GAME BUILD #: 83607
GAME PLATFORM: Steam
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 10
The RoR sprites lack contrast, details, soft shadows and are in general blurry and of low detail compared to properly rendered AoE2 sprites. This is not only bad to look at, but also has a gameplay impact. Units lacking contrast and other details are harder to distinguish from one another than properly rendered units.
I don’t know what went wrong while porting the sprites but they definitely should be re-rendered with the same technique as AoE2 sprites to meet the quality standards of AoE2.
FREQUENCY OF ISSUE
100% of the time / matches I play (ALWAYS)
Here’s the steps to reproduce the issue:
- play RoR
RoR sprites should have the same quality as properly rendered AoE2 sprites.
upper: current RoR sprite, lower: official AoE 2021 anniversary sprite (properly rendered)
left: current RoR sprite, right: official AoE 2021 anniversary sprite (properly rendered)
inner Legionaries: official AoE 2021 anniversary sprites (properly rendered), outer Legionaries: current RoR sprites
left: AoE2 eyecandy, right: eyecandy added with RoR
left: AoE2 house, right: RoR house
This will be interesting to watch.
I think the problem may have to do with SLD compression settings. Perhaps they compressed the files too aggressively, noticeably below main AoE2DE’s quality level, to keep the DLC file size down.
Also, I don’t think I can show you examples, but the sprites from the Return of Rome beta look significantly better, because they used the SMX format.
The female villager and the trade cart sprites look nice and they are also SLD, so I don’t think it has something to do with the compression. I think they did something wrong during the rendering.
Just going by your comparison shots, the problems you want to show, like curves turning into straight lines on the Scout’s body, indeed look like artifacts of DXT compression. That’s all I can tell. At minimum, the problem is related to the lossy texture compression.
Whatever the cause, this situation doesn’t sit well with me. When I played the beta, I actually liked what Return of Rome’s art team had done despite lacking the budget to redo much - tweaking AoE1DE sprites to make them brighter and more colorful. I felt they did the best they could, and wouldn’t have imagined this effort ruined by the final product.
It also makes another community member’s reaction, from back when the switch to SLD was announced, look prescient:
[You could] simply use BC7 [a more advanced texture compression algorithm than SLD’s BC1]. No one playing DE has hardware that does not support it.
At the time, the SLD switch was an improvement - the sprites were more colorful than the 256-colored SMX versions, with no noticeable loss of quality. It seems under the pressure to downsize the DLC graphics to 2.2GB, BC1 has finally reared its head.
Hmm the reason why graphics may not be best might be because they used only AoE1DE 1x and 2x graphics if I am to believe contents of folder where everything has x1 and x2 behind. I think they should have used x2 for standard and x4 for UHD.
There are many signs to show this isn’t the case.
The simplest one: the statues are new graphics made for Return of Rome, and they are some of the blurriest sprites.