bzflag performance is truly appalling

All things BZFlag - no [OT] here please
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m0n1xX3r
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bzflag performance is truly appalling

Post by m0n1xX3r » Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:39 am

Hi All,


I first played bzflag around 1 year ago on my 600 MHz Athlon with 32 MB NVidia GeForce 256 with Windows 2000 and 384 MB RAM. Guess what? It ran great, even at 1280 x 1024 with all the fancy graphics effects switched on.

Then of course I upgraded to a 3 GHz P4 with NVidia GeForce FX 5200 (128MB - not the best I know) with 2 GB DDR RAM and Windows XP Pro... and then of course I got kind of distracted by UT 2K4, Doom 3 and Half Life 2. However, I've now wanted to come back to bzflag for some time, and have finally got around to downloading the latest version (2.0.0 as I write).

So you'll understand that I was horrified to find that it runs like absolute crap. It seems very jerky when using keyboard / mouse combo to control (I blame the console at the bottom - when the main screen freezes to console scrolls upwards with loads of messages about keyboard control). Secondly the mouse control is all shot -- it used to be the case that your rate of turn depended which square the cursor was in, but now if you don't keep moving the cursor you stop turning altogether regardless of where the cursor is on the screen. What's that all about? Oh yeah, and the first time I fire a shot I get booted off the server I'm on. No kidding.

I'm sorry to moan, but it seems that bzflag has gone from being a slightly quirky but highly enjoyable romp to a completely uncontrollable and incomprehensible bag of shite. What's going on?

Can anybody help? Does anybody have a plausible explanation for all of this (and more importantly a fix or workaround)?


Many thanks,
m0n1xX3r

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Post by 1veedo » Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:27 am

Something abotu graphics accel. I cant find one for Fedora, but it runs fine on XP. (which sucks, because I like Linux better)

On WIndows it is sometimes slow, but that's probably due to a virus or something. Adaware didn't fix it. My defs are out of date, whatever.

Yeah, but try cleaning your system and finding a 3D accel for your card. If not, turn of shadows and I think smothing...forget which ones, look in the readme.
1veedo (libcurl.so.2) I have version 3!

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Post by Scorch » Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:06 pm

*EDITED OUT*
Last edited by Scorch on Wed Feb 16, 2005 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by The Red Baron » Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:34 pm

NO NO NO!!!!

you guys have got it all wrong, His rig does not suck, it is perfectly capable of handling 2.0. It just sounds like his configurations are out of wack, or something is wrong with the video. It just needs diagnosing!

Its not that his video card doesn't have enough power either, I"ve run 2.0 on lesser systems then what he has...

first, If you don't have the latest drivers from Nvidia get them. http://www.nvidia.com Also what version of directX do you have? To find your version of direct X, go to the run command, and type 'dxdiag' without the quotes.

Also what type of internet connection do you have? I'm guessing a form of broad band dsl/cable.... but if you have dial-up, that could explain the "lag" and being kicked.

It could be some malicious software on your computer but We have no real way of confirming that from here. You'd have to get adaware or some anti-virus progam like Norton or mcafee...
Beware! I'm going to clone myself and spread those clones all over the world!

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Post by 1veedo » Mon Feb 14, 2005 9:14 pm

not directX. I may be wrong, but it does not use directx. I've heard soem SDL but mostly OpenGL. If it used directx then it would not be portable to anything BUT Windows.

And yes, you're hardware can handle it fine. Just like I said: clean system, find 3D graphics accel for your graphics card.
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Post by JeffM » Mon Feb 14, 2005 9:26 pm

bzflag does use some direct X ( just not for 3d rendering ), but your drivers Will want the current direct X ( they link against it, since the driver has to do OpenGL and DirectX), so it dosn't hurt to get it. The directX stuff that BZ uses is wraped up in the windows specifc code, it's not used on the other OSs, so it remains portable. The windows binary builds we make don't use SDL for sound or input, they use directX, so you can get better joystick support, and sound. SDL is just a layer on top of directX on windows anyway. SDL is an option now, but it mostly helps out the non windows OSs.

Your probably allready running them, but I just have to mention that you want to run the drivers from nvidia.com, the ones that come with windows, or the actual card are allways old, and have poor performance.

Yeah don't listen to scorch he's a bafoon. Your system should be fine, a 5200's not the fastest FX card, but it should be plenty good for BZ.

2.0 has a lot of changed 3d setings, performance with the depth buffer off, on hardware 3d systems is horible, but you want to use the hardware depth buffer on those systems anyway, so make sure it's on. Also check your blending setings. On modern hardware, turning OFF stuff can actualy make the rendering go slower, since the cards are optimised to have the setings ON. You may also want to try the experimental seting, it is set up for more of the modern hardware systems.

The world system of bzflag was also changed internaly. It shoudl be a lot beter on maps with large numbers of objects. Conversly bzflag also supports new object types such as meshes, and trasnperant objects, that put more of a load on the graphic system, and can slow down the rendering. Many transperant objects require the system to sort, and this can put more stress on the CPU and ram systems. The best way to compare 2.0 to 1.10 is to use the same maps. Newer maps with new features can be slower. Weather like rain and snow is also a big framerate hog, but is adjustable in the graphic options.

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Post by Smidge204 » Tue Feb 15, 2005 1:32 am

Yes, make absolutely sure that "Depth Buffer" is ON under Display options. I've noticed it seems to randomly default to OFF, which makes it unplayably slow.

Other things you can do, if Depth Buffer is on and you have the latest drivers for everything:

-Make sure you aren't running any heavy downloads or uploads in the background. Close out all P2P apps and wait for other downloads to finish before playing.

-Decrease details. Turn shadows off. Turn lighting effects off. Do NOT set texture to "none". Turn off tank treads, mirror effects, weather effects, etc. Turn off translucencies for your HUD.

-Play at night. I've noticed significant performance boosts by setting the game time to night even with shadows turned off. Use +/- to adjust the time until the sun disappers!

I run a 2.1GHz Athlon w/ 1GB RAM and a 64MB Radeon 7000 card and have very little difficulty playing even with all the above options on. Your rig should have no problems whatsoever unless your settings are screwed or you're tourturing your system in the background somehow.
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Re: bzflag performance is truly appalling

Post by DTRemenak » Tue Feb 15, 2005 1:51 am

m0n1xX3r wrote:It seems very jerky when using keyboard / mouse combo to control (I blame the console at the bottom - when the main screen freezes to console scrolls upwards with loads of messages about keyboard control). Secondly the mouse control is all shot -- it used to be the case that your rate of turn depended which square the cursor was in, but now if you don't keep moving the cursor you stop turning altogether regardless of where the cursor is on the screen. What's that all about?
This part of your post is easy to answer. Go to Options->Input Settings and set "Active Input Device" to whichever device you prefer - mouse or keyboard. That will turn off the autoswitching code...basically what's happening is it's recieving input from both (maybe you're driving with the keyboard but have an ultra-sensitive mouse, or driving with the mouse but have an arrow key stuck), so it's switching back and forth.

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Post by toaster » Tue Feb 15, 2005 12:42 pm

I think part of your problem is the GeForce 5200. I'm running an FX5600XP (that's the Ultra version) w 256MB of RAM, which is rated about 20-40% faster, and it's the second (supposedly bug free) version of the 5600. I have a 2.2GHz Athlon w .5GB RAM.

With BZFlag 2.0 I've had to turn off some of the graphics features to get decent frame rates.

I ran some tests to see what's going on. It's not CPU bound. Yes, it hits 100% on occasion, but not normally. So the issue seems to be the graphic card's capabilities. The 5200 was introduced in 2002, I believe, and the 5600 (Ultra version) in 2003. Gives you an idea of the age of the devices.

Recommendations for the hardware setup include reducing your AGP aperture to 4MB (in the system BIOS). I can't go below 8MB, and at that range, performance is really bad. But the system default was 64MB, and at that range, the card screams along but locks up within minutes while playing BZFlag. Numerous tests left me at 16MB for the longest play between crashes and the smallest reduction in performance.

AGP aperture basically allows your video card to use some system memory if it starts to run low. It helps if there are a lot of textures, especially, though most of the BZFlag servers aren't using many yet.

Generally, AGP aperture is recommended at around 64MB for video cards that have between 64 and 256MB of memory. I say "generally" because this varies based on the games you play, the amount of objects, textures, etc..

You might try adjusting your systems' aperture and see what happens.

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Post by JeffM » Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:59 pm

One of my systems has a 5200, it runs fine. BZflag dosn't use shaders so it's not going to tax the little card much at all. I even have it running fine on a GF2MX. ( I still perfer my 5750 tho ).

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Post by the enemy » Wed Feb 16, 2005 5:10 pm

Try experimenting with the options under "Display Settings", particularly the texturing mode.... I found it made a significant difference to run with "Linear Mipmap Linear" even though that by rights should be the slowest mode - but that's what the graphics hardware is optimised to implement so the other options can be slower!

Obviously also check your screen resolution too.

I have a Radeon 7000 with 32Mb on a nearly two year old machine. It sounds like your machine should blow the pants off mine, but I can run Linear Mipmap linear, dithering on, blending on, smoothing on, lighting off, shadows off, quality experimental, depth buffer on, at 1280x1024 32bits @85Hz and it's absolutely fine for me.

Here's a tip: go to an unused server where things are slow, and press "t" and "y". These will display your FPS and some other sort of update time thing. You can then experiment with changing the various options right there, and see how they affect the FPS.

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Post by SilverFox » Thu Feb 17, 2005 5:14 am

Great tips all. Unfortunately, this guy probably registered to post this, and will never be seen or heard from again. :x

For the record, I have older/slower hardware than him/her and do just fine.

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Post by baddmove » Sun Feb 20, 2005 9:56 pm

I was under the impression that BZFlags was created for dial-up users..eh?
has'nt this game been around for about 10 years? they did'nt even have high speed isp's back then..i cant play at all..the lag is WAY too high and the stuurgacking around on the field makes ma wanna puke...lol

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Post by RPG » Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:01 am

Maybe the first version was made for dail up users, because that's what the wide medium of internet connections were at the time. Now most people are running Cable, DSL, or broadband, so the game has taken on a cable, DSL, and broadband state.

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Post by DTRemenak » Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:25 am

BZFlag was written to be played over LAN connections, not over the internet. Knowing that helps explain a lot of things...like why it uses a non-authoritative server (generally you can trust other clients on your LAN not to cheat 'cause you can walk over and beat them up if they do), and why the network stuff is less efficient than it could be, and so on.

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Post by BIYA » Mon Feb 21, 2005 3:40 am

If anyone one here knows me as well as some people then you should know that I play under a dial-up connection. It has lag somtimes but most of the time im playing around 200 to 300ms. But I have lag jumps to about 500ms. :evil: Those connectionists that hate us people with slow connections sould be punished for there low LagWarning setting. Curse you all :evil:

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Post by wegstar » Wed Feb 23, 2005 1:17 am

I'd say that a fair LagWarn setting should be around 850ms, but the one on my server is extended to 1500ms :twisted: We should be tolerant and empathetic toward people with dialup :) I assume everyone in this generation had experience before...
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Post by firewire » Wed Feb 23, 2005 1:34 am

Yes, some servers are set with the lag warning too low. I have adsl and still get kicked from some servers.

My biggest complaint is that I often see my bullet go through tanks without them blowing up. I've been told that's lag. It happens frequently. I have a suspicion that there's more to it than that. Some players appear to have a technical advantage over me. It is if we are playing with different controls. They jump higher, go faster, move in ways that I can't. At least that's the way it seems. I'm not the best player out there and some guys are very good. But, I can usually tell the difference between the good players and those who have an edge. I don't know what the edge is, but I don't like it.

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Post by SilverFox » Wed Feb 23, 2005 2:56 am

Let me give my best lay explination (feel free to correct) of why you shoot right through people some time. If the server doesn't hear from a player for a moment, you will see that tank continue on with the same velocity and turning angle until the server hears from the player again. When the server hears from the player again, it will update the tanks position (hence why laggy tanks look like they are "jerky") If you shoot at a tank where the server THINKS the tank is, if the tank isn't actually there it won't be hit. I think its a tad bit more complicated than that, but that's the dumbed down version.

The converse is true if you're the laggy tank, when you shoot at other players, if you haven't heard from the server where the players are your client kind of 'guesses' where they are and will update their location as soon as they get their actual location. This makes it hard for you to hit them too. Playing with a poor connection is simply no fun because its so difficult to play (and to play with people that have a poor connection!)

Keep in mind I'm talking about a connection so slow/poor that tanks' location seems to be jumping around.

There are LOTS of servers in the list, and all seem to have different settings. Surely some of them have high lag settings. Play on the one that fits your needs best. If you like a particular map that doesn't fit your needs consider running your own server with the settings you like.

If either of these don't work, you may want to change your needs. ;)

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Post by firewire » Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:09 am

Thanks for the explanation. Can you explain why some players can do things that I can't? I was just on a site and watched a guy with wings fly much, much, much higher than I could and he stayed up as long as he wanted. I could not repeat his performance no matter what I tried. I'm using Linux. Do the Windows users have an advantage? What gives?

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Post by SilverFox » Wed Feb 23, 2005 6:01 am

Nope. There are only a couple things that come to mind.

On SOME servers (its a server setting) you can press TAB more than once when you have wings. For instance, on Hepcat Overlord you can jump twice when you have wings. You jump once, and in midair you can jump again to go even higher. If you time your second jump at the peak of the first you maximize your altitude.

The only thing that would give other players an advantage over you would be the handicap or the controls (arguably). You can use joysticks, gamepads, mice or keyboards, or variants of them (ie, trackball). It could be argued that one gives an advantage over another, but I find thats just a preference. Some players absolutely have to have keyboard, others mouse. For me it depends on the map.

Handicap is another server setting that basically gives players with a poor score a little more agility (or a lot depending on how the server is set up) than the players higher on the scoreboard. I know this will affect tankSpeed, and I think it affects how fast you can turn your tank too. I don't think it affects how high you jump though.

I'm still waiting for one of the devs to chime in and correct half of what I've said, so take my explinations with a grain of salt.

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Post by JeffM » Wed Feb 23, 2005 6:03 am

no that person was proably cheating.

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Post by hikerak » Wed Feb 23, 2005 1:34 pm

This is a very informative thread, where would I find the setting suggestions for a mac or would a lot of these suggestions be the same for a mac.

OS X10.3.8
350mghrtz G3
264mb ram

ATI Rage Video card????

On DSL connection and I use the mouse and tab jump

Should I put this post somewhere else??

Oh and I pretty much am bad at the game but for some reason enjoy get my Kicked over and over again... :D

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