Unreal Tournament 3 Tweak Guide
[Page 8] Advanced Tweaking (Pt.2)
Note: Most of the settings below are already altered depending on what the World Detail slider is set to - see the In-Game Settings section for more details. Also note that altering some of these settings can result in other settings also being changed, so examine this section of your .ini file closely to make sure all your settings are as you'd prefer after applying some of these changes.
Static decals are markings or posters in the game world which are placed on surfaces as decoration by the map designer, and are not created by players. Setting this option to False removes these, and depending on the map the visual and performance difference may or may not be noticeable.
Dynamic decals are the marks left by players when using weapons on the surroundings. If this option is set to False, while weapons will still show impact marks initially, some weapons will not leave dark scorch marks and the like on scenery. Disabling this option may improve performance particularly in heavy combat. Note that you can alter the lifespan of dynamic decals using the DecalLifeSpan variable covered later in this section.
This setting controls the use of Dynamic Lighting, which is lighting that interacts realistically with the game world. For example when this setting is enabled and you fire a ball from the shock rifle, the blue light from the ball will reflect on surrounding surfaces as it passes them. This can noticeably reduce performance, so if you wish to increase your FPS, particularly in heavy combat, then set this option to False.
This setting controls whether interactive objects in the game world, such as characters and vehicles, cast shadows, both on themselves and other surfaces. If set to False, these objects will not cast any shadows, which can improve performance at the cost of some realism.
This setting controls whether the Light Environment, namely the general lighting in a level, such as sunlight, creates shadows. When set to False, it disables many shadows similar to disabling the DynamicShadows setting, but it still does not remove the shadows for objects with fixed shadows, such as buildings and terrain.
If set to True, this option appears to enable a less accurate form of dynamic lighting, which may improve performance at the cost of image quality. In practice the visual difference is not noticeable.
This technique allows for improved image quality, as surfaces will have additional depth, bump and detailing. Setting this option to False can increase performance but reduce image quality by making surfaces appear flatter.
This option controls the use of Motion Blur, which is additional blurring seen when turning around or moving rapidly. If you want to disable this effect either because it annoys you, or to gain improved performance during motion, set this option to False. Note that his option does not relate to the general blurring effects used in the game. Note further that I haven't actually seen any motion blur in UT3.
Update: As of the 1.3 Patch, Motion Blur can now be accessed under the in-game settings menus (See In-Game Settings section), and motion blur is now fully functional in UT3.
This option controls the use of Depth of Field, which is an effect used to simulate the way in which objects within focus are sharper than objects outside our direct field of focus. It's noticeable in particular when zooming in on objects - objects which you are aiming directly at will appear crisp, while surrounding objects will be blurred. You can set this option to False to gain improved performance, or if you just don't like this effect. Note that while standard Depth of Field is not visible (e.g. zooming in with the Sniper Rifle does not display it), disabling this setting seems to alter the impact of Bloom lighting significantly, and has a major impact on image quality; a great deal of Bloom and all blurring is removed. I'm not sure whether this is a glitch or done intentionally.
This setting controls the use of Bloom Lighting, which is a form of lighting that exaggerates the brightness and glow of lights, creating a slightly hazy, more atmospheric look. With this option set to False, Bloom is not supposed to be used, however oddly enough, disabling Bloom (and QualityBloom, see below) doesn't seem to remove bloom lighting as such, while disabling the DepthOfField setting while leaving Bloom enabled does seem to disable most of the bloom lighting. Again I'm unsure as to whether this is done by design, or a bug, as it does not make any sense.
As with Bloom above, this setting controls Bloom lighting effects, and if set to True uses a more accurate form of Bloom. Disabling this may gain additional performance without a noticeable change in image quality. Once again, in practice disabling this and/or the Bloom setting above doesn't actually appear to diminish or remove Bloom lighting.
This option controls the distortion effects seen around things such as explosions or exhaust fans. For example when this is enabled, rockets or flak shells hitting objects will show heat distortion around the impact, shock combo explosions will show distortions in the air surrounding them, and Manta fans will show air distortions. Disabling this option will remove such effects, improving performance particularly during heavy combat.
After some testing I'm unclear as to what this setting does. I do know that when the World Detail slider is reduced, this option automatically goes from False to True, so it appears that setting it to True may improve performance, possibly at the cost of the visual quality of particle effects.
These two settings control how the SpeedTree foliage rendering system works. If set to False, these settings will remove some - but not all - of the foliage on certain maps, which can improve performance and also increase visibility. For example with these settings disabled, on ShangriLa some bamboo plants are removed from the main courtyard; in Heat Ray the leaves on the trees near the blue and orange billboards disappear.
This option appears to relate to the streaming system, but whether set to True or False, appears to have no impact
Lens Flare is an effect seen when staring at a bright light source, such as the Sun. There are halo effects or changes in light intensity when this happens. When this option is set to False, these effects are removed. Note that I don't notice any visual quality change with this effect set to False, as there doesn't appear to be any prominent Lens Flare used regardless.
This option appears to relate to the fog system in the game, and if set to False should disable volumetric fog.
This setting enables or disables Floating Point Render Target technology, which is used to provide certain post processing effects, such as the ability to enable HDR and Anti-Aliasing at the same time. The main impact of setting this option to False is that it alters the appearance of the game, removing certain post processing effects. It provides a slightly different appearance to any other option, and some may like it, however there will be some minor visual glitches, such as light boxes around explosions.
This option controls the use of Trilinear Filtering, which can improve the appearance of textures. Disabling this option may slightly reduce texture clarity but can improve performance. Note that the general appearance of textures is more dependent on the MaxAnisotropy variable, as well as the Texture Detail in-game setting.
This setting only has an impact if the Screen Percentage setting is below 100%; if it is, and this option is set to True, the game will upscale the image to fill the entire screen, although this results in a reduced image quality as described under the Screen Percentage setting in this guide. If this option is set to False, and the Screen Percentage setting is set below 100%, then the game image will only take up a portion of the screen. E.g. at 50% Screen Percentage and with this variable set to False, the image will only take up 50% of the screen, and will be surrounded by black borders.
This setting appears to allow DirectX10 mode when running in Windows Vista; it has no impact in XP since XP cannot run DX10. When enabled in Vista it seems to reduce performance, possibly in return for better image quality. At the moment it is difficult to see any improvements in image quality with this option enabled, so it is recommended that Vista users set this option to False to gain a noticeable improvement in FPS without any real image quality decline.
If set to False, this option reduces the polygon complexity of characters, which can improve performance. In general the image quality difference is not significant, so set this to False if you need the extra FPS, particularly on servers with lots of players.
LOD Bias affects the clarity of textures, by determining how Mipmapped textures appear. Higher positive values make things blurrier but can improve performance, while lower values, including negative values, make things clearer at the cost of performance, and can also introduce further aliasing (jaggedness and shimmering) to the scene. The SkeletalMeshLODBias setting relates to animations, while ParticleLODBias relates to particle effects. In practice the impacts of altering these settings is not major.
This setting controls the additional details on various maps, such as fog, ice and dripping water. Lowering this value to 1 or 0 removes such additional effects, which can reduce atmosphere but may increase FPS and also may provide a gameplay advantage.
This setting controls the quality of the shadow filtering used (if shadows are enabled). Higher values provide better quality at the cost of performance, but once again with testing I was unable to note any real differences in shadow quality using this setting.
This setting controls the level of Anisotropic Filtering used in the game to make distant textures clearer. As noted in the In-Game Settings section under Texture Detail, depending on your texture settings some AF may automatically be applied. Here you can manually specify a particular sample rate for AF, from 16x which is the highest, to 0 which is no AF. The more AF is used, the lower your performance.
This setting appears to control the use of Multisampling, which is a common form of Anti-Aliasing, used to reduce jaggedness. However at the moment altering this setting has no impact (either in DX9 or DX10 mode) since UT3 does not properly support AA - see Anti-Aliasing under the In-Game Settings section for more details of how you can force AA in UT3. In the future, Epic has stated that an AA option is possible for DX10 mode in Vista.
These settings determine the minimum and maximum possible values for shadow resolution. The higher the minimum value, the darker and richer more shadows will appear; conversely the lower the maximum value, most shadows will appear less distinct and grey. Raising or lowering shadow resolutions can result in performance drops/rises, and also visual glitches. In particular, the higher you raise the shadow resolutions, the more the edges of shadows may display jaggedness depending on your shadow filtering setting.
These settings control the width (ResX) and Height (ResY) of your display resolution. While this can normally be adjusted using the in-game settings, you can use these values in case you can't access the in-game settings, or to try a custom resolution.
This setting is the same as the in-game 'Screen Percentage' option, the difference is that here you can set a value below the 50% mark. Of course the lower the percentage, the more blocky and blurry the game will appear, but the higher your performance. Note again that so long as the UpscaleScreenPercentage setting further above is set to True, the image will fill the whole screen.
This setting affects the overall smoothness of shadows. A value of 0 disables shadows altogether, and higher values increase the sample rate which results in improved shadow quality at the possible cost of performance. In my testing anything above 1 doesn't show significant improvement.
There are a range of TEXTUREGROUP settings here relating to different aspects of the game world, objects, lighting and shadows. Each has a MinLODSize, a MaxLODSize and LODBias which you can experiment with to alter image quality. For example, to alter the overall quality of vehicle surface reflections, find the line starting with TEXTUREGROUP_VehicleSpecular, and you can raise the MinLODSize value, or change the LODBias. In my testing unfortunately most changes seem to cause crashes.
There are a range of SoundGroups settings here, and these can actually be altered in a very useful manner. Each SoundGroup has a name, and has certain properties including volume, and whether there is any reverb (reverberation - or echo effect - attached). If you wish, you can disable specific sounds, or raise their volume, by altering the Volume= value of each one. For example, to disable the Main Menu sound effect when you click on an option, find the line with the relevant GroupName - in this case GroupName=UI - and change the Volume property to Volume=0. This will remove the sound effect without altering or removing the menu music or any other menu sounds. Conversely, if you wish to raise the volume of weaponry in the game, find the line with GroupName=Weapon and change the Volume value; raising the volume will make weapon sounds louder relative to other sounds and effects. You can also change the bNoReverb value from True to False if you wish to add reverberations to particular sound effects, though in my experimentation this didn't seem to have any real impact.
If you wish to remove all the introductory startup movies, you can insert a ';' in front of every line starting with StartupMovies (e.g. they should each look like this: ;StartupMovies=EpicLogo). I don't recommend altering any of the other lines as this will disable possibly important in-game cutscenes and movies when playing the singleplayer campaign. Note that there is another way to disable startup movies - see the last page of this guide for details.
The next page continues the Advanced Tweaks.