chaos Elemental would be nice, especially if enhanced with actual smoke instead of purple mass.
  • Quest scrolls and interfaces
  • *Improved Lava (This is really, really necessary in some areas)
  • Animations such as when a player fletches; dies or smiths.
  • Particle effects where aesthetically appropriate, such as steam, mist, smoke and, like parts of the TzHaar area, ‘warm air’ causing anything seen through it to appear wobbly etc.
  • Something other than the TzHaar area for me to pull ideas from.

I’m excited about this update. For far too long RuneScape has been criticized for having bad graphics and although it probably still will, a complete revamp of the whole “world” is a step in the right direction. A few areas I’m interested in seeing in a new light is the lands of Tirranwn, the recently updated TzHaar Caves and the desert.

Though, for all I know, this update could just be a graphical update comparable to that of Varrock and the TzHaar city for everything, which is still good – but not as exciting as one might hope. In times like these, it’s a good thing to imagine what the update could bring, but it’d also imperative to remind yourself who’s actually making the game and to restrain yourself from hyping these things too much.

That is all for now,

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One Comment

  • Jaden Says:
    20th May 2008, at 8:43pm

    Yeah it will be a huge leap for RuneScape with the graphical updates. Although it doesn`t have to do with graphics, I think the sounds in RuneScape should all be improved. I always have them muted because they sound awful.