Improving TrackMania United Forever Crossfire Performance

Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Crossfire Scaling, Hardware, Software, Tips/Tutorials
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Just use the Company of Heroes profile, RelicCOH.exe. Some demanding tracks may not scale much or at all, but the simpler ones do get a boost. Plus the GPU usage should be cleaner instead of getting no scaling and twice the power draw/heat generation.

Last Modified: April 27th, 2012

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Unlocking BRINK’s Framerate In Singleplayer

Posted: August 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Software, Tips/Tutorials
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You may have noticed how awful Brink feels and looks in motion when playing the campaign or challenge modes, totally different from what your framerate counter displays. Here is how to get around that nonsense. The main idea is 1-you will run a local dedicated server, 2-you set what campaign or challenge to load, 3-you connect to it.

First, install the dedicated server in the tools section of Steam. While that’s downloading, go to the launch options of Brink in your games list and add ‘+set win_allowMultipleInstances 1‘ so that Brink’s executable can run more than once at the same time. (Otherwise you wind up having to launch the game first, then alt-tab to launch the server second.)

Once installed, check the ‘\Steam\steamapps\common\brink dedicated server‘ folder and you should see example .bat files. Edit an existing one, or copy into a new file, adjusting the server name and ports as you want them. Everytime you want to launch the server, just run the .bat file. Push the quit button or type in ‘quit’ in the console for the server to shutdown.

Now it’s time to tell the server what campaign and maps to load. Instead of memorizing server console commands or map names, I would make a .cfg file for every map of each campaign so that it’s very simple to quickly start playing on the mission that you left off in your campaign. Every .cfg file will look like this:

si_rules sdGameRulesCampaign
applyServerConfig Standard
campaign set campaign_#TEAMNAME#
si_playMode 1
si_onlineMode 2
si_needpass 1
g_password #YOURPASSWORD#
si_maxRank 4
si_botDifficulty #NUMBER#
net_serverAllowHijacking 0
spawnServer mp/#MAPNAME#.entities

Replace #TEXT# as necessary. You can have spaces in your password, quotes don’t seem to be needed (eg: ‘g_password hello world‘). Change the campaign team name to ‘resistance‘ or ‘security‘. To play the Agents of Change DLC maps, add ‘_dlc1‘ to the end of the campaign line (eg: ‘campaign set campaign_security_dlc1‘).

Bot Difficulty: any: -1, easy: 0, normal: 1, hard: 2

Resistance map names (in order of campaign): aqarium, seetow, terminal, resort, ccity, refuel, shipyard, reactor

Security map names (in order of campaign): aqarium, terminal, ccity, sectow, shipyard, reactor, resort, refuel

Agents of Change DLC map names (in order): lab, founders

Challenges: enable server hijacking then selecting a challenge as 2 player and public should join your server, or any other for that matter (source)

OR I think I managed to make a .cfg that works:

si_rules sdGameRulesChallenge
applyServerConfig ChallengesCoop#NUMBER#
campaign set campaign_challenges
si_playMode 1
si_onlineMode 2
si_needpass 1
g_password #YOURPASSWORD#
si_maxRank 4
net_serverAllowHijacking 0
spawnServer sp/challenge_#NUMBER#.entities

Set your coop player amount to a number between 2 and 4 (eg. ‘applyServerConfig ChallengesCoop2‘ for a 2-player game). Change your password just like a campaign server, and then change the challenge map number to the challenge you want: Be More Objective: 06, Parkour This: 05, Escort Duty: 01, Tower Defense: 03 (eg. to have a Parkour This challenge, the last line would be ‘spawnServer sp/challenge_05.entities‘)

So once you make your .cfg files (or use mine), place them in the ‘\Steam\steamapps\common\brink dedicated server\base‘ folder. Launch your server with your .bat file from earlier and type ‘exec security3‘ if you want to play the 3rd mission of the security campaign and your .cfg file for that mission is named security3.cfg. Then launch the game and go to Freeplay, search for LAN servers, and you should see your local server ready for you to join. If your router’s ports are open, you can have your friends join your server as well. There is a handy script to open and close the ports via UPnP, so that you don’t need to bother opening your router admin settings as long as UPnP is enabled.

Now you can play Brink the way it’s supposed to be! It may seem complicated, but once all this is set, you just exec the .cfg you want from the server console window, nice and simple.

Source for original .cfg file and discussion: Steam Forums
More information on some of the commands, or using additional ones: BrinkBase.de
You can also type commands in the console window and sometimes the values and what they mean will be displayed (eg. typing ‘si_botDifficulty‘ in the server console).

Last Modified: March 3rd, 2012

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Improving Unreal Development Kit Crossfire Performance

Posted: August 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Crossfire Scaling, Hardware, Software, Tips/Tutorials
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UPDATE: Turn off vsync if you enabled it in the .ini files. Use D3DOverrider with triple buffering instead.

Simply rename UDK.exe found in the Bin32 folder to AliceMadnessReturns.exe. Make sure to have the latest CAP, and it still works even with my sparkling spots fix, which uses 11.2 dlls.

The Alice profile is almost as fast as other profiles like Crysis 2, but without flickering of the water or other artifacts.

The following screenshots are of a 4870×2.

Last Modified: May 1st, 2012

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Improving Hydrophobia: Prophecy Crossfire Performance

Posted: July 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Crossfire Scaling, Hardware, Software, Tips/Tutorials
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Once again, like the Section 8: Prejudice trick, grab RadeonPro (since it’s a steam game) and simply use the Half-Life 2 crossfire profile. Apparently other profiles flicker or do not scale as well.

Credit goes to spyre who noticed this… months ago. I’m not sure why it’s still not in the CAPs or drivers.

Last Modified: April 27th, 2012

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Improving Section 8: Prejudice Crossfire Performance

Posted: May 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Crossfire Scaling, Hardware, Software, Tips/Tutorials
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UPDATE: Another profile that scales and doesn’t flicker is Company of Heroes, RelicCOH.exe. It might even be a bit faster than Dark Void’s.

After a fair amount of testing, the Dark Void profile gives the performance boost of the FEAR profile without the flickering.

So what you need to do is grab RadeonPro so you can make a profile for the game. You can’t simply do the exe rename trick, as it has a launcher that blocks you from starting from the game exe directly.

Once inside RadeonPro, push the ‘add a new profile’ button and select S9-Win32-F.exe from the Binaries/Win32 folder of the game. Go to the tweaks tab and click ‘manage custom profiles’, then add Dark Void as ‘ShippingPC-SkyGame.exe‘. Now to fix the launcher issue, go to the launcher tab and select ‘Games for Windows Live’ from the dropdown, then pick the actual launcher exe, which is S9.exe in the root folder of the game.

This should do it until a profile gets built into the drivers. Enjoy!

Last Modified: April 27th, 2012

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Games For Windows Live Stuck On “Signing In”?

Posted: January 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Software, Tips/Tutorials
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Recently I was having trouble getting any GFWL game to work. The store client itself was always fine, but every game was unusable. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the latest client, and even installing an older one from the redist folder of Blacklight Tango Down. I know UPnP works on my router and this computer, so how can that be it, right?

I found this post that mentions resetting the TCP stack and Winsock. This method seems to be mentioned occasionally, but much less than the usual reset router, restart this, reinstall that.

So what you do is open a command prompt (as Administrator if needed), type ‘netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt‘ and the status of each item should say ‘OK’. That user post says to type in the winsock reset command, but I couldn’t do anything further in that window once it completed, so I opened up a second one and typed ‘netsh winsock reset‘.

Now I had 2 cmd windows open, they wouldn’t close, the restart button in the start menu didn’t work, and well, I hit the reset button on my case. Seemed a little sloppy, but my GFWL games are now loading fine! Don’t disable the Windows Live ID Sign-In Assistant service, it appears to be needed.

Last Modified: March 30th, 2011

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Some Indie/Non-Mainstream Games To Check Out On PC

Posted: December 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Software
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UPDATE: This list is ridiculously out of date, I have to add tons of other games to it…

I made a list of some interesting or lesser known games that deserve a look. All of them I’ve personally tried and are owned by me on Steam. There are obvious ones like Super Meat Boy, Shattered Horizon, or Braid, but hopefully you find some new ones you’ve never heard of. Check out my list on GiantBomb since the site has so many features tailored to managing and browsing a database or encyclopedia of games.

Last Modified: November 22nd, 2012

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Upgraded to WordPress 3

Posted: July 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Software
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That went pretty smoothly.

I did a manual upgrade by putting a temporary index.html in the WP root and renaming the existing index.php, deleting everything except wp-content, then uploading the new WP3 files. No issues with old plugins from a year ago, or with some of the PHP that the theme uses.

Last Modified: March 4th, 2011

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VERY Powerful Batch Rename Application

Posted: May 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Software, Tips/Tutorials
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Here’s a real time-saver. If you ever needed to rename or enumerate a bunch of files, and have been manually doing it up till now, then this is the program just for you. Ant Renamer is full of common actions you might have run into when dealing with larger amounts of files, such as photos of a vacation or frames of an animation.

You can add characters, search and replace strings, use the file date for its name, use EXIF information, or even run a regular expression on your file list. It displays what the output will look like at the bottom as a preview. Finally, there’s an Undo button if you make a mistake.

Check it out next time you have some heavy renaming to do. It’s freeware and even includes source code or translation files if you’re inclined to start modifying it.

Last Modified: March 30th, 2011

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Making Unreal Engine 3 Games Their Smoothest

Posted: May 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Software, Tips/Tutorials
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UPDATE: On some newer UE3 games, enabling vsync either in-game or from the .ini files causes severe stuttering, particularly in crossfire. If you run into such a game, you need to use D3DOverrider to force triple buffering. I can confirm this on a 4870×2 and a 570m in UDK, Tribes Ascend, Blacklight, Monday Night Combat, Hawken, and probably some others. Single GPU or Crossfire, same type of low framerate and stutter caused by vsync without triple buffering. Otherwise, no problems with a lot of older games like Borderlands.

Quick tip for Unreal Engine: Fix the awful defaults. Mainly, set the smooth framerate option to match your refresh, enable vsync, and disable mouse smoothing.

Any movement or animation on any monitor screen is visually smoothest when it’s synchronized to the screen’s output, or refresh, rate. Vsync does just that. The Aero theme of Vista/7 looks nice and smooth when things are moving because it always has vsync enabled. Similarly, games should also have it enabled whenever possible. This even applies if you’re getting lower fps that’s not completely aligned to your refresh. For example in Crysis, I’ve seen it go around 35-45 fps, but looking really jerky until vsync is enabled.

Watch out for increased input lag, however. This is when you push a button or move your mouse, the action that should appear on screen gets delayed. Different engines handle this side effect better than others. Source engine appears to get almost unplayable with vsync enabled, unless you cap the game with fps_max (removed in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, so it’s a little more annoying). Unreal seems to be quite nice with vsync, especially since the engine can be set to render only up to your refresh to avoid the input lag seen in Left 4 Dead. Unreal also appears to have triple buffering built in, helping if your system cannot render as fast as your refresh: It won’t just jump straight down to half fps, but render as fast as it can with light ticking stutters.

Anyway, on with the Unreal tweaks. You’ll need the *Engine.ini and *Input.ini files for the game you’re adjusting. You’ll have to figure out where they’re located, but it’s usually either in MyDocuments or AppData. Here are a few:

Alien Breed 1 #MyDocs#\My Games\UnrealEngine3\AlienBreedEp1Game\Config\
Borderlands #MyDocs#\My Games\Borderlands\WillowGame\Config\
Homefront #MyDocs#\My Games\HOMEFRONT\GCGame\Config\
Mass Effect #MyDocs#\BioWare\Mass Effect\Config\
Medal of Honor #MyDocs#\EA Games\Medal of Honor\Config\
Mirror’s Edge #MyDocs#\EA Games\Mirror’s Edge\TdGame\Config\
Moonbase Alpha #MyDocs#\My Games\Moonbase Alpha\MoonBaseAlphaGame\Config\
Rock of Ages #MyDocs#\My Games\UnrealEngine3\BoulderGame\Config\
Sanctum #MyDocs#\My Games\Sanctum\SanctumGame\Config\
Section 8 #MyDocs#\My Games\Section8\S8Game\Config\
UT3 #MyDocs#\My Games\Unreal Tournament 3\UTGame\Config\

Under the Engine.ini, find the smooth framerate parameters. When set to false, I noticed lots of stuttering in Mirror’s Edge, so I always keep it on just as it is by default. I just put the min at 0. More importantly, fix the max since it’s always at 62 at default (why!), make it 60 or whatever your refresh rate is:

bSmoothFrameRate=TRUE
MinSmoothedFrameRate=0
MaxSmoothedFrameRate=60

Also find the vsync toggle if there is none in your in-game options, might as well do it now since you’re in the Engine.ini:

UseVsync=True (note the message at the top of this page)

Now go to the Input.ini. It seems that in Unreal Engine, when you’re fps starts dropping with mouse smoothing enabled (which is usually default), the mouse movement starts accelerating! This completely throws your aiming way off. Turn smoothing off and your movements should be the same on screen whether you’re 60, 40, 20, or any fps:

bEnableMouseSmoothing=false

Now your Unreal Engine based game is as smooth as it can be! Unless of course your system isn’t powerful enough to sustain 60/refresh framerates, but it’s still less jerky than if the image was tearing or your mouse control was changing speeds. Have fun!

Of course, this is all separate from any actual in-game options that raise or lower details. Even if you can’t stay at a constant 60 (or whatever your refresh is), these tweaks still apply to make it smoothest even at lower fps.

Last Modified: September 23rd, 2013

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