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 Post subject: Silver Bullet for Lag
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 7:51 pm 
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I realized last night, as 100+ people crowded into the Watchers Pub with me, that there was something peculiar about the lag I was experiencing. I didn’t have stuttering, my framerate was just fine, and by all accounts everything looked pretty darn smooth; the lag I was experiencing was input lag (the delay between your input and what is displayed on the screen).

I discovered that turning off AA shortened the input delay considerably, leading me to believe that an issue exists within the frame buffer. Upon coming to this conclusion, I dug around in the GeForce driver control panel and discovered that changing the “Max Frames to Render Ahead” variable to zero (0) from the default three (3) removed the input lag entirely. This pretty much confirms my suspicion about the frame buffer.

So after changing that variable to zero, I log back into URU and link to the Watchers Pub (where there are currently 113 people) and I’m able to walk around normally for the most part. My framerate is good, there’s barely any pausing or stuttering, and the input lag is now gone. At this point I’m starting to think the 5000 player cap might not be too farfetched if this frame buffer issue is fixed.

If anybody’s interested in what my other setting are; I’m running URU with all in-game video settings maxed out, AA and AF turned all the way up, and a display resolution of 1680x1050. No setting other than Max Frames to Render Ahead was changed between each of my log ins (I’m not sure if there’s an equivalent setting in ATi’s drivers, but there should be).


Can anybody else confirm my findings before I write up a bug report on this?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:26 pm 
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During last month's lag explosion, I discovered that simply turning off shadows increased performance by more than 100%! And this is with all other settings maxed out at a 1600x1200 resolution. Reducing other graphics settings also helped, naturally.

Server lag is a bummer, but even with 100 other people standing around, it can be managed by temporarily reducing graphics settings.

I don't know about your example, but it makes a lot of sense, and I'll try it out sometime this week...

I say go ahead and submit the ticket now, and update it was you get more info. I wonder if Cyan can change that setting in-game (I know nVidia cards have "game profiles" that can be automatically triggered, but I don't know if a game can trigger settings changes without user design.

I suspect that a lot of people will be singing your name from the mountaintops if this becomes a widespread solution.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:12 pm 
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As it turns out, the initial release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion also reacts similarly to changes to the Max Frames to Render Ahead variable. From what I gather, the developer was attempting to keep game play smooth by having the game display from farther back in the frame buffer (cushioning framerate spikes), the side effect being what is displayed on the screen can be up to 3 frames behind what’s actually going on.

You don't usually notice being 3 frames behind at 30FPS because it only puts you a fraction of a second behind (10 milliseconds to be precise). Now when you take into account that some people with slower machines are getting down to between 5 and 8FPS, being 3 frames behind means that you are over half a second behind what's actually going on, which is very noticable.

The problem was fixed in Oblivion with a later game patch, meaning that it should be possible to fix in URU as well.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:15 pm 
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What a great find, StarLion! Maybe now the lag can finally be fixed without a major overhaul of the entire netcode! :D If you haven't already, send in a support ticket ASAP with this info.

Now I just have to find the option that will let me change it. Where is it? :oops:

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:14 am 
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I’m going to send a ticket here in a second, but I’ll post instructions on changing the settings first (I should have done this in my first post).

Here’s how you get to the setting. This is for Nvidia cards only (with the nvidia driver control panel in "classic" mode), I don’t know where this setting is located in ATI’s drivers, but it should be there in some form or another:
- Open the control panel
- Open Display Properties
- Click the Settings tab
- Click the Advanced Button
- Click the GeForce <your card model> tab
- Expand the "Performance and Quality Settings" option.
- Click the "Additional Direct3D Settings" option from the list you just expanded.

The only thing the page you just navigated to should be the "Max frames to render ahead" option. By default it's set to 3, try setting it to 1 or 0.

Image

You may need to turn on Coolbits to unhide this advanced option, this requires a registry edit, so I've uploaded a reg file that will automatically make the change for you. I've uploaded the file to more than one location just in case:

Download Location 1: http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?det=815
Download Location 2: http://rapidshare.com/files/39356155/co ... e.reg.html

Just double-click the reg file and when Windows asks you if you wish to merge this information into the registry, click "yes".
You'll need to close and re-open the Nvidia driver control panel for teh change to take effect (a few other things like temperature monitoring and overclocking will also be un-hidden, but you don't need to mess with those settings).

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Last edited by StarLion on Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:50 am 
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Wow! I just tried that, and while it caused me to get slightly lower framerates in empty areas, I actually got slightly higher framerates in the Watcher's Pub, and it greatly decreased the amount of visual lag on my end. Thanks! :)

Just to point something out... most of the "lag" people are experiencing is client-side lag, not server-side. Things like low framerate and lagging mouse or keyboard are due to the client not updating fast enough.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:54 am 
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This tweak will also affect different games in different ways, so if you suddenly find you're having performance issues in another game, change this setting back to 3. :lol:

Oh, and I've filed a report.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:05 am 
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The Noble Robot wrote:
Server lag is a bummer, but even with 100 other people standing around, it can be managed by temporarily reducing graphics settings.

There have been claims (either on these forums or the OOC section of the DRC forums, I forget which) that virtually none of the lag in MOUL originates on the server side. It's said to all be either from network latency or the client code. Not necessarily just the graphics engine, but the client in general, e.g. the way it incorporates state updates for large numbers of avatars and other objects (like cones).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:43 am 
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Just as an FYI, for the ATI you have to install and use ATI Tray Tools to adjust it. It's called 'Flip Que Size' under '3D'. Setting it to 0 is the same as 0 Frames to Render Ahead...

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:59 am 
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The Noble Robot wrote:
During last month's lag explosion, I discovered that simply turning off shadows increased performance by more than 100%! And this is with all other settings maxed out at a 1600x1200 resolution. Reducing other graphics settings also helped, naturally.

Server lag is a bummer, but even with 100 other people standing around, it can be managed by temporarily reducing graphics settings.


None of the lag in MOUL (in this episode anyways) has been server-side lag so far.

Graphical lag, or lag that dissipates when you look away from groups of people, is all client-side lag and can be solved by lower graphic settings.

Server-side lag is when the game seems to freeze while waiting for network data (link-in lag).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:13 am 
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StarLion, may I just say thank you? :D

I hung out in The Watcher's Pub for quite a while with about 20-30 people, with graphics on max and a high resolution, and had almost zero lag, which is unheard of for my computer when I play MOUL even with very low graphics settings.

Hooray! :P


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:41 am 
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Saruk wrote:
Just as an FYI, for the ATI you have to install and use ATI Tray Tools to adjust it. It's called 'Flip Que Size' under '3D'. Setting it to 0 is the same as 0 Frames to Render Ahead...


i'll have a look at this once i'm back home ;)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:37 pm 
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Thanks for the quick and detailed response, StarLion! I would have been lost without that post!

I must say, although the highest population I've seen since I changed the setting is about 20, the input lag is almost completely gone. Avatars being animating and moving quickly, even when everyone is running around. :D The only lag I'm getting is from my system now (which is by no means high-end and with graphics probably turned up too high). The minimal decrease in framerate in empty areas is well worth the exponential increase in crowded places!

I think at least a place on the MOUL credits is in order here. :wink:

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:20 pm 
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Thanks StarLion! I'm going to check my ATI and see if it has that option. ^_^


*EDIT:

Oh, Saruk! thanks for the ATI info!


Last edited by butterpaw on Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:26 pm 
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I can't seem to find the setting with a Nvidia 6150 LE, Am I missing something?

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