The Grass Is Always Greener On Ultra High

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I've always been of this mind:
"Computers are for people who know how to use computers. For everyone else, buy a Mac and pick a console."

Not very fair, is it? It's just so damn hard to explain to someone why it's so satisfying to have control over the graphics detail, let alone what all those details mean. I don't even run a high-power system (it would be if I went back to 2006, when I first built it) but having the options available to strike that perfect balance of visual detail and fluid framerate is essential to the PC gaming experience, and if you don't dig it you'll just get pissed off.

tendo82:
The Grass Is Always Greener On Ultra High

Tom Endo thinks this game looks great on his PC. Well, maybe. Wait, is yours running faster than mine? What visual settings do you have yours set to?

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stop whining about having to put your precious graphics on medium and realise that you could be far worse off. i have to run all of my games on ultra low, even UT GOTY edition gets frame rate issues on my shit box. you know why? because i can't afford a computer that can run crysis. period. and i cant get a job unless i speak fluent Chinese because i have to move countries for three years. stop whining that your precious games have to put down onto the apparently shudder-some medium graphics setting. i would kill to be able to put it that high.

I may not have the paranoia of visual artifacts but I always ask myself how I can push the limits of my system. I find this to be more fun than nightmarish. I always like that initial hesitation that I have before I click "16X AA" just to see how badly my processor and GPU heat up. Then I go back to medium.

Anyone know what the hell Anti-Aliasing "Q" is by the way?

ElArabDeMagnifico:

Anyone know what the hell Anti-Aliasing "Q" is by the way?

Higher-quality - it takes 4 pixel samples instead of 2, so it roughly equates to twice the processing and a slight increase in detail. you might like the look of 8xqAA better than 16xAA, but 16x is likely to run faster. 16xqAA is just rediculous! :o

For the benefit of everyone here, I'll take a moment and outline which graphics settings I use in TF2, what they mean, and why I set them that way. I'm running a system with 2gigs of ram and a Geforce 7800GT video card - very middle of the road.

Resolution: 1280x1024 - determines the number of pixels your screen will display. Ideally, you should start at the default or 'native' resolution supported by your monitor, which for a full-screen box-shaped monitor (as opposed to widescreen) that's usually 1280x1024. Widescreen monitors vary quite a bit depending on how big it is. If you have large and consistent slowdowns, you might start with lowering this setting.

Texture quality: medium - determines the SIZE, in pixels, of the pictures applied to the models inside the world. The higher this goes the more demands the game will make on your video card's memory and the bandwidth of your card's bus.

Model detail: High - Controls the number of polygons and animation details used for characters, weapons, and other items within the world. Turning this down will make your guns look more boxy, and I notice in TF2 that it disables the facial expressions and makes the characters look goofy (especially the heavy, who looks like a psychopath) - eats up more processor and more video card power, but generally keep it high as most video cards are optimized to handle very high polygon counts.

Shadow detail: High - On high, character models are completely re-rendered in black and projected on the ground to give you realistic playing-in-the-sun shadows. Lower settings give either boxy blobs or just a black dot underneath characters. Occasionally, that high shadow setting might let you see someone around a corner - or if your system glitches like mine, you can see them through the ceiling above you. again, eats up some video card power

Shader detail: High - Things like the pyro's flame, the trail leading off of rockets, explosions, and especially water effects will be rendered with more loving care. Can eat up a lot more video card power on high settings. You will also notice more depth in corrugated walls and things like that where shader tricks have been used to add depth.

Color correction: Recommended setting - adjusts colors in a scene to make them more picturesque - not something i deem terribly necessary in a multiplayer combat game, but i'll do what valve tells me to do here - doesn't affect performance

Anti-aliasing: I'm using 2xMSAA - Anti-aliasing blurs the lines of edges to make them smoother and more realistic. Back in the day, we used to crank our resolutions ever higher in pursuit of "no more jaggies!" AA makes jagged lines a thing of the past, but I only use it in certain games. TF2 was designed with AA in mind, so it looks much better and operates fine. Counter-Strike was released when AS was fairly new, so I don't use it and it runs much better. MS stands for multisampling, if you have a GeForce 8 or higher you can use CSAA and you should, it's much faster. There's also CFAA which is best but only on newest cards. You just have to play around with this one to find a setting you like, but if you're having slowdowns, it's better to switch it off rather than go to a lower setting - 16xCSAA will be a lot faster than 4xMSAA, as it's less intensive on your processor.

Filtering mode: 8x Anisotropic - if you look at textures with hard angles in them, like warning stripes on the ground, you'll notice they distort pretty badly as they run into the far distance. The higher the level of filtering, the better this is corrected. Makes for a bit of a performance hit on your graphics card, but not one that I think is noticeable.

wait for VSync - just turn it off. if the momentary 'tears' in your screen are really bugging you, because the game is running THAT FAST, then you can go ahead, but all this does is limits the game to frame rates which are equal increments of your screen's refresh rate. IE, your game will be locked at 60, 30, 15, or 12 frames per second. When it could be running at a dandy 42. It's a stupid setting for practical use.

HDR and Use Bloom when available: these are essentially the same thing... HDR will put more strain on your system than just bloom, but you'll hardly notice the difference between the two. HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) emulates the naturally limited range of contrast our eyes can see, and in dark locations shifts the spectrum of light down as if our eyes had adjusted. Then, when entering full light, everything will be washed out and bright until our 'eyes' adjust again and the spectrum shifts back into place. HDR is the highest setting, Bloom is the middle, both of them off is best for performance.

Motion blur: gimme a break. Ever play GTA3 on a PC and try switching the cinema blur off? This is the same thing, but VERY VERY slight. Turning it on makes it look more like the XBOX version of the game, turning it off will offer you crisp and clear focus no matter how fast things are moving and therefore you should be better able to see.

multithreaded processing: turn this OFF unless you know what you're getting into! it's a beta-testing feature which can offer a 20fps boost if you have the right processor, on my old system it made for occasional slowdowns and even when the performance was up, I could notice a distinct jitter in the game that wasn't there before.

tl;dr - the settings I'm using:
Resolution: 1280x1024
Texture detail: medium
Model detail: high
Shadow detail: high
Shader detail: high
Reflections: reflect world
Filtering: 8xAS
Anti-aliasing: 2xMSAA
HDR: On
Bloom: Off
Wait for VSync: off
color correction: the recommended setting
motion blur: off
multithreading: off unless you have a modern triple or quad core processor, unlike me

i got a lot of this information from HERE.

Final thoughts: "Computers are for people who know how to use computers!"
You must be THIS nerdy to play games made by Valve!

Nuke_em_05:
I kind of got out of PC gaming for the same reason. Not that my game wasn't all that it could be, but because it got too expensive to keep up and play at "very low". More of an economic thing really. I didn't want to get back in at some point and have the machine I just bought end up being sub-par in a matter of months. Then I finished college, got a "real job", saved up a couple grand, and built a box that makes Crysis say, "I can't handle this!". Sadly, at least for me, it never ends, I'm always thinking "I could probably upgrade..." Even sadder, at some point, I'll have to.

Really? Economics are pretty much the main reason I'm a PC gamer. I find that PC games go down in price much faster than console games, and they also go further with the reductions. Eg, budget re-releases of 5 year old PC games usually go 3-for-10, while a PS2 game of the same age still goes for 10-20. And since I'm not playing the latest releases, I don't need the latest hardware to run them, meaning that when I do upgrade I don't have to spend as much.

I'm a little embarrased to admit that I've done things like this. The original Far Cry pretty much wrecked my old 5200 card, becasue I just had to have that extra detail, even if it meant I ran it at 5 frames per second. That's not to say I can't enjoy older games with poor graphics (I thoroughly enjoyed Deus Ex several years after it came out), but when you got to forums and see that rich bastard post the OMG-SUPERULTRAHIGH-AT-120FPS screenshots, you can't help but feel jealous.

That said, I don't think this happens a much as it used too, just because graphics have slowed down a bit in the past few years. Some games are still difficult to run on your PC, but that's mainly because they're crappy ports.

300lb. Samoan:
I've always been of this mind:
"Computers are for people who know how to use computers. For everyone else, buy a Mac and pick a console."

Not very fair, is it? It's just so damn hard to explain to someone why it's so satisfying to have control over the graphics detail, let alone what all those details mean. I don't even run a high-power system (it would be if I went back to 2006, when I first built it) but having the options available to strike that perfect balance of visual detail and fluid framerate is essential to the PC gaming experience, and if you don't dig it you'll just get pissed off.

I totally agree with this. Is that not the joy of using a computer? Knowing that we have (at varying degrees of proficiency, albeit) control and ability to tweak things, make it better, meaner, faster, our experience better.
Endos article was not about graphics being the most important aspect of a game,but the never ending pursuit of balance and perfection in our gaming experience and the irrational fears and idiosyncrasies that accompany them.
Lets admit it, we all feel this way at varying levels

Great article - it made me LOL from start to finish. XD

I can play Crysis on full detail with my 1050$ computer.

It's a dual core, 3.00 GHZ and a 9800GT graphics card. The default is gamer (one below enthusiast, the highest) but I just put it to enthusiast and it worked just fine.

But it's not an option for me to have full graphics on Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising. It puts me at one below maximum graphics. I think Crysis is just a more efficient game.

Ahh, I currently have the graphics on APB set so low that you can't read the writing that I have in HUGE letters on my guy's back, and the game is still so slow that I can't get into gunfights or drive cars. And I can't use a controller...

Still, awesome game. I love every second of it. I'm just not going to get a new processor or graphics card, so I guess it's console gaming for me until around 2038!

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