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Frame rate

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FPS display

Display of the frame rate in Guild Wars

The frame rate is the measurement of how quickly a computer produces the images of a computer game on the screen. It is usually expressed in frames per second (FPS). The higher the frame rate is, the more fluent, or "smooth", movement on the screen will appear. With a low frame rate, movements will appear "choppy", up to a point where the single rendered images will become recognizable, like in a slide show.

With action-oriented computer games (like Guild Wars), it is important that the frame rate does not drop too low. This does not only keep the game visually appealing, but also helps a lot with reacting to what is happening on the screen, like targeting opponents (choppy movement makes it hard to aim with the mouse). In general anything below about 15 FPS is considered to be unacceptable.

The frame rate is dependent on the performance of the computer, above all the graphics card, but also CPU, RAM and other components. High class components will achieve higher frame rates than low-budget or outdated equipment.

Also, the complexity of the displayed images have a huge impact on the frame rate. The more complex the screen content is, the lower the frame rate will be. Some examples for things that are known to put stress on the frame rate are huge crowds (i.e. in a town during a special event), massive skill usage (i.e. multiple traps going off in the same instant) or weather effects (i.e. snow and fog together).

Players can influence the frame rate (other than by buying more expensive hardware) by adjusting the graphics options of the game. Higher settings, larger resolutions and anti-aliasing are very performance-hungry so that a higher frame rate may be achieved by reducing and/or disabling those settings.

It is possible to display the current frame rate during game play. To do this simply hover your mose pointer over the small circle in the lower right corner of your screen. For a more in-depth explanation see frame rate.

Frame rate tuning

A low frame rate may make the game choppy, while a very low frame rate can even make the game slow to respond to player input (selecting target, using skills, etc.), so keeping it reasonably high may be necessary for a pleasant gaming experience. Unfortunately, boosting frame rate almost always requires lowering graphical details, so a perfect balance between the two is highly subjective.

Basic graphics controls are available in the "Options" menu (accessible by F11 key by default), where one can choose a lower resolution by selecting from the drop-down list, and decrease the visual details by dragging the slider to the low end, both of which can increase frame rates. Also disabling "antialias" can help greatly with graphics cards that are not quite top of the line. For more fine grained controls, there are more options if one clicks the "advanced" button. The four drop-down lists are quite self-evident to choose from, as "No" or "Low" always make the game faster, at the expense of some details, thus "uglier"; the "enable postprocessing", however, is more subjective.

The so-called "postprocessing" is a combination of blur/highlight/brighten process, done in a way somewhat unsophisticated and over the top, often without sufficient hardware support. It gives the graphics scene a semi "glowing" appearance, blurring objects and often blowing out the image brightness, making near-white colors indistinguishable from real white, all at a great cost to the frame rates. On a medium to high end graphics card, disabling this will often provide more frame rate boost than the other four options, and some players actually prefer the resulting non-glowing visuals.

Another place to look for tuning options would be under Windows control panel -> display -> settings -> advanced, as provided by the graphics card driver. Exact choices are system dependent, and will likely be system wide, affecting all games on the same machine, so one should proceed with caution, while unfortunately not much can be discussed here.

Notes

  • Users can monitor their frame rate by placing their cursor over the round icon on the players screen, or, alternatively, by starting the game with the "-perf" command line option.
  • You can still get your FPS on the login screen by moving your cursor to the area where the dot should be, but that is all it shows.

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