1.02 Readme -- Graphics settings
After a recent hardware upgrade I extracted this useful info from the 1.02 patch. Not sure why this info didn't carry forward to 1.1 docs, maybe it is no longer correct?
1) TEXTURES. Available settings: Low, Medium, High. This parameter affects the quality of the textures of objects and aircraft cockpits. It has no affect on the quality of ground textures. By default, the setting is high. This parameter has little effect on performance, although it should be lowered on lower-end machines.
2) SCENES. Available settings: Low, Medium, High. This parameter determines the detail of ground scenes in the game. On the low setting, ground objects and buildings are only drawn around airbases. Everywhere else, no objects except bridges are drawn. On the medium setting, all the objects and buildings are drawn, but no forests. Furthermore, the number of trees in populated areas in somewhat reduced. With the setting set to high, all the objects and buildings are drawn, in addition to all the forested spaces and individual trees. This parameter has quite a strong impact on performance. If your computer is not high-end, it is recommended that you use the default setting of medium. It should be noted, that the scene setting is saved in the mission, which is necessary because objects can be set as mission goals.
3) TERR PRLD (Terrain Preload). Available settings: 20, 50, 100 km. This parameter determines the radius of terrain objects and textures loaded from the spawn point of the camera in the game (this is why the game starts in a paused state to allow for the loading to take place). This parameter is worth increasing if your computer has 1 GB of RAM or greater. With more RAM there will be more objects and textures preloaded which will help avoid stutters and freezes during the game due to the loading of new textures and objects.
4) CIV TRFK (Civilian Traffic). Available settings: Yes, No. This parameter enables and disables the inclusion and travel of civilian cars and trains on roads or railways. The player has no control over these objects’ movements; they travel along a pre-determined route. The setting has a noticeable effect on performance when enabled as the map is filled with thousands of additional moving objects. Although, it should be noted that one civilian object demands considerably less resources than one military object placed through the mission editor. Nonetheless, civilian traffic will take resources.
5) WATER. Available settings: Low, Medium, High, Very High. The default setting is medium. This parameter determines the quality of water surface rendering and light reflection and refraction in the atmosphere. It has a strong impact on performance. On lower-end computers, it is better to set the setting to “low”, which will result in the water being drawn as a simple single texture. Higher settings of water rendering significantly improve its look and lighting effects but will require a more powerful computer and video card.
6) FOG. Available settings: Basic, Advanced. The default setting is advanced. This parameter determines the means of displaying fog and all effects related to viewing distance. The game has two ways of rendering fog: with the help of shaders, which is under the advanced setting, and without shader technology - basic. This option strongly affects performance and it is recommended that users with lower-end computers use the basic setting. Let’s note though that this will create the absence of some lighting effects, such as the aircraft landing lights, flares, and night illumination due to fires.
7) LIGHTS. Available setting: None, Weapons, All. The default setting is all. This parameter determines the lighting from effects and some lit objects. The option has little impact on performance, as it is rare to come across multiple sources of lighting in a single scene.
8) VISIBILITY. Available settings: Low, Medium, High. This parameter determines the distance of visibility of objects and has a strong impact on performance. It is recommended that the high setting be selected only if you have a very powerful computer and video card.
9) EFFECTS. Available settings: None, Low, Medium, High. This parameter affects the magnitude and quality of various effects displayed, which mainly means different ground and air explosions. The setting does not have a strong impact on performance, unless the scene includes many explosions and fires. On non-shader video cards, it is recommended to set to the “None” setting, under which effects will be present, but in simplified form. Doing this will increase performance and avoid possible issues with game stability.
10) SHADOWS. Available settings: None, Active Planar, All Planar, All. This parameter determines the rendering of the shadows. The default setting is ‘All Planar’. Under ‘None’ no shadows are drawn. Under ‘Active Planar’ shadows are drawn only for moving objects and airplanes. Under ‘All Planar’ shadows are drawn for all objects including various buildings and structures. Under ‘All’ an additional self-casing shadow for objects is enabled, i.e. parts of an object can cast shadows on the object itself. All the options except ‘All’ have no significant impact on performance. The ‘All’ setting should only be selected if you have a powerful processor and video card. Note that we have found the ‘All Planar’ selection is actually the pivotal one because it bogs the CPU/Video card by requiring calculations to render shadows for every building/tree in the scene. Thus a major portion of the slow down when flying over cities/forests can be avoided by disabling structure shadows by selecting the ‘Active Planar’ option.
11) HEAT BLUR. Available settings: On, Off. This parameter determines the enabling and disabling of the heat shimmer effect of heated air behind the jet nozzles of aircraft. This effect can be seen on aircraft with afterburning engines (like the F-15, Su-27, and MiG-29) at speeds below 450-500 km/h. The hear blur effect significantly reduces performance, thus is disabled by default. It should be enabled only on powerful-enough computers. Using anti-aliasing with heat blur is also a performance hit.
12) COLOR. Available settings: 16 Bit, 32 Bit. This parameter determines the depth of color in the game. By default, the full-color setting of 32 Bit is used. If your video card is not powerful enough or of an older type, you should try selecting 16 Bit which will provide some improvement in performance. This setting can also be set in the configuration file Lock On\Config\graphics.cfg in the section DisplayMode, in the parameter bpp = 32; or bpp = 16.
13) RESOLUTION. This parameter determines the resolution of the screen during gameplay. The default setting is 1024x768 pixels. If your video card is not powerful enough, it is possible to lower the resolution to 800x600. It isn’t recommended to select settings lower than this, because it can result in problems with the display of the menu system. If your computer and video card is powerful, you can select any of the higher settings, all the way up to 2048x1536.
Besides all of the above-mentioned options, the “Cockpit” section has 2 parameters which affect performance.
1) MIRRORS. This parameter selects the display of rear-view mirrors in the cockpit. By default, the mirrors are disabled. Rendering mirrors has a significant impact on performance and it is not recommended to enable it on lower-end machines. Furthermore, the mirrors have three settings of quality: low, medium, and high. The default quality setting is medium. Depending on computer power, you can select the appropriate quality settings for the mirror rendering.
2) REFLECTION: This parameter determines the cockpit reflection off the canopy, as well as various canopy light reflection and refraction effects. This affects, for example, the rendering of canopy scratches under the sun’s rays.
With the correct tuning of all the above-mentioned settings according to you computer’s configuration, you will get the maximum possible quality of display with good running performance of the game.