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A Note on General Performance Issues

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Customer Service
A Note on General Performance Issues
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JovethGonzalez's Avatar


JovethGonzalez
01.30.2012 , 03:25 PM | #1 Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread. Next  
Hi everyone,

As promised, we wanted to address some of the hot topics in our community right now: FPS (frames per second) and other performance issues. We’ve spent a lot of time reading the forum threads on these topics, and the client team has analyzed many, many performance logs. They’ve also met over the past few weeks to discuss how to best address these topics, and now we want to open up the conversation with you.

Avi Mintz, the Associate Project Manager for the client engineer team, has digested some information together into the post below. Over to Avi:


Hi everyone!

As Joveth mentioned above, my name is Avi Mintz and I’m the Associate Project Manager for the client engineering team.

Developing an MMORPG of this scale and detail means we must support a wide spectrum of performance-impacting scenarios, varied hardware compatibility issues and other unique challenges. Input from our community goes a long way to bolster our investigation efforts and narrow down elusive resolutions to these problems.

To that end, we’re hoping that we can start an open dialogue with you, the community; some of you have called out for this, others have taken the time to publish write-ups, and we are looking forward to collaborating with you to make this game a fantastic journey and a memorable experience for all involved.

Please remember, we read the forums and identify actionable items as often as possible, as well as receiving reports from the Community team on a regular basis. Although we can’t always respond with the frequency or immediacy that you might like, whenever an issue is raised to us, a developer is alerted and assigned to the issue. We prioritize to ensure that the identified issues that affect the largest number of players are dealt with first, but we are always working on whatever we have outstanding.

In this post, I’ll get a little more detailed into our client preferences and suggest some settings changes that may help you. In the future, we’ll update you on our optimization plans as we address known issues. Now that you know a little bit more about our processes, let’s get started.


Game settings and what they mean for performance

Any given PC can bottleneck in a few different locations (processing power, available memory, graphics processing power, etc.). While changing graphics settings can have an impact on any or all of these, finding a ‘sweet spot’ for your system might take a bit of experimentation. Such experimentation is probably best approached by turning everything to ‘Low’, and then turning various features up selectively and noting the effect. We’ve broken down some of the less straightforward options for you here to give you some insight into the workings of our rendering options.

Min-spec shaders
  • The min-spec shader option allows faster rendering, at a reduced quality. This option also turns shadows and bloom off.
Shadows
  • Our shadow options are High / Low / None, where:
  1. The ‘High’ option renders full shadows
  2. The ‘Medium’ option renders only ‘blob’ shadow discs under characters.
  3. The ‘None’ option removes even the ‘blob’ shadows.
As you might expect, your choice of shadow setting can heavily impact frame-rate. High shadows will be, comparatively, much more taxing on your system.
Textures
  • Our texture options are High / Low. We are planning an additional setting for character textures, closer to the quality seen in cinematic scenes, which is under development right now.
Anti-Aliasing
  • Our anti-aliasing options are High / Low / Off. Depending on your system, these options represent different levels of jagged edge smoothing.
  • Anti-aliasing is one of our more system-taxing features, and we do not recommend using it when running a video card with less than 1GB of memory. Keep in mind that the ‘performance cost’ is greater at higher resolutions.
  • Note: anti-aliasing is temporarily disabled for AMD 6900 series cards, due to severe graphical artifacts. We are working with AMD to resolve this bug, and we will re-enable the option for the 6900 series as soon as possible.
Resolution and Window mode
  • Window mode options are Fullscreen / Fullscreen (windowed) / Windowed, where:
  1. ‘Fullscreen’ is what we refer to as ‘Fullscreen exclusive mode’. This option gives you the best frame-rate of the three, but it comes with a trade-off of having to reinitialize the display if you tab away from the game and back.
  2. ‘Fullscreen (windowed)’ is really just a borderless window that stretches to fill your screen. You lose out on the slight performance gain of ‘Fullscreen’, but you can now tab back to the program seamlessly.
  3. ‘Windowed’ is as straightforward as you might expect. If you feel that you’ve gotten the best frame-rate out of this setting, keep in mind that it all comes back to how much resolution you are prepared to sacrifice.

Minimum spec, recommended spec and performance

Error Code 7

Error code 7 is our way of reporting a game initialization failure – essentially, the game failed to run. There has been some speculation about this message being a ‘gate’ blocking players based on their system, but that is not quite accurate. Here are some situations that will result in an error code 7:
  • Missing technology that would cause an unplayable scenario. To be more specific, we require SSE3, introduced in late 2004.
  • Missing PlatformInfo.dll file (part of the SWTOR client).
  • Failure to create a Direct3D device – usually caused by an absent or outdated graphics card driver.
Note that this factor is not related to system processing capabilities, but rather fundamental system architecture (e.g. a 2011 netbook CPU might be able to run SWTOR while a 2004 desktop CPU might not).

If you’re receiving error code 7, but your system should be up to the task of running SWTOR, please contact us through Customer Service with the email tagline ’Error Code 7‘. We have introduced additional logging in patch 1.1.0 that can help us diagnose and pinpoint the source of failure.

Low FPS in the fleets, warzones and Ilum

We’re very aware of the frame-rate degradation that even top-notch systems experience in these gameplay scenarios. We’ve taken measures to control the overall impact that character-heavy scenarios can have on system performance, but there is always more we can do. We are constantly investigating and optimizing, and we are in the process of making changes to the fleets that have hopefully yielded some improvement.

Some of you have pointed out that your GPU is not being fully utilized when in these types of situations; we have found that character-heavy situations like these are usually limited by the CPU, not by rendering, so this makes sense.

Other changes you can make that will help improve performance:
  • We’ve read that some mobile graphics cards might not appropriately set their performance profile when running SWTOR. You can correct this by going to your graphics control panel and manually setting up a profile.
  • Disabling Windows Aero can also improve performance slightly.
  • And, of course, shutting down background programs can only help.
Client crashes

Our data says that, when measured as an average across all players, crashes during SWTOR gameplay are relatively rare. That being said, there might be some users that have the perfect storm of hardware, settings or activities that provoke repeated crashes in a way that we can practically diagnose and fix. If you experience consistent crashes, or if you know of a consistently reproducible one, please take a visit to this thread and post your information there – we’re always looking for more issues like this to fix, and increasing SWTOR stability will always be a top priority for our team.

We recently messaged that we fixed a frame-rate degradation problem that occurred when shadows were on ‘High’; this fix also greatly increased stability on 32-bit systems.

System failures

If your system consistently shuts down unexpectedly, please go to this thread and post your information. Some of you have already done this, and your posts have been extremely helpful. We’ve analyzed all the information you’ve provided so far, and this is what we can say…
  • SWTOR has the capacity to heavily utilize your system. If you are running the game with high graphics settings, this is especially true. System flaws or inadequacies that might not be evident when idling or playing other games could possibly be exposed when you are running SWTOR, especially in moments that put extra pressure on your system (PVP, Operations, etc.) To name a few things you should look out for:
  1. Ensure that your power supply is not failing and that it supplies enough juice to power your system.
  2. For temperature considerations, it’s also worth checking that the power supply fan is working properly. Also ensure that your PC case is properly ventilated and your airflow is unobstructed.
  3. Ensure that your PC is clean and your system is not clogged with dust and dirt.
  4. We recommend taking appropriate precautions (monitoring and cooling) if you are overclocking your hardware. Our advice is to dial things back to the manufacturer’s recommended settings until your system failures are resolved.
  • Blue Screens are displayed when Windows encounters a critical error. Errors of this nature are usually hardware or driver related.
  1. We’ve provided some information here in the CS forums about ways to narrow down and identify the root cause of a given error. Windows tends to log this information, and those logs are a good point to begin an investigation.
For every visit you’ve made to the Forums to post constructively or inform us of an issue – thank you. Your DXDiags help us (even if you do forget to use spoiler tags sometimes!!) and we hope you’ll continue to work with us to make SWTOR great.

Edit (2/7/12): This post has been up for over a week and we are now going to unsticky it in an effort to declutter the CS Forum's main page.

JovethGonzalez's Avatar


JovethGonzalez
01.30.2012 , 03:52 PM | #2 Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread. Next  
Quote: Originally Posted by TheJestersHat View Post
Now, that i've regained my speech, that's about as useful as a lead freakin' balloon.

Is this it?! The big fix?
To be clear, we never said that this was going to be a quick fix, in fact, I posted the following:

Quote: Originally Posted by JovethGonzalez View Post
Hi folks, I apologize for the delay in updates on this issue, but as I mentioned before, we needed time to gather data and put all of our information together in one digestible format.

We just finished editing a document that we hope to be able to publish as a forum post here in the CS forums as early as tomorrow.

I can tell you that it's going to be a guide on optimization performance (which includes FPS) for your PCs.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences here and for your patience as we work to continually improve your gaming experience.


Every PC is different, and we wanted to help folks understand the different settings in SWTOR and how they each affect performance including FPS. SWTOR is a demanding game and the PC is a complex machine. It's not always possible to have a single "fix" for various issues and our hope is for this guide to act as a reference to help diagnose your specific issues. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

JovethGonzalez's Avatar


JovethGonzalez
01.30.2012 , 05:33 PM | #3 This is the last staff post in this thread.  
Quote: Originally Posted by Kunari View Post
Our development team is actually investigating this right now. Until we can further test this, however, we can't officially recommend this tip.

Notannos's Avatar


Notannos
03.03.2012 , 03:29 PM | #4
Hello all,

Since the previous incarnation of this thread passed the 1k mark, we've recreated the thread for you to continue your discussion in.

A couple of reminders for you to keep in mind:
  • Rude comments and Insults are not allowed. There are many different opinions and we expect our community members to be respectful of one another and their opinions.
  • Trolling is not allowed either. This includes posts that are meant for the sole purpose of causing disruptions in the threads, flames or overly negative reactions.
  • Ignore list - If you find that you absolutely cannot get along with someone, please place them on your ignore list.
  • Flag - If you think a post is breaking the forum rules, please flag it so the Community Team can investigate.

We thank you for your efforts in keeping the thread on topic, constructive and respectful.

Dunston's Avatar


Dunston
03.03.2012 , 03:37 PM | #5
Instead of "your" discussion, lets make it "our" discussion plz.

ZeMomiji's Avatar


ZeMomiji
03.03.2012 , 03:37 PM | #6
FIRST! I WIN!!!

Once again another incarnation of an FPS issue thread. ^(x,..,@)^

update: second o,..,o

Rikeryo's Avatar


Rikeryo
03.03.2012 , 03:39 PM | #7
#2

#1: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=252808

yes, every PC is different. the only thing they have in common is your game and your flawed engine ruining the performance for people with great rigs. and only therein lies the problem. a good start would be to work with your swtor_main_art_fx_1.tor. and make sure you fix this fast, gw2 and d3 are on the horizon. and stop trying to fool people. you've seen their reaction in the first thread. they're not dumb. oh, and back to sticky pls!
5% club member

alifaraaz's Avatar


alifaraaz
03.03.2012 , 04:31 PM | #8
First of allI wanna say that I've been attempting prettymuch everything to fix my fps issues,and although they have improved a bit,its not enough and I'm running out of potential reasons as to why I'm having these problems.

not on my desktop so can't post dxdiag right now, but there's general specs:

AMD 2.2 Quad core
6gb ram
2gb, nvidia GTX
Windows Vista 32bit

Firstly I updated all drivers and downloaded the most recent DirectX 9 driver. I didn't find much difference.

Generally I used to get about 30-40fps on my ship, like 15-25 on worlds and Luke 5-10 on fleet at busy times.

Following this, I forced triple buffering and force vsync on my nvidia control panel. I also allowed my monitor to upscale when resolution is lowered. However I still play at max resolution.

Now I get a much higher variation in fps. I hit 60-80 on my ship. Around 20-50 on world, and 5-15 on fleet. Both 16m ops and wz seem to give same fps.approx as fleet, which becomes stupidly hard to play during busy boss fights.

I made few other tweaks aswell, putting pc power option on high performance and mucosa control panel to performance over quality.

Finally I dunno what else to do to improve fps during raids, because its useless atm. I've ordered Win7 64bit, hoping that might make a difference since Vista is crap. And well short of buying a new frickin processor, I dunno what else could be causing issues.

I'll update this thread after a clean install of win7 and see how my performance is afterwards. Any advice would be appreciated I am willing to do almost anything that ain't too costly to fix this issue.

Teivu's Avatar


Teivu
03.03.2012 , 06:14 PM | #9
Could still be alot better for 14.99 a month.
V a l l e y . o f . D e a t h .
. "Into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred" None returned! .
T e i v u

Frenne's Avatar


Frenne
03.03.2012 , 06:39 PM | #10
Many on this forum posting about this issue comes down to after trying exactly everything and a little more, the reason for the bad fps is the game-engine. I have now tried everything there is to try from all posts on these official forums, and the ever so helpfull handfull of ppl making insanely great posts (better than BW themself sorry) where they point out small fixes. But still bad fps, lag and fps dumps when loading, opening bags, jumping etc etc. I know you posted above that you didnt want any overly critical replies but if i cant post about this you may never fix it. I have a good computer, im using a 100/100mbit line. So im sorry but i have to place myself in line with the ppl pointing out a broken engine.

I have about 20 days left of playtime and i highly doubt i will re-add a new gamecard. Im sorry BW you are loosing players, and as above poster mentioned D3 and GW2 is on the horizon. If you dont wanna admit it due to pride or whatever, it could be a money issue. Try running the game on a different engine in your office atleast and if that solves the issue then you know what you have to do. And trust me you will have many pleased players, as of now i have alot of friends asking me about the game and im honest. I just say "dont buy it, try it with my account first and see for yourself before you spend any money". Im sad to say that only 2 out of 9 friends have bought the game and the rest have not with the same reason "Laggy".

Hope you get this fixed who knows i might be back in the future with the rest of the rage-quitters!