Posted: May 12, 2001
Written by: Dustin "TimmyC" Jones
Tribes 2, the sequel to one of the most successful team-based shooters of all
time was released to some heavy criticism by the gaming public. While some loved
it, many others hated it. Whether old school Tribes fanatic or just casual
gamer, the release of Tribes 2 did not go as smoothly as expected.
If you're reading this, there's a good chance you own Tribes 2. If you do, you
know the problems that riddled the game. Crashes, bad performance, inability to
work with 3DFX cards, and many other things made even a quick skirmish a painful
experience. Fortunately, the many, many patches released fixed a lot of the
bugs, but things still weren't a-ok in the world of Tribes 2.
Thankfully, this is Tweak3D, and tweaking's what we do best! So why are you
still hanging around at this introduction? You can't read that fast eh? Well,
hurry up; we're going to make your Tribes 2 more enjoyable! That's what you want
isn't it? Well then, let's go!
Before you get started, I suggest you read our many tweak guides to get your
system up to speed, because there's no point in tweaking a game on an un-tweaked
system. Also, regular driver updates are very important. If you haven't updated
your video, sound, etc. drivers, there's a good chance the new releases will
speed your system up considerably, and fix lots of problems, including some you
may be having in this particular game. Go update!
Speaking of patches, Tribes 2 has seen its fair share. Don't worry about
searching around for updates though, all you need to do is run the Tribes 2
Multiplayer version and it will automatically search, find the best mirror,
download and install it for you. Pretty simple (good idea Dynamix!). If you're
on a modem or just don't feel like running the auto update feature, you can get
the patches at Sierra's website.
Dynamix's minimum requirements for Tribes 2 are as follows: (Taken from the game
HD Space: 531MB
Soundcard: DirectSound-Compatible (DirectInput game controllers supported)
Video card: 12MB or better Video Card
Keep in mind, those are the minimum requirements for the game, which basically
means that you can play the game, but I guarantee it won't be very enjoyable. I
personally recommend the following to play the game at a decent resolution and
with enjoyable graphical quality:
Video Card: A 32MB 3D video card, ie. GeForce, Radeon, TNT2, etc.
If you've got a system with those type of specs, it'll be much more enjoyable
than if you had the minimum recommendations. That's not to say that if you don't
meet my requirements, you can't play; that's what tweaking is all about!
Now that your system is updated, how about we
check out a couple key settings located in your ClientPrefs.cs file? Go to
your Tribes 2 Directory, GameData, base, prefs and open ClientPrefs.cs with
notepad (drag it to a notepad window if you have problems).
Scroll down and look for both $pref::Decal::decalTimeout = "";
and $pref::Decal::maxNumDecals = ""; . These two settings
can help you save a lot of memory on decals, the burns, bullet holes and
various other marks, which are left on the surfaces of the game world. While
they seem like just small effects, they can take a lot of memory after a
$pref::Decal::decalTimeout sets the amount of time, in
milliseconds which decals will stay in the game world. The lower the number,
the faster they disappear. Ex. $pref::Decal::decalTimeout = "2000";
$pref::Decal::maxNumDecals sets the maximum amount of
decals allowed to be rendered in the game world. The lower the number, the
less you see decals, but the more memory you save. If you wanted to, you
could disable decals altogether and save a lot of memory. Ex. $pref::Decal::maxNumDecals
That's pretty much all that is useful that is not in the Tribes 2 menu
itself, so get acquainted with your tweaking friend, the settings menu. Just
click the Launch button in the left, bottom corner and select settings.
Thankfully for us, Dynamix included lots of different menus and packed them
with lots of great settings, so it's very easy to tweak; just click.
Lets start with the first menu: the Video menu. There isn't much in this
section besides the basic options. For the Video Driver part, it's pretty
straight forward. If you own an ATI Radeon or an Nvidia card, pick OpenGL
(That may be all that comes up anyway). If you own a 3DFX card, pick
Direct3D. Honestly, there's nothing in here that the average computer user
doesn't know, maybe with the exception of disable vertical sync. If you're
unsure on what vertical sync is, I'll explain it. Vertical sync (Vsync) is
what is used to 'cap' the frame rate, so it runs no higher than your
monitor's refresh rate. While it seems like a good idea, disabling Vsync can
sometimes cause image tearing and other odd effects with your monitor. The
best idea is to try disabling it and if you see any problems, just enable
it. If you're benchmarking your system, disabling Vsync is a must.
Tweaking - Graphics Settings
The next menu is the Graphics menu. Herein you'll find the many eye-candy
and effects settings. A good portion of these settings just waste CPU time
and add little to the game play, but here's the list:
Terrain Detail: This is pretty straight forward. Moving the slider bar up
and down increases and decreases the detail of the ground below you. If
you've got a slower processor, consider lowering this a bit to save CPU
Gamma Correction: This setting adjusts the brightness of the game. This is
more of a personal preference than a tweak.
Shadow Detail: Sliding the bar up and down increases/decreases the details
of the shadows cast from player models. Low makes a blob under the model,
high makes an actual shape.
Shape Detail: This setting controls the complexity and amount of polygons
used in objects. This one is another CPU sucker, but it also depends on the
amount of complexity you want. If you really want to sacrifice the CPU speed
for extra detail in distant objects, then set it high; if you don't mind the
lack of detail, go with low.
Interior Detail: This setting simply adds/removes little details and
features inside buildings. Set this low, lose very little (visually), and
Visible Distance: This setting can put a strain on both your CPU and Video
Card in large battles or areas with a high polygon count. Once again, this
is also a personal thing, so play the game and see how it runs at high
visibility, then go from there.
Sky Detail: This setting controls the details and layers of clouds and sky
effects that are added to the skybox of the game world. If you have a 32MB
video card, set this to full, if you have less, set this down a few notches
to one layer or even just skybox only. I wouldn't recommend no sky unless
you're running really slowly.
First Person Draw: This setting changes the things drawn when in first
person mode. When set to items only, your gun and items will be rendered.
When set to player and items, your character's bottom half will be drawn
when you look directly down. While cool, it's somewhat of a waste of
resources. Set this to items only for better performance.
Precipitation: This setting toggles weather effects on/off. I don't like the
weather effects and would gladly take the little frame rate boost. Your
tastes may differ.
Dynamic Interior Lights: This setting toggles the dynamic light inside
buildings and structures. If you want lots of pretty lighting and what have
you inside the buildings, keep this enabled. If you don't mind flat lighting
inside, then disable it.
Decals: Like the settings above I gave you, this toggles decals on and off.
Dynamic Terrain Lights: This setting toggles dynamic lighting on the terrain
itself. E.g. Lighting from gunfire or explosions. If you prefer the extra
realism and eye candy, keep it on. Otherwise, disable to improve
Terrain Details: This setting toggles detail textures on and off. Detail
textures add realism and detail to the ground when up close, making it look
more 'alive'. I don't see why this shouldn't be on really.
Tweaking - Graphics Settings (cont.)
Interior Textured Fog: This setting toggles
fog effects inside buildings. If you are keen on fog, keep it enabled, but
otherwise, just disable it and gain some speed.
Vertex Lighting: Ticking this box enables vertex lighting in the game, which
is only a tweak for the speed hungry. Vertex lighting is a flat, dull type
of lighting which, while fast, saps all atmosphere from the game. Consider
this a last resort.
Tweaking - Texture Settings
The next section we'll be visiting is Textures. So head on over there and
take a gander at the following:
Texture Quality: This setting determines the colour depth and overall
quality of the game textures. If you have a 64MB card (or a really fast 32
MB card), set this to 32bit, otherwise, 16bit will probably do fine.
Texture Compression: Unless your card doesn't support this feature, there is
NO reason to not have it enabled. There are two choices for you as well,
fastest and nicest. This is about as obvious as it sounds. If you have under
32MB on your video card or a low amount of ram, set this to fastest. If you
have more than what I just mentioned, set it to nicest and you'll alleviate
some of the yucky effects of the compression. Although I don't know for
certain, I'm assuming the fastest/nicest settings are the DXT1 and DXT3
settings which were discovered during the whole Quake III S3TC issue.
Terrain Texture Detail: By adjusting the slider bar, you can
increase/decrease the filtering detail of the textures on the terrain.
Decreasing can save texture memory, but if you've got a 32MB card and
texture compression enabled, you're best to keep it at maximum and enjoy
Shape Texture Detail: By adjusting the slider bar, you can increase/decrease
the filtering detail of the textures of shapes in the game world. Decreasing
can save texture memory, but if you've got a 32MB card and texture
compression enabled, you're best to keep it at maximum and enjoy purdy
Building Texture Detail: By adjusting the slider bar, you can
increase/decrease the filtering detail of the textures of buildings.
Decreasing can save texture memory, but if you've got a 32MB card and
texture compression enabled, blah blah blah...
Sky Texture Detail: By adjusting the slider bar, you can increase/decrease
the filtering detail of the textures of the sky. You know the rest. :)
Tweaking - Texture Settings (cont.)
Anisotropy: Anisotropy is a higher quality
texture filter than Bilinear and Trilinear filtering, and if your card
supports it, can make textures much clearer and reduce the 'banding'
appearance. Any card that is GeForce 256 and beyond will usually support
Anistropic filtering, and while it takes a lot of extra speed to use the max
amount of filtering, it's really nice looking.
Environment Maps: Environment maps are a funky little eye-candy feature that
when applied to surfaces, take the world around it and reflect it. While it
is a neat thing to look at, if you're actually playing the game and not
picking your nose, environment maps are kind of useless and just sap
Interior Env. Maps: Same thing as above, but indoors!
Since we're on the topic of textures, you should also know, much like Unreal
Tournament, there are higher resolution model textures on the Tribes 2 CD,
which can make your character look much nicer.
Fileplanet has a great little batch program, which makes installing the
textures pretty easy. Otherwise, you'd have to delete a whole bunch of
_512's from the filenames.
That section is complete. How about we move on to sound now?
Tweaking - Sound
3D Provider: This selects your 3D sound driver/provider if your card
supports 3D audio.
Speakers: This simply optimizes the sound output for the type of speaker
setup you have.
Frequency: This changes the sound quality. I see no reason why you shouldn't
have this set to 44KHz, unless you have an extremely slow system and/or
cheap sound card.
Master Volume: This one should be pretty obvious. The master game volume
Effects Volume: The volume level of the sound effects
GUI Volume: The volume of the menus, e.g. clicking buttons and selecting
Voice Bind Volume: The volume of the voices in the game, like when you say "Shazbot!"
MP3 Music: This toggles the in-game music, which happens to be MP3.
Music Volume: Duh.
Tweaking - Network Settings
The next section to head on over to is the Network section, because
(obviously) we will tweak your networking settings. This will make online
play as good as it can get. Also, don't forget to read our modem and
Cable/DSL tweak guides to make it even better.
Dynamix created some presets which they feel are best optimized for certain
connection types. Those are a great way to start, but of course, that's not
enough. Each connection is different and can respond to the settings
Packet Rate: Sliding this bar up and down increases/decreases the speed that
the packets are transferred. If you have a modem connection, it should be
kept fairly low, if you have broadband, it can be set higher. Play with this
Packet Size: This setting increases/decreases the size of the packets which
are sent. The most information the packets hold, the more bandwidth it will
take, so as with packet rate, lower for modem users and higher for
broadband. Play with this setting too.
Client Update Rate: This setting adjusts the rate that the client sends
packets. If you have the bandwidth to handle it, crank this baby up, if not,
keep it lower.
Display On Master Server: This setting just simply specifies if you want
your hosted server (if you are hosting one) to be displayed to the master
server so people may find and join easily.
Server Location: Just select the location nearest to where you are playing
to optimize your ping. Simple as that.
Check E-Mail While Playing: I don't know why this feature is even included,
but (uh...), disable it unless you use it.
Disconnect From Chat: This will disconnect you from any chat rooms you
happen to be in when you join a server. Great if you need all the bandwidth
While Tribes 2 may have its fair share of problems, I hope these tweaks
helped to alleviate most of these problems. Hopefully your game is running
better than ever, and you can now enjoy a fast paced game of Tribes 2. And
for those of you that don't own it, but came here simply because of
curiosity or for some other reason, I hope you enjoyed the screen shots
(now, go buy the game)! Thanks for reading.