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 Post subject: How to improve camera, view distance & performance
PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:15 am
Posts: 2
(or: "What's this HUGE post all about?!")

With this little modification of Avencast, you can now fully zoom in and it's playable that way and feels very much like a modern 3rd-person action game (think Jedi Knight 2). Gameplay will be more immersive without making you feel confined. You will be able to see far ahead, and when zooming out enjoy a PANORAMIC view with a long view distance. This mod also helps with boosting performance on slower CPUs.

Hi everyone,

congratulations to the Clockstone team for a great maiden game, with wonderful art design & shader programming, well-designed character progression, best-of-class particle effects (spells & lighting), and a charming and surprisingly deep story for an action RPG. And fun and clever puzzles! With that much talent on your team, I'm looking forward to your future work and will be spreading positive words about Clockstone.

There are several smaller things that bother me about Avencast, but overall this game does 90% of things right, and is a solid and entertaining game that I'm glad I've played. I might post some detailed feedback in the future about the game, if there is any interest, but for now I want to focus on the single most-annoying issue I had with it:

The camera & view of the world.

I felt so claustrophobic (confined) and disengaged from my character, with the game's default field-of-view and camera angle, that I spent considerable time trying to fix it, because I couldn't play like this. And I found a solution.

My camera modification made the game so much more fun for me, that I decided to share it here with the player community. I played through the whole game without any issues with it. When I reverted the camera back to its default settings after completing the game, I just noticed how much I got used to it and how uncomfortable the game's default settings now feel.

And if you have a fast CPU, you will additionally be able to enjoy great view distances with the new camera, seeing much more of the game world! (Don't worry, my camera mod also works with slow CPUs).

I will discuss this in more detail at the end of this post, because forum readers are scared by too many words. ;)

So, here are the instructions:

How to improve camera, view distance & performance

    STEP 1: Navigate to your Avencast game folder (where you installed the game).
    STEP 2: Open the sub-folder 'cfg'
    STEP 3: Locate the file 'game.cfg'

    STEP 4: Make a BACKUP :!: of this file by selecting it and pressing CTRL-C, then CTRL-V.

    STEP 5: Now open 'game.cfg' with a text editor (eg: Notepad, Wordpad, etc.)
    STEP 6: Locate & edit the SAME lines that I list below, EXACTLY typing in the new values.
    STEP 7: Double-check the numbers you entered, verifying that you made no mistake! :D
    STEP 8: Save the changes and exit your text editor. Launch the game & enjoy the mod.

I. Camera modification:

(lines are in the "Camera" section of the 'game.cfg' file)




:!: NOTE: For PART II you have to choose either a) or b), depending on your computer:

II.a) Big performance boost for slower CPUs:

(lines are under "Bone Skinning" and "Floor")

--- OR: ---

II.b) Increased view distance for FAST CPUs:


III. Sound modification:


That's it, folks!

The sound modification is a little bonus (discussed below).

So, if you had the same feelings about the camera as I did, try out this little mod and see if you like it. If you don't like it, delete the edited 'game.cfg' file, locate the old backup file 'Copy of game.cfg' and rename it back to "game.cfg".

And don't forget to return here to the forums and give feedback!


Detailed discussion of this mod:

Why did I make this mod, and what exactly does it do?

I noticed gamers across the net complaining about the confined camera and view distance, and when I played the game for the first time, I had the same feeling: When I zoom in to my player character I have a sense of confinement, looking down at floor tiles and feeling claustrophobic. When I zoom out, I feel like a god looking down on little ants, with its top-down isometric view. It's the other extreme.

Between those two extremes I felt the camera was neither personal nor cinematic. I needed a camera between those extremes, but with a middle-zoom setting you only get the worst of both ends. I wanted a wider, less-disorienting view of my surroundings and to be able to look farther ahead, while at the same time staying attached to my player character in a personal way without feeling like a god or distant observer.

Here is the irony: The main reason the game industry switched from 2D to 3D engines in the late 90s, was to GET RID of the confined top-down isometric view, which was the only practical angle to make complex quest games with 2D graphics in those days. 3D rendering freed developers of this restriction. And here we are, playing a beautiful, modern 3D game like Avencast with an isometric camera view... :roll:

This is something the Clockstone designers should consider.

Inspired by 3rd-person 3D action games that set new standards and got the camera right, such as Jedi Knight 2 or Prince of Persia, I set out to experiment with Avencast's variables. And after 100+ game launches and tests, I finally tweaked myself to a camera configuration that feels right.

What does the modification do exactly?

I tilted the camera's angle to its maximum supported upward view, which is now automatically used when you first load the game or a level (so you won't need to do it manually every time; it doesn't tilt any higher). This will allow you to look far AHEAD and even see what's up a stairway on a HIGHER level. I changed the field of view (the lens of the camera) to allow more peripheral vision while being careful to keep distortion unnoticeable. This will let you see more AROUND you, while at the same time help people who tend to get motion-sick (nausea :shock: ) from tight and disorienting field-of-view angles (no kidding!). I also raised the camera to shoulder height and slightly adjusted the player's position in regards to the camera frame, to stay close-and-personal without having the player model obstruct the forward view. This will still allow you to fight 360 degrees without rotating the camera (if you so choose), and allow spotting of enemies attacking the player from behind or the side.

Was that explanation detailed enough? :D

So what is the end-result of all this? Simply put: You can now fully zoom in and it's playable that way and feels very much like a modern 3rd person action game (think Jedi Knight 2). It will feel personal and immersive without making you feel confined or on top of your character. The camera is also aligned with the top frame of smaller doors in the world (eg. in the academy wings), so when you fully zoom in, you will have a clear view into a room now when you open its door. This will make close-quarters battles less frustrating and chaotic.

Or you can zoom out now, and you will enjoy a distinct PANORAMIC view that *keeps* the original perspective, giving you a more CINEMATIC feel of the action with a long view distance (if you so chose). You won't have to adjust your point-of-view between two contradictory extremes anymore and feel slightly schizophrenic in the process... :mrgreen:

If you need the old top-down camera angle in a certain situation (I can't see why though, let's bury it for good!), you can still use the game's camera tilt feature by holding down the proper key and adjusting the angle yourself. So, there is always this fallback, nothing is lost.

I don't recommend changing these values yourself (unless you have a lot of time to experiment). If you really want to tweak, then keep in mind that even small changes to these values will already have big results and that these values are interdependent -- if you change one you need to adjust the others. Also, the camera code is a bit unpredictable, or inconsistent: Don't use a pitch angle higher than 57! You've been warned.

I played through to the end with this mod, without issues. The game programmer did an excellent job with fading away objects and walls, so that the camera will never struggle to show your character or be blocked by something. The only exceptions are the MAIN doors/gates when you enter a new level, which for some odd reason were missed in the fading algorithm and can potentially block your view. As a workaround, make sure you zoom all the way in (and don't forget to summon a support creature) before you enter a new level, to survive the fierce welcome-ambushes that are a trademark of this game. :D

The only very minor issue I can think of was at the end, with the last puzzle (floor tile puzzle). No big deal, you'll just have to look sideways more often to identify the proper symbols. And don't forget, with my camera mod you can STILL adjust the camera angle (pitch) when holding down the key that you defined in your in-game KEYBOARD options. So, when you absolutely need the old top-down camera in a certain situation, you can always switch to this isometric view fast & easy.

The "FloorSize=50" value is for people with slow computers. It makes a noticeable difference, but be aware that the environment fades out closer to you (black "fog"). It doesn't affect gameplay and is a nice performance booster, but I don't recommend going lower than "50", because you still want to detect enemies before they notice you, don't you? ;)

Likewise, the "hvproc=2" setting benefits people with slow CPUs but good graphics cards. By default, the game distributes the polygon processing 50/50 between the CPU (your computer's processor) and GPU (gfx card's hardware), which is utter nonsense on a slow CPU, because it is burdened enough by Avencast's 3D-engine that unfortunately lacks a dynamic-LOD feature (it cannot reduce details at larger distance), so we're talking about *LOTS* of polygons (up to a quarter million) that your poor CPU has to brute-force its way through to render a single image. With this tweaked setting your more powerful gfx card will assist your slow CPU by offloading this burden.

The "FloorSize=90" on the other hand is for gamers with powerful CPUs. Combined with the new camera mod, it will allow you to enjoy fantastic view distances with panoramic scenes when zoomed out. It will be a new game experience for those who can afford it. "90" is already more than enough for this type of game, I don't recommend going higher. If your CPU is not quite strong enough but no slouch either, then reduce it gradually by 10 until you find your sweet spot.

The sound modification is a little bonus (optional) to make sounds in the game world fade in and out more smoothly (more linear), since I found that by default the volume fades out too abruptly as you walk away from sound sources (like torches etc.). I tried to find a global variable with which to also increase the RANGE of sound sources (because I find sounds get cut off too early in distance), but sadly I couldn't find such a setting.

Have fun.


 Post subject: Re: How to improve camera, view distance & performance
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:08 pm 
Kyranian Master

Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 12:21 pm
Posts: 353
Thanks for this very interesting post! I think many users will want to read it so I made it sticky...

At least you like my programming work on the wall / object fade out :wink:

About the camera angle: We didn't allow a low pitch for two reasons

- our engine isn't very good at displaying long distances
- game play (balancing) was adjusted to the default viewing distance. So in fact playing gets somewhat easier whan you can spot enemies earlier

 Post subject: Re: How to improve camera, view distance & performance
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:09 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 27
would it be possable for clockstone to remake how the camera behaves, to have it more like guildwars? you know, right click to goto target area, hold right click and your char follows your mouse, and left click to select or attack, and auto ranges to attack distance,(or not). i think it would make a good mod/indy dev rpg engine. you should try and make up a tool suit and all that and sell it. (btw, you could link the clockstone logo at your main web page to your companies website...) what i read on your website seems to fit the bill of my suggestion, as a goal you guys wana presue... i hope you continue to update avencast to improve it, game wise, and preformance wise... cause it would be nice to have a adjustable camera system next.

I'd like to say i liked the view, it just takes a bit to get used to it, avencast has a great art design, and all around feel. its style is differnt then mostly everything ive played, and it all took a bit to get used to, so kudo's clockstone for a small dev group, its a totally awsome job. with your reasorces and personnel level you did a great AAA job, where most dev studios with the same probly would have made nothing close.

........ you're clear for warp speed....

 Post subject: Re: How to improve camera, view distance & performance
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:37 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 27
BTW, you never said what type of machine your running. sense i notice some settings make me laggy while others dont (distances rendered i mean.)

 Post subject: Re: How to improve camera, view distance & performance
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:13 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:08 am
Posts: 1
I registered to not only join the community, but to say I actually bought this game just now (through Impulse) after reading this thread about the camera "fix, tweak". To be honest, I was compeletely turned off by the camera angle of this game when playing demo, although I enjoyed everything else. But, my one pet peeve is always the camera in these games (Mage Knight Apocalypse anyone? original control ruined that game more then anything).

I just wanted to say, thank you! And I hope they release an official extended option for controlling the camera/character and camera angle/view within the settings. I know quite a few people that were turned off in this regard and I will spread the word about this fix for sure.


 Post subject: Re: How to improve camera, view distance & performance
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:47 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:44 am
Posts: 5
Great cfg file tweak, I was getting frustrated on some of the levels, particularly the outdoor ones where I'm staring into a hill!

I like zooming in and getting right in the action too, dodging and throwing magic around, this really helps. Thanks!

 Post subject: Re: How to improve camera, view distance & performance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:44 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:57 pm
Posts: 15
I'm having trouble saving the game.cfg file after I edit it. When I choose "Save," it brings up the "Save As" dialogue box and asks for a new name. I've tried just clicking on the old file and replacing it, and re-typing the name "game.cfg," but in both cases it says "Access denied" when I try to replace it.

What do I do?


 Post subject: Re: How to improve camera, view distance & performance
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:39 am
Posts: 3
I just got this game off steam. And I have to say wow, this is a great little game. Nice balance between manic action and RPG character building. But I wanted to comment on this sticky. This is a great mod for the game. It totally opened my eyes to playing it up front and personal which is just a very exciting and manic way to play this game. This game as opposed to most aRPGs, deserves a capital A for action. This mod just improves upon on that and puts it almost in the 3rd party action adventure column. Of the course the RPG elements make it a RPG for sure. But just wanted to say thanks for the mod.

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