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The rendered environments and load times...


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The long load times have got me speculating:

 

are the environments to blame?

 

Sure they're beautiful handcrafted rendered scenes, but does this mean they take longer to load than 3d environments?

 

I would gladly trade 3d for these 2d environments if it meant better load times.

 

Failing that, an option for lower-res environments would also be good if load times can be improved.

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The long load times have got me speculating:

 

are the environments to blame?

 

Sure they're beautiful handcrafted rendered scenes, but does this mean they take longer to load than 3d environments?

 

I would gladly trade 3d for these 2d environments if it meant better load times.

 

Failing that, an option for lower-res environments would also be good if load times can be improved.

 

Can't imagine that to be the cause, since 2d should load faster than 3d in any case. 3d implies that every single object in the environment has to be loaded.

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what long load times? 

I am seeing only a few seconds to load, and my system is a bit dated and is currently using a cheap hard drive instead of a fast one.  I would think a raid0 high speed drive pair would be nearly instant.  Or a flash drive.

 

If its more than a few seconds to load, be sure your machine is running clean, defragged (assuming windows) and with minimal junkware/background processes etc.  Also be sure to re-start the game now and then, about once an hour or so.   Its not super leaky, but it does get slower over time, it acts more like it is trying to cache too much per session than a true memory leak?  Regardless, restarts keeps it running slick.

 

2-D, 3-D, its not that.  Efficient code is efficent and runs fast, inefficient code is slow and does not.   The art of writing fast code is dying; computers are so fast that even garbage runs "fast enough".    I can't see any reason to "render" anything ---  a game like this could be done with one giant image file that you scroll around,  all that is left is to draw the enemy, players, and loot onto the scene.  They did not even make the scenes rotatable like neverwinter nights 2, so it does seem to be an old school image overlay / sprites type game which should run so blisteringly fast that the computer should be virtually idle when playing it.

Edited by JONNIN
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are the environments to blame?

There are three things that cause long load times.

 

#1 - Autosaves

#2 - Size of area art image (on disk)

#3 - Resources for the area (units, 3D models, textures etc etc etc)

 

The largest area in the game by size on disc is Sun in Shadow Level 1 or something (312 MB), smallest is like 8MB (small interior). Larger areas generally mean more content and thus resources.

 

Autosaves adding heaps of time to level loads can be rectified and loading resources can be optimized. The IE games also loaded slowly back in the day as well, but load times got better with patches/new titles and as machines got faster.

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what long load times? 

I am seeing only a few seconds to load, and my system is a bit dated and is currently using a cheap hard drive instead of a fast one.  I would think a raid0 high speed drive pair would be nearly instant.  Or a flash drive.

You would be wrong. Long load times for some computers is a known problem. I get ~10 sec load screens on my fairly decent rig.

As Sensuki points out the largest area file is something like 312 MB. Any modern HDD can read that in less than a second.

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I read about this bug but i agree with JONNIN; only my first load is about 10 sec, then it need just few seconds (less than 5). So it's not general.

I don't know if it helps but these are my spec:

Windows 7 64 bit

intel i5 760

HDD 7200 RPM 1TB

Radeon HD 6750

 

Drivers are upgraded.

As you can see my pc is pretty old.

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I would guess that reason behind loading times are number of assets bundles that is loaded per map and how they are loaded. So I would say that environments and how they are made play quite small factor on loading times.

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The long load times have got me speculating:

 

are the environments to blame?

 

Sure they're beautiful handcrafted rendered scenes, but does this mean they take longer to load than 3d environments?

 

I would gladly trade 3d for these 2d environments if it meant better load times.

 

Failing that, an option for lower-res environments would also be good if load times can be improved.

 

Reading from disk is slower when there are tons of small files. Large single files are read fast. SSD drives are way better in all scenarios. We've seen SSD-guys with long load times, so we can rule out disk issues as the major contender.

 

Loading data to the GPU can be slow, but the difference between high-end hardware and outdated cards is obvious. We have many people with slow loading times and very strong GPU, so we can rule out GPU loading of assets as the major contender.

 

My money would be on data parsing being the bottleneck. The game probably loads everything from disk and to RAM and GPU fast enough, but is slowed down by the way data must be unpacked and translated to something usable. Doesn't matter if 2D or 3D, high-res or low-res.

 

Autosaves are of the data parsing issue nature.

Edited by Adragan
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My money would be on data parsing being the bottleneck. The game probably loads everything from disk and to RAM and GPU fast enough, but is slowed down by the way data must be unpacked and translated to something usable. Doesn't matter if 2D or 3D, high-res or low-res.

 

Agreed. Fortunately that means it's something that can be optimised.

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what are your specs? I've got a pretty recent machine and load times are generally pretty fine, only the first time i load a save or continue the game is the longest and it's not really long enough that i would get annoyed or something. it's installed on a regular drive not a SSD though.

 

the wonderful backgrounds/locations are one of the main drawcards of the game, I don't think it would be good to change that to 3D environments at all.

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#1 - Autosaves

#2 - Size of area art image (on disk)

#3 - Resources for the area (units, 3D models, textures etc etc etc)

 

I know the IE mod lets you reduce the autosaves, but any workaround for #2 (i.e. replacing the images or something)?

 

Nah. Areas are already compressed with DXT1.

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what long load times? 

I am seeing only a few seconds to load, and my system is a bit dated and is currently using a cheap hard drive instead of a fast one.  I would think a raid0 high speed drive pair would be nearly instant.  Or a flash drive.

You would be wrong. Long load times for some computers is a known problem. I get ~10 sec load screens on my fairly decent rig.

As Sensuki points out the largest area file is something like 312 MB. Any modern HDD can read that in less than a second.

 

 This post is so ridiculous i just couldnt resist. That average reading speed of a modern HDD can be as low as .7MB/sec for a fragmented HDD. It would need 7 minutes to read 300mb, not one second so you just exaggerated by a factor of x450. Realistically speeds of about 50MB/s are to be expected, so would still need at least a couple of seconds just for reading such a file.

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I have an average of 5 second loads and 2 second quicksaves with an SSD currently. Unfortunately, not all SSDs are created equal. There are heavy speed differences between the different manufacturers and models (up to factor 3!).

 

However, loads will become slower the longer you play. The mobileobjects file suffers from heavy bloat.

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I think there is a disconnect on what a long load time might be as well.   I do not consider a few seconds to be "long", 10 seconds is getting there but still not worth getting worked up over it.   300 mb might take a moment from the disk, but it should remain in your gigs of ram so enter/leave that zone should be lightning fast.  Instead the reverse is true, it gets slower over time.   I can only speculate what is going on in the code, but somewhere, someone dropped the ball.  Game has a low # of bugs, though, and I prefer a little inefficiency to bug ridden, the developers all around did pretty well all things considered.  

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what long load times? 

I am seeing only a few seconds to load, and my system is a bit dated and is currently using a cheap hard drive instead of a fast one.  I would think a raid0 high speed drive pair would be nearly instant.  Or a flash drive.

You would be wrong. Long load times for some computers is a known problem. I get ~10 sec load screens on my fairly decent rig.

As Sensuki points out the largest area file is something like 312 MB. Any modern HDD can read that in less than a second.

 

 This post is so ridiculous i just couldnt resist. That average reading speed of a modern HDD can be as low as .7MB/sec for a fragmented HDD. It would need 7 minutes to read 300mb, not one second so you just exaggerated by a factor of x450. Realistically speeds of about 50MB/s are to be expected, so would still need at least a couple of seconds just for reading such a file.

 

And if you apply a hammer to your HDD it won't read the files at all!

I obviously assume that people keep their HDD's healthy. I.e.  defrag regularly.

 

Btw, It isn't something I just pulled out of my arse. I actually wrote an app specifically to test read times on my own HDD. It's several years old and has often been completely filled with data. I timed 300MB at less than a second.

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The loading times are alright if you're doing a dungeon or traversing wilderness, but any time you venture into cities with their multiple zones consisting of houses and floors the experience becomes maddening.

 

It's especially annoying when you complete a task for an npc and you have to go through a bunch of zones that you will literally not even care to look at just to hand in a quest.

 

I would absolutely be for a longer initial load when entering a city if transition between zones and within its houses were lower

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Load times are just a few seconds for me.  32GB of ram and using an SSD.  Gaming laptop that is about 2 years old running windows 8.1.  Overall the performance of this game has been excellent.  Got an AMD proc (whatever model was good in gaming laptops 2 years ago) and 670m GTX Nvidia card in it.

 

Having some years professionally doing IT and PC repair, I keep my system running extremely smooth and quick.

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I actually wrote an app specifically to test read times on my own HDD. It's several years old and has often been completely filled with data. I timed 300MB at less than a second.

I dont know what you measured but it sure wasnt hdd performance, physics prohibits it as of today(maybe yesterday), no matter SATA version, especially for any several years old 5400rpm drive. Maybe you saw a zero too many? 30MB/s is more realistic.
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I actually wrote an app specifically to test read times on my own HDD. It's several years old and has often been completely filled with data. I timed 300MB at less than a second.

I dont know what you measured but it sure wasnt hdd performance, physics prohibits it as of today(maybe yesterday), no matter SATA version, especially for any several years old 5400rpm drive. Maybe you saw a zero too many? 30MB/s is more realistic.

 

Yes, I'm sure. I can read and access the data in less than a second. I just did an additional test where I tell it to write the last byte to screen. Works fine.

I've handled large files before (specifically Wikipedia, which is several gigs in a single file) and 30MB/s would have been absolutely torturous, so I'm pretty sure I would remember that.

 

Btw, why do you assume it's 5400rpm? Those 7200rpm drives have been around for a while.

 

This is pretty academic though. I think we can agree that load times of 10-15 seconds has little to do with read times (especially considering that even people with brand new SSD's experience the same thing).

Edited by Serdan
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Just saying; there is plenty of leaking data in the save game files. The most prominent offender (rime and frost trap) has been fixed in 1.04, but judging from the ongoing bloat of the mobileobjects file, there's still a lot more to be found here for the devs.

 

I'd say if Obsidian can fix all the savegame leaks, loading times will decrease dramatically for most players.

 

Just make the test if you don't believe me and start a fresh new game: load times will be significantly faster than a game in act III.

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#1 - Autosaves

#2 - Size of area art image (on disk)

#3 - Resources for the area (units, 3D models, textures etc etc etc)

 

I know the IE mod lets you reduce the autosaves, but any workaround for #2 (i.e. replacing the images or something)?

 

 

It doesn't have too much to do with that. Their scripts tend to fetch one resource at a time, and complete the process before fetching another one. Linear, synchronous operations. Will take a lot of time eventually.

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