Developer diaries graphics settings – Increase your FPS!
Skill is crucial in battle. However, having the correct game client settings can increase your chance of winning. Maybe you’ve been in this situation: it’s the end of the battle, and you only have a few hit points left. A miss is really going to cost you. The battlefield is littered with destroyed, smoking tanks. You’re in a dramatic duel with the last enemy — whoever manages to get the next hit will win… But then, there’s an explosion! FPS drops, there’s a momentary lag, and you miss your shot. This could have been a victory if only a few sliders had been set differently. We’ll tell you how to make the game client work faster. You will learn about graphic settings, what they do, and what components of your system they load. The parameter we’re trying to improve is FPS, or the number of frames per second. It’s displayed in the top left corner of the game interface. A value of 30 or more is considered acceptable. FPS is the result of the work of the system components on which the game is installed. This includes the processor, graphics card, random-access memory (RAM), and graphics memory. If you adjust your graphics settings correctly, you can help these components spend their power more efficiently, thus increasing FPS. Let’s take a look how these components work when the World of Tanks client is launched. The graphics card, or graphics adapter, performs the following tasks: creation of polygonal objects texture mapping lighting shading water simulation animation. When the scene is created, the graphics card memory is loaded with the textures and geometry of the objects. To play with minimal settings, 256 Mb of video memory is enough. For high resolutions and a really beautiful picture, you will need at least 2 Gb of video memory. Your computer’s central processor is responsible for the physical model, processing of in-game and client-server logics, calculation of shell flight trajectories, sound, calculation of objects intersecting in the game scene, and behavior of HD track models. That’s why a drop in FPS during the most intense battles is not always the fault of your graphics card. The internal memory is loaded primarily with the World of Tanks textures, sounds, and geometrical models of the objects. The game requires, at minimum, 2 Gb of RAM. To play with comfort, you will need 4 Gb or more of RAM. Well, you could play with as little as 1 Gb of RAM, but there would likely be lags when the processor works to load data from the hard drive. It is important to maintain a balance. A weak processor won’t be able to provide the graphics card with data quickly enough, so some computing blocks of the graphics card will be idle. A weak graphics card won’t let you enjoy a high quality picture, no matter how powerful your central processor. A low amount of RAM will cause frequent lags during the game. The game client can select the appropriate settings itself. Just click the “Recommended” button. This will launch two background tests: Geometry Processing Speed and Textures Processing Speed. According to the results of the tests, one of the five settings profiles will be chosen. If you disagree with this choice, you can adjust the settings manually. You can compensate for the weaknesses of your system with appropriate settings. Knowing what the different settings do will help you optimize your system’s performance. There are parameters that don’t have much effect on the performance and quality of the game. These include Screen Aspect Ratio, Vertical Synchronization, and Triple Buffering. If you have less than 60 FPS, the last two options can be turned off to improve the performance of the game client. There are also settings that don’t affect the performance at all: Display Refresh Rate, Display, Gamma, Colorblind Mode, Color Filter, and Filter Intensity. Finally, there’s the Full-screen Mode setting. There are rumors that it provides a few additional FPS. Theoretically, it does. In windowed mode, the graphics card needs to display the Desktop. In practice, sometimes this setting does give a slight boost FPS; sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on the specific configuration of your computer. By the way, the Full-screen Mode supports such NVIDIA technologies as multi-monitor Surround and 3D Vision. Other settings load your system, varying from “medium” for one component to maximum use of all system capacity. For example, 3D Render Resolution changes the quality of the picture by either increasing or reducing the resolution of all 3D objects on the screen except for the user interface. This can improve performance if the weakest part of your system is the graphics card. If FPS drops during the battle, you can change the resolution of the 3D render on the fly and improve performance. To do so, use the combination of buttons RShift + or RShift – Screen Resolution changes the number of pixels on the screen horizontally and vertically. Lowering this parameter will reduce the load on the graphics card and increase the FPS. The best option is to choose resolution that best suits your screen. Otherwise, there’s a chance of distortion of geometry and font readability. In windowed mode, the name of this setting changes to Window Size. The most radical way to improve the performance of the system is to choose Standard graphics. How does it differ from Improved graphics? First, a little history lesson. Graphics in World of Tanks have been constantly developing. There’s a video with detailed information on this topic. In brief, the old rendering system seemed to come to the end of its lifespan with the release of the 0.8.0 update, which added the new rendering system to the World of Tanks game engine. It contained deferred shading technology, dynamic shadows, HDR, Ambient Occlusion, and Bloom. After the release of the 9.0 update, the rendering system incorporates physically correct lighting. The game world became much more beautiful. But the old rendering system is still in the game, and it’s perfect for players with low-end computers. Selecting Standard graphics activates the old rendering system. It turns on automatically if graphics quality settings are minimal or low. The main difference between the two settings is that the new render can process thousands of light sources simultaneously. The old rendering system processed all objects one by one, thus increasing the load on the system significantly. That’s why we left only one light source —the sun— to optimize the old rendering system. Let’s come back to graphics settings. Most of them are unavailable in the Standard graphics mode. So, Antialiasing removes rough edges from objects. Rough edges of antennas, overhead wires, guns, small vehicle details, and buildings on the base catch the eye most often. The Standard graphics rendering system uses Multisample Antialiasing and Coverage Sampling Antialiasing. Improved graphics utilizes NVIDIA antialiasing technology Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing (FXAA). This technology can define the edges of objects and process only them. Standard render process the whole picture, and this affects graphics card performance. In the future, temporal Anti-Aliasing technology will be integrated into the game client. This will significantly improve the quality of antialiasing on moving objects. The Field of View (FoV) parameter sets the player’s viewing angle. In real life, field of view is about 95 degrees. The wider the field of view, the more objects will appear in the frame. In this case, it makes it feel like your vehicle is moving faster because objects along the edges of the screen fly by faster. Dynamic FOV provides even more options to adjust the viewing angle. It will change depending on the distance between the camera and the vehicle. The far left position of the slider sets the angle at which the vehicle is as close to the viewer as possible. The far right position of the slider will distance your vehicle as far as possible. When the camera is moving, the viewing angle will change within the set values. Let’s proceed to the Details tab. Texture Quality. All buildings, vehicles, and roads should look normal. That’s why textures are put on all polygonal models. The better the quality of the textures, the more detailed the picture looks. However, high quality textures require a lot of video memory. Maximum texture quality is available only in the improved rendering system and only for 64-bit operating systems. Lighting Quality adds a number of effects. It uses such technologies as Horizon-based Ambient Occlusion for shading of reflected diffuse lighting. Sun rays and lens flares improve the visualization of sun rays and optical effects. Local shadows technology provides local shading from physical light sources. Reflection Occlusion provides shading of reflected glare lighting. Improved graphics uses dynamic shadows. This technology is quite demanding in terms of performance. However, dynamic shadows were significantly optimized to improve the quality and reduce the load on the graphics card. The optimal way to increase FPS is to set the minimal quality of shadows. Even in this case, shadows will be processed very effectively, and the integrity of the picture will be maintained. Grass in Sniper Mode affects not only system performance, but also gameplay itself. E-Sports players turn off this option regardless of their computer configuration. Extra Effects Quality defines how smoke, dust, sparks, flame, explosions, and other effect will look. This parameter changes the number of particles in the frame, the distance at which they’re displayed, the composition and life span of the effects. Extra Effects in Sniper Mode option adjusts the same effects, but in Sniper Mode. Only sparks and tracers will be left if it is turned off. Lowering these two parameters may improve performance. Explosions and other effects necessary for better orientation in the battle will be better displayed at “Low” value and higher. By the way, the actual difference between the “Low” and “Off” slider positions is only 0.5 FPS. Flora Density sets the density of grass and low bushes as well as the distance at which they’re displayed by the graphics card. There’s a twelve-fold difference between the minimal and maximum values of this parameter. Post-Processing is responsible for post-effects in Postmortem mode, vignetting, and the hot air effect. It is not recommended for weak computers. Enable Track Effects option adds splashes of water, snow, and dirt flying out from under vehicle tracks. These effects don’t affect client performance much. Terrain Quality defines the distance at which the geometry of the terrain becomes simpler. If this parameter is set to the lowest value, the terrain geometry near the vehicle corrupts heavily, so that there is a visible difference between the client and server. You may not see the edge of a hill, for example, even though it’s there. So, if you shoot, you may hit this edge, but not the enemy vehicle you were aiming at. Maximum value makes the calculation of terrain harder for the CPU. We recommend using at least medium settings because, as shooting distance increases, it’s not the minimal distortions of the terrain but gun accuracy that matters most. In World of Tanks, water is an integral part of the gameplay and should look realistic. Moving the Water Quality slider to the right will add the effects of refraction, reflections, caustics, and simulation of waves after a shell hit. Decals are widely used in the game graphics. They are the “textures of point detail” needed to improve the quality of the picture while maintaining the same load on the graphics card. Each map contains the main textures of the environment and places the decals of dirt, fallen leaves, knocked-out paving slabs, scratches, explosions, and other elements. By adjusting Decals Quality, you can change their draw distance and the resolution of their textures. When this parameter is turned off, even shell craters won’t be displayed. Object LOD is responsible for the geometrical level of object detail. Each in-game object has several models of different quality. For example, buildings have three; vehicles, five or more. So, why not always use the model of the highest quality? Because this affects the performance greatly. At long distances, small details are not visible anyway. That’s why the model of the object changes to a simpler one as the distance grows. This maintains the balance between overall picture quality and performance. The difference between “Low” and “Maximum” is in the distance at which models are switched. At “Maximum” value, quality models will appear at a longer distance, versus right up next to you if the value is “Low”. Foliage Quality works by the same principle. The geometrical model of trees in the scene depth will change according to the position of the slider. Foliage Transparency is turned on for all players by default except for those who play with minimal Graphics Quality. This option turns off the foliage draw at a 15 meter distance from the player’s vehicle and can slightly improve the FPS rate. Changing the Draw Distance parameter doesn’t affect vehicles. Vehicles are always visible despite the position of the slider. It affects only less important objects like fences, small buildings, trees, etc. Motion Blur Effect. This setting makes fast-moving objects naturally blurred for the eye. This effect is the most noticeable during sudden camera turns. This option is not recommended for weak systems or if the average FPS rate is lower than 30. Track traces are either displayed on the surface or not. They are drawn with decals. That’s why if Decals Quality is “Off”, there will be no track traces even if this option is enabled. Dynamic Change of Effects Quality helps to keep an acceptable FPS rate in the most intense battles when everything around is burning and exploding. This setting includes the following: dynamic change of the number of smoke and particles per second dynamic change of the geometrical detail of the effects that are used in creating explosion reduction of the life span of the effects. If FPS drops below 30, effects begin to simplify and speed up; effects start to disappear altogether if FPS drops below 10. That’s all for today. Now, you know what loads the system and how. You can now move the sliders guided by your knowledge and not just your intuition. Good luck on the battlefield, and may you always have a high FPS rate! Tankers! Thank you for your cool replays! Many thanks to the whole World of Tanks community for your inspiration and support! Keep it up!