Here are a few screenshots demonstrating the difference that certain settings can make to image quality. Some screenshots have a before/after where as others are just stand alone. These should help you in deciding what setting's you should make to your config.
This is high quality sky which is useful for outdoor levels to stop text clashing. This setting consumes few FPS but has been known to cause colour banding problems. Try it first.
As you can see, the image is bland and text is difficult to read because of the colour clash. However, try using the black sky mod to eliminate this - you may also find FPS higher.
I prefer to have r_mapOverBrightBits set to 3 as the texture cracks are much more clear and detailed. The gamma will probably need to be lowered, so experimiment a little.
This is the default setting. Whilst it still looks nice, it lacks the detail and clarity of the screenshot on the left. I recommend you turn mapoverbrightbits to 3.
Shadows in Quake 3 are very realistic, but because they are real-time, a hefty machine is needed. If you get high FPS, then enable shadows for even more eye candy I keep them off.
This is one of the character models I use - If you have ever played Dungeon Keeper 2, then you will recognise this character. There are tons of skins available at polycount.
With simple items on, you get a huge framerate increase if you have a slow computer. Mine isn't so I leave this off. Heh.
With Brasstime enabled, you can see the bullet shells discarded in the air. This consumes FPS so I don't bother.
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