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Loading times are becoming impossible

Slow load screen-handling

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#1
CJQ

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PoE is a brilliant, complex and absorbing RPG and a most worthy successor to Baldur Gate etc. Unlike BG, (and despite the PoE inbuilt information system), its sheer complexity make it rather tricky for players to become familiar with all the various ways to play the game – particularly in something like character development.

 

I bought and began playing the game in April 2015. Before I got close to the end of Chapter One, at the end of May 2015, I reluctantly had to gave up playing the game.

 

After spending a couple of days getting the feel of the game controls, I started again from the beginning. Some 20 hours into the game, I began to notice load / reload times were getting longer and longer. Eventually I was spending too much time looking at a screen and it became obvious this situation was making the game unplayable.

 

I checked the Obsidian website (and others) to see if this was a general experience. Apparently numerous people were experiencing screen handling issues but others stated they had noticed no problem apparently.

 

A few weeks ago my PC was rebuilt with a clean instalment of Windows 7. Pillars now had 2 expansion modules to consider buying. I started a new game (which is connected through Steam). I anticipated that screen loading times would by now have been fixed – but the same problem is again occurring. I am now about 60% of the way through Chapter One and the game is slowing down appreciably.

 

Because I am still trying to get to grips with the game’s AI, I would have liked to play the same battle a number of times over to see what a change to a character’s AI might do. However at this speed, it would take forever.

The first save file created in the Encampment Area was 116 kb. The latest is 20 times that size. In last year’s attempt I stopped playing when the save files were 35 times larger than that.

 

Is this to be expected? If so, the final saves are going be an extraordinary size.

 

Could you please tell me if the situation I am experiencing can be corrected? Is it absolutely necessary for Save files to grow at this kind of rate? It seems possible that juggling this amount of data might cause the PC screen handling to be slow.

 

Many thanks


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#2
Fenixp

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The issue seems to be both with Obsidian, game's genre and with Unity engine itself. Unity games generally have issues with loading data, even in games in which you'd say that issue should not be present at all like some fully 2D titles. Since Pillars is an RPG with reasonably open world and a truckload of ways in which you can play it, there's no way around it - the game has to record every single thing you do and keep it in memory, which amounts to an insane quantity of data. And with Obsidian because they didn't find ways to streamline that process in any reasonable way.

 

At any rate, loading times are by far my biggest issue with the game, and while having an SSD drive seems to have mitigated it to an extent, loading screens still take much longer than they should. You know something is wrong when Pillars of Eternity takes about 3 times as long loading a 2D backdrop with a bunch of characters than Mankind Divided takes loading streets of virtual Prague.

 

That said, no, there's not much you can do, aside from getting said SSD. I hear deleting old saved games helps, but I never noticed significant difference when doing that. My fix for the problem was to let the game load and go do something else in the meantime. Sad, yeah.


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#3
demeisen

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"Slow" means something different to everybody, so it's hard to talk about without concrete numbers.

​For what it's worth: I'm pretty far into my current game: lvl 16, in WM2, with most of the base game plot finished as well.  My save file is around 8.5MB.  I timed a load from clicking the "Continue" button to being in the game at 14 seconds (from the Stalwart Mines).  That's on a slightly older (2012) PC without an SSD, under Ubuntu 16.04, so I imagine it would be a little faster on a modern machine or with an SSD, and slower on an older machine.

I imagine that seems very slow for some folks.  It depends a great deal on what you're accustomed to.  I'm not too bothered, since I grew up with games that would require many minutes to load and fail to do so entirely one time in three due to unreliable D/A from acoustically based storage.  10 or 20 seconds that works every time seems luxurious :).

​I'm guessing the save files grow larger because the amount of state that has to be serialized to disk is larger the further into the game you progress.  Also the first time you do it, a bunch of art assets have to get loaded from disk and may not be in buffercache.



#4
Fenixp

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Heh, my endgame save file is around 10 MB and loading takes over a minute and a half. It was slightly faster on my Linux partition, but we're talking like 10-15 seconds here. I'm running a modern gaming rig capable of running anything I throw at it.



#5
Loren Tyr

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Yeah, first load takes longer, presumably indeed because of (lack of) caching. I just timed an 8MB save game: straight from startup it was about 50 sec., after that it was in the order of 20-25 sec. This is on a fairly standard desktop PC, couple of years old, no SSD. Could be a lot better obviously, but it's hardly prohibitive either. 



#6
Elderin

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I have the same problem.  In town, going in each house can take upwards to 15 seconds, then leaving the house will take even longer (>20 seconds).  I tried removing old save files and using iemod to turn off autosaves but the slow loading is still there.

 

I'm using a new gaming pc with 16 GB ram and Samsung EVO SSDs and the load times are unbearable.  Tyranny inspired me to load up PoE for the first time in about a year to see if the loading screens were still a problem...I stopped playing after 5 minutes, most of which was spent on loading screens, and after seeing that Tyranny shares the same loading screens, I've decided against purchasing it.  I wonder how many other potential customers are lost because of this issue.

 


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#7
Infinitron

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I have the same problem.  In town, going in each house can take upwards to 15 seconds, then leaving the house will take even longer (>20 seconds).  I tried removing old save files and using iemod to turn off autosaves but the slow loading is still there.

 

I'm using a new gaming pc with 16 GB ram and Samsung EVO SSDs and the load times are unbearable.  Tyranny inspired me to load up PoE for the first time in about a year to see if the loading screens were still a problem...I stopped playing after 5 minutes, most of which was spent on loading screens, and after seeing that Tyranny shares the same loading screens, I've decided against purchasing it.  I wonder how many other potential customers are lost because of this issue.

 

Tyranny uses Unity 5 which means loading times might be improved.



#8
Elderin

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I have the same problem.  In town, going in each house can take upwards to 15 seconds, then leaving the house will take even longer (>20 seconds).  I tried removing old save files and using iemod to turn off autosaves but the slow loading is still there.

 

I'm using a new gaming pc with 16 GB ram and Samsung EVO SSDs and the load times are unbearable.  Tyranny inspired me to load up PoE for the first time in about a year to see if the loading screens were still a problem...I stopped playing after 5 minutes, most of which was spent on loading screens, and after seeing that Tyranny shares the same loading screens, I've decided against purchasing it.  I wonder how many other potential customers are lost because of this issue.

 

Tyranny uses Unity 5 which means loading times might be improved.

 

 

Fair enough.  I'll probably keep an eye out on whether similar issues are reported for Tyranny and if not, I'll consider purchasing the game.  



#9
K Galen B

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I have to wonder how much of this 'loading time' is really to do with loading/autosaving. My gaming computer is getting old and I never upgraded to a SSD - I run it on a SATA 2 10k rpm hdd (meaning I can't transfer data at anything like the speed of a decent newish SSD) yet my transition times are only ~18 seconds in Act 3 + halfway through WM1 with both expansions installed. The way people with SSDs talk about 20+ second load times I should be considerably slower.

 

I wonder if the engine is sensitive to some particular hardware configurations... or how much processing goes on between areas? But then, my processor is just an overclocked i7 920 - any new gaming-ish computer should be at least as fast if not faster.



#10
Elderin

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To whomever may be interested,  I was able to significantly reduce loading times on my samsung 850 EVO SSD (from 10-20 seconds to 3-5) by doing the following:

 

- Search for and download Samsung's magician software and install it

- In Magician, verify that your OS Optimization is set to Maximum Performance

- In Magician, enable RAPID mode (note that this will use some of your RAM so make sure you have enough available)

- Install the latest version of IEMod from http://www.nexusmods...ernity/mods/1/? and configure it as instructed.  Once installed, use it to disable auto-saves (or set it to save less frequently).

 

Hopefully that will help some others that have struggled with this issue.

 



#11
CJQ

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Thanks for all the help guys. Your advice was much appreciated. I’ve a number of commitments which prevented me getting back earlier. By mid-November I will have more time to consider your suggestions properly.

Although I am an old hand at RPG, I managed to miss the launch and only heard about Pillars last April.

Frankly I have found it a difficult game to understand and difficult to play even on Normal level – I suppose partly due to lack of information on how best to develop the complex companions. Don’t misunderstand me – I think the game is superb in many ways but equally frustrating when determining how to proceed.

There are so many interactions where my PC encounters an NPC leading to dialogue with a many possible outcomes. The only way to find out a more is to replay an encounter several times over. That’s where it started to unravel. Replay times are now insane. Initially it took seconds. As the game progressed it became so long to do this that I could visit the bathroom, make a cup of coffee and return to my computer before a reload had completed. From a standing start to find and load the previous save can take over 4 minutes !! Of course my initial save file was only 116 kb. I am close to finishing Act 2 and my last save was 3500 kb.
Fenixp has said his final save was 10MB. Good grief! I will be able to go away for the weekend in between loads.

I cannot believe most of Pillar’s many players are playing on industrial-size computers – and from what you have written your higher spec machines are still experiencing slowness.

Obsidian must be aware of the possibility that many bought the game then give up as a result of its slowness. Surely the company should be considering a “work-around”. (For instance, the save files must contain the positions of all game objects – so why not remove the every-day objects that players are selling to shopkeepers – the hundreds of spears, robes caps and daggers for instance)?

A great game like this should be played to the end. I am just worried that I a going to grind to a complete halt. I will try to upgrade my base machine when in a couple of week’s time. However …..

Thanks to all again
Chris

#12
Ymarsakar

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I used IE Mod to make auto save every 5-15 minutes instead of every load screen.

 

Whenever it auto saves, not only are you Loading stuff from various containers, but you are then creating another copy using the same hard disc. It probably doubles the screen time, if not more depending on save size. 

 

They probably focused so much on the load time, they de prioritized the time it saves, since nobody was complaining about how long it takes to save, but if you add it to every screen change, it adds up.

 

The reason is probably the 2d maps are derived from 3d assets, so the amount of data the game has to load per tile is pretty chunky. I heard they had to spend nearly half a day compiling the map data per area. Combined with all the little container files in unity, the hard disc is spinning all over the place to find them all, on top of saving/loading the file.

 

Because PoE was supposed to run under 32 bit OS, they started "optimizing" the ram, but Unity was supposed to be run with 4-8 gigabyte ram and 64 bit OS optimally. So when they continually optimized the ram usage, they probably started dropping non essential things. Games that use ram limits of 4 gigabytes, do tend to load much faster than expected.


Edited by Ymarsakar, 29 October 2016 - 07:46 AM.


#13
Starrceline

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This is a serious issue for me as well. So far, I have taken to visiting as few "optional" areas as possible, just trying to focus on completing the main quest.

but, this is really sad to me, since I love hearing optional story. But especially with the side quests that cause you to run from one place to the next, delivering items and running errands, the load times right now take up SO much time. It starts to feel like I am spending more time staring at a load screen than actually playing the game.

It's gotten to the point where I will only play Pillars while I am doing something else, like eating dinner. So I play a lot less often than I used to. 

I hope this is fixed by the time the sequel is released...you have a great story here, but the load times are just ridiculous. 

One quick fix would seem to be disabling the autosave when any new area is entered. that seems to account for the majority of the load time. at least, let us turn it on and off ourselves. this way, i will save before i am about to do something risky, and the rest of the time, i can just keep playing at a normal pace.


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#14
fced

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I am on PS4 Pro, and the loading are incredibly slow, before entering any house in the game (to see if you haven't missed something), you have to think about it twice because it take very long time, even a little house with only one NPC inside take a long time to load (it remind me Skyrim which was unplayable after some hours of playing because of this)...

Reloading a save is very long too, may be because all the junks (weapons, armors, scrolls, etc we accumulate during the game)...

If something should be improved in that game, it is the loading time, and may be the AI possibilities (but reducing the loading time would be appreciated) ...

 

Edit : I done a simple test to see how reality long was that long loading save : 2.50 minutes to reload a save in Durgan Battery (mines) with a character lv 13 full with all the junks I got there, and before I decided to do that loading test, I was dead on a traps 1 minute before so it was the 2nd time I reloaded (time after time - reloaded 2 time).

I have the feeling, POE don't use the caching memory system ... Ok I am using the HDD embedded with the PS4 Pro, but If think about it, I like the game, it is completely my game style but If I am correct, I never played a game with that exceptionally long loading time (if I except Skyrim on PS3)...

 

Is there any way to fix this ? May be removing anything not used from the the party ? 


Edited by fced, 25 November 2017 - 05:37 PM.


#15
fced

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I hope this is fixed by the time the sequel is released...you have a great story here, but the load times are just ridiculous. 

One quick fix would seem to be disabling the autosave when any new area is entered. that seems to account for the majority of the load time. at least, let us turn it on and off ourselves. this way, i will save before i am about to do something risky, and the rest of the time, i can just keep playing at a normal pace.

 

If I am correct, that was one of the fix on Skyrim after some patch to reduce the loading time, in a patch note it was advised to disable the auto-save feature, it is possible to disable the auto-save on POE PS4, but I can't imagine to do that (what if I lose 5 hours of game because a mistake)...


Edited by fced, 25 November 2017 - 05:43 PM.


#16
inkblotmancer

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Is there any way to outright disable the load screens altogether and have everything preload before you get into the game ? So we aren't spending so much time with load screen junk ?

#17
champy

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I have this game on the X1X, which allegedly has 3.6 million gigaflops of power, and the loading times are indeed annoying. Generally speaking, I don't have issue with loads in open world or dungeons because there aren't that many loading screens.  Villages, though, are the problem. 

 

I want to check out the mill? Loading time to get in -- guess what -- nothing in here. Loading time to get out. Makes me not want to go inside buildings. 



#18
Crrts123

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I have the same problem on PS4. Loading times are sometimes nearing 1:50 and sometimes, though not often, the game freezes during the loading process.

I had simillar problems before with Torment: Tides of Numenera, a game based on PoE technology, but not to that extent, since the game is much shorter, i beleive.

It's strange that this flaw has never been addressed in any patch. And not that it is the only bag the game has.

#19
Crrts123

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I have the same problem on PS4. Loading times are sometimes nearing 1:50 and sometimes, though not often, the game freezes during the loading process.

I had simillar problems before with Torment: Tides of Numenera, a game based on PoE technology, but not to that extent, since the game is much shorter, i beleive.

It's strange that this flaw has never been addressed in any patch. And not that it is the only annoying problem the game still has.

I beleive that I'll finish the game anyhow, but with Deadfire coming out for PS4 in a couple of months, I'm not really sure that I'm ready to subject myself to another game as technically flawed as PoE I.

#20
the_dog_days

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@Crrts123 How much loot do you have in your inventory? If you have pages and pages of items it will bog down the loading times. When I have a lot of items that I don't want to get rid of, I go to the dorm at the stronghold because they have chests that you can off load the loot into.






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