WoW Increasing Draw Distances

A post on Battle.net discusses plans to increase the draw distance in World of Warcraft in the upcoming Legion expansion for the MMORPG, adding the ability to see more distant objects, and adding textures to things previously seen as silhouettes (thanks Ant). Here's more on the process, including how it involves the addition of LOD for game models, something you might assume was in there from the start, as it is not a cutting-edge concept:
There are two numbers that contribute to how far the player can see terrain and structures in World of Warcraft. These numbers are the “fog distance”—a depth from the camera at which point any object’s pixels are fully converted to the fog color—and an overall draw distance, after which we clip all object geometry, preventing anything past that point from drawing. On lower settings, you can see the second value as terrain and buildings seem to melt into existence, fully fogged, before slowly getting colored as you get closer to them.

In Warlords, the highest-end hardware that can reliably run the Ultra setting manages to push the fully fogged distance to about 1,300 “game units” (yards). After that point, all objects would be drawn filled in with the fog color until the clipping distance. The same setting in Legion will draw out to 2,600 game units. Those who currently play at High settings in Warlords and see out to 1,000 units will see 2,200 units in Legion. Graphics Level 10 is currently set at 3,500 game units, which you can see in that last screenshot. It’s important to note that due to memory considerations, all of these new draw distances are only available in the 64-bit client.

If you’re interested in the “how,” a bulk of the effort to achieve this went into changing the way we draw terrain and water in WoW to render fewer vertices at a distance. But it also necessitated the implementation of Level of Detail (LOD) for game models, like trees, and buildings as well. A model with LOD can swap to a lower polygon count model at a distance without negatively impacting the visual quality of the scene. We prototyped aspects of these systems in both Warlords of Draenor and Mists of Pandaria and learned enough from those two expansions to feel confident about making this change in Legion.
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1.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 13:15
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Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 13:15
Jun 5, 2016, 13:15
 
"Well you see, we just turned the Graphics Level up to 11."
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Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 13:42
2.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 13:42
Jun 5, 2016, 13:42
 
ZandarKoad wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 13:15:
"Well you see, we just turned the Graphics Level up to 11."

How long do you think its going to before people raid the forums to complain about losing frames?

To be honest I would rather that they increased the terrain and model complexity than just extending the view distance.
3.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 13:49
3.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 13:49
Jun 5, 2016, 13:49
 
TheEmissary wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 13:42:

How long do you think its going to before people raid the forums to complain about losing frames?
How long do you think its going to be before the Vanilla Classic WoW fan complains about the improvements and starts a petition?

NVRMND, the petition is already up.
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4.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 14:09
4.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 14:09
Jun 5, 2016, 14:09
 
RedEye9 wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 13:49:
How long do you think its going to be before the Vanilla Classic WoW fan complains about the improvements and starts a petition?
Well, there is one valid point ... increasing the view distance destroys the illusion of walking over a vast continent. You see Azeroth for what it really is ... a collection of small, gimmicky zones.
5.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 14:36
5.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 14:36
Jun 5, 2016, 14:36
 
This is one of the small things which I was very pleased to see added in to the game especially considering how amazing the zones look. Even if this is the worst expansion to date, you gotta give credit where credit is due and they really went the extra mile to provide some of the best looking zones in the game as well as their always phenomenal music team.
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6.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 15:38
6.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 15:38
Jun 5, 2016, 15:38
 
Wallshadows wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 14:36:
This is one of the small things which I was very pleased to see added in to the game especially considering how amazing the zones look. Even if this is the worst expansion to date, you gotta give credit where credit is due and they really went the extra mile to provide some of the best looking zones in the game as well as their always phenomenal music team.

The leveling up experience was also the best, IMO. I really like the bonus events, the treasures you can find, the cut scenes, etc. I really enjoyed WoD until I hit 100. I'm itching for Legion, but don't want to burn out leveling up in the beta just to redo it (on all my alts) at launch.
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7.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 16:37
7.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 16:37
Jun 5, 2016, 16:37
 
Kajetan wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 14:09:
RedEye9 wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 13:49:
How long do you think its going to be before the Vanilla Classic WoW fan complains about the improvements and starts a petition?
Well, there is one valid point ... increasing the view distance destroys the illusion of walking over a vast continent. You see Azeroth for what it really is ... a collection of small, gimmicky zones.

That illusion is pretty quickly gone when you take the airship or griffon
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8.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 17:39
8.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 17:39
Jun 5, 2016, 17:39
 
TheEmissary wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 13:42:
ZandarKoad wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 13:15:
"Well you see, we just turned the Graphics Level up to 11."

How long do you think its going to before people raid the forums to complain about losing frames?

To be honest I would rather that they increased the terrain and model complexity than just extending the view distance.
9.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 18:39
9.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 18:39
Jun 5, 2016, 18:39
 
Wallshadows wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 14:36:
always phenomenal music team.

Seriously, the WoW sound team is fucking awesome. They've got a team of Stravinsky's for soundtracks and a couple of Brian Eno's for the ambient sound and Sound Light & Magic for creating all of the other sounds. I think that was how I got into WoW, you smoke a joint and you'll get sucked into that shit!
10.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 18:57
10.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 18:57
Jun 5, 2016, 18:57
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 16:37:
Kajetan wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 14:09:
RedEye9 wrote on Jun 5, 2016, 13:49:
How long do you think its going to be before the Vanilla Classic WoW fan complains about the improvements and starts a petition?
Well, there is one valid point ... increasing the view distance destroys the illusion of walking over a vast continent. You see Azeroth for what it really is ... a collection of small, gimmicky zones.

That illusion is pretty quickly gone when you take the airship or griffon

I always wished they'd spent that rendering power on making things look better up close.
11.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 5, 2016, 19:55
11.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 5, 2016, 19:55
Jun 5, 2016, 19:55
 
Now that's kicking it up a notch! Four pixels per square inch, far as the eye can see! Giggle
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Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 6, 2016, 01:01
12.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 6, 2016, 01:01
Jun 6, 2016, 01:01
 
Glad they catching up to stuff other devs been doing for ages. LOD's on models and different level of lod per model based on type/category been in other games and engines since I was born.
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13.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 6, 2016, 04:38
13.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 6, 2016, 04:38
Jun 6, 2016, 04:38
 
Well that's the sticky part, they have to try to keep the game looking good, running well, and visually appealing to alot of computer configs. Even more so for WoW which is old as hell. As much as I personally would love a super GFX overhaul of the game to like Overwatch and Doom levels of amazing...

I have to remember that they have to balance things like a person running on a GTX 1080 with everything maxed still making the game looking good. To somebody who is using a wired-up Potato as a GFX card and needs a playable frame rate.
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14.
 
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances
Jun 6, 2016, 08:55
14.
Re: WoW Increasing Draw Distances Jun 6, 2016, 08:55
Jun 6, 2016, 08:55
 
Huh, for once I might actually have to set mine to lower-than-max. We'll see. The current draw distance is already pretty good.

As for detail up close, Blizzard's always been great at making things look good with a sub-par poly count. The unfortunate part is when 10 year old assets are still used right next to current ones, and the difference is painfully obvious. This is especially noticeable if you do any of the pet battles, and you pull out a squirrel or a groundhog.
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