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Star Trek: V-o-y-aa-ggg-eeee-rrrrr
October 10th 2000, 22:24 CEST by andy

First it was Deus Ex, then Sanity, and now reviewers and players of Star Trek: Voyager have been complaining about long loading times. But don't worry! As you might expect, it's not a problem with the game. Oh no. Once again it's the players that are being blamed...



Mike Gummelt of Raven updated his .plan with this message:

Sometimes, I suppose, this could be due to having a fragmented hard drive or other problems, but overwhelmingly, these long load times are due lack of RAM causing the hard drive to thrash while loading.

A friend of mine had this problem and we tried a few things to fix it. In the end, the problem was he simply didn't have enough system/video RAM to run the game at the resolution and detail level he was trying to.

If you want to run the game at 1024x768 in 32 bit color with all the detail settings at "very high" with high quality sound - you better have at least 128MB of system RAM and 64MB RAM on your video card. Even then, EF by default allocates 56MB of RAM to loading the map, sounds, models, etc.

Short answer: If you're having long loading times, you're pushing your system too hard - drop your resolution/detail settings.

Now, I admit to being a bit thick when it comes to all this newfangled technology stuff, but even my feeble brain can work out that loading times shouldn't be affected by the amount of video RAM you've got. Or rather, loading times shouldn't be increased by a lack of RAM. If you've got a lot of video RAM then maybe the game could use bigger textures, or more of them, which would increase loading times. Other than that, if a player has enough video RAM, the game should load, and if they don't have enough, it shouldn't. Right?

So in my simplistic view of the situation, it comes down to system RAM. Obvious question: Why? Let's say a game needs to use 45Mb of RAM to load a level, including all associated data, whether it's loading it or calculating it. If the game is running on a 32Mb system, the level shouldn't load. If it's running on a 64Mb system, it should load fine. Maybe I'm missing something really obvious, but I just can't see how loading times can suffer badly on a machine that has enough memory. If the level loads at all, the loading times shouldn't be affected by the amount of system RAM, should they?

Hmm. So, if it's not video RAM, and it's not system RAM, what could it be? Well, call me mad if you like, but....

MAYBE IT COULD BE A FAULT WITH THE GAME?

Maybe it's not the players doing anything wrong? Maybe they're not playing it on outdated machines? Maybe they've got enough system and video RAM? Maybe they're not trying to run it at too high a resolution? Maybe, just maybe, the simple, mind-blowingly obvious truth is that they bought a game that takes a long time to load?

It's bound to be an unpopular view, and no, I can't offer a solution, but it seems pretty obvious that with games becoming much more complicated, and developers being held to much tigther schedules and perhaps not being able to polish their code enough, loading times are simply getting longer. And that's fine. But if a game has long loading times then developers should just admit it so people can avoid that game if they find it a turn-off.

But please, have a little respect, and to misquote Ice-T, DON'T BLAME THE PLAYER.

This has been a Position Of IgnoranceTM rant, (C) 2000.

C O M M E N T S
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#1 by "BloodKnight"
2000-10-10 22:28:09
bloodknight@somethingawful.com
First post

ha!  <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#2 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-10-10 22:30:21
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
<b>#Main Post</b> "andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>If you want to run the game at 1024x768 in 32 bit color with all the detail settings at "very high" </QUOTE>

Why in the world would 1024x768@32bpp require 64MB video RAM, even with the detail settings at very high? Hell, I run most of my games at higher resolutions with that colour depth, always with all of the settings maxed out, and I don't think I'm coming anywhere near using all of the RAM on my 64MB card (and I'm probably not using 32MB of it either). The system RAM needing to be higher than 128MB I can understand, but unless those are some really amazing textures they're using in Elite Force, the 64MB video RAM sounds like a problem with the game.

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#3 by "Night"
2000-10-10 22:32:08
jonathan@systs.net
Oh, for god's sake.

Loading times can and will be affected by less than optimum system and video ram.

Don't forget that you need enough video ram for the framebuffer and all those high quality textures.  If you don't have enough, it'll still load, but it'll have to swap back and forth between system ram, adding more of a burden.

If you don't have enough system ram, it uses something called 'virtual memory'.  You know that huge and ungainly windows swap file?  That's virtual memory.  A goodly portion of your system memory is used by windows itself, and having background programs reduces the memory available to the game even more.  If you don't have enough, it has to switch data back and forth from system memory and the hard drive.

Try running quake3 on 16 meg and tell me that memory shouldn't effect loading times.

What he said was the truth, and I daresay that you might acknowledge that who worked on the game knows more than you when you admitted a lack of knowledge concerning it.

--Night
#4 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-10-10 22:33:45
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
<b>#Main Post</b> "andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>

So in my simplistic view of the situation, it comes down to system RAM. Obvious question: Why? Let's say a game needs to use 45Mb of RAM to load a level, including all associated data, whether it's loading it or calculating it. If the game is running on a 32Mb system, the level shouldn't load. If it's running on a 64Mb system, it should load fine. Maybe I'm missing something really obvious, but I just can't see how loading times can suffer badly on a machine that has enough memory. If the level loads at all, the loading times shouldn't be affected by the amount of system RAM, should they?</QUOTE>

Actually, in Windows we have this little thing called Virtual memory. When Windows runs out of RAM, it uses your hard drive to load that crap, which is why it would increase loading times if you run out of system RAM. If you run out of video RAM on an AGP card, it hits your system RAM for the textures, which will also cause the stuff normally in system RAM to hit the virtual memory if you're close to (or over) the limits on the amount of actual RAM in your system.

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#5 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-10-10 22:34:35
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
Oops, Night beat me to it

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#6 by "Night"
2000-10-10 22:39:13
jonathan@systs.net
You almost made it. :P
Heh.

--Night
#7 by "warmonger"
2000-10-10 22:46:18
warmonger87@hotmail.com
Yeah, I'd just like to add one thing here. I had a 8mb Riva 128, and Blood would take about 1 minute to load. I recently got a 32 meg Geforce 2, and now that loading time is cut literally in half, at the very least. So, don't tell me that ram doesn't make a difference in loading time.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#8 by "Xaroc"
2000-10-10 22:55:33
xaroc@toadmail.com
Sure Andy, RAM has no effect on loading times whatsoever. ;)  Where do you come up with this?  As a few others have already pointed out virtual memory (in other words your hard disk) is a ton slower than system RAM so of course it would affect your load time.  

My work machine has 128mb of ram.  If I have more than 128mb of memory used then try to load a program like ERWin it takes much longer to load than if I have less than 128mb of memory used.  So I guess the people who wrote ERWin can't code to save their ass right?

-- Xaroc
#9 by "None-1a"
2000-10-10 22:57:50
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#3</b> "Night" wrote...
<QUOTE>Don't forget that you need enough video ram for the framebuffer and all those high quality textures. If you don't have enough, it'll still load, but it'll have to swap back and forth between system ram, adding more of a burden. </QUOTE>

I don't think that would effect load times much, since the levels data still has to load into system ram then video ram when loading the level anyway. That would explane shuddering at higher resolutions but not longer loading times.

Also I think your all missing this point

<b>#Main Post</b> "andy" quoted...
<QUOTE>Even then, EF by default allocates 56MB of RAM to loading the map, sounds, models, etc.</QUOTE>

If it's only trying to use 56MB to load the thing how does adding more speed things up? Resolution isn't going to change the amount of stuff loaded (image quality will), it be interesting to know if just steping down the image quality setting a bit decresses load times.

<b>#7</b> "warmonger" wrote...
<QUOTE>I had a 8mb Riva 128, and Blood would take about 1 minute to load. I recently got a 32 meg Geforce 2, and now that loading time is cut literally in half, at the very least. </QUOTE>

Um the Geforce2 can transfer data much faster then that Riva could, which should have a much larger effect on load times then having more ram alown would.

--
None-1a.

O forget it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#10 by "Paul"
2000-10-10 23:00:37
paul@shrinkweb.com http://www.shrinkweb.com
thanks andy for posting this!

I agree, I can't even open Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force on my dx2 66mhz with 64mbs of ram!

- Paul
#11 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-10-10 23:12:45
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
<b>#9</b> "None-1a" wrote...
<QUOTE>If it's only trying to use 56MB to load the thing how does adding more speed things up? Resolution isn't going to change the amount of stuff loaded (image quality will), it be interesting to know if just steping down the image quality setting a bit decresses load times.
</QUOTE>

Think about this for a second. If the system has 128MB of RAM, and is running Win98SE in a pretty much standard setup, it's probably using a decent amount of the RAM just for Windows. Plus, Win98SE has this nice little thing where once you get to 50% RAM usage (64MB in this case) it starts caching to your virtual memory/hard drive. 56MB + Windows will definitely push you over 50% RAM usage, and will start hard drive caching. On a 64MB machine the situation is even worse because you're going to start caching at 32MB and you're going to hit the physical RAM limit anyway. There's an entry you can make in one of Windows' ini files to stop it from doing this (only a good idea with 128MB+ RAM) but most people don't know that, and MS certainly doesn't recommend it.

Resolution and colour depth effect the amount of video RAM you need to render the scene, regardless of the quality (try taking a 4MB Riva 128 card (at 1280x1024 your available colour depths drop because it can't render a 2d desktop on 4MB at 1280x1024@32bpp). Due to AGP texturing, having low video RAM will cause increased system RAM usage if there's a good amount of textures being loaded (especially high quality ones), and this will cause slowdowns. I'm just wondering what the hell kind of textures they're using in this game to say that at 1024x768@32bpp you're going to need a 64MB video card (or, in other words, 32MB video RAM just won't be enough), since I haven't been playing games at 1024x768 in quite a while if I can get away with it.

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#12 by "PanchoVilla"
2000-10-10 23:12:53
marcus@paqi.com http://www.paqi.com
Sometimes too weird things cause the slowdowns.  I couldn't run Deus Ex worth a crap on my Athlon 600 with a TNT2 Ultra and 128 megs of RAM.  I finally figured out the problem.  It turned out I had not updated my Bus master driver for my MB.  Works great now.  If anyone else had similar problems try this one out!  Now I can paly Deus Ex at home instead of only at work.  My work PC is waaayyyy better.  512 megs RAM  :)
#13 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-10-10 23:22:51
Darkseid-D@planetcrap.com http://www.pcinformer.co.uk
Oh and dont forget ..

most people are running AGP cards


and what little trick can AGP cards do


thats right kids, USE SYSTEM MEMORY TO STORE TEXTURES.



golly gosh gee whizzz, now about that 32mb video card.

do some maths about how much memory you require to render 1024x768 pixels in 32 bit colour depth. Then double it for every pass you render.  

Believe me, modern systems running games like Quake3 can slam into the memory bandwidth limits VERY quickly.  Evidence of this can be seen in most modern card tests, where running similar cards at 640x480 produces similar scores, yet when you crank them up to 1280x1024 or above you see different scores.  Also notable is the score difference between 16mb and 32mb cards as well as the difference in 16bit and 32bit render tests.

Now you know this, you can work out why STV-EF is slower on lower memory systems and speed varies between different memory sized cards.

BTw, I had the game crash on me after the warp breach bit, had to \com_hunkmegs 128 (geforce ddr 32mb k7 900 and 384mbs) to get it to load the next level.  I was playing at 1280x768 in 32bit with everything cranked up.  A friend playing on a p3 550 Tnt2u and 128mbs at 640x480 was able to load it without that tweak.

Ds



<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#14 by "None-1a"
2000-10-10 23:36:21
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#11</b> "PainKilleR-[CE]" wrote...
<QUOTE>There's an entry you can make in one of Windows' ini files to stop it from doing this (only a good idea with 128MB+ RAM) but most people don't know that, and MS certainly doesn't recommend it. </QUOTE>

It acctuly does work well on less then 128MB (running 64MB with it set, really pisses off the 128MB guys since they can't seam to figure out why I don't have problems).

<b>#11</b> "PainKilleR-[CE]" wrote...
<QUOTE>(at 1280x1024 your available colour depths drop because it can't render a 2d desktop on 4MB at 1280x1024@32bpp). </QUOTE>

Acctauly you can, my current setup will go to 1280x1024 at 32 (not that I use it since my monitor  will not go higher then 800x600, and yes I know time for a new one).

<b>#11</b> "PainKilleR-[CE]" wrote...
<QUOTE>Due to AGP texturing, having low video RAM will cause increased system RAM usage if there's a good amount of textures being loaded (especially high quality ones), and this will cause slowdowns. </QUOTE>

What I was thinking is that the texture quality is probably precalculated, so turning down the quality should reduce the ram usage on the video card by cutting back before hand (if this is ture a fast CPU should be able to do the calculations and lower the load times, where a slower CPU would increse load times). It'd be some thing to try with a stop watch out, I'm not about to do it since I don't plan on getting EF nor do I feel like downloading the demo again (didn't like it the first time around).
--
None-1a.

O forget it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#15 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-10-10 23:37:53
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
<b>#13</b> "Darkseid-[D!]" wrote...
<QUOTE>Also notable is the score difference between 16mb and 32mb cards as well as the difference in 16bit and 32bit render tests.
</QUOTE>

I think that's a pretty funny thing to note, since I notice little difference between 16bit and 32bit as far as framerates go (even on my 32MB GeForce, though the difference on my 32MB TNT2U was pretty noticable). I know the memory usage is quite a bit higher with the 32bit, but most of the time it doesn't result in much of a difference (with Quake3 at 1280x1024 I found numerous other options and tweaks that made a bigger difference than 16bit vs. 32bit).

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#16 by "Demon"
2000-10-10 23:46:21
But surely the whole point is the game is very hungry for <b>resources</b>, they could have programmed it better, lets face it q3demo/q3arena ran on my 166,32mbs and voodoo2.

Raven aren't the best proggies in the world look at the AI in EF and SOF.

I would not even try to run elite force on it.

And think this is the point that andy is trying to make.

Laterz
#17 by "Morn"
2000-10-10 23:51:01
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Random thought 1:
Dammit! First it's too short, now it's too long! Can't people ever make up their minds?

Random thought 2:
Loading times are usually O.K. until someone starts talking about them.

(/me returns to admin-but-lurker mode)

- Morn
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#18 by "BloodKnight"
2000-10-10 23:51:31
bloodknight@somethingawful.com
<b>Demon</b> (#16):
<QUOTE>Raven aren't the best proggies in the world look at the AI in EF and SOF. </QUOTE>

Ahh yes, that just reminds me.  It seems that the raven games I played has a 'long loading' problem.  Even Heretic 2 had the same problem on my p200 with a V2
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#19 by "BloodKnight"
2000-10-10 23:52:07
bloodknight@somethingawful.com
<b>Morn</b> (#17):
<QUOTE>Loading times are usually O.K. until someone starts talking about them. </QUOTE>

If the load time was short, they wouldn't have mentioned it in the first place
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#20 by "Woo-Fu"
2000-10-10 23:54:06
random1@speakeasy.org
[16]  There is much more to good AI than being a good coder.

Anyways, who cares about load times?  As someone who used to load games off of tape, I think you're all spoiled by 10,000 RPM UW SCSI drives. :-)

I don't see long load times as a problem in a game, I see them as a problem in your personality.

MTV generation, sigh.

heh.
#21 by "G-Man"
2000-10-10 23:55:56
jonmars@shiftlock.org http://www.shiftlock.org
<b>#Main Post</b> "andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>Now, I admit to being a bit thick when it comes to all this newfangled technology stuff</QUOTE>
This is the part where I should have stopped reading.

Now I'm just angry and have no one nearby to punch. Thanks Andy.

Is this an Evil Avatar parody topic? Cause it sure sounds like him.

<b>#13</b> "Darkseid-[D!]" wrote...
<QUOTE>do some maths about how much memory you require to render 1024x768 pixels in 32 bit colour depth. Then double it for every pass you render.</QUOTE>
About 3 MB a pass, but the framebuffer probably has some multi-pass optimizations that I wouldn't even be able to understand. But TMUs are what comprise the lion's share of a video card's memory these days.

<b>#14</b> "None-1a" wrote...
<QUOTE>What I was thinking is that the texture quality is probably precalculated, so turning down the quality should reduce the ram usage on the video card by cutting back before hand (if this is ture a fast CPU should be able to do the calculations and lower the load times, where a slower CPU would increse load times). </QUOTE>
Art assets aren't "precalculated". The texture quality settings aren't just adjusting mip-map levels.

<b>#15</b> "PainKilleR-[CE]" wrote...
<QUOTE>I think that's a pretty funny thing to note, since I notice little difference between 16bit and 32bit as far as framerates go (even on my 32MB GeForce, though the difference on my 32MB TNT2U was pretty noticable). </QUOTE>
That's because your GeForce is CPU limited at whatever resolution you were running while benchmarking. Also memory bandwidth and speed is an issue when comparing GeForce to TNT2.

<b>#16</b> "Demon" wrote...
<QUOTE>And think this is the point that andy is trying to make.</QUOTE>
If true, then he is just being a typical unreasonable gamer.

 - [g.man]<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#22 by "Terata"
2000-10-11 00:07:47
jstatz@ravensoft.com
*rolls his eyes*

It's called virtual memory, most things use it to some degree whether they like it or not because of Windows' footprint.  Virtual memory is slow.  Trying to load something from the hard disk when you're already stuffing half of it into virtual memory is even slower.

If you load things that take more memory to store, for example higher resolution textures and sounds, you end up using virtual memory sooner and more often.

Demon -- That'd have a lot more bearing if Q3 had even half the typical volume of sounds, textures, models, etc than Trek does.
#23 by "Intaglio"
2000-10-11 00:46:42
god@gurutech.org http://www.gurutech.org
wtf are you posting about loading times for?

<b>CANT YOU SEE THERES <a href=http://www.somethingawful.com>MORE</a> <a href=http://www.somethingawful.com>GAMEFAN</a> <a href=http://www.somethingawful.com>NEWS</a></b>!

--Intaglio
#24 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-10-11 01:19:32
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#9</b> "None-1a" wrote...
<QUOTE><B><A href="spy-internal:Load/170#3">#3</A></B> "Night" wrote...

<quote>Don't forget that you need enough video ram for the framebuffer and all those high quality textures. If you don't have enough, it'll still load, but it'll have to swap back and forth between system ram, adding more of a burden. </quote>

I don't think that would effect load times much, since the levels data still has to load into system ram then video ram when loading the level anyway. That would explane shuddering at higher resolutions but not longer loading times. </QUOTE>

ummm most games simulataneously load both card and system memory. So a lack of onboard RAM will effect performance as a lot is transferred to the card as usually you will have to wait for post DMA/AGP negotiation etc and actual transferal takes place

<QUOTE>
<B>#Main Post</B> "andy" quoted...

<quote>Even then, EF by default allocates 56MB of RAM to loading the map, sounds, models, etc.</quote>

If it's only trying to use 56MB to load the thing how does adding more speed things up? Resolution isn't going to change the amount of stuff loaded (image quality will), it be interesting to know if just steping down the image quality setting a bit decresses load times.
</QUOTE>

56MB to **LOAD** the map does not mean that only 56MB is used at one time. Add in another 20 MB for UI, 15 MB for code/general cruft, 20 MB for OS and what do we have .... hmmm

<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#25 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-10-11 01:25:02
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
hmmm ... Andy are you going to apologize for posting a blatently false story or you going to posture and claim that you are right and everyone else is wrong ? .... wait ... Andys never wrong - it must be everyone else !!!!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#26 by "BarneyQue"
2000-10-11 01:25:50
barneyque@hotmail.com
OK, so were all full of opinions.

Anyone got the game, and the lid off their case, want to put some actuall numbers into play?

Here are questions I like to have answered.

1. how much difference does it make going from 64 to 128 megs.
2. how much difference does it make when running at 800X600 vs 1024X768
3. how much difference does it make when switching from 16 to 32 bit textures.
4. how much difference does it make when combining combinations of the above.
5. when done all that, defrag, and do it all again.
6. how about page file size, any effect.


And when we have all the data in hand, lets ask the real big question.

What is the average players tolerance on load times.
Do any of the above times exceed or fall below that level?


I realize all that's a pretty big job, but anyone care to add some real data to the discussion. With that in hand, we can probably save about 200 messages of speculation.

<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#27 by "mcgrew"
2000-10-11 01:39:31
mcgrew@famvid.com http://theFragfest.com
Main post: "Let's say a game needs to use 45Mb of RAM to load a level, including all associated data, whether it's loading it or calculating it. If the game is running on a 32Mb system, the level shouldn't load."

Night got it right in post 3. That's where the thrashing occurs. In Windows you always have enough memory. When real RAM is used up, windows uses the hard drive as super slow RAM. Essentially, with your 32mb of on board ram and 48 needed, 16 meg of your "ram" really isn't; it's the hard drive.

But that's not "the players doing something wrong", that's lack of documentation (or lack of reading it; I don''t hve the game or manual so don't know if it's there or not). If 800x600 is the best you can do with 32 meg without thrashing it should say so.

I couldn't get the demo to install, the pc gamer version is missing a CAB file. Good work, marketing guys, you sure aren't selling me a copy of the full game. No matter how it loads.

-steve
#28 by "BarneyQue"
2000-10-11 01:39:36
barneyque@hotmail.com
By the way, I meant to add a couple of points of interest as well.

Why when you die, do you have to reload all the shit again to try again?  Life and death is just a few bits in memory is it not? All the video information for the level is already loaded, and in memory.  The solution to this problem, might to be finding a way to reset the level, instead of reloading it from scratch.

I'm not a game programmer, so I imagine there might be a good reason for this, but it would be a valuble optomization if someone could spend a bit of time to work it into a game.  I have a hard time hearing words like impossible, and can't, all that needs to happen, is for the big boss guy at the game shop to make the declaration, and the clever guys will work it out somehow.  

The load times are not _excessive_, but I did notice myself sitting around, looking around the room quite bored at times waiting for a reload, so it's long enough that it doesn't dissapear into the background. FWIW, I have 192Megs o ram, and a dated tnt2u.

Level changes are of course a different pile o worms though.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#29 by "BarneyQue"
2000-10-11 01:40:49
barneyque@hotmail.com
<b>#27</b> "mcgrew" wrote...
<QUOTE>
I couldn't get the demo to install, the pc gamer version is missing a CAB file. Good work, marketing guys, you sure aren't selling me a copy of the full game. No matter how it loads.

-steve </QUOTE>


That's being petty, if you really want to try it, grab it from somewhere else.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#30 by "None-1a"
2000-10-11 02:00:45
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a
<b>#21</b> "G-Man" wrote...
<QUOTE>Art assets aren't "precalculated". The texture quality settings aren't just
adjusting mip-map levels. </QUOTE>

What I mean by precalculated is the art being changed after it's first load (for example generic_borg_cube123.tff gets loased and it's detail reduced/blured up a bit resulting in a smaller file, if it's not resulting in a smaller size WTF is the point of the textrue quality option). No mater how it's being done turning it down should result in smaller files/less files being sent all over the place correct? If they are being changed a bit on load from a high quality textures it'd also stand to reason that slower CPUs would need more time to do this. We can only tell by trying it out (and no I'm still not gona download that stupid demo again) <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#31 by "superion"
2000-10-11 02:02:14
superion@swbell.net http://www.richent.com
Andy Avatar.

Maybe you should called tech support.
#32 by "Terata"
2000-10-11 02:12:36
jstatz@ravensoft.com
26 -- Not interested enough to go to that much trouble, but I did time a couple things after this topic was put up.

On my p2-450 with 256 meg at work, it took about 35 seconds to load the first level of the game no matter what settings I had.  At home, which is a k7-600 with 128 meg, it took 1:15 to load with everything turned all the way up, but 25 seconds if I set it to 16 bit textures instead of 32.  Obviously on this machine that makes enough difference to the memory usage for it to start writing to the HDD to keep it all around.

Video memory's not really an issue, it's got to keep an accessable version of the texture around somewhere, regardless.
#33 by "Apache"
2000-10-11 02:22:04
apache@stomped.com http://unreal.stomped.com
EF level loads are about six seconds for me, granted I do have 256 megs of system ram :)
#34 by "BarneyQue"
2000-10-11 02:32:11
barneyque@hotmail.com
<b>#32</b> "Terata" wrote...
<QUOTE>26 -- Not interested enough to go to that much trouble, but I did time a couple things after this topic was put up.

On my p2-450 with 256 meg at work, it took about 35 seconds to load the first level of the game no matter what settings I had. At home, which is a k7-600 with 128 meg, it took 1:15 to load with everything turned all the way up, but 25 seconds if I set it to 16 bit textures instead of 32. Obviously on this machine that makes enough difference to the memory usage for it to start writing to the HDD to keep it all around.

Video memory's not really an issue, it's got to keep an accessable version of the texture around somewhere, regardless. </QUOTE>

I agree, what I suggested is a big job, and I really don't expect anyone to actually do it, but it would be nice to see.

Your results are interesting, and seem to validate the claims that have been made so far.  I will try to make a similar post later tonight with my own system for reference purposes.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#35 by "BarneyQue"
2000-10-11 02:34:16
barneyque@hotmail.com
<b>#33</b> "Apache" wrote...
<QUOTE>EF level loads are about six seconds for me, granted I do have 256 megs of system ram :) </QUOTE>

Six seconds?  From 'hey, lets play a single player game' to player in human control?

You running 15000RPM hard drives, or did you just go straight to solid state?

Impressive.

<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#36 by "Ghost in my Shell"
2000-10-11 02:34:19
Ah just RAMDISK (RAMDRIVE?) the fucking thing and then you dont ever worry about loading times!

Lets see...you would need what 900mb?
#37 by "Barbarian"
2000-10-11 02:50:52
conanford@yahoo.com http://barbarian.iwarp.com/
<quote>Now, I admit to being a bit thick when it comes to all this newfangled technology stuff, but even my feeble brain can work out that loading times shouldn't be affected by the amount of video RAM you've got. Or rather, loading times shouldn't be increased by a lack of RAM. If you've got a lot of video RAM then maybe the game could use bigger textures, or more of them, which would increase loading times. Other than that, if a player has enough video RAM, the game should load, and if they don't have enough, it shouldn't. Right?</quote>

Think you could be wrong here?  If the video card doesn't have sufficient texture space, most drivers will use AGP texturing and store the rest of the textures in the system RAM, resulting in more system RAM being used.
#38 by "Barbarian"
2000-10-11 02:52:03
conanford@yahoo.com http://barbarian.iwarp.com/
<quote>So in my simplistic view of the situation, it comes down to system RAM. Obvious question: Why? Let's say a game needs to use 45Mb of RAM to load a level, including all associated data, whether it's loading it or calculating it. If the game is running on a 32Mb system, the level shouldn't load. If it's running on a 64Mb system, it should load fine. Maybe I'm missing something really obvious, but I just can't see how loading times can suffer badly on a machine that has enough memory. If the level loads at all, the loading times shouldn't be affected by the amount of system RAM, should they?</quote>

Heard of a SWAPFILE?  Hello!  It'll load on the 32 mb system, but very slowly, as system RAM is swapped back and forth to disk.
#39 by "None-1a"
2000-10-11 03:10:17
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#38</b> "Barbarian" wrote...
<QUOTE>Heard of a SWAPFILE? Hello! It'll load on the 32 mb system, but very slowly, as system RAM is swapped back and forth to disk. </QUOTE>

Just one point it's a 64 meg system not a 32.

<b>#32</b> "Terata" wrote...
<QUOTE>On my p2-450 with 256 meg at work, it took about 35 seconds to load the first level of the game no matter what settings I had. At home, which is a k7-600 with 128 meg, it took 1:15 to load with everything turned all the way up, but 25 seconds if I set it to 16 bit textures instead of 32. Obviously on this machine that makes enough difference to the memory usage for it to start writing to the HDD to keep it all around. </QUOTE>

Craipy shouldn't based on the comments andy quoted the game load just fine with 128megs with all the options turned up?
--
None-1a.

O forget it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#40 by "Apache"
2000-10-11 03:11:04
apache@stomped.com http://unreal.stomped.com
<quote>Six seconds? From 'hey, lets play a single player game' to player in human control?

You running 15000RPM hard drives, or did you just go straight to solid state? </quote>

Close -- AMD Athlon 1.1Ghz with all the trimmings :)
#41 by "Andy"
2000-10-11 03:15:27
andy@nospam.planetcrap.com http://www.meejahor.com/
How many people play games when their system is so under-spec or so overloaded that the game engine and/or graphics card are paging data in and out from the hard disk?

The game itself would be so choppy that it would be practically unplayable.

If someone is playing Voyager like that then I think they'd be complaining about it being choppy, not about the long load times.

Conclusion: It's not a swapfile problem.

--

I didn't expect people to react rationally to this topic. I knew I'd get flamed for it. But the topic needed to be written for those people who ARE experiencing this problem and ARE being brushed aside.

Saying it's a swapfile problem is a perfect example of the geek solution: <i>This COULD be the problem, so this IS the problem.</i> But if you think about it for half a second, it's obvious that it's nothing to do with swapfiles. If it was that simple, why didn't Mike suggest it in his .plan update?

Anyway, flame all you want. I'm going to bed when I've posted this and I'll not likely be checking the site again for another 18 hours, so I won't be getting into any arguments.

Thank you to those people who have approached the subject sensibly, looking for benchmarks, etc. I'd like to see those figures myself.
#42 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-10-11 03:35:14
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#28</b> "BarneyQue" wrote...
<QUOTE>I'm not a game programmer, so I imagine there might be a good reason for this, but it would be a valuble optomization if someone could spend a bit of time to work it into a game. I have a hard time hearing words like impossible, and can't, all that needs to happen, is for the big boss guy at the game shop to make the declaration, and the clever guys will work it out somehow.
</QUOTE>

because it requires solid engineering practices which most developers don't have. There are exceptions (Epic has damn fine engineering skills) but by large it would cost too much to develope because of people developing it.
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#43 by "Terata"
2000-10-11 03:57:24
jstatz@ravensoft.com
Andy -- That's true, we could definitely have fixed it on our end quite easily by sampling a bunch of the textures down and not having a 'very high' detail option.  There's a reason that's not the default, and neither is 32-bit texture depth.
#44 by "bagofmice"
2000-10-11 04:08:28
rcastle@microsoft.com
Andy, please stop posting about technology.

Content rich games (compared to id software games) use more resources. Comparing them directly is as futile as a fruit comparison.
#45 by "bagofmice"
2000-10-11 04:13:51
rcastle@microsoft.com
And Secondly, telling people to lower the strain on hteir systems is a much more valid technical support approach than it is to tell them to altar their system settings, such as swapfile size and location, which is why he didn't mention it. You are as dogmatic as a Spanish inquisitor.
#46 by "BloodKnight"
2000-10-11 04:16:11
bloodknight@somethingawful.com
<b>bagofmice</b> (#45):
<QUOTE>You are as dogmatic as a Spanish inquisitor</QUOTE>

Ouch<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#47 by "None-1a"
2000-10-11 04:26:04
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#43</b> "Terata" wrote...
<QUOTE>Andy -- That's true, we could definitely have fixed it on our end quite easily by sampling a bunch of the textures down and not having a 'very high' detail option. There's a reason that's not the default, and neither is 32-bit texture depth. </QUOTE>

I take it droping the detail down should help out the load times as well then.

Not like I care much anyway load times are not an issue for me, and I acctauly have a much more pressing issuse that's not related to EF. Why exacly does the AI in the SoF gold patch act more like stormtropers now when playing the standered aagressiveness level? Sure they now have lightning quick raction times but there dumber then post (what with the missing me while standing at arms lenght and rolling right into walls in front of them and stuff) any one else knotice this?

--
None-1a.

O forget it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#48 by "fyrewolf"
2000-10-11 04:27:33
<quote>If it was that simple, why didn't Mike suggest it in his .plan update?</quote>

Andy, the term "thrashing" refers to when the computer is constantly forced to swap pages of memory in and out from the hard drive.  In other words, he did suggest exactly that.

And just because you may not be able to load every part of the level into physical memory doesn't mean that that game is going to need to access every part to display every frame.  So it is a plausable reason.

Of course, a good design could prevent this from happening by doing some memory management and loading game data directly into virtual memory (VirtualAlloc anyone?).  It wouldn't be as fast as loading it to physical memory, but it'd probably be better than having every page get swapped while loading.
#49 by "George Broussard"
2000-10-11 04:51:40
georgeb@3drealms.com
I see 128 Megs as about the minimum for games today with 256 Megs being "recommended".

Trying to play graphically high end 3D games on 64 megs is just asking for trouble.

In all likelyhood DNF's minimum will be 128 megs...well, maybe it will run in 64, but you won't like it much.

Running under Windows simply eats too much memory.  Something like half or more goes to the OS and more if people are sloppy (and most are) with their system/resources.

When these newer generation games start shipping with 1024x1024 textures as a base etc look for 512K RAM to start being standard or required (or more).

George Broussard, 3D Realms
#50 by "Brian (BinaryC)"
2000-10-11 04:53:20
binaryc@teamreaction.com http://binaryc.teamreaction.com
perhaps I'm a retard, but what's the point of loading from hard drive if it's just going right back to the hard drive?  Why not just keep it on the hard drive in the first place?  Sure you wouldn't have a pretty little memory handle for it (virtual or not), but you could get around that with some fancy coding.  It seems like the benefits would outweigh the extra coding.
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