Everquest 2. I think I may have a partial solution to stuttering.
Some driver guys for Nvidia have passed along a little tidbit too me as I have been trying to narrow down the problem with Everquest 2 and its constant stuttering in game on the Geforce 6 hardware. Keep in mind this little tweak may already been enabled for you. But in many cases. And in my case it has something extremely easy to overlook.
Options --> Display --> Water --> Enviroment Cube Map updates
The Everquest 2 default and recommended setting for this is.
Fast: Periodic update) Which means the reflections themselves are updated periodically.
The other two settings are.
Fastest: One Time (Which means you get on reflection update the entire time)
And Maximum ((Syncs the reflections every frame))
Now these settings themselves are probably pretty straight forward. When around water you are going to go slower by raising the scale. However. This is the not the simple case. I did some tests in several areas. First I started with The Sunken City (And area that has a great deal of water and pixel shaded effects) Ran some fraps run with two Settings. (Maximum and Fastest)
((I would keep in mind I am running @ 1280x1024 with 4xAA/16xAF with really high details, I would not make much note of minimum frame rate that much. Since MMORPGS are very inconsistent. I did the best I could))
The Sunken City
(Fraps results) Cubemaps. Sync Every Frame (Maximum)
2004-12-01 05:13:33 - EverQuest2
Frames: 416 - Time: 40781ms - Avg: 10.200 - Min: 8 - Max: 16
Fraps results (Cubemaps, Sync One frame (Fast: One Time)
2004-12-01 05:14:28 - EverQuest2
Frames: 829 - Time: 40861ms - Avg: 21.401 - Min: 13 - Max: 27
Considering this spot is extremely loaded with cubemaps and pixel shader effects. These results cant be very surprising. But the most interesting part is the next test I did. I decided to carry my testing over to another zone where I have experienced massive stuttering. (Aka The Beggars Court). Keep in mind there is very little water in Beggars Court. And the area I did my testing didnt even have water in the Beggars Court.
The Beggars Court
(Fraps Results) Cubemaps Sync Every Frame (Maximum)
2004-12-01 05:16:36 - EverQuest2
Frames: 575 - Time: 51328ms - Avg: 11.202 - Min: 9 - Max: 18
(Fraps Results) Cubemaps.(Fastest: one Time)
2004-12-01 05:15:35 - EverQuest2
Frames: 1426 - Time: 52157ms - Avg: 27.340 - Min: 13 - Max: 39
Now these results surprised me. Despite there being no rendered water. The frame rate impact is in many cases over 60%. Why would this occur? Honestly I have no idea why these results are the way they are. But it led me to do some further investigations on the issue. I begin to compare the recommended setting verses the Fastest Setting.
I didnt record these tests because the stutter is impossible to really record in fraps. But I will let you know my results. I first went to the Zone of Beggars Nest and set the Cubemap reflection update to (Fast:Periodic)) I did some running around the area. And sure enough. I would stutter every few seconds. (As you can imagine this is very annoying)) ((My next test I set the Cubemap reflection update to to (Fastest: One Time) and traveled around The Beggars Court. Ahh Happy day! The stutter itself has been "Greatly" reduced. It was not completely reduced due to hard drive thrashing. But the stutter every 5 second issue seemed to be corrected. I went ahead and took my testing to North Freeport and S Qeynos and have found very similar results. If you set the cubemap reflection update to (Fast: Periodic) You will recive a slight stutter every few seconds. No amount of texture lowering detail is going to prevent this. Setting it to Fastest greatly improves the stuttering.
One thing to keep in mind. Do not confuse stuttering with hard drive thrashing. In Many cases the cities will cause you to stutter due to turning corners, ect as it tries to draw so many charactor models/textures on screen. But the actual periodic stutter has been greatly improved but city texture swapping is still similar. I urge everyone to at least try these settings and see how they work for them.
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