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(Guide) 3 possibilities how to enhance CIV 2015

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by Seraiel, Dec 27, 2015.

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What do you think of this thread?

  1. Did all of that years ago already.

    1 vote(s)
    5.6%
  2. Thx for the tips :) .

    15 vote(s)
    83.3%
  3. This is too crazy / nerdy for me, but it's interesting.

    2 vote(s)
    11.1%
  4. Other (comment) .

    0 vote(s)
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  1. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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    Hey :) .​


    I wrote about parts of this often already, but now I want to write this as a guide, so everybody can use it, not mattering, if that person is a noob. The thing is, the following is actually ultra-nerdy stuff, but then this must be right on the "fanatics-site" ^^ . Here are my three tips, how you can enhance your CIV-experience greatly, and at least use your much more modern hardware as well as possible. I'd feel honored, if a mod made this sticky.



    1. Use a GFX-pack!



      This one is completely trivial. The graphics CIV uses are from stoneage, there were two people afaik which invested a lot to create better ones. Kai Fiebach used pictures from the NASA, to create more realistic textures, they can be found in the BlueMarble Graphics-Pack which I uploaded on my FTP, because I remember, that most mirrors were down when I searched it a year ago again. As I gave credits, this shouldn't be a problem.
      The 2nd person which did a great job at creating better textures is vincentz, who is still active in the forums. The graphics he created can be found on the same server, the graphics-pack is called VIP_Terrain_Civ4.

      Here is one screenshot of Blue Marble so you know what you'll expect:



      You'll see enough of Vincentz's VIP Terrain in the next point. Just one short note: Bluemarble has a full installer, everything is explained. It also has the possibility to change the color of the background or the size and type of the font used in CIV. Personally, I like the VIP-terrain more, so I ran a mix of both, used BlueMarble to change the background to white and the font to Sans Serif, while copying the files you'll find in the self-extracting-archive that I linked, to the right place in the custom assets folder, which can be found in your documents.


    2. Use your Graphics-card-driver to enforce a higher quality of graphics, than CIV alone would allow:



      I had problems with CIV stuttering after I re-installed it after my half-year-long hiatus. Finding the cause to this, was very very difficult, but in the end, I found out, that it must have been some faulty / buggy DX-files, that made the game stutter, because after installing CIV5 too, CIV4 didn't stutter anymore, and the only thing they have in common is DX afaik.
      I also have a much newer graphics-card-driver, than when I first played CIV4, not to say, that my current PC ofc. is multiple times more powerful, than the one I had when I started to play CIV. Still, the idea for this came to me today. I once heard, that it's possible to enfore higher quality settings in a graphics-card-driver itself, than in a game. So I opened the Catalyst Control Center ("CCC") as I got an ATI HD 7970M currently and chose the following settings: I even extra switched to english, so you know which ones to take when you do this <3 :



      There is nothing to fear from this, all settings are saved in a profile, that only applies to CIV, so everything else still runs totally normal. Let's see the difference:

      Maximum possible detail from CIV alone:



      Higher enforced details via driver:



      You need really very good eyes, to notice the differene, but the difference definitely is there! Look at the following pictures, because it's easier to see that difference with them:

      Normal:



      Enhanced:



      Look at the coins in specific [EDIT: Other good places: The name of the city and it's size and also the letters on the bar below that) , because it's easiest to see the difference there. I don't know if this works, but I think also zooming in with your browser (Ctrl + Wheel) could also make it easier but not sure about scaling. Ofc., this difference can be seen a lot better ingame on your own monitor, because of the higher resolution. If you btw. have an NVidea card, you'll also have all those choice somewhere in the driver. If you use ATI like me, I'd currently advise you to DL and install the 15.11.1 driver. It's very new, and don't be afraid because it calls itself beta, it's actually one of the best drivers AMD has made since 2014 and only few users have problems with it. I write this, because updating the Graphics-card driver can come with higher performance, and enforcing things like on the screen could be too much for older systems with older drivers.
      Whenever you install a new graphics-driver btw., use the newest version of DDU to remove the existing one first. This is very important.

      So now you have seen the VIP-Terrain.


    3. Playing CIV4 completely from the RAM



      Now this will go to far for some, though it's actually really really easy as you'll see, but some people just fear they could screw their system with changes like the following:
      Short introduction: If you have a HDD, that one has data-transfer-rates of about 100MB/s. If you have an SSD, that one has transfer-rates between 250 and 600MB/s, so you see, that theres a massive increase there. If you compare RAM via the same methods though, transfer-rates are somewhere between 7000 and 9000MB/s, so RAM can easily be 12-15 times faster than a Samsung 850 Pro SSD.
      Now how do you run CIV4 from the RAM instead from an SSD (or worse, a HDD) : Answer: The SoftPerfect RAM Disk. What this utility can do, is that it can create volumes (or even simulate complete harddrives) in the RAM. It's the fastest of all "RAM Disks" currently available, and it's free, so there is no better. There is only one drawback: You need sth. like 8GB of RAM, to run CIV completely from it. I'll explain, how it may also be possible with less, but then, setting up everything will not get easy.
      For the case, that you got 8GB of RAM:

      1. Install SoftPerfect RAM Disk

      2. Create a 4GB RAM Drive:





      Once you created a RAM Drive with the options in my screenshot (roughly 4000MBs in size, choose drive-letter, specify folder where to save the image, check save image) , you'll find a new "harddrive" in your Windows Explorer. You just copy the complete 2kgames or Fireaxis or CIV folder onto it, done. You reboot the PC, so that that data gets written into the image at shutdown. Don't wonder, that shutdown may take longer than normally. Then after reboot, you again open the RAM Disk, you uncheck the "save image" box: [EDIT:] Easier than choosing the image to save at shutdown once and to disable that in the next step, it is to simply press "save image" in the main interface :lol: .



      This is, so that the same image doesn't always get saved at shutdown, making your shutdown last significantly longer. Don't forget, that you'll also need to create a new shortcut towards the new location, and don't forget, that whenever you change something in CIV, you need to repeat that procedure with saving the image at shutdown once. I also don't think, you'll have any problems finding out to disable that RAM Disk temporarily, should you need the full 8GB of RAM.

      There is nothing to fear from this, and the gain in performance on my PC was 50% less latency when opening cities or scrolling through them! If you don't have an SSD but only a HDD, the increase will be much greater! You really see, this is super-easy mates, and if I get a 50% latency-decrease on an Alienware gaming-notebook, chances that you get more are really good. It may be hard to really test this performance-gain, but you'll notice the difference. Playing CIV from a RAM Disk, a city is "just there" when clicking on it, and it's not "click -> stutter -> city" .

      One last point towards the RAM Disk: As you saw, I currently run 2 seperate RAM Disks, because I also installed a 2nd browser in paralell again completely in the RAM. If you already decide to set up a RAM Disk, go for this tweak too, everything you need to know I described in the guide Browsing with Lightspeed (50% faster browsing) which I published on Notebookcheck-forums. It's very informative explains everything about RAM Disks, also how you could do what's described with less than 8GB of RAM, and it also explains to you what DNS are, which you really should know, if you use the internet regularly.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask, then I'll help. If you try anything of this, it'd be very interesting, if you shared your experiences with at least 1 sentence!

    Seraiel
     
  2. Kaitzilla

    Kaitzilla Lord Croissant

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    The Blue Marble looks nice, thanks Seraiel :D
     
  3. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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    So you're already enforcing maximum quality and play CIV from a RAM Disk? :D :goodjob: :lol:
     
  4. vincentz

    vincentz Programmer

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    Thanks for the honorable mention and for the guide for the RAM-disc.
    I've recently gotten a SSD, but the initial load hasnt improved THAT much, which I guess comes down to my old E7300 Intel Core Duo2 CPU, but will try it out anyway (it cant hurt ;))
    Btw, I made a new Terrain Pack with the DDS plugin directly from Photoshop, so I was able to configure the mipmaps better (mipmaps are small textures that are being used when zoomed out.
    Version 2
    Spoiler :

    version 1
    Spoiler :


    I also want to throw in some tips ;)
    1) Use a 64 bit system decreases chance of getting a crash (MAF) in late game.

    2) Configure the CivilizationIV.ini for a "perfect fit" if using non-fullscreen. My experience is that Civ IV is less prone to crashes on low end systems when using windowed mode. Its also nice to be able to switch between f.ex. game and a browser faster.
    The ini is found in Documents/My Games/Beyond The Sword and the changes here are for a 1680x1050.
    ; Custom Screen Height, minimum: 768 - Normal resolutions can be set in-game and will be used when set to 0
    ScreenHeight = 998
    ; Custom Screen Width, minimum: 1024 - Normal resolutions can be set in-game and will be used when set to 0
    ScreenWidth = 1680


    3) Tired of the "small map sizes, and only 18 allowed civs on maps" vanilla limitations?
    I made this mod that adds extra big mapsizes and allows all 34 civs on map.

    4) Cast you game to your tablet using Splashtop
    I personally really enjoy being able to play Civ IV on my tablet. Some things are tedious though (like when trying to organize stacks of doom), but otherwise it works surprisingly well.
    "Honey! are you ok? you've been sitting on the toilet for 6 hours!"
    "well, no, Im not ok, Monty just attacked!"
    wife walks away, wondering if Monty is some sort of stomach bacteria...

    5) Try some mods! (said the modder...)

    Modpacks forum

    Project and mod development Forum

    Civ IV Modpack download section

    Civ IV Downloads
     
  5. Lemon Merchant

    Lemon Merchant Thread Killer Moderator

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    Thanks for the guide Seraiel,

    Just a note to those wanting Blue Marble with BUG and standard game play, the BAT Mod contains Blue Marble and BUG together (along with some other graphics enhancements), all in one easy to install package.

    If you want a better AI while using BAT, try the Better BAT AI project. Both links are in my sig.

    Now that I've shamelessly plugged my mods, I must say that I love the RAMDisk idea. I'm going to try it first thing. Also, I can't see any difference in the pictures you're showing Seraiel. Maybe it's just my monitor. I'll try setting up my card with Catalyst Control Center like you did to see if I see any difference. :)
     
  6. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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    Great, that you took the time to answer to this thread, and thereby show the others, that especially procedures like using a RAM Disk are really nothing to fear.

    Also thx a lot for the new terrain pack Vincentz, dled and installed, and also thx everybody for the positive votes :) .

    I'm still thinking, about how it would be possible to show the difference between the normal high resolution graphics and the driver-enforced ones. I think about magnifying one part of the screens, like i. e. only one coin. Using multiples of 100%, this should actually very accurate.

    And only, so that nobody is disappointed: To test the RAM Disk feature, I loaded a savegame of Replay #5. I then went to the capital, and pressed the -> key and stopped the time needed to reach the last city. Then I started CIV from my SSD, did the same and again stopped time, and in this test, the difference in speed was +100% performance increase (or 50% decrease in the time needed) . A RAM Disk won't make your game run faster, while you look at the map, because rendering the map is the task of the GPU and the CPU, but everwhere the game needs to load something into the RAM (i. e. also opening saves, starting CIV, opening advisors, etc. ) , then the RAM Disk kicks in. This is only to prevent someone posting "RAM Disk is stupid, I have the same FPS with it as without it" . A RAM Disk is not about FPS, it's about decreasing the time needed to load something, that is not in the RAM 100% of the time.
     
  7. Windsor

    Windsor Flawless

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    Have anyone looked at the possibility of using the Civ4:Col engine for BTS?

    While the game was terrible, Civ4:Col had much better graphics. Would be nice if we could use that engine instead of the old one.
     
  8. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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    @ Windsor:

    Drawing some graphics, is still quite easy but takes a lot of time if wanting to do it well. Changing the engine of a game however is like creating a completely new game, it's far too difficult.
     
  9. pob

    pob Deity²

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    I tried voice controlled civ with dragon naturallyspeaking a few years ago. It worked quite well but my computer at the time wasn't good enough to properly take advantage of it :badcomp:
     
  10. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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    @ Vincentz:

    Those new graphics look awesome, way better than the previous ones. They are a little darker and seem very natural, almost like BlueMarble but enhanced. It's now also a lot easier to distinguish between Plains and Grassland.

    Very well done :goodjob: .

    [EDIT]

    I btw. found out, that you can see the difference between normal graphics and driver-enforced higher-detail graphics ver easily when you compare the ships on screenshot 1 and 2. I'm not sure, whether them being lighter on the 2nd screen is also caused by the enforcement of more details, but when looking at the details themselves, one can actually recognize the difference in level of detail.
     
  11. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

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    It looks like your enhanced-graphics pictures are downscaled to 1024-pixel-wide resolution. I tried downloading them via Photobucket, but those were still 1024 pixels wide. With original-resolution images uploaded, I think it might be possible to tell the difference (I can't really now). But it looks like, from the CCC screenshot, essentially you've cranked up antialiasing and anisotropic filtering to very high levels. Which would help, but it's hard to say how much currently, and I'm too lazy to try it right now, even though I do have a Radeon.

    Photobucket does support uploading higher-res images. At least, I've had success with it when uploading to a folder within my library. Then, by pasting the
     
  12. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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  13. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    Nice Prussia game, Quintilus. You do it is as the Teuts or Brandenburg? I got their achievements last patch, and the Germany thing as well.

    Cereal - warning! Don't play EUIV! You will go nuts!
     
  14. vincentz

    vincentz Programmer

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    @Seraiel
    If you consider changing imagehost, I can recommend Imgur. Its free, fast and the limitation per image is 50 MB while there is no limitation on max images/space
     
  15. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    ^^^I second this
     
  16. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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    I need to take up the cudgets on behalf of Photobucket.

    They don't resize any images. It's possible that the link I posted (taken from the links they offer) directed towards a version that showed up as resized, but the original images keep their original sizes, and I'd probably only have needed to link the image without using the interface on Photobucket. There's also the possibility, that clicking on the image leads to a 1024x768 version, but that the image shown in this thread had the original size, 1280x1024, and as that one was / is very close to 1024x768, it's also possible that thinking the image was 1024x768 is possible.

    Thx for the link to Imgur, I've already heard a lot about it. I'm not sure it's the right host for me though, because I i. e. couldn't find out, how I can make images private without using the hiding function, which would disconnect them from my account, causing various problems when wanting to manage them. I currently think, that Photobucket is still a good host.

    [EDIT] : I found the best place, where you can most easily see the difference between the normal and the driver-enforced higher-detail-graphics on the screens. Compare the black marks on the gold coins. With driver-enforced higher detail, those are much more filigree / sophisticated than without.
     
  17. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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    @ vincentz:

    In the new, really awesome looking graphics-pack, differentiating Tundra from Plains unfortunately is almost impossible. Could you maybe re-work the Tundra-graphics and i. e. make them darker so add more black, dark-blue and white while lessening yellow / brown?

    Tia.
     
  18. Seraiel

    Seraiel Chieftain

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    I had another very simple idea how to enhance CIV:

    When I play CIV, there are 3 combinations of buttons I use very often:

    Ctrl + S to save the game
    Alt + S to put a sign on the map
    Alt + M to create a reminder

    Alt + S is still very easy, but it bares the risk of pressing Alt + Q and exiting the game accidentally. Alt + M needs contorted manoeuvres of the left hand and saving a game always needs to click ok 1 or 2 times, but I found a genius solution:

    The <insert name of mouse or keyboard macro recording tool here> (i. e. "Logitech Gaming Software" )

    I simply assorted an extre profile for my mouse towards CIV, so every time the game is active, my mouse uses different functions for the buttons "back" , "forward" and "the middle mouse button" . Back now presses the combination of Alt + S, forward presses Alt + M and saving the game via the middle mouse button was a little more complicated, I use the following macro:

    Ctrl + S
    0.1s delay
    Tab
    Tab
    Tab
    Tab
    Enter
    0.1s delay
    Tab
    Enter

    Now every time I run CIV, I can put signs on the map without needing to have fear, I can remind myself of something without the dislocation of my thumb and I can save the game in 0.2s with a single mouseclick :goodjob: .

    [EDIT]

    @ LemonMerchant:

    The save-game macro is not 100% problem free, because when a game is saved for the first time, the confirmation click for overwriting the file isn't demanded, so the macro presses Tab + Enter, opening the multiplayer-map-chat. Is there any option to disable this chat, assign a new button to it or let the game always ask for confirmation when saving and that with running BUFFY? I looked in the civilizationIV.ini file, but the keyboard shortcuts must be assigned elsewhere.
     
  19. Pangaea

    Pangaea Rock N Roller

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    Believe I looked into changing some shortcuts a while ago too, don't recall what, but didn't find them anywhere, so it's possible they are hardcoded.

    Depends on your keyboard, perhaps, but I have no issues with Alt-M with left pinky+index finger, or with a more general Touch typing. Kind of goes automatic, but guess I use left thumb and right index finger. But then I don't often use Alt-M, only for crucial things, like end of GA and sometimes to remember to stop building wonders (for failgold), so it's not very time consuming.

    One thing I'd love, which I never got sorted, is for new games to be started with resource bubbles on. It's very strange that other settings, like the tile yields and horizontal-vertical lines are remembered between games, but resource bubbles are not. Small bugbear, but it's annoying because I always play with bubbles on.
     

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