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VIVE and DCS is a PITA


dertien
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Hello fellow simmers,

 

I have a VR ready gaming laptop (MSI Tobii Dominator with a Geforce 1070 on board and 16 Gigs of DDR4 ram)

 

I try to enjoy DCS with the VIVE but a couple of things are really screwing up the fun of it all.

 

I also have the impression that certain settings set to on or off either just don't do what they should or are just there for show.

 

All drivers are up to date and VIVE software as well... so no need to go down that road...

 

Here are my issues with the VIVE regarding gameplay on the MI-8 summed up from frustrating to annoying:

 

 

1) Mouse Cursor in VR keeps unfocusing after leaving the game window on screen.

 

When playing in VR, DCS also displays the game in a view on the laptop screen in a window. This window however uses the full resolution for height (1080 pixels high), but it does not fill the screen in width, it crops it to 1/3 in width, and centers it giving you 640 pixels wide. This means that on either side of this game-window your Windows desktop is visible.

 

When clicking switches in VR, the cursor is visible in the middle of the screen and you move the mouse with your head instead.

 

The mouse cursor unfocuses from the game window if you turn your head 90° sideways to click on switches situated on side panels. It somehow doesn't seem to stay 'in the game'. So once your mouse pointer in your VR headset dissapears, you know that the DCS window is no longer focused and you are clicking on your desktop instead.

 

There seems to be no way to set the DCS window on the screen to accomodate the full resolution in order to keep the mouse in the game window (albeit in low resolution - at 600*480 for performance sake)

 

2) Performance.

 

It doesn't matter if I set the performance to VR, or LOW. running just DCS and closing down Firefox and other background processes.... DCS is just not made for VR at the moment benchmark wise. It plays well for 90% of the time and the fluidity of rendering is fine but every once and again, about every minute or so, the game just seems too much for the GPU and freezes while showing a black screen with a loading bar. Very annoying, even running this on the lowest of settings does not help to alleviate that problem.

 

I can run Elite Dangerous and Aerofly FS on High to Max settings.

 

3) The SU-25 Flaps/gear/airbrakes do not like my X-55. I have them configured in game via button presses. They work in the Mirage 2000 (the gear and the airbrakes) and they work in the KA-50 (the gear) but the SU-25 does not seem to respond to these controls.

 

Can anyone help with the first two issues, I can get by with the issues on the SU-25 since I don't fly that bird much.

 

Please...

 

A game that should be very enjoyable like ED and AFS 2 is slowly becoming a nightmare.

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When playing in VR, DCS also displays the game in a view on the laptop screen in a window. This window however uses the full resolution for height (1080 pixels high), but it does not fill the screen in width, it crops it to 1/3 in width, and centers it giving you 640 pixels wide. This means that on either side of this game-window your Windows desktop is visible.

 

This is normal behavior.

What you see on the screen is what you see from your left eye in VR, with similar resolution.

Afaik, there's no way to avoid this.

Not sure about your focus issue. I never had that problem.

 

 

2) Performance.

 

It doesn't matter if I set the performance to VR, or LOW. running just DCS and closing down Firefox and other background processes.... DCS is just not made for VR at the moment benchmark wise. It plays well for 90% of the time and the fluidity of rendering is fine but every once and again, about every minute or so, the game just seems too much for the GPU and freezes while showing a black screen with a loading bar. Very annoying, even running this on the lowest of settings does not help to alleviate that problem.

 

DCS usually runs quite smoothly on a high end desktop PC.

I can push every graphics settings to maximum, except shadows at medium, and almost always get >45fps, and even 90fps when not flying too low in crowded areas.

Just a word about "gaming laptops". For me, those two words just shouldn't be used together :)

When you look at the size of components (CPU, GPU, chipset, heatsinks etc...) in a high end desktop pc, you'll realize it is not possible to get the same performance by squeezing everything into a laptop.

A gaming laptop will always provide significantly lower performance compared to a desktop pc, even if the components spec looks similar (actually, looking closely to all figures, one can see the specs are far from being the same).

Laptops also tend to have many more driver issues.

 

That said, about your loading freezes, have you tried playing with the "preload radius" slider?

 

I can run Elite Dangerous and Aerofly FS on High to Max settings.

 

DCS is mush more CPU demanding than those two.

Partly because DCS is mainly single threaded (appart from a second thread used for the sound engine).

So it cannot benefit from current multi-core CPUs, unlike Elite Dangerous which is natively multi-threaded.

It is clearly not straightforward to design a complex sim like DCS to use multiple threads. Possibly because of critical synchronization constraints between threads.

A game like Elite Dangerous is mush less complex in essence.

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You can hit ALT-ENTER to "maximize" the screen and the mouse won't get lost. It stops at the border of the the screen.

 

There's also a Mouse setting to "run full screen" or something like that.

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@Dax

 

I agree that a desktop PC and a Laptop are 2 different animals. However, this laptop was built for gaming and for VR. It is VR-ready and scores max on the steam testing tool. I run DOOM 2016 and even DCS without VR on max settings without stutters. I also have trackIR 5, and use that with BMS, but it's a bit hard to get back to flat screen simming if you're used to VR. The 1/3 rd screen is also visible in the youtube link below. Anyway, Hansangb told me that I could switch to full screen with the good old Alt_Enter. This keeps the mouse focused on the game screen and cannot wander off it. That's what I meant with focus.

 

Yes, I have finally set the preload redius slider to max 150.000 and I get noticeably less of these "load pauses". The view range is set to high as well.

 

@Hansangb

 

Thank you for that, that solved the biggest issue of the mouse not staying in the game window.

 

The setting 'Cursor confine to Game window' does not work on the VR settings tab, or at least does not what it should.

 

@ all

Finally I have found this thread

 

https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=172537

 

and...

 

He's right: 'Shadows on' is the biggest frame rate killer and is also responsible for a lot of 'loading-stutters' when in game.

The game engine stops responding for a second or less and shows the black box with the three animated bars. The same animation you get when you're waiting for your mission to load.

 

Tuning the others up/down just helps framerates.

 

I have also set the preload at maximum 150.000

The trees at 10.000

The grass at 900.

 

- Anisotropic at 16 as well as 1.3 for the Supersampling in the VR window.

 

Shadows off is not even half bad.


Edited by dertien
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As hansangb said, you need to alt+enter and make the game window on your monitor/laptop display full-screen(yes it will be distorted, but not in VR), this will prevent you from losing mouse focus while in game.


Edited by Torso
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I've got both the vive and cv1, I can say with reasonable certainty that the cv1 handles it a lot better, though I haven't tried the vive with it in a few months. You can see a detailed writeup I did about it here:

https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=170394

 

RE the mouse, alt-enter will fix it.

 

As for rendering performance being CPU constrained, this is largely true. The massive amount of single threaded draw calls (to draw each little building as a separate 3d object) is an issue on both headsets. But, asynchronous timewarp on the cv1 (and spacewarp now, though I'm not even sure I have it working) really do help. So far the vive hasn't matched the user experience benefits from this frame approximation/interpolation. Other things to turn off/down are grass and trees, no mirrors (every new framebuffer = new draw calls, as far as I know), and water reflections. Instead of antialiasing try and oversample your render resolution (render density settings).

 

As for your screen blanking thing, I have no idea and it sounds horrible.

edit: I've had some screen blanking before when there's rain and environmental effects.

 

I'd like to know if it's possible to blank the render on the desktop, as a third framebuffer is unnecessary and I suspect we could improve performance by quite a bit if we remove it. But, that's something for the wishlist.


Edited by Shabi
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every once and again, about every minute or so, the game just seems too much for the GPU and freezes while showing a black screen with a loading bar. Very annoying, even running this on the lowest of settings does not help to alleviate that problem.

 

Hmm, does it look something like the attached image? (background is my vive lobby, which might be black for you). Because I'm trying to work this out also; it only started happening within the last month for me (whenever framerate drops, it switches to this which only exacerbates the problem because now instead of a dropped frame the view flickers like crazy back and forth).

Dialog.png.4bb52984bb69ed2538bee890d3da3a4e.png

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I have a CV1 and have noticed that in Elite Dangerous (using SteamVR) I get the Screen Blanking you are talking about. What this is, is the tracking getting lost for a split second on the CV1 either from to much CPU usage and not enough for the VR engine, or some sort of weird tracking disconnect. Basically I think you are seeing the VR engine thinking the game has died or frozen and trying to return you to the steam vr default view, but then the game response so it flashes back. I was literally playing Elite Dangerous last night while streaming and kept getting this behavior because ED and OBS were slamming my CPU.

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Thanks for all your posts so far.

 

I've been testing a bit to try to run it as well as can be expected. I purchased the VIVE more out of political reasons (because I don't like Facebook and the guy who 'invented' it) but that is another matter for another discussion.

 

I haven't had time to read up on your full writeup Shabi, but in time I will get there.

 

I have also installed the free Starway Caucasus DLC, now that doesn't seem to behave any different fluidity wise in relation to Stock Environment. It certainly looks beautiful.

 

I used the MI-8 free flight mission as a benchmark to test different graphical settings. Flying around the airport you spawn at, the "loading box" that NickD was so kind to provide a screenshot of in his post above does not appear often if at all. Regardless of flying fast and low or high and slow. I took the flight to Kutaisi, and there, just before getting to the airport I got a whole lot of 'loading boxes' 5 or so in quick succession. It's very painful on they eyes and messes with your brain.

 

The box seems to pop up every single time though when you are in the control config menu when you use the search function to find a control fast. For example you type 'Gear' and then it finds the relevant controls without showing the box. When you delete that word, to type in a new one, it always brings up that black box and the game environment is completely gone, it shows a void which is dark blue below and a light blue above the horizon, the black box with the 3 alternating loading bars that jump up and down sits in the middle of your viewpoint. I used to have it popup a lot ingame as well, every time when a radio message from an NPC/ATC were displayed on screen. That behavior seems to be gone now.

 

Now Jabbers has something similar that used to be an issue I had in Elite Dangerous and is basically the same behavior. You got a grey-out, and the game world would vanish completely for a fraction of a second. I used to have this before the latest ED patch came out in November last year. Also HCT came up with a patch that introduced the asynchronous reprojection method, and since then I haven't had that issue and I can enjoy Elite Dangerous without the greyouts. Thank the maker because those greyouts were very powerful motion sickness enticers.Jabbers, I don't know how to solve this on the CV1 but on the VIVE it's completely gone.

 

I have also dropped the Resolution of cockpit displays to 256 as well, since that seemed to help with the 'loading box' issue.

 

Shadows are off as well, however it would be nice to have an option to switch off the tree shadows and keeping the shadows on for the aircraft, since it is a useful natural altitude indicator, especially in helicopters.

 

Also I can play Elite Dangerous for hours without feeling discomfort. If I got this issue out of the way I could probably do this in DCS as well.

 

I'll keep testing for the next couple of days and see what I can come up with and alleviate the problem (or at least minimize it) with the right mix of settings. The unfortunate thing is that VR being so new, there is no one-size-fits-all, even with 2 identical computers. Now if ED can iron out these things, I'm pretty confident the DCS team can do the same, even if both games are indeed fundamentally different.


Edited by dertien
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Okay, it took even a lot less time to get it sorted so for anyone with similar hardware, stutter free and 'loading box' or 'grey out' as good as gone. I have added Shabi's screenshot as a reference, and added the altered settings accordingly that seem to work with my hardware.

 

Hardware:

 

MSI Tobii dominator pro.

HTC VIVE

GPU: Geforce 1070

Ram: 16 GIG DDR4

OS: Win 10

DCS version: 1.55 Non steam

 

 

DCS mods:

 

- Reduced shadow draw range mod

- Starways Black Sea Map 2.0

 

SETTINGS:

 

For the MI-8 (and basically all slow moving craft like the Helos and the Dora)

 

System settings tab

 

- Heat blur: low

- Shadows : Flat only

- Resolution 1280*800 (I guess the lower the better since it only affects the distorted laptop view, and has no effect on VR)

- clutter/grass: 0

 

VR settings TAB

 

-Pixel density 2.5

 

For the MIRAGE 2000 (and faster moving aircraft) System settings tab same as above.

 

You'll only have stuttering when flying at treetop level and looking to either side at your 3 or nine a clock facing the ground / trees as they whizz by. I mean IRL it will also be blurry, and that's kindof what it looks like. In contrast even at tree level and looking straight on, or keeping your eyes pointed at an object about 300 meters on either side, the stutter is gone as well. It's just noticeable when looking at trees flashing by at your 9 or 3 oclock low.

 

- Pixel density 1.0-1.4

 

If you fly at higher altitudes where the terrain is rendered (or your missions take you there) you can bump up the pixel density to 1.9-2.0 since stutter will not be an issue there.

 

Hope this helps anyone with this issue and comparable hardware.

 

Thanks a lot.

 

3MxZ8Dn.png


Edited by dertien
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Under the VR options tab there is a checkbox to confine the cursor to stay in DCS, give that a go. The performance I can't help you with. Mine does run smooth on an R9 290X though.

Anything with a Rotary Wing is fun and challenging.

Use SRS radio.

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I used the MI-8 free flight mission as a benchmark to test different graphical settings. Flying around the airport you spawn at, the "loading box" that NickD was so kind to provide a screenshot of in his post above does not appear often if at all. Regardless of flying fast and low or high and slow. I took the flight to Kutaisi, and there, just before getting to the airport I got a whole lot of 'loading boxes' 5 or so in quick succession. It's very painful on they eyes and messes with your brain.

 

It's actually a drawing as I couldn't work out how to take a screenshot of it - it doesn't show on the desktop. I think I narrowed it down to a SteamVR patch on the 4thhttps://steamcommunity.com/games/250820/announcements/detail/276242807866324750:

  • Added a new transition UI that appears when an application is starting, stopping, or not currently rendering. In some applications it will appear during level transitions.
  • Added a new system skybox that shows when an application is running but not rendering instead of the user’s configured skybox (and environment.) The user’s skybox and environment will still show when no application is running.

 

-Pixel density 2.5

- Pixel density 1.0-1.4

It's be really nice if DCS worked a little like e.g. The Lab and automatically scaled the pixel density according to average performance, but then that'd have to go on the back of a long list of engine improvements that they aren't able or willing to implement, currently.

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@NickD

 

Don't forget that it is not ONLY a steamVR software issue, which has now been improved upon, and hopefully will keep improving as VIVE's software and firmware gets better. It was also Frontier Developments who improved Elite Dangerous which has since then not shown any "greyouts" as I like to call them in VR. DCS has been around quite a while longer than both headsets, so with each new iteration of the engine used by DCSworld; we'll eventually get there as well.

 

It's just that throwing bigger and better hardware at something should not replace streamlined code, I'm aware that the software cannot be run on non VR hardware, but given the fact that my rig struggles to run DCS decently in VR (it's a I7 at 2.6 GHz) should give them some food for thought. Or at least... when one has the hardware that should perform brilliantly, one shouldn't have to fiddle 5 days to get maxed out settings combined with good frame-rates and no ingame intermittent loading pauses.

 

Like I said, the settings I've posted are pretty good, but not perfect and in missions I still get the 'loading box' and stutter also seems to happen far too often.

 

I would already be pleased if the VR setting would have LOW/MEDIUM/HIGH/ULTRA options (on top of the pixel density setting) so I don't have to micromanage all different non vr settings by trial and error myself. I mean it's nice to have them, but something that works out of the box would really make a difference here.


Edited by dertien
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Don't forget that it is not ONLY a steamVR software issue, which has now been improved upon, and hopefully will keep improving as VIVE's software and firmware gets better.

Oh, I wasn't blaming SteamVR for the DCS performance issues, only the exact fact that the update I linked to specifically introduced the annoying dialog box that we've been seeing where before, the framerate would just slow down.

 

It's just that throwing bigger and better hardware at something should not replace streamlined code, I'm aware that the software cannot be run on non VR hardware, but given the fact that my rig struggles to run DCS decently in VR (it's a I7 at 2.6 GHz) should give them some food for thought. Or at least... when one has the hardware that should perform brilliantly, one shouldn't have to fiddle 5 days to get maxed out settings combined with good frame-rates and no ingame intermittent loading pauses.

 

Like I said, the settings I've posted are pretty good, but not perfect and in missions I still get the 'loading box' and stutter also seems to happen far too often.

 

I would already be pleased if the VR setting would have LOW/MEDIUM/HIGH/ULTRA options (on top of the pixel density setting) so I don't have to micromanage all different non vr settings by trial and error myself. I mean it's nice to have them, but something that works out of the box would really make a difference here.

 

I'm pretty sure CPU is the limiting factor with DCS world because e.g. it is an ancient single-threaded engine with out-of-date draw idioms (if the batch-drawing hyperbole is to be believed). This is a completely understandable problem, as AFAIK the current implementation directly dates back to at least 2009/10? (Thinking original Black Shark), and up until now the engine could keep pace with graphics card development. All of a sudden, there is a leap from the high end users being happy with an average 60fps all the way to 90fps, from two perspectives instead of one.

 

Sure there is lots of things that could probably be done, but from the sparse updates I get the impression that VR support is probably just a single developer, (probably who owns an Oculus rift), who works on VR support as a secondary-priority task.

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You arent doing your system on favors with a pixel density of 2.5 You dont need this, anything over 2.0 is pretty much not worth the performance hit. Infact, your eye has a hard time disinguishing 1.8+ I would recommend not going over 2.5, in reality, this just isnt at all worth the performance hit. Look at it this way, you are rendering your scene at well over 4k resolution 5400x3000 at 2.5, and you only see 2160 x 1200

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Yeah I agree with Jabbers.

 

My advice would be to set in game PD to 1.0 and modify the steamvr.vrsettings file like this...

 

"mirrorViewGeometry" : "0 0 1080 600",

"playAreaColor" : "#0092FF00",

"powerOffOnExit" : true,

"renderTargetMultiplier" : 1.8

},

 

The "renderTargetMultiplier" setting is the PD setting.

 

Choose 1.8 or 2.0 as you see fit but above 1.8 you won't see much difference. Also... Keep in mind that setting this in this way will effect other SteamVR games (likely for the better).

 

If anyone can correct me please do. My last info is that the in game setting above 1.4 will also wash out the image horribly and that setting both above 1.0 is a bad idea in any case.

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OK I just went and tested and PD>1.4 works natively now :) so don't worry about the file edit.

Nvidia RTX3080 (HP Reverb), AMD 3800x

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@Jabbers and @M1Combat

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

Assuming you have a VIVE, there is a program called 'shaperone switcher' created by Bilago. This progam allows you to change the 'render target multiplier' natively in SteamVR without the need to edit files. It's just a GUI basically.

 

I was under the impression indeed like you said M1C that the ingame 'pixel density' and this 'render target multiplier' both were the same thing.

 

Out of the box SteamVR comes with a setting of 1.0 'render target multiplier'

 

Would it matter much or have any different results would one either choose to use identical settings either using the PD ingame or natively in steamVR ? I mean the visual result should be the same, but performance wise it might make a difference.

 

I would say logically speaking that the less the (already strained) DCS engine needs to be pushed extra the better it should run.

 

I'll test that out with settings with a maximum of 1.8.

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Do yourself a favor and get OpenVR Advanced Settings. (https://github.com/matzman666/OpenVR-AdvancedSettings/releases)

 

It has many useful options, including SS sliders for both In-game AND the dashboard. Yes, you can set the PD of the dashboard to a completely different value, whereas the RenderTargetMultiplier alone, will effect everything.

 

All this can be done within VR via the new Advanced Settings icon it puts on the dashboard. Changing SS setting still requires a SteamVR restart, but there's a convenience restart button. ASR and Interleaving can be toggled on/off without a restart.

 

Plus, another great feature that was just recently added, is the ability to call up the dashboard keyboard anywhere for text entry. Very convenient.

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