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View Full Version : What in a map causes a lower framerate?


Syfo-Dyas
11-06-2002, 06:54 PM
Hello, simple question hopfully.
What specific elements in a map are responsible for a lowered (choppy) framerate?
I'm not referring to the resolution the game is set at, or graphics cards or CPUs, or RAM. I'm aware that they are all factors.
What I'm looking for are the contributing factors within the map itself.

Are there things in a map that could be altered to increase the framerate, but not affect the basic layout of the map? -examples: lower the skybox?
Using simpler geometric shapes on buildings?
Do textures play much of a role?

Some of the maps I see are GREAT, but play awful because of the choppy framerate. I'm on a mission to find the best of the best for a possible release of a multi-map pack.

Thanks in advance.

NITEMARE
11-06-2002, 09:10 PM
textures are ofcourse a reason. older cards below gforce3 are not that good at 1024x1024 textures...
also komplex shaders could do that. i tried detail textures for large surfaces with one texture stretched to much and looked ugly. but the detailtexture realy makes some performance disapear. so if it is not avoidable and a mapper has to work with detail textures he shold mention the cvar r_detailtextures so people with low end pcs can switch them off.
another thing i've noticed are curved surfaces. for some reason they decrase perofrmance but the polygon count can't be the reason. i have md3 model with high polycount an it does not decrease performance in any way. mabe it has something to do with the texture and lightmap put on a patch mesh. these curved surfaces are patch meshes, there are control points (vertexes) which determines the shape and form but the polygon count is up to the users geometry settings in the video options. mabe it's this feature with the polygon reduction if the player is far away, which reduces fps in combination with good textures. how ever, since i got used to skinning models for the md3 format i got used to it and am satisfied with the results, more or less. there is no real good and easy way to add every kind of detail and eye candy to maps.
the size of outside areas is a factor too.

legameboy
11-06-2002, 09:56 PM
and lots of brushes, tons of brushes will chop it up

Elijah
11-07-2002, 04:44 AM
*legions words echo in his ear*

A good idea to keep a good FPS is to texture everything with "Caulk" and than only texture the Faces that are visible.

NITEMARE
11-07-2002, 06:23 AM
i assumed that this was already clear. to watch the brushcount and to check for hidden faces and caulk them...

Shadriss
11-07-2002, 08:32 AM
I'll put it in simple terms.

First, lots of curves. This is because of the number or tri's being drawn at any given moment. Which, BTW, changes depending on how far from the curve you are. Despite NITEMARE's statement that md3's have high polycounts (which they do) so this cant be the case, he's wrong. It IS the case. THe engine handles md3's differently from the other tri's it draws. DUnno why... but it's true.

Second, amount of detail in the level. The more brushes you have in view or being drawn at any given time in your map, the slower the FPS. The engine will draw ANYTHING in your map that can be seen from where the player stands. Actually, it's more complex than that, but it's good enough for basic understanding.

Third - HUGE areas. I'm not sure exactly why this is, but the engine HATES big areas. Try to keep your rooms as small as possible while maintaining the sence of "bigness" that the room warrants. Outdoor areas are infamous for this problem, as many think that you need to have a high cieling or a very big area to use a skyshader effectively. This, of course, isnt true.

Fourth - "Glass" type shaders, by which I mean any shader that uses a see-thru texture. Again, I dont know why this is exactly, looking through one of these into an area will cost you something in the realm of 20 - 30 FPS vs. looking at in without glass.

Cant think of any other factors offhand... aside from the "build it in caulk and texture later" method (which I use all the time...)

Hope this helped.

Syfo-Dyas
11-07-2002, 07:46 PM
Thanks -yes it does help!

I'm not into mapping, personally. I just find it a shame that so many great maps have crappy gameplay because the framerate is so bad.

Can anyone tell me if there is a simple way to "fix" a map to make it more playable?




I'm using my system as a basis for testing potential maps for a mappack that will come out with ProMod 3. My system is an Athlon 800, ATI vidcard with 32MB, 384MB RAM. I think this is a good system for testing on because it can run JO pretty well -but NOT what I would call 'stellar' in the performance end. It's toward the lower end for a 'practical' game machine. Not everyone who will be using this mappack will have a fast computer. So, this gives me a good idea about what maps will work well.

First, lots of curves.

Second, amount of detail in the level. The more brushes you have in view or being drawn at any given time in your map, the slower the FPS.

Third - HUGE areas.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't these 3 of the more popular ways maps are made?
I recall reading the manual for "Stealth Fighter" for the C64 (yes, this was a long time ago...;) ) where they said, in the designer's notes, that a popular joke for game development among C64 programmers was: "When you run out of memory, your game is finished". They said that, in fact, their games weren't finished until they'd filled the memory 3 or 4 times! The idea being, that they would have the computer maxed out, so they would have to eliminate certain aspects of the game to allow for other things to be added -it was a constant compromise. The idea behind it is "working within limitations".

I think this principle applies to current computers aswell, but isn't used as often as it should be.

People should be trying to see how much they can do with as little as possible. Sure you can always add more 'stuff' that makes a map look great. But what sort of performance trade-off is there if you add it?

Could you find a way to add it to your map, and have it be less costly on the performance end?

Could you eliminate something else from your map that would give a performance boost to help compensate for the new thing you are adding?

To me, this is what separates the "men from the boys". Making a fancy cool looking map is one thing. Anyone with the time and the tools can do that! But making a well layed out map that runs well on most computers, AND looks great... THAT takes talent!

Kengo
11-07-2002, 08:44 PM
Originally posted by Syfo-Dyas
it was a constant compromise. The idea behind it is "working within limitations".

I think this principle applies to current computers aswell, but isn't used as often as it should be.

People should be trying to see how much they can do with as little as possible. Sure you can always add more 'stuff' that makes a map look great. But what sort of performance trade-off is there if you add it?

Could you find a way to add it to your map, and have it be less costly on the performance end?

Could you eliminate something else from your map that would give a performance boost to help compensate for the new thing you are adding?

To me, this is what separates the "men from the boys". Making a fancy cool looking map is one thing. Anyone with the time and the tools can do that! But making a well layed out map that runs well on most computers, AND looks great... THAT takes talent!

I think you're right, getting a map that plays well, looks good and works for as many people as possible is the most vital skill for any good map maker! It's a hard compromise to reach and I guess more than anything comes through experience.

Working within limitaton is a big factor in maps made for JK2 I think. It's based on the Q3 engine, the strengths of which seem to be amazing combat and some pretty damn fine visuals, and it's weaknesses seem to be things like interaction (with both environment and NPCs) and complexity of scripting avaliable. I think that's why there have been so many SP levels which are almost totally based around combat - character interaction is hard to do. I also feel that the high number of MP maps that seem to be focused more on looks than overal gameplay maybe cmes from the fact that you can make a JK2 level look so damn good, in TFC for example it seems so much more focussed on gameplay because it's Q2 graphics and they are never going to look so wonderful.

In an SP map I'm working on at the moment the whole limitations vs. what you want to do thing is really becoming a problem - I want an open map where you can walk around anywhere and interact quite a bit with NPCs, Zelda-like, but having lots of NPCs around at once causes all sorts of problems. Having epic battles would be great but both massive slowdown problems and scripting difficulties make this difficult too. I had to get rid of the flickering effects on all the damn candles to help FPS, they looked good but were totally needless in terms of gameplay, still wish I hadn't though :)

I guess that classic Clint Eastwood line sums it up: "Know your limitations" :D

Kengo
11-07-2002, 08:47 PM
Can I also add....Promod rocks! :)

Shadriss
11-07-2002, 09:27 PM
I'm not familiar with promod - to be honest, I'm a JediMod Plus user myself...

BUT! Working within limitations has been driven home HARD to me as well. I just spent the last two months remaking LivingDeadJedi's old DOTF map, trying to improve it's FPS and looks.

Batting .500 isnt bad.

THe looks are a big step up, but there just wasnt much I could do to improve the framerate - mostly attributable to the "HUGE area" comment I made earlier. So, it looks tons better than it did before, but the gameplay is almost essentially the same. *shrug* If we'd done what we needed to to make it more playable than pretty, the hanger would have been miniscule, and there would have been, at most, a pair of reacotr beams. NOT a good thing.

Anyways, in responcece to your comment about pushing the limits of the engine, I try... sometimes, it even works!

(I remember C64's... those are ANCIENT history to me... they were new when I was in 2nd grade I think?)

lassev
11-08-2002, 03:08 AM
In SP map making there is still one thing very well worth mentioning: the amount of time one is prepared to spend on details. The more details you put in, the smaller your map shrinks, in the end, and it's not only due to limits of the engine. Some good people have already left the JO scene for other games, so one can only ask himself just how long is it worth keeping your map in making before releasing.

Of course, if you have a large group behind your project, it can be a different story, but still some of the bigger projects are already showing signs of death, as we well know.

So, pushing and optimising the engine to its limits may only be relevant to rather restricted MP maps.

EDITED: restricted in area or size, not otherwise...

Shadriss
11-08-2002, 07:20 AM
True that some are leaving for new games and new horizons (And map editors...)

But, if you think about it, I think we map more for the SW fams who will ALWAYS play this rather than the ones who just say "Hey! It's the next game that uses the Q3 engine!" I know this is true for me anyways. And for them, I'll spend LOTS of time getting it right, getting it detailed, getting it as believeable as possible within the SW lexicon.

At least - that's true for me... tell me you dont STILL play the original two SW games... I know I still do on occassion. Not because of gameplay or graphics - but because it's a story, and it's SW. :)

Wes Marrakesh
11-08-2002, 12:29 PM
I'd play JK if it still worked on my comp...

MAN that game rocked...