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Rise of Nations Heaven » Forums » RoN Tech Support » RON Performance Tweaking
Topic Subject:RON Performance Tweaking
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posted 05-23-03 09:42 PM EDT (US)         
When you run Rise for the first time it profiles your system and stores grades for several key performance areas in the rise2.ini file. These grades are rated from A (best) to F (worst). E isn't used. The settings I'm talking about are SYS_grade_override, MEM_grade_override, CPU_grade_override, and GPU_grade_override. SYS is an overall average of the other 3. GPU is your video card. In addition to storing a grade these settings accept AUTO as a value. When set to AUTO, the system will determine the profile each time the game is run.

When you set a user profile for the first time, RON takes the grades I just mentioned and sets the graphics settings in the options screen to the values that are appropriate for your grades for use as the initial setting. From this point you can change these options to whatever you wish. You can also edit your rise2.ini file to change the grades.

Why change your grades? Because there are some game systems that are not on the options menu that power-users looking to tweak their system may be interested in understanding. Here are some useful tidbits of knowledge:

- If your SYS grade is lower than C, you'll get the low-detail terrain
- If your MEM grade is lower than C, you'll get the low-detail/non-upgrading unit art
- If your MEM grade is lower than C, all your buildings will use the same art set
- If your GPU grade is lower than C, you won't get pixel & vertex shader support (assuming your card supported those to begin with)
- If your CPU grade is A-B you'll get the animated movie menu backgrounds
- If your CPU grade is C-D you'll get the slideshow menu backgrounds
- If your CPU grade is F you'll get a static image menu background

Also, it's worth knowing that some of the in-game graphics options can produce bigger performance gains than others. I've listed some in rough order of performance gain by turning them off.

Surf - uses lots of polys. Turning this off means you won't see waves on the beach.

Trees - lowers the poly count and texture sizes. Trees won't look as good but the will be much more system-friendly.

Units - Doesn't draw fluff animals, birds, flock birds, owls, etc. Doesn't draw unit crew (a cannon would draw on it's own). Big performance gain but also an option that might not produce pleasing results.

Dead Bodies - units that don't block when they die, just disappear. They don't bleed also.

Ammo - This stops ammo from drawing in 3 different ways. Archers holding arrows (before they are fired), planes on the aircraft carrier before they have taken off, and building addons (like the log at the lumber mill). Yes, that log is "ammo".

Fog Of War (FOW) - turning this off means no more "smooth" fog fades.

Buildings - Farms don't sway with the wind and therefore don't recompute all the time.

Note on system specs: assuming even a modest 3D card and a decent CPU, the far and away most common source of poor performance is low RAM, especially on XP (which has a slightly larger footprint). RAM is often the least expensive and biggest improvement you can make in your system. A 1Ghz system with 512MB of RAM is probably going to run your game faster than a 2Ghz system with only 128MB. Of course your mileage may vary.

Another interesting setting in rise2.ini is VSYNC. By default VSYNC is set to 1 (on). Turning VSYNC off can cause graphical "tearing" when you pan the screen on most systems, especially if you don't run in fullscreen mode. You probably won't enjoy it as it looks really bad. Some lucky folks that run in fullscreen can get away with setting this to 0. The results on framerate for those people can be substantial (my system goes from ~50 FPS to 100+ FPS with VSYNC turned off). Note that having VSYNC off can cause a number of unpredictable graphics issues so use at your own risk. Doing this is totally unsupported, will void your warrenty, cause your hair to turn green, and might make your computer explode. In other words - don't blame me if it doesn't work for you.

Also, and I can't say this enough, update your video AND AUDIO drivers to the latest release. You might be surprised how much of a difference this can make.

Hope this helps you get some extra performance out of your system and Rise. I'd be interested in seeing the results some of you have so please post them here if you've got the mind to.

Paul "Gamegeek" Stephanouk
Producer / Big Huge Games

PS. A huge shout-out to BHG programmer Jason Bestimt for clearing up a lot of the info for this post.

posted 09-12-09 06:22 AM EDT (US)     51 / 52       
Great tips

[This message has been edited by Midyan91 (edited 09-12-2009 @ 08:34 PM).]

posted 12-18-10 03:27 AM EDT (US)     52 / 52       
I cannot find this file, is it the "BHGVidCardConfig" file?
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