The Case of the Missing Textures
Alliance of Valiant Arms (A.V.A) has been published in North America, and Europe for four years. During this publication, A.V.A has been with two major publishers, IJJI Games, and Aeria Games. Through the transition from IJJI to Aeria, game changes were made, and one of the most notable changes was the removal of the 1024mb textures, lowering the overall graphic quality and fidelity of A.V.A.
Graphic quality is a defining characteristic that makes, or breaks a game to the average gamer. Such examples include the heated reviews of the Xbox One and PS4 running 'next gen' games at less than expected resolutions of 720p, instead of 1080p. These types of reviews and tests, paint a picture for all gamers that graphic quality is an incredibly important value to any game. Taking the step up to PC gaming, we are exposed to prideful values gamers place over the considerable improvements in graphical performance and quality found in PC titles.
First-person shooter A.V.A is marketed towards, and is exclusive to the PC gaming community, and platform. The contradiction arises by noticing just how much value is placed on graphical prowess in the PC community of gamers, and the unexpected lowering of graphical quality within A.V.A. Many may see this as a missed opportunity to appeal to the very platform the game is exclusive to, while others are unaware of how much appeal their favourite online title may possess.
To illustrate the large gap in graphical quality by not including 1024 textures, below are several images with comparisons.
This first image shows the disparity greatly in the camoflauge areas of the clothing. Checking out the front and back of the legs shows the greatest difference in grapical quality. Clicking on the higher resolutions, we are able to notice much finer details in the 1024 textures, which are not apparent at all in the 512 textures (knee caps, hood, gloves, vest, pouches...etc).
For the second image, the difference is quite clear. You may have only noticed the white board's clarity in its text, but did you notice the difference of the walls? Not all environment textures utilize a 1024 texture, however on Dual Sight, this is not the case! You can also see the striking difference in weapon quality between the two textures for the M4A1 MK.3!
Whether you're adjusting your CPU speed, your resolution, or graphical settings, having options is undeniably a positive feature of life, and technology. Being able to select from two levels of texture quality within AVA is great for your performance, or your aesthetic pleasure! However, other versions of A.V.A have three choices, and Aeria A.V.A used to have this capacity. As outlined above, this option was removed with no public announcement explaining the reasoning behind it. Instead, Aeria A.V.A is a degraded version of A.V.A compared to KAVA, or JAVA, in terms of graphical quality.
Many players have offered reasonings as to why not having 1024 textures is an issue to the game, the community, and AVA's future!
'Next-Gen' console games are struggling to run 1024x1024 textures, and other default post-processing effects at a consistent 60 frames-per-second at a 1080p resolution. A.V.A is capable of all of this, at much higher frame rates, on the average gaming computer. A.V.A runs on a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine 2.5, which is capable of 1024x1024 textures, as evident by the UE2 documentation, and the implementation of 1024x1024 textures in KAVA, and JAVA, as well as in the prior version of A.V.A with IJJI Games. If we also take a look at the list of free-to-play FPS games that utilize 1024x1024 texures, we get a very short list of games. Thus, it puzzles many minds within the A.V.A community on why 1024 textures are not in the game, when they would seem to be a very attractive and appealing option to any PC gamer looking to try A.V.A out.
"On A.V.A's release in 2009, it was unmatched graphically to any online FPS game, was a huge selling point for the game, and was the reason many took interest in the game. Even today, if the game had 1024 textures it would be unmatched in the F2P FPS genre, and would once again have a huge appeal to external players." - Myth, Team Canada IeSF 2013 & 3D Animator
Taken straight from the Aeria Games forums, plenty of users are concerned that A.V.A will lose the attention of future players who check out the numerous amounts of videos on Youtube, Twitch, or Facebook. The graphical disparity between 512 and 1024 textures is vastly noticeable in videos like montages, or trailers. With the rise of 'Let's Play' content videos, more users are checking out their potential games in videos, and other multimedia around the web before deciding to try them out. The concern from the A.V.A community stems from the fear that new users may compare A.V.A to other games, and lose interest if A.V.A fails to compete on a graphical or aesthetic level.
Content creators like SnowShovel with 12k subscribers, or FPSChia who has over 1 million views on Youtube are forced into producing content with less than stellar graphical fidelity. Instead of crisp in-game graphics, and weapon textures, they must utilize textures that may be underwhelming to their viewers. Having the ability to provide a higher level of graphics, that is easily enabled, could draw more viewers, and attract more players into A.V.A via their content. These are only two of the content creators in the 200+ list of AVA Youtube Channels focused on A.V.A content production.
"The simple reason is that no one asked for low res textures, no one complained about the client size, it removes a lot of the aesthetic quality the game had over other F2P titles, I like being able to take good quality video/photos of the game but now that's impossible." -SnowShovel, AVA Content Creator & International Competitor
From all areas like community figures, to content creators, to the community of A.V.A, complaints have been heard on the forums, and in-game. Yet, the higher resolution textures are still missing, and no public plans have been announced to restore them. Dozens of varying solutions have been proposed, yet none acknowledged by Aeria Games.
A well known fact is that other versions of A.V.A are using 1024 textures, with the current, and future patch versions. This should conclude with certainty that the game engine for Aeria A.V.A is entirely capable of utilizing 1024 textures by simply enabling their use. Users have tried to utilize the 1024 textures from KAVA, yet have failed, as no in-game render points to the 1024 textures, just the 512 textures. Disappointment surged through the content creators, as most A.V.A files that are not encrypted, can be copied and pasted successfully between versions. The community has asked itself why language, or font files may be replaced and used successfully, but textures fail. Allowing the game to point towards 1024 textures would allow content creators, and other interested players in utilizing 1024 textures to their fullest extent. Aeria would not have to bear the burden of file downloads, or supply proper textures, as texture files are found online.
Providing an additional download on the Aeria A.V.A download page (like other PC titles have already done), or adding a checkbox in the installer to install the additional textures would allow the community to have a choice in their graphical quality of A.V.A. Many users could decline the extra file size (2GB - 4GB), if for some reason they are unable to download an already small file size compared to the average PC game, and next-gen games. However, this would allow all players to download a texture pack, or have an automated installer, in placing their higher textures correctly. A.V.A players would thus be able to have choice, and Aeria could very likely retain their secretive decisions behind removing the 1024 textures.
Alliance of Valiant Arms is the only free-to-play FPS game with such high capabilities graphically. It competes against other F2P FPS games through its many unique features, like the Matchmaking RP System, and its unique style of play. However, removing features that put A.V.A ahead of the competition is a puzzling strategy that confuses a range of users within the game's community. From fears of longevity against 'next-gen' games, and current gen graphics, to qualms of promoting a degraded graphical game, it remains an uncertain future how A.V.A will be able to attract those with a taste of graphical quality in mind. Content creators will find themselves stuck with less than stellar textures to utilize in their various forms of content to promote A.V.A. Long-term players may begin to wonder why their favourite PC game seems to be fading and losing ground against upcoming FPS releases, and games that receive graphical overhauls.
The ball remains in Aeria Game's court, with portions of the A.V.A community awaiting a speedy return of their high fidelity graphics.