Improved graphics in World of Warships
Get ready to learn how we made this massive large-scale overhaul of the in-game graphics in World of Warships
Simulation of water has been completely changed, some maps have been updated with HD textures and animated objects, an overhaul on the underwater world, and much more
Wargaming, developer and publisher of the world’s most popular free to play naval warfare game, World of Warships, has released details around their massive large-scale overhaul of the in-game graphics. In our video we will even tell you about tile texturing, the advantages of static surface models, inverse Fourier transform PBR, photogrammetry and other incredibly complicated tools of a game designer.
For the real captains among us, we will also take a peek into the fifth season of Ranked Battles with superships and the return of popular battle type ”Arm’s Race”.
Massive Visual Improvements video here on F2P.com;
With Update 0.10.10, we're launching a large-scale overhaul of the in-game graphics.
World of Warships was released back in 2015. As the available technology has continued to evolve since the game's launch, the game itself has also evolved with numerous updates and improvements. World of Warships prides itself on offering stunning visual displays of naval combat for gamers and military history enthusiasts across the world, and this update is set to make the game’s visuals bolder and better than ever before.
Firstly, the simulation of water on all maps has been completely changed. The new simulation system allows you to get waves of almost any shape and height and makes their dynamics realistic, with ships visually swaying on the waves. Some maps have also been updated with HD textures and animated objects. Vegetation has been improved and it looks more realistic on all maps. Besides the surface, changes have been made on the underwater world as well, which continue to be vastly improved as Submarines continue to roll out in the game.
Trees look more realistic with enhanced shading and rays of sunlight shining through the green foliage. We have also reworked the wind-tree interactions. We have added more trees and other green foliage on maps.
Water simulation and visuals have been completely reworked for all maps. The new simulation system can create waves of any shape and height while also adding realism to wave dynamics. This means that waves will now gently rock a ship, and the ship will produce a response that varies according to the wave height. This change will not affect gameplay.
Underwater world, vegetation, and animations
We are continuing to improve the underwater world in our game. In Update 0.10.10, we have added underwater vegetation on the Two Brothers and Hotspot maps. The underwater world will also appear on the Haven, Sleeping Giant, and Crash Zone Alpha maps. In the nearest updates, we will focus on adding improvements to the underwater world on other maps as well.
HD textures on maps
We are launching a massive update for all maps and Ports to accommodate enhanced HD textures. In Update 0.10.10, high-detail textures will be added to the Two Brothers and Hotspot maps, as well as the Philippines, Saint-Petersburg, and Twitch Prime Ports.
Ports and maps with HD textures now feature birds, fish, flying flags, and other moving objects. We will continue adding more animated objects to maps and Ports over time.
Stay with us for details of upcoming changes and future plans.
World of Warships was released back in 2015. As the available technology has continued to evolve since the game's launch, the game itself has also evolved with numerous updates and improvements. One of the most important elements of a game is its visuals, and World of Warships is by no means an exception. With Update 0.10.10, we're launching a large-scale overhaul of the in-game graphics. That's what we're going to talk about today, while also looking back at some of the most significant changes that we've made over the past few years.
Boosting Graphics: The First Steps
Rendering, DirectX, and HDR—complicated stuff, in plain words.
The updated lighting system is one example of how we've made use of the latest technology at our disposal over the past years. It all started with the tweaks we made to the image creation stages.
Rendering is the process of creating an image with the help of a computer program.
The rendering system we relied on when the game went live, as well as its underlying DirectX 9 technology, were bottlenecks that limited any attempts to enhance the in-game graphics.
DirectX is a special set of "instructions" created for managing graphic card operations. It's widely used in the development of video games for Microsoft Windows.
To remove this bottleneck, we adopted the more sophisticated DirectX 11, which gave us the green light to use more modern technology to create the game graphics, enhance the lighting, and add new effects.
Updated lighting model and HDR
The technical refit allowed us to move ahead with making the game visuals more beautiful. First, we changed the lighting model because the "old" one came with numerous technical limitations and was a little uncomfortable to work with.
At the same time, since all content in the game had been created to "fit" the old lighting system, we had to make endless manual adjustments to reproduce colours correctly. After a number of experiments, we developed an algorithm that allowed us to convert game objects made in the outdated lighting system to fit the new one.
In the case of warships, it didn't take a huge effort since they all have similar properties in terms of game graphics and were reworked along with the lighting system in Update 0.8.6. The majority of maps and Ports, however, had to be approached by artists individually and were updated for the HDR technology gradually as we rolled out updates.
HDR (high dynamic range) rendering is a method of calculating and rendering an image using a wide colour and brightness range. This technology brings the ratio of light brightness in line with reality, so even separate shades can be easily differentiated from one another. It allows for the simulation of bright day or dark night and everything in between, as well as looking from a low-light perspective towards a bright light or vice versa in an accurate and realistic way.
The new lighting system widened our choices of how to handle lighting, colour rendering, and the reproduction of various surface effects. It allowed us to make all of the imagery in the game brighter, more realistic, and more diverse.
Once we finished working on the lighting system, we were able to move on to directly updating the HDR technology. For quite some time, we experimented with various parameters of the formula used to convert the physical parameters of an image into the brightness values of monitor pixels, and we compared our imagery to images of real-life sea locations before we arrived at a result that satisfied us.
Next, we moved on to work with the in-game sky and indirect lighting, i.e. lighting that does not shine directly onto an object. Lighting in our game previously only simulated the amount and direction of light on maps. Because of that, we updated the textures of our skydomes, i.e. the panoramic photographs of the real sky that were shot using special technology. The new HDR textures make it possible to create "real-life" physically correct lighting.
The creation of the new lighting for each map and Port in the game required an individual approach and considerable investment of time, so we added changes to the lighting effects step by step, covering all maps, Ports, and operations in the game between Updates 0.8.8 and 0.9.9.
Visual effects add beauty to the game and have an effect on gameplay. They help you make the right decisions and take your bearings in battle.
With this in mind, another big step was a large-scale reworking of the visual effects in Update 0.10.2:
• The new lighting system improved interactions between all visual effects and lighting in the game while also making the effects themselves more three-dimensional.
• We added new visual effects that allow for easier orientation and decision-making in battle. These changes made the game brighter overall and rich in vibrant colours.
At the same time, we improved the technical side by significantly optimizing the visual effects. This increased the frames per second (FPS) value at peak loads, which was particularly noticeable on weaker PC configurations. Such a considerable "performance reserve" opened up new opportunities to make further improvements to the visual component of the game.
We ended up enhancing nearly all the effects in the game.
• Fire effects are now more detailed and three-dimensional. Their display now takes a ship's speed into account, and it will be easier to aim at an enemy if your ship is on fire.
• Shots fired by primary and secondary guns are now clearly distinct—the smoke and fire effects have different shapes and dynamics. Moreover, the size of the effects depends on the number of guns in a turret and their calibre—the more guns and the larger their calibre, the more impressive the visual effects are.
• We've also reworked splash and shell hit effects. Hitting the water now results in different splash effects that depend on the shell type. At the same time, we've reduced the sizes of splashes, which will make aiming amidst an intense fire exchange more convenient.
• Disabling or destroying primary and secondary guns, AA defence systems, and torpedo tubes is now accompanied by a smouldering smoke effect.
• Hit effects now depend on their type. For example, a citadel hit will cause a large explosion, while a ricochet will produce bright sparks. The visual display of a shell explosion now depends on the shell type and angle at which it strikes a ship or the ground.
• AA gunfire is now accompanied by muzzle flashes and smoke, while the explosions of AA shells have received various visual effects. The tracer colour and density of AA gunfire depend on the activation of a priority sector and the Defensive AA Fire consumable, which will improve immersion and help aircraft carrier Captains better orient themselves in battle. Destroyed planes have received additional falling animations.
• Now, when the Damage Control Party, Repair Party, Main Battery Reload Booster, Defensive AA Fire, and Hydroacoustic Search consumables are activated, you'll see additional effects that will help you stay aware in the heat of battle.
• The effects of torpedo hits on ships and islands have been updated—a hit can now be accompanied by large volumes of fire, water, and rising sand.
• The destruction of a ship will now be marked by a powerful explosion.
• The effect for exhaust smoke coming out of smokestacks now takes the actual movement speed of a ship into account—the higher the speed, the longer the smoke trail. Moreover, smoke no longer interferes with firing without the binoculars enabled.
The reworked visual effects give the graphics of World of Warships a fresh look, and they also allow you to get more important gameplay information by simply observing the battleground.
We've made numerous improvements over the last years, so we're bringing up only the most substantial ones.
Minor tweaks are added to graphics with nearly every update:
With Update 0.9.8, we added the following changes to fog in the game:
• While studying images of real coastal areas, we found out that fog on different surfaces and at differing heights spreads differently, so we added a spatial distribution effect for the fog to the game.
• We also added a scattered sunlight effect inside the fog, which made it possible to add warmer bright tones to illuminated areas while leaving unlit areas shaded and cold. This made fog in the game more realistic and beautiful.
• Apart from improving the visual component, this change also resulted in a slight improvement to the game client's performance.
We updated the tree rendering system to make trees more realistic with the following:
• An improved self-shadowing effect—required to create a 3D effect.
• Updated effects that create realistic sun glittering of leaves.
• New effect for sunrays shining through green foliage.
With Update 0.9.9, we improved the sea rendering quality for all graphics settings. Sun glare on the water's surface now looks more realistic; the horizon is now rendered at a higher quality; and water now appears in a range of different shades, depending on the map. This change has also improved the game client's performance. The changes are most visible at low and medium graphics quality settings. In Update 0.10.1, we reworked the way in which the sun glitters on the water's surface with a sun path on the water. We improved the quality of reflections, waves, and areas with calm winds. Increased the amplitude and speed of waves on several maps.
• Added support for temporal anti-aliasing—a method of image smoothing that analyzes an image based on preceding frames eliminates noises, significantly reduces eye strain, and improves perception.
Creating the underwater world turned out to be one of the biggest challenges for our team over the last year.
• For most maps, we had to create the seabed landscape from scratch.
• Numerous visual effects have been added that give you much-needed gameplay information in battle, as there aren't many orientation cues at your disposal while underwater.
• We reworked the lighting for sun rays penetrating through water thickness so they scatter in a realistic and eye-catching manner.
All of these new features significantly improved the in-game graphics, but our options to improve the sea, for example, were still limited by the simulation and rendering system. For this very reason, we were unable to take the next step to boost the realism of water and other game components.
We decided to spark a graphics "revolution" and completely rework it as we had done with the lighting.
A Future Look at Water and Other New Features
Let's take a look at the upcoming changes!
The fascinating seas
New reflections, glare, and changes to water shading in response to different lighting conditions—everything we implemented in the game over the last years added to the game's beauty. But no matter how beautiful the picture looked, it still lacked realism.
This was because of the water simulation system used in World of Warships. We decided to completely remove the old system from the game code and replace it with a new one that utilizes modern technology.
FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) is an algorithm that computes the discrete Fourier transform—an operation used to perform various calculations and analyses in computer technology and other fields.
The new system utilizes a number of special algorithms and formulas, such as the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) technology that calculates the water's surface in real-time and smoothly changes its shape. This allows for realistic water simulation, creates waves of various heights and shapes, and adds dynamic sea foam. Everything we had been unable to achieve earlier.
At the same time, all the algorithms are configured to run on data obtained by oceanographers observing real seas and oceans, which also contributes to the realism of the wave shapes and dynamics.
The new simulation model affects both the shape and "structure" of waves, and it also makes it much easier to achieve visual and optical effects like the glittering of a sun path on waves.
It will make it easier for you to determine whether a ship is moving in battle or if she has come to a stop. Previously, over long distances, waves resembled a homogeneous moving surface, and this sometimes misled players into believing that an observed ship was moving. Owing to the variety of waveforms, the new water simulation model makes it possible to determine the movement direction of a ship at a glance.
The updated water means that any associated visual effects applied to ships will be updated, too. We take special pride in the new wake trails produced by ships. You can look forward to admiring the new water on all maps and in all Ports as early as this fall. But even though we're pleased with the improvement, we're not going to rest on our laurels and will continue to improve the sea in our game.
Tiles and HD maps
Beginning from Update 0.10.10, we started to update maps using tiles and HD textures.
Tiling is a method of creating an image using tiny repeating textures. With this technology, we can achieve excellent image quality while optimizing the process of creating maps.
For World of Warships' maps, we also blend several detailed layers, such as grass, sand, rocks, etc.
Due to the use of a heightmap for each type of terrain, the mixing is physically correct. Blades of grass penetrate the sand, and stones are higher than grass. The new technology makes island models look a lot more realistic and detailed, and the use of HD textures will significantly increase the image quality. We have increased the details of islands by a factor of 12, while the size of the textures is now three times smaller.
We also changed the shaders for islands. By doing so, we achieved a "wet beach" effect on shore sands. Stones will also get wet in rainy weather. The islands themselves will no longer produce an unnatural glare.
A shader is a program that works with graphics and determines the image parameters and ways in which they change. They are used to apply textures to geometric objects, and they also allow us to create shadow, reflection, and refraction effects based on specified settings.
The materials we use to create maps are obtained using photogrammetry of real islands, many of which are shot directly by our colleagues as they travel around the globe to film various locations.
Photogrammetry is a method of determining the shape, size, location, and other characteristics of objects by their photographic images.
And the underwater world! We reworked all underwater objects to improve their aesthetics. This process also solved a number of gameplay issues, such as ships getting stuck near islands.
Fun fact: You've already had a chance to try out this new technology right in the game. We often use temporary game modes to test potential new features for the game. The Key Battle, the Big Hunt, and the Twilight Hunt were no exceptions. The sci-fi map called Polygon was created for these events specifically using tiles.
During this "test drive," we aimed to collect your feedback and check the game performance. The results were positive, so we continued to work with this technology.
As in the case of HDR lighting, such an update requires a huge amount of content to be reworked and an individual approach to each map. It's not just about a comprehensive graphics update, we're also trying to work on landmark features for each map. For example, a real active volcano has finally made it to the Hotspot map.
This is why reworking all the game maps to fit the new technology will take time. In Update 0.10.10, however, you can already check out the newly reworked maps Two Brothers and Hotspot, as well as the updated Philippines and Saint-Petersburg Ports.
It seems only natural that updating the islands should be followed by updating more of their aesthetics. That's why our next step will be to focus on reworking various species of greenery. When reworking trees, we focused on two main things: improving and diversifying the models of trees and their number on each map.
None of the existing solutions we had to hand-worked for these tasks for several reasons. For example, particular difficulties were created by specific camera angles and a large number of plants on a map.
For that reason, updating trees required creating a custom solution based on the programs we already use. This way, we managed to configure a huge number of different parameters for trees like foliage shades, various lighting parameters (such as foliage transparency), and even adjust the wind physics for interactions with tree crowns. In the future, we'll be able to add many new features.
We managed to achieve a new level of detail for greenery on maps. But even the most beautiful trees will not make the visual component of the game shine if we're only talking about scarce plants scattered across huge islands. To tackle that problem, we needed to create entire beautiful forests. As a result, the total number of plants on maps now exceeds one million.
As the final step in the current round of graphics updates, we added a huge number of new texture-based animations.
Texture-based animation is an animation method that implies baking animation into an object's texture for subsequent rendering and playback in the game directly using the GPU.
With this technology, we added new animations for birds and fish, waving flags, and other moving objects on islands. All of this brings more detail to the game world and adds life to it without having a major impact on the game client's performance. In the future, we plan to continue adding new animals to the maps to make the game world as diverse and interesting as possible.
We could call this graphics update the most ambitious endeavour in the entire history of World of Warships, but it's not the end—we'll continue to improve the game visuals by updating the underwater world, deploying new technology for maps, and considering other new graphics features that can be implemented in the game.
In the meantime, join us in World of Warships and enjoy the real seascape from the deck of your favourite steel giant!
Superships in Ranked and Co-op Battles
As World of Warships enters into its fifth season of ranked battles, a new range of superships is here to shake things up, as well as changes to the existing superships. In addition to the existing super ships Satsuma and Hannover, there will be 4 more super-ships: Condé, Annapolis, Yamagiri and Zorkiy.
In true supership style, these new vessels will have unique features that offer players alternative gameplay tactics and diversify decision-making in battle. Conde, Annapolis and Zorkiy can boast an alternate firing mode, which makes all their turrets fire several salvos in rapid succession. The Yamagiri, meanwhile, offers two types of torpedoes, that can be exchanged during the battle enabling players to prioritise either range, speed, or damage in their combat engagements. The existing superships, Satsuma and Hannover will see some changes with their unique feature - Combat Instructions. Instead of it being automatically triggered, players will now be able to activate it themselves at the most opportune moment in the battle.
All six superships will be available for rent from random bundles that can be purchased from the Armory for a new temporary resource - Supership Tokens. Tokens can be obtained for completing special combat missions on Tier X ships. Superships will be available to play in both Ranked and Co-op battles.
For more information World of Warships
Update 0.10.10: Superships
Soviet Aircraft Carriers Enter the Fray
With the release of Update 0.10.10, "Komsomolets", "Serov", "Pobeda" and "Admiral Nakhimov" will be available for research to all players. These formidable ships will offer players devastating attacks with their whole squadron, rocket boosters, long-range torpedoes as well as skip bombers.
The second week of the Update will bring five thematic groups of combat missions, upon its completion players will be rewarded with a historical Soviet battleship Novorossiysk, a commander with 6 skill points and a port slot.
As the Soviets complete their full release, German battleships Tier III-IX continue their early access through Update 0.10.10. The iconic Hamburg port has been decked out, and players can trade German tokens for these ships, and with the release of the update, a special combat mission will be available, awarding players with a themed patch and a flag.
The popular Arms race battle type is back, as Wargaming gradually prepares to launch the game mode into Random Battles in the future. Players will need to coordinate with their team in a 12 vs 12 format, capturing special boost zones as reinforcements continue to arrive. Improving on the original format, the new iteration will see several changes including two new buffs that will increase armament damage and HP pool of ships.
This update also includes significant changes to Submarines as they continue to be tested by the community. Finally, festive battle performance bonuses arrived early this year. Starting from Tier V onwards players can grab Coal, Steel, or a special temporary resource called New Year Certificates that can be exchanged for Santa's Gift containers in the next update.
About World of Warships:
World of Warships is a free, historical, online combat PC game from Wargaming. With its massive fleet of most iconic war vessels, including four different ship classes and strategically designed environment, World of Warships provides the ultimate naval warfare gaming experience, suitable for everyone. Thanks to its largest collection of historically accurate ships available to play, World of Warships prides itself as a digital ship museum and a focal point for naval history enthusiasts. New thematic content and innovative game modes are being added on a regular basis, providing diverse and exciting gameplay to its broad player base.
One franchise – multiple platforms
After the successful launch of World of Warships on PC, its unique gameplay and design have been adapted to bring free massive naval battles to other platforms with World of Warships: Legends available on PlayStation and Xbox and World of Warships Blitz on iOS and Android mobile devices.
Source: Wargaming - WoWS - World of Warships