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Sweeney on compressed textures

Jeremy Snow
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After firing up UT again (this is almost a daily thing for the last year), I marveled at how well it ran, but it seemed like it was missing something that it once had. After pondering for a while, I remembered that it used to look quite a bit better at one point. What was missing were the nice S3TC textures that were bundled with the game, by which I got spoiled when I owned a Viper II (a sin in itself). Though the card was bad, games that supported S3TC looked very good and ran very fast with faster load times. I downloaded the textures and the special .exe from Diamond to enable S3TC for Quake 3. I was in bliss again.

I loaded the textures for UT and tried to run it under various video modes. Sadly, it looked like it wasn’t going to work without a S3 card. I fired off an e-mail to Tim Sweeney over at Epic Games to see if it was possible to get the larger, compressed textures to work with a GeForce2. Here’s what the man had to say:

S3TC textures only work in the S3 Metal driver. They aren’t supported in the Direct3D driver because of DirectX performance issues.The way Direct3D texture management “works” 🙂 we couldn’t support the super high-res DXTC textures without sacrificing performance. Next game…

Though I remember Epic stating that they weren’t going to continue support for compressed textures in UT, it looks like they haven’t abandoned this nifty feature altogether. After seeing the amazing Unreal tech demo, it would be nice to see all those good things along with compressed textures.

How do you feel about this? Would you like to see more games with TC? Would you like to find out what current developers are supporting it? Send me an e-mail at [email protected], and I’ll find out.

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