D2X-XL's Improved Graphics

Friday, 2006-07-21; 03:46:00

Screenshots of improved textures/models, procedure for installing high-res files

One of the great things about D2X-XL is that you can use high resolution textures in game. There have been two users in particular (Novacron and DizzyRox) who have been creating some pretty good textures that significantly enhance the graphics of the Descent series. I originally couldn't get these high-resolution textures working, but apparently it was just a configuration error on my part.

First, before-and-after pics. Second, a step-by-step to get the high-res textures working.

Here's the starting position for Descent 2, using the high-res textures. Mouse-over the picture to see the low quality pic. There are two things to notice. First, the "panel" that looks like a Z off to the left is a bit higher quality. Second, the columns at the corners of the light-blue textured walls are much more precisely rounded with the higher textures. This set of pictures is hard to see at the reduced size, so if you want to examine full size pictures, you're welcome to do so: low res textures, high res textures.

Even in this set of thumbs, you can clearly see the differences. The lights in the foreground are more detailed, the blue orb shield powerup is transparent and less pixelated, and the texture on the wall behind the shield powerup is also much nicer to look at. Full size pics: low res textures, high res textures.

Here is a clear demonstration of how much the graphics can be improved. Without the high-resolution textures, the text is getting a bit unreadable when you get up close (since it has to be scaled up). Again note the column off to the left. Using the high-res textures, the text is easily readable, and the column's oval shapes are clearly distinguished. Full size pics: low res textures, high res textures.

Things to note: texture on wall, lights, metal hostage door. Full size pics: low res textures, high res textures.

Again, the same texture in higher quality, completely unpixelated mesh barrier, and even the panel behind the barrier is of higher quality. You can now see individual screws on the mesh barrier, and the panel's "speaker" has clearly defined holes that aren't at all blurry. Also note that the high-res picture has a yellowish light to it; that's a different feature: colored lighting from the flare. With the low-res graphics, it might not make that much of a difference, but the colored lighting adds a nice touch, which you can see in this movie. Full size pics: low res textures, high res textures.

Improved graphics isn't just limited to textures, either. While you might've guessed that objects like shield powerups are models rather than textures, I don't believe that's the case -- they're just textures that always face you. In contrast, your ship is a model, and you can see the difference between using the regular ship and an improved model in this set of pictures. I'm not too fond of the Pyro model, but you can see that there's considerably more detail on the ship. Look closely at the 4 guns on the front of the ship. Full size pics: low res textures, high res textures. [UPDATE: It turns out that the hi-res pyro model wasn't being rendered properly , which is why it looks so weird in this screenshot.]

D2X-XL also adds smoke trails. This is actually more than just eye-candy: it can help you see where enemy ships have gone. :) Here you can see the smoke trail that you leave behind while going backwards. Click for full size.

This picture shows smoke trails from two enemy ships. Note that these trails only show up once you've damaged the ships enough. They also exhibit explosions indicating when they're close to dying. (And yes, you exhibit explosions too, when you're close to being killed. It's actually kind of distracting, because you hear these "far off" explosion sounds that seem to be coming from nothing, but it turns out that they're coming from your own ship. :) ) Click for full size.

Now, for how to get these textures working.

1. First, and most obviously, download D2X-XL and get it working. Instructions are included in the disk image. (Here's the latest version, 1.6.106, compiled for Mac OS X which is hosted on my iDisk. Please check the aforementioned download page to see if it has been posted before downloading from this link. The link here will be removed once I see that the D2X-XL project page has been updated with the latest Mac OS X version.)

2. Inside your D2X-XL data folder, create a folder called "Textures", if it doesn't exist already.

3. Download all the high-texture packs, including Novacron's Descent Relived texture pack, and all 5 packs plus the Energy and Shield orb textures from the Afterburner Project.

4. Unzip the downloads and place their contents inside the "Textures" folder.

5. Open the "d2x.ini" file from your D2X-XL data folder in a text editor, and add a line at the end that says:

-hires_textures 1

(This is essentially the same as using the Terminal to run the executable d2x file using this command-line argument.) Note that if the d2x.ini file is not in your data folder, it may be in the folder named "Config" inside of your data folder.

If you don't have a d2x.ini file at all, create a new blank text file, with the above text on a single line, and place it in your data folder. Note that if you do have a "Config" folder inside of the data folder, your d2x.ini file must be in the config folder. I made this mistake myself in trying to get the high-resolution textures working.

6. Launch D2X-XL. After choosing your player profile (if necessary), navigate to "Configure..." using the up/down arrow keys, press return, then to "Miscellaneous...", and press return again. Navigate to "Show Expert Options", and press space to check the box if it isn't checked.

7. Exit out of the miscellaneous panel by pressing escape. Then navigate to "Render Options...", press return, "Advanced Render Options...", return, and then make sure the "Render Quality" and "Texture Quality" sliders are set to "Highest" by using the left/right arrow keys.

8. That's it! Start a new game of Descent and enjoy the awesome textures.

Technological Supernova   D2X-XL   Older   Newer   Post a Comment