RuneScape - Preview @ 1UP
Julian Murdoch previews the, in beta, graphic update for RS.
In updating the engine, the challenge for Jagex was to keep the game as accessible as possible. Despite the "HD" moniker, the system specifications are still so ridiculously minimal that most cell phones could hit the mark. Think specs like "1.5GHz processor or higher", or "256MB RAM or more", or a GeForce3 level (and higher, of course) graphics card with just 64MB of RAM. Modern computers are on Java 6, while Runescape merely requires Java 1.4.
While these specifications might seem laughably low, they ensure that the game can be run on the aging Windows 98 machines that have been sitting in school libraries since the turn of the century, devoid of driver updates, or even Java upgrades. While the client uses OpenGL to drive the new graphics, the code is just Java, and takes less than 10 seconds to load on a fast connection. Considering these specifications, the engine itself is surprisingly pretty. The most notable changes are the use of real, discernable textures for all surfaces and a rudimentary lighting model which brings dynamic shadows to the game for the first time. All of the changes are subtle but positive -- a flag that now looks like cloth waves in the breeze, casting a hazy shadow on water which now actually looks like water, and ripples with transparency. It's not Age of Conan, but to be blunt, it's not half-bad either.