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RAGE patch available for PC

A large PC patch for RAGE arrived this weekend, aiming to fix the grotesque graphical issues that many users complained about. It also gives players some actual video settings to tweak, rather than stick with threadbare menus. id Software justified the original lack of options, stating that it was to stop the game from screwing up further.

“The original release of RAGE does not expose many video/graphics options for people to tweak because some of these settings, although desirable from a quality perspective, simply will not work on specific configurations either due to hardware limitations and/or driver bugs,” states the patch notes. “Due to popular demand for more video and graphics options, this patch updates the video settings menu and exposes several quality and performance settings.”

Highlights of the patch include a VSync option, a texture cache and SLI support. Check out the patch summary below.

– Implemented workaround for AMD driver crash right after intro cinematic
on Win 7 32-bit systems.
– Disabled UBOs because they are causing animation issues with AMD drivers.
– Don’t allow swap-tear to be enabled on AMD while the extension is not
exposed because it may crash.
– Support for new video settings: “texture cache”, “vsync” and
“anisotropic filter”
– Automatically adjust vt_maxPPF based on the number of available cores.
– Improved performance for SLI cards when GPU transcode is enabled.
– Fix for GPU Transcoding option being disabled after exiting gameplay.
– Added safe mode to restore video settings to default values.
– Allow g_fov to be changed from the RAGE launch options in Steam.
– Server now forwards text chat from clients to all other clients while in-game.



Why Was The PC Launch of Rage Such A “Cluster!@#$”?

The idea from the start was a game that blurred the lines between how games looked on console and PC.

id Software’s most famous games, actually all of its major games, were titles built on the computer first, then brought to consoles later.

But not with Rage. id Software’s big genre-blending shooter was created using the company’s new id Tech 5 technology, an engine designed to run across all platforms, console or PC, with the same assets.

But somehow the end result wasn’t just a game that looked worse on one platform, it was a game that, at least for some, looked worse on the one platform id had for so long embraced: The computer.

The chief issue with the current state of Rage on the computer, id says, is mostly one caused by the drivers that help the game interface with graphics cards made by Nvidia and ATI, something very frustrating for the perfectionists at id.

While Rage was built on technology meant to make the game the same on all platforms, it was still built using computer. Specifically, Rage creative director Tim Willits, told me the studio’s internal development tools run on 64-bit PC systems, but when the game is submitted to the “build system,” all platforms are created.

That’s when the game is tested, rigorously.

“This system has led to incredibly solid and bug-free 360 and PS3 versions,” Willits said. “Unfortunately, we have had video driver issues that have caused problems and frustrations with our PC fans. Everyone at id Software is very upset by these issues which are mostly out of our control. We are working with both AMD/ATI and Nvidia to help them identify and fix the issues with their drivers. We’ve had assurances that these problems are being addressed and new drivers will be available soon.”


The issues were so severe that it drove the normally soft-spoken Carmack to cuss. Well, nearly cuss. In a response to Kotaku about the launch problems, Carmack censored himself, but the anger was still there.

“The driver issues at launch have been a real cluster !@#$,” he wrote. “We were quite happy with the performance improvements that we had made on AMD hardware in the months before launch; we had made significant internal changes to cater to what AMD engineers said would allow the highest performance with their driver and hardware architectures, and we went back and forth with custom extensions and driver versions.”

“We knew that all older AMD drivers, and some Nvidia drivers would have problems with the game, but we were running well in-house on all of our test systems. When launch day came around and the wrong driver got released, half of our PC customers got a product that basically didn’t work. The fact that the working driver has incompatibilities with other titles doesn’t help either. Issues with older / lower end /exotic setups are to be expected on a PC release, but we were not happy with the experience on what should be prime platforms.”

A question of prime platforms elicited another surprising response from Carmack, one he says he knows won’t make people happy.

I’ve noticed that among those people who aren’t enjoying the PC experience, I wrote to the developers, the underlying issue seems to be one driven by expectations. People seemed to have been hoping that this would be a game that proved the value of owning a PC over a console. But instead they got a game that they feel cut some corners to level the experience between console and PC. Do you think that is a fair assessment? Does id still see the PC as the leading platform to make games for?

“You can choose to design a game around the specs of a high-end PC and make console versions that fail to hit the design point, or design around the specs of the consoles and have a high-end PC provide incremental quality improvements,” Carmack replied. “We chose the latter.”

The fact that id had already decided that they wanted Rage to run at 60 frames per second already removed one of the major things PC gamers look for in a title, he continued. That only left resolution, anti-aliasing, and texture streaming as things that a computer gamer might want to see look better than on a console.

“We do not see the PC as the leading platform for games,” Carmack added. “That statement will enrage some people, but it is hard to characterize it otherwise; both console versions will have larger audiences than the PC version. A high end PC is nearly 10 times as powerful as a console, and we could unquestionably provide a better experience if we chose that as our design point and we were able to expend the same amount of resources on it. Nowadays most of the quality of a game comes from the development effort put into it, not the technology it runs on. A game built with a tenth the resources on a platform 10 times as powerful would be an inferior product in almost all cases.”

id Explains How to Tweak the Most Out of PC Rage, More Official Settings Coming Soon

The PC version of Rage will soon have a bevy of new ways for gamers to tweak the way the game behaves and looks on their system, id Software tells Kotaku.

“Rage has fewer tunable settings than games we’ve released in the past,” Robert Duffy, Rage programming director, told Kotaku. “We’ve added a few more video options in the update that will be available soon and these will provide gamers more flexibility in tuning the game for performance and quality. Additionally we’ve defaulted several things differently based on CPU/GPU combinations, so that will also help with the overall experience.”

“We are still evaluating which options to surface in the update but currently we’ve added:”
1. Texture Cache [ Small | Large ] which alternates between 4k and 8k pages
2. Texture Anisotropy [ Low | High ]
3. VSYNC [ Off | On | Smart ] “Smart” will only be available once future drivers come out that supports the extension so Off and On are the only options when the patch initially hits.

John Carmack, Rage’s technical director, said he was a “bit surprised at the intensity of the reaction” to the low number of video options.

“We are providing a few more options in an update, and we will probably document some of the more obscure tuning options that can be done manually,” he said.

We asked Duffy for a quick run down of what gamers can do now, if they want to much about in the game’s console or Steam settings. Here’s what he told us:

Here are several ways to change settings but the easiest is through the Steam launch options for the game which are accessible by right clicking on RAGE in the Steam Library, choose Properties, and then Set Launch Options. Depending on your setup the following can boost performance and/or quality.

If you have a high end GPU with at least 1GB+ of dedicated video ram you can use what we refer to as 8K Pages. These pages are effectively the GPU-based texture cache and if the video ram is available can greatly reduce texture page-in. Please note that if enough video ram is not available, setting this can drastically reduce performance and this does not always play nice on a 32bit OS. The following command line can be used to enable 8K textures. (Current valid settings are 4096 or 8192.)

+vt_pageImageSizeUnique 8192 +vt_pageImageSizeUniqueDiffuseOnly8192 +vt_pageImageSizeUniqueDiffuseOnly2 8192

Another setting that will prove beneficial to gamers with 4 or less cores is to try different values for vt_maxppf. This particular setting changes how many texture pages are transcoded per frame. On systems with fewer cores reducing it from the default of 128 can greatly enhance performance and limit texture page-in artifacts. A value of 16 appears to be the best option in cases where the CPU is getting hammered because of fewer cores. The patch defaults this value based on the number of cores present but in the meantime gamers can use the following command line to see if it helps with any issues they may be seeing. (Valid settings for vt_maxppf are 8, 16, 32, 64, 128)

+vt_maxppf 16

Let us know in comments what you find works best for your system. Also, what other settings you’d like to seen built into the options menu for the PC.

PC RAGE players should download new drivers ‘immediately’

RAGE PC players with AMD/ATI graphics cards can now download the “RAGE Catalyst” drivers in order to fix a number of horrendous issues with the game. As revealed yesterday, the PC port of id’s post-apocalyptic shooter has been running awfully on PCs, especially those with the aforementioned cards.

“BE SURE to grab them immediately,” warned id Software on Twitter.

That said, NVIDIA users aren’t free of hassle. Bethesda has said that those people need to ensure they’ve got the GeForce 285.38 driver and enable the “NVIDIA Update” component to receive fresh fixes for the game.

I tried the game on PC last night and was fairly horrified by what I saw. I’m currently playing around to see if I can get better, but I’ll have full impressions later today, whatever happens. I’m absolutely shocked the game came out in the state it did, especially from a studio with so much computer history.


Rage is having issues on PC, fixes incoming

Those of you who play vidya games primarily on consoles may have insulated yourself from an increasingly common scourge facing your PC gaming brethren: problematic PC ports. While we’re sorry to say that Rage is suffering from some launch-day issues, the PC gaming godfathers at id Software aren’t abandoning the platform. So put down those pitchforks. And torches.

The above video is a good example of the issue: textures pop-in every time the camera moves. It would appear the high-res MegaTextures that id’s John Carmack has been talking about for years are being dropped from memory immediately and not streaming in quickly enough. The Xbox 360 release, underpowered relative to the gaming PC in this video, exhibits very little if any texture pop-in which sort of puts the blame purely on your friend and ours: graphics card drivers!

Bethesda Blog says that, in addition to the texture issues, there are also screen tearing problems but insists that both problems “can be attributed to driver issues” which id Software is “currently working with Nvidia and AMD to resolve […] as quickly as possible.”

For AMD graphics card users, “you should not use” the beta driver that Bethesda shared yesterday. The Battlefield 3 beta drivers will crash to desktop “100% with those drivers,” and Beth Blog recommends updating “to the most recent driver when AMD updates, which we’re told will be in a few hours.” Nvidia users “should try updating Rage to the current beta driver” and Beth Blog will let everyone know when that’s available. Be patient, PC gamer. It’s been seven years since the last internally developed id Software game; another day or so isn’t going to kill you.


Rage PC bugs make game “totally unplayable”

Rage, id Software’s new shooter/racer hybrid, has been a long time coming. With most of the pre-release footage having been of the Xbox 360 version, many have been eagerly anticipating North American release today as a chance to finally get their hands on the PC edition of the game. Except, there seems to be a bit of a problem: many users are reporting a variety of bugs, glitches and other problems that, in some cases, are rendering the game impossible to play.

“Anybody else’s game glitching like mad? I keep getting parts of the level blacking out,” one player wrote on a NeoGAF forum thread, which has become rife with players complaining about the instability of the PC build.

Quickly, users began to jump in to describe their own experiences, with several complaining that the game is literally impossible to play on their machines, even though they meet the minimum system requirements listed for the game.

“[I] can’t even play it,” wrote one user, adding: “wtf is this sh*t?”

“Yeah, totally unplayable right now,” said another forum-goer, with another recounting how he gave up trying to play the game after just a few minutes, thanks to textures failing to load.

Some players who have managed to get the PC version ostensibly working are still complaining of framerate and screen-tearing issues.

The problem initially seemed to be isolated to those with ATI video cards, and one user linked to a set of new drivers in the hope that these would solve the problem. However, they seemed not to offer a fix – and before long, those with other video cards were complaining of similar performance issues.

However, some of those with other video cards were able to mitigate the problems by downloading new drivers.

The number of alleged issues with the PC version may come as a surprise to some: developer id Software has a fine pedigree within the PC gaming market, and the company’s game engines are renowned for being some of the finest around. Rage is the first title to run on the new id Tech 5 technology.

The PC system requirements for Rage – especially at the ‘minimum’ end – are actually quite reasonable: certainly no heavier than those of comparable titles. But the game claims to ‘optimise’ its performance based on the specifications of your PC. There are resolution options, but other graphical settings are determined by the game itself, rather than by the end user.

We contacted a representative of Bethesda, the game’s publisher and owner of id Software. We were told that the company would look into the alleged bugs and contact us later – we’ll update this post when they do.

It’s easy to get worked up, but perhaps we should be following the lead of some less angry forum-goers – who are speculating that any problems will be fixed soon, and that the PC version will ultimately be the best way to experience the game. One European user thanked US players for being “testers”, as the game is not yet out in Europe.

Rage has released in North America today to predominantly very strong reviews. But while the game is receiving 8 and 9 out of 10 scores, these appear to all be for the console versions. On Metacritic, the PC version currently has no listed reviews – and the leading PC gaming sites on the internet are yet to publish their verdicts.

Rage, released today in North America, will emerge in the UK on Friday 7th October for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and – of course – PC.

It’s likely to be the last new IP that id Software work on for some time, it was revealed recently. The company is looking to turn Rage into a franchise. Let’s hope that any PC-specific issues get sorted out quickly and efficiently, so that they don’t stand in the way of id’s plans for the series’ future.


Rage Review

Watch the video review by

Rage is ready for pre-load on Steam right now

Have you been feeling acutely cheery recently? Is your constantly joyful attitude destroying your daily life? Do people on the streets gasp in disgust and pull their children away from your positively delighted strut? Then it’s about time you got your Rage on — beginning today, people who pre-ordered Rage on Steam can begin pre-loading it in preparation for its Tuesday launch. Or you could save it all for Tuesday and really feel the hatred as you wait for the 25GB load.


Proof PS3 Rage already using PC level “super texture” pack?

Creative director, Tim Willits over at id Software revealed some interesting bits about Rage recently. All of the hints dropped by id Software seems to indicate that Rage for the PS3 may be the best console version and even go toe-to-toe with the PC version.

In the past John Carmack stated that the PS3 version of Rage will have superior textures over the Xbox 360 version due to disc space differences. In addition, Willits recently revealed that the team has optimized Rage to work on the PS3 so all of the CELL cores or SPEs are utilized to prevent nasty texture pop-ups.

He stated:

The extra cores are assigned to work on textures in the background, as there’s tons of visual data on the Blu-ray and on the hard drive… We load compressed JPG data, and assign those extra cores to work on these textures, and uncompress them in the background so there is no nasty pop up, or blurred textures.

What caught our attention was to the fact Willits mentioned that textures would also be loaded from the hard drive. This got us thinking about John’s statement about Doom 4 possibly using the mystical “super texture” pack for the PS3 version out of the gate due to the Blu-ray disc.

Carmack stated that the PC version will get the super texture pack after launch, but the team is researching if its possible to include that with the PS3 version of Doom 4 on disc.

According to Willits in an interview with Digital Foundry recently, the PS3 version will have a whopping 8GB install which was specially approved by Sony. Willits revealed that this special install will allow the PS3 version of Rage to utilize all of the textures at the highest fidelity.

He stated:

Sony was great. Kudos to Sony for letting us do that. They don’t allow every game to do that. So definitely, hats off. What we were able to do is install all the textures to the highest level. What is nice about the PS3 platform is that it’s just one platform. Everyone has one Blu-ray drive, one hard drive, it’s all the same. Some of the other systems you have… should I install it on my 360? Should I not install it? So yes, it’s very nice.

This sounds awfully like what was revealed by Carmack for Doom 4. It may not be a true “super texture” pack per se, but at 8GB of textures it appears that the the studio is doing a dry-run at including texture packs for the PS3 version starting with Rage.

If id Software has somehow managed to bridge the gap between the PC and the PS3 while using the same high-res graphics using the “super texture” pack running at 60fps, that would be a monumental achievement.

The Xbox 360 offers full disc installs, but doesn’t appear to install a separate “super texture” pack. Rage will be shipping on one 50GB PS3 blu-ray disc and three DVD9 discs for the Xbox 360 October 4th.


Rage requires 3 discs on Xbox 360, 8GB install on PS3, tolerance from fans

Rage will span three discs on Xbox 360 and require an 8GB install on PS3, id Software creative director Tim Willits has confirmed. It was rumored that Rage would have a large install and multiple discs on 360, but it seemed as if id was leaning toward a slim-and-trim two-disc set, stating that a separate multiplayer disc-swap would be “fail.” id didn’t have to pick a disc number for the PS3 version of Rage, effectively utilizing the Blu-ray drive to hold all of the game’s gigs, something that Willits seemed very pleased about:

“Sony was great,” Willits said. “Kudos to Sony for letting us do that. They don’t allow every game to do that. So definitely, hats off. What we were able to do is install all the textures to the highest level. What is nice about the PS3 platform is that it’s just one platform. Everyone has one Blu-ray drive, one hard drive, it’s all the same. Some of the other systems you have… should I install it on my 360? Should I not install it? So yes, it’s very nice.”

For 360 versions, Willits said id recommends installing the game to the hard drive, or if you don’t have the space for all 22GB, after installing and finishing the first half of the game from disc one, uninstall it, and then install disc two. There isn’t a reason to disc-swap after completing the first half, and “you don’t really need to install the multiplayer disc if you’re really tight on hard disk space,” Willits said.


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