User:Magill/Reference-Game-tech

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General Information

A collection of comments and explanations from the Forums.

Seam defined

  • The word you want is not "server" (for which Turbine frequently uses "world", as Elendilmir or Bullroarer) but "landblock." There are boundaries between landblocks, but you seldom see them because the Turbine engine tends to take you across them without a hitch. I haven't seen the phenomenon Sardonyx mentions; perhaps I've been playing in the wrong (or right) areas. -- djheydt
  • I could be wrong, but I think in this game the seam is the boundary of where we can and cannot go. I know some people used to call themselves seam-walkers and they (we) were the ones who looked for holes where we could pass through to where we weren't supposed to (squirrel valley, anyone?). At least some of us do this to report the bugs to Turbine (like the hole I jumped into outside Ost Dunhoth on Bullroarer), others do not. BTW, it's not recommended to do this on Live because 1) it's against the rules and 2) you could lose your character. I generally only do it during betas as part of the testing process. - Cerridwen
  • Just FYI the game worlds are not servers, but rather whole networks of servers. A game world like Meneldor or Brandywine are correctly referred to as "shards". Eve online has a single shard upon which all players play. LotRO has several shards each of which is a "world", Meneldor, Brandywine, Riddermark, Imladris, etc.
Servers handle specific areas such as Breeland or the Shire. Servers may actually handle even smaller segments of the game world. Seam I believe refers to where these servers hand off responsibilities.
For example when you ride into trestlebridge you leave the breeland server and enter the north downs server. If there is a lot of traffic on a server there can be trouble handing off the responsibility of generating the world your character sees. This would result in rubber banding where you ride forward into a new server and it can't handle the load just yet so you get bounced back to the server where you came from. Usually after a few minutes, at most, the new server can give your client the data to generate the zone on your screen and you ride in.
Disclaimer: I do not know which servers or how many are used for each zone/region. I would guess that it is possible to get a rough idea by noting where the chat change notifications happen. It maybe possible to figure out where servers meet (the seam) by riding back and forth and looking for consistent signs of slight lag.
I know that for a while in the Moors it was popular to "run sever lines" or fight on the seams between two servers that handled different portions of the Moors. This caused skills to sometimes misfire or give you invalid targets as the servers are trying to decide which one is responsible for you and which one should handle the data. Turbine has fixed this now so that when you're on the seam in the Moors there are no long invalid targets or misfiring skills due to being caught between two servers.
In brief format: Game worlds like Meneldor or Riddermark are "shards" made up of many many servers. Each server handles a small portion of the entire game world and since we can travel from server zone to server zone across the "seams" without going through loading screens LotRO is a "seamless" world. -- UndeadKing
  • The term seam is used in two different forms:
1) Worlds like Meneldor as made of many different computers - servers - working together. A seam the place where you cross server boundaries as you run across the landscape. In seamed worlds your UI is replaced with a loading screen. This transition is called "zoning" you are going from one zone to another zone. This is the way games like Everquest worked.
Lotro is mostly a seamless world. The landscape is chopped into little pieces called land blocks. Each land block could be on a different server. As you run around, you cross over into a land block that on another server - you zone without a loading screen - hence Lotro is called a seamless world because of the lack of loading screens.
We all know there are some places where you do hit a loading screen. Duillond to Needlehole is like that because there are a lot of missing land blocks that we have to jump over.
2) Another common use for seams is to describe the edge where two landscape textures join. They form a crack. In many cases, you are very talented as a player. You can walk your character up and down seams. You can get to places the designers do not want you to get to. You will hear someone described as a seam walker. They are talking about a player that talented in climbing and jumping in a game.
Lotro has a couple of exploration deeds that are available to seam walkers. Like the one in Eregion. There is much easier one in Endewaith.
As to which one of these two definitions is the most common in MMOs. No idea. These days it "seems" to be that "seam" means a "seam walker". I will stop now that I wrote my very bad pun. -- Yula_the_Mighty
  • It really just depends on the subject you are discussing at the moment. A "seam" is a boundary where two things meet. That applies in the real world and in the virtual world as well. It can be the seam between textures, it can be the seam between segments of code, it can be the seam between landblocks or zones, etc. Usually (in LOTRO) people are referring to the division between landblocks. A "zone" like Evendim is divided into many landblocks. The landblocks are not very big and - usually - each one is handled by its own machine in a large pool of machines that service the zone. It takes a large number of machines to run an entire virtual world.
The result is that your avatar is constantly being passed from one machine to another as it crosses the seams between landblocks. You cannot help but do this because even bree is made up of several landblocks. When the servers are experiencing heavy loads or there are server issues, you tend to "rubberband" really badly when trying to cross from landblock to landblock.
Rubberbanding is usually the result of miscommunications between the client (the game software on your computer) and the server. The client says that your avatar is here, but the server says "nope, you are back there." So back you go, and you run forward again and your client says "NOW I am here!" But the server hasn't caught up yet and says "Nope, you are still back there!"
The server overrules the client - necessarily. If the server took the client's word for things, people could hack their clients and do all kinds of things in the game. So even though the server may not be right, it has the last word.
You can imagine from all of this that anti-exploit code is everywhere in the game. This is why we see some of the problems that should be invisible to us. Mobs freezing and going into anti-exploit mode, mobs stuck in a repeating loop, actions delayed, rubberbanding, etc. -- Hammerfast

Draw Distance

  • I recall the draw distance being better earlier in the game. I've been playing LotRO since May '08 (yes, a year after launch) and have been on the same computer and maxed settings the whole time. I recall being wowed by the views of landscapes in this game. And, while I do not know for sure, it seems to me that the maximum draw distances have been shortened in recent builds for server performance. This is along the same line as the mini-map only updating every 8 seconds rather than every 2 seconds. My ally Hunter can track a target which she sees instantly and we all count out loud until we see the magenta dot/arrow appear. It was never real time, but is much less smooth than before.
Monsters definitely don't draw in until much closer. I used to constantly have to move my Hunter closer as they mobs would draw outside my 40m bow range. Now, I rarely have to move closer and often can back up 10m as monsters draw in too close meaning that monsters draw in at 30-45m. More often, I scan the horizon for monsters, see none, use my Hunter track and have a pink dot within my 60m mini-map radius.
Landscapes seem less distinct, even at medium range. In Enedwaith, I can observe the cutoff of rendered grasses distinct from the cutoff of trees, and see "mashed potato" hills and mountains in the distance. Perhaps it's my perception and the zones themselves are now larger or more open. But, given the measurable changes in mini-map refresh rates and monster draw distances, I believe that landscape draw has been dialed back as well.
I understand providing lower settings for those playing on low end systems. Reducing max settings may have been a necessary change to reduce lag and make the game playable. But, I miss the pretty and I don't have to like the changes. -- Mad_Bombardier
  • Most of the landscape around your character is not loaded and available to rendering engine. The way the game works the world is broken into chunks called landblocks. You can only render the terrain properly for the land blocks that are known to client. You have the one you are standing in. The client has to predict based on your motion and where you are located which additional land blocks around you need to be loaded. Anything much over 150 meters is not going to be doable unless you are willing to put up with a lot of snap into focus or out of focus as you move and the landblocks load and unload. If you are standing in the absolute center of a landblock, the maximum range is going to be a 240 meters. If you are near the edge it will be 160 meters. -- Yula_the_Mighty
  • I suspect this is another artifact of the way their graphics engine works. It's tied to the invisible grid of landblocks, just as the server is. They don't do level-of-detail texture switches based strictly on line-of-sight distance from the player, they do it based on landblocks. Textures for the landblock you're in, plus one around your in all directions, are at a high level of detail. Textures for landblocks futher away are lower res.
Landblocks are 160x160m, so this means if you're standing 1m inside the eastern edge of a landblock and are looking east, the LOD change occurs 161 meters away. And if you turn around and look west, it occurs 160+159 = 319 meters away. On the diagonals, they occur at somewhat larger distances... up to 41% further away in the "corners". All of this is why you can see a cliff sometimes with sharp textures on part of it, with low-res textures on another part (a bit further away), and why those textures are divided by a sharp line.
Why do it that way? I'm guessing it improves performance, and that it also has something to do with how they store art assets on disk. And while better performance is good, the various artifacts it causes are not.
I'd guess the whole distant imposters thing is caused by the same issue: they're displayed or not based on how far away the landblock they're in is, but the actual trees are popped in at a fixed straight-line distance. Given two different mechanisms, there's bound to be some cases where it doesn't line up well. In fact, if the distance at which they pop in is less than 160m, it's absolutely guaranteed. -- Khafar

Hardware notes

From the thread: What kind of rig do you need to play LOTRO on Ultra-high resolution? - March 2015

  • Duxx741 asked: "What would be the minimum hardware config to get Utra-high resolution framing smoothly?"
  • All depends on the size of your monitor. If you're looking to play at 1080p then you'll have a lot more options available than if you were trying to get 60+ fps with ultra-high on a 4k monitor.
So, assuming 1080p is what you have now, then a build using a iCore 5 processor, 8 gig RAM and a video card such as a Nvidia GTX670 or AMD 7850 and upwards will be fine. Avoid using low-end cards that have a smaller memory bandwidth. A SSD for storage will make a massive difference to texture load times.
What I would recommend is that you search online for recognised specs for playing more commonly-found games such as Skyrim, Bioshock, Battlefield 3 & 4 etc as anything that can push push out 60+ fps at 1080p at highest settings will be fine for lotro.
Lastly, you may be able to get the results from lower-spec components if you're not running at 1080p - e.g. if you're playing on a lower-end laptop but personally I would never rely on a laptop for gaming. -- BangoTwinkletoes
  • You need a mediocre graphics card and the fastest instructions per core processor available to "max" it out.
The problem is that the game's engine is seemingly mostly or fully single-threaded, and crowded areas are extremely cpu-bound. You'll experience frame drops no matter what you have, but you can minimize it with a fast modern high-end intel processor. -- dstini
  • As someone above said, for MMOs, which are normally CPU intensive, and usually single threaded, you want to be aiming for the fastest instructions per second on a SINGLE core.... IE An AMD FX8350 might sound beefy with 8 cores at 4Ghz, but it's not going to help when LOTRO won't use all those cores. Compare that CPU to an Intel 4690K with 4 cores at 3.5Ghz, and the Intel beats it core for core, LOTRO will run better on the Intel even though the Ghz is lower, as the Intel crunches more data per cycle, or per 1Ghz. That's before you get into the heat and cooling needs, the Intel runs cooler, overclocks to 4.5Ghz nicely, etc etc. Some food for thought, just trying to help people that may not be all that savvy with the tech :) AMD Processors have their place, but there is a reason they sell multicore CPUs with big GHz and seemingly great prices... Those figures are what the average Joe looks at for 'performance', when in reality they can be misleading. (EG It's actually how many threads you have, not cores that matters, and how many Instructions per Cycle, not raw GHz that counts)
http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i5-4690K-vs-AMD-FX-8350
Some good reading here too about how much value for money you get when picking out your CPU for gaming. Covers the 4690K which is still a great chip, and through and up to the latest 5960X.
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-cpu-review-overclock,review-32901-4.html
Regards graphics for MMOs, you don't particularly need anything top end, for LOTRO I get by fine with an AMD 6870 1Gig, but I certainly wouldn't want to go any less. I think peeps fall up choosing the wrong CPU more than wrong GPU, hence the added detail above. -- matalan

Solid State Drives

  • And if you are going to change out your Hard Drive for a Solid State, research and ask some people who know what they are doing.
I got advice to adjust how the Bios is set and change some files in Windows and also to never defragment an SSD. The information is stored completely different than a Hard Drive. -yinyangja
  • Never defragement.
Never do data compression (disk level, not meaning zip files).
Don't use as data storage (for your documents, pics, music etc.) --Urwendil

A sumary

  • I see a lot of information in this thread that is somewhat confusing, so I'll try to clear it up.
(1) you don't have to have a hyperthreading monster cpu to to play this game fine, I'd specifically search for an I5 4690k, its easily overclocked, and runs about 3.9ghz in turbo mode, sure the 4790k is faster (4.4 in turbo) but unless you do video editing etc on most games especially this one I believe hyperthreading (native to the i7 series) won't help any.
(2) google some reviews on how memory speed affects gaming. Most tests show that at most you might gain 1-3 fps max from going from like 1300mhz to something like 2000+mhz on memory. the sweet spot is 1600mhz IIRC with something around CAS 9 or lower.
(3) paying $210 for a motherboard is unnecessary unless you are going to heavily overclock or benchmark. There are some nice motherboards @ $150 which would be most that anyone would really need.
(4) I'll agree and disagree with comments about ssd's. I don't think your going to see a huge difference between one SSD and another outside of benchmarks unless it is a very low capacity one (which seems to perform lower in writes) or an older generation one. The biggest upgrade is choosing a SSD to begin with.
(5) You don't really need a gtx 980 to max out this game, right now you can get some great deals on a r290 (x or non x variant) or a GTX 970. Never go for an older generation card unless it is an absolute steal. In many cases Nvidia and AMD just tweak their previous generation flagship GPU and put it in the lower tier cards. Also pay close attention to vram that the graphics card uses, anno 2015 I wouldn't go with anything less than 4gb in case you want to play any of the newer games which require 3+gb of vram. If you really want to go all out you can get a radeon r295x2 (dual gpus on one card) for about $700 usd or a Nvidia Titan X for about a grand. Both trade blows but one is dual gpu and probably pulls alot more power from your power supply, proceed with caution on either one and make sure have enought juice to run them, especially the Radeon r295x2. But as Ill point out later, new cards are on the horizon, may be better to wait a bit.
so what would I do?
motherboard:
Tomshardware.com calls the z97 extreme 4 a smart buy. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157500 currently its like less than $150 with a rebate on newegg.
cpu:
Intel 4690k should be all you need, its very overclockable, and pretty fast stock. If you are close to a Microcenter you can pick one up for $199 http://www.microcenter.com/product/434177/Core_i5-4690K_35GHz_LGA_1150_Boxed_Processor, if not amazon has them for $224 which seems to be the lowest price per http://pcpartpicker.com for $224.
Graphics Card:
there are so many variants that I'd be hard pressed to recommend one over another but basically I'd stick with a GTX 970 or R290 or R290x for now. If you are willing to wait till AMD releases their r300 series cards we should see another price drop and that is expected around June. If the GTX 980 ever dropped to sub $400 prices I'd recommend picking one up, but they are still rather pricey atm. Some brands I have either heard very good things about or have experience with and would suggest are: EVGA, Zotac, MSI, Asus, Sapphire. I currently have A MSI r290 gaming which is still running fine, and a Zotac GTX 580 in my sons computer which has been working without issue for 4 years. Asus has good overall quality, and sapphire is a go to brand for AMD based graphics cards. EVGA overall has a great reputation and top notch quality control/customer service same with Zotac from my experience and IIRC they both offer Lifetime warranties on their graphics cards if you register online unless things have recently changed.
Power Supply:
Believe it or not people sometimes buy awesome systems only to put #### power supplies in them. Recommendation, go to http://www.jonnyguru.com/ and read some of their more recent power supply reviews. They test them out completely and give you a scoring system based on build quality, performance, price, etc. ATM the best power supplies seem to be either EVGA, Corsair, Seasonic, Antec. Also note of the companies I listed besides Seasonic, all the other ones just rebrand a power supply built by another OEM. I recently purchased a Corsair AX860i which got both 10/10 for build quality and performance but note I wanted to have enough overhead to SLI/Crossfire if I ever decided to.
Memory:
you can pick up 8gb which seems to be the standard for gaming rigs for sub $100 easily. I have this set here http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233144&cm_re=corsair_vengeance-_-20-233-144-_-Product which you can pick up now for $69 usd for 8gb or $119 for 16gb by using the drop down tab.
CPU cooler:
this is a mixed bag. Personally I would never touch water cooling unless you have the funds readily available to rebuild if it leaks. most companies only warranty the actual AIO (all in one) water cooling system if it leaks, and do not cover consequential damages to the rest of your system which could get fried if its running and you have a major leak. Corsair however does sometimes warranty systems damaged by their AIO coolers on a case by case basis from what I remember. the best AIO I think on the market seems to be made or was made by Swiftech such as the H220 which outperformed (per personal testing before I returned it) the corsair H110 by at least 5 deg. C on a 4670k @ 4.4ghz under a stress test. However I returned both of them and ended up with a Noctua Nh-u14s which can be purchased for around $70 usd http://pcpartpicker.com/part/noctua-cpu-cooler-nhu14s and performs with 2 fans (I bought a nf-a15 pwm to have push pull on the cooler) within a few degrees C to the H110. Personally I'd go air whatever you brand choice and save the hassle of worring if it ever leaks.
Cases:
I currently am using a corsair C70 http://pcpartpicker.com/part/corsair-case-cc9011016ww but I modded it to allow the air to flow thru the hard drive cages easier. Personally If i had it to do over with I would have probably bought the corsair 450 d http://pcpartpicker.com/part/corsair-case-cc9011049ww or the corsair 760t http://pcpartpicker.com/part/corsair-case-760tblack. Note all 3 have above average to great cooling with air, the 760t is a full tower case so check specs if interested in it. For something truly great at cooling on air the Corsair Air 540 http://pcpartpicker.com/part/corsair-case-cc9011048ww is one of the best but its huge and if you are limited by desk space won't work very well. Many people also swear by the Coolermaster HAF series cases but I prefer to use something with standard size fans (120mm to 140mm) so I can replace fans if needed with my personal choice and not have a small selection to deal with.
SSD: per this article http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-recommendation-benchmark,3269.html both the Samsung 850 Evo (256 and 512) and the Crucial Mx100 seem to be top picks, both are purchasable for around $100-$120 for the 256gb and $180-$210 for the 512gb size and are top picks for performance per dollar.
What else:
you can always spend money on fans id google some fan reviews and find something you can live with noise versus CFM wise. Noctua is great but some find it ugly, I personally outfitted my computer with nf-p12 fans which are relatively quiet but cost @ $18 apiece even at the cheapest.
Hope this helps out I would add this all up to give a ballpark figure, but if you want you can go to http://pcpartpicker.com/ and search for some of the names I threw out and it should come up with the lowest price from online establishments. --Vezz

Keyboard Map

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