Doom 3 Tweak Guide

[Page 10] Neat Stuff & Conclusion

Here we are at the end of another tweak guide, and a particularly epic one at that! Only a few more tweaks to go, but ones which might help you gain a few more FPS and get some more out of this great game.

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Latest ATI Catalysts

For ATI graphics card owners, make sure you are using the official ATI Catalysts, version 4.10 or higher, as these have built-in optimizations for Doom 3. You should not need to use the old Beta 4.9 Catalysts which were advertised as being "optimized for Doom 3", since the official 4.10 Catalysts onwards contain all the beta's performance improvements without the bugs. I strongly recommend all ATI graphics card users update to the latest Catalysts for maximum performance and stability under Doom 3. For full details of where to download the latest Catalysts, how to install them correctly and most importantly how to set them up the right way, see my comprehensive ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide.

ATI Shader Tweak

You can use this shader tweak to improve performance on ATI graphics cards, available from the: Beyond3D Forums - full instructions are in the link. I haven't personally tried the tweak, but users report a 1-2 FPS boost on average.

Update: This tweak has been incorporated into the latest ATI Drivers for a while now, as detailed in this thread, so you no longer have to apply it.

Speed Up Load Times

One method some people are recommending to speed up loading times and perhaps boost performance is to unpack the zipped .pk4 files in the \Doom 3\base\ directory. These .pk4 files contain all the files Doom 3 uses to run the game, and at the start of each Doom 3 session these are unpacked and loaded up, which can take some time. If you want to use this method, follow these steps:

1. Firstly make sure that you do not delete the .pk4 files. Move them somewhere else on your system.

2. Rename each file from .pk4 to .zip.

3. Extract the contents of each file using WinZip to the \Doom 3\base\ directory. This may take a fair bit of time.

4. Make sure you run Windows Defragmenter after this procedure, as the files will be spread all over your hard drive. Do this by going to Start>Run and typing "Defrag.msc" (without quotes), then click the Defragment button.

5. You can now start Doom 3 and it should read these files much more quickly.

Note that I personally don't recommend this method, as the performance gains are minimal, with the main gain being faster loading times. The down sides to this method are that playing Doom 3 multiplayer becomes difficult, as most servers will consider your game files to have been altered and you will be kicked. Also, when it comes time to patch/update the game, you will have to remove these files, replace the original .pk4 files (that's why you shouldn't delete them!), run the patch, then unpack them again. Rather tedious given the 3GB + of information that needs to be unpacked.

Doom 3 Game Music

If you like the Doom 3 title music, and indeed any sound effects and ambient music in the game, you can find these in the pak003.pk4 file in your \Doom 3\base\ directory. Using the method mentioned before, rename this file to (make sure to name it back to pak003.pk4 straight afterwards), and use WinZip to extract the contents to an empty directory. The main theme music is called d3theme.ogg. Most of the sound effects and music are in .ogg format, which can be played back using the free WinAmp Audio Player.

Disable Startup Movie

If you want to skip the "beating heart" introductory movie each time Doom 3 loads, there is a simple method for doing this. Go to the icon you use for launching Doom 3, right-click on it and select Properties. In the Properties box which opens, find the Target line and add a space then "+disconnect" (without quotes) to the end of it. For example:

"C:\Doom 3\Doom3.exe" +disconnect

Now when you launch the game with this icon, the intro movie is skipped every time.

Doom 3 Benchmark

The Doom 3 engine developed by id Software is a very unique and elegant game engine. It can look fantastic, even on lower end machines. It is a perfect OpenGL benchmarking tool - especially since there are few recent OpenGL benchmarks. To use Doom 3 as a benchmark, start the game and open the game's console (See Advanced Tweaking section). From here you can launch custom demos (pre-recorded game sequences), at the end of which a set of figures showing your average framerate over the length of the demo. To run the built-in Doom 3 demo - and this is recommended if you want to compare your results to others - type "timedemo demo1" (without quotes) in the console. Wait for the run to finish and note the results, then you can compare them with others online. Note that with VSync disabled, framerates in the timedemo can exceed the normal 60FPS cap in the game engine.

If you want to record your own timedemo, load up a particularly challenging stretch of the game, then open the console and type "recorddemo demoname" (without quotes). E.g: recorddemo trialrun will start recording a demo called trailrun.demo in your \Doom 3\base\demos\ directory. Type "stoprecording" (without quotes) to stop recording this demo at any time. To then run this demo as a benchmark, simply type "timedemo trialrun" (without quotes) in the console and it will be played back, and your average framerate over the run will be shown. Note that the Doom 3 engine is extremely sensitive to overclocking because of the way it is designed, so if you crash, freeze, reboot or artifact during the run keep this in mind.

Taking Screenshots

Taking screenshots in Doom 3 is quite easy - simply press the F12 key and a screenshot is placed in your \Doom 3\base\screenshots\ directory as a large .tga format picture file. You can view .tga files using Adobe Photoshop, or a free utility like IrfanView. However if you want to use other methods for taking screenshots, try these:

  • Use the PRINT SCREEN key during a game to place a single screenshot into memory, and once you exit Doom 3 you can paste the last screenshot taken into a paint/photo editing program and modify or save it in any format you like from there.
  • Use a free utility like Fraps. Fraps can take as many screenshots as you like during gameplay, and stores them in high-quality .bmp format in the directory of your choice.
  • Use a utility called Hypersnap DX, which will meet any and all of your screenshot needs for any game, but requires paid registration to enable full functionality.

  • I personally recommend either Fraps or Hypersnap DX if you want to take a lot of Doom 3 screenshots, however the built-in screenshot functionality is fine for most people.


    Holy cow, I never thought I would finish this guide. If you don't know the saga that lies behind the writing of this guide, basically I recently bought a new apartment and had to move into it exactly two days after Doom 3 was released. So I got one night to sample the game, then the next few days were a blur of packing, shifting boxes, cleaning everything, more boxes (real horror involves boxes, I swear...), other large objects, and driving around town like a madman trying to get all manner of things done. My PC was offline all this time, and only just over three days ago did I manage to set it back up and start writing this guide. As I sit here now looking at the final product, I'm personally amazed I have put this together in such a short space of time...and that's why I'm relying on you, faithful reader. While to the best of my knowledge, and from personal testing, I believe the guide to be error free, I need you to let me know as soon as possible if you detect any errors in the guide. You know the drill, Email Me!

    As always I really enjoy hearing from readers even if they just want to say "hi" or tell me what they think of this guide. Of course for time reasons I can't provide any personal tech support or tweaking advice. In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this guide and that it helps you get more out of Doom 3 which is a truly excellent game, if not perfect in every way.

    Links and Credits

    I wrote this guide based primarily on my own testing and research, because not much tweaking information is available on the new Doom 3 graphics engine. However I did find several guides, articles and sites which were extremely useful in getting this guide completed in record time. I acknowledge their contribution, and strongly suggest that you check these out to enhance your Doom 3 tweaking experience:

    Doom 3 Official Site

    Activision Doom 3 Support Site

    [H]ardOCP Official Doom 3 Hardware Guide

    ViperLair Doom 3 Console Guide

    AnandTech Doom 3 Hardware Guide

    FileShack Doom 3 Section

    PlanetDOOM Forums

    DoomWorld Forums

    Just a reminder - make sure to check back on this guide regularly, as I will definitely keep it updated with the latest feedback from users and more testing, and as new patches are released for this awesome game. Take care guys!