This is not a story that will make all people happy.
In War of Magic, we had a requirement that the game would work on netbooks. And the good news was, it did. But it came at a price: Pixel Shader 2.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with graphic tech, video cards support various types of on-chip programs with the best known one called Pixel Shader.
Pixel Shader 2 will work on really old machines going all the way back to the Radeon 9800 series and the Geforce FX cards and those crappy old Intel embedded cards. There were a lot of visual downsides, particularly in terms of lighting and shadowing. But the biggest had to do with memory consumption.
Because most modern video cards have lots and lots of memory on board (those would be cards that support Pixel Shader 4 and 5), when those cards had to go into Pixel Shader 2 mode, a lot of graphics got doubled up in memory because of the way we had to manually cache things in main memory to keep performance high.
The ironic result is that people with newer hardware ended up running out of memory. The better your video card, the faster it would happen. It was a case of trying to be all things to all people. People with older video cards ended up with a much better experience.
With Fallen Enchantress, we bit the bullet and went with Pixel Shader 3. This not only gave us a lot of new lighting and shadowing options but largely eliminated the doubling of memory issue we had with Pixel Shader 2. The net result is that, voila, our memory use was halved. But it comes at a price. You need a much better video card to play Fallen Enchantress than you did War of Magic.
Now, bear in mind, what I mean by much is still a relatively low end video card. It just has to support DirectX 9c. So for instance a Radeon X1300 or a Geforce 7 series would now be the low end. Put another way, if your video card has less than 512MB of memory on it, you will probably have problems.
A rule of thumb is, if your video card is older than 5 years…it’s probably time to upgrade it if you want to play Fallen Enchantress.