Improving WAR’s performance

With the introduction of patch 1.4 and the RvR packs WAR has seen a considerable boost to its population. This, combined with ORvR overhaul doing the exact opposite of dispersing the zerg and a much greater frequency of massive keep funnels (as predicted) will make gameplay of many players suffer. Lag, frame rate drop, hitching/stuttering, warping and other heavy load anomalies can and will drive you crazy. Don’t worry though, as here is a short guide on how you can increase your client’s performance in those heavy load situations.

Aftermath of the kind of a battle your computer might blow up in.

Keep in mind that I am not an engineer or a programmer so my knowledge is limited. However, I am an experienced gamer and an advanced PC user. Things described in this post are problems I have observed and solutions I have learned during my time with games and WAR.

Also note that tips and advice in this section will mostly deal with increasing performance in the situations where your frame rate would normally drop below average or even below playable (typically big battles) and the game would start periodically freezing or locking up. This will be achieved by making the client uglier or even less functional, but will result in the game being playable in those situations. This guide won’t help with increasing performance on computers that are already struggling outside bigger battles.

While the settings have been tested with an FPS meter running and the (estimated) mean FPS being observed relative to the (estimated) encounter size, they haven’t been tested in an empirical fashion. But you can always do that yourself. I’m just pointing out the settings that greatly affect performance, it’s up to you to experiment with them if you want the performance/quality ratio that suits you and your computer. Needless to say;

RESULTS MAY VARY.

1. Your computer

First thing you want to make sure is that your computer meets the minimum system requirements. You can do so by visit this website. Keep in mind that if you only barely meet the minimum requirements you can’t expect the game to run decently in bigger battles. It also seems that WAR is a memory hog, so having over 2Gb of RAM is recommended.

Then you need to make sure your computer is in a good shape for playing games. Keeping your computer malware, adware, spyware and virus free is always a good thing. Keep your hard drive defragmented (unless you are using a SSD), as it does make a difference, and make sure you have at least a few gigabytes of free space. Also check reviews or tests of your antivirus program, as some of them slow down your computer considerably. If you use such an AV make sure to disable it before running the game or consider getting a different one.

Always make sure your system drivers are up to date. If you are experiencing problems after updating drivers try rolling them back or finding a more stable version.

Before you run the game close any other programs to free up hardware resources. I’d advise closing everything bar things you can’t do without (typically voice coms). You can even bring up the task manager (ctrl+shift+esc) and disable unneeded processes that run in the background to speed up the system.

2. Video settings

While simply switching between preset settings may yield some results, advanced settings is where you can really tweak the game.

Display

The resolution at which you run the game obviously play a big role in performance if your graphic card is on the weak side. But unless your GPU barely meets minimum system requirements, playing at lower than your native monitor resolution isn’t advisable.

There is one trick here though, the fullscreen versus windowed setting. I know many players choose fullscreen for various reasons, immersion, habit, preference,… But with WAR there really isn’t much of a difference as long as you set the windowed resolution to your usual fullscreen resolution. The only downside to this setting is that your in-game brightness and gamma default to that of your desktop and can’t be adjusted in-game. The upsides are that  alt-tabbing will be easier and quicker (the game will even load when alt-tabbed in windowed mode), you can preview what’s going on in the game if you’re using Win 7 (Live Thumbnails) and, surprisingly, you may see a performance increase. All-in-all, I’d say that playing in windowed mode makes the client less cumbersome and is definitely something to consider.

A balance between performance and quality, slightly prioritising performance.

Performance

Since WAR rarely makes full use of the newer generation graphic cards, most of these settings won’t affect performance as much as you’d think. Even so, things like post processing, play ability effects and the texture memory cache are worth looking at.

Environment:

  • I don’t need to see the grass, it’s ugly anyway. The performance increase will very likely be negligible, though.
  • Water settings don’t matter that much really, as you’ll rarely be fighting near water.
  • I choose to maximise draw distance because, well I don’t like seeing nearby mountains appearing out of fog. I believe that draw distance affects terrain and buildings only, and therefore makes no difference in PvP. Drag the slider all the way to the left for best performance, although you probably won’t see an increase unless your system is struggling even outside of large-scale RvR.

Lighting:

  • Lightmaps are textures that simulate lighting. They make things look prettier, but are useless otherwise. Turn it off for a small increase in performance.
  • Specular lighting is the light that is reflected off shiny surfaces. Makes things look pretty (especially metal armor and weapons), but is otherwise useless. Turn off for performance.
  • Post processing adds effects to the rendered objects, in WAR this is used to add bloom (the shiny eye-watering mist around things) and HDR (enables greater detail in very bright and very dark spots). Pretty, but useless. Turning post processing off saves a lot of system resources and if you’re considering turning off any lighting option, this is the first one to go.

Effects:

  • Effect system detail basically sets how shiny and pretty the spells and effects are. Pretty but useless, using fastest frame rate will give your GPU some breathing space.
  • Play ability effects determines whose effects you see and on who. I choose to set it to all, because with any other setting you won’t see hostile ground targeted AoE effects unless they are your own (for avoiding Sticky Feet or MoM in particular, but also Pit of Shades or Rain of Fire and Dissolving Mist or Napalm). For best performance you’d want this set to self, but if your computer needs all the help it can get, setting it to none can do the trick, although there isn’t much of a difference between self and none (the difference of drawing spell effects for 1 person, obviously).

Miscellaneous:

  • Shadows are pretty self-explanatory. Changing this setting doesn’t affect performance much unless your GPU is struggling, but if you want to squeeze as much FPS from the client as you can, setting it to none works.
  • I honestly have no idea if the animation quality setting works. I, with my untrained eye, wasn’t able to detect much of a difference (if any at all) between the fastest frame rate and high quality settings in animation quality. If I had to describe the difference, I’d say it’s a slight loss in smoothness of animation, but it could have well been just me imagining things. In other words, the difference is negligible. If you are looking for a performance increase without much of a hit to quality, this is the setting you are looking for. Turn it down without regret.

GPU:

There’s a slider in this section called texture memory cache. This setting determines how much of your graphic card’s memory is being used by the game. Unless you’re planning on running several video rendering applications on your computer at the same time, the slider should be set to largest. If the slider is greyed out then your graphics card is too old or not properly installed.

Changing this setting will usually shorten the time it takes for textures to load, most notably the huge destro zerg that’s invisible until you’re dead. Though if you experience any anomalies or a performance decrease, do as the warning says and adjust the slider back to default.

This is what they call graphical anomalies. Not how WAR is supposed to be played.

3. Other settings

Chat:

This might not affect everyone’s system and is very likely connected with the amount of RAM, but having the chat scroll limit set too high can slow down the game. Since the game saves text from chat, combat or any other chat tab you might have, the text held in temporary memory adds up. I recommend having this set to the default 500.

Targeting:

There’s a gem hiding here that will increase WAR client performance regardless of system spec, the position of planet Mars in relation to Venus, or whether you are a WoW fanboy or not. It’s the overhead names section. It seems that WAR is extraordinarily bad with stylised text in the game world, because as soon as you switch the name font from stylized to simple, the performance gain in large crowds will be noticeable. In addition, turning off some of the text works very well.

First thing to go without much of a functionality hit are the enemy player titles, friendly player titles after that and then I suspect the next thing to go would be enemy player names. For further FPS gain friendly player names can go aswell. I leave guild titles on for all players, as it helps me differentiate between warband members and other friendlies. You can still check any player’s name and title by targeting him. Experiment with the text options until they suit you.

Again, changing these settings will result in a noticeable change in performance in large crowds, where a lot of names are displayed, and not in PvE or solo play. For further FPS gains you can try experimenting with the overhead health bars, although I’m not sure it would yield any results.

4. Addons

Addons can, believe it or not, slow down the client considerably. Especially if you are using a lot of them or they are outdated or obsolete. Always try to keep your addons up to date and check for new versions after every major game update, even if the addon is working fine. Finding alternatives for old addons is most of the time a good idea. Keeping career/playstyle/profession specific addons deactivated on the characters who don’t need them will increase performance in the best case scenario and cut down on loading time in the worst.

Below are some of the more widespread addons that impact performance.

Buffhead 2

This very useful addon usually doesn’t cause problems, but with the wrong settings it can slow down the client in bigger battles, as it has to parse and sort a lot of buffs/debuffs on a target. Here are the conservative settings that won’t impact client performance, from the addon developer himself:

  • General update delay 1.00s
  • Disable priority updates
  • Disable effect fading
  • Maximum updates per cycle 1

The only noticeable difference between the default and conservative settings is that the icons won’t fade before disappearing and you may sometimes see a bit of a delay on when the buffs show up (up to one second).

Squared

This addon has been blamed by the developers for bad client performance once before, which is quite ridiculous. You cannot blame bad client optimisation on an addon that a lot of players don’t even use. Though I do have to say that I found another unitframes addon that in comparison with Squared seems to use fewer resources and run smoother. It’s called Enemy and has a plethora of other features which can be turned off, but despite it appearing as a bulky addon, using its unitbars seems to improve my frame rate in large-scale battles and appears to be less taxing on the client. Not to mention that if you’re already using Enemy for groupicons, killscores, marks, assist or guard functionality it makes more sense to use it’s unitframes aswell, instead of having a separate addon for it.

It’s a preference thing, but if you are willing to switch addons for the sake of performance I do suggest you give it a go. If you don’t notice any improvement you can always switch back.

Warhammer Scrolling Combat Text (WSCT)

I believe that WSCT can be blamed for problems most players are encountering in bigger battles when there is a lot of damage, healing and abilities affecting their character. Possibly because the addon parses the combat log and displays a lot of numbers in styled and animated text, which takes up a lot of resources, especially if the damage intake is 10-15 different abilities/buffs/debuffs affecting the character per second (not uncommon in large fights). As you know from the other settings section, WAR doesn’t do stylised text very well.

In addition, the addon hasn’t been properly updated in more than a year and has only the API remaining unchanged to thank for the fact it still works.

I urge players to try disabling WSCT and playing without it for a bit, if only to see the difference. I know the default scrolling combat text is very poor and hasn’t been updated since release either, but at least it isn’t a resource hog. I also know that a lot of players (including me) have come to depend on the addon and that it’s hard to adjust, especially when there’s no alternative to it. But in my opinion it’s worth it.

If you can’t live without the addon, you can at least make your life easier by turning off incoming damage, spells and effects to make the darn thing faster, which in my experience works to a degree. I suspect that setting the font to the default one and using non flashy animations on everything incoming might help aswell, thought I haven’t tested it.

Group Icons

As written in the addon’s comments, this addon no longer works. It causes big performance issues in groups and warbands and shouldn’t be used. It’s an old, abandoned addon but players are still trying to use it. Don’t. Enemy provides the same group-wide functionality.

DPS meters

Basically any kind of addon that will actively parse your combat log will slow down the client in bigger battles, as the amount of damage, healing and effects flying around is enormous. I recommend turning Tortall’s DPS meter, QQ DPS meter or any other kind of parsing addon off unless you’re testing something, which usually isn’t done in keep sieges anyway. By the way, QQ DPS meter is really old and now abandoned, it scarcely works. Not that Tortall’s is any better, but there aren’t any alternatives.

If you know of any other addons that might slow down the client, please let me know. If you are having issues and you think it’s addon related, it’s quite easy to determine which of them, if any at all, is causing problems. Deactivate all addons, and activate them one by one and test performance after each.

The same goes for any other part of this guide. Any and all feedback is appreciated.

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19 thoughts on “Improving WAR’s performance

    • Sorry, 1/10 for a complete failure of trolling here.

      As my puter isn’t that state of the art anymore and I have some performance issues sometimes, I will try some of your advice here.

      I am using WSCT AND Tortall’s DPS along, having heard that Tortalls SCC is causing performance issues as well. The problem is that I don’t see/know any alternative at all, as the standard WAR client’s output is just horrible.

    • Oh thank you very much Nattpyre, you just reminded me that I forgot to mention dps meters under the addons section!

      It’s true, any addon that actively parses the combat log will slow down the computer in large battles and I’m pretty sure it’s not the addon coder’s fault. My advice is not to have those active during big battles or keep sieges.

      I realise there’s no alternative to WSCT and that the default scrolling combat text is horrible, I’m having issues with switching aswell. I guess that if you aren’t predominantely playing in or against large groups where damage, AoE and buffs/debuffs get crazy, WSCT won’t be causing that much of a problem. Still though, just test playing with and without it to see if you notice any difference, it might help you change your mind. If nothing else, try switching off incoming damage when you know there’s going to be a lot of it flying around and stick with a non-flashy animation and font.

  1. Bah, Everyone says the Enemy addon is bulky and has large unit frames, but it’s all CUSTOMIZABLE. You can make it look EXACTLY like squared, but better, and with more info displayed. Like you say, it is also “lighter” on your system, and seems to update faster.

    I’ll have to play with the cache slider, even with my recent addition of a Nvidia 460, I haven’t played with that setting yet. Although I will say that having an overpowered graphics card makes the game a lot smoother, for sure.

    I agree with your lament about WSCT, I have also gotten very used to it, it’s hard to get away. Let us know how you do!

    • Yes I quite like Enemy, even prefer it over Squared because it displays more info that is easily seen (stagger icon, guard icon, morale!), eventhough I’m using the almost default layout. Not to mention the guard (I’m notoriously hard to guard on my Slayer), assist, markings features and kill totals. And despite appearing like a lot of seemingly unconnected things it’s really lightweight.

      On adapting to playing without WSCT: as far as playing my WP, it’s not that hard to adjust. Healing numbers are a bit hard to read, and I always miss the renown/inf/xp gains because it’s so small. But it’s the Slayer I’m having troubles with, because I can’t easily see the damage I put out with the default SCT. I have my font set up quite large with WSCT because I play on a bigger screen (21″). I usually compromise and use WSCT but with everything but the damage I’m dealing turned off.

  2. Hello. I’m author of Enemy addon and just wanted to say that when I developing it my first priority is performance. Can’t do much about war client bugs and hogs but I do try my best to keep code as much effective as I can.

    The main point of so many features got incorporated into one addon is that at one time I saw a lot of addons that implemented some good ideas but with not optimal code. Mostly this is because they all come from different authors and many common parts of them are usually written separately and so making your system clog with duplicate implementation of the same things. For example, you got 10 addons with every addon use resources to track player hp/buffs in their own way (because default API provide not convenient way to do so and there is no good written library for that too).

    Enemy code core library which incorporate most of the things other Enemy parts are using – for example one code for tracking players hp/distance/effects that is used in different enemy parts – unit frames, guard, ect.

    As have been said – you can always disable parts of the Enemy addons which you don’t need. Just right-click Enemy addon icon and go to configuration.

    And one more – you forgot to mention one addon that is very baddly written (iirc it has no throttling in it and so making a lot of processing on each frame, which is if you have 60FPS is 60 times per second) – it’s Moth. Currently I’m using Effigy for displaying mouseover class+name information (maybe I’ll implement this little feature into Enemy later).

    • Hello there, first of all thanks for providing insight on the addon front, as I’ll be the first one to admit I have only a faint idea on how things work (my coding experience ends with HTML basics) and secondly, thank you for the work you’ve done on the addon. It’s very useful and I’m using each feature in different parts of the game. And it seems to me that you’re doing a great job on optimising it.

      I didn’t know about Moth because I never used it. I’ll take your word for it and possibly install it just to have first-hand experience, and then update the guide.

      Thanks and keep up the good work. :)

  3. The War still goes on..And although I eventually found a Corei5 with a HD4870 solved most issues I started this game on a single core Athlon 4200 2 years ago and went through 2 more CPUs until my current one. I’m sure many still find every tip mighty usefull as this game is certainly a performance beast. Good stuff. One might also add the configurations outside War. ie I use Ati tray tools (not catalyst) to control all video card functionals. ie AA, AF, Textures etc.

    • Yes, I was testing those, but found myself unable to detect much of a difference. I’ve checked this and found some forum posts of players saying that the performance doesn’t really suffer when forcing AA, AAA, AF, etc,…

      It seems to me that WAR doesn’t really use the newer GPUs to their full potential but rather has the CPU handling much of the graphics load. Hence turning in-game video settings down has an effect in bigger battles but forcing the GPU to use advanced settings doesn’t have much of an impact on the FPS, as long as you have a new-ish graphics card.

      All this is interesting, but I didn’t feel it belonged in the guide as it doesn’t help anyone trying to make the game run smoother. Plus it’s bulky enough as it is.

      Thanks for feedback and glad you found it useful. :)

  4. Thanks for this guide Blaq. Has been very helpful for me. WSCT? Who’d a thunk it? It’s funny as whenever I have had a complete addon purge due to lag FPS frustration WSCT is my first ‘must-have’ addon to get reinstall. But I can live without it.

    • Yeah WSCT is usually one of the addons that don’t get turned off to improve performance and everyone has it. It’s quite hard to pinpoint it as one of the major culprits exactly because of those reasons. Hard to adjust to playing without it, but necessary.

      Glad you found the guide useful. :)

  5. Hi Blaq – I followed all your suggestions – I eventually found that Effigy was causing a lot of the stuttering I was experiencing.
    But I still have the problem with game freeze when I deploy a standard, level-up or grab siege equipment. I also have to reload the UI when I change regions otherwise I get a strange character animation stutter every few seconds and my FPS drops.
    I’m still experimenting with in-game settings but they don’t seem to make that much difference. The GPU (GeForce GTX480) settings make things look smoother but I still get the FPS hit and the GPU is just idling.
    Makes me think that the problem is with the CPU (i7 950) and the way the game talks to it. My drives are all SSD so there should be no problem on that side.

    • Hm, in the past standards caused a lot of performance issues because they were graphically intensive, so they’ve been toned down. But they’re still a bit of a graphics hog, so my first reaction is that it’s your GPU that’s causing the problems. Also, is your GTX480 from MSI? Are you running Vista or Win7? 32 or 64 bit? What PSU are you using? How old is it? Your GPU might be power starved. Do you get any graphical anomalies or artifacts?

      Now these might seem like stupid questions but you have to start somewhere.

      1.) Are your GPU drivers up to date? If they are, try a few sets of a bit older ones. Make sure that the current drivers are completely removed before installing fresh ones by using something like Driver Sweeper.
      3.) Check the audio drivers aswell.
      2.) Are the insides of your computer relatively clean? Your card might be overheating, although that’s a long shot, but it’s not that hard to open the box and have a look/clean.
      4.) Did you check your system with a spyware/adaware remover and an AV?
      5.) Try closing unneeded programs and disabling any unneeded processes in task manager (Steam, Fraps, MSN).
      6.) Check your RAM with MemTest.

      Remember to do these things one by one and always check performance between each step. Let me know how you get on. These aren’t all your options.

      • PC Specs –
        MoBo – Asus P6X58D-E
        Proc – Intel i7 950 @ 3.07GHz
        RAM – Corsair 6GB DDR3
        GPU – 2 x GeForce GTX 480
        2 x Raid1 SSDs for o/s and separate SSD for games
        Using MoBo Realtek audio
        Win7 Pro 64-bit
        The PSU is a Corsair Pro 1.2KW
        All components are less than 3 months old.
        The GTX480 is from Gainward
        All drivers are up to date and machine is virus free.
        Ram test comes up with all OK.
        Even with nothing else running I still have problems.
        Ho hum – I guess I’ll just have to live with it.

      • Oh, so you are running two cards in SLI. If you’re having FPS problems in other games aswell, try taking one card out and running a game with just one 480. Then try the other on it’s own. If both work fine something is wrong with your SLI setup. If one of them is causing issues, it clearly needs to be RMAd.

        If you aren’t sure on how to do that and would rather not risk borking up your PC, you should try to uninstall drivers, use driver sweeper and installing an older driver, if you haven’t tried it already.

        Two 480GTX is an overkill for WAR’s graphics anyway, for anyone not getting max fps in a SLI setup it’s because the game is coded and optimised poorly. :S

        I’m fairly sure that you’re having a problem with your GPU setup. I know I wouldn’t be happy until I fixed it, but if you can’t be bothered to throw away several hours trying to fix it, I guess you can live with it. :P

  6. They’re not in SLI – they each feed a 23″ monitor. I was having graphic anomalies in WAR with them in SLI.
    I think I’ve found the problem – after much ticking and unticking it seems that the Specular lighting is causing the problem. With this off deploying the standard doesn’t cause any problems and it seems a lot smoother.
    Why this should be the case with a super CPU and GPU I don’t know – there’s no problem with any other game at UltraHi graphics. As you say the game is poorly coded and optimised and I doubt they hane the resources to fix it.
    What I did notice was that the CPU gives a huge spike in activity on one core when the standard is deployed.
    Tests will continue.

    • Ah, glad you figured it out. Specular highlight is the shiny dot of light reflection on smooth surfaces, it makes armor look better. It does eat quite a bit of resources, but I have no idea why would it be a factor when deploying a standard. My guess is that they used some workaround on it that the GPU drivers can’t handle, which is why the CPU takes over.

      Anyway, hope you get rid of your FPS problems. I’m having something similar in LoL, and it’s driving me nuts. Shitty games. :P

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