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Unreal Tweak Guide

Posted: June 11, 1999
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan

You probably think I'm weird. I mean, come on, this game has been out for over a year and I'm just NOW writing a tweak guide for it? Well, yes and no. The game has been out, but it most certainly hasn't been finished. And no one here at Tweak3D was going to write a guide on a game that would have to be updated daily as Epic released versions of the game to the public. Now, don't get me wrong - I like the game (if I didn't, I wouldn't be writing the guide, now would I?), and I in no way dislike Epic - a game like this needs almost constant attention, something that without someone like John Carmack on the team is nearly impossible. Epic has managed to pull it off. Id Software has a definite competitor in Epic, and I hope that continues. And now, without further ado, here it is - the Unreal tweak guide.

Installing the game/patches/etc.

When you install the game, the only reasonable option due to performance issues, is a full install. If you don't have the hard drive space to install it completely, try deleting or uninstalling a program you don't need to free up space. After the long installation process has passed, download the latest patch. At this time, there are two current patches - 224 and 225 server edition. I will deal with 224, but all of these tweaks SHOULD work with both versions. The 225 patch has helped several people with compatibility and performance so you might want to check it out. There are a few new options (particularly in D3D), but I won't be covering them just yet. Perhaps when the universal release of the 225 patch comes out...

Download the Unreal 224 patch here.

Download the Unreal 225 server patch here.

Make sure you have your CD on hand when installing the patch - it needs to copy some files from the CD to the computer. Before you run the game, you should close any unnecessary applications including but not limited to your Virus scanner and ICQ.


Go to the Audio/Video Menu. From there, choose your brightness, preferred resolution, and volumes. Set all of the other settings to high. Don't worry if the game isn't playable for you with these settings - we will deal with performance soon.

Once you have completed that, switch to the options menu. From here, you can customize the game controls. There are two very important settings in this menu - Net speed and Advanced Options. First, under Net speed, choose the one most appropriate for your connection to other computers that you will be deathmatching with.

Advanced Options isn't really an option itself, but is actually an applet allowing you to tweak the underlying engines of the game. There are ten sections to Advanced Options - five of which I will be covering here.

The first part I'm going to cover, named "Advanced", has the fewest tweaks. Go into the section, go into the "Game Engine Settings" and change the CacheSizeMegs to 3/4th's of your total RAM.

The second section, "Audio", contains a lot of good tweaks. Your Output Rate should be either 11025 Hz or 22050 Hz for performance. The sound will still be pretty good. If you have 3D Audio Hardware, enable Use3Dhardware. Also turn on CD Music and Stereo. All of the other options, such as DirectSound, Filter, Reverb, Spatial, and Surround, should only be used if you have the extra processor power to spare. In later releases, there will be better optimization of 3D Audio Hardware (A3D and EAX), and these settings may be more realistic at that time.

The third section is Display. The first tweak here is Curved Surfaces. These are VERY hardware intensive - only use them on a very high-end system, even now. I also recommend turning the Skin Detail here down to medium - you really can't tell the difference between medium and high unless you are running at 1600x1200 - which is very unlikely anyway. You can also turn the texture detail down to medium as well. If it isn't already enabled, make sure to turn on DirectDraw.

The forth section, Drivers, is simply the place to choose which rendering API you want to use, be it Glide, OpenGL, or D3D. Personally, I recommend using OpenGL unless you are on a Voodoo based card, in which case you should use Glide. The only time I recommend using D3D is for cards that either don't have an OpenGL driver or if the OpenGL driver is very poor.

The last section is rendering. I will cover Glide, D3D, and OpenGL. The other three rendering options aren't really viable in a gaming environment anymore anyhow. For Glide, I recommend turning everything on and setting the refresh rate to 120 Hz (even if your monitor is running lower). If you have problems with slowdowns, turn off Shiny Surfaces and Volumetric lighting. You could also try disabling High Detail Actors. For D3D and OpenGL, I recommend turning everything on as well. If there is a slowdown, try disabling High Detail Actors first, then Shiny Surfaces and volumetric lighting.


Hopefully this guide will make Unreal substantially faster on your system. If you have any additional tweaks, feel free to e-mail me. I will update this guide with more tweaks at a later time.

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