City of Heroes and City of Villains Tech Issues by Jelly - TribalWar Forums
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Reload this Page City of Heroes and City of Villains Tech Issues
1 - 11-16-2005, 14:03

With the launch of City of Villains and Issue 6 of City of Heroes there has been a growing chorus of concern from the community regarding a number of technical issues. While the majority of these issues have been addressed individually through posts by various members of Cryptic Studios and NCsoft; we have unfortunately failed to provide a unified article that can be easily referenced. This is an oversight that we would like to correct. Hopefully the following article will go a long way to addressing the concerns that many of you have while providing some guidance on how to correct some of the more common issues being seen.


As many of you have already noted, the raw performance of City of Heroes in its default configuration has gone down somewhat with Issue 6. There is also a substantial difference in performance between the City of Heroes environment and the City of Villains environment. And, unfortunately, ATI users are currently seeing a degradation in performance as compared to NVIDIA users.

There are a number of factors involved here:

1. In an effort to showcase the new rendering techniques integrated into the City of Heroes engine and provide users with the most rewarding visual experience, the client defaults to settings that enable as many of the advanced rendering features as possible for a given video adapter.

While this, arguably, results in optimal visual quality, it does have a direct impact on the speed with which a given scene can be rendered. Determining what features should be enabled by default with which system configurations is always a challenge and something that we are continuously adjusting. If you find yourself dissatisfied with the frame-rates that you are seeing, the first step is to disable one or more of the advanced rendering features. Or, if you would prefer to retain the new effects, reducing the 3D Resolution Scaling setting will allow you to use a high resolution UI while obtaining performance gains by rendering the 3D environment at a lower resolution, stretched to fit your display. With some experimentation you should be able to find a configuration that results in an optimal balance between frame-rate and visual quality.

2. City of Villains is comprised of large zones with aggressively high polygon counts and a multitude of different high quality textures. The dramatic difference in geometry detail makes rendering an outdoor area (particularly the city zones) in City of Villains significantly more intensive than rendering a similar area in City of Heroes.

If you are experiencing severe performance issues in City of Villains outdoor zones, the first steps to improving performance are to lower the World Detail and Texture Quality settings.

We are aware that there are also a few indoor missions with a lot of details and special effects that are causing excessive performance hits (such as some of the Arachnos Lab maps) and are reviewing them on a case by case basis.

3. Advanced physics simulations have been added to the City of Heroes/City of Villains engine. Physics simulation has been improved to include such features as the so called “rag-doll” effect and advanced particle system interaction.

Physics simulation puts an additional load on your CPU which affects your performance across the board. The more physics objects being tracked, the more work your system is doing. If you notice drastic drop-offs in frame-rate during group combat you may wish to consider disabling particle physics and/or reducing the number of particles that the game will draw per frame.

4. The memory footprint of City of Villains is substantially larger than that of City of Heroes due to many of the improvements listed above. While it is technically still feasible to play using the original City of Heroes minimum specifications, the reduction in RAM will be extremely detrimental to quality of play as your system is forced to swap data to and from the HDD more frequently. This is why City of Villains has double the minimum and recommended RAM specification that City of Heroes had.

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done regarding this issue without increasing the amount of physical memory in your system.

5. The performance difference between NVIDIA and ATI display adapters is unfortunate, but there was no malicious intent behind it. Essentially, what happened is that during the process of improving the City of Heroes engine so that it could take advantage of new OpenGL features the render path had to be altered as well. The new method of rendering causes some performance issues with current ATI drivers (minimized with the 5.10/5.11 drivers, but not negated). Unfortunately, this alteration is critical to the functioning of many of the new advanced shaders.

Cryptic has been working with ATI to correct the issue, but it may be some time before significant improvements are realized. In the meantime, disabling the advanced rendering effects, using 3D scaling, and/or reducing world/texture detail should help alleviate the issue.

6. Vertical-sync improves rendering quality by attempting to synchronize your frame-rate to your refresh rate. This means that your frame-rate cannot exceed your refresh rate when v-sync is enabled. Disabling v-sync or setting your refresh rate to a higher level will allow for higher frame-rates. Note that it is possible that your graphics card supports refresh rates that your monitor does not. Take care when adjusting your refresh rate not to exceed your monitor’s capabilities.


The vast majority of stability issues with the City of Heroes/Villains game client are related to individual system configuration errors. Most frequently, these errors are driver related. Specifically, out of date, corrupt, or improperly installed drivers. We understand that sometimes we sound like a broken record on this topic, but it truly is the most common cause.

With each new City of Heroes Issue release we have tweaked the graphics engine a bit to improve compatibility and performance. Every Issue is thoroughly tested against a wide range of supported display adapters in multiple different system configurations before it is launched. In addition to structured testing specific to hardware compatibility we strive to maintain as diverse an array of systems amongst our development and quality assurance teams as possible. Despite all our efforts, things can slip past. It is simply not feasible to test absolutely every single configuration in existence.

Which is why, when one of these issues makes it to live and is reported, whether it be on the boards, via e-mail, or in-game support, it is forwarded to our compatibility, development, and QA groups for replication and investigation. Unfortunately, even some seemingly widespread issues can be very difficult to replicate precisely. The more information that you, the players, can provide us, the more likely it is that we will be able to track them down and correct the underlying problem.

Part of the difficulty around the time of any major publish, let alone one with as many fundamental technical changes as this one, is that potentially serious cases are lost in a flood of more common issues. Many of the issues reported have been driver related, while some are complete unknowns, and still others are known issues that have been addressed in live and/or upcoming patches.

1. Probably the biggest stability complaint that we are seeing right now involves ATI adapters in general. While often referred to as “the 9600 issue” we have not been able to replicate this stability issue with any of our ATI cards in-house. With multiple different Radeon 9600’s in multiple different system configurations (from below minimum specification to the ultra-high end) the game performs as expected and does not suffer any instability even after fairly long and brutal sessions of play. All other non-integrated Radeon solutions are similarly stable in our testing in both AGP and PCIe configurations. Results are fairly consistent regardless of mainboard brand/model used (though our variety there is limited to a degree).

Any additional information (Everest reports are very helpful) regarding the systems on which these crashes are being experienced is greatly appreciated. We would like to get to the bottom of this as much as you, no matter what is to blame (hardware, drivers, game client; etc). Please continue to help us to help you. Posting information on the boards is useful and there are numerous individuals at both NCsoft and Cryptic that pour over your comments on a regular basis.

That being said; please remember that it is also important to contact the Tech Support team so that they can eliminate any of the more common causes before referring them to our QA and Development teams. We know that many of you are tech-savvy, but please understand that in order to properly investigate a situation we need to gather as much information as possible; and when dealing with any issue that has multiple potential causes we need to explore the most common ones first; before moving on to the more rare. If Tech Support is unable to assist after exhausting all trouble-shooting avenues, they will forward the issue, along with all the relevant information they have gathered, to QA and Dev for replication.

2. With City of Villains and its increased resource needs, some systems are being pushed harder than they have before and are encountering heat and power related issues. You may wish to check your GPU and CPU temperatures while playing City of Villains and double check your system voltages as well. Tech Support should be able to assist you in gathering this information if you are unsure as to how to go about doing so.

3. The ATI Radeon x200 (Xpress 200 integrated solution) was experiencing stability and performance issues related to the use of vertex shaders in City of Heroes. ATI’s integrated solutions utilize software based shader processing that was severely hampering performance and causing instability. The City of Heroes/Villains command line switch of “-useTexEnvCombine” can be used to work around this issue, but this issue should now be corrected.

4. Some City of Villains users are experiencing a disconnection from mapserver while loading zones. In this instance, systems with lower resources and/or slower HDD’s are taking longer than expected to load a zone and their connections are timing out.

Optimizing your HDD’s performance and/or increase the amount of physical memory in your system should improve the situation.

Graphical Anamolies

The majority of these have also been related to old/corrupt driver issues, but there are a couple of anomalies that we are working on at the moment:

1. Split screen/miniature duplicate of your character when over water in City of Villains and PvP zones. This issue appears to be limited to ATI cards and the advanced water shaders. Turning off the advanced water rendering option will get rid of the artifact, but there is definitely something wrong here. We are working to correct the issue.

2. Flickering, bright, or otherwise abnormal textures in City of Heroes environments. These are game client issues that are slated to be corrected in a future patch. Essentially, textures need to be developed with the rendering process in mind. Some older City of Heroes textures do not interact properly with post process effects such as “bloom.” These textures need to be adjusted one by one and that takes time.

While not particularly attractive, these anomalies shouldn’t impact your ability to play and can be avoided by disabling some of the advanced rendering options.


ATI users have noted that Full Screen Anti-Aliasing is not functional when advanced effects such as “bloom” and depth of field are enabled. This is an issue related to ATI’s driver technology as it processes certain OpenGL extensions.

Specifically, City of Heroes/Villains uses an OpenGL ARB extension for PBuffers which essentially allows you to render a frame off-screen so that you can apply a post process effect to it such as the aforementioned “bloom” before passing it to the frame-buffer which is ultimately what is displayed on your monitor. Unfortunately, with the current ATI drivers it is not possible to layer the FSAA effect with the other effects being applied to the PBuffers.

It is currently expected that the ATI Catalyst 5.12 drivers will correct this issue.

In conclusion...

We hope that this article has been informative and helped to alleviate any concerns you might have had. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to respond to this post in a constructive manner and we will do our best to assist. Please understand that we will not be able to respond to each inquiry individually and that some issues may need to be referred to the appropriate customer support channels.
Jelly is offline
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2 - 11-16-2005, 14:07
what about the sound loop issue

every once in a while i get a rapid sound loop that goes for about 5 seconds then the actionr returns to normal
Maven is offline
3 - 11-16-2005, 14:26
They are trying to reproduce it. and or looking into it.
Jelly is offline
4 - 11-18-2005, 17:11
Does anyone else get the issue in PvP zones of the targetting reticle increasing to near full screen or sometimes expanding to the 4 corners of the display when a targetted enemy is moving around quickly?

Any mention on the official forums of this? I've been out of the loop for a few weeks now.
Wrathchild is offline
5 - 11-21-2005, 22:01
Originally Posted by Maven
what about the sound loop issue

every once in a while i get a rapid sound loop that goes for about 5 seconds then the actionr returns to normal
in Dxdiag, turn your sound acceleration down one notch. that fixed it for me.
Mangan is offline
6 - 03-26-2006, 17:59
why is this on oblivion?
Terra is offline
7 - 04-04-2006, 16:37
RamataKahn is offline
8 - 04-17-2006, 22:02
Read the note under the forum's link. This used to be the CoH forum. They just renamed it. Talk about lazy. lol.
XeroShift.05 is offline
9 - 08-28-2006, 23:48
CoH forum? That game isn't even good...
nightblue is offline

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