Habib Loew, Gameplay Programmer, took on the forums to clarify some of the upcoming WvW culling and loading changes for the Jan 28 update.
In the January update we’ll be making a couple of preliminary changes to WvW.
1. The first of our engine changes will be coming on line to help improve character load times by using fallback models.
2. We’ll be switching over to the culling methodology that we trialed in December.
The engine change we’re making uses fallback models to represent characters until their detailed models are fully loaded. The fallback models are cached so that they can display without any asset load delay and there is a distinct fallback model for each race/gender/armor-class combination. As a result of this change players will be able to see characters represented as fallback models as soon as those characters are reported to the client. Once the specific, detailed model for a given character is completely loaded from disk the fallback model will be replaced with the detailed model. This visual compromise will help to ensure that players see other characters as quickly as possible in WvW. Please note that this change does not eliminate delays due to culling, it only addresses delays due to asset load times. Players on higher spec machines would therefore expect to see fallback models less often than players on lower spec machines. This change also lays the groundwork for more extensive uses of fallback models in future updates.
In December we ran a one matchup trial of an updated culling system. Based on all the feedback we received, both during and after the trial, we will be transitioning to the updated culling system that we used in the trial. This update allows the culling system to handle allies and enemies separately so that being surrounded by a group of allies will not impact the culling of enemies (and vice-versa). The general consensus after the trial is that this system lead to a better player experience in WvW. We further saw that some of the issues people had with the new system were related to asset load times rather than culling issues so making this change in combination with our character loading improvements should lead to an improved overall experience. It is important to note, however, that while we believe this change is an improvement to the WvW experience it does not fully address the issues with culling and we are still working towards our goal of removing culling from WvW completely. This change is intended to give players an improved WvW experience while we continue work on our more comprehensive solution.
While this update only contains a couple of visible changes to WvW it lays a lot of important groundwork for future updates. We have some exciting changes coming and this update is just the beginning!
Player Krakah.3582 asks:
Does this change address what seems to be a hard limit on total models being rendered?
Example being, a large 3 way fight with over 100 players in the lord room of SM. Players are all within 1000range but the client won’t draw past a set limit.
Krakah, no, the behavior that you’re describing is the server culling which characters get reported to your client. This update doesn’t eliminate that, though it biases the algorithm such that being surrounded by allies won’t cause you to be unable to see any enemies (and vice versa). Disabling culling entirely is something that we’re working on still and this update lays some of the groundwork we need to do that.