Last Resort Mod Blog

New Textures & SCN Editor - September 24, 2015

I have been slowly plugging away at making more new high resolution textures for missionB (Getts house).   Below you can see some new wall plaque awards.  I know, they aren't exactly good duplicates of the originals but you get the idea. Sometimes I can't obsess about making it perfect otherwise I would never get anything done.

 

The computer below is better at duplicating the feel of the original.  Please note that I turn off the lighting for these screen captures because this map is pretty dark normally!

 

I would like to spend a second talking about the SCN Editor that AlienAbducter made for us back in 2012.   It has been absolutely invaluable in helping us replace the original textures in the game.   When a new replacement texture is made there is almost always a need to make slight adjustments to the .SCN file.   I am constantly using the SCN Editor to resize or move textures (or even completely replace a texture on a surface).

The only problem is that when I adjust a texture too much the light map can be broken in the game.  The texture will appear black in the game and shining your light on it won't have an affect.   When this happens I have to revert back and start all over.  Sometimes I can't use the new texture I made and I have to compromise.

I know that AlienAbducter has got a lot further into reverse engineering the .SCN file.   I hope that some day he picks up where he left off and continues to develop his .SCN tools.  It would speed things up a lot for me.

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Bad Nvidia Drivers - September 22, 2015

As you can see by the frame rate tests a few days ago in this blog I have been having extremely slow frame rates with Windows 7 64-bit Nvidia drivers.

If you revert your drivers to version 353.62 you will again get good frame rates in Swat 3. If you play the games Metal Gear Solid 5, Mad Max, Ashes of Singularity or Killing Floor 2 you won't want to revert since they contain "game-ready" drivers.

Nvidia Drivers Compatible with Swat 3:

355.98 Sept 22, 2015 - bad frame rate
355.82 August 31, 2015 - bad frame rate
355.60 August 13, 2015 - bad frame rate
353.62 July 29, 2015 - good
353.30 June 22, 2015 - good
353.06 May 31, 2015 - good
352.86 May 18, 2015 - good
350.12 April 13, 2015 - good
347.88 March 17, 2015 - good
347.52 February 10, 2015 - good
347.25 January 22, 2015 - good
347.09 - bad frame rate
344.75 - bad frame rate
344.48 - bad frame rate
344.11 - good

The only way we can get a fixed driver is if enough people report this issue.  Please show Nvidia you care about the classic older DirectDraw and 16-bit colour games.  You can help us by posting in the Nvida forums or by filling out a short bug report: 

Feedback thread for Windows 7 & 8: 
Nvidia feedback thread for driver version 355.82

Driver Bug report (they call it a survey): 
Nvidia Driver Bug Report

Tell them that you are having extreme frame rate drops on the menus of Swat 3 and other older games that use Direct Draw and 16-bit colour depth.  Please also mention the last good drivers were 353.62.

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Frame Rate using '-windows' command - September 20, 2015

When running Swat 3 if you switch your desktop to 16-bit colour and use the -windows command line argument you can can get the game to run in a window at a much better framerate.

When you use this command it overrides your 3D setting choice in the Last Resort mod and uses the 2D menu setting for both 2D and the 3D portion of the game.  Hope I haven't confused you yet.

Below is an example of how you would do this using the Last Resort launcher:

 

Last Resort mod turned on - DirectX hardware rendering -window CLI:

2D Menu Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 - 220 fps
  • 1024x768 - 200 fps
  • 1280x1024 - 179 fps
  • 1440x900 - 214 fps

3D In Game Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 -  280 fps
  • 1024x768 -  318 fps
  • 1280x1024 -  303 fps
  • 1440x900 -  302 fps

 

Last Resort mod turned on - WineD3D (OpenGL wrapper) -window CLI:

2D Menu Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 - 507 fps
  • 1024x768 - 423 fps
  • 1280x1024 - 308 fps
  • 1440x900 - 348 fps

3D In Game Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 -  58 fps
  • 1024x768 -  51 fps
  • 1280x1024 -  45 fps
  • 1440x900 -  45.5 fps

Conclusion:

- Massive frame rate improvement with window mode when using DirectX

- No advantage in window mode with WineD3D (OpenGL) over full screen mode.

Click image to enlarge

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Frame Rate Tests - September 19, 2015

EDIT:  All of these frame rate tests were done with, as I discovered, faulty Nvidia drivers.  If you revert to version 353.62 you get normal performance on the 2D menus.

 

Recently someone on the GOG.com forums mentioned that the Last Resort mod was causing all of his FPS issues.   I decided to test this out to see how much truth there was to this.

My other reason for testing out my frame rate is that I have recently have had a lot of stuttering while playing Swat 3 in Windows 7.   I am almost 100% certain this is caused by poor Nvidia drivers because in the past I had the same issue for a few months until Nvidia released a new driver.  When I use WineD3D to force Swat 3 to run with OpenGL I got a much better frame rate (or so it seemed). 

I should explain a little about my system I tested this on and my methodology of testing.

  • EVGA Nvidia Geforce GTX 960 4GB RAM
  • 8GB Corsair RAM
  • Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3 Motherboard
  • AMD-FX 4100 Quad Core, 3600 Mhz
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit
  • Nvidia driver 355.82

I used the Mission B map (Gett's house) for all the tests in 3D.  No additional mods were activated. No additional officer AI added to the squad.  Using Swat 3's built in STATS command I viewed the framerate on both the 2D menus and in the 3D portion of the game once the map had launched.

Each time the map started up in Swat 3 it would take about 18 seconds for the frame rate to settle down.   I always waited until the FPS settled down before taking a reading to get accurate results.   I always recorded the numbers without moving the mouse so the camera was always at the same exact spot.  For the 2D measurement I always used the OPERATIONS screen.

Last Resort mod turned on - DirectX hardware rendering

2D Menu Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 - 6.0 fps
  • 1024x768 - 3.6 fps
  • 1280x1024 - 2.3 fps
  • 1440x900 - 2.1 fps

3D In Game Frame Rate:

  • 800x600 - 60.3 fps
  • 1024x768 - 60 fps
  • 1280x1024 - 30.4 fps
  • 1440x900 - 30.4 fps
  • 1980x1024 - 26 fps

 

Last Resort mod turned on - WineD3D (OpenGL wrapper)

2D Menu Frame Rate (fluctuated more):

  • 800x600 - 560 to 570 fps
  • 1024x768 - 506 to 510 fps
  • 1280x1024 - 398 to 395 fps
  • 1440x900 - 397 to 403 fps

3D In Game Frame Rate (fluctuated more):

  • 800x600 - 57-60 fps
  • 1024x768 - 51.9 to 52.9 fps
  • 1280x1024 - 46.5 to 47.1 fps
  • 1440x900 - 44.3 to 44.8 fps
  • 1980x1024 - 34.6 to 36.5 fps

 

I didn't bother posting any stats with the Last Resort mod turned off (vanilla Swat 3 in other words) because they were identical to when the mod is on.   The 800x600 2D menus had the exact same frame rate with the mod on or off.  3D performance wasn't affected by the mod being on or off either. It is possible though in the future once more textures are replaced in the various maps we may start seeing a difference on video cards with smaller amounts of RAM.

The Last Resort mod did cause a FPS reduction in the 2D menus as you increased the resolution.   In other words if you ran the 800x600 2D menus you did get a better frame rate than if you chose the largest 1440x900 2D menus.   This wasn't a problem when I used WineD3D because my frame rate was in the hundreds on the 2D menus! 

Conclusion:

The Last Resort mod is not the cause of the stuttering that people are having in Swat 3 with Windows 7, 8, and 10.   If you are already having frame rate troubles then choosing a higher resolution 2D menu in Swat 3 only makes the existing problem worse. 

With Windows 7 I believe the real problem is DirectX + Nvidia Drivers.   Windows 8 and 10 only emulates 16-bit colour mode and all older games that use Direct Draw are having frame rate issues from what I have read.   It isn't just Swat 3 having issues with the newer versions of Windows.

Click image to enlarge

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WineD3D updated - September 18, 2015

WineD3D was updated at the beginning of this month and I recommend you get this new version if you are using it for Swat 3.   This version fixes the screen tearing issue it that I was having in the 3D portion of the game.

What is WineD3D and why would you need it?   WineD3D is a wrapper to force Swat 3 to run in OpenGL mode instead of DirectX.   I find that the latest Nvidia drivers don't run well under Windows 7 and you end up with unplayable framerates in Swat 3.   The only problem is that many people with AMD video cards report that it doesn't work well with their hardware (due to poor OpenGL support?).

Installation is a breeze.  Once you download WineD3D just unzip it and copy three files into your main Swat 3 folder: ddraw.dll, libwine.dll, wined3d.dll

Visit the WineD3D website to get the latest version.

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LED Clock fixes and Windows 7 issues - September 17, 2015

While I was going through my newest texture replacements for the Last Resort mod I saw a few that I could improve upon in Mission B - The Getts house.

If you may recall this map takes place at night and the lighting inside the house is very subdued.   I noticed that none of the LED clocks on this map glowed like they would in real life.   There were 3 LED clocks (one in Victor Getts' bedroom, one in his son's bedroom, and one on the microwave in the kitchen) and all of them were completely dark.  Swat 3 doesn't have textures that emit light but you can fake it by placing a light entity near the object (you can see the result of my fix in the image below...remember normally the numbers of the clock aren't viewable unless you point your flashlight directly at it).

I spent the rest of my evening fixing this by using AlienAbducter's amazing SCN Editor tool.   First I had to determine the X,Y,Z coordinates of the light entity I needed to add to the map.   Once I had that info I had to decide on an appropriate colour of light in RGB format.   I then had to add the other fields that are required to make a light entity work properly in the game (a total of 8 are used).   I next had to strip out the existing light map out of the .SCN and then rebuild the light maps with the new light entities.    Of course things needed tweaking several times so it took a while to get it right.   None of this would have been possible without AlienAbducter's app.

Yes, it was a lot of work for not much payoff, lol. 


I would like to spend a minute complaining about how hard it is to get Swat 3 to run well now on my Windows 7 machine.   Well, to be honest I don't think Windows 7 is to blame entirely.   The game used to work great for me with Windows 7. What I actually think is the big problem is Nvidia video card drivers.  Lately the game stutters like a sonovabitch.   My machine can handle GTA5 on Steam without any problems so it certainly can handle this ancient game from 1999.   In the past Nvidia has released drivers that temporarily caused horrible frame rate issues with Swat 3 but usually they fixed it a few driver releases later.   Unfortunately it has been a while now and they still haven't fixed the problem.

Right now the only way I have found to improve the frame rate is to install WineD3D to trick the game into running in OpenGL instead of DirectX. Although the stuttering is fixed the overall visual quality seems to suffer a lot.

Swat 3 won't run properly on my Windows 8.1 laptop.   Now it seems Swat 3 won't run properly on my main Windows 7 desktop computer without affecting the visual quality.   This sort of crap will kill any remaining audience that Swat 3 still had.

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