Video/game settings and you.



  • edited June 2015
    A (further) word on anti aliasing.

    Enabling antialiasing removes (or attempts to remove) the jagged effect seen in diagonal lines across the screen as you play. This makes for much nicer image quality than without antialiasing, but it comes at a price as described in my first few posts in this thread. Lately I've been weighing the cost of fsssaa (full screen super sample anitaliasing) wich is tremendous as far as vid card workload and vid card memory traffic compared to the benefit thereof. I noted in T1 and T2 that even if fsssaa is enabled there are still random aliasied lines here and there, popping textures, shimmering textures, all of wich is bs, these effects shouldn't be present yet they are, and I figured with fsssaa there should be none of this crap. Oh yes the vid card driver is set to Highest Quality.

    Enter fxaa.
    Fxaa is available in many vid card driver control panels and works in T1, T2, TA and T:V as well, and this is great as it more or less eliminates texture popping and shimmer as well as aliasing. It also does it for a fraction of the time (as in 1.3ms) your vid card would take to render the same scene with msaa or even worse, fsssaa (wich can take several passes thru your vid card shader engine). But all is not perfect in fxaa-land, it will make the text in the game menus (server list, settings, etc) harder to read. But I'll take getting rid of lower fps, shimmer, popped textures, and aliasing at the price of slightly harder to read text. I tried fxaa a few years ago and settled on fsssaa as it was reputed to be the best in image quality, but have now revisited and revised my settings. Look for fxaa in your t2 game profile in your vid card driver control panel today. If you have any other form of antialiasing enabled disable it if you decide to use fxaa.
  • A word on Tribes Ascend tribes.ini settings;

    The above tribes.ini, found in Games/Tribes/TribesGame/Config is what I use and it works fine, plays fine, looks fine. Make a copy of yours before you try mine so you can go back if needed. Much of the special effects are disabled so as to increase frame rate over image quality. For the configurable ingame settings menus set your resolution as desired and under the Video tab you want to have Graphics Detail set to Very High as this provides for farthest visible range. Set Texture Detail to Minimal for best fps and the game still looks great. Disable Smoothing as well as Motion Blur. In the ini is the string "OneFrameThreadLag=False", I prefer to play this way - you may not - so if you don't like the resulting play set this string to true and save the ini.
    Thank you, drive through.
  • Thanks.
  • A (further again) word on antialiasing;

    In the search for high image quality I've tried most of the methods found in vid card driver control panels and found them lacking time and again. Too much aa and the image is blurred, text is hard to read, and the performance drop that comes with enhanced aa is pretty high. As described previously, fxaa seemed to result in, strangely enough, the best image quality overall out of the various aa methods available to me, yet it still had issues such as slight yet noticeable texture popping, crawling, shimmer, and worst of all it made text unreadable in a lot of cases. Fxaa image quality was better than even ssaa, but it still had issues however slight.

    So on a whim I tried enabling msaa @ 2x and fxaa and all is bliss.
    Msaa has a very low performance hit especially @ 2x and fxaa is almost free as far as performance goes.
    No more texture popping, crawling, shimmer, and best of all text is perfectly readable.
    This can be applied to most any game not just the tribes series.
    The great payoff here is excellent image quality at the absolute least performance hit.
  • My AA looks great and amazing, no problems except frame rate drop and frame tearing.
  • Wait, I thought you liked jaggies?
  • You're killin' me man.
  • I ran across this after looking into deleting the remnants of an old os after an upgrade;
    Remove Old Drivers After Upgrading to New Hardware

    This may help systems perform optimally.
  • edited January 2016
    A word on TA and Hirez;

    If you have ta installed, it came with a "service" that if left as installed will start up with the system, meaning you may not even play the game for the duration your pc is on yet hirez has access to your system. If you dislike the idea of others rummaging around your pc you can set this "service" to manual rather than automatic and still play the game. However, after playing the game you'll want to shut the service off untill next time you play. Just look for Hi-Rez Studios Authentication and Update service. Set it to manual as shown here;
    After playing the game, just fire up task manager and go to processes, click show processes from all users, then select hirez and right click the service, then click end process tree. If you don't shut it down after playing ta, the service is still running.
  • A word on TA and Hirez;

    If you have ta installed, it came with a "service" that if left as installed will start up with the system, meaning you may not even play the game for the duration your pc is on yet hirez has access to your system. If you dislike the idea of others rummaging around your pc you can set this "service" to manual rather than automatic and still play the game. However, after playing the game you'll want to shut the service off untill next time you play. Just look for Hi-Rez Studios Authentication and Update service. Set it to manual as shown here;
    After playing the game, just fire up task manager and go to processes, click show processes from all users, then select hirez and right click the service, then click end process tree. If you don't shut it down after playing ta, the service is still running.
    This makes it look like they can go through your personal files with no limitations........which isn't exactly the case. Just to be clear here.
  • A word on win10;

    Using GWX Control Panel to Permanently Remove the 'Get Windows 10' Icon

    GWX Control Panel is the easiest way for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to protect their computers from Windows 10. With GWX Control Panel you can: Remove the "Get Windows 10" icon that appears in your notification area, prevent your Windows Update control panel from upgrading your computer to Windows 10, prevent your computer from secretly downloading Windows 10 installation files, detect and remove the hidden Windows 10 installation files if they're already on your PC, optionally monitor your computer for unwanted Windows 10-related settings and files- and beginning with version 1.7 you can now easily delete some hard-to-remove program files that are known to cause Windows 10 upgrades and annoyances.
  • A word on Receive and Transmit buffers;

    This is a nic tuning feature one can use to reduce latency a bit on both inbound and outbound packets, its effects should be noticeable. The other nic tweaks are good ideas too in some instances, some systems may perform better with interrupt moderation enabled. I set mine to half of their stock figures rather than the 96 as suggested in the guide, but try it and see how she plays, if you write down the stock figures you can always go back to them if desired.
  • edited November 2016
    The illustrious T2 warrior Sami - Fin has alerted me to an interview of some of the T2 devs;

    Dynamix: Thanks a ton for the interview. Anything else you'd like to add?

    TG: Come get some!

    MF: (laughs) Shazbot!

    and a bonus link;
  • edited November 2016
    And a word from one of T2's devs;

    Hmmm. The only thing I can think of is the significant patch we did at GarageGames as one of our first projects. I don't remember an official expansion; though we pitched doing one for Sierra, ultimately they went a different direction with the franchise.

    Glad you're still playing!!

    This was the response to my question below;
    On Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 6:20 AM Blakhart wrote:
    Hi (redacted), been a while since I emailed you, hope everything is well, and a friend asked me if I knew what the "Tribes2 Expansion Pack" is or was or could have been. I have to say I don't remember reading/hearing about it so I ask you for any input as well as any T2 history tidbits you'd like to pass along. Have a good one in whatever you're doing these days and thanks for some great games, still play t1 and t2 almost daily.

  • The interview was an awesome read, and it's very cool to see that we still have one of the original t2 developers still responding to tribes 2 related stuff. I hope they come back to play their own game once in a while.
  • A dev answers some burning Tribes questions;

    Q; Always wondered what the file extensions in Tribes meant. Such as .cs, .dso, perhaps you could fill in the details?
    A; I don't recall exactly what the extensions meant -- .cs was for script files, .dso might have been dynamix script object or something like that.

    Q; Hi again and thanks for the reply on the file extensions. Another burning question for you; is it spoken "dynamics" or "dyna-mix"?
    A; Dynamics
  • Do the same dynamix people who worked on T2 also work on Midair? Who was the game designer?
  • Do the same dynamix people who worked on T2 also work on Midair? Who was the game designer?

    MA is made by a separate group of devs.
  • A word on keeping backup parts and/or systems;

    The other day while trying to play T2, my gtx280 went into "split screen" mode, one side of the screen had a different camera view from that of the left. This wasn't the only time the card had farted, with obvious artifacting taking place under no load conditions making me suspect the end was near for my elderly 280. For those inexperienced with such, this is a example of artifacting;
    Sometimes a driver or other software issue can cause the hardware to seem corrupted but in this case a driver revision didn't help at all, the card was on its last pixel. Good thing I had kept the gtx260 the 280 had replaced, so the 260 was installed and driver replaced with little to no apparent performance hit at least in t1 and t2. Ta is another matter where the greater total memory on the card is a great asset but the 250 plays it well enough. Ta was where the first artifacts became apparent but at the time I was unsure if the lockup was vid card or network related, in ta if the net farts the system basically freezes for a time. I could have gone with a newer vid card but the rest of the gaming pc's parts are 2008 era, however a more power efficient vid card would be nice to have. The 260 series are power hogs.

    So, moral of the story; keep spare parts or a spare system on hand for when your pc breaks - because it will. Like cars, it's almost a rule that if you have one you need two for when the first breaks down and leaves you somewhere.
  • edited October 2017
    A word on mouse repair;

    Lately my most recently purchased meece was starting to double click via the fire button, so I knew its days were numbered. This has happened often before, even to my fav mouse, the ms intellimouse. What happens is the return spring of the affected button loses tension, work hardens over repeated use, and sends double clicks when only one is intended. This gets to be realllllly aggravating. Anyway, I have a few meece around to loan spare parts and thought hey, why not try some of the repair ideas instead of spending more money first.

    Here are some vids on the technique most used to repair mice with button malfunctions;

    The vids show you the source of the issue, the microswitches that actuate most button controls on any given meece. Some microswitches are better than others, some will be rated to withstand several million clicks, some are barely up to the job when new.

    My issue with the above videos is the repair technicians are simply retensioning the spring inside the microswitch, and that spring has already failed. I didn't want to reuse a switch that had already fatigued as the primary fire button of my game meece so I tried another tack.

    That tack was to unsolder the least used microswitch in that meece and use that one to replace the faulty fire switch. There are three solder spots to hit on a given microswitch to unsolder and solder, and you can't get placement wrong on the pcb (printed circuit board) as the switch dealy is marked on the pcb like as if the switch was there on the board. I didn't need another meece for spare parts after all.

    The least used microswitch in any of my meece is always the scroll wheel button, so I nicked that (all the microswitches in my meece are identical) and put it in place of the left click button. Most meece come apart very easily with just a screwdriver, but to use the soldering method of repair you have to have a soldering iron and solder, some soldering experience helps. If you don't have the tools or skills you can still use the method as shown in the vids that don't require iron or solder. Make sure you note what parts go where, the scroll wheel dealy has an optical encoder that is triggered by the passing of a shutter wheel, and that wheel can only go in the mouse one way - might help to take pics before you do any repair work.

    Anopther issue some meece have is the actual plastic of the fire button, where it contacts the microswitch, becomes worn and will actually dish out. Some people use epoxy to fill the dish/depression in the plastic and then smooth the contact surface with some fine sand paper. I checked my meece and the plastic bits were unworn, so it was just the switch being bad, at least I hoped.
    So I soldered the scroll wheel button in place of the fire button and vice versa, and oddly enough the scroll wheel button works fine, I wonder if the heat from soldering it stiffened the return spring or something so it works as it should.

    I acknowledge the ghettoness of this repair, but replacing meece every year or so is expensive, this one cost me $80, and if I can bring it back from the dead for the cost of a few blobs of solder I'm gonna do it.

    Anyway, just played some t2 and so far testing shows the meece is working fine, no double clicking or anything. This meece was bought at Frys back in 2008, so I used it to kill a lot of you in the duration, and now it can kill once again! When it goes bad next time I'll get a new meece or order some hi dolla microswitches and repair it the right way.
  • A word on sound wrappers;

    This sound wrapper has been touted as a possible fix for the sound glitches commonly heard on multi core systems, heard almost always when pressing the jet button.

    I noted that the jet sound issue remains, however what was formerly "2 dimensional" audio is now more like 3 dimensional audio, ie it now has depth. The miles fast sound in my t2 install seemed to be very flat, either left or right audio and no depth, the new wrapper allows for that missing depth to be noted. It also works with most of the ancient games I play.
  • A word on sound wrappers;

    This sound wrapper has been touted as a possible fix for the sound glitches commonly heard on multi core systems, heard almost always when pressing the jet button.

    I noted that the jet sound issue remains, however what was formerly "2 dimensional" audio is now more like 3 dimensional audio, ie it now has depth. The miles fast sound in my t2 install seemed to be very flat, either left or right audio and no depth, the new wrapper allows for that missing depth to be noted. It also works with most of the ancient games I play.

    I'm not certain it's bound to multi-core processors (just that pretty much all modern machines are at least dual core). Though I have some ancient desktops here I can see about attempting to reproduce it on. My one laptop might also allow me to disable multi core processing to achieve the same effect on a modern operating system.
  • edited October 2018
    A word on benchmarking.

    Benchmarking is computer drag racing. It's putting your pc to the test to see if it is indeed, of the hizzy, if it, for example, has moxie, if it's tough enough, leet enough, for you, a member of the glorious pc gaming master race. Seriously it just indicates relative performance of certain pc hardwares.

    Here's some vid card benches I use;

    My most oft used bench is the 2001se as it is closest to T2 era hardware expectations. Anyway, the good thing is the legacy benchmark downloads come with the key to enable all testing options. These are great benchmarks even today, and the demos included with each are pretty cool.

    This is the overall pc benchmark I use most;

    Passmark is nice because it comes with a set of benchmark results for comparable systems, if you want to compare your i9 build to your 1996 486 with math co processor build, you can! Last time I used it, it had a limited duration unless you buy it, I just test and uninstall.

    This tool that everyone should have is a goldmine for pc service;

    Also on this tool is a app called memtest, this is about the best tool to use when adjusting memory timing, it is absolutely consistent from one run to the next, unlike some memory benches that I've used in the past like sisoft sandra. In the past, this excellent tool came with an offline pw tool that would search a ntfs drive for user names and pw so they could be deleted or edited, someone got them to stop including it in the iso.

    Other benches that may be of interest;

    Speaking of benchmarks, here's a ssd life test benchmark I thought interesting;
  • A word on system/disk maintenance;

    If you run disks that have spinning metal platters inside, you can help ensure you get optimal performance and reliability out of them in a number of ways. One of these ways is to keep them cool. Don't mount them atop each other with no air gap of at least half an inch between disks. I try to mount them in the front of the case behind the vents most every case will have, often a drive cage is right behind the case vents and if you install the drives there, you can force airflow over the drives easily. Good cooling enhances drive reliability and life.

    Most drives never get hot enough to corrupt data, but lack of use can promote data corruption. By use I mean data that sits on a drive for months or even years without ever being looked at. What happens is the magnetic "domain" that is the bubble of magnetism on the drive that denotes a portion of a 1 or a 0 can weaken from lack of refreshing, and once it becomes weak enough the drive logic can confuse the magnetic gender and flip their state.

    There's two ways to keep this from happening. One is to actually look at the data, use the app, or whatever the data on the disk represents so the data is read off the disk, examined by the drive logic, and then replaced back on the disk with a fresh magnetic domain. This is what we want, to refresh the magnetic domains.

    The other way to refresh the domains is to do a full disk scan, and I recommend this every few months. What this does is the drive reads every bit on the drive, checks it for validity, corrects if it needs in some cases, flags in others, and replaces the data back on the drive with that delicious fresh domain. This regimen also checks the drive for bad sectors, if it finds any, it attempts to lift any data from the suspect sectors and places the data elsewhere safe, and then flags the suspect sector as unusable. Every drive leaves the factory with bad sectors already flagged off, and a pool of spare sectors so the drive will maintain capacity for the expected life of the drive. This can take a hour or two in most cases, terabytes of data will of course take longer. I typically find that after doing this, the system often shows a slight but noticeable performance improvement.

    Now we have the data secured on the disk and the disk checked for reliability, we can defrag it. If you use the typical built in app to defrag, note that it doesn't defragment files larger than 64mb. Yes, 64mb. So how cam we defrag those huge video files and so on?

    Start a cmd prompt with admin privileges. Hit start, all programs, accessories, right click on command prompt and hit run as administrator. This will fire up cmd with admin privilege.

    Type defrag and hit enter.
    It will list switches available in the defrag routine;

    - A Display a fragmentation analysis report for the specified volume without defragmenting it.

    - C Defragment all local volumes on the computer

    - E Defragment all local volumes on the computer except those specified.

    - H Run the operation at normal priority instead of the default low priority. Specify this option if a computer is not otherwise in use.

    - M Run the operation on each volume in parallel. This is used primarily for SCSI or SATA type disks rather than the typical IDE.

    - T Track an operation already in progress on the specified volume.

    - U Print the progress of the operation on the screen.

    - V Verbose mode. Provides additional detail and statistics.

    - X Perform free-space consolidation. Free-space consolidation is useful if you need to shrink a volume, and it can reduce fragmentation of future files.

    Since I have multiple drives, I enter defrag /c /w /m /h /u /x /t /v

    The c switch tells the app to defrag all drives, the w switch tells the app to defrag files larger than 64mb, the m switch defrags the drives in parallel, the x switch tells the app to consolidate free space, and the w switch tells the app to reveal details in the report.

    Defrags is actually best done under safe mode to reduce the files in system use that will not be defragged.
    The above should keep your disks and system happy. Don't even bother doing any of this with ss drives, you'll just reduce their lives, also this is unnecessary with solid state drives.
  • A (further) word on HPET;

    HPET is a system timer developed by Intel and M$ to replace most of the system timers in use up to around 2008. The idea was to develop a timer that had none of the issues of the legacy timers, of wich there are multiple. Win10 doesn't use HPET but it still may be present in a current mobo bios/uefi, and you can enable or disable it and see if it helps or hurts system performance. Reason I'm touching on this now is due to a recent vid cared upgrade.

    This vid card upgrade played everything well but I noticed when side scrolling in T2 there was a definite stutter. This displeased me. I tried all the various vid card settings in the T2 profile, tried various in game settings, and still the stutter. Then I remembered I'd disabled HPET and so looked HPET up on innernets to see what the modern consensus was regarding HPET and found multiple opinions. So I enabled it in bios and the os and checked T2 and all was smooth and creamy now, no more stuttering at all. This is what was commonly mentioned in innernet threads about HPET, however keep in mind the results are very os and system hardware dependant, some users had smoother performance without HPET, others had better with HPET, so try it in your own system both ways to see if there's an improvement.

    Here's a thread on testing HPET;

    Make sure you try all your other games to see if HPET hurts or helps them.

    While on the subject, make sure you have this line somewhere in your scripts/autoexec folder;


    Most systems will run T2 smoother with it set to 0 rather than 1, mine runs best with it enabled aka 1. Try the game both ways to see if it makes a diff in your case. You can add it to any script inside the autoexec folder, just copy and paste it, or make a script with notepad, copy the line into notepad, save it as whatever you want to call it and then change the file extension to .cs. Pop it in the audoexec folder and away you go.
  • A word on Vsynch

    The Sami, our friend in Finland, let me in on a vsynch option available in Nvidia cards the other day and now I'll share it with you. I didn't notice it in the vsynch options when I installed my latest vid card and am glad The Sami notified me of its availability. It's known as Fast vsynch. I goggled fast vsynch and read up on it, apparently it is simply vsynch done smarter, with an eye towards reducing latency as far as game state is concerned.

    If you don't use vsynch you are already gaming with the lowest input and gamestate latency, but some prefer vsynch for image quality, power reduction, as well as heat reduction in the vid card. I run vsynch with triple buffering, if you run vsynch you should enable triple buffering to help reduce latency, but the latency reduction is only every few frames, depending on if your vid card can render a scene before it is needed, and then is sent to a buffer or directly to your screen. The problem with by the book triple buffered vsynch is that it renders a frame, sends it to the screen, renders another frame while the first frame is still being displayed, and might even start working on a third frame to be shown - even if that latest frame does not represent the current gamestate and is 32ms old, each frame is shown for 16ms at 60hz vsynch and triple buffering will force every frame rendered to be shown, one after the other, regardless how stale a frame may be.

    With traditional vsynch with triple buffering, with a 60hz refresh rate, you get a new frame every 16ms if the card can keep up with the game, if the game punishes the card and the card can't keep up, the frame rate drops and the game stutters, with traditional vsynch the frame rate often drops to half the refresh rate, in other words 30fps with a 60hz refresh rate. Triple buffering helps prevent this drop by adding another frame buffer so the vid card always has a frame to send to the screen and help keep the fps up. The problem is the buffer can hold old gamestate that is a few frames old wich can keep us in the same place or even moving backwards according to gamestate, and also there's the extra latency of triple buffering that can be up to an additional 16ms. With old skool triple buffer vsynch, that extra 16ms will always be there because it's in addition to the front and back buffers - each 16ms long - that are present regardless of triple buffering.

    Fast vsynch does away with a lot of the overhead of traditional vsynch in that it attempts to always send to the screen the latest frame rendered, wich should always be the closest frame to the current gamestate, no matter what buffer is being displayed - meaning it can replafe an already rendered frame with a fresher newer more up to date frame. Gamestate is the authoritative packet from the game server, and we want to be in agreement with that packet always, not behind or in front of it as far as prediction goes. If your connection lags a bit your game will interpolate the happenings on screen according to the rule set of the game and physics, if your client guesses right, well and good, if it guesses wrong, your screen will eventually snap you back to reality, something much more likely to happen with vsynch and triple buffering compared to fast vsynch. The thing about fast vsynch is you need to have a card that laughs at whatever games you throw at it, and any card made in the last 10 years should laugh at t2. I have 8x fsaa and 16x aniso cranked in vsynch'd @ 1080p and fast vsynch works great and has made a noticeable improvement in the twitch response. Another great thing is it works with any monitor as it is monitor agnostic, unlike some of the recent vsynch modes released in vid card drivers that require specific monitors.

    All I can say is if you use vsynch and have the fast option, try it.
  • A word on decompiling;

    Our good friends at NSA have released their decompiler;
    Ghidra is a software reverse engineering (SRE) framework developed by NSA's Research Directorate for NSA's cybersecurity mission. It helps analyze malicious code and malware like viruses, and can give cybersecurity professionals a better understanding of potential vulnerabilities in their networks and systems.

  • A word on Output Color Depth and Output Dynamic Range;

    In your vid card control panel, in the case of nvidia cards the change resolution menu, you may find options such as Output Color Depth (bits per component) and Output Dynamic Range. I run hdmi so these options may not be available to all who might use another feed.

    These settings, unless changed from their defaults, might not be optimal as far as making games look nicer, and I think many would agree that T2 needs all the help it can get in that department.

    In my case a driver swap set these controls to their defaults of 8bpc for Output Color Depth and limited for Output Dynamic Range. Setting 12bpc for Output Color Depth and full for Output Dynamic Range (preserves shadows while increasing detail) made a noticeable diff in game color saturation, it simply looks better. The changes are global, everything will look nicer, not just T2.

    If you have a non-nvid card you may have to look around for similar settings in your respective control panels.
  • A word on memory ranks/channels/bandwidths;

    It's not unusual to have this kind of question debated in tech forums, so today we're having a look at the performance impact of having four DDR4 memory modules in a dual-channel system, opposed to just two modules. In this scenario all modules are operating at the same frequency, use the same timings, and provide the same total memory capacity.
    Dual-channel platforms such as AMD’s AM4 or Intel’s LGA1151 require two matched memory modules for dual-channel operation, adding a second pair will only expand memory capacity and won’t upgrade you to quad-channel memory, for that you’d need a Threadripper or Cascade Lake-X processor.
  • A Word on Making Backups

    Not long ago a few drives went south in the game build assembled in 2008, the drives were new then or shortly after and had given good service for lo these many years. But all good things come to an end and these drives gave indication they were coming to an end. The system had a os drive and a data drive, the os drive holds the os, data drive has most everything else. Swap file on each drive. Etc etc.

    Anyway I started pulling things off the drives I meant to save and thought I had everything I'd ever want from them but such was not the case. The anime and so on was safe, but gigs and gigs of music and a prlect I;d been working on for years went up in smoke as I zero wrote the drives without double checking before I said do it to the zero write app. Zero writing means writing zeros to every writable sector of a disc, this ensures best performance and also can uncover flaky sectors.

    So after testing the drives and replacing same I noted my glorious project was missing from the painstaking backups made; tens of gigs of audio files from ww2 news and propaganda broadcasts, filed by date and type. Thousands of allied bcasts, thousands of axis bcasts, all gone, years of effort. What I was going to do with them I've no clue but I knew I wanted them. So now I have start over with some hard lessons learned, learn from my mistake and make backups on a timely basis and cover everything you even remotely consider something you might miss.

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