Mass Effect Tweak Guide
[Page 10] Neat Stuff & Conclusion
The guide is coming to a conclusion, but below are some important performance tips, tweaks and advice which should not be skipped.
Speeding up Startup Time
By default Mass Effect takes a while to reach the main menu. Aside from the launcher menu and intro movies, there is also a period during which the screen may remain black for a while. There are however two main things you can do to decrease the time it takes for you to reach the main Mass Effect game menu:
To start with, if you want to remove all the introductory movies which play before you reach the main menu, first go to the movie files found under your \Program Files\Mass Effect\BioGame\CookedPC\Movies\ directory. The three movies which play at startup are called BWLogo.bik, db_standard.bik and ME_EAsig_720p_v2_raw.bik. You can either rename these movies or move them to another directory, or replace them with blank movies files from here: Skipintro_ME.zip (1KB), and they will be skipped on startup.
Next, instead of using the standard Mass Effect launch icon - which opens the Mass Effect launcher - create a desktop shortcut which directly launches the Mass Effect game executable, bypassing the launcher. To do this go to the \Program Files\Mass Effect\Binaries directory, right-click on the MassEffect.exe file and select 'Send To>Desktop' to create a desktop icon. You can now use this desktop icon to launch the game, and note that it will not have any impact on Activation. Alternatively for Vista users if you want to alter the existing Mass Effect icon in Games Explorer, right-click on it, select Customize, highlight 'Play (Mass Effect)', click Edit, and change the path in the Target box to point to [Drive Letter:]\Program Files\Mass Effect\Binaries\MassEffect.exe.
In terms of the long black screen pause at startup, at the moment I don't believe there is any way to shorten it. It doesn't have anything to do with connecting to the Internet or Activation, since the game only activates the first time you run the game and subsequently only when you patch the game (see page 4 for details). It could possibly be part of a basic SecuROM check, but more likely it seems to be the game initializing the graphics engine. Either way, there is no way around it.
Gameplay & Strategy Tips
Mass Effect can be quite a complex game if you truly want to get involved in the storyline and explore the many opportunities available in the game. To take full advantage of the game, you might want to refer to the Mass Effect Wiki which provides full details of all the characters, classes, equipment, locations and the storyline. There is also a Walkthrough section in case you get stuck.
You can also get additional Mass Effect gameplay tips here, though you may have to register with the Mass Effect Forums to access it all.
Measuring FPS, Taking Screenshots & Videos, & Benchmarking
To measure your FPS in Mass Effect, open the in-game command console (see Advanced Tweaking section for how to enable the console) and type Stat FPS, and a framerate display will appear at the top right of the screen. If you wish to take screenshots at any time, you can bind the shot console command to a key and use that. If you want to take nicer screenshots, you hide the HUD temporarily by using the Showhud console command. Finally, you can use the FRAPS utility to not only measure FPS and take screenshots, but also record in-game movies in .AVI format, such as this one I recently made. FRAPS also allows you to measure performance with its benchmarking feature.
That brings the guide to a conclusion for now, and I hope it improves your experience with an already excellent game. As always, if you find errors or important omissions in the guide, make sure to Email Me with the details so I can keep the guide as accurate and up-to-date as possible. Remember though that unfortunately I can't provide any tech/tweaking support, and I also don't provide permission for the guide to be reproduced or translated elsewhere for several reasons.
Until next time, take care!