Friday id Software's John Carmack said that a patch is on the way to help alleviate the blurry textures in the PC version of RAGE. The patch will reportedly add a bicubic-upsample+detail texture option that should "de-blur" some of the game's textures.
A "detail texture" is essentially a small texture with some generic detail that's "tiled" across the base texture of an object. Epic Games offers a few screenshots showing the difference, with detail-texturing in the Unreal Engine Development Kit turned off here, and turned on here. This method makes the overall object textures look sharp and detailed even though the base texture is dull and blurry.
"Bicubic-upsample is just a form of interpolation, it isn't going to make it hardly any better," points out one Bethesda forum member. "To make it actually better, we need higher res texture packs, and I hope we don't have to wait a whole year for that."
Unfortunately, it doesn't look as if Carmack & Co. will release a higher-resolution textures pack anytime soon. "Our first test of a higher res page file didn't help much, because most source textures didn't actually have any more detail," Carmack said via Twitter.
So far the team hasn't indicated when the new patch will be released, so stay tuned.
UPDATE: One Tom's reader sent in a very interesting proposition to id Software about hosting hi-res textures for RAGE:
From my understanding, Carmack's statement - "Our first test of a higher res page file didn't help much, because most source textures didn't actually have any more detail" - was about changing the page file's resolution when converting the current HD Photo/JPEG XR insanely compressed textures that shipped with the game. With those as a starting point, it makes no difference if you transcode them to DXTC at 8192 or 16384 res...
However, should a higher res HD Photo/JPEG XR or native DXTC texture pack come in the future, it would weigh close to 170 GB - 200 GB and would definitely bring better image quality to the game, but I feel they're shying away from such a big download or there would be issues with current PC/videocards having to deal with as much hi-res material for a single scene. Detail texture overlays smell's like compromise... Anyway, I feel the tech is very much "forward looking" and it'll only get better with future PCs. After my initial underwhelmed feeling, I'm actually warming up to Id tech 5!
Hey John, I would gladly help pay for the bandwidth requirements should you release a SIGNIFICANT graphical update through DLC for a reasonable price...