Avoiding Framerate Issues [GUIDE]

Discussion in 'Halo and Forge Discussion' started by CzIz, Oct 20, 2010.

  1. CzIz

    CzIz Legendary

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    Thread updated and rewritten 21st October 2010. Remember, this guide is a work in progress.
    Thread needs updating again, but I don't have the time at the moment; will do it soon.

    Since Reach has been released, the biggest downfall to potentially amazing maps, seems to be Framerate issues (lagg) when played with the maps Optimum amount of players.

    So, I thought it would be helpful to have the community compile a list of things that cause Framerate issues, and how to avoid these issues. By sharing our collective knowledge, the quality of maps is bound to improve.



    Contributors:

    CzIz
    Jupiter
    Titmar
    HarisSales1996
    Ladnil


    The Framerate of your game on a Forged map is determined by what objects you, and only you*, can see on screen at the given time. Objects that have no affect on your Framerate are either completely (100%) blocked out of view by another object/natural geometry** or off-screen*** (behind you).

    * The amount of players in the game does not directly affect framerate. However it does affect the server connection. If you are playing with 16 players, the game is bound to be running slightly slower, which may create a little bit of lagg. However, 8 players with excellent connection, with have a much better experience than 2 players with terrible connections.
    ** If the tiniest corner of an object is poking through a wall or is just showing from around a corner (and therefore is not completely submerged), the game has to render the whole object.
    *** If the tiniest bit of an object can be seen in the corner of the screen, the game has to render the whole object.

    Remember, some objects are more complicated than others and have more polygons (faces) than others, therefore these have a more dramatic affect on framerate.

    Although the general rule is the objects you can see at any given time is what will affect your framerate, Halo Reach's engine is very clever and it has a way of making objects further away look less detailed and therefore easier to render (using less processing). Therefore as a general rule, the closer an object is to you, the bigger the affect it will have on framerate.

    Objects and other things that have a negative affect on frame rate [Click Spoiler for Extra Advice/Alternatives]:

    Light Orbs
    Lights use a lot of processing power to render, therefore have a massive affect on frame rate. If your map is struggling with framerate, these should be the first things you remove. There are alternatives to using lights. Most objects come with a under-used feature that colour-codes the object. This feature can be used instead of light orbs to identify a bases team colour. You can also use other objects to provide a landmark to indentify between area's too. My favourite method is to phase dices or golfballs or other toys into the walls or ceilings. You could then have a 'dice' room and a 'golf' room instead of a 'purple' room and a 'gold' room. If you're going for that professional look, it doesn't have to be toys; you could make a diamond imprinted into the wall or circle or diamond or triangle using various objects.

    Background Geometry
    Although things in the distance take less processing than nearby objects, being able to see detailed complicated places like the Island or up Mount Forge still require a lot of processing, especially if you can see the whole thing*. Therefore, if your map might struggle with framerate when made, take this into account before you start making it, and think of how you can place your map so that high detailed geometry is not going to be a problem. If once you've made your map, there is nothing else you can do, you could always just place a colliseum wall to block off the view (in certain circumstances, a single colliseum wall could block off the whole view of the island, if placed well), although there is probably more aesthetically pleasing ways of doing it.

    * Bare in mind that, although further away objects require less processing, you have a wider view of the area, so there is more objects/geometry to be processed.

    Amount of Objects
    This subject was briefly touched on in the previous section (next to the asterisk). It it has already been mentioned that the detail of objects and the amount of objects in view affect framerate, but it is important to mention that you should be careful when placing objects. Could you create the same feature using less objects and objects that are less detailed? Please note, by detailed, I am referring to the amount of polygons; textures have little to no affect on framerate.

    Windows (and shield doors)
    It is important to realise that objects with transparent features like windows and shield doors, mean that every object on the other side of the object has to also be rendered, effectively doubling how much has to be processed by the game engine. When using windows, you should think carefully, is this window actually important for gameplay. If not, replace it with a solid wall if framerate issues do creep up. There is not much you can do about shield doors; if you need them, you need them, but it still good to know that they have an effect.

    Z Fighting
    Z fighting is a in-game term used to describe when 2 phased objects line up 100% perfectly and the game engine is unsure which face to show over the other. (as they are on the exact same co-ordinate. It therefore flickers between the two. Not only does it make it ugly to look at, but it does undoubtedly have an effect on framerate.

    Only phase 2 objects over each other if necessary, and when you do make sure z fighting does not occur. If it does, adjust the object by a very small amount so that you do not have this issue. In Halo Reach, tiny bumps aren't really noticeable like they were in Halo 3, so don't worry about it affecting gameplay.

    Also there are a few objects that have z fighting within themselves. There is not really much you can do about this, but it is useful to know. These objects include:
    - 3x3 Tall
    - Stunt Ramp (Hardly noticeable)
    - Bridge, XL

    This is just a start. I would really appreciate if the community gave a helping hand to educate us all in how to create maps with near perfect frame rate.

    The following things may or may not have a significant affect on frame rate and need further investigating. Advice is welcome.
    - FX
    - Gravity Lifts/Man Cannons
    - Nature Objects (Due to their irregular shapes)
    - Teleporters

    There may be other things with a significant affect on framerate that I have yet to notice or think of. Please let me know. Also feel free to add extra information or advice to the points I have already made. It would be amazing if the community really got together to overcome Framerate Issues once and for all. Just on a side note, IF this thread catches on, and gains a lot of information, it would be helpful to have it stickied for future reference. I will keep this thread updated regularly so that you don't have to scroll through pages to find information.


    P.S. If I seem to be taking a little long to update the post, give me a nudge via Private/Visitor Messaging. Also, if any information is incorrect, or hard to understand/not explained well, please do say, and if possible reword it yourself so I can copy and paste it straight in.

    ---

    People complained in Halo 3 about low budgets, claiming forgers would know the limits of the maps they can make and not go over-top as to cause too much in-game lagg. So in Reach, Bungie listened, and allowed a much larger budget, with the knowledge that there will inevitably be maps that go overboard and cause lagg. Now people are complaining, saying why give us that budget if we can't use it all (eh hem, hypocrits). The thing is, we can use it all, BUT you have to know what you're doing, and how what you are doing can affect frame rate, and that is what this thread is here to guide you through. Bungie wouldn't have given us a budget we couldn't use.

    Thread updated and rewritten 21st October 2010. Remember, this guide is a work in progress.
     
    #1 CzIz, Oct 20, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  2. Nutduster

    Nutduster TCOJ
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    Good thread, I hope it keeps going. I just posted in another thread about my own frame rate concerns, and plan to share anything I learn on the forum here. Frame rate can kill a good map - Vanilla for example is quite popular because of its looks (deservedly so) but the aesthetics seem to really cripple the engine at times.
     
  3. Jupiter

    Jupiter Legendary

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    Nice thread! While it might be a little trivial, and only apply to large maps; I would like to add that Objects that are far away require less and less processing power due to Reaches "Imposturing" (I think its called) function. This means that Large complicated Bases that are right next to each other use far more power than large complicated bases that are on either end of hemorrhage for example. This also goes for vehicles and people. If you spread things out, the game doesn't have to draw objects as detailed as they would have to be if they were right next to each other.

    So that 4X4 floor that has all the glass and the lights on it, will become just a regular 4x4 floor at a certain distance away.. <---edit
     
    #3 Jupiter, Oct 20, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2010
  4. Nutduster

    Nutduster TCOJ
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    That is actually very nice to know. My thread from earlier was about a map I have that is pretty much max budget, but a couple thousand dollars (at least) of that is tied up in an aesthetic thing that is outside the playable area, and actually kind of far away from most places on the map. That may mean that my frame rate won't take much of a hit from it, because the only time it will be fully rendered is when players are standing at the end of my map, looking away from 95% of the actual structure.
     
  5. Titmar

    Titmar Le Mar du Teet
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    i read somewhere (forget where) that a person was also able to solve a framerate issue like this: apparently the Island was visible in the distance from their floating map. They used some Wall, Coliseum to block the island from view of the map, and apparently it helped with the framerate. I'm assuming that this is saving the game from having to draw the island, thus letting it use more power on nearby objects. I've also noticed similar differences just from holding a wall, coliseum and moving around in forge, or if u have a large wall of them and are scrolling past it quickly in monitor mode, once you pass the wall the game will suddenly have to draw the rest of Forgeworld, and the framerate lags.

    TLDR- coliseum walls can be used to block background parts of forgeworld so the game doesnt have to draw them.
     
  6. SPARTAN 121

    SPARTAN 121 Promethean
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    You know what? I noticed something similar yesterday while building my map on the surface above the hangar. I started making a symmetrical map and the way I do it is by placing a few pieces to one end of the map, then recreating it on the other end, little by little. I noticed however when quickly panning over to one end while in monitor mode, it would drop a little bit in framerate. I was wondering why it wouldn't do it while quickly panning to the other side though, I mean, they are identical. I now know, and can confirm that it is the mountains in the background that caused my framerate hiccups, the same mountain with the giant Forerunner structure on it.
     
  7. Hogframe

    Hogframe Legendary
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    You might want to add that a player will only be affected lag-wise by what he, individualy, can see in front of him. The engine in Reach only loads what the player sees in front of him, so making a giant map split into two parts by way of Teleporter will have the same lag effect as having one map that is half the size of the giant map. Also, it is confirmed that if an object in front of you is blocked off from view completely by another object, it won't have any effect on you either.

    -Hari.
     
  8. Nutduster

    Nutduster TCOJ
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    Not to mention, it will make for one entertaining battle as everybody ignores the rest of the map and just camps that single teleporter. /smartass remark
     
  9. CzIz

    CzIz Legendary

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    He was only using it as an example, not saying you should actually build a map exactly like that.

    After seeing what you guys have had to say, I've decided I'm going to completely revamp the thread tomorrow to make it easier to read and understand, and also write up the points you guys have made.

    Thanks for the interest and input everyone.
     
  10. Nutduster

    Nutduster TCOJ
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    O RLY?

    (I was kidding. :) )
     
  11. Ladnil

    Ladnil Mythic
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    Every edge of the Block, 3x3 Tall has Z fighting built into it. Avoid it if you can. The Stunt Ramp has some built into the blue stripe at the thin edge, but it's small and probably won't have a noticeable impact. The Bridge, XL is also known to cause problems.

    Lights hurt a lot, as mentioned above.

    Phasing doesn't cause frame lag. The only thing phasing has to do with frame issues is that when you're phasing a lot of objects to create different shapes you're naturally going to get lots of objects on screen at once.

    The best thing to do is kill all Z fighting, avoid problem objects, use objects efficiently, and make sure you limit how much of the map a player can see from any point. This shouldn't be too hard because if your map is well designed players should never be able to see more than a relatively small portion of the map at once anyway. If your map is so open that players can see huge portions of the map at once, you don't need to worry about frame lag because nobody is going to want to play your map anyway.
     
  12. CzIz

    CzIz Legendary

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    I decided that the thread was poorly laid out and wasn't very accurate (from what you have all said), so I completely rewrote it and included the points you guys have made. Everyone who gave useful information was listed as a contributor.

    I tried to make everything as easy to understand as possible and made sure I didn't use too many technical terms (I'm pretty sure anyone with half a brain cell can work out what I mean by processing and rendering)..

    Also, I'm intrigued to know more about how lights affect framerate and how the engine detects it as an object on screen. Is it when the orb itself is visible, or when the light it gives off can be seen on objects? If it is just the orb, you could easily just place it behind a wall, under the floor, or in a block, which would be extremely helpful. Obviously it would still affect framerate but no where near as severely. I have a sour feeling that this is not the case, but still worth investigating imo. I can't myself as my xbox is currently broken.

    On a side note: WOOP name changed from Comis to CzOz :) yay.
     
    #12 CzIz, Oct 21, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
  13. Nutduster

    Nutduster TCOJ
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    The orb is not the problem. This is why when you play splitscreen, the light effect is nullified but the orb itself still appears. What strains the game is rendering various pieces with the colored light on them. I'm trying to get away from using lights myself, though it is a real shame since they are the quickest and easiest way to differentiate areas of the map, and make it feel like something other than generic forerunner architecture.
     
  14. ProtoFury

    ProtoFury Promethean
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    Grav lifts and man cannons most certainly affect framerate issues, but in an interesting way. A friend of mine was building his map, and he had one sloping hallway that had a lot of objects phased through each other to make the cover for the hallway. When viewed normally; there was no framrate lag, but there was also a man cannon behind you. If you looked at that same hallway with the man cannon in view, and especially through the glow of the man cannon, lag was extremely noticable and very irritating, cutting the framerate down by probably a third.
     
  15. TheRayzerTag

    TheRayzerTag Mythic
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    I would like to point out that the spot where Forge World's waterfall (the big one, not the two little ones next to it) hits the water causes severe FPS problems. It's not the waterfall itself, but only the splashing animation caused by the water falling on Forge World's sea.
     
  16. Nutduster

    Nutduster TCOJ
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    Here's another interesting tidbit. Split screen play is much more taxing on Reach's engine than single player/full screen. I guess you could expect that, but since I know they disable light rendering in split screen, I figured they might do other tricks as well (like simplifying textures, reducing polygon count on complex items, drawing items with less detail at shorter distances than for full screen, etc.). The truth is that whatever they do, it doesn't seem to be enough. My latest map - about to be released - is virtually lagless in single player. But get it in split screen and it can give you frame rate drops at unexpected times, and that's just two player; I didn't test but I can only imagine what it's like with four players going. I then went into split screen forge and it was pretty brutal - the main player I was moving around was having frame rate issues everywhere, and the other screen (with the player just sitting there) had various objects flashing bright white, which is how you know the engine is coughing up a lung.

    I'm about to release this map with the caveat that split screen play is not recommended. For every other forger out there, I suggest this: wanna put your map through the paces? Start a second controller up, put the player somewhere where he can see a lot of your map, and then get to playing or forging. If you're still not getting frame rate drops, your map is probably 100% solid and lag-free.

    However - if you have ambition and build big maps, you can basically expect that split screen play will always suffer.
     
  17. SPARTAN 121

    SPARTAN 121 Promethean
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    Anyone have a definitive answer about the grid causing framerate issues?
     
  18. stickmanmeyhem

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    Sorry, but I just have to correct you on this one seeing as it's plastered all over the OP. "lagg" as you spell it is actually spelled "lag"
    Drop one g and it'll make me very happy.

    Anyways, I have yet to experience any framerate issues on any maps that I've seen. Even then we're talking about something that doesn't really affect gameplay. The only people who should be concerned about this are MLG players... And if they're that good, they should be able to win despite the lag.
     
  19. Decadence Night

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    I can confirm that mancannons can be a factor. It happens when there are a bunch of them in your field-of-view. The game has to generate all of the particle emitters. Mancannons are also a light source. However, it's not something that normally has to be worried about. I've only had it happen with 7 or 8 mancannons in view.
     
  20. JackalAnubis

    JackalAnubis Promethean
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    #20 JackalAnubis, Oct 23, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2010

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