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PC version: why performance so poor?


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Disclaimer: if I didn't like this game, I wouldn't post this at all. So this is not bashing, it's a curiosity on why things couldn't have been done better.

 

I'm comparing graphics, not gameplay. I've played Farcry (different kind of game, but similar graphics idea behind it), and the graphics on that game are absolutely amazing. I can crank up the video settings to max, and it runs amazingly smooth.

 

Enter KotOR2 (and the first one too, for that matter): If I crank up all the settings, although it looks prettty decent, it still doesn't look anywhere near as good as Farcry, and yet ends up running choppy and sluggish.

 

So here's the irony:

 

KotOR2 and KotOR1 on their best settings do not look better than Farcry on it's weakest settings.

 

KotOR2 and KotOR1 on their crapiest video settings do not run as smoothly as Farcry on its maxed out video settings

 

So why is that?! Poor programming? Not making efficient use of the GPU on the graphics card? Farcry had much more intense visuals on large areas, so you can't say it's because they use more textures. It really amazes me that KotOR2 and 1 pale by comparision visually to Farcry, but yet KotOR is sluggish. Makes no sense to me, so figured I'd ask why that happens.

 

Keep in mind Farcry and KotOR1 came out roughly the same time, so updated drivers is not an issue. And even now my drivers are up to date.

 

You may ask for my system specs. Does it matter? Farcry blows away KotOR visually, and yet KotOR is the one that's sluggish?!

 

Thanks for any productive feedback.

 

And again, if you think this is a post bashing KotOR, please re-read the first sentence of this post.

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No idea really. Could it have anything to do with being able to run on xbox's, that they had to do some render engine things different (I have no clue whatsoever what the difference would be, just asking) ?

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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Just pure uninformed speculation, but a lot of the areas that had the worst slowdowns, for me at least, in KotOR 1, had lots of colored lights, and that seems to be the case with at least some of the slow environs in TSL. Since colored lighting was a big bullet-point for Mysteries of the Sith, and there have been reports of various lightsaber glow anomalies with various drivers, I'm guessing it has something to do with the way light is diffused, and multiple colored lights are more indicative of simply the number of light sources, and maybe a particular filter. Like I said, though, I don't really know much about this stuff.

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Different engine indeed and also different priorities. Man, if you want uber graphics in a CRPG then you got your priorities in very much the wrong place. The game could have ASCII graphics as far as I care. In a CRPG only two things that really matters is the story and character development. graphics, sound effects, and music is just candy.

 

Games that have substance don't need uber graphics to be good. Shooters like Farcry have zero substance to them therefore they need the uber graphics in order for them to be marketable.

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In most cases you would be right, but star wars is too visual. I mean the movies are fun, but art direction is the only thing they really have going for them. I think KotOR looks fine, though some varied textures, especially on Citadel station, and the Telos academy would help. What he's talking about, however, is not the graphics quality, but the relationship of the quality to the performance, which is not so good.

 

Incidentally, Far Cry is actually a pretty good shooter. The story sucks, but the action is actually the best at the moment, with the really good AI and damage modeling. For example, the helmets that some enemies have, are not just for show.

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No, the original unchanged movies were fun. The recent changes and the prequels are just stupid.

 

As for shooters, play one and you played them all. SHooters hold no challenge or even the miniscule level of fun for me.

 

I also had no problems with performance. I on average got about 20 FPS throughout the game on the settings that I prefer.

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As has been pointed out, the engine- which is only an updated version of the one used on NWN (pre-Far Cry)- is not designed for it.

Whereas the CryTek engine is totally geared towards megapolygons and lovely visual effects (and is bloody good at it, of course)

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But with the original star wars movies, we remember them as being much better than they are because we saw them when young, and think of them with nostalgia. I rewatched them recently and was suprised by just how bad the dialogue was. Not as bad as the prequels, and with some better actors, but still...... (Yeah, and the new versions aren't so great, particularly the anakin brat at the end. ugh)

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But with the original star wars movies, we remember them as being much better than they are because we saw them when young, and think of them with nostalgia.  I rewatched them recently and was suprised by just how bad the dialogue was.  Not  as bad as the prequels, and with some better actors, but still......  (Yeah, and the new versions aren't so great, particularly the anakin brat at the end.  ugh)

 

The only time I ever experienced a drop in framerate was when I was around hutts, rancors or those thunder beast. I think it has something to do with their texture.

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For the most part, K1 & K2 run fine for me on Xbox and PC. The only place I have immense problems with is Dantooine. I don't know why, but every time I go there, first or second game, it just chugs terribly. The strangest part is, that all I have to do to temporarily fix it is switch the graphic setting. If it's on High, I put it to Medium, it runs fine. If it's on Low, I switch it to High and once again it runs fine... for a few minutes. Very odd.

 

I think they made a suitable engine, but I really hope KOTOR 3 gets a well deserved upgrade. I agree with the poster who said CRPG's are all about substance, and that music/graphics are just a bonus, but the game should at least be playable, graphic wise.

 

*crosses fingers*

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hades_one, this is not about priorities. We all know this is a RPG game, but me too can't help but wonder why does the game not run that smotth if graphics are not that impresive. Furthermore, at this point, where graphics and performances are amazing us day by day, I think it's quite irracional to accept poor performance with not-that-impressive graphics. What, only because it is a RPG game? well, then they might as well just release KOTOR2 in SNES!

 

But with the original star wars movies, we remember them as being much better than they are because we saw them when young, and think of them with nostalgia

I agree. Nonetheless, I think there's one element that makes the new movies not so appealing: they are just too damn complicated! With the original trilogy, you had the good guys, and the bad guys. And the key plot was really quite simple. There was a lot of background story, but it was not needed to understand the main plot. You just enjoyed your ass off watching the rebels fighting the empire, the thrill of it, the lovable characters, the smart

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There a lot of reasons this engine doesn't run well, even on high end systems:

 

1) It is the pre-patched version of the engine that KOTOR uses (that is patched to 1.03). Most development is like this if using a third party engine. They get the version before any major patches as those patches might conflict with the new game design and new additions... Which is why a patch for TSL is going to be different from a patch for KOTOR and any "expansion" for that matter.

 

On a simlar note, it also means that the engine has not been properly optimized. So, as someone said, it is the coding that is slowing it down as well as it is not as efficient as the patched versions for obvious reasons.

 

2) It uses OpenGL as its renderer.

 

OpenGL is a very good API... But ATI has never been strong in this in terms of its driver support hence, slower performance. So, the problems are compounded on ATI cards compared to Nvidia in this area alone.

 

3) We wouldn't notice these slow downs as much if we were playing on a TV (like XBox) instead of our PC monitors. PC monitors have higher bandwith (resolutions) and require more FPS (60 FPS) to produce a fluid image because they are not interlaced like a TV screen.

 

I have the XBox version and while it does slow to a chug in some areas (Peragus)... That is due mainly to the XBox's limited 1999 era PC components more than anything else.

 

However, I can run across the plains of Dantooine on the XBox and it looks uber smooth on the TV... But that it is because NTSC TV screens are limited to 30 FPS for full motion. Compare that to a PC monitor that needs at least 60 FPS (more IS better) to produce fluid motion and if the game is struggling to maintain 60 FPS from the start, you are going to notice it more easily than you would on a TV screen for the reasons I stated above.

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hades_one, this is not about priorities. We all know this is a RPG game, but me too can't help but wonder why does the game not run that smotth if graphics are not that impresive. Furthermore, at this point, where graphics and performances are amazing us day by day, I think it's quite irracional to accept poor performance with not-that-impressive graphics. What, only because it is a RPG game? well, then they might as well just release KOTOR2 in SNES!

I'd suspect the game is quite geometry-heavy and doesn't really bother with much of visibility checks, but just draws most of things most of the time. (the drawing speed is quite constant in any loaded area, no matter if you're looking at a wall or at the whole place) When on the other hand the FPS games go out of their way to ensure they draw as little as they can get away with, because the better framerate in them, the better control you have with your gun and the bigger is your chance to survive... so the end result differences are quite noticeable...

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Different engine indeed and also different priorities.  Man, if you want uber graphics in a CRPG then you got your priorities in very much the wrong place.  The game could have ASCII graphics as far as I care.  In a CRPG only two things that really matters is the story and character development.  graphics, sound effects, and music is just candy.

Don't read too far into what I said. As I said I like the game. No matter how good a game is, it's that much better with even better graphics, wouldn't you say? That's all I'm saying. Still love playing the game for obvious reasons.. was just confused why some "similar" games could have remarkably better graphics and perform better.

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As has been pointed out, the engine- which is only an updated version of the one used on NWN (pre-Far Cry)- is not designed for it.

Whereas the CryTek engine is totally geared towards megapolygons and lovely visual effects (and is bloody good at it, of course)

Now imagine KotOR2 with that graphics engine!

 

In any event, please keep in mind everyone that I'm not comparing games in the least. Farcry is a shooter, and this is an RPG game. Was only using Farcry as a reference for graphics and performance.

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Can't say I've had any probelms with performance myself. You have to remember that this game responds differently to different systems, and it's particularly fussy about hardware. As for CRPGs on a FPS engine - Vampire: Bloodlines anyone? (Ok it's buggy as hell, but the theory still holds.)

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But that graphics engine is geared for shooters, and not for CRPGs.

True. A graphics engine (not gameplay engine) can be used for anything it seems to me. If they had that graphics engine, or their own graphics engine was built just as robust and powerful, this game would be that much better, let alone not have performance problems while looking much worse than a graphic's engine that does not.

 

I just imagine this game looking as good at that one, and can't help but think how much more awesome this game would be. :p

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3) We wouldn't notice these slow downs as much if we were playing on a TV (like XBox) instead of our PC monitors. PC monitors have higher bandwith (resolutions) and require more FPS (60 FPS) to produce a fluid image because they are not interlaced like a TV screen.

 

I have the XBox version and while it does slow to a chug in some areas (Peragus)... That is due mainly to the XBox's limited 1999 era PC components more than anything else.

 

However, I can run across the plains of Dantooine on the XBox and it looks uber smooth on the TV... But that it is because NTSC TV screens are limited to 30 FPS for full motion. Compare that to a PC monitor that needs at least 60 FPS (more IS better) to produce fluid motion and if the game is struggling to maintain 60 FPS from the start, you are going to notice it more easily than you would on a TV screen for the reasons I stated above.

 

O.o

 

I don't quite follow what you are saying here. 30 FPS is 30 FPS, and I don't know how interlacing would make 30 FPS seem "smoother" on a TV screen than on a PC Monitor. They are both CRT screens and whatnot. However, I could see how interlacing would allow for better performance, since they would not need to render every line (if the GPU is designed that way....which I do not think the X-Box's nVidia GPU is). Also, identical games running on TV and PC Monitor tend to look better on TV, since televisions have a "naturalish" anti-aliasing (perhaps due to the interlacing??).

 

But to me....the X-Box version of KOTOR seems just as choppy as the PC version :\

 

Also, (and I could very very VERY well be wrong about this), but I though that TVs themselves were not capped at the 29.97 FPS, but that the NTSC signals are. So videos and television and everything run at 29.97 FPS, but I thought that televisions themselves are capped at 60 Hz (or 60 FPS). However, I'm not knowledgable enough about the way Video I/O works for TVs and Consoles, so it's very likely that even IF the TV could display 60 FPS, the way the I/O is handled could still make it conform to NTSC TV signals.

 

Or I could have just dreamt all that.

 

 

 

EDIT: I know it's not the best of sources, but I found this on the Net. It's about a Digital Video Recorder, and it says this at one point:

 

Display frame rate NTSC Max 120 frames/sec 4 x 30 frames/sec

 

So I don't know what the heck that's talking about. Would it be recording the same frame 4 times?? Or maybe NTSC screens can handle multiples of 30? I dunno.

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But that graphics engine is geared for shooters, and not for CRPGs.

True. A graphics engine (not gameplay engine) can be used for anything it seems to me. If they had that graphics engine, or their own graphics engine was built just as robust and powerful, this game would be that much better, let alone not have performance problems while looking much worse than a graphic's engine that does not.

 

I just imagine this game looking as good at that one, and can't help but think how much more awesome this game would be. :devil:

 

 

any engine can be used for any game.

even Unreal can be turned into kotor if people wanted it :devil:

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