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UT2004 Tweak Guide

[Page 5] In-Game Settings

In this section we go through all the UT2004 settings which can be accessed within the game. The Advanced Tweaking section will cover the settings which are accessible outside the game in the UT2004.ini and User.ini files.

The precise performance impact of a setting will depend on the particular hardware combination you are running. Also keep in mind that everyone has different performance vs image quality preferences, so I can't give hard and fast settings rules for everyone to follow.

To access the in-game settings, start up UT2004 and click on the Settings option on the main menu. You can also access settings during a game by pressing ESC, clicking on the Game button at the top of the screen, then the Settings button at the bottom. There are 7 settings screens. Each screen and its associated settings are covered in detail below:

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Resolution: This setting determines how many pixels (the individual dots which make up a computer image) are displayed on the screen. A resolution of 800x600 implies 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels high on your monitor. Obviously the higher the resolution (the more pixels), the more detailed and clearer the game image, but it takes more graphics card and CPU power and hence you will see less Frames Per Second (FPS). The highest resolution available in this list of resolutions is limited to what your graphics card and monitor are actually capable of rendering (drawing on screen). The resolution alone will have the biggest impact on your framerate, along with texture settings.

Color Depth: This determines how many different colors can be displayed on screen. The two options are 16-bit and 32-bit, with 32-bit only shown if your graphics card supports it. 32-bit color looks the nicest, with 16-bit color showing more color "banding" that is, the gradation between colors is more apparent. 32-bit color also resolves a lot of problems with flickering and missing textures, especially in OpenGL mode. However 32-bit color requires a bit more power than 16-bit, so if you need more FPS, switch to 16-bit.

Full Screen: Tick this option to run UT2004 in full screen mode, for the least likelihood of errors or crashes. If unticked, UT2004 will run in a window on your Windows desktop and this may cause problems.

Gamma, Brightness, Contrast: These three settings affect how bright/dark and crisp/soft your image looks. Set these to taste, using the picture provided in the Gamma Test window below these settings as a guide to how it will impact on the in-game images. It really depends on your monitor's brightness/contrast settings as well. For reference, my monitor's Brightness is 70% and Contrast 100%, while my UT2004 settings are: Gamma of 0.90, Brightness of 0.70, and Contrast of 0.70.

Texture Detail: This determines how detailed the in-game textures (the images that cover the surface of every 3D object) will look. The options range from Lowest to Highest. The higher the setting, the crisper and more detailed the textures around you will look. Higher texture settings primarily impact on loading times and loading pauses in-game, and less on FPS. The more Video RAM your graphics card has (ideally 128MB or more), and the more system RAM you have (ideally 512MB or more) the less stuttering and freezing you will get with higher texture settings, as these are loaded into and out of RAM from your hard drive.

Character Detail: Similar to the Texture Detail setting above, from Lowest to Highest this determines how detailed the textures on all the characters look. The higher the setting combined with the number of players in a match determines the performance impact, particularly on loading times.

World Detail: Options are Low, Normal and High. The higher this setting the richer your surroundings, as more optional 3D objects are loaded onto the landscape, but the higher the computing power required (and hence the lower your FPS) especially on levels where you can see further and/or there are more optional objects to see. If you have a slower graphics card and/or CPU lower this setting to improve your FPS.

Physics Detail: Options are Low, Normal and High. This setting changes the level of detail for the simulation of physics in the UT2004 gaming world. The higher the setting the more CPU effort required to crunch the numbers to show more realistic effects ranging from the basic "ragdoll" effects through to effects such as water ripples. I would recommend that the slower your CPU (i.e the closer to the 1GHz minimum spec), the lower your Physics setting, as this can really affect your FPS.

Dynamic Mesh LOD: This setting controls the degree to which the Level of Detail (LOD) on Dynamic Mesh objects (i.e. animated objects like characters and vehicles) is affected by distance. The higher this setting, the less quickly the level of detail (number of polygons) on such objects is removed as they move into the distance. Put another way, the higher the setting, the better the visual quality but the greater the impact on your FPS depending on how many dynamic objects are on screen. A setting of Normal is recommended for most people.

Decal Stay: This setting, if the Decal option is ticked (and Projectors is also ticked), will determine how long decals (scorch marks and the like) will remain on surfaces. The three settings are Low, Normal and High, and unless you are a stickler for detail, Normal or even Low should be just fine. Setting it to High may negatively impact your FPS, especially with lots of weapons fire on screen.

Character Shadows: This setting determines the type of shadows cast by animated characters, and can have a major impact on performance. When set to None, characters do not cast a shadow. This provides the fastest performance. When set to Blob, characters cast a generic, low detailed 'blob-like' shadow. This setting is recommended for most people. Setting Character Shadows to Full provides full-detailed shadows but can impact FPS quite noticeable, especially when there are many characters onscreen.

Decals: Decals are the dynamic marks left on surfaces by weapons fire, explosions and the like. Ticking this option turns them on to improve the realism of the game, but may affect FPS negatively, especially on levels where there are lots of players firing lots of weapons. I recommend leaving Decals on unless you're really struggling for FPS.

Dynamic Lighting: Ticking this option allows the various lights in the game to react realistically with objects, shining at different angles off weapons, characters and walls based on the light's position. This makes for great effects but can decrease your framerate, so untick it if you need more FPS.

Detail Textures: Adds a level of fine detail or "grain" to certain textures (such as pitted or brushed metallic surfaces) when examined close up. However this can reduce your FPS and use up more RAM, so untick it if you need better performance.

Coronas: A corona is the halo of glare given off from light sources, such as lamps and shock-combo explosions. Unticking this option will give you slightly more FPS, especially if you also have Dynamic Lighting ticked.

Trilinear Filtering: This rendering method makes the graphics and colors seem smoother and cleaner, but can reduce performance noticeably if you have an old (e.g GeForce2) video card. Most newer systems should notice little if any performance drop from having this enabled. If you're unsure about this setting, or are struggling for performance then leave it unticked. For more details see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide.

Projectors: Projectors covers a range of images projected onto textures, such as shadows from characters and objects (like tree shadows) and Decals (see above). The noticeable effects of unticking this option include removal of such shadows and decals, even if Character Shadows are enabled and the Decals option is ticked. Only untick Projectors if you really need a few extra FPS, as it makes things look fairly unrealistic.

Foliage: As the setting name suggests, ticking this option enables grass and other decorative foliage. Unticking it will improve your FPS by reducing foliage details, particularly on maps like ONS-Primeval which have a lot of trees and grassland.

Weather Effects: Ticking this option enables the various weather effects found on several maps, like raindrops, lightning, etc. Unticking this option will improve FPS on such maps by reducing the load on your CPU and graphics card.

Fog Distance: Using the slider, a value range between 0.00 and 1.00 can be set. Lower values reduce visible distance (increasing the 'fog') and hence reduce the number of objects rendered onscreen, improving performance. Experiment with various values to determine your own performance vs image quality preference.

In-Game settings are continued on the next page