Baldur's Gate 2 Tweak Guide
Posted: November 8, 2000
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
I just don't know what to say about this game - it's just awesome. That's all there is to it. If I could be more specific, I would, but the game excels in just about every way - it's a treat to play. And with so many different storyline options, not only is it a treat - it's extremely replayable, making it well worth the money. Of course, a game like this deserves its own feature here on Tweak3D - hence this tweak guide. Luckily, this is the most tweakable game amongst the Infinity Engine games (the original Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment), so there should be plenty to whet your appetite.
There are three installation types you can perform - Minimum, Recommended, and Maximum. Minimum is going to run you about 600 MB (it copies the entire contents of the first CD to your hard drive if my memory serves me correctly), and has only the files that you NEED to have to play the game - there is going to be a lot of CD swapping with this option, though, because all of the levels will be stored on the CD. The recommended install, a whopping 1.1 GB, has most of the maps and stuff installed on the computer, but all of the music, movies, and other stuff are still stored on the CDs so you will still have to swap CDs sometimes in-between maps. The full install, which is over 2 GB in size, installs everything to the hard drive, and the game only uses the CD for verification - so there is no more swapping.
If you are like me, and are at least marginally limited by disk space (perhaps not right now, but you don't plan on uninstalling the game anytime soon and would like to be able to install some other ones), I would suggest the recommended install. The minimum install really doesn't perform as well as I'd like - the load times between levels then become nearly unbearable, and load times are already the one thing that pulls you out of the game during play. If you've got the space to spare, or you are having some CD problems (maps not loading fast enough for your liking, or the movies are skipping a bit), go ahead and do the full install - this will probably be the only game you'll be playing for the next month or two anyway.
Drivers are particularly important for this game, especially if you are running it in 3D Accelerated Mode (more on that later). I would grab the newest versions of both your sound drivers and your video drivers before playing - particularly in the original release (if there is a patch available, that might fix the problem), I have run into a few driver problems - some of which were solved by installing the newest drivers available. Doing so will probably increase the overall speed of the game for many people as well.
Configuration Program - Basic Tab
There are four different tabs to the Baldur's Gate 2 configuration utility: Basic, Hot Keys, Gameplay, and Graphics. The first of these tabs, the basic tab, has four sliders that need to be tweaked. The first slider is the difficulty slider - I know, not much of a performance tweak, but you'll want to set this to the appropriate setting. Then, you have the three sliders on the right - General, Graphics, and Sound. The general slider effects the these three settings:
- Frame Rate - This tells the computer how many frames per second to play back. If you set this lower, it will slow down the game and if you set it higher it will speed up the game. You will probably only want to set this below 30 if your computer is dropping frames due to lag - I have mine set up to 60 with no problems (and all the characters walk really fast now as well).
- Path Search Nodes - The higher the number, the better your characters will find the quickest route between two points. Turning this down will speed things up, but your characters might get stuck occasionally.
- Enhanced Pathfinding - Turning this on will also increase your characters chance of not getting stuck, but it slightly decreases performance.
The Graphics slider affects these settings:
- Game Resolution - 800x600 or 640x480 by default, I'll show you how to unlock other resolutions a bit later.
- No Translucent Shadows - Turning this on blends shadows with the background - definitely better looking than solid black, but slows the computer a bit.
- Disable All Static Animations - Enabling this will give you a performance boost but it'll kill a lot of the game's ambiance by turning off a lot of little features.
- No Large Static Animations - Same as above except this refers to large animations like water ripples and the like.
- 3D Animations - Turning this on looks a lot cooler and on 'some' computers can even give a performance boost - computers without a competent 3D card though should leave this off.
- Enable Brightening - This setting enables brightening spell effects.
- Mid Level Brighten - This setting tells the game to brighten spell effects when necessary.
- High Level Brighten - This setting will brighten all spell effects for visual quality.
- Force 50% Transparency - This sets fast transparency, which will speed up performance at the cost of quality.
- Disable Casting Glows - This turns off some of the casting effects in the game - disabling it will speed stuff up.
- Disable VEF Vid Cells - This setting disables some of the spell effects in the game.
- Tiles Precache - Turning this up will increase load times but improve scrolling speed within the game.
And the sound slider effects the following settings:
- Footstep sounds - Self explanatory, don't you think? Turning this off will increase performance slightly.
- Attack sounds - Another self explanatory one - wow, this really makes my job easy. Turning this off will increase performance slightly.
I would personally set all of these sliders to high and then go to the Gameplay and Graphics tabs and enable/disable the settings that you want (no, I won't make you read the same definitions again). Just for your information, the MHz ratings that they recommend for those slider settings are a little bit under-estimated - if you decide just to use those and not tweak anything else, you can still probably set the sliders one or two notches above what they recommend for your system and still get satisfactory performance.
This tab, surprisingly, isn't limited just to what is controlled by the sliders under the basic tab, but many of the settings do overlap. I'll only cover the ones that I haven't already otherwise covered.
- Cache Size - This determines the amount of space used on the hard drive to store data. The minimum value for this is 180 MB, or 300 MB if you plan on playing multiplayer, however, either way I recommend at least 400 MB for peak performance.
- Frame Rate - I know I've already covered this, but with this slider you can go all the way up to 60 fps - which speeds up the game significantly. If your machine can handle it, turn it up - because it will shorten the tedium of walking around towns and such when you aren't being constantly attacked. However, if you find it's too fast to give commands in real time, you will need to turn on some of the auto-pause functions in the game.
- Critical Hit Screen Shake - This enables/disables screen shaking every time someone scores a critical hit within the game.
- No High Memory Ambient Sounds - This will turn off some of the ambient sounds.
- Disable all Ambient Sounds - This will disable all of the ambient sounds within the game.
- Duplicate Floating Text - This will copy the floating text to the text log.
This tab, as well as the gameplay tab, has some settings that aren't covered by the sliders in the beginning of the configuration utility. There are a few very important ones, as follows:
- 2D Color Depth - because this game is, for the most part, a 2D game, setting this to 32-bit is unlikely to cause a problem, so go for it.
- Game Resolution - there is a setting in there that allows you to unlock higher resolutions. If you feel like it, and you've got a large monitor and a decent CPU, go for it - it may very well improve the game for you.
- Use 3D Acceleration - if you have this available and have 3D animations turned on, by all means use 3D acceleration to speed it up. If you are using an older 3dfx card, make sure you uncheck the 32-bit color animations or else you might get corrupt textures on the characters.
After you have everything set up, click on the Test Settings button to make sure you'll be able to get into the game after making these changes, and off you go.
Most of these settings can also be changed within the baldur.ini file, which is located within the game's subdirectory. There are several changes that you might consider making that can't be done within the configuration program, and are as follows:
- Debug Mode=1 - Turning on Debug mode (under program options) will allow you to have access to the console (accessable by pressing Ctrl+Space) within the game. This console will let you do some very interesting things (including cheating) which are kind of cool. Summoning monsters to fight is always fun.
- Cheats=1 - Turning this on obviously turns on the in-game cheats. These cheats are available through Debug mode as well, but this actually associates them with keys. To fully enable this, go into the console (remember, ctrl+space) and type in CLUAConsole:EnableCheatKeys(1);.
- Bored Timeout=# (where # is a number in hundredths of a second) - This is the amount of time it takes before the NPCs start talking because you (the player) are being boring and aren't doing anything. The default value for this is 3000, or 30 seconds.
- HP Over Head=1 - This setting makes the characters hit points float above their heads. This is a kind of cool feature so you may want to turn it on.
- Maximum Frame Rate=30 - Yes, this is the same frame rate setting from the config program, but what you don't know is that this can be set as high as 90. If you want the game to run even faster, use this to force the fps above 60.
I don't have a lot of information on the various console commands for the game short of the cheats that I grabbed at IGN. However, what I can tell you is that all of them are in the format of CLUAConsole:Command(#);, so if you want to do some experimenting, have fun with it. Some of the 'cheat codes' aren't necessarily cheats (like summoning monsters to kill), but they can be fun if you've played the game through and want a challenge.
As I said, at the time of this writing, there are no patches out for this game - however, one is in development and may even be released by the time you read this. If so, installing it will likely eliminate many, if not all, of the annoying little bugs in the game. Of course, that is only important if you are running into the annoying bugs - if you aren't, the patch probably won't do anything more than improve multiplayer performance.
Well, this is it for this tweak guide. Hopefully, you've found some good tweaks for Baldur's Gate 2. If you are still having trouble getting the game to run well on your computer, and you've tweaked out your computer with our tweak guides already, maybe it's time for an upgrade - this game isn't exactly the hardest on system resources. Good luck!
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