0
Completed - Resolved

General lag and stuttering (and other problems)

Vepar 10 months ago updated 9 months ago 6

Hello!

I recently experienced this issue.

Usually, i could play on medium to high settings normally, and be fine, but even on lowest setting, the framerate and constant stutters make the game unplayable.

Here's the problem:

On lag 1 video, it's laggy, mostly when possessing and exiting posession. General lag also occurs, as well as huge FPS drop when i click the unit window that has all the levels of the units (also happens with mood tab).

On lag 2 video, you can see in posession, a 1-2 second freeze mid swing. Also general choppyness.

I couldn't capture it on lag 1 video, but it happens in posession and overview modes. Constantly. It's horribly unplayable. It didn't used to be that way.

This is on lowest settings, installed on an SSD.

My specs:

AMD Phenom II x6 1090T 3.2Ghz

8 GB RAM

Samsung EVO SSD

AMD Radeon R7 260x 1GB

I know, not the best specs in the world, but they should handle (and indeed did previously), some My Ped Dungeon levels without stuttering so much at lowest settings.

Here's the log:

Log

Also, here's some message that i never saw in game. Whenever i clicked anywhere near the upper portion of the screen, the message would appear and a cursor would blink. I couldn't find any way to stop it from opening, and i could only close it by clicking anywhere else to remove the blinking cursor, then pressing ESC to bring up the menu and getting back in the game.

I don't know what that's about but here's the screenshot:AI message

Lastly, it takes about solid 3-5 minutes to exit the game, load the game, enter the game, anything really that has to do with loading. On an SSD... This used to happen to me when i had a broken HDD that is super slow, but once i installed the game on an SSD it was fine, it still had to load, but it was way faster. Then recently it started to have trouble loading again.

Thank you for reading!

Hopefully this can be somehow fixed, or at least minimise the lag and stuttering.

Game Version:
Steam Public
Platform:
Windows
Pending Customer

Hi Vepar,

Apologies for the delay in responding to you. Busy times at Brightrock between working on the new project and various happenings in the past week I've not had much time to dedicate to reviewing tickets.

Now there are quite a few different issues that you've reported in this ticket so I'll try to go through them in the order you've presented them. Each will have to be treated as a separate issue and normally we'd ask for individual reports for each, but in this case I'll reply here and try to action further before the end of the week.

Before I start I'd like to confirm when it was that you last played. The game hasn't received any major updates since April 2018 so nothing significant has changed on our side since then and beyond general performance improvements there shouldn't be anything at the root cause of some of the issues you present with one exception. We updated our UI Middleware for patch 2.0 to fix a number of issues several different users were having, this could have had a few knock-on effects but none which have been reported to us thus far.

Also I'd like to ask you review How to: Submit a Bug Ticket and try to drop in as much info as you can. In addition to the output log presented can I also get a DXDiag output and if possible the save file which you're playing on.

Now onto the issues:

Video Titled "Lag 1"

Interesting watching this as you appear to be experiencing a short pause when entering and exiting possession as it culls and unculls the environment and everything you can now/not see. Never seen this before and I have two theories. 

  1. There's issues loading assets to/from memory and to/from storage, which I would say is consistent with some other issues you're reporting. Do you know what the game's memory usage is like at the time you're playing and how much free memory you have at the time.
  2. The size of the map and number of entities in it is overloading the game and just reducing performance of the scripting. Given that you're on the last MPD level which is very large with two other AI underlords I think this might be a possibility. There's no timer but do you know how long you've been on the level?

I also was very surprised to see the lag on the unit panel when toggling into the detail modes. This is something I'll see if I can try out myself before the end of the week. My suspicion is that the increased number of UI elements is causing an issue here. But I've never seen it reported or witnessed it myself.


Video Titled "Lag 2"

The freeze described looks like Unity's Garbage Collection which is freeing up unused memory. This is a problem with the Unity Engine where the GC Algorithm can't deal with large heaps of memory fast enough, the game pauses while this happens. Sadly this is unsolvable on the version of Unity WFTO is built upon (from 2016) and can happen on large maps, with lots of entities that have been going on for some time, it will occur more often on systems with lower available memory. 


Unity had been promising a new GC Algorithm for a long time to address this and started work on it with the first 2019 release unfortunately it's still experimental even in current versions and WFTO's version is so diverged from the current version of the Engine now it's unlikely we'll be able to move to the newer version once it is stable. This is an incredibly frustrating issue for both us and many of our players and something we have done our best to limit the impact of where we can. 

You can try saving and loading, but given a later issues this would seem undesirable. Are other levels are bad as this one in particular?

The choppyness isn't possible to see unfortunately and without knowing a little more about it it'd be difficult to say what it is. Can you describe in a little more detail what it might be.

Log

There's some exceptions in here that I'd like to get code eyes on. As it stands though all our resources are now on the new project so it'll be a while before we can come back to this. It'll be something that'll go in our backlog to see if they're issues we can identify and fix. I'm not convinced it'd be the cause of any issues but I'll try and ask around this week.

AI Message

This I have seen before. I think it's an issue that was introduced in Patch 2.0 when we overhauled the skirmish AI. For whatever reason the AI in this MPD level in particular was using the old Skirmish AI, when the update happened this was removed but it wasn't updated to be using a specific personality as such it defaults to the placeholder test version. This causes that message to appear. It's something I think we should be able to fix and should only appear on levels where the old AI was present and wasn't correctly updated.

Unfortunately the first time I saw this reported was after we'd moved WFTO into maintenance mode and we've not had time to come back since! It's a pretty low-priority issue for us due to the low impact in any case but I'll make sure it's in our backlog.

Long Loads, Exits & Starts

WFTO does have rather long load times but I wouldn't expect them to be in the scale of minutes as you've described. First startup on an SSD in our office is about 30-50 seconds, levels are around 20 seconds, exiting takes a moment but is a lot quicker.

The fact you're having multiple loading issues in this sense, coupled with the issue mentioned in Video 1 about loading assets to/from memory and storage could indicate something is happening here. Especially if it's most pronounced after you've played for a while. 

This is just a theory but if your system is approaching memory cap whilst playing on this level then it may be offloading memory to the page file. Causing longer access times, if this is on your SSD it would be quicker but it's a lot, lot slower than memory. That might go some way to explaining why it freezes briefly on possession and why you're experiencing such long loading times.

There are two things I can think to try on this:

  1. Reduce the memory footprint of everything else as much as possible, close other programs, reduce windows memory usage, maybe even consider safe mode with video drivers.
  2. Monitor WFTO's memory usage and the memory available for your PC. If WFTO seems to keep going up I'd be interested in getting hands on a save file as there might be something causing a memory leak.
  3. Try installing WFTO on another drive. On the off-chance there's something weird going on with your SSD. Ideally try an entirely different computer as well and if you have some extra memory sticks lying around (who does?!) then see if you can up that memory amount.

Finally I want to say I'm sorry for the dreadful experience you're having, we try our best to make WFTO as stable as we can. We've learned a lot about games since we started in 2012 and there's certainly a few things we could have done a lot better, but too deep to touch now. But in all cases WFTO should perform better than it did at any point over its lifecycle, that you're having new issues I'm sure is deeply frustrating and it is for myself as well. Especially as the scope to address new reports is greatly reduced.

I look forward to your reply. Hopefully we'll be able to work something out.

Lee

Hello!

No need to apologize, your response was super swift to what i'm used to. :) And very detailed!

I thought most of the issues here were related, that's why i posted them in the same ticket. And i thought one ticket would be easier to handle than posting 5 of them with separate issues. Sorry about that.

Before i installed WFTO this time, a lot of time passed indeed. I'm not sure if it was pre 2.0 patch or before though.

Here is the DXdiag:

DxDiag.txt

And here is a .zip with all the hell's deep MPD levels i saved. Outside of the game they don't have the same name so i don't know which one is the latest, i'm sorry. But you should be able to compare them to the videos.

remote.zip

Video 1

Yes, the assets seem to pop in and out when transitioning. Sometimes when scrolling but i wasn't able to capture that.

Here is the resource usage when the game is open.

Disregard Firefox, it's usually closed, it's now open so i can write here.

Screenshot 2020-02-19 03.47.05.png
Screenshot 2020-02-19 03.47.32.png
Screenshot 2020-02-19 03.47.42.png


The time i spent on the level is 1:48. I opened it up and checked.

And yes, the detailed unit tab makes the game lag. This was always present, i just never reported it until now.

Video 2

If this is caused by garbage collection... Is there anything i can do about it myself? Because it's happening every few seconds. A minute tops. It's very distracting.

As for other levels, i didn't try. I started the Hell's Deep MPD and all the problems appeared so i never bothered to try other levels because i assumed they would be the same.


Choppyness is yes, hard to capture on video as you're not the one controlling the cursor so it looks like it behaves normally. But in general, it's like a lot of times it feels like it clicks slightly apart from where i think it will, missing some objects, unit pickups, slaps, tabs... And is generally not very precise. It's like it has some acceleration on it and when i stop it "drifts" a bit more to where i think it stopped. I don't know how else to describe it, but it's a pain to use. Some of it can be attributed to lag, like that drift part, i might have moved it harder than it looked on screen and it ended up farther than i think it would. But other stuff like misclicking all the time, and such, maybe not, i don't know.

Log/AI message


It's ok, take your time. I just hope i can minimize all the issues. So whenever you can is great, i'm not trying to push you, i just reported what i was experiencing.

Load times

I forgot to mention, sometimes, when the game exits. It doesn't actually shut down. The splash screen remains, and i can only shut it down by killing the WFTO.exe process in task manager. Even in steam it looks like it's still in game, the "play" button changes to the "stop" button, but clicking it doesn't shut the game down. Only the task manager.

Also, after starting the game, the interface amd the cursor take a few 2 second freezes until it pops up.

Same happens when loading a game.

Also, during loading, the bottom taskbar is popping in and out. Not sure what's that about.

Further replies:

1. I always close what i can when playing games. Not sure what else i can do here. Never tried drivers in safe mode though, i'll see what that is and if i can do that. I'll also try updating the drivers, maybe that fixes some of the issues.

2.Well i posted all the save files, so you can poke around them and see if there's something wrong there. I'll monitor the memory usage though.

3.I unfortunately can't do that. I only have 1 SSD, and one failing HDD which is for storage only and only accessed when needed. Though, i did at one point have WFTO installed on that drive, and submitted a ticket. If you have my post history you'll see. The problem was the drive at that time. After i got the SSD, it improved drastically. Load times and the game itself. I also don't have any memory sticks lying around lol, and this is the only computer i have.

That should be all the replies to your questions i think. If you have further questions or need me to do something else just ask.

I also hope we can work something out and get the game in a playable state. I've spent 126 hours playing it and have all the DLC's, even the charity one, and i really really love the game. Especially building weird My Pet Dungeons. But i've never even finished the campaign lol, and that's partly because the campaign is high stress and requires precision. So i mostly played MPD levels that can handle laggy playing. Before, with the old HDD i had issues, then with the SSD it became ok, so i progressed further into the campaign, then had to stop playing, and now it's even worse than it's ever been.

I look forward to your next reply. Let's see what can be done! :)

Cheers!

+1

Hi Vepar,

Just dropping in before the weekend to respond to your comment and try to answer what I can as well as provide some further insights to let you know where we're at. 


No need to apologize, your response was super swift to what i'm used to. :) And very detailed!I

We try our best, while WFTO was in active development we aimed for a 24 working hour initial response time. This has slipped as our entire team (including myself) have become more focussed on development on the new project which consumes a lot of our time. It also means WFTO is not as high priority in our working days, especially with limited scope to address support issues. 

I would say on average it takes us between 1 working day and 1 working week to respond most times now. I mention this as I saw your post on Steam (which prompted me to reply the other night) and it reminded me I had actually been in the middle of my initial reply to you that very day! So that's where I need to apologise, unfortunately I couldn't reply on Steam as the servers went down immediately after doh! I also want to let you know that I will be on leave over the next week so it is unlikely I will reply until March.


Thought most of the issues here were related, that's why i posted them in the same ticket. And i thought one ticket would be easier to handle than posting 5 of them with separate issues. Sorry about that.

That's alright it's easy to do and I appreciate you trying to make our jobs easier. For us it's actually much easier to handle each issue on an individual basis. The reason for this is because we can individually manage and mark issues as resolved and in progress or pending customer etc. It's not possible to achieve that granularity without breaking up the issues. If issues are similar it is easy enough to merge them, much harder to break them apart!

With that said I'll probably try to break this up into several tickets so I can handle it on a case by case basis and we can progress under clear subjects. There's also an added benefit of if there is anything we can take into our triage queue that I can import directly from this system to our internal ticketing system for the development team's tasks. :)

Anyway moving onto the meat.

So what I've done today is I've tested a few cases and benched my own work system against the behaviours you've specified.

  • I tested the Detail view on the creature panel and can confirm a significant loss in FPS when there's a lot of creatures. I lost 15 FPS from a safely VSynced 60FPS when this panel was opened. This is a great find and I'll make sure this gets ticketed properly! Unsure as to the cause or what the fix will entail, UI is... difficult now that we're so far out of development time.
  • I also benched a few load times to give you an example of what we would consider to be normal. Now I should preface this my WFTO work copy is installed on a HDD. So these are HDD times not SSD. I'll have to run some SSD ones at some point:

New Boot (From Clicking play on Steam to usable UI on menu): 56.67 seconds
Level Load (Very heavy, large level, lots of units, 1.5 hour playtime): 33.92 seconds
Quit to Desktop (Loaded Map): 9.97 seconds
Quit to Desktop (From Menu): 2.36 seconds

I'd love to know how these numbers compare to yours. If there's a significant divergence I'd say that's a pretty clear there's an indication something is very wrong.

Now onto replies:

Here is the DXdiag:DxDiag.txtAnd here is a .zip with all the hell's deep MPD levels i saved. Outside of the game they don't have the same name so i don't know which one is the latest, i'm sorry. But you should be able to compare them to the videos.

Thanks for this. Helpful to know what I'm looking at. I don't see anything that stands out on your DXDiag, though I note a bunch of Windows Error Reports. This isn't my area of expertise though so I'm not sure if there's anything more to see here.

For the Save I'll try and review it when I'm back from leave.

Video 1Yes, the assets seem to pop in and out when transitioning. Sometimes when scrolling but i wasn't able to capture that.

This is pretty unusual. Culling shouldn't be visible in standard play. Just want to know when you see it when you scroll are you playing at the default camera angle. Would love to see a demonstration of this.

Here is the resource usage when the game is open.Disregard Firefox, it's usually closed, it's now open so i can write here.Screenshot 2020-02-19 03.47.05.pngScreenshot 2020-02-19 03.47.32.png

Pretty much within expected bounds. Did you have the level loaded when you took these? Would be nice to know. Also only thing of note is the 90+% usage on one of your drives. Though it's not clear why that is in the screenshots.

If this is caused by garbage collection... Is there anything i can do about it myself? Because it's happening every few seconds. A minute tops. It's very distracting.

Unfortunately, there's not really much that can be done about it. It will happen less often on systems with a higher amount of memory and it will take less time on systems with a higher CPU clock speed (Cores don't help WFTO massively, it's somewhat but not extensively multithreaded).

I hear from some users on lower memory systems that saving and loading can alleviate it. Also rebooting the game. It's frustrating I know, everyone will suffer from it to some degree when dungeons get large enough.

As for other levels, i didn't try. I started the Hell's Deep MPD and all the problems appeared so i never bothered to try other levels because i assumed they would be the same.

My thought on this is that Hells Deep is a pretty intense level with lots of units and prebuilt AI Dungeons. Smaller levels might have less of an impact, but generally, I wouldn't expect there to be such a drastic difference. You do have a lot of units which can factor into some of the Framerate dips when viewing large rooms with lots of them in.

Choppyness is yes, hard to capture on video as you're not the one controlling the cursor so it looks like it behaves normally. But in general, it's like a lot of times it feels like it clicks slightly apart from where i think it will, missing some objects, unit pickups, slaps, tabs... And is generally not very precise. It's like it has some acceleration on it and when i stop it "drifts" a bit more to where i think it stopped. I don't know how else to describe it, but it's a pain to use. Some of it can be attributed to lag, like that drift part, i might have moved it harder than it looked on screen and it ended up farther than i think it would. But other stuff like misclicking all the time, and such, maybe not, i don't know.

That's super difficult to quantify for sure. I'll see if I can figure out a way to replicate but there's many things it could be and I suspect without experiencing it myself I wouldn't be able to determine what was happening. I know that on occasion there's been cases where the UI has behaved erratically with the game. But these should have been eliminated with 2.0. You could check out the old KB article on it though Missing, Invisible or Laggy UI [Fixed in v2.0].


I forgot to mention, sometimes, when the game exits. It doesn't actually shut down. The splash screen remains, and i can only shut it down by killing the WFTO.exe process in task manager. Even in steam it looks like it's still in game, the "play" button changes to the "stop" button, but clicking it doesn't shut the game down. Only the task manager.

That's very peculiar. This should never happen, the splash screen should be closed before the game launches. Any chance you can find the launcher.log file and send that across?

Also, after starting the game, the interface amd the cursor take a few 2 second freezes until it pops up.Same happens when loading a game.

This, unfortunately, is normal. The UI middleware is booted once the game is loaded. There's nothing we can do about that though we're certainly exploring other UI solutions for future games I can tell you that!

Also, during loading, the bottom taskbar is popping in and out. Not sure what's that about.

I noticed this today as well and as far as I can tell is something new. I think it's probably due to some Windows Update maybe the new game overlay hooking in. Not a clue on this, seems fairly harmless.

1. I always close what i can when playing games. Not sure what else i can do here. Never tried drivers in safe mode though, i'll see what that is and if i can do that. I'll also try updating the drivers, maybe that fixes some of the issues.

Definitely give the driver updates a go. See if you can do the safe mode thing as well. That will boot windows with the absolute bare minimum. It's one of the best ways to ensure there's nothing else running. I'll confess I've never tried to run WFTO in it though so I dunno how that'll go.

3.I unfortunately can't do that. I only have 1 SSD, and one failing HDD which is for storage only and only accessed when needed. Though, i did at one point have WFTO installed on that drive, and submitted a ticket. If you have my post history you'll see. The problem was the drive at that time. After i got the SSD, it improved drastically. Load times and the game itself. I also don't have any memory sticks lying around lol, and this is the only computer i have.

This is unfortunate but does give me some ideas. Is it possible that your Cloud Saves or some resources for WFTO are located on the HDD instead? This would go a long way to explaining a core root for the most peculiar side of your problems. Maybe you could try disabling the HDD entirely temporarily to see if there's some improvement.

Also I would check your Page (Virtual Memory) file location. Make sure it's on your SSD and that there's space to spare on there. You could even try disabling it for a test run though I'd recommend against that with your system having 8GB Physical RAM.

If stuff for the game is being sent to a Paging file on the HDD which is slow and faulty that could explain some strange behaviours.

Hope that helps, let me know how you get on with that and the rest above.


Cheers,


Lee

Noontide you're a genius!

(I don't know how to quote here...)

"This is unfortunate but does give me some ideas. Is it possible that your Cloud Saves or some resources for WFTO are located on the HDD instead? This would go a long way to explaining a core root for the most peculiar side of your problems. Maybe you could try disabling the HDD entirely temporarily to see if there's some improvement.

Also I would check your Page (Virtual Memory) file location. Make sure it's on your SSD and that there's space to spare on there. You could even try disabling it for a test run though I'd recommend against that with your system having 8GB Physical RAM."

That was it! The page file was located on the HDD drive where windows used to be, E: or something. When i reinstalled windows, i never deleted the old drive with it because i still had some stuff i needed to copy, and i assume the installation found the pagefile and left it there for the new OS installation to use. I moved the page file to C: drive SSD and the game is working SO much better now!

That would also explain the high disk usage on my previous task manager screenshot!

I also updated the graphics card drivers.

Here's how posession now works:


There's still visible culling (those empty spaces), but there's no lag anymore now.

I also did some measurements that you requested but since i first tried the pagefile fix, i did the measurements AFTER i moved the pagefile to SSD and updated the drivers. There are still some issues, but the game works better now.

Start time: 87s
Quit to desktop from level: 47s

I didn't measure level loading, but it's not 30 seconds, it's more. Still, not as bad as before. Before, it would take minutes to load anything, especially quitting the level. Now it's "just" around 40 seconds. Which is still a lot compared to your load times, but it's manageable now. The weird thing is, my copy of WFTO is installed on an SSD, and my SSD times are comparable to your HDD times... Even worse. So, there's still something weird here.

The garbage collection freezes are WAY less noticable now. So that's a good thing. They do happen, but not nearly as much as before.

I played a lot of MPD levels to test out how the game works after i moved the page file to SSD and here's the results.

Justice crashed once very badly. I tagged all the earth inside the circle of impenetrable rock where the dungeon heart is, and the game started to lag like crazy. I wanted to dig everything and put down rooms then put augurum walls around them. It crashed before i could excavate everything.

Next time, i ran Justice without excavating everything and it ran fine.

Frostfossil was fine.
Deepwater was fine.
Goldrust was fine.
The one with the empire units was fine as well.

Revelation ritual produces extreme lag. Tested on the emire MPD. Sorry forgot the name.
Prospector ritual also produces lag but not as much. Also tested on the empire MPD.

I couldn't capture culling when in RTS mode, but that might have been fixed by moving the page file to SSD.
I did capture another instance of this culling when playing a community map that's a copy of Dungeon Keeper 2 first MPD level.
20200301231900_1.jpg
This one did not go away like the posession culling does. It was just like that no matter what angle i looked at it.

"Pretty much within expected bounds. Did you have the level loaded when
you took these? Would be nice to know. Also only thing of note is the
90+% usage on one of your drives. Though it's not clear why that is in
the screenshots."

Yes, the level was loaded when i took those screenshots.

"That's very peculiar. This should never happen, the splash screen should
be closed before the game launches. Any chance you can find the
launcher.log file and send that across?"

Here is the launcher log:
War for the Overworld Launcher Log.txt

I can no longer see the taskbar popping in an out.

Another thing i noticed is that when there is small amount of UI elements the game feels smoother. For instance, when i switch from the units tab to spells (and there's only a few spells researched), it feels smoother. I can't get any FPS counter to work in game, so i couldn't measure it, but maybe you can try. Start one level, play it a lot, and just never research any spells. Then switch from unit view to spells when there's a lot of units to see if it makes any difference.

And of course, as expected, the more units and objects in the level in general, the less smooth the game is, but that's to be expected. The framerate then does drop a bit, but not as much as it did when the page file was on the HDD. It's playable now, at least when MPD is concerned. I still wouldn't play campaign levels with this performance.

I also never encountered the AI message on any other map. I did not try Hell's Deep this time though. Might be just that map's issue, or might be related to page file thing.

So, in conclusion, there's still issues happening, but it's way better now that the page file is on the SSD.
If you need me to do anything else, just ask!
And thank you for your time!
Completed - Resolved

Hi Vepar,

This is great news, I'm glad my guess was accurate and has delivered significant improvements. 

With this resolution, I'm going to mark this ticket as complete. Obviously not all the issues raised in your initial ticket at 100% resolved so for each here's where we're at on those:

  • Default AI Message on Hell's Deep - There is actually a ticket for this already. I've updated it following your ticket and if you like you can follow that in case the ticket ever gets updated.
  • Possession Culling - New ticket raised here
  • UI Performance w/ Units Panel - New ticket raised here
  • Loading Performance - I'd say the numbers your reported are largely within the margin of error. It's a pretty staggering difference but I think this could be due to the differences in our core specs. My Work PC has a high-end Intel CPU and 64GB of RAM. This could be as simple as my game doesn't load anything into the Pagefile and instead simply uses system memory. WFTO's loading times I think are one of the biggest issues we're aware of so it doesn't surprise me to hear them being within the range you indicate.
  • Justice Crash - If you can replicate this I'd love to see a ticket including a log and replication steps. :)
  • Splash Screen Remains - At a loss on this. Nothing in the log and I can't replicate it myself. You can feel free to raise a report with all the details you can muster but if it's not something we can replicate in house it certainly won't be fixed.

That should be everything if you feel there's anything I've missed please let me know.

Cheers,

Lee

Thank you, i will follow the threads and new tickets.


Loading times - You're probably right. Maybe i'll buy some more RAM if it's cheap thrn see the difference. Probably win't be anything spectacular. But yeah, if you have a more powerful system, even a HDD load times will be great. So i don't think there is an issue here in that case. Just a difference in specs.


Justice crash - I know what i was doing when it crashed so i'll try the same thing again. 


Splash screen - No idea. I'll see if i can maybe guess what's happening. Or try a few thinga. If i find anything i'll open a new ticket so you can try it.


That is all for now. Thank you for your help! I appreciate it!