CryTek Comments on Shader 3.0
In an effort to display the power of the Pixel Shader 3.0 feature supported in its new GeForce 6800 series graphics cards, NVIDIA asked the makers of the popular title FarCry to showcase some of their technology. With the GeForce 6800 series being officially launched at a party in San Francisco, both NVIDIA and Crytek agreed to show attendees how FarCry would look with Shader 3.0 implemented. Those who attended the launch party were shown some image comparisons which were intended to illustrate the image quality enhancements Shader 3.0 provided over current technology. Going back to April 14th, you can see our posting of these screenshots which started all the controversy.
The first screenshot utilized a scene with a narrow stone stairway. Comparing the two images, there is no doubt that the image rendered with Shader 3.0 is far more detailed and realistic. Although the surface of the steps and walls seems relatively flat in the first image, the use of Shader 3.0 makes the scene come to life with a true sense of volume.
The second screenshots use a dark room made of stone with a pool of standing water at the base of a statue. Although both the statue and the walls shows a significant amount of additional depth in the Shader 3.0 image, the most pronounced area of differentiation is easily the pool of water. Whereas the water is solid and exaggerated in the first image, the scene rendered with Shader 3.0 depicts the water with likelike characteristics. Here, you can see through the surface of the water and identify the details of the bottom of the pool.
After posting the images we were provided with, it became evident that something was clearly amiss. Those of us who had played FarCry on any current high-end cards realized that the images being compared to Shader 3.0 images were clearly not using Pixel Shader 2.0 as one would expect. Despite NVIDIA stating that the comparison images were "Shader Model 3.0 techniques (vs 1.x shaders)", speculation ran rampant on what the motives were behind the comparison.
With the vast majority of the industry believing that NVIDIA will be the only vendor supporting Shader 3.0 with their next generation cards, many were somewhat suspicious of the company's motives. With most users being somewhat familiar at best with Shader 3.0, there was a considerable amount of misconceptions fueling the fire. Easily the most heated aspect of Shader 3.0 is the question of image quality improvements over Shader 2.0. Knowing what a dramatic step forward Shader 2.0 was over its predecessor in terms of image quality, many expected Shader 3.0 to offer an appreciable difference in quality over Shader 2.0. As such, when screenshot comparisons involving Shader 3.0 were made with Shader 1.1 instead of Shader 2.0 eyebrows were raised and torches were lit.
Fortunately, Ryan was able to attend the launch party in San Francisco and was able to discuss this scenario with NVIDIA. In a bold move of confidence, NVIDIA provided us with the contact information for Crytek's CEO, Cevat Yerli. We were encouraged to overstep the usual PR methodology to learn more about Shader 3.0 and go directly to the developer. Who better to ask than the man behind the game in question?