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LOTRO Screenshot

By Shamus
on Thursday Dec 10, 2009
Filed under:


I want to try a little experiment, if you’ll indulge me. Take a look at these two screenshots from Lord of the Rings Online:



At first glance, is there anything that bugs you / looks wrong / seems off? If so, what?

Obviously there is for me (or I wouldn’t be showing them to you) but I wonder how much of the problem is my own eccentricities. Don’t obsess over the image or anything, you’re not looking for anything secret or hidden.

I’ll post more on this later, after I see how people respond.

Comments (99)

1 2

  1. Teiran says:

    So, what are we looking for here?
    The complete lack of shadows on anything but you?
    The way every texture seems to be of a radically different resolution, thus making the central pillar look blurry and out of focus?
    What? I must know!

  2. Legal Tender says:

    That pillar/altar thingy looks awful and it seems to be just sort of floating on top of the platform. Well, not floating as such…I can’t explain but it makes me want to play table air hockey with it.

    Is this related to that texture problem you showed us from DA:O’s bit up in the mountains?

    Edit: oh, shadows! @Teiran: for a variety of reasons I haven’t had access to decent rigs until very, very recently. This means I’ve played a lot of games with video options set to minimum and I’ve just realised how much I’ve learned to tune out things like shadows, particle effects, etc. But no more, yay!

  3. Drue says:

    I’m going to take this chance to suggest that people post their own comment before reading the comments to avoid picking up on whatever the first few people say.

    The first thing I noticed is that the big alter thing in the middle seems to have a ugly or low res texture. It seems at odds with the brasiers which look more detailed to me. Also the very top of the stairs uses a squished version of the texture around the outside of the dias thingy. It seems like all the textures are inconsistant with each other in terms of scale or resolution or whatever.

    Actually it almost looks like the stairs and the base were designed by one person, the brasiers by a second person, and the thing in the middle by a third without anyone knowing what the other stuff looked like.

  4. Robyrt says:

    The fact that the central column is just a 400% scale version of the tiny columns, and thus looks awful?

  5. Huckleberry says:

    OMG! It’s deep winter, and she doesn’t even wear shoes!

  6. Judiah says:

    The center pillar looks godawful. No shadows except for the character… and really the whole sense of perspective seems screwy.

    I played LOTRO a while back.. I don’t remember anything so fugly…

  7. Turbosloth says:

    huh… the graphics look awful in general, but the only things that would seem to me to be a ‘bug’ is the texture on the top of the third step (from the top) which seems actually broken (as opposed to just bad graphics) and the fact that the centre pillar is at a WAAAY lower resolution than everything else for some reason…

  8. Vegedus says:

    The relative resolution of the textures seem very uneven. Stairs, ground, character and the torches have nice, pretty textures (high-resolution). The surface of the platform is a bit blurry (mid-resolution). The big, pillar thing in the middle has a very, ugly smushed surface (low-resolution). It’s probably not the actual resolution size, but the relative sizes of the objects they’re draped over, or how many times they repeat. I rather dislike low-rez textures, but it doesn’t make it better that they’re inconsistent in how pretty they want to be.

  9. Andrew B says:

    The central pillar does seem kind of odd. Especially as I’ve been there in game, and I don’t recall it looking that weird. Some texture FUBAR?

    (The lack of shadows suggests that Shamus has them turned off to me, or turned down at any rate. Mind you, the textures could be set oddly as well. LOTRO does have a lot of graphical options to twiddle.)

    The otehr thing is, of course, that you’re an elf in a Dwarven town, which is of course totally wrong lore wise in my mind.

  10. nerdpride says:

    The thing that’s odd about the central pillar is that it has snow on it when the floor around it is spotless. It’d probably look fine if it weren’t pulled away from its intended home (probably on top of a tower or something).

  11. Pickly says:

    The pillar is really blurry, and the snow behind doesn’t look quite right. I’m also not sure where that is supposed to be.

    Nothing appears glaringly wrong, however, just a bit odd.

  12. Axle says:

    The big pillar in the middle looks like a ‘zoomed in’ version of the smaller ones. Everything else looks like a photoshop work gone wrong….

  13. Deoxy says:

    Being a “low end” sort of guy myself (I generally play 3+ year old games, usually with the graphics turned down… or REALLY old games that still look pathetic with the graphics maxed out), I didn’t really think it looked that bad…

    Of course, I didn’t really think it looked abnormally GOOD, either, which is really saying something pretty pathetic about the computer that is running on, the game itself, or both.

    I did notice that the character has a practically “true to life” shadow, but nothing else has any shadow-ish thing at all. It was very incongruous.

  14. Rosseloh says:

    @Andrew B: the game intro for Elves and Dwarves takes place in the same general instance of the world (that is, a pre-main-storyline version of the lands surrounding “Thorin’s Hall”). It’s similar for Men and Hobbits, except that they’re over in Archet in Breeland.

    Anyway, not only is that pillar messed up, but I don’t remember it being there. As far as I can recall, in the intro, it’s a statue of Skorgrim Dourhand, which then is changed to a statue of Thorin after the intro is over. I just ran that intro 2 or 3 weeks ago…
    (It’s obvious the pics are in the intro because A) Dwalin is standing there (he moves after it’s done), and B) you’re only level….2? 3? Hunters get “Stance: Strength” at 4 so you’re below that unless you just hadn’t put it on your quickslots.)

  15. Mephane says:

    The big pillar/rock/statue/whatever in the middle obviously has a texture resolution far below that of all the surroundings, and especially the character.

    However, I am similarly picky about these little details as you are, Shamus, so me seeing it doesn’t tell anything about people in general. ;)

  16. Ingvar M says:

    There’s some strange banding about halfway down on the right-hand side. It MAY be some sort of meters (health? magical energy?) but looks kinda odd.

    The big thing in the middle is a bit strange. It doesn’t quite fit where it is.

    The small humanoid on the snow field (?) top-right is popping quite a bit, but that MAY be intentional.

    Everything looks as if you have roughly co-axial viewpoint and light source, so there’s next-to-no depth cues from shadows (you can get a similar effect in real life by wearing a lamp strapped to your forehead, makes it surprisingly hard to walk through forests).

  17. Aquarion says:

    That looks like LOTRO with minimum textures and shadows turned off. The middle column looks awful. Usually LOTRO textures are a lot higher res than that, so that surprises me.

  18. Goggalor says:

    I don’t know specifically what you are looking for, but here are some random thoughts.

    The interface looks very much like World of Warcraft’s, which is probably a good thing. Consistency and all that.

    The graphics look odd -the floor textures and the big plinth look out of focus, but the braziers and the steps are in-focus. Also the fact that only you have a shadow, makes the statuary look unreal.

    Your character looks out of scale -she looks like a child. I presume the spindly arms and legs are because she’s an elf.

    Overall it looks very unappealing. I personally would prefer more “Art” and less realism in these sort of games. One thing Warcraft was very good at was replacing fancy high-end graphics horsepower with skilled artists when designing all the regions.

  19. Rosseloh says:

    @Ingvar M:
    If we’re looking at the same thing, the “banding” is his quest tracker. It shows the title of the quest, the “color” (difficulty relative to your level), and the current goal.

    See now, I love the realistic bent that LotRO has (well, as realistic as you can get with Hobbits and Elves running around). No funky glowing armour, no way out of proportion buildings (I’m looking at you, Stormwind)
    disclaimer: I played WoW for an hour or so, got bored, and went back to LotRO. Not a bad game, but not my cup of tea.

  20. McNutcase says:

    The texture resolution mismatches are horrific. The lack of shadows isn’t great, but that central pillar thingy, THE PIXELS ARE EATING MY EYES!

  21. BK says:

    That’s a rather lot of bloom in some places – is that character supposed to have ridiculously white skin? (Oh, and a bunch of the textures don’t match up with each other, but that’s already been mentioned.)

  22. Dagnal says:

    Since it’s an experiment, for once I’ll comment before reading instead of the other way around:

    1) the texture on the middle column seems to be scaled up from the smaller ones, which makes it look pixelated/blurry.
    2) no shadows on those columns; they seem to float.

  23. Henebry says:

    The central altar or pillar is really blurry. Looks like it a low-res texture map was stretched over a large model. By contrast, the little rose-colored pillar on the right is in sharp focus.

    The contrast between the big pillar’s blur and the rest of the scene makes us “read” it as floating in front of the rest of the image: its weirdly blurry in just the way that things very close by (say 6 inches to 2 feet) look blurry when you’re focused at infinity.

  24. So, a couple of things. First, the detail here is all over the place. The main altar is clearly stretched, the tiling on the dais is lower-res than that on the stairs, and the sides of the dais look stretched too.

    Then there is the lighting. Only the avatar has a shadow, which points to a clear light source. The shading on the main altar and braziers is consistent with this source point, but no shadows. The gamma is way off, however: the main altar looks like the very light of heaven is shining on it with pinpoint accuracy, while everything else looks basically torchlit.

    Also, your character needs a coat. It’s cold up there.

  25. MJG says:

    The only thing that really jumped at me was that the big pillar looks terrible, almost N64-like.

  26. I checked the comments first, but no one else is saying what I saw: Based on those screenshots, the first one makes it look as if the central pillar is actually hanging, and when I scrolled down to the second one, it looked like it ought to be obscuring the player character and there was a weird moment while my eyes were telling me the PC should be obscured, but was visible, before it all worked out in my head what is actually happening.

    However, I doubt that effect could be obtained if you were interactively moving the camera around…?

  27. Factoid says:

    The lack of shadows jumped out for me as well.

    Also the fact that the center pedestal has a texture LESS detailed than the much smaller corner pedestals.

  28. Peter H. Coffin says:

    Bad shadowing gets to me. Ever since I first noticed that the torch flames in Diablo II cast shadows of the flames.

  29. Nova says:

    Definitely the pillar in the centre; it’s all blurry, like it’s been blown up too much – and what’s with the general lack of shadows?

  30. potemkin.hr says:

    Look at image:
    Blue square – original texture
    Red square – resized texture, looks disgusting next to the original texture, hard to miss
    Purple square – Ugly vertical line, i think they just used a generic wall texture for the stairs
    Also, the central pillar is just a small one humongously enlarged.

  31. Pez says:

    Yeah, that central column is the most offensive thing…

    Additionally, the top step and the “border” around the platform are clearly the exact same texture, just squished/stretched to different sizes. (But with less horrific results…)

    Also, what’s up with the sides of the image being cropped? Did you do that or is the game taking 4:3 screen shots at widescreen resolutions?

  32. Lupis42 says:

    The texture resolutions have no consistency at all. There aren’t any shadows (except when there are).

  33. nine says:

    Looks like a game from the Dungeon Siege era. Does it really look that bad?!

  34. Volatar says:

    The central pillar is merely a blown up version of the smaller pedestals sunk into the ground a bit.

    Wow, thats… lazy on the part of some mapper somewhere…

  35. Andrew B says:

    @Rosseloh: I know that it’s a shared starting area. Still wrong, damnit! (But I’m likely fighting a losing cause ;) )

  36. GoodApprentice says:

    The texture on the top step is the same texture stretched to cover the large area on which your character stands. It’s either very sloppy texture work or a graphical bug, but that top step most definitely has the wrong texture covering it.

  37. Gregory Weir says:

    1. The center pillar is textured at too low a resolution.
    2. Your character has a crisp shadow, but there are no shadows on anything else.
    3. No sign of any snow at all anywhere in the plaza.

    I didn’t notice the maltextured step until someone pointed it out in the comments.

  38. fscan says:

    it must be freezing with this clothes in the snow, but i don’t know any games that get this right.

  39. geogscott says:

    Everything looks clear except the central pillar. It looks like it is much lower res than everything else.

  40. Rosseloh says:

    No. But then again, my rig runs LotRO on Ultra High with even the most hectic situations (24 people in my groupo running around last night, for example). Your results may vary.

    OK, I should stop posting to defend LotRO…it’s not like you’re reviewing it here or anything. ;)

  41. Sesoron says:

    Before I got to the comments, I noticed that the rock in the center of the pedestal had way low resolution texture compared to its surroundings, and that there don’t seem to be shadows on any of the objects, just the characters. I think my trial might not be up, so I’m going to jump in and check it out right quick…

  42. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Random thoughts:

    Text is impossible to read.

    Did you cut off the edge of the screen on purpose?

    Are those pillar things torches that light up when it’s dark, or do you have fire effects off?

    Why no shadows?

    Your elf looks like she’d be freezing her tits off in that outfit.

    And, like everyone else here has pointed out, that big pillar looks horrid.

  43. DmL says:

    The texture wraps up the steps continuously instead of having face and floor textures.

  44. larryboy114 says:

    the first thing I noticed was the terribly blurry texture on the central column, but someone mentioned the lack of shadows and once I saw that it really bothered me also

    speaking of textures though, the texture on the ground of the platform is also very different in res from the steps…

  45. AnZsDad says:

    I haven’t read anyone else’s comments yet, so this may have been put forward already. My take is that the texture details between the central obelisk and the surrounding braziers (and the background buildings, for that matter) don’t seem to have the same level of detail. It seems obvious that they are intended to look like they’re made of different materials, but it’s more like they were made with different electron charges.

  46. Cogfizzle says:

    Complete lack of shadows/shading on world objects and glaring inconsistencies in texture resolution, by far.

    The resolution difference between the player / braziers / pillar is startling. The player appears to be very well textured (this is larely expected though), the braziers aren’t bad either. Then… the pillar is a giant amorphous blob, screaming “LOOK AT ME SOMEONE GOT LAZY”.

    You can notice it elsewhere, too. Look at the stairs leading up to the platform. Then look at the platform’s floor itself. Stairs: relatively crisp, pretty “cut marbled stone” look. Floor: did someone take a photoshop blur filter to this?

  47. Ben N. says:

    The first and only thing that jumped out at me was the horribly ugly pillar.

  48. Zukhramm says:

    The middle pillar does seem to clash with the stone it’s standing on. Like it’s just been dumped on there. Even with the low texture, I think a thin block for the pillar to stand on would have made it look less strange.

  49. Maldeus says:

    Having skipped over all the comments: The big stone thing with the runes looks all wrong. Something looks very wrong with the textures, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is.

  50. neolith says:

    Since LotRO is way prettier than in your screenshot I’d say the thing that bugs you is the barefoot elf in the middle of frozen stone.

  51. Nathon says:

    Ow, my eyes! Please to getting higher resolution textures on incongruously low-res object in center of screen.

  52. Viper says:

    Your shadow turned a bit (How fast does the day go by there?), and the texture quality is highly inconsistant (the platform vs the stairs). That’s all I noticed.

  53. The big pillar is the only thing that looks off to me

  54. krellen says:

    I don’t remember LOTRO looking this ugly.

    In fact, I remember it looking like this.

  55. Guibod says:

    My pick : your character seems to pause the same way you’d did in front of Tour Effeil or Coliseum.

    I also took a bunch of souvenirs at the top of various towers in Champions Online. ^^

  56. Jibar says:

    Uhhh… excuse me if this is horribly wrong, as I haven’t played it yet and I’m going by screenshots, but that looks kinda like a couple years old version of Dragon Age.
    The character, the setting, the hud. Looks like Dragon Age to me.

  57. elias says:

    Shadows make everything look more normal… especially in games where the textures and such were not created specifically to look good with shadows off. So in most games lack of shadows on everything looks odd to me, especially in screenshots. In a small few (generally with a non-photorealistic art style), I don’t notice.

  58. Tesh says:

    I notice the bad UV layouts first, but then, I’m working on building UVs every day, so that’s an easy pick.

    Really, I can grab pretty much any game screenshot and find some UV issues with it, especially in an MMO where there are just SO MANY bits of geometry to get through the production pipeline. Well, that, and the normal fudging of scale that we get in these games. It’s to the point where I don’t much notice any more, and if I start to care, I just fire up Doom or something to shake myself out of it.

    Ditto for shadows; I miss them, but I just don’t care most of the time. I’ll take solid gameplay over niggling visual details like that, given the choice. Of course, the gameplay in MMOs is another thing to complain about, but that’s an entire topic in itself…

    Ultimately, smart art direction will strive to keep UV scale similar and minimize warping. It will also keep shadows consistent, even if if means simple blob shadows for everything. (Especially in a starting zone, for crying out loud…)

  59. Jon says:

    He’s clearly trying to draw attention to the overbearingly masculine symbolism of the dwarves. His female character must be feeling quite frightened and intimidated by this smelly, misogynistic little race. I understand your pain, Shamus – there will come a time (I know not when) when femininity is cherished in video games, and female elves will be as comfortable in dwarven squares as the testosterone-driven midgets that created them.

  60. Rhykker says:

    “At first glance, is there anything that bugs you / looks wrong / seems off? If so, what?”

    That enormous, important-looking centerpiece on the pedestal, which is ostensibly the focal point of the area, has horribly low-resolution texturing relative to its surroundings.

    That was my immediate thought, before I even read your question.

  61. Aulayan says:


    I’ll be the only one who doesn’t say the Pillar. (or barefoot elves)

    I’ll go with PoV. I don’t know LOTRO at all. So I’m going to assume the first view was the normal view you have, at that weird angle. Second view, where you see MORE of the world, is a special unmoving view for taking screenshots or something. (I believe I have seen such a view before in some games).

  62. mark says:

    firstly, all of the above. Also, your character’s legs seem far too thin. her thigh could snap at any minute!

  63. someboringguy says:

    Uh, you’re facing the middle pillar in one scene, and stand with your back turned to it in the next scene?

  64. Treb says:

    lets see…
    the stark difference in textur quality (center piece)for one, the partial lack of shadows and yes, Thorins Hall is kinda barren nowadays

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