Sunday, February 05, 2017

I have free bubble wrap

This is a good day. (See title).
Yep. Graphics card came wrapped in the bubble wrap. Lots of it. Like ... enough to keep me amused for a WHOLE DAY ! Perhaps.

I have been testing it out too. It's probably quite sad that one of the first things I really noticed was that the Anti Aliasing (the smoothing out of lines) is far better on the new card ... Oh and it was as smooth, possibly smoother than the last one. Can't really notice that as I don't think Elite was tough enough on the last card to max it out, so a more powerful card has an even easier time.
Cue gratuitous shot of a Pretty Space Ship passing by a purple star. Actually a brown dwarf but they show up as violet due to the light emissions of the star going off the blue end of the spectrum.

What's this about anti-aliasing ? This may go a bit too techie but bear with me, I'll hopefully quickly explain some of the mystery around how the graphics people make things look good. Check out Screenie 1 :
(you may want to Click for Bigger on these !) That's with anti-aliasing turned on. What is it ? It's a graphical method of smoothing out straight lines so they don't look too jagged. This is SMAA (Subpixel Morthological Anti Aliasing). I don't really know what the difference is with the various types of Anti-aliasing except that they all to some degree hurt the performance that you see. The graphics card gets too busy smoothing everything out leading to lower frame rates and jumpiness of what you see.

Here is me doing the trip to another station with Anti-aliasing turned off :
The thing to look for is the orange line in the middle. In the game, it shows the orbital path of what you're heading towards and at distances like this, it approximates out to a straight line. Perfect for demonstrating this anti aliasing thing.

How about a closer look ?
If you click for bigger on that, it'll show how the line is smoothed out by adding in extra pixels of the same colour which steadily fade to background. That's zoomed in 5x from the original, although I suspect scaling in web browsers will damage some of the demonstration.
On that one, the line just steps at the appropriate point.

It's enough of an effect for a knowledgeable eye to spot it and the SMAA didn't seem to hurt the frame rate much. Saying that though, one reason why I got the 1440p monitor with more pixels is that if the pixels are smaller, you can turn antialiasing off for better performance and not notice the jaggies too much. Although saying that, the performance is hurt by the graphics card needing to push more pixels around.

Yep. Some fun was had earlier in moving my big ship around to another space station looking for materials for a Community Goal. There will be a bonus for taking enough material there which will buy more guns for the Cutter. Or it will go towards another Python for bouncing around the galaxy trading rare goods.

How do the actual objects in the game look ? I've shown the inside of the stations before and they look pretty spectacular. But while I know most of the Why for how images like this next one appear on screen, the wannabe space pilot in me still sees it as a miracle and something pretty darn Awesome.
I did notice some artifacts coming in though where the system was cheating a bit to keep up with frame rates. There is a grid, known in game as the Toaster Rack, out in front of the letterbox entryway to the stations which wasn't doing quite as well on the antialiasing thing. But that station looks pretty amazing doesn't it ?

Here's something else that looks awesome as well :
Bit too dark perhaps. I may have to investigate the reshade mods that are available for Elite.

But for now ... may the new graphics card last a lot longer than the last one.

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