Here is an in-depth guide to console commands and variables in Q3A.
I suggest printing this page for future reference.
"bot_nochat" - Basicaly, this command lets you turn off those automated taunts that the bots come out with. I presume there will be a minor framerate increase but I am not sure. Once you tire of the taunts set this to 1. Be aware that this setting works only when it has been entered manually into your config - you can place it anywhere or you can download My config.
"cg_centertime" - This command lets you limit how long the "you fragged <playername>" message appears when you frag someone. The default setting is 3, but the recommended setting is 1. Setting this command to 0 means no message is displayed. This command should be entered manually into your autoexec.
"cg_drawAttacker" - Displays the opponent's name when you face them. Pretty useless, so this is best turned off. FPS gain with this off - 0.5 - 1 FPS.
"cg_drawRewards" - Displays rewards earned in current battle ( excellent, impressive etc... ). Again, not too useful so turn it off. FPS gain with this off - 0.5 - 1 FPS.
"cg_draw3dIcons" - When turned on, all icons in the HUD will be displayed in 3D. This can get in the way so it is best turned off. FPS gain with this off - 0.5 - 1 FPS.
"cg_drawGun" - This command let's you toggle between displaying, or not displaying the gun. Many people like to have a gun on screen at all times as it helps distinguish which weapon you currently have selected. I myself keep this setting on 0 as it speeds up play ( around 2-3 FPS ) and gives the advantage of not having a gun blocking your view - especialy helpful when using the railgun. It takes time to adjust but the benefits are there if you want them. Remember, when you change a weapon, you are notified of what you have selected.
"cg_gibs" - When activated, characters will "gib" ( blow into pieces ) with a particulaly viscious shot. "com_blood" must be activated for this to take effect. This looks pretty, and can be satisfying but can slow down gameplay in large scale deathmatches. When turned off, FPS gain is around 1 - 5 FPS depending on the amount of action going on.
"cg_marks" - With this turned on, every time a player shoots at the scenary, a mark is left behind. These marks will stay for approximataly 20 seconds. Because of this, slowdown is created. FPS gain with this turned off is around 3 - 10 FPS meaning this is best turned off unless your average framerate is at least 65 FPS on demo001.
"cg_brassTime" - With this on, when a gun is fired, the shells ejected are thrown and discarded in the air for added realism. However, this will be the last thing you are looking for when you are being slapped up in Quake 3 so leave this setting off. FPS gain with this off is around 1 - 3 FPS.
"cg_bobup / cg_bobroll / cg_bobpitch" - These 3 settings are used to create a more realistic walk or run for your character. For example, when you are slowly walking in a crouch position, you will shuffle side to side to give your character more realistic movement. The default for all settings is 0.0025 but I prefer to turn these settings to 0 as its gives a more fluid movement and prevents possible motion sickness 8^)
"cg_fov" - This setting lets you widen or shrink your viewing area or field of vision. The default is 90 but feel free to increase this slightly for a sly advantage ( I wouldn't put it over 100 though as the image looks trippy ). Unfortunately, because of the larger viewing area, the CPU is under more stress so bear in mind you may get a slightly lower framerate.
"cg_shadows" - There are 3 shadow modes - 1, 2, and 3. 1 creates round, unrealistic shadows under the feet of all characters. 2 creates incredibly lifelike shadows, but at a huge performance hit. My computer slowed to a halt with this on resulting in unplayable gameplay. 3 creates suitably lifelike shadows but again at the cost of some performance. I recommend you just leave them off unless you have at least a Pentium 3 500 MHZ with 128 MB RAM and a decent third generation graphics card. FPS gain with this off are: 3 FPS ( setting 1 ), 8 - 30 FPS ( setting 2 ) and 8 FPS ( setting 3 ).
"cg_simpleItems " - With this on, all items will be displayed in 2D rather than spinning in 3D. This is especially helpful for people with slower machines as it can really speed things up. Dont bother if you have a specification above or near to mine. FPS gain with this on: 3 - 10 FPS.
"com_blood" - Displays blood when a character is shot with this turned on. Additionaly, characters create a small gib when hit hard at the cost of no performance. Keep this setting on and turn "cg_gibs" off. FPS gain with this off: 1 - 3 FPS.
"com_blindlyLoadDLLs" - If you use the Speed Dll's, you may get the warning message telling you that it is unsafe to use them. This message is quite anoying, as it pops up when you load and finish a level. Insert this command into your config file to delete it for good.
"com_hunkmegs" - Only of use if you have more than 64 MB RAM. This setting alocates more system memory to Quake 3 for player models. If you have 128 MB RAM, set this to 86; if you have 96 MB RAM, set this to 64; if you have 192 MB RAM set this to 140; and finaly if you have 256 MB RAM, then set this to 200. You could try higher numbers but your system could become unstable.
"r_picmip" - This accounts for overall texture and image quality, with 0 being the best, and higher numbers being progressively worse. This setting is a major player in having a high and consistant frame - rate. A setting of 1 is suitable for most computers as it ensures excellent image quality with a solid, consistant framerate. If you have a slower computer, set this to 2 for less of a performance hit. On the other hand, if you have a fast, well speced computer with at least 96 MB RAM, feel free to set this to 0 to have mind blowing graphics, the likes of which are unrivaled on ANY format. Ensure you have the best drivers for your graphics card as well. I recently got a memory upgrade and I now play with texture quality on full and still get the same framerate as before - I certainly recommend you have 128 MB RAM - the difference in amazing!
"r_drawsun" - This setting creates shadows in relation to where thet are towrads the sun. Of course, you will need shadows enabled. I do not think there is a drop in FPS so if you like shadows on, then set this to enabled.
"r_gamma" - Brightens/Darkens the screen. This setting varys according to the brightness on your monitor. Default is 1 but this can be set lower to darken image ( eg: 0.79010 ) or it can be increased to brighten the image ( eg: 1.10000 ). Experiment to find the optimal amount.
"r_mapOverBrightBits" - This is a setting which controls how bright the scenary, textures and objects are. Lately, I have found this is the best way to achieve optimal image quality. This setting defaults at 2 but I would recommend setting this to 3. Secondly, lower the r_gamma setting to 0.82000 and start a new game. You should either find it too bright or too dark - adjust the gamma accordingly. I have found that setting this setting to 3 results in far more clarity and detail in the textures - before the image was a tad "smudged" but now the detail the designers put in the game is more apparent than ever!! This setting is useful for experimenting but don't forget to write down your old values first just in case you mess up your image quality.
"r_ignorehwgamma" - This setting is useful for people running in 32 BIT colour on a Voodoo as it helps tidy the gamma to avoid texture smudging. However, when I tried this I found the image looking more like 16 BIT colour so I left this off. People have assured me that setting this to 1 gave a better image quality so play around with it to find your prefered setting. Thanks to Gero Wendt for bringing this to my attention - sorry I forgot your name!
"r_intensity" - As the name suggests this setting intensifies the whole image. Default is 1 and this is recommended.
"r_finish" - This is the "Sync every frame" command in the game options. It Improves response between the keyboard/mouse and the on - screen action. I recommend you set this to 1 to stop occasional frustration. However, you may lose around 1 - 2 FPS but that is hardly noticable in combat.
"r_roundImagesDown" - Smoothes and rounds images producing slightly inferior visuals. You don't gain noticable FPS with this set to 1 so keep it turned off. (Please note: q3dm16 will crash to the desktop if this setting is less than 1)
"r_swapInterval" - This setting eliminates the slight screen ripping that appears when you turn quickly. Bear in mind that although the FPS loss is not large ( 1-2 FPS ) there is a noticable lag between mouse/keyboard to the on screen action. It can affect gameplay so I would recommend leaving this setting to 0. ( This setting is otherwise known as V SYNC ).
"r_detailTextures" - This is turned on by default and produces ( you guessed it ) more detailed textures. With this turned off, you get a slight speed boost, but could suffer slight texture inaccuracies. I found no noticable speed boost so keep it on.
"r_colorbits" - Choose between 16 BIT colour ( default ) and 32 BIT. Read the special notes on my homepage if you own a Voodoo 3 or Voodoo Banshee Graphics card. 32 BIT colour looks very nice ( after all, it can render 16.7 million colours compared to 16 BIT's 65,000 ) but can be a large burdon on computer resources. I guess it depends on personal preferences and computer speeds as to whether you want 32 BIT colour, but you may lose valuable FPS.
"r_texturebits" - Similar to colourbits. However, if you run at high resolutions ( 1024x768 or above ) this can cause texture corruption in 32 BIT colour mode. You must also have a card that supports 32 BIT colour. For best results, keep this at 16 BIT - the difference is not as instantly noticable as colorbits.
"r_dynamicLight" - With this on, the flare from a weapon flash will light up the surrounding area creating added realism. Be aware however that this is quite a large burdon on resources and consumes around 6 FPS.
"r_vertexLight" - This creates lighting made out of voxels instead of polygons. On a slow machine, this will speed things up considerably but can look quite dull. Don't bother if you have a decent machine.
"r_lodBias" - Produces more rounded images in the character model, objects, and pickups the lower this setting is. Through benchmarking, I have found that the default ( 0 ) is the best balance between framerate and image quality. I could see no noticable visual improvement when setting this into the low minuses ( the valid range is -2 to 2 ) but the framerate was lower. Quite a large FPS increase can be had by setting this to either 1 or 2 but the visuals do suffer slightly. Leave this at 0 for the best comprimise.
"r_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. The default of course is 0, but if your system fulfils the above requirements then by all means set this to 1.
"r_subDivisions" - This is a texture setting which when set low, produces a better image with less graphical inacuracies. The maximum setting I would recommend is between 100 - 150 depending on the map. I like this set at 4 but feel free to experiment for the best comprimise between image quality and frame - rate.
"r_lodCurveError" - This setting determines how close you have to be towards a polygon before it "clips" Think of it as similar to Mip - Mapping. I recommend a setting between 100 - 300 depending on the power of your machine.
"r_flares" - I am not sure on this one. I presume it is lighting related but I could see no difference with this on or off. I set this to 1 as there is no frame - rate loss. In fact, when I turned this off, I was getting LOWER FPS!!! Contact me if anyone knows what this setting does. I think it is the bright flash once you get shot.....
"r_stencilBits" - This is a graphical setting which lets you get more realistic cracks and texture in the architexture. I would set this to either 4 or 8. I find it has no effect on my framerate but that may be because I have an 8 BIT stencil buffer on my Voodoo 3 3000 PCI - if you have a different card to mine ( TNT2, etc... ) then experiment with this setting to get the optimal balance. Be aware that the screen will darken with this enabled - you may have to alter the gamma accordingly.
"s_musicVolume" - Self explanatary. Bear in mind that turning off the music doesn't result in such a noticably higher frame - rate as in Quake 2. Only keep this on if you like musical accompanyment...
"s_loadas8bit" - With this set to 1, all the sounds in the game will be forced to be played in 8 BIT meaning much lower sound quality. The FPS gain is around 2-3, so choose what would be the ideal setting for you.
"sv_pure" - Controls whether the game should be played in pure (as the developer intended) or unpure (which means that certain mods can be used). I set this to 0 as when playing on a pure server, quake 3 automaticaly sets this command to 1. Make sure you enter this command manualy into your autoexec.
"vm_cgame / vm_game / vm_ui" - These settings MUST be set to 0 for the speed dll's to function correctly. If any of these are set to 1 in your config, then you are losing performance, so change them immediately.
Internet connection commands:
"cg_lagometer" - This is a very useful utility which lets you monitor your connection on-line. With this enabled while you are playing on-line you will see 2 boucing lines. The first line displays the conjunction between your graphics card updating the frames in sync with the gameworld updates recieved from the server. Idealy, this should be a straight blue line. If it has bouncing yellow spikes then your display will stutter and be more difficult to view. To combat this, first ensure you have followed my tweaking techniques and then change your snaps setting. Usually, this means lowering it by 1 or 2 until your screen is stable and you have a nice flowing blue line in your lagometer. The second line shows if packets are being recieved from the server. This should be green. If it is yellow or red, try increasing your rate or try lowering your snaps. If this does not help, you may be on a dodgy server and so try another.Additionaly, ensure the lagometer is turned OFF when you are not on the internet, and/or when you have a stable connection.
"cl_timenudge" - This interesting setting is identical to the pushlatency setting in Half-Life. This is very user determined and impossible to judge for every machine and every connection. I find this setting works well if you set the cl_timenudge setting to minus the ping you currently have with the server. For example if your ping is 100 then set your cl_timenudge setting to -100. I have heard people set this to plus what your ping is ( say 100 ) but this reacted badly when I was playing on-line. If you cannot find a decent setting then leave it at default (0). Use this in conjunction with the lagometer for best results. Remember, plus means you will get a slower response and minus means the computer will try to predict what your next move is in an attempt to reduce lag - this can cause anomalities to occur. However, I would not recommend setting either number higher than 100.
"rate" - This setting controls packets to ensure a good connection. If you have an ISDN modem ( 128K ) then this can be set to around 12000. If you have a 56K modem then this should be around 4000-5500 depending on your connection speed. If you are on a LAN or have a ADSL modem ( lucky bastard ) then this can be around 25000 or perhaps even higher. Remember, it is best to experiment to find a suitable number but don't get too carried away or you may cap performance.
"snaps" - This is possibly the most important setting for getting a good connection. As everyone knows, in Quake 2, your gameworld updates depended on your current FPS so slower computers were at a disadvantage. Now, in Quake 3, your snaps setting determines how many updates you recieve from the server. 56K modems should have a setting of around 20 - 30. ISDN modems (128K) should be around 40 as should any other fast connection devices ( LAN, T1 etc.... ). Remember to read my cg_lagometer section for tips on "snaps".
"cl_packetdups" - As the name suggests, this setting is used to send multiple packets to compensate for lost packet drops. This setting should be set at 1 unless you have a VERY good connection in which case set this to 0. Use the lagometer to decide on which setting to use.
"cl_maxPackets" - This setting puts a limit on the maximum amount of packets that can be sent to the server via the client. This setting is useful for people with slower modems. The default setting is 30 ( comparable to a 56K modem), but lower this if you have a 33.6K modem or less, and higher this setting if you have an ISDN or higher modem.
"com_maxFPS" - This command limits your maximum FPS. You may ask why you would want to do this, and the answer is that it will help the server from having lag confusion when your frame rate has a sudden rise or fall. Run a timedemo, collect your average FPS and use that as the limit for when you play on-line. While you are playing off line, keep this setting at its default ( 85 ).
"cg_deferPlayers" - A nice simple setting. With this set to 1, new player skins will only be loaded when you are either fragged or when you look at the scoreboard. With this set to 0, new player models are loaded as soon as a new player joins the server. I like this set to 1 as the screen could stutter at a potentialy crucial time meaning frustration.
"cg_predictItems" - This setting determines whether the server or the client decides on whether a weapon has being collected. a setting of 1 means the client decides and a setting of 0 means the server decides. I would keep this set at 1 to prevent any un-neccessary confusion.
"cg_forceModel" - If you want to use only the same model or skin throughout, then set this to 1. Every character ( human, or bot ) will have the same character model as yourself. However, if you are using a custom model with a large polycount, this can hinder performance slightly. Default is 0.
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