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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 54
03-23-2010, 04:52 PM
The OP is a good guide for folks with low end systems. I would suggest playing around quite a bit as there are some features that make a big difference and some that make very small differences. More on that in a bit.

Also, as to preferred frame rate, it depends a great deal on what you are doing. In most MMOs where you are playing PVE, framerate will be less essential. Then 20+ fps can be adequate. EQ/WoW and others can be played at 30 FPS just fine.

When playing PvP then framerate=survival. The guy on the slower system will be waiting to see someone come around a corner, in the meantime the guy on the faster system has already pulled the trigger and you are dead. So you want to shoot for ~60 fps if you are playing PvP.

Same thing goes for space vs. ground combat in STO. In space, things are a bit slower, and a lower framerate can be ok, but you really don't want that slow framerate on the ground where it is more like a shooter.

Also remember that the amount of stuff going on in the game will alter your framerate. Many people will shoot for a max FPS of 60+. That means that when things get really really busy they may drop down to 30-45 fps, which remains playable for many people. Your preferences may vary. But if someone says they are getting 60fps "in space" that will usually equate to much less during combat. Few people think to look at their framerates during heavy action, and would be surprised to see how low it drops.

I have a high end system and run at 60+ fps most of the time, 1600x1200 4xAA all features maxed except shadows. Here is a brief rundown of what might effect you the most:

Anti-Aliasing (AA) - This feature will pull down your performance the most. If you can turn it on and get a reasonable framerate the game looks gorgeous. However, if you are getting low framerates, this should be the first thing you turn off. If you feel you must have this turned on, you may want to consider dropping the resolution or getting better hardware. I prefer having the highest resolution my monitor will allow, and turning down AA if I must.

Shadows - In most games the extra processing needed to figure out where shadows go and how many to draw (depending on the number of lights) can take a significant amount of processing power. I almost always turn shadows to Low settings in most games even with a very high end system. When WoW upgraded their game engine back with WOTLK, the shadow option was the one that killed most people's performance. The same is true in STO and other games.

Dynamic Lights (Max Lights per Object) - These can be turned down to less than the max number and still leave the game looking very good. The number of lights you have increases the amount of processing the system has to do to render each frame.

Bloom Effects - This is a new feature that a lot of games are using recently. It adds to the "atmosphere" giving objects a glowing effect. It also can lower the framerate of your game considerably in some circumstances. Some of the first games to use Bloom really overdid it and it made things appear blurry and harsh, IMHO. It doesn't seem to do a lot in STO, but try it and see what you think.

View Distance - Effects how far away you can see people and things. Be careful with this one. While you are on a starbase or in space, the distance has very little effect. However, if you are on a ground mission, this setting can absolutely kill your framerates. Keep this turned down unless you have a high end system and even then I don't recommend 200%.

Texture/Anisotropic filtering - This changes how the game filters textures on the ground as they appear in the distance. It can make a game look better, and new GPU's can do it without effecting performance. However, if you have an older video card it may make a big difference to your performance.

Those are the really big performance hitters from my experience. Changing these can make the biggest difference to your framerate, so adjust them and find out what makes sense for you.

BTW, the command to view framerate while playing STO is:

/showfps 1

Type that into your chat window and a framerate counter will appear in the upper right corner of your game window. I recommend moving the Minimap down slightly so it does not interfere.