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  1. #1
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    Graphics Settings Breakdown

    Graphics Settings Breakdown


    Graphics settings panel in LOTRO is quite complex and it is certainly not easy to operate within it for average player. This is why this guide was created. It explains all graphics settings in game. Originally it also contained performance metrics but they were made back when I didn't really have much knowledge on this matter and they were very inconsistent and unreliable, so they were removed. You can find new thread below.

    For detailed analysis on game performance and performance guide visit Performance Guide and Stuttering Analysis
    If you are curious about the difference in playing LOTRO on SSD, HDD and through Pendrive, check Hard Drive Comparison.


    Basic Graphics




    Overall Graphics Quality


    This settings contains graphics quality presets. You can choose one of six presets, from Very Low up to Ultra High without a need to set every settings separately in Advanced Graphics panel. However this is not a very good way of choosing your settings because it is downgrading all settings, even those that are not really affecting performance and could be kept at high levels with little to no performance cost, so it is recommended to manually set your settings and downgrade only those settings that have significant impact on performance.


    Graphics Hardware Level


    Here you can choose version of DirectX API. Newer versions are giving access to extra graphics settings.

    DirectX 10 gives you access to DX10 Dynamic Shadows, DX10 Distant Landscape Lighting and Volumetric Sun Light.

    DirectX 11 contains all the options of previous versions plus it gives you access to DX11 Ambient Occlusion and DX11 Interactive Water.

    Important thing to note about DirectX versions is that they need to supported by your hardware. So if you don't have DX10/DX11 options available, or you are getting black background in character menu after choosing DX10/DX11, this means that your hardware is not supporting those APIs and you have to use DX9.


    Resolution and Screen Mode


    Here you can choose your Resolution and Screen Mode.

    Resolution determines how many pixels are going to be rendered and at what screen proportions. For proper quality you should choose resolution adequate to the native one of your display (it should be the highest available in settings).

    Screen Mode allows you to choose between Full Screen, Full Screen (Windowed) and Windowed.

    Full Screen allows the game run exclusively and apply its own gamma, brightness and color settings. This is recommended setting.

    Full Screen (Windowed) will use the entire space of your display but it will preserve your system gamma, color and etc.

    Windowed option will display the game in Window with bar and frame, just like other applications in your system, for example web browser.


    Anti-aliasing(AA)


    This setting is removing jagged edges known as aliasing and provides smoother and more realistic objects without distracting artifacts.

    Here is simple example of what it is meant for:



    And here is an example of how it works in game, in this on your character:



    This setting is very important for visual quality. It is also one of the best implemented settings in LOTRO, because it works really well and actually removes aliasing at reasonable performance cost (depending on your hardware) which you cannot say about many modern games.


    Colour Panel


    This panel contains 4 simple settings, Ambient Light, Contrast, Brightness and Gamma. You can adjust the look of the game to your likings without having to mess with your monitor's settings. For example you can use those settings to darken the picture in Moria to get more atmospheric look adequate to the place you are visiting. Or you can make picture brighter if you have trouble noticing the details in the dark or in the shadows.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    Advanced Graphics Settings


    Advanced Graphics panel contains many graphics options that you can set individually to get the best settings for your system. Panel is quite complex and there are settings that are depending on other settings, so there is a lot to explain.



    Object Draw Distance


    Object Draw Distance setting determines at which distance different objects are rendered. It affects characters, NPCs, foliage, smaller architecture,light sources, almost everything.

    Here is screenshot on the lowest possible settings with only this particular setting changing so you can see what it does on blank surface unaffected by other unrelated objects.



    As you can see, the higher level of the setting is, more distant object appear. What is also important, some objects are independent of this setting, like the Rohirrim outpost that you can in the distance.

    Here you can see how it affects foliage:



    For foliage Object Draw Distance works kind of like a line between actual trees and imposters (Distant Imposters option will be described later, basically those are low quality one-dimensional trees that are meant to replace actual tress in the distance to save performance). As you increase Object Draw Distance the line between actual trees and poor quality imposters will move further away from you, giving you more high quality trees and moving those poor quality ones further and further away so your visual quality is less affected by them.

    This setting is very important for visual quality, especially in wooded areas, but it is also very demanding and has very high possibility of causing stuttering, especially while you are moving with high speed.


    Model Detail


    According to in-game description, Model Detail controls the distance at which complex 3D geometry will be rendered. In practice it looks like that:



    As you can see, fully rendered object has a lot more 3D details than not fully rendered one. It also affects the complexity of geometry of stones and trees.



    As you increase this setting, full quality objects will be rendered at higher distances. Switching from basic to fully quality on objects are very noticeable and can be distracting so it is important to keep this setting at high levels.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:06 AM.

  3. #3
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    Material Detail


    This option defines quality of trees and generally foliage.

    (there is mistake on picture, it should be LOW and HIGH instead of DISABLED and ENABLED)


    As you can see, improvement is very noticeable. This is one of the most essential settings that should keep on high levels unless you are really struggling with performance.



    Landscape Draw Distance


    Adjusts how far landscape geography will be rendered.

    (mistake again, should be VERY HIGH instead of ULTRA)


    Another example here.

    I think this doesn't need a big description. This option determines how far geography of a world will be visible to you. It will make you feel the size of the world and make everything more realistic. However this setting has high potential of causing stuttering, especially while moving with high speed.


    Frill Distance


    Adjusts how far away landscape foliage and ground clutters will be rendered. Basically grass rendering distance.



    Very important setting. You should keep it as high as possible, however it also has high potential of causing stuttering, especially while moving with high speed.


    Distant Imposters


    This option enables low resolution one-dimensional visualizations called imposters which pretend to be actual objects in the distance.



    As you can see this simple option increases reality and quality of a picture significantly. Distant landscape is no longer blank.

    Here is what happens if you have imposters disabled:



    Regardless of how low you set your Object Draw Distance setting, with imposters you will get landscape filled with trees (low quality ones, but still better than nothing) to increase realism and prevent blank surfaces in the distance that would have terrible affect on game's visual presentation.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:07 AM.

  4. #4
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    Atmospheric Detail


    Generally determines quality of rain and snow.



    You will simply get more intensive rain and snow and also better effects caused by them on the surfaces. This option doesn't affect fog or mist.


    DX11 Interactive Water


    This option will make water realistically react on your, mobs or NPCs moves.



    So as you can see, water is now interactive. It looks very nice and adds to realism. You can even see those effects when some fly is flying above the surface of the water. Very nice detail.


    Texture Detail


    Adjusts quality of textures.

    (mistake on picture, it should be VERY HIGH instead of ULTRA)


    The difference is enormous obviously.



    As you can see Texture Detail option affects water too.

    Generally this option has enormous affect on graphics quality and you should keep it as high as you can.


    Texture Filtering


    This option allows you to choose texture filtering method.



    As you can see differences are not easy to catch on screen, but they are very visible when you are testing them in game (depends on your resolution and screen size). There are some differences between various options so you can adjust them to your preference. Bilinear and Trilinear options are generally poor and blurry, Sharp and Very Sharp options are much better but tend to make some objects look too sharp and texture filtering on the ground is still as poor as Bilinear and Trilinear. Anisotropic Filtering is the best out of all options and filters everything well, assuming that it is set to x16.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:08 AM.

  5. #5
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    High Quality Lighting and Specular Lighting


    High Quality Lighting allows for higher quality lighting that will affect various surfaces. It also unlocks Specular Lighting and Landscape Lighting Quality.



    On this screenshot you can see that high quality lighting significantly increased details on those huge rocks.



    It can also increase quality of shadows if you have DX10 Dynamic Shadows enabled.

    High Quality Lighting also unlocks Specular Lighting which affects shiny surfaces.

    It creates light reflections on different surfaces, in this case on character armor parts:



    Here is another another example, this time on architecture, look at bars on the edges of roofs.



    Here is another another example, this time on architecture, look at bars on the edges of roofs.

    Specular Lighting is connected to High Quality Lighting and it requires this setting to be enabled. The brighter light source is, the stronger Specular Lighting effects will become.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:08 AM.

  6. #6
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    Surface Reflections


    This setting enables reflections on water and mirrors. There are not a lot of mirrors in LOTRO, so we will focus on water.


    (another comparison available here)

    As you can see, when you have this setting disabled, there are no reflections on water. On low setting only sky is reflected. On high setting objects that are close to water are reflected alongside with sky. On very high you can see reflections for sky, nearby objects and a bit more distant objects but those more distant objects are reflected with lower complexity. And finally on ultra setting everything is reflected with the highest quality. This setting looks very nice but is also the most demanding one in the game, so be careful.


    Landscape Lighting Quality


    This option is connected with High Quality Lighting and Specular Lighting. It determines how those settings are affecting landscape.



    As you can see setting Landscape Lighting Quality to Very High allows textures on the ground to somehow pretend that they are actual objects, not only "printed on" flat pictures which they actually are. Very nice improvement to visual quality.


    DX10 Distant Landscape Lighting


    Theoretically improves distant landscape quality, but in practice this is kind of a mixed bag.



    Here you can see this setting is making distant landscape look somewhat better (based on your preferences), but take a look here:



    As you can see, this option completely removed distant shadows. Route disappeared completely as well.



    Here DX10 Distant Landscape Lighting option decreased the details on rocky surfaces.

    So as you can see, sometimes it helps picture quality, sometimes it breaks it. Foe me, this options is removing shadows and details from distant landscape, so I keep it disabled.

    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:09 AM.

  7. #7
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    Landscape Shadows


    This option affect quality and distance landscape shadows.



    As you can see, when this setting is disabled landscape shadows are disabled. As you raise this setting up quality of landscape shadows will grow.

    However, this setting work a bit different if you have DX10 Dynamic Shadows (described later) enabled.



    As you can see, when you have DX10 Dynamic Shadows enabled Landscape Shadows affect only distant shadows. Those shadows which are in your closer view are determined by DX10 Dynamic Shadows option, regardless of Landscape Shadows setting.

    There is also small option called Blob Shadows:



    This option adds small shadow under characters and NPCs. Works only for standard shadows which means when only Landscape Shadows option is enabled, without Stencil Shadows or DX10 Dynamic Shadows.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:09 AM.

  8. #8
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    Stencil Shadows and DX10 Dynamic Shadows


    Stencil Shadows


    Stencil Shadows allow high quality and dynamic shadows for characters, NPCs and mobs and determine the distance at which they will be displayed.



    As you can see, low setting doesn't allow this option work on distant NPCs. Medium option is adding shadow on closer NPC, and high setting allow shadows to be produced by guards at the gate. However this option affects only character, mobs, NPCs and interiors. Architecture and foliage is unaffected by this setting.


    DX10 Dynamic Shadows


    This option allows dynamic shadows. It also significantly increases quality of static shadows.



    As you can see, improvement from using those shadows is enormous on foliage and poor quality Landscape Shadows are now replaced with high quality dynamic ones.

    Here is how it affects shadows faded by architecture:



    However DX10 Dynamic Shadows are not working on interiors:



    So the conclusion is that you should use both of them at the same time. DX10 Dynamic Shadows will take care of basically everything on the outside and Stencil Shadows are going to work on interiors.

    Note that DX10 Distant Shadows require High Quality Lighting option to be enabled and Landscape Lighting Quality to be set on to least High. If shadows disappear after playing with different settings, uncheck and check High Quality Lighting option again to reset them.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:10 AM.

  9. #9
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    DX11 Ambient Oclusion


    The easiest way to describe it is through picture:



    Here is how it works in LOTRO:



    Another comparison:



    You need to try this in game because it is not easy to catch it on screen. In game you will be able to see effects provided by this option with ease by switching it on/off. It gives great overall improvement and underlines details greatly.


    Post Processing Effects


    This is essential setting that allows post processing effects to work.

    Settings that need this option to be enabled are Surface Reflections, DX11 Ambient Oclusion, DX11 Interactive Water, Glow Mapping, Overbright Bloom Filter, Blur Filter Quality and Bloom Intensity.

    As for Post Processing Effects option itself, it enables high quality water, Bloom and Blur Filter:



    Difference that this options causes doesn't need description. This option is the gate to high quality effects and graphics and definitely is essential.


    Volumetric Sun Light


    This option affects lighting that is coming from the sun.



    Picture says it all, this is on of those settings that are purely based on your preference.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:11 AM.

  10. #10
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    Glow Mapping


    "Enables emissive surfaces to 'Bloom' over foreground objects"



    Whatever that means, difference is significant. Colors look much more alive.

    This option requires Post Processing Effects option to be enabled.


    Overbright Bloom Filter


    If I understand it well, it makes very shiny lit objects spread this light further to its surroundings.

    I wasn't able to catch it on screenshot.

    This option requires Post Processing Effects option to be enabled.


    Blur Filter Quality


    This option determines quality of Blur Filter used for some effects like Light Bloom.



    As you can see on low setting bloom effect is a bit blurry and of lower quality than on high setting. It is important in areas like Mirkwood where a lot of Bloom is used.

    This option requires Post Processing Effects option to be enabled.


    Bloom Intensity


    With this option you can adjust intensity of Bloom effect:



    Importance of this setting depends on how much Bloom is used in certain area you are in. If there is a lot of Bloom used then you will be able to see big differences by adjusting it. Useful setting for adjusting Bloom intensity to your preferences.

    Note: This option requires Post Processing Effects option to be enabled.


    Player Mesh Combining


    This option allows to render players faster whichallows to have more players on screen at once.

    There is no information on how many players you can have on screen with this option and without it, so it is hard to say anything here. It is impossible to test it.


    3D Object Portraits


    Allows 3D portraits for your characters and selected players, NPCs and mobs.



    You can live without it but it is nice looking gadget and it of course it is better to see 3D dynamic portraits instead of blurry circle.


    Texture Cache Size


    This option adjusts amount of system memory that can be used for graphics resources.

    I wasn't able to spot any differences in visual quality or performance.


    Player Crowd Quality


    This option controls graphics quality of characters when huge number of players are nearby.

    Again, no information on number of players and what "huge number" mean. Impossible to test.


    Refresh Rate


    This option lets you choose refresh rate.

    Set it to auto or to your monitor's refresh rate.


    Sync to Refresh Rate


    This is Vertical Synchronization option. It adjusts number of frames rendered and displayed by your monitor to prevent screen tearing effect. Keeping it disabled will unlock framrate which will allow the game to render as much frames as it can. Keeping it disabled in game of LOTRO characteristic (CPU bound) may increase stuttering, and also it will cause tearing, so keep it enabled.


    Triple Buffering


    Explaining Triple Buffering is not really sensible for this thread. Read about it on web if you are curious. It may give you 1 or 2 extra FPS so keep it enabled if it is not giving you any issues.


    Conclusion


    So here it is, tons of hours of work I made almost two years ago, now in clear and readable form. It should help you understand LOTRO's graphics panel and you should be able to choose optimal settings now. It should be very beneficial for because overall presets are really not too good and for example choosing High preset is not really High, majority of settings are on Medium or even Low.

    Performance Guide is coming soon.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 23 2017 at 09:14 AM.

  11. #11
    Outstanding post! I am blown away.
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  12. #12
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    Absolutely awesome !!!
    Dadi / Tyrlas - Arkenstone (Leader - Rare Breed Kin)
    dadislotroguides.com

  13. #13
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    Great post on graphics settings.
    Pontin Level 115 Hobbit Burglar Kinship Second Breakfast Crickhollow Server
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    Here's some of my Screenshots Throughout Middle Earth. and Travelling Event! also can follow me on Twitter for Adventures in Middle Earth and more!

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    I have just seen this thread for the first time (thanks to Pontin as he linked it in another thread), and it is easy to see that you put much work into this. A most excellent thread! You have done also a great presentation of this with different colors and other small details.

    Well done indeed : )

    And just yestereve I was configuring some graphic settings in the game after a long while. In doing so, there was one thing that I had not ever notice before in all my years in LotRO. On texture filtering, 'very sharp' for me presents surfaces in noticeable higher quality than the 'anisotropic' option which -according to the text in-game- is the option for highest visual quality. Perhaps it is a change/bug that came after the new data center, but now it shows a clear difference with 'very sharp' yielding more detailed and realistic results than 'anisotropic'. I will post some screenshots of this after.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erennor View Post
    I have just seen this thread for the first time (thanks to Pontin as he linked it in another thread), and it is easy to see that you put much work into this. A most excellent thread! You have done also a great presentation of this with different colors and other small details.

    Well done indeed : )

    And just yestereve I was configuring some graphic settings in the game after a long while. In doing so, there was one thing that I had not ever notice before in all my years in LotRO. On texture filtering, 'very sharp' for me presents surfaces in noticeable higher quality than the 'anisotropic' option which -according to the text in-game- is the option for highest visual quality. Perhaps it is a change/bug that came after the new data center, but now it shows a clear difference with 'very sharp' yielding more detailed and realistic results than 'anisotropic'. I will post some screenshots of this after.
    Thanks. Performance measurements are not very accurate and need to be updated with 30 sec charts with two FPS measurements fer second, everything showed on graphs, this is much more accurate way to show performance impact. And I have to do this on the same settings, for example all ultra or all medium and only one setting changing, this is much more realistic way to measure performance impact than putting everything to low and checking how much certain setting costs in FPS. Also it was proven for sure that this game is single core so performance will be very different for everyone since CPUs have very different single core powers. I already posted some graphs in other thread showing CPU impact on performance.

    As for Very Sharp and Anisotropic texture filtering, yes there is difference in favor of Very Sharp in most cases, but look more closely on ground, for example in Bree Town. Very Sharp is filtering high quality textures only for certain distance and then it changes to low quality, while anisotropic is filtering with high quality all the time no matter distance. But it is much worse in filtering distant buildings and foliage than Very Sharp. Ultimate way to improve quality is to use AMD/Nvidia Anisotropic filtering and high quality texture filtering from graphics control panel and for making buildings of foliage sharper, you can use little bit of LumaSharpen option from SweetFX/Reshade.

    One day I will put this everything together and make one huge and accurate guide, but now its too hard for me to spend that much of my free time for game in such terrible technical state, going down with quality month by month, so I will wait for better days.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 19 2016 at 03:31 PM.

  16. #16
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    Thanks a lot for all the effort and detail in this guide. Very useful. Glad it finally got a home here in the guides section.

  17. #17
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    Threads in this forum are disappearing after some time, so bump

  18. #18
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    Thread disappeared from forum again, refresh.

 

 

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