Quake 4 Tweak Guide
[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips
This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address many of the common problems experienced by Quake 4 players. I can't stress enough the importance of taking the time to go through the checklist of advice below if you're having a problem with the game.
Official Support: The first place to look for official support details is in the Readme.txt file in your \Program Files\id Software\Quake 4\Docs\ directory. Importantly, check out the minimum system requirements in that file, as well as the supported hardware list, since if any of your hardware is not supported or doesn't meet the requirements then you will experience problems with the game, or quite simply won't be able to run it. Read through the list of compatibility issues and suggested fixes as well. If you want to read the game's manual online, run the manual.htm file in the same directory. If you're still having problems you should visit the Official Quake 4 Forums to look for solutions or post a question.
If you want unofficial support, try dropping into any of the dozens of forums discussing Quake 4 right now, such as the PlanetQuake Forums. Remember however that people on these forums expect you to have done some researching and reading of guides like this one before asking simple questions like "how do I show my FPS in the game".
Windows Vista Users: If you're having problems running this game under Windows Vista, first make sure that you're using the latest Vista graphics and audio drivers for your hardware, and the latest version of this game (see page 4 for patch details). Next, make sure you don't change your UAC settings after the game has been installed, as due to Virtualization this can change the location of the game files and settings. If you can't launch the game successfully when UAC is enabled, you will need to run the game with full Admin privileges. To do this either right-click on the launch icon and select 'Run as Administrator', or right-click on the launch icon, select Properties and under the Compatibility tab tick 'Run this program as an administrator' then click OK. I strongly recommend that you refer to the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for Windows Vista for more information - in particular check the 'Gaming in Vista' section of the Graphics & Interface chapter; the UAC section of the PC Security chapter; and the 'Personal Folders' and 'Directory Junctions & Symbolic Links' sections of the Windows Explorer chapter. These will tell you how you can fix game-related issues and also explain the relevant differences of Vista.
Lag vs. Graphical Slowdowns: This is a common issue in most multiplayer FPSes. Check the Multiplayer Commands on page 9 of this guide for methods of troubleshooting ping problems, however also make sure to adjust your settings to get a consistently smooth average FPS (25FPS or higher is recommended), otherwise when your FPS dips down to the low double or single digits you will experience lag which you may mistake for connection or server problems when online. Display your FPS counter in the top right corner of the game while playing online, and if it shows a good framerate but you still experience laggy gameplay, then you can really start experimenting with the various net_ command variables.
The Latest Graphic Drivers: Since Quake 4 is so dependent on your graphics card (see articles at the top of the In-Game Settings section on page 5), make absolutely certain you have updated to the latest graphics card drivers. See my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide or Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide for details on where to download the latest drivers and how to install them cleanly.
In-Game Lag/Freezes/Stuttering: To reduce any stuttering/loading pauses in Quake 4, make sure you have set the appropriate Video Quality level based on the information on page 5 of this guide. Because that setting controls textures, and because texture loading is the most common cause of regular stuttering in most games, you need to experiment to have the right balance of image quality and performance. Don't just choose High or Ultra quality if your system can't handle it. And of course, make absolutely sure that you have run the Windows Defragmenter after installing Quake 4, as the game is 2.5GB in size and if its files are fragmented this can greatly increase your stuttering and in-game loading pauses.
Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering: To make sure Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering work properly in Quake 4 it is recommended that you, first go to your graphics card's control panel, and for Nvidia cards under the Performance & Quality Settings in the Global Driver Settings section select 'Application Controlled' for Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering. For ATI cards go to the 3D section of the Control Panel/Control Center and select 'Application Preference' for Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering. Now go into Quake 4 and set the level of Antialiasing under the Settings>Advanced Options area, and to set Anisotropic Filtering see the image_anisotropy command under the Advanced Tweaking section. If you are unfamiliar with what Antialiasing or Anisotropic Filtering do, see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. Keep in mind that any Antialiasing can noticeably reduce performance, and also keep in mind that by default, if you se a Video Quality level of High or Ultra, Quake 4 automatically applies 8x Anisotropic Filtering - which of course you can change by seeing the Advanced Tweaking section.
Virus Scan: Do a full scan of all your files using the following excellent (and free) tools: AVG Virus Cleaner for viruses, A-Squared for trojans, and Ad-Aware SE for spyware/adware. Viruses, trojans and spyware can cause unexplained behavior, general file corruption and system slowdown, and can also steal your CD Key. It's best to make sure your system isn't infected before moving on to any other optimization measures. However make sure to disable any background scanning programs once you're done (See below).
Background Programs: The game's developers recommend that you disable all background applications - especially virus, trojan and spyware scanners and messaging utilities. These applications can and do use up valuable CPU resources, take up precious RAM, cause memory conflicts and crashes to desktop, but most importantly they interfere with read/writes to your hard drive effectively slowing it down and causing even more in-game freezes and stuttering. Full instructions on how to identify your startup programs and services and how to correctly disable unnecessary ones are in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. This is an important step you should not miss.
Overclocking: While Quake 4 is not overly sensitive to overclocking, if you are experiencing graphical glitches or crashing in the game, set everything back to its default speeds and see if this impacts on the problem. If you don't experience the same problems at default speed, or they're reduced in severity, then your overclock is the primary culprit. Either permanently reduce your overclock and/or increase cooling to regain stability. Don't assume that because other games run with stability at a particular speed that Quake 4 will do the same.
These are just a few of the common problems people are having with Quake 4. However if you follow the advice in this guide, you should be able to play the game more smoothly. Just be realistic about balancing eye candy with performance, and focus on tightening up your system as much as possible. Read the guides I link to under Essential Optimization above for more details on how to do that. The Quake 4/Doom 3 engine is quite solid and is virtually bug-free, so chances are the problem is with something on your end.
Read the remainder of this guide for specific settings and tweaks which can help improve your performance and resolve any problems. The next section looks at patches, maps and mods.