Make Everquest Look Better

Everquest is a beautiful game. Every frame, every view gives us thousands of bits of information, from what armor someone is wearing to how many nasty fire beetles are outside the gates of Qeynos. Our view into Norrath is the primary sensory output of EQ. Everything else our computer has ends up leading to the picture. We need to make that picture look as good as it possibly can get.

This article describes ten ways to make Everquest look better and give you a better gaming experience. The following settings will dramatically improve the look of the game, however it is mainly for newer systems with over 512 megs of ram and either Geforce2 or Radeon video cards.

Set initial Options

Who should do this: Everyone. Proper optional settings will make the game look better for everyone.

When clicking "Options" on the initial Everquest menu you will first be prompted to pick your video card. Pick the one that matches your best video card, often the only selection. The next menu is for detailed character models. Choose as many as you can, ideally all of them on a system with 512 megs of ram or better. The last menu is the Luclin Engine Settings menu. Check "sound", "mip mapping", "Social Animations", "Dynamic Lighting" and "Texture Compression" to "on". "Texture Caching" should be set to "off". "Resolution" should be as high as you can go, 1280 by 1024 on 17" monitors and 1600x1200 on 19" and 21" monitors. "Texture Quality" should be set to "high".

The detailed character models with Shadows of Luclin have greatly improved the realism of other players. On a system with 512 megs of ram or higher you can set all models to the new ones including horses. It is important that the use of high resolution models doesn't drop your frame rate to a crawl. Frame rate is just as important as resolution for a realistic environment.

Properly setting these settings will dramatically improve the realism of Norrath from the detail of other players to the realism of the buildings and streets of the cities.

Enable Mip Mapping

Who should do this: Everyone with a 32 bit color video card including Nvidia Geforce or Radeon video cards.

Mip Mapping is a way to blur textures as they get farther away. Having this enabled will mean that objects appear smoother as they get farther away. If this is not working, you will see things shimmer as they get farther away. This breaks the solid feel of the game and reminds us that we're just looking at a stupid monitor, not a world. Mip mapping helps create a solid world.

How to do this: The mip map setting under the initial "Options" set above is currently broken. There is only one way to make sure mip mapping is working. Open your "eqclient.ini" file in the everquest directory with Notepad. Look for a line called "MipMapping=TRUE" and replace "TRUE" with "1" so the line reads "MipMapping=1" without the quotes. Now restart Everquest. Note: Every time you change your display options you will have to redo this change in the eqclient.ini file.

Set proper resolution, bit depth, and refresh rate settings

Who should do this: Everyone. While settings will vary depending on system, everyone should tune resolution to its optimal level.

Every pixel is telling you something. Every dot on the screen is a bit of information. The more bits of information you have, the more information your brain can process. The higher the resolution, the more realistic the game is. Bump your resolution to the highest possible resolution you can with your current monitor and video card setting. On 19" and 21" monitors with high end systems, you should be playing at 1600 by 1200 resolution. On 17" monitors you should be playing at 1280 by 1024. Try different settings out until you can find the highest one.

Like resolution, the higher the refresh rate the better. Set a refresh rate at 75Hz or higher when possible. This will make your screen refresh faster which will reduce the amount of flicker. While 60 frames a second is very fast, 75 is much better.

Bit depth is one of the smallest changes that will drastically improve your picture. Setting a bit depth of 32 bit will remove saw-tooths at the bottom of buildings and remove a lot of strange effects at the bottom of rocks or statues.

How to do this: There are two places to change this. One is in the initial "Options" screen. The other is in game with the Options menu. Press "ALT-O" for options. Press the "Display" tab. Press "Video Modes". Select the proper resolution for your monitor. Select "75hz" refresh. Select "32bit" bit depth. Click "accept". When your picture comes back, click "yes" to save those settings. Should you pick a setting too high for your monitor, it will revert back to the original.

Icons and text will appear much smaller when you switch. Use "/chatfontsize 5" to bump your chat text up. The other windows will be smaller but you will get used to them in time. Smaller user interface windows mean you get to see more of the world. Remember that you are looking at a world, not a user interface. Get the user interface out of the picture as much as possible.

Clean your monitor

Who should do this: Everyone.

A little Windex can go a long way. Removing smudges and dust can give you a much nicer picture. Remember that your monitor is your window into another world. Keep the window clean.

Calibrate your monitor

Who should do this: Everyone. Properly tuning a monitor costs no money and does not effect performance at all.

When a game artist designs textures they have their monitors set at something called "NTSC standard" a specific set of color, brightness, and contrast settings. Your monitor should be calibrated as close as you can to NTSC standards. Each monitor setting is different but you want your color to be set as close as possible to "normal". This tutorial can help you calibrate your monitor.. If you have a monitor with professional settings, the color temperature should be set to 6500K. Proper monitor calibration will make colors appear richer, deeper, less washed out, and more vibrant.

Set anti-aliasing level

Who should do this: Those systems running over 2ghz processors with over 512 megs of ram and either a Geforce 4 or Radeon 9700 video card.

Anti-aliasing is a feature of newer video cards but is often ignored. With high-end systems, anti-aliasing can be set with little or no performance loss. On most newer systems a level of 2x is appropriate. With a very powerful system, 4x will improve it further. Anti-aliasing will remove jagged lines from objects up close and far away such as the edge of a sword or the brim of a helmet. It gives a much sharper and more realistic picture.

How to do this: Different video cards will do this differently but most follow this basic instruction. From your windows desktop right click on the background and click "display". In the tabbed window click "settings" and then the "advanced" box. From this advanced window click the "Direct 3D" tab. This window should have some form of "anti-alias" setting. Try either "none" or "2x" for most systems. Very powerful systems can try "4x". Framerates will vary.