In Norrath You Can See Forever

And it is starting to bug me a little.

There is a distinct lack of fog in EverQuest these days, and fog is one of the things I associate with early 3D games.

My thoughts primarily hearken back to the original days of games like EverQuest and Tribes in that regard.

The fog that hid the tree tops in Surefall Glade, the fog in the middle distance that made me tread carefully across the Qeynos Hills towards Qeynos.

Or the fog that hid the far side of a battlefield in Tribes, out of which the occasional tracers or disc projectiles would fly.

I had to use Google to find some old screen shots to show what I mean.

Now you may look at that and say, “Hey, you know it is raining in most of those shots, right?”

True, but these were the best screen shots I could find, so you’ll have to trust me that, at least in my memory, the fog in the game was present even when it wasn’t raining.

And these days in EverQuest, this is what I see most of the time.  Outside of Qeynos it is this.

Running towards a clear blue horizon

From our favorite bandit camp in West Karana, the view is this.

A clear vista of West Karana

But for me, the clincher, the proof in my mind, that the fog is gone, is this shot from Surefall Glade.

Are those supposed to be trees?

Surefall Glade, the zone where I started, the first place I saw back in 1999, used to have the permanent layer of fog above it, so the giant tree trunks seemed to disappear into the mist.  It was like a Northern California redwood grove in the winter.

Now it looks like great big wooden dowels holding up a blue surface.  Or if I turn the picture upside down, it could be pilings sticking up out of water.  But either way, the fog is gone.

Of course, things have changed over the years.  I started playing EverQuest on a 400MHz Pentium II machine with a 3dfx based Voodoo 2 card, which I upgraded soon afterwords to a very nice nVidia TNT2 based video card.  All that fog was there as a blind to keep from over-working the then current crop of video cards.

These days my current machine is considerably more powerful and the video card, a GTS 450, benefits from a decade of research and development.

My machine might now be too powerful to bother rendering fog as it can handle any request that EverQuest throws it.  Moore’s Law may have rendered fog rendering obsolete.

How about you?  Do you remember the fog back in the day in games like EverQuest and Tribes?  Is my mind coloring in blank spots with fog?

And do you see fog in old Norrath today?

12 thoughts on “In Norrath You Can See Forever

  1. Troy

    Last night I noticed that not all the graphic potential was turned on — I traditionally do not play with shadows because it does causes lag and low FPS. Shadows is not a huge sell for me and I prefer it off.

    With the said, I turned on all the glitz figuring with a two year old computer running a 12 year old game I would be safe (my graphics card is an 8800 GTS with 800 megs of ram).

    What I got was very interesting — shadows were interesting but I also noticed that the models seemed very cartoon like. Color rendition was actually reduced to 8 to 12 shades of each color. It was like playing in a graphic novel — similar to the effect in Champions with the “comic book” option turned on.

    I also could see for great distances, yet after a certain point everything turned into white ghosts. Overall not as bad as I would have thought.

    Graphically the game holds up after all these years; but I think even if it was a side-scrolling RGB game the nostalgia is what brings players back.

    Troy

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  2. Quain

    Can’t you just pull your clipping plane way down to get your fog back? I may just be off my rocker, but I’m pretty sure that was all it was.

    And yeah, I may have to do that myself, the fog added a little ambience and character. Being able to see endlessly doesn’t do the graphics favors, oddly enough.

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  3. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Quain – I tinkered with the graphic settings a little bit, but haven’t sat down and done any sort of methodical pass through them. Some ambiance would be nice though.

    And speaking of odd, in writing this, I was trying to figure out WHY I had a 3dfx Voodoo 2 card in my system before EQ came out. It was already there and ready to go for EQ, but I cannot remember what game before EQ drove that purchase.

    I don’t think it was Tribes. That came bundled with the card, if I recall right, so it must have been something else.

    Couldn’t tell you what it was though.

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  4. Beleg

    I can’t imagine it anything but graphic settings and/or a change in windows API functionality. (which is, btw, the same reason boats got broken.)

    You guys find a guild? I ended up rolling up a toon on vulak to join a guild that seemed like it would be a good fit. Haven’t been back to Fippy since.

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  5. Snick

    I noticed the same thing in Surefall Glade. The real would be to check out Toxxulia Forest, which I failed to visit during the free play time, drats. I grew two toons up there, one on PvP, back in the day and they did a pretty good job with the murky atmosphere.

    I think what Quain said is right, because I do remember on the Karana’s and in the Commonlands, when it would start to rain, the clip plane and sky would fade to a darker gray and would gradually clip in and then the rain would start. If there was any type of volumetric effect, it would have had to been software simulated at best since most cards didn’t have that capability, especially in 1999.

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  6. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I tried pulling the clip plane in and it was… odd.

    The scenery I could see got closer and closer, but nothing became fog. It was like I was in a bubble of cheery blue sky. I’ll have to take some screen shots.

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  7. Wizardling

    I had fog in the West Karana the other day, but it’s didn’t last as if was weather. Other than that I’ve seen none :-(

    Also I just started a dark elf necromancer on Fippy. I tried to hold out, but my altholicism got the better of me. So now I’ve an enchanter and a necro, both under ten.

    I have to admit I’m finding the necro more fun, but that is only because I still spend more time solo than in groups :-\ Still, it’s giving me time to do all my necro armour quests, something I never got around to on my enchanter as I took him straight to Qeynos for grouping opportunities.

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  8. Bhagpuss

    They took all the fog out several years back. If I wasn’t about to go play Rift all day I’d search out the EQ Patch Notes where they detail the change.

    The fog apparently only ever existed because most graphic cards back in the day couldn’t handle the visuals otherwise. It wasn’t ever an aesthetic design choice and so once someone at SOE noticed that graphics cards had advance somewhat in the 8 or 9 years by then since launch, they took the excellent decision to remove the fog.

    The second best change to the game ever, in my opinion, after mercenaries.

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  9. Akjosch

    So … they replaced a rough, but functional atmospheric simulation (the fog) with no simulation at all? Not even simple scattering (this is what makes distant objects blue-ish)? Some people’s ideas of “progress” seem a bit … off.

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  10. Wizardling

    Agreed. The fog made sense in many locations (granted not all). To remove it completely (except as very temporary weather) just ends up looking silly IMO. I don’t think it would kill SOE to have been a tad more selective. Situations like Surefall Glade pictured above should never happen… and didn’t in 1999.

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  11. Snick

    This is the most recent EQ Forum post I could find on the Fog issue in Everquest: http://forums.station.sony.com/eq/posts/list.m?&topic_id=128187

    It seems they replaced the long existing software volumetric fog with a ‘better’ hardware/directX fog that was too foggy! It seems there is an ‘option’ to turn off the local fog effects by turning off particle effects entirely. On page 5 of that thread, one of the Devs mentioned the artists went through and adjusted the fog levels on all of the zones (for the test server) I presume they finally launched the fixes. But I still couldn’t find any mention of them removing it altogether.

    Has anyone else found anything else on this? Shadow says Neriak Woods has fine fog, but that is also one of the revamped zones, right?

    Speaking of which, is there a link to a list of all the revamped zones for Everquest online somewhere?

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