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Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Tweak Guide

[Page 10] Conclusion



This guide is almost at its conclusion, but below is some valuable information which you might find useful, along with my concluding thoughts.



Click to enlarge

Gameplay and Strategy Tips


If you're new to Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and you need some guidance on what exactly you should be doing, how the weapons work, what the objectives are, and so forth, then the easiest thing to do is to go to your \Program Files\id Software\Enemy Territory - QUAKE Wars\Docs directory and launch the file index.html to open the game's detailed Player Guide. You can then see information on all aspects of the game, from classes to objectives, to vehicle and weapon descriptions.


If you're after even more detailed information to really give you a gameplay advantage, check out this ETQW for Newbies guide which contains a lot more detailed gameplay and strategic information. If you're an avid ET:QW player, make sure to also visit the Official ET:QW Statistics Site which records and stores a range of statistics for all ET:QW players.



Skipping Introductory Movies


To skip the introductory movie shown before the game reaches the main menu, you can use the g_skipIntro 1 command, preferably adding it to your launch icon's command line as demonstrated below:


"C:\Program Files\id Software\Enemy Territory - QUAKE Wars\etqw.exe" +set g_skipIntro 1


Alternatively you can rename or delete the intro_1024x512.bik movie file found under the Program Files\id Software\Enemy Territory - QUAKE Wars\base\video directory, but this is not recommended.



Framerate Unlocking


One of the first things most Enemy Territory: Quake Wars players will notice is that the game appears to be effectively stuck at a framerate cap of 30FPS, and most people will immediately want to do something about this. Before attempting anything however, it's important to understand why this cap has been put in place and how it works. I cover the relevant commands to unlock and adjust your maximum FPS at the top of page 9 of this guide, but for those who want more details straight from the developers of the game, check out this thread. Basically the developers want to make sure that the in-game framerate remains as smooth as possible under a variety of circumstances, and doesn't fluctuate wildly, so they implemented the 30FPS cap. This framerate cap should not be confused with the game trying to maintain an average framerate of 30FPS - that's not what it does, it doesn't dynamically alter game details for example to try to keep your FPS at 30, it just caps the maximum possible FPS at 30.


It turns out that while there was a hard cap of 30FPS in the early beta builds of the game, in recent beta, demo and retail builds, the cap has been removed, since the com_unlockFPS variable now defaults to 1, which means the game is not hard capped to 30FPS. However even without the hard cap, you'll probably find that your FPS still sits around 30 most of the time. This is because the developers also implemented another variable called com_unlock_timingMethod which determines how and when the game calculates and shows new frames. A value of 1 or 2 (and 2 is the default) for this variable means that the game will still try to smooth out your framerate, rounding it down to the nearest multiple of 30. So if you can't reach a consistent 60FPS+, the timing method means you'll still sit at 30FPS.


So the next step if you want to truly unlock your framerate is to set com_unlock_timingMethod 0, which completely frees up your system to pump out as many frames as it possibly can - as long as you've also disabled Vertical Sync (see the In-Game Settings section). You should now see your framerate reach the actual maximum that your system can render at any time, fluctuating a lot more and not necessarily sitting at 30FPS. Now play the game online for a while and see if you can handle the framerate fluctuations. If you find the game is jerky or framerate spikes are making things feel awkward, I recommend you set com_unlock_timingMethod 1 and then make use of the com_unlock_maxFPS variable to set a new framerate cap which prevents major framerate spikes but still provides more FPS than the 30FPS cap.


In the end the choice is yours as to how you approach this and what settings you use, because some people value smoothness over higher FPS, and others just want the most frames they can get, so you will need to experiment to see what suits you; if you just want the highest possible FPS, set com_unlockFPS 1 and com_unlock_timingMethod 0.


Importantly: All of the above only applies when you are on a multiplayer server, not in offline mode where FPS is capped at 30FPS no matter what you do with the any of the above settings. So to experiment properly I recommend you join an online multiplayer server.



MegaTextures


One of the interesting new features of ET:QW is the use of MegaTexture technology which helps to both improve image quality and game world variety, and also reduces in-game stuttering, especially on graphics cards with lower amounts of Video RAM. Textures are the images which cover the surfaces of all objects in a 3D game world. Traditionally most games with large outdoor areas, such as Oblivion or Unreal Tournament 2004, have tiled textures which are lots of repeating tiles of a particular texture image joined together to form larger surface areas. Not only can this tiling look repetitive and obvious, it also often means that as your Video RAM is filled up with textures you will start to get pauses, hitches and stuttering as they're constantly swapped into and out of the VRAM. Both Oblivion and UT2004 had quite prominent stuttering and pausing issues when they first came out because of this.


Enemy Territory: Quake Wars on the other hand has one large (mega) texture which contains all the details needed for the game world - MegaTexturing is used for terrains only in ET:QW - and the relevant pieces of the game world are streamed from this megatexture in full detail rather than being a patchwork of tiles. The megatexture files (.mega) are held under your \Program Files\id Software\Enemy Territory - QUAKE Wars\base\megatextures directory, and as you can see they're quite large, and there is one for every level.


The end result is that MegaTexturing is one of the major reasons why large outdoor areas in ET:QW run relatively smoothly, along with the fact that it's based on a very solid game engine first used in Doom 3 over 3 years ago, and constantly updated and refined since then.



Measuring FPS, Taking Screenshots & Benchmarking


Measuring your frames per second is quite simple in ET:QW, simply use the built-in com_showFPS command, as covered in the Advanced Tweaking section. For convenience you can bind this command as a toggle to a particular key, and again this is covered at the top of page 8 of the guide.


Taking screenshots in ET:QW is also straightforward - press the F11 key and a screenshot is placed in your \Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\id Software\Enemy Territory - QUAKE Wars\base\screenshots directory in XP, or \Users\User\Documents\id Software\Enemy Territory - QUAKE Wars\base\screenshots in Vista. This screenshot is quite large and in .TGA format, but you can view it in Photoshop or by using the free IrfanView utility.


However if you want a simpler way of both measuring FPS and taking screenshots, try the free Fraps utility. Fraps can take screenshots in several different formats, it accurately measures FPS, and can also record in-game video in .AVI format.


If you also want a utility which automates the benchmarking of ET:QW, you can use the HardwareOC ET:QW Benchmark tool along with this Registration Utility.



Conclusion


That brings the ET:QW Tweak Guide to a close. As always I would appreciate constructive feedback on the guide, so please Email Me if you have an important tip or tweak to share. However please keep in mind that I can't offer any tech/tweak support of any kind, as this guide and my other guides such as the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion are packed with everything you need to help yourself to optimize and troubleshoot your system.



Until next time, take care!