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#1 Aislinn

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 02:33 PM

I think it would be very helpful for us to pool our experiences and information to come up with a comprehensive list of what the video and advanced video settings actually DO and what problem each setting fixes or changes.
I get no joy out of descriptions like this: Vertex Buffer Objects: Toggle the use of the vertex buffer objects.
Even the others don't mean so much to most people. I'd like to see a REAL explanation in layman's terms what it does and what it fixes and when to play with that setting for improvements, also information such as whether or not we need to restart the client for it to take effect. Maybe even screenshots of graphic oddities that occur and what fixes those.

We should start out with video and advanced video (and any other graphics settings that might be under other tabs) and then move on from there if needed. Graphics seems to be the #1 issue for most people.

Even if you only know 1 thing, add it, if it's not already posted. Every piece of information helps, and every piece of information will trigger others into realizing they know something additional they can add.

Please note: Any off-topic or unhelpful posts will be removed.

#2 chr0nik

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 03:04 PM

Details>Shadows
Turning off shadows can improve game performance on less powerful systems.
Some systems don't support shadows and a player will see mostly grayscale or all white rather than normal looking trees & ground.

Adv Video>Use animation program
Some systems don't support this option and a player will see all character models rendered very strange

Video>New Selection
Disable when the mouse cursor doesn't change and the user is unable to talk to NPCs or harvest.

Video>Mouse Bug
Enable if clicking on the map doesn't make the player move anywhere.
Enable if when walking, clicking on a tree makes the character walk backwards.

Video>Maximum Viewing Distance
Specifies how far (not sure in what measurement) objects are rendered in the distance - this applies to static objects such as buildings, trees. It has no effect on AI or other players. Decreasing the viewing distance can improve performance on less powerful systems.

Video>Maximum Reflection Distance
Specifies how far water reflections are visible. It's most noticeable at map edges that transition to water. It can be decreased to improve performance on less powerful systems. If you have reflections disabled to improve performance already, this setting should be set to 0.

Edited by chr0nik, 04 February 2011 - 06:47 PM.
New Selection


#3 Korrode

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 03:46 PM

Adv Video>Use animation program
Some systems don't support this option and a player will see all character models rendered very strange

*iirc* what the new animation program actually does is utilises some newer features of more current day GPUs that allow the GPU alone to process the actor animations, whereas previously the CPU was required to do some of the work.

Someone please correct me if i'm wrong :P

#4 Choris

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 05:38 PM

Video>New Selection
Enable when the mouse cursor doesn't change and the user is unable to talk to NPCs or harvest.


Actually quite the opposite.
This option should be enabled by default because it can give a significant fps boost, but if talking to NPCs/harvesting/entering doors doesn't work, disable this.

#5 chr0nik

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 06:46 PM


Video>New Selection
Enable when the mouse cursor doesn't change and the user is unable to talk to NPCs or harvest.


Actually quite the opposite.
This option should be enabled by default because it can give a significant fps boost, but if talking to NPCs/harvesting/entering doors doesn't work, disable this.


Oops, you're right. Reading back in my logs I see many instances of new players being instructed to disable New Selection on channel 1. Good catch.

#6 Aislinn

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 01:19 AM

Do the changes to all of these settings require a client restart to work?

#7 Raytray

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 03:48 AM

afaik, only a few (if any) require a client restart.
-Shadows/mouse/resolution/reflections/buff icon size/use animation/etc for instance do not require a restart.

#8 Korrode

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 04:44 AM

I don't think any of them require restart.

#9 nathanstenzel

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 05:31 AM

You can't reduce the horizontal and vertical size of the window to less than the smallest ones selectable via the preset menus. It will just ignore your custom setting for any that are smaller.

Shadow map size = quality of shadows....low numbers look crappy

Of course, the wording might need adjustment to the above. ;)

#10 Choris

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 08:36 AM

Do the changes to all of these settings require a client restart to work?

I can't say if it's intentional or a bug with my drivers, but enabling the Adv Video>Use Animation Program makes all actors invisible until the client is restarted. After that it works fine though.

#11 Usl

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 07:13 PM

Let's see what we have... I might be wrong on some of these descriptions, not having looked at the code in-depth; feel free to correct me, and I will try to keep this post up to date.

Video tab

Video/Full screen. This enables full screen mode. This is different from just using a window size as large as the whole screen; rather, the video mode is commuted, which in turn may cause delays in resynch (with old CRT monitors) and, with some driver, even crashes. In rare cases, it might be necessary to reset to windowed mode by opening el.ini and change #full_screen= 1
to #full_screen= 0. Also of note, it seems that some drivers fail to properly free all memory and data structures allocated when switching mode, so that repeated switching from windowed mode to full screen mode will make the game slower and slower (as available memory is consumed on the graphics card).

Video/ATI Bug. Rumored to be used to bypass a nasty bug in ancient ATI drivers, I have never seen an instance where it would cause any visible change in rendering, performance, or behaviour. Supposedly useful if clicking on the ground doesn't move the character, but other click (e.g., on an NPC) do work.

Video/Mouse Bug. One of the two causes (with ATI bug) of unsensitiveness to click-to-walk.

Video/New selection. There are two ways to determine what object the user has clicked on. The first (old selection) involves recovering the colour of the pixel from the screen and doing some math, to identify the 3D object that is visible at the coordinates of the click. The second (new selection) uses a function from the OpenGL driver to do the same task. At times New selection can fail; deselecting it restores the old behaviour (which is a little more costly in terms of CPU, although not a significant drain by today's standards). A typical diagnosis involve checking whether the cursor changes shape when moving between ground, harvestable objects, NPCs, etc. If it does not, then you might need to disable New Selection.

Video/Use isometric View. This option disables perspective adjustment; parallel lines in the 3D world will appear parallel on the screen as well. The results reminds of architectural drawing more than of paintings, and is less natural, but can still be occasionally useful.

Video/Video Mode. The name might be a little misleading. This actually sets the window size and colour depth of the OpenGL drawing surface, in windowed mode; it can also require a given video mode in full screen mode. Most values are width x height x colour depth; if "Userdefined" is selected, the values are taken from "Userdefined width" and "Userdefined height" and used verbatim. There is no way to have a userdefined colour depth though.

Video/Disable window size adjustments. In windowed mode, the client subtracts the width of so-called window decorations (title bar, borders, etc.) from the size specified in Video mode, thus obtaining an OpenGL drawing surface that is slightly smaller than what specified. On the other hand, the window+borders will use all the available area, and in general will look nicer. By enabling this option, the subtraction is not performed, so the OpenGL drawing surface will be exactly as large as specified by video mode, but typically the resulting window will be too large for the screen, and hence will be cropped somehow by the operating system.

Video/Limit FPS. Normally, OpenGL renders the scene continuously, over and over. If you have a slow computer and/or graphics card, that is essentially what is needed to present a smooth world. But if you have decent hardware, the vast majority of these repaints will be exactly identical to the previous one - in essence, it's all wasted work. What is worse, it can lead to increased battery consumption (for laptops), increase in temperature, and consequently reduced lifespan for your hardware. When Limit FPS is set to 0, EL will render the scene continuously, as fast (and furious) as the hardware allows. If HUD/Show FPS is set, you can see how many frames per second (fps) are being drawn at any given time. If Limit FPS is set to any other number, EL will not draw more than that number of frames per second. Any value above ~50 is wasted; as a comparison, consider that TV is normally 24 or 25 fps, HDTV is 50 fps (with a refresh at 100 fps), and movies are at 24 fps.
Also of note, the computation power that is made available by reducing the fps to below the maximum value that the hardware can possibly support can be used by EL itself (in animating special effects, such as when casting spells) and by the Operating System and other programs running in the background. Even with good hardware, there is absolutely no reason to set a too high value, or 0 for that matter.
I have observed that under some configuration, on Linux, setting the value to 0 can actually cause it to be slower than setting it to some higher value. I suspect this has to do with a flow on how interrupt requests coming from the graphics card are handled by the driver, but could not pinpoint the exact cause.

Video/Anisotropic filter. When enabled, an algorithm is applied when rendering 3D images that will produce better results when texture are seen at an oblique angle, at the expense of increased computational cost - hence, it will slow things down somewhat. Possible values are 0-16, with 0 meaning that the algorithm is disabled. I believe only the values 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 are significative, with higher values meaning more filtering. Note that the anisotropic filter can be disabled entirely, or forced on, but your graphics driver's control utility: for example, on Linux the nvidia driver "nvidia-settings" has an option to override application settings for the anisotropic filter, and so does "catalyst" for ATI cards.

Video/Water Shader Quality. A shader is a special program that is sent to the GPU for execution. When the GPU has to render the surface of a given material, instead of simply applying a texture (i.e., a drawing), it can call a shader to produce a more sophisticated result. In EL, only water is rendered through a shader, with different degrees of fidelity. At quality 0, no shader is used - water is simply a blue surface. At quality 1, a reflection of the surrounding objects is produced. At quality 2, the same reflection is perturbed by waves, resulting in a much more faithful rendering. As usual, better graphics = slower rendering, so with slow graphics card, it might be good to set this to 0. For newer hardware, 2 will provide best experience. In any case, values 1 and 2 are ineffective unless you also set Adv Video/Toggle Frame Buffer Support.In certain combinations, toggling Details/Shadows and Adv Video/Shadow Mapping can affect water shader rendering. This is probably an initialization issue; i.e. shaders are not disabled and re-enabled correctly, or not re-initialized, when the shadow mode changes. Toggling the shadow options or a restart usually solves the issue.


Details tab

Details/Shadows. When this option is enabled, objects in the 3D world will project shadows, based on where the sun and/or surrounding lights are. Shadows add realism, but as usual also consume some processing power. The quality if the shadows that are produced is also determined by two other settings: Adv video/Shadow Mapping and Adv video/Shadow Map Size - more on these later. At times, shadow processing conflicts with the normal rendering. In particular, some buggy driver can present "shiny" or "translucent" objects, or gray surfaces, when shadow rendering in enabled; this usually means that textures are not being applied. I could not pinpoint the exact cause, but generally turning this option off solves the issue and returns rendering of object to normal.

Details/Render fog. When enabled, under certain conditions EL will render fog by blurring the normal view. Adds realism, slows things a bit, I have not seen any problem caused by it being on or off.

Details/Poor Man. This option, when enabled, changes a number of other settings (it would be nice to have the full list here) to the most basic settings possible, as to maximize performance on slow hardware. Notice that disabling Poor Man will not set all other options to their previous values; you have to manually go over each of them and set a value appropriately. It is a common procedure, when diagnosing performance problems, to first set Poor Man on, then off, and then re-enable all fancy settings one by one, observing which one is causing a substantial drop in FPS rate.

Details/Show Reflections. When enabled, water reflects surrounding objects.

Details/Don't Adjust Shadows. When this option is disabled, EL performs some automatic quality/performance balancing: in particular, when the current FPS rate drops below a certain threshold, if shadows are enabled, they will be disabled automatically - thus improving FPS. Conversely, if shadows have been automatically disabled, and the FPS improves beyond a certain threshold, shadows are re-enabled automatically. The system is usually quite effective for fringe cases, but at times the hysteresis of the algorithm in too limited, and EL keeps enabling and disabling shadows (printing a message on the console each time). In such cases, enabling this option will disable the self-adjustment algorithm and leave shadows how the user sets them.

Details/Cloud Shadows. When enabled, clouds will cast their shadows on the ground. This adds realism, but also adds a computational cost, thus reducing the FPS rate on low-end hardware.

Details/Buff Icon Size. A "buff" is a state of a character, most usually associated with casting a spell. Protective spells that are currently active are represented by a "buff icon" over a character's head (mostly, they are represented by a shield). This value indicates the size, in pixel, of these icons; the default value is 32.

Details/Particle Percentage. ? TBC

Details/Toggle Special Effects. Casting of most spells is accompanied by a special graphical effect. EL has two series of effects: the first series, a memory of the initial implementation, is rather low-key, but works on most hardware without being too costly. The second series is much more refined graphically, but uses a number of extensions that are not available on all GPUs, and is also more costly. When this setting is enabled, the new (and better) effects are used.

Details/Adjust Graphics X and Details/Adjust Graphics Y. There are certain peculiarities of how geometrically perfect points and lines are actually rendered on concrete screen pixel, that make precise-to-the-pixel rendering difficult. For 3D objects, we don't really care about the exact pixel which is rendered. But for some 2D graphics (e.g.: the exact shapes of buttons, tabs, grids, window borders, etc.) this might be relevant. These two settings let the user finely adjust certain drawing code to match what a particular graphics card is doing. The best way to discover the right value is by observing the small "+" which is used to indicate the active channel in the channel strip. If the sign looks perfectly symmetrical, nothing needs to be done. Otherwise, by adjusting the X and Y offset (each can go from -3 to -3, but usually only an adjustment of -1, 0 o 1 is needed) you can try to render it symmetrical. When doing this, other parts of the GUI will change as well - most notably, the tabs in the Options window themselves.


Adv Video

Adv Video/Shadow Mapping. This option enables a more sophisticated algorithm for producing shadows, which results in more realistic projection. This algorithm is slower than the one used in Details/Shadow, but on most modern hardware it should not cause any problem. With shadow mapping, the shadow cast by objects will faithfully (but see below) follow the volume of the object and the surface where the shadow is projected; in contrast, simple shadows do not follow the contours so precisely, and just cast "some" shadow - in the right place, but not with the right shape. In any case, the effect is only visible when shadows are cast, e.g. in daytime. On some rare hardware/driver combination, shadow mapping has been found to cause problems and even crashes; the symptom is a totally garbled image, with stripes and mis-alignment across the screen. This was believed to be caused by a software error in a open-source ATI driver, which has been corrected since. Disabling shadow mapping and restarting the client can help determine if that is the case. Notice that if Details/Shadow is disabled, no shadow will be rendered at all, hence no shadow maps will be used regardless of this setting.

Adv Video/Shadow Map Size. The shadow mapping algorithm uses several data structures (depth maps, buffers, stencils) which have to be dimensioned appropriately. The higher the value, the better the quality of the resulting shadows, in terms of how accurate the borders are. With low values (e.g., 256), you will see shadows which seems to be cast by huge pixel-block objects. 512 is recommended as the minimum, but if your hardware can afford it, 1024 to 2048 is a better choice. Values much above that will slow things down without producing an observable improvement in the quality of the rendering, unless you have a very huge (workstation-grade) monitor with high pixel density. I have never heard of problems with setting map size, but some old hardware with limited memory might be unable to accommodate huge maps. In such cases, the map size is automatically reduced, and a message printed on the console.

Adv Video/Mipmaps. This option enables the use of MIP maps, a technique where textures are rendered through pre-calculated, reduced and antialiased versions when an object is seen at a distance, and thus appears small on screen. In such cases, using the full-resolution version of the texture would be wasteful. They also help with aliasing artifacts. Personally, I never noticed any difference in how textures are rendered, on several machines with different hardware and drivers, nor did I note any difference in performance. No problems known linked to setting mipmaps.

Adv Video/Compiled Vertex Array. This option enables an OpenGL extension for compiling vertex arrays (which are the data structures holding the details about each vertex in a 3D model); if the option is available (as it should be in any modern implementation of OpenGL), this will increase performances a bit. No visible effect on working systems, but it is possible that implementation bugs in graphics drivers will distort some 3D object (e.g., object appears all "spikey" or disappears entirely); turning the option off in such cases will solve the issue.

Adv Video/Vertex Buffer Objects. This enable a different OpenGL extension to keep geometric data in video memory, thus increasing the rendering speed. If the option is not supported by the current driver, it should still work transparently - just, a little slower than it could have otherwise been. No problems linked to this option as far as I can tell.

Adv Video/DrawRangeElements. DrawRangeElements is a more efficient way of addressing vertices inside a Vertex Buffer Object. Enabling this option tells EL to use the DrawRangeElements function in place of the DrawElements function, thus in turn allowing a good graphics driver to do further optimization. Some older driver will report that they support this function, but not implement them correctly; in such case, objects may appear elongated or stretched. Disabling the option will restore sanity.

Adv Video/Point Particles. Particles are used in EL to render spell and harvest effects, as fireflies around lamppost, etc. When this option is disabled, particles are rendered as "dimensionless" points - all equal. With the option enabled, particles are rendered by using an OpenGL extension that allows better control on their aspect, e.g. particles closer to the camera are somewhat larger and brighter than those away from the camera. This option is normally on; only on certain old drivers the extension may be not implemented, and so the option has to be turned off so that EL revert to the old, and more compatible, way of rendering particles.

Adv Video/Perspective. This value sets how forced the perspective on the scene is. Lower values means that the vanishing point is very far, hence parallel lines in the 3D world look (almost) parallel on the screen as well. Larger values cause parallel lines to appear more and more convergent. You can think of this value as the "distance between your two eyes"; values in the 0.20 to 0.30 range would correspond roughly to normal human experience of perspective.
Notice that particularly low values (0.1 to 0.6) can cause parts of the scene to disappear (if you have a clipping plane set to a reasonable distance); the symptom in this case is that you see only the "sky" - i.e., parts of your screen, or the entire screen, are just blue-azure. Setting the perspective back to some sane value (e.g., 0.25) solves the issue.
On the other hand, high values (above 0.40) let you see more of your sorroundings, and although the results are quite unnatural, they can be useful for tactical reasons.

Adv Video/Maximum Viewing Distance. To improve performance, EL does not draw at every frame all objects in the map, but only those up to a certain distance from the camera. Objects farther than the limit set here are simply not drawn. This may cause curiuos effects where, while walking, trees and mountains appear "a bit at a time". Higher values indicate that the clipping plane is farther away, but will slow the rendering down; lower values can "hide" too much. The setting is applied immediately, so it's easy to find a good compromise by looking at scenery and FPS while changing the value. No know issue (although low values may impede gameplay).

Adv Video/Maximum Reflection Distance. Similar to the above, but this is applied to reflections on water. Object farther away than the given value are not considered when computing what should be reflected on water.

Adv Video/Toggle Frame Buffer Support. The frame buffer is a part of video memory used to hold the image that is going to be displayed on screen. When computing reflections, EL accesses the frame buffer so that it can compute the reflected image efficiently (i.e., it can use the already-painted scene and flip it upside down, in extreme approximation, to obtain the reflected version of the image). For reasons unclear to me, when disabling the frame buffer the shadow map size (setting Adv Video/Shadow Map Size) is also reset.

Adv Video/Gamma. This settings allows you to adjust the gamma correction on your display. Gamma correction can be roughly considered a luminance control (although it is non-linear, whereas luminance is linear); no correction, which is the default value, is 1.0; higher values will make the image brighter, whereas lower values will make it darker. At times, after playing with this setting, the image can be so dark that it is hard to see the control itself and restore a sane value; in such cases, exiting EL and editing el.ini (by editing the gamma line so that it reads "#gamma= 1") is the only option. On CRT display, usually there is a wheel or control of sort to change brightness and/or gamma, so in those cases it might be easier to use that to increase the brightness, then adjust the value to 1.0 and finally reset the brightness on the monitor. LCD displays normally don't have a manual control of this kind.
Most recent OS have variuos way of controlling the gamma outside of a program: for example, on Linux the command "xgamma" can be used for that purpose, as well as a number of graphical utilities; on Macs there is a control in the Control Panel; Windows usually relies on special utilities provided by the producer of the graphics card.

Adv Video/Disable Gamma Adjustment. EL will adjust the gamma of its own, in certain conditions, to ensure that something at least is visible. I believe this is done, for example, when the sun sets (gamma is increase) or rises (gamma is restored back to normal). If this option is enabled, such automatic adjustments are disabled, and the user-set gamma above is applied in all circumstances.

Adv Video/Use Animation Program. The rendering of actors (i.e., players, monsters, NPCs, animals) is normally done by the CPU, which instructs the GPU to draw each element in sequence, according to the CPU sub-program dedicated to such rendering. When this option is enabled, the CPU sends instead the whole program to the GPU, which in turn does the rendering. This uses a relatively recent OpenGL extension, so might not be supported on all hardware/drivers combination. There is no difference in gameplay though: in fact, with Use Animation Program disabled, the CPU does more work, the GPU does less; with Use Animation Program enabled, the CPU does less work, the GPU does more. Depending on how fast the CPU and GPU are, one or the other setting might be more conveniente. As a rule of thumb, on recent graphics card it is better to enable Use Animation Program; on older graphics card, placed in a modern computer, it's better to disable it.
If the option HUD/Show FPS is enabled, below the FPS rating there will be a UVP rating (UVP=Use Vector Program, which is for practical purposes synonym with Use Animation Program). If UVP is 0, the the CPU is doing the rendering of actors; if UVP is 1, then the GPU is doing the rendering. Notice that the rendering of scenery (trees, buildings, mountains, etc.) is always done by the CPU; only objects that are animated (i.e., move) are affected by this setting.
At times, a graphics card/driver might advertise that UVP is supported, but in reality don't support it fully. In such cases, all animated actors will be invisible, where the rest of the scenery is rendered normally. Disabling Use Animation Program will solve the issue.
Notice: this settings requires a restart of the client to be applied. In particular, if UVP is disabled, and you enable it, on several cases all actors will disappear. Just exit the game normally and restart, actors should be back (if not, then UVP is not supported on your hardware). A message will appear on the console telling if EL is using Animation Programs or not.


... TO BE CONTINUED

#12 RipTide

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 02:54 AM

I am having a problem with the full screen option on my new laptop. When I place it on full screen, I get big black bars down each side of the screen. I can play in windowed mode, but it would be nice to have it in full screen.

Specs are:

Toshiba C55 laptop
Pentium CPU 2020M @240ghz
6 gig ram
Win 8.1
64 bit

Graphics is stock, intel HD
Drivers are up to date.

Thank you in advance.



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