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As with all the previous Quake games, a finely tuned config file is required for the optimal balance between image quality and satisfactory frame-rates. As there are so many wildly different specifications on the market today, some people may find that playing Quake 3 straight " out of the box " with all the features on full not the ideal way to play. It is most important to get a frame-rate that is both decent and consistant, possibly at the expense of some graphical niceties. This is where my guide will come in handy. Just by imputing the following information into your system, you will find Quake 3 to run upto 50% faster than before!!!! Indeed, before I tweaked my system and my config, I was getting around 29 FPS on Demo 001. Now I average at 59 FPS and the image quality is superb.
Right, before you mess around with the config, if you have an AMD CPU, first restart your computer and enter the SETUP. From there, go to ADVANCED CHIPSET and find AMD WRITE ALLOCATE. Ensure that this is set to ENABLED. You will find around 5-10% increase in speed in ALL your games not just Quake 3. If you do not have this option it is because you have an outdated BIOS. Don't bother updating your BIOS if you are not sure which type it is. Instead, use a program such as Powertweak which will set K6 Write alocate for you.
If you have an INTEL CPU ( Pentium, Pentium2, Celeron, Pentium3 ) then I recommend that you try the Wicked GL drivers instead of those by your graphics board manufaturer. You may find that you get a much higher frame-rate and better image quality. However, do not bother if you have a Cyrix or AMD CPU as the driver is not optimized for them. You will find a decrease in performance and some slowdown. I should know - I tried it. ( WickedGL is only compatible with Voodoo cards )
Next, ensure that you have run Scandisk and have Defragmented your hard-drive to ensure peak efficiency. It is recommended that you run these once a month to stop your system grinding to a halt.
Download Cacheman immediately. It will eliminate jerky or lost frames to a degree. This software is amazing!!
Finaly, make sure you have all the latest drivers for all your products, particulaly your graphics card, because if you are using outdated drivers, they may not be optimized for Quake 3 and thus you are losing performance.
Now that your system is fully tweaked for maximum efficiency, it is time to start changing the configuration setting's in Quake 3. Firstly, start Quake 3 and enter the SETUP option. Go into the SYSTEM options and set TEXTURE FILTER to BILINEAR. This sets the mip-mapping nearer but is not too noticable and greatly improves performance on some machines. Next go to GEOMETRIC DETAIL and set this to either MEDIUM or HIGH. To be honest, i find that this setting should be HIGH as the FPS loss is slight and the curves look very nice.
O.K, lets get serious. Bear in mind that these are the setting's which I have found to work the best for my system and may need changing slightly if you have anything less than a Pentium 350. However, I don't think this is the case for the majority of people so follow this and behold the performance increase!!!
Here is a screenshot of Quake 3 running in "picmip 1" mode. As you can see, the image quality is very good with little loss of performance.
And here we have the same shot except in "picmip 0" mode. This produces the greatest image quality but at the cost of stuttering on a machine with limited memory.
For a more in-depth guide to command line variables, click Here.
To imput the following variables either start Quake 3 and press the tilde key (¬) or edit the Quake 3 config text found in the baseQ3 folder. Use a word processer to edit them. It would also be a good idea to back-up your config just in case anything goes wrong. Make sure you read the special notes at the bottom first. Type these in EXACTLY as they appear here: (press tab to autocomplete a command to the nearest match)
Now type timedemo 1 and select a demo of your choice. This will run what is called a "Timedemo" which runs at maximum speed and calculates your total average FPS. It is important that after every variable you change, you run this to see what effect it has had on your framerate / image quality etc...
Here is the same shot except with dynamic light enabled. This is very nice to look at but results in slowdown on crowded maps.
This screenshot was taken with dynamic light off. When you fire a rocket, the area will not illuminate around it meaning higher FPS.
With the geometric detail set at low, curves are more angular looking as is most of the scenary. FPS gain is limited too....
However, with the geometric detail on full, everything is nicely rounded and look's more organic. This setting is recommended.
• Since the release of the Voodoo 1.04.00 drivers, 3dfx have added a special 22BIT post filter to its driver, meaning that all games running in 16 BIT, will actually be running in 22BIT colour! This is without any slowdown that would commenly be associated with +16BIT colour! If you don't have the 1.04.00 driver (or higher), then download them from Here.
• If you own a Graphics card that CAN handle 32 BIT colour ( GeForce256, Savage 2000, TNT2, G400 etc.... ) then it may be better setting the colour depth to 16 BIT colour for better performance. The FPS gain is not too bad ( around 3-7 FPS ) so experiment to find a setting you are comfortable with.
• Note on SMP: If you have two CPU's, Windows NT or 2000, and have a graphics card AND a driver which supports SMP, then you can benefit from a more sustained Framerate, which may also be noticeably higher. It is important that you ensure that your system fulfils the requirements above otherise it will not work and may hang your system. To my knowledge, the Voodoo range of cards ( up to Voodoo 3 ) DO NOT support SMP ( though I may be mistaken ). I do not know about NVIDEA but I presume MATROX G400 cards will support it. Check with your cards web-site first. The command is r_smp 1.
• If you suffer heavy slowdown when firing a rocket or grenade ( usually when the smoke appears ), then there is a way to disable the smoke trail. You must download the tweaked_cgame from Here. Remember to read the readme text, and enjoy an even smoother Quake 3 experience! I got a 6FPS increase with this mod! However, it will only work on unpure servers.
• You may have heard of the "optimization dll's" going around the internet. I have tried these dll's and they do indeed give a slight performance boost. I went from 53 FPS to 58.5 FPS. The new point release ( otherwise known as 1.17 ) is recommended to make them work effectively. Place the dll's into your baseq3 directory ( I find they do not work in just the root Quake3 directory ). The dll's in question can be downloaded from the Downloads section - try them. The point release patch is available from Here.
• The tweaks that make the most difference are "cg_marks 0" and "r_dynamicLight 0". With these setting's turned off you can get around 7 - 12 FPS instantly. If you get a high framerate, then you could turn one of these on to get the the best compimise.
• I have found that setting the sound quality to HIGH in the SETTINGS section of the SETUP results in much cleaner sound for not too many FPS ( 1-3 ) The difference is instantly noticable and is recommended.
• Certain maps demand more resources than others. On texture intensive, or CPU intensive maps, try turning down some settings and put them up again on simpler maps. This is especially effective when playing over the internet.
• Try this trick if you are a Voodoo owner. Type r_gldriver 3dfxogl into the console and then restart your display ( vid_restart ). I got a nice speed increase by doing this. Basicaly, the 3dfx openGL driver is used instead of the standard openGL32 dll. If you wish to revert back type r_gldriver opengl32 into the console. Thanks to Liquid for bringing this trick to my attention.
• Always be on the lookout for new Drivers and Patches for Quake 3 Arena. If you are having problems, it may be a bug in the game and not a fault of yours. The new Point Release has arrived!! (1.17) "This patch fixes a fairly serious security flaw in Quake 3 Arena. Internet Security Systems identified the flaw and notified us with reproduction details as well as an overview of the exploit. The basic nature of the exploit is that malicious server operators could overwrite any file on a client system. This type of thing is always possible with DLL based mods ( which is why we strongly recommend VM based mods ) but with this exploit, it was possible within the VM system." Scary indeed. I recommend you download this immediately as games servers are now updated for the new patch. You can find the point release Here. ( 8.9 MB )
****NOTES ON OVERCLOCKING****
• If you want, you can also try overclocking your graphics card's main clock speed. This is a useful way to get a couple of extra FPS and is relatively safe as long as you don't go OTT. Try adding around 5MHZ at a time and test your computer for lock-up's or white lines on your desktop during this time - if you have lock-up's just lower the added MHZ slightly. Also consider getting a fan for your graphic's card. This will keep it nice and cool and allow clock rate improvements up to around 25%!!!! I have my Voodoo 3 3000 PCI running at 175 MHZ without a fan and it is very stable and suffers no lock-up's. Be warned though, Do not blame me if anything goes wrong - you DO NOT have to overclock if you do not want to. To find a program to overclock your card, try the websites in my Links column. If you own a Voodoo 3 then click Here.
• There are a few more interesting things you can do with Quake 3. Did you know that there is in fact a secret development level hidden in Quake 3? Granted, it is crap beyond belief ( all it is is a little box with no weapon pick ups - all you have is a guantlet and machine gun ) but is was only used for testing anyway. To enable this level (?) just type "map test_bigbox" (minus the quotes) into the console. Joy.
• The next tip is far more exciting. Remember when you fought Anarki and saw his name in different colours? Well it is also possible for your name to have the same. To enable this, open your Quake 3 config ( in the baseQ3 folder - use notepad ) and find the line "seta name". Right, before your name type ^x where x is a number between 1 and 10. For example, type: ^4Brisk to get Brisk displayed in a blue font. You can also do this for every letter ( eg. ^4B^2R^7I^5S^1K ) to get multi colured text - It may not make you a better player but it sure does look nice!!! Save your changes and enjoy. If you don't like the colours you picked then you can simply change them in the PLAYER section of the SETUP setting.
• There are many self made macros around the internet ( such as the ability to make your own zoom scale ), but I think that the replay editor is the best. This macro allows you to speed up, slow down, and pause your demos or replays for hours of fun! To do this, you will need to add the following commands into your autoexec.cfg:
set demfastf "timescale 1.8;echo Fast-Forward"
set demsuperff "timescale 3;echo Super-Fast-Forward"
set demslowmo "timescale .5;echo Slow-Mo"
set dempause "timescale .000000000000000001;echo Pause"
set demnormal "timescale 1;echo Normal"
bind kp_leftarrow "vstr demfastf"
bind kp_pgup "vstr demslowmo"
bind kp_home "vstr dempause"
bind kp_uparrow "vstr demnormal"
bind kp_rightarrow "vstr demsuperff"
• Once you get used to managing macros, you can change which bind you want for the relevent command. These are the arangements which I find the easiest to use for me, but don't forget to change them if the bind is already taken by another function ( such as zooming in for example ) Happy editing!
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"Hmmph! Try doing that with a 300+ ping you Basta....."
Quake 3 is such a user definable game, that each individual specification can get Quake 3 running optimaly. My system is medium specced, but I get a solid framerate, with great visuals!!