Could Updated System Requirenments Hint at Engine Overhaul?

Yesterday the Community Managers of both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online informed they respective playerbase of a bigger system requirements change. Gradually the games will stop supporting Direct3D 9 and Windows XP. Starting today the launcher will inform players in case their current configuration won’t be able to play Neverwinter in the future.

What does it mean?

Unfortunately the announcement apart from the timeline is not very detailed. If we understand it correctly you will not only no longer be able to play Neverwinter on Windows XP or Direct3D 9 cards, but also need Direct3D feature version 11 in case you’re operating on Windows 10.

Now don’t panic. Some users on the forum are predicting the game will lose 30% of its population due to the change. That’s bonkers of course. Direct3D version 9 is over ten years old. So if you bought your hardware after 2005 you will probably be able to play the game. Additionally Windows XP is no longer supported and updated by Microsoft. Therefore it is highly recommended to move on to a current version anyway. One user however rightfully stated that this rules out Neverwinter on Wine to play on Mac and Linux systems.

How to figure out Direct3D support?

Players can now just wait for the launcher to tell them what’s up or figure out the supported Direct3D version of their hardware themselves. There are two options here. You can either download the lightweight and portable GPU-Z to get your chipset’s name, and google its Direct3D version, or use the Direct-X Diagnostics Tool.

Hit the Windows Key + R and run “dxdiag.exe”. Hit “Yes” in the upcoming dialog and wait for the Diagnostics Tool to open. On the “Display” tab the supported Direct3D versions are listed under “Drivers -> Feature Levels” on the right. You need at least 11_0 for Windows 10 and 10_0 for all other operating systems.

Why the change?

We’re not experts in this field, but you can hardly challenge discarding these ancient features. Other MMOs have been dropping D3D9 as well as of late. It’s obviously a bunch of extra work to make the game playable on different Direct3D versions and operating systems and both consoles are already supporting Direct3D version 12. Bringing Windows 10 and Xbox closer together also means making it easier to maintain code across the platforms.

Will the Engine get Updated?

Besides the technical stuff to figure out for players the more intriguing questions is whether this could hint at an engine update. Cryptic is one of the few studios on the market that actually has its own engine, but sadly it has quite a lot of issues. Players frequently report severe FPS issues on high-end machines, on which other major titles run flawlessly. Additionally AMD cards owners have run into problems and the engine doesn’t handle large-scale fights very well on both PC and console versions. The D3D11 implementation is so bad that some users prefer to run the game on D3D9 instead.

So here’s hoping this does indeed mean they have worked on the engine and will deliver a major update. Actually given the problems this might even be a necessity. Just forcing users into D3D11 would not only exclude some customers, but also cause issues for the rest.

Are you affected by the change or a fan of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board.

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4 thoughts on “Could Updated System Requirenments Hint at Engine Overhaul?

  • December 5, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Or maybe…. they just don’t want a headache supporting unsupported OS and DirectX? *gasp*

  • December 5, 2016 at 10:58 am

    I’m cautiously optimistic this is another step in the right direction. Optimization passes become that much harder with each additional (legacy) parameter. Hopefully divesting DirectX 9 will marshal more resources toward the D11 implementation.

  • December 6, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I hope the increased requirements negatively impact the bot accounts….

    Another, more serious, observation is that the customers who cannot afford the updated minimum requirements likely also never purchase Zen. From that light, I could see where Cryptic would find those customers a small loss. After all capturing a user’s system specifications and correlating their spending is a fairly obvious metric to use.

    I personally hope the elimination of DX9 support frees up resources to handle other bug reports and development.

  • December 14, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    When do they plan on integrating this. I hope it helps consoles also.

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