What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

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What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby dcdk » 2019-8-22 @ 17:07

I would like to talk about how to optimize running Extreme Assault in dosbox. I have attached a screenshot of my setup.

The reason for this thread is that I don't get the performance of EA that I'm hoping for. There is a constant struggle with potential framerate drops and the screen tearing can be pretty bad at times. Lowering the game's graphics settings improves things a little. I have recorded a video to illustrate what I'm talking about with the in-game graphic settings changed to medium visibility and no fog:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCEeYtPfMAs (there is an audio desync, but that can be fixed)

I'm running without any other applications open at the same time. When checking the computer performance, the CPU runs at ~30%. Dosbox accounts for ~20% and the rest are system processes. The memory is at ~40%. The GPU runs (as expected) at ~0% without recording and then bumps up to ~40-50% when recording (I use Shadowplay for the capture). So there is no bottleneck with my computer that I can see. And still, I need to run on pretty low settings to get a performance that is barely acceptable in my eyes.

- Is anyone able to produce better results with this game? (I've checked a few of the online VODs and I must admit that I do see some of the same problems in many of them, but not sure how much effort they put into optimizing the experience)
- What kind of modern setup would you need to get a smooth experience? Better processor? More RAM?
- Am I not using the computer resources correctly? Ideas on parameters to experiment with?
- Bonus question. Has anyone managed to get the 3dfx patch to run smoothly? What kind of rig do you have for that?

I have attached the dosbox configuration file I used and below are my comments of the parameters I have been playing around with. In addition, I have activated vsync and triple buffering in the settings of my graphics card, but I can't say that it made any noticeable difference.

* fulldouble - Set to true to hopefully help with screen tearing. I can't immediately say that I see any difference whether it's set or not.
* output - Surface and overlay don't work properly for me (doesn't stretch to full screen). I have trouble seeing any big difference between opengl, openglnb and ddraw. I find the online information conflicting with different people recommending different settings, but I'm going with openglnb for now.
* machine and memsize - I changed this to vesa_nolfb after having read that it might provide better performance, combined with memsize 63, than svga_s3. I'm not sure I can see much difference though.
* scaler - I tried all of them, but can't really say that I noticed any difference at all... It's a bit weird because I would have expected at least some of them to give very visible differences. Anyways, I set it to none as I assume that's the least demanding setting.
* core and cycles - I changed this to dynamic core and max cycles as I read somewhere that would allocate the most resources to dosbox. This might have improved the performance marginally, but (again) difficult to say.
Attachments
dosbox-0.74-3.conf
(11.47 KiB) Downloaded 1 time
Computer specs.PNG
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Re: What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby cyclone3d » 2019-8-22 @ 17:35

Since DOSBOX is only single threaded it sounds like you are CPU limited.

Go into Task manager in Windows and then:
Performance -> Open Resource Monitor -> CPU.

Guessing that one of your CPU cores is being maxed out.

I see you are running 0.74-3 which is the latest official version.

There has been other work done as far as the CPU core goes (maybe somebody can link that thread) and when I get time I will be working on my own fork that should speed DOSBOX up quite a bit as well.
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Re: What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby DosFreak » 2019-8-22 @ 17:55

Have you tried lower resolution, detail levels and less than 16bit color?
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Re: What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby dcdk » 2019-8-22 @ 19:07

cyclone3d, I think you're right. I've only looked at the performance in the task manager, where all cores are grouped together and then it obviously looked like it should run without issues. I checked the resource monitor right now and it shows quite clearly how dosbox only uses one of the cores and it looks pretty maxed out. As soon as I shut down dosbox, it went down to 0. See attached image. So my options are basically to upgrade the processor to an unknown specification or wait for some dosbox development then...

DosFreak, I tried to use the in-game low resolution setting (I assume that's the one you meant). The processor core allocated to dosbox still looks pretty maxed out. Difficult to say if the performance was better though, because the graphics are so coarse. And I'm anyways not sure I would accept low res for creating video footage of this game.
I'm not sure what you mean by less than 16 colors? I don't find any parameter in the dosbox configuration file for the colors and all the in-game options are either 256 colors "something" or hicolor "something".
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CPU core monitoring.PNG
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Re: What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby kjliew » 2019-8-22 @ 21:10

dcdk wrote:Has anyone managed to get the 3dfx patch to run smoothly? What kind of rig do you have for that?

I believe both DOSBox and QEMU would run Extreme Assault at near perfect 30FPS if you have 3Dfx patch and compiled your own DOSBox/QEMU that include support for Glide pass-through.
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Re: What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby dcdk » 2019-9-02 @ 21:01

A quick update from my side. My main objective with getting Extreme Assault up and running was to record a speedrun. A speedrun requires a fairly big time investment for producing one video so I need to be pretty certain that the video quality ends up acceptable. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to produce acceptable results for attempting a single segment speedrun (playing the game from start to finish in one sitting), but as a second best option I decided to make a segmented speedrun on Extreme difficulty instead. So record each mission separately. That allowed me to redo many segments until I got acceptable video quality. The end result is not exactly perfect, but I think it's watchable.

I've given up on trying to find a better solution with my current setup, but I would still be very interested to hear if someone manages to record perfectly fluid gameplay of Extreme Assault and then what hardware they're running on. If the opportunity presents itself in the future, I'd be very interested to attempt a single segment speedrun.
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Re: What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby jmarsh » 2019-9-03 @ 04:22

You never mentioned which build of DOSBox you were using; where you got it, whether it's 32-bit or 64-bit, etc.
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Re: What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby dcdk » 2019-9-03 @ 13:11

I'm using 0.74-3. I don't recall where I got it from, but it looks to me like there is only one version anyways?
I've previously tried 0.74-2, 0.73 and a few SVN builds, like Daum. It was a while since I tried the older dosbox versions, but I don't remember them behaving much differently for me. The SVN builds I've tried have generally worked poorly (major framerate rate problems, resolution issues etc).

I'm not sure what you're suggesting, but if you have any specific versions in mind, I don't mind trying them out.
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Re: What does it take to run Extreme Assault smoothly?

Postby jmarsh » 2019-9-03 @ 14:28

The point was if you're using a 64-bit version it will be much slower than 32-bit.
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