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Graphics Primer for ver. 1.019 / 1.020


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#1 Jason_Williams

Jason_Williams
  • Producer
  • Posts: 3467
  • LocationLas Vegas, NV USA

Posted 24 May 2011 - 21:12

Attention Pilots,

As we prepare to release version 1.019 for ROF, we need to share some information about the changes we have made to the graphics engine.

The first thing you will notice is an updated ROF Launcher and Settings screen. The Update screen is unchanged and works as before.

Compare the 1.018 to 1.019 Launcher below.

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You’ll notice some new settings in the pic above.

1. The Launcher now includes a News tab that allows us to alert you to cool new happenings in the ROF universe.
2. Objects Draw Distance
3. Very Far and Maximum Forest Draw Distance
4. Super Sampling On/Off
5. SLI/Crossfire On/Off
6. Sound now has a 128 sounds option.

Let’s look now at each new graphics setting and what it does.

1. News - The News tab is so we can announce anything we want to our community quickly. It could be anything as the module is a simple HTML powered module. Of course, you need to be connected to the web for it to work.

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2. Objects Visibility - The object draw distance affects ALL objects other than trees. This means that Airplanes, Buildings, Vehicles, Balloons and their associated effects such as Flak are drawn much further out. At maximum draw distance Objects are drawn at 8500m. Their draw distance is no longer connected to the FOV setting. This is what you have asked for and we have tried to deliver. We have found in testing that if you can already run ROF successfully you should be able to run 100% Draw Distance with little or no impact on game performance.

On a related note, buildings now fade in as you approach them just like the trees do. No more popup buildings.

With regards to Multiplayer, this setting is a Client side option. For technical reasons this will never become a Server side option. Again, the large majority of users will be able to set this at 100% with no issues.

3. Forest Visibility - We have added increased draw distances for the trees if you have a good graphics card. Very Far and Maximum settings draw trees much further out than before to help match the new draw distance options for Objects. Too many trees can hurt performance so it is up to you.

4. Super Sampling - was an experiment to find a simple way to decrease the “shimmer” some complain about. It does just that, but it is has a huge performance penalty and should only be attempted by those with powerful systems. Our Super Sampling is option runs at 2X setting and even that crushes most systems. Sorry, but this is not a magical solution and your mileage may vary.

IMPORTANT NOTE – NEVER RUN SUPER SAMPLING IN CONJUNCTION WITH AA AND AF SET MORE THAN 2X. If you do you will probably have 1FPS and/or Black Screen. It’s best to run Super Sampling with AF set to Bilinear and AA set to 0. The picture will still look good. Clouds and other particle effects do not like Super Sampling and your frame rate will suffer as a result. Again, some will like this feature, but most will not. To get rid of the “shimmer” completely will require a whole new graphics engine and that is not possible in the near-term.

If you don’t like our Super Sampling option you can still try the nVidia Inspector tool and use the 2X Sparse Grid Super Sample option that tool provides. It will improve your image, but it too causes a performance hit. You can Google nVidia Inspector to find it or search our forums as there has been discussion about it. For a 3rd Party tool it’s quite powerful. But use at your own risk. We are not responsible for any damage caused by its usage.

5. SLI/Crossfire - nVidia SLI and ATI Crossfire support has been adopted by ROF with this version. Multi-GPU usage should offer some nice performance improvements for those with low or mid-range systems that have a Multi-GPU setup, however there are some caveats as you will read below. We utilize the Alternate Frame Rendering technique which is the best solution for a sim engine like ours. You will find below the recommended settings for both SLI and Crossfire drivers.

SLI Settings:

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Crossfire Settings:

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It should be understood that Multi-GPU support introduces all kinds of special problems for our engine as well as other game engines. One issue that is native to Multi-GPU support is the so called “micro-stutters”. We have done our best to negate micro-stutters and in almost cases there are no stutters. However, with an SLI/Crossfire system you may encounter a small stutter when the sun comes into view. There is not much we can do about this; even nVidia acknowledges these issues are a challenge for SLI systems. Also, when the sun is blocked by part of your plane it takes longer for it to disappear. As before, there is nothing we can do about this issue.

Finally, there are situations where stutters will occur when particle effects get between your camera viewpoint and the sun. Examples where you may encounter stutter with SLI/Crossfire are:

-In overcast skies when you skim the bottom of the overcast or the top of the overcast.

- When you first enter a cloud or skim the edge of a cloud.

- When you fly through the brown fog in No Man’s Land.

Again, this is when your viewpoint looks at particles and the sun is on the other side of the effect. The stutters are caused by the engine trying to determine whether or not the sun should be visible. We have tried to eliminate it, but we have discovered after many wasted days working on this that there is nothing more we can do. We apologize for this, but we have found that the exact circumstances where these types of stutters may occur is not that often and the trade-off for more frames in all other circumstances is worth it for those that already own a Multi-GPU system.

Additionally, single video card users may also turn on SLI/Crossfire support and gain some performance. The reason for this is because Multi-GPU support turns on some optimizations that even single cards may find helpful. However, this may introduce the same possible micro-stutters mentioned above.

Also, some of you will try to enable Triple Buffer to help with any micro-stutters you perceive. Be warned that some users have experienced flashing textures a result of enabling Triple Buffer in the drivers.

After months of testing and a lot of headache, our official recommendation to users about adopting SLI/Crossfire for ROF remains the same. Our engine was not designed for it and implementing it was very difficult and as I mention above the results are somewhat mixed. We still recommend that you invest in a really strong single card solution to boost your ROF frame rate if you feel it necessary. We suggest you save the money you would spend on a second video card and use it to buy a better processor if need be.

6. Sounds - We have added a new 128 sounds option to the sound settings. This should help make sure no sounds ever cut out when you are in combat. This does however take up more memory, but we have detected no issues in testing with this setting.

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If you absolutely have no use for or simply do not like our new graphics options and want to return your settings to 1.018 standards here is what you will need to set them too. But please be warned that to accommodate these new items we had to make some fundamental changes to the engine and even though the settings below will be very close to 1.018 your performance may not be exactly the same. But it should be very close. Simply reduce forests to Far, reduce Objects Visibility to 50 and turn off SLI/Crossfire. The rest of the settings just set it to what you had before.

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We hope this give you an insight into what to expect graphically with version 1.019 and it will help you avoid any surprises and guide you in your setup.

Jason
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