MDK 2 Tweak Guide
Posted: June 17, 2000
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
MDK 2 is one of those unexplainably fun games that come out from time to time for the computer. By the looks of the game, at least from the surface, it is only a mediocre game that you might try out not so much because it interests you, but because a friend is ranting and raving about it. Once you pop in the game and get going, however, you are all too happy with the game - and the friend that recommended it. However, all is not perfect - and this tweak guide will help you smooth out some of the rough edges.
Installation / Setup
The MDK 2 setup program is much the same as any game - however, it has included with it a copy of GLSetup (the game solely uses OpenGL for in-game rendering). Unless you are on Win2k (and can't use glsetup) or your video card isn't supported by the current version of GLSetup - use it. It will improve performance by about twenty percent on most systems - a significant amount particularly if you are like me and prefer to run in high resolutions.
Testing your Configuration
The MDK 2 Launcher has some great and highly tweakable options for the game, but by far the best feature of the launcher would have to be the "Test Settings" feature. Why? Because not only will it allow you to check and make sure that the system is set up properly to run the game, but it will also run a timedemo of the game and give you the average fps. This is really useful when you are testing new game settings and takes a lot of the risk out of tweaking the game.
General Video Settings
All of the general video settings can be changed within the game as well in the Video Options menu - but because you can set them up before you go into the game, you might as well. The first video setting that you will see is the driver setting. You may have any number of different drivers, but I have two choices - the default driver, which would be the one installed by GLSetup; and the OpenGL driver installed by my video card manufacturer. I personally recommend using the 'default' driver that was installed with GLSetup. If you didn't or weren't able to install GLSetup on your computer, you will still have the default option, but now it will be the one that was installed with your video card drivers. You will also have a second option in that case - a software OpenGL driver. In that case, unless the game won't run, you are better off with the installed driver.
The next setting you have to choose is the resolution. I would personally recommend setting this up as high as possible while still maintaining 30 fps. If you are a hardcore fps freak and want every little bit of frame action but still decent visual quality, setting it two 'levels' below the max (being the resolution where you can maintain 30 fps) will still give you decent visuals but with more frames per second.
General Video Settings Continued
Texture quality is another thing you can set before you enter the game. There are four texture quality levels for MDK 2 - extra low, low, medium, and high. I personally use high with almost no speed penalty, but if you are on a lower end system or need a few fps to bump you up to a higher resolution, both the medium and low settings are reasonably good. You should only use extra low if you are on some old, archaic system but insist on playing the game anyway.
Color Depth is pretty much a no-brainer - set it to 16 for optimal performance and to 32 for optimum visuals. If you are using a 3dfx Voodoo3 card, however, for some reason if you set this to 32 you will gain some visual acuity without losing but maybe half a frame per second. If that kind of thing agrees with you, try it out. If you can't see the difference (remember the purported 22-bit color...heh) though, you might as well leave it set to 16-bit color.
You also have the option of choosing the filtering you use for the game - be it none, bilinear, and trilinear. Unless you are going to turn the feature off entirely, the Omen engine is optimized for trilinear filtering and it even out-performs bilinear in the timedemo on my system - so that is definitely the recommended setting.
Mipmapping, as you may know, is the process of interpolating pixels in far off textures that there aren't enough on-screen pixels to accurately represent. If mipmapping is disabled within a game you will frequently notice flickering in far away textures as well as other visual artifacts. Enabling mipmapping also can slightly increase in game performance so I can't think of a reason to not enable the setting.
Making sure the game is running in Full Screen mode as opposed to a window is important because the game can only access the system's 3D accelerator if it is in full screen mode. If the game is run out of a window it is running in a glorified software mode that is less than speedy. Full screen all the way.
The hardware T&L setting isn't necessarily what it seems to be. By enabling this setting you are actually choosing to use the native OpenGL T&L engine over the Omen T&L engine. The difference between the two T&L engines is this: the Omen T&L engine doesn't support hardware acceleration but is optimized to run on the CPU, while the OpenGL T&L engine supports hardware acceleration but is not optimized to run on the CPU. This means that the Omen T&L engine is actually faster and better optimized than the OpenGL one, and should be used if you don't have a T&L accelerating card (such as the GeForce 256), but if you do have such a card, the OpenGL T&L engine will be faster simply because it can be accelerated in hardware.
Advanced Video Settings
There are two settings under the advanced tab of the MDK 2 launcher. The first of these setting is 'Disable 3D sound Acceleration.' MDK 2 makes use of DirectSound to add 3D sound to the game, as well as supporting EAX (Environmental Audio Extensions). If you want to disable any hardware acceleration available for these things and run the entire sound engine in software, you can enable this setting (which disables 3D sound acceleration). I would only recommend doing this if you find that it is either causing problems with your system or you don't have the hardware to support the feature in the first place.
The other setting tells the game to use DirectX to set the game's video modes. If you are having trouble with in-game flicker at your chosen resolution (the refresh rate is running at 60 Hz), and you know your screen can handle a higher refresh rate, give this a shot and see if it fixes your problem. Personally, I have had problems with getting this setting to work - but it is worth a try. The only other way to get rid of the flicker would be to lower the resolution and 'hope' that the MDK 2 video mode setter recognizes that it can use a higher refresh rate.
There are still a few game settings that can't be changed with the MDK 2 launcher. The first of these is the enabling/disabling of EAX. If you have the Soundblaster Live! card or are using the Aureal drivers with EAX support, enabling this is probably advisable. There isn't much overhead to the EAX subsystem over the regular 3D sound and it sounds pretty cool.
Within the video settings, you can disable shadows. Disabling shadows will increase in game performance but you will, well, sacrifice the shadows. There is another way to disable shadows from within the game, but it is a bit more complicated. There is a file in your MDK2/save directory called opt.lua. Open the file in notepad and look for a line that says omSceneSetShadows(1). To disable shadows, change the 1 to a 0, and to re-enable shadows change it back to 1. Neat, huh? You can disable/enable a bunch of the settings within the game from within that file.
Another setting that you can choose to enable or disable is movie text. Because of the way the game does its cutscenes, they have a lot of flexibility (including adding movie text). If you have trouble understanding the characters or generally play games with the volume turned down so you don't get caught by your parents/significant other late at night, go ahead and enable this; otherwise leave it disabled.
The final setting that you can change is 'Show Performance.' If you have this enabled you will be able to see your 'instantaneous' frame rate as well as some other various information. If you are really into knowing how fast your system is going, this is the way to go - otherwise leave it disabled (it gets annoying and overlaps with the movie text).
MDK 2 Console
Because MDK 2 is an OpenGL game, it includes a console. In most games, consoles are cool because they allow you to play around with settings that the game itself doesn't necessarily allow you to mess with. The same goes for MDK 2, except that their console is a lot different than the ones we are all used to (like the one for Quake 3). To access the console, just like in many other games, you press the tilde [~] key. The format you need to put any console command in is command=x where command is the command (duh) and x is a number (probably 0 or 1). I've tried a bunch of different console commands (even ones I've yanked out of the executable itself using wordpad…) and haven't gotten a single one to do anything (I did, however, figure out how to get rid of the error messages - which is how I determined the imput format). However, I have included this information in hopes that you might find a command and get use out of it.
There are a few other things you can do to increase performance for MDK 2. If you haven't already, install DirectX 7.0a because it can increase performance. Another thing you might try doing would be to download the newest drivers for your 3D accelerator and sound hardware before playing the game. There is also an option for checking on the Internet for newer versions of the GLSetup program, which might help you squeeze a few more fps out of the game. I also foresee in the near future MDK 2 being added to the WickedGL driver install program - so you might be able to use those files to get your system into top-notch condition as well. Suffice it to say, there are a bunch of things you could do to speed up MDK 2 if you were so inclined.
Hopefully this guide has helped you squeeze every last bit of performance out of this extremely cool 3rd person shooter. If you are still having trouble with the game, however, you might try some of our general system tweaks as well as any tweaks that are available for your specific video card (or maybe you would consider overclocking). As always, if you have comments or questions (or perhaps a tweak that I missed), let me know.
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