The Haus

Quake III: Team Arena 1.27h Tweaks

January 11, 2001 -- by A.T. Hun

Back in November, I put together a tweaking guide for the Quake III: Team Arena demo. Recently, id released a beta 1.27h patch to address several bugs and cheats in the full version of Q3:TA. In addition, it gives a pretty significant framerate boost. I thought it would be a good idea to rerun my timedemos and see what I come up with. I list the various settings and their impact on framerate in the chart below. At the end, I take my new settings and show you the final result.

First of all, here are my system specs: Celeron 400, 128M PC66 SDRAM, Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra with the NVIDIA 5.22 reference drivers, Creative Labs SB Live! Value with the Live!Ware 3.1 drivers, Western Digital 16G IDE hard drive, and Windows 98. It's not the most up-to-date system in the world, but not everyone can have monster gigahertz boxes.

I started out by using my standard Q3A settings which seem to be a good mix of graphic quality and speed. The graphics settings are: 800x600, 32 bit color and textures, lightmap lighting, high geometric detail, normal texture detail, bilinear filtering, high sound quality, music off. Under game options the important settings are: marks on walls off, dynamic lights off, team overlay on, in game video on, status bar normal. Then I added these changes at the console: cg_gibs 0, cg_drawattacker 0, cg_lagometer 0. For reference, these settings (not counting the the Q3:TA-specific ones) give me 43.3 fps in demo001 in Q3A (version 1.17).

I changed a couple of settings from last time when I ran the timedemos in the Q3:TA demo. Since I have 128M RAM, I followed the advice in the Q3:TA FAQ and set com_hunkMegs to 64 and com_soundMegs to 16. The soundMegs setting eliminated the sound stuttering problems I had occasionally and also allowed me to use the doppler effects without massive slowdowns.

I went through each of the settings changes below one-by-one and ran two timedemos each using mpdemo2 that comes with Q3:TA. Mpdemo2 is the same as demo0000 that comes with Q3:TA demo. If there was a major discrepency between the two (usually due to Windows deciding to do some housekeeping right then), I ran the timedemo once more.

Q3:TA Timedemo Results

Red indicates a framerate hit.
Green indicates a framerate boost.

Small status bar32.1+1.8
No in-game video33.0+2.7
Doppler sound on30.30
Low quality sound30.30
Vertex lighting34.9+4.6
Geometric detail: medium31.9+1.6
Geometric detail: low32.5+2.2
Texture detail: high27.8-2.5
Texture detail: low30.6+0.3
Compress textures30.2-0.1
16 bit color/textures31.4+1.1
Draw gun: no31.5+1.2
Low quality sky30.5+0.2
New Settings
Small status bar,
No in-game video,
Geometric detail: medium
vertex lighting
Same as above,
plus draw gun: no
and low quality sky

There are a couple of things that immediately jump out at you when you compare these settings to the ones in my previous article. First of all, the default result is about 20% faster with 1.27h patch than in the demo. My new settings are almost 50% faster than the default settings and almost 30% faster than the same settings in the demo.

Vertex lighting still gives the biggest speed-up with a whopping 4.6 extra fps, a 15% increase. It nearly blinds you on Inner Sanctums (mpteam3, the map that mpdemo2 uses) and Distant Screams (mpterra2, the big snow map). A quick tug on the brightness slider takes care of that. It doesn't bother me on the rest of the maps.

This time 16 bit color and textures were faster than 32 bit, although I still find the dithering to be unforgivably ugly. I'm also trying to get used to the "draw gun: no" setting, since it does give a nice speed boost. But when I am the scout, firing a rocket in close quarters when I think I have the railgun can be fatal :) The low quality sky didn't give much of a boost on this demo because not much time is spent in the central courtyard. However, on the more outdoor maps, particularly the terrain maps, a low quality sky can save a lot of frames. It's not as annoying as I thought it would be.

My suggestion? Check out this news article for links to the 1.27h beta patch and apply it. The speed-up is dramatic and it fixes bugs (including the Q3A single player fraglimit bug) to boot. Best of all, it doesn't break mod compatibility.

What are you waiting for?