If you are having problems...
...it's not always the games fault :P
Here are a few common solutions to try. These won't just help our game run, but they're generally good advice for many PC games...!
1. Network Problems.
Download Region -
Make sure your Steam clients Download Region actually matches your region!
You can check this by clicking the Steam menu on the client, opening Settings and then going to 'Downloads + Cloud'. Make sure the Download Region is set locally to you.
It's important for this game as we match by both ping and region, so if it's wrong, it could be matching you with players far, far away and that will only introduce the dreaded lag.
In multiplayer games, the important factor is latency, or how quickly can you send and receive information over the internet to other players.
What most players don't realise is whilst you might have a great download speed, you may not have such a great upload speed.
Downloading torrents, updating MMO's or even running Skype will limit how quickly data will be sent to other players. If in doubt close such applications.
Sometimes you may need to reboot your router if it's been running for a while.
There are many speed test websites available on the Internet, doesn't hurt to do a quick check to make sure you're getting the connection speed you expect!
A Firewall is something that restricts applications on your computer from sending or receiving data from the Internet. The built in Windows firewall can sometimes decide a given application won't be allowed to send or receive data.
For an online game (or the Steam client!) this can prevent you playing online at all! So if you cannot get a connection to anyone, check that a Firewall isn't blocking you!
2. Rendering Problems.
If you have any weird rendering problems or the game runs slower than you might expect, the very first thing you should do is make sure your video card drivers are up to date.
Drivers are responsible for taking the graphics from the game and pushing them to the screen. If these drivers are old or out of date, not only will you not be getting the best performance but you will also likely run into issues with many modern games.
Generally, if you know the type of card you have you are best going to the chipset manufacturer *rather* than the actually maker of the card. I.e. if you have an Asus manufactured Nvidia GeForce 460GTX, go to Nvidia rather than Asus. This just ensures you have the very latest drivers for that particular chipset.
When we say 'latest' drivers though, it's best to avoid Beta drivers. These typically are released early and allow the chipset manufacturers to do a wide test for any problems before general release. That doesn't mean unexpected problems can't occur though. Most of the time it's fine, but as with our Beta Branch, it means we're still making sure everything works as expected before general release and that problems may still occur.
Detail, Resolution, Vsync -
The higher the detail or the resolution, the more powerful hardware is required. If you experience slower framerates than you like, try reducing the resolution first. Reducing the resolution means the game has less pixels to draw and run post effects on. Let's compare two typical resolutions...
1920x1080 = 2073600 pixels to render
1280x720 = 921600 pixels to render
Or in other words - the game running at 1280x720 is doing about 44% of the work it would at 1980x1080. That likely means dropping the resolution may allow you to increase the detail!
Another factor is Vsync (which is short for Vertical Sync). A simple way to explain this is most monitors update the screen at a set refresh rate, say 60Hz, which is a fancy way of saying the screen is updated 60 times a second.
If you see the screen tearing, i.e. the image split up and out of sync, this is usually when the game is sending information to the screen faster (or slower!) than the screen is refreshing.
It's a little like when sound goes out of synchronisation on the TV, so you can see the lips move but the sound comes out late.
You can force the game to make sure it only sends information as the screen is updating, you simply turn on the Vsync option on the launcher.
However... What this can do is cause the game to slow down on slower hardware, as it has to stop drawing whilst it waits till the screen is ready. For slower hardware, it may not be able to do this quickly enough.
For this reason, we say for on fast hardware you should turn the Vsync on. It will result in smoother update and gameplay.
On slower hardware turn the Vsync off, it will likely give you faster performance, though the trade off may be screen tear, but this is usually preferable as you get more frames per second.
Custom Resolutions & Forced visual settings -
When we write a game we do so aiming for the best possible support for a wide range of hardware. What we can't do is check every possible forced setting via numerous drivers that are available though. So creating a custom resolution can causes issues as this might be a resolution the game wasn't designed to support.
Our game uses a deferred rendering engine. Forcing various kinds of anti-aliasing will actually slow the game down and actually make the game look worse, as deferred renderers need very specific anti-aliasing solutions.
By all means play with settings if you are aiming for certain performance or visual fidelity, but understand that generally, we spend a lot of time ensuring the game works well at stock driver settings on many different types of hardware. Forcing settings may cause unexpected problems, so reverting to stock settings is always wise if you see weird visual artifacts.
3. Slow Loads.
Anti Virus -
If you are connected to the internet, anti-virus software is almost essential. But... As typically what it does is check each file as it's loaded to make sure there are no viruses in it, this can seriously affect your gaming performance. In extreme cases, this can stall a game for a set amount of time that may then lead you to be disconnected from a network game...
So if you are running Anti-virus software, first make sure it's up to date and if there is a game or performance mode, it's worth enabling as generally this means it will trust files it has already scanned.
What else is running -
A PC is a machine like any other. Let's say you have a pickup truck. If you fill the back of a pick up truck with bricks, what happens is it affects your acceleration, braking and will drink a whole load more fuel!
PC's are no different, you only have sufficient horse power to run so many applications at a time and you have only so much space in RAM for those applications to live.
When you are running a game, generally what you want is the best performance available.
Closing down other applications, be they internet browsers, email, torrents, updaters or more will only give more available system resources to the game. Simply put the other stuff is just weighing you down with bricks, that doesn't half make it harder to run.
A simple test you can do is press Ctrl-Shift-Esc, this will load the Windows Task Manager.
Go to the Processes tab. This shows you everything the computer is doing, what CPU time is taken up and how much memory each application is consuming.
That can be a real eye opener!
If something is running you don't use or need, close it or uninstall it. It is amazing how much of a speed gain you can get for everything by the occasional spring clean.
Stressing the Hardware -
Modern games will stress your hardware more than simply browsing the internet. They will typically make your CPU, GPU and memory work much harder and this can show up issues with a PC that may otherwise not be apparent.
For example they can push your hardware to run a lot hotter than normally and this can make your PC overheat.
Most PC's reside in the living room. Now and again, pop the side of the case off and check your PC isn't full dust. Dust prevents air movement, clogs up fans and can sit on your PC's components causing all manner of problems. It is a quick and easy job to clean this with compressed air.
If your fans are rattling or running slowly, this can also lead to overheating. Like a rattle in a car, it's best to replace these to make sure your computer can run under load just as a car runs under load.
4. General good advice...
Are you up to date? -
You know those Windows update reminders... You really shouldn't ignore them!
Not only do those updates protect you against virus and exploits (which themselves can cause problems) but they also can and do provide updates that modern software need and provide performance increases for your system.
If you aren't on Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or Windows 7 Service Pack 1 chances are you could run into trouble with any number of games or standard Windows applications.
When we develop software, we ensure all our development and QA machines are fully up to date as with so much variety in PC hardware, it's one of the few ways we can ensure our systems are the same as the majority of players out there.
Capturing Video will slow things down -
Many of you will want to record some game footage whilst playing. That's fine, we do it too!
However capturing footage can place an even greater strain on your hardware than just running the game, so slower framerates and potentially odd behaviour can occur.
We don't generally test video capture applications through development, so understand that you may cause problems when capturing footage that you may not see through just playing the game.
That said... We did use Fraps for many captures during developments for trailers. So typically, we know this is generally safe. Other applications are available - as they'd say on the BBC :P
If in doubt ask! -
And if the above hasn't sorted a problem... Then feel free to ask!
Sometimes there are known problems with software. Sometimes we have done something wrong or know of an issue and we're working to resolve it.
We're not perfect, like many people we make mistakes. There are many layers of testing that take place before software is released, but with the wide range of PC hardware, not everything can be covered.
PC's aren't consoles. Each and every Xbox 360 or PS3 will react and work in a specific way and do so regardless of a players actions.
PC's are very different, there are varieties of components not least from processor type but also the motherboard they're plugged into, the revision of that motherboard and it's BIOS, the make of the memory, GPU, other hardware devices. That's before we get to the OS, the drivers, the applications running and more.
It's the pain and beauty of PC's. If you do experience a problem then information helps.
Typically the OS used, CPU type, GPU type and amount of memory will give us a great idea of what your system is capable of. That can then help us to help you.
Hopefully, the tips above will fix all potential problems you may come across not just with our game but with other games too. Apologies for the epic post!