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Thread: Windows 10, DirectX 9, and stuttering in Thief 2

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: US

    Windows 10, DirectX 9, and stuttering in Thief 2

    I have noticed that since switching to Windows 10, I am getting a highly annoying micro stutter in some Thief 2 missions. Not all, just some. My frame rate remains a constant 60fps, but when moving forward in these missions there is a brief stutter. I never really noticed this with Windows 7. I have tried everything such as going through the cam_ext settings one by one and enabling/disabling literally everything. I have also tried adjusting all the Nvidia settings and still nothing makes a difference. Could this be an issue with Windows 10, the Dark Engine, and some sort of incompatibility with DirectX 9 games?
    Last edited by cavador_8; 3rd Feb 2021 at 12:35.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2004
    Location: Germany
    I have had similar occurrences with Windows 7 when using Thief 1 NewDark or Thief 2 NewDark. There was no recognizable pattern, only that it was not the FMs themselves that were responsible. Usually, every mission played was affected when the effect occured. The stutter often vanished after a few days, for all missions, but sometimes returned after several weeks. I never found out where the problem was. Might even be a hardware related glitch that only showed up when the moon was full and occultists were swinging dead cats over fallen old trees in the woods, or whatever...

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: US
    That's strange. The problem I am having is very mission specific. I am currently going through hundreds of fan missions and I can replicate the stuttering over and over again in certain sections/areas of certain fan missions. Then there are other fan missions that do not have any stuttering at all. I am finding that the missions that stutter the most were made my authors who used custom textures and/or huge maps.
    Last edited by cavador_8; 3rd Feb 2021 at 22:23.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2004
    Location: Germany

    What you describe sounds like a computer which cannot handle "lots of graphics". Unfortunately, there are lots of possible causes for this.

    It may be the textures. Custom textures are sometimes notably larger than original ones, and may cause a lot more data to flow from the computer to its graphics card (or integrated processor graphics). If this "path" is overloaded, the computer may "stutter". Also, if the graphics card has trouble handling the large textures, the card may cause stuttering. It won't be easy to find out where exactly the problem is, however, but one needs to find that out to be able to think about what to replace or change in order to solve the problem.

    Something similar happens when there are large maps with wide open views, like some places in "Breaking the Stone". In this case, the textures' sizes might not be the problem, but rather the many surfaces covered with those textures. The graphics hardware may have trouble doing all the calculations for all these surfaces/textures despite the textures being small or of reasonable size. When I tortured an Intel integrated graphics processor (IGP) hardware with that mission, things went very slow while I was trying to enjoy wide views over the cityscape there. Later on, I had a slightly better (but still very low-endish) PCIe graphics card, which was placed in a computer not unlike the one with the IGP hardware. This machine performed notably better while displaying wide open views in "Breaking the Stone".

    Sometimes, a graphics hardware may also run into trouble because of some very specific things. For example, one of Ricebug's postings pointed out that many Intel processor graphics have trouble with lots of particles, which explained why my laptop (with Intel IGP) had trouble in certain locations of Soul Tear's "Keeper of Infinity" campaign, and the other machine with the low-end PCIe card did not.

    In some cases, something unusual may also cause stuttering. I would not entirely rule out a slow hard disk, for example, although it's rather rare these days.

    So much for the basics. You can now try whether reducing the graphics resolution to 640x480 in Thief does improve the situation in the spots where you experience stuttering. If it does, you can raise the resolution until stuttering becomes unbearable for you again. Lowering resolution reduces the load on the graphics hardware.

    If that does not help, maybe looking more towards the ground in the problematic spots of a mission might help a bit. If that does not help either, thinking about which part of the computer could be replaced would be advisable - but one should try to find out where the problem lies exactly in this case, at least before buying something. If you buy an expensive new graphics card, but then find out that the connection between the computer and the graphics card is the problem, you might have spent your money for nothing. So, think well (and ask around on the forums) before buying something.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: US
    Forgot to mention that I am running Thief 2 on a pc that has an i9 processor and an RTX2080 with 16GB of fast ram on an M2 SSD. This pc is super fast and should be able to handle Thief 2. I also never drop below 60fps at 4k while playing this game. I just get these certain places in FMs where it stutters but never drops a single frame. I even tried lowering my resolution down to 1920x1080 and these certain FMs still stutter in the same places.

    Yeah, I know what you mean in regards to Breaking the Stone. Once you get to the manor and look out at the sky, the frame rate drops for me into the 30s-40s. That's not my issue though. I'm talking about a slight freeze when moving forward that doesn't affect the frame rate. As just one example for anyone on Windows 10, take a run through the mansion in the second level of Black Frog called The Portrait to see what I'm talking about.
    Last edited by cavador_8; 4th Feb 2021 at 19:32.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2004
    Location: Germany
    What you describe now is the same kind of "stutter" I was talking about in my first post here, but I experienced it with Windows 7. I only tested Win10 for a very short time on the machine where the "Win7 stutters" happened, and I had no "stutter" with T2 NewDark then - but maybe I would have had it with Win10 as well, had I used it for a prolonged time.

    My "Win7 stutter" meant that the visible movement on-screen freezed for a short moment, once in one or two seconds, and without any changes in "stutter frequency" while it happened. The game goes on while the screen is frozen, so it's easy to miss the exact point in time for a timed jump - I am confused for a short time if the freeeze happens, and if that happens when I would have to jump, I usually miss the point in time where I would have to hit the jump/mantle key.

    However, while the exact way the stutter "feels" might be the same for us, I clearly see that it appears and disappears for all missions at the same time. It may occur that I switch missions when stutter happens in a mission, and while the second mission does not show the stuttering right away, it's usually just a matter of minutes until the stutter reappears. So I have no idea whether our two stutters really stem from the same core problem, or whether they are just similarly "looking" but in fact very different.

    "Mysterious stutters...", an Earth Mage might say.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: US
    "Mysterious stutters...", an Earth Mage might say.
    LOL. Mysterious indeed but highly annoying. The stutters I am experiencing are like when you run through a hallway and watch the sides of the walls chop in a stutter instead of a smooth seamless motion. I can recreate these types of stutters over and over again in the same fan missions only in certain areas. They might not even bother most players but they sure do bother me. By the way, some of the only authors that I have found where their missions have absolutely no places where they stutter are Sensut, Dark Max, and R Soul (except for his first mission All Torc). Not sure what they did, but those dudes created some awesome missions with massive sized maps that are stutter free.
    Last edited by cavador_8; 14th Feb 2021 at 12:53.

  8. #8
    I have noticed this and it seems to occur just before a sound is played for the first time in a given mission. So it may not be a graphics processing problem, but instead a problem involving the sound subsystem or file loading. No idea if it's Dark or Windows. I just live with it. But yeah it IS annoying.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: US
    I noticed that sound stuttering issue too a while back. I believe I fixed that for the most part by choosing the option in either FM Select or Angelloader to convert the ogg files into wav files when installing a mission. Those oggs can cause stuttering.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2004
    Location: Germany
    My "Win7 stutter" also is not the same one which may happen when playing a sound for the first time. Just like cavador_8, I can avoid most cases where the game pauses before playing a sound for the first time. If the cause is an .ogg file, auto-converting to .wav usually solves that problem. However, I also sometimes had this "sound pause" issue when only standard guard voices were playing for the first time. This might be caused by the fact that even the stock guard voice sets are compressed twice: First, the .wav files are compressed with IMA ADPCM codec, and second, the sound files are located in a large zip file called snd.crf, which has to be partially decompressed when the sounds shall play. Perhaps Windows caches the results of this decompression somehow, and then the pause doesn't occur when playing the same sound again.

    Meanwhile, I noticed that our Earth Mage walked away, saying: "I shall walk the path to the eternal stutter."

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