The Talos Principle

The Talos Principle

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DEN [CT]  [developer] Feb 16, 2016 @ 7:44am
Talos and Vulkan Q & A

Q: What is this Vulkan, anyway?

A: Vulkan is a great new graphics programming interface that has much less overhead compared to previous APIs like Direct3D 9, 11 or OpenGL.

Q: Oh, so it's like Direct3D 12?

A: Quite like it, but portable, and not restricted to Windows 10 OS.

Q: I see. Like Apple Metal?

A: That too. But again, portable, and not restricted to iOS and OS X.

Q: So, it's like Mantle then?

A: Right again. But portable, not restricted to just one GPU vendor. And Mantle is pretty much gone. It served its purpose to get things started and I think that a lot of Mantle is now incorporated into Vulkan.

Q: Uh! Let's try this one more time. What's Vulkan again?

A: A PORTABLE low-level graphics API, that works across many GPU vendors (NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm, PowerVR...) and OSes (Windows, Linux, Android).

Q: That's better. Now, why was Vulkan support added to Talos?

A: Good question! We (Croteam) firmly believe that Vulkan is really the best low(est)-level API there can be. Fast and portable!
Yes, it has downside(s). For one, it's quite hard to program for. You have to do a lot of things manually, instead of relying on drivers to do the work for you. This is both good and bad at the same time. Good for performance reasons, because driver doesn't assume what game wants to render (I won't go into any more details here, sorry). Bad because there's a lot more coding and in general, it's a more complex approach. You better know what you're doing, because you won't get any help from the driver. You're on your own.
It's really great to have that much control. IF you know what you're doing!

Q: So, we can expect new super-duper graphics effects and more explosions?

A: No, this is graphics _programming_ interface, not effects designer. The Talos Principle will look exactly the same as on other gfx APIs (Direct3D 9 and 11, and OpenGL). At least it should. Otherwise it's a bug! Except if it looks better û then we'll just call it a feature. :)

Q: Why should I try it, or buy it?

A: First, because The Talos Principle is a great game! Believe me - I've played it! :)
On a more serious note, we (Croteam) are kinda expecting your assistance to find bugs and performance issues with different GPUs. We were only able to test the game with a few cards and we would like to know û how does it run on your end?

Q: I'm a beta tester? Again? For free?

A: Well, yes. But only if you want to be. We (Croteam) really need some more assistance from our great community because, well, programming Vulkan is very complex! I'm still not sure if I did everything right. Our entire GPU department was hard at work for three whole months. It's that hard!
Or maybe there's something in the fact that our GPU department is comprised of just one guy. It's me! Hi!

Q: So, OpenGL is dead?

A: No, not at all. For simple games, OpenGL (or Direct3D for that matter) is here to stay; learning curve is not that steep as with Vulkan. However, Vulkan really shines when it comes to reducing application and driver CPU overhead. It is (or will be) much faster than Direct3D 9, 11 and OpenGL!

Q: Then I can expect some great benchmark results?

A: Not so fast! Sorry. :( This is a beta phase, and there's still work to be done from our (Croteam) side and IHVs from driver side. But please be patient: in time, after optimizations are done, Vulkan will be faster, I'm sure.

Q: Really?

A: Let me put it this way: When The Talos Principle came out, it had a very similar frame rate in DirectX 9 vs DX 11. But then we optimized the game, and the drivers were optimized in the meantime, and now D3D11 is 20-30% faster than D3D9! I have a firm belief that this will also happen to Vulkan vs D3D11, over time However, for now you can actually expect lower frame-rate compared to D3D11. C'mon, it's brand new API, give it some time. :)

Q: Cut to the chase, please!

A: Ok, first, in GPU-bound scenarios (ultra settings, resolution higher than full HD), you'll see lower performance, 20 to 30% lower. This is work in progress, and we (both Croteam and IHVs) are analyzing and optimizing the performance. We'll get to the bottom of this!

Q: And CPU-bound scenarios?

A: Same or a bit faster. But for now, those scenarios really have to be super-CPU-bound. Like, rendering whole levels, without any help from visibility system, frustum, distance or occlusion culling.

Q: That bad, a?

A: Well, not that much. At least, this is how I tested when wanted to see what Vulkan can do.

Q: I think I've been patient enough - can I go and benchmark now?

A: Yes, you can. But I repeat - don't have high hopes. At least not for now.

Q: Good, finally. Ok, what do I need?

A: Well, drivers. They should be available from nVidia and AMD. Download, install, run, duck'n'cover. :)

Q: Should I reboot the system after installing drivers?

A: I'm not sure, but better reboot. With Windows, if you're in doubt - reboot!

Q: nVidia, AMD, AMD, nVidia... wait! What about Intel?!

A: Driver should be available soon. We're still trying to test it and make it run well. Or just make it run, for that matter.

Q: That's all?

A: No, you also need to run 64-bit version of The Talos Principle.

Q: Wait, what? No support for 32-bit?

A: No. 64-bit is the future. And present!

Q: Will there be Vulkan support for 32-bit version of the game?

A: Probably not.

Q: How should I...?

A: If you installed driver correctly, there should be "Vulkan (beta)" in graphics API menu under Options->Graphics options. When you select it you'll get a warning message that you'll loose your warranty. Well, not exactly that, but it's kinda message to expect, well, anything!

Q: Anything, ok, anything. Anything...else?

A: Well... the game could crash or lock up here and there. But that's why we have you, folks - to report it, here in forum, attaching log files and info and everything... You know the drill, don't you? ;)

Q: Wait! There's no Vulkan support in my version of The Talos Principle?

A: You should opt-in for public beta.
To install the beta, do this:
- locate the game in the Steam's "Library" panel
- right click and invoke "Properties"
- select the "Betas" tab
- choose "publicbeta"

Q: Almost forgot - what about minimum and recommended specs to run Talos under Vulkan?

A: Oh, yes, you're right - that's important! Here:

OS: Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 (Linux later)
RAM: 8 GB (16 GB just in case)
GPU: latest generation (or one previous gen)
(NV: 770 or better, 960 or better, could work on 600 but haven't tested;
AMD: 7970, 280 or better, 370 or better, Fury)
VRAM: 1 GB (not so sure about this, better have 2 GB at least)
SOUND: doesn't matter, Vulkan is for graphics!

Q: Windows XP?

A: Probably not, sorry.

Q: Vista?

A: HAHAHAHAHHAAAAA!!! No! (Well, I wouldn't be surprise if it actually runs OK under Vista x64, but I'll be definately surprised that you have Vista in the first place!)

Q: Will Vulkan or The Talos Principle break my system?

A: No. I don't think so. Hopefully not. If/when something goes wrong, either the game will crash, or the driver itself. But no BSOD. It shouldn't happen. But don't take my word for it; go ahead - try it for yourselves, try it, go, go... :)

Q: It BSOD my system, you lying little person! What now?

A: Soooory. My bad. No, not mine. Driver's! ;)
For real, if it really BSODs couple of times, don't test anymore. No point.

Q: Oy! Talos freezes after some minutes in game.

A: Let me guess... you have Windows 10 and nVidia graphic card?

Q: Yes.

A: Well, it kinda does that from time to time. We're still investigatin the issue... Sorry again.

Q: Sorry, ok, but what should I do?

A: This could be releated to occlusion culling.

Q: Occlusion what...?

A: Culling. Nevermind, just write these console variables and it should help.
(Game will run a bit slower, though.)

Q: Console? Variables?

A: You're not power user, I'm guessing...?

Q: Well, no.

A: Console can be invoked with F1 or ~ key. And then you can write to set some settings for the game.

Q: Oooo, I see...

A: Good!

Q: I just benchmarked it. FPS is lower than D3D, why?

A: I told you so. In time... good things come to those who wait. :)

Q: Oh, almost forgot - how about Linux version?

A: Soon! It's still in a bit development and more testing needs to be done.

Q: Thank you.

A: No, thank you! In advance! For testing!

Q: Anyone else?

A: Of course! Thanks goes to all great folks at nVidia, AMD, Khronos, LunarG, Valve and RenderDoc!
Without them, I would have one triangle rendered on screen by now. Small triangle. Maybe. With errors. And wrong color. :)

Yours truly,

Last edited by DEN [CT]; Feb 16, 2016 @ 7:50am
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Showing 1-15 of 542 comments
mphuZ Feb 16, 2016 @ 7:49am 
DX11: 41.3 fps
Vulkan: 31.1 fps

Very bad..
Last edited by mphuZ; Feb 16, 2016 @ 7:55am
Serious Sam Feb 16, 2016 @ 8:11am 
Loading times under Vulkan are noticeably longer and I'm getting similar fps to mphuZ.

Good luck Croteam
dx11 - 75fps
vulkan - 55fps

DEN [CT]  [developer] Feb 16, 2016 @ 8:15am 
Thank you.
The_GSD Feb 16, 2016 @ 8:16am 
Do I really need 8GB of RAM for this, or am I taking this way too seriously?
DEN [CT]  [developer] Feb 16, 2016 @ 8:32am 
Haven't tried on 4 GB, but it should work. :/
The_GSD Feb 16, 2016 @ 8:38am 
Thanks, I'll look into it, if I have the time. Always nice to help my favourite devs!
swarmster Feb 16, 2016 @ 8:58am 
Cool to see this game staying on the cutting edge! I'm wondering if we could hear a little update on the other front: VR support? Has that experiment concluded, or is it still being developed?

Kryuko [GNU/NT] Feb 16, 2016 @ 9:26am 
Damn. I've installed beta-vulkan-drivers on my Ubuntu only for your game, and now i know that there is still no vulkan support on linux atm. =/ Uninstalling.
Kain Feb 16, 2016 @ 10:51am 
Great (and funny) faq, thanks!
dbqp Feb 16, 2016 @ 10:51am 
"You're on your own.
It's really great to have that much control. IF you know what you're doing!"

So... do you know what you're doing? ;)
Rasta Feb 16, 2016 @ 11:11am 
First game with Vulcan support, yay! That's great guys, good job. Thank you!
Last edited by Rasta; Feb 16, 2016 @ 11:11am
SUSEd Feb 16, 2016 @ 11:31am 
Launched game under win10x64.
When game works with Vulkan API and recommended settings, it causes GPU driver to crash.
Talos.log --->
Game works with all performance settings set to minimum
Benchmark results:

Average: 301.4 FPS (300.2 w/o extremes) Extremes: 616.8 max, 20.9 min Sections: AI=25%, physics=4%, sound=2%, scene=55%, shadows=1%, misc=13% Highs: 8330 in 19.9 seconds (418.4 FPS) Lows: 6896 in 30.1 seconds (229.1 FPS) > 60 FPS: 100%

Average: 273.3 FPS (277.8 w/o extremes) Extremes: 611.9 max, 8.0 min Sections: AI=23%, physics=4%, sound=2%, scene=60%, shadows=1%, misc=11% Highs: 1 in 0.0 seconds (611.9 FPS) Lows: 292 in 4.0 seconds (72.1 FPS) > 60 FPS: 100%

Average: 217.9 FPS (227.5 w/o extremes) Extremes: 544.7 max, 4.5 min Sections: AI=19%, physics=4%, sound=2%, scene=61%, shadows=1%, misc=14% Highs: 1 in 0.0 seconds (544.7 FPS) Lows: 1160 in 12.9 seconds (90.2 FPS) > 60 FPS: 100%
Last edited by SUSEd; Feb 16, 2016 @ 11:55am
Afs Feb 16, 2016 @ 11:36am 
It was not a great succes for me. After a few seconds of normal but laggy gameplay, the game freezes, displays various degrees of corruption[], and Windows tells me the Driver crashed.

Geforce GTX 660 on Windows 10.
It happens every time. The Occlusion Culling commands make no difference.

It's more probably a driver problem than a game problem.
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