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A Note on General Performance Issues

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

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Xesha's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:29 PM | #2
How about making sure that the game doesn't completely stop rendering when retrieving data from the disk cache or asset files? And adding some sort of option to lower FX quality. That would make my game run without frame drops.

It really sucks that I can have 110 fps with drops to 70-80 in a specific area, but when enabling V-Sync I get like 58.7 fps with drops to 25-30 in the very same area. I think that's your problem right there, and could provide an explanation to why it affects seemingly identical rigs very differently.
"Hey, I know! I'll use my trusty frying pan... as a drying pan!" - Brock

Skipinder's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:30 PM | #3
Well here goes nothing, gonna have a read up.

Edit: Low fps in Warzones and fleets = nothing can be done our end then? I should be running an 2500K setup soon, so we will see, but people on anything less are screwed?

Probably the biggest performance fail in PC gaming history.
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xdethrok's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:32 PM | #4
LOL. Sorry, but I had to.

This is ridiculous.

Most of us can play any other, more taxing, games at max settings and at high resolutions.

Rather than admitting to a problem with your engine, you provide us with a "guide" telling us that our systems are bottlenecked and just define things that any casual computer user already knows.

We should not have to tweak, overclock, or completely buy new hardware just to play your game when your game is the only one that is causing issues.

Tell you what, I'll drive down to Austin and provide you with my computer and let you see that there's no problem on my end.

I'm awaiting an even farther drop in EA stock shortly.
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Kunari's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:32 PM | #5
The TLDR of the OP is, "Put all your settings to low."

Thanks for the WOT there dev, but there isn't anything in there that helps. I have a pretty-good system and even running everything on LOW and 800x600 I still get single-digit FPS on Ilum. Also WZ and Fleet stutters at 15-20fps (at least fleet is not a combat zone)

Everything on low and 1920x1080 - Ilum is single-digit FPS
Everything on low and 800x600 - Ilum is single-digit FPS

Something is wrong with your game map design/client/engine system usage. I can play BF3, Skyrim, and many other MMOs on mostly high settings (AA & Shadows on) yet TOR kills my system.

Rikeryo's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:35 PM | #6
your engine is plain crap, just saying. and so are your "tons of software engineers" and your CS.


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.
with this sentence you've just admitted that you lied about the system requirements of this game. what a CPU do we have to own to run this game smoothly? brb calling my NASA dudes!
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HolySchmoley's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:35 PM | #7
same stuff that's been posted in various threads over the have no fix or solution.
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BindoDidIt's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:35 PM | #8
I just want to quest and rpg, not this serious mmo stuff. That's why I left WoW. Please fix your hero engine so I can be immensed in the best star wars universe to be unleashed yet.
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TheJestersHat's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:36 PM | #9

Hardmann's Avatar

01.30.2012 , 03:37 PM | #10
Not much new here, damit.
Well, i hope it will help someone out there
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