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Higher Framerate = good or bad?


Descent 1 (Frametime = death)

For some unknown reason, Parallax put a governor on the frametime in Descent 1. A governor means that there is an upper limit. When you reach that limit (because your machine is fast) that's it - you cannot achieve higher frametimes.

For D1, Parallax set that limit at 50fps.

With a mere p200mmx and a bare bones video card, you can easily reach the 50fps with plenty of processor cycles to spare. Guess what these idle cycles can be put to use doing?

Navigate incoming homing missles!

If you are playing a guy with a fast machine, the smartest thing for you to do is shoot 10 homing missles at him whenever you see him. Just shoot all 10. He will die or limp away. It's like shooting a duck in a pond. It's so simple you will probably get bored doing it.

If you are on a fast machine and someone shoots 10 homers at you everytime he sees you, the best thing you can do is leave the vicinity. The second best think you can do is Turn, Roll, fly around and fire the Spreadfire weapon. The Spreadfire in D1 eats up processor cycles, and therefore reduces frametime.

In short, do anything you can to eat up those available processor cycles -- leave no cycles for the homing missles, and they will track you as poorly as they did when you had that 60mhz Pentium.


Descent 2 (Frametime = life)

Unlike Descent 1, D2 does not have a limit on the amount of frames per second it will draw. This is why pilots using P200 MMX with Monster 3D cards get over 200fps facing a wall.

The faster your screen redraws, the more clearly you can see the path to your enemies throat, or to your narrow escape. The most expensive way to improve your frametime is to upgrade your entire system. The second most expensive way is to upgrade your motherboard and CPU. The third most expensive way is to upgrade your video card, or add a 3D accelerator card such as the Diamond Monster 3D. The least expensive way is to overclock your CPU and/or Motherboard.

To get your frametime in Descent 2, start a single player game of D2 Counter Strike! and face the wall shown in this demo. The player recording the demo used a PPro200 with a Monster 3D card, running full Screen, 640x480, with all the latest drivers installed. For comparison sake, this pilot is getting over 180fps facing this wall. If you have a p133 and a plain 2D video card, you will probably get 30fps at 320x200, and 60fps if you add a Monster 3D.


Descent 1/2 Homing Missiles (includes all homing weapons such as megas) (Frametime = death)

Jason Leighton from Parallax/Volition: "...a faster processor will make it harder for you to avoid a homing object. It has to do with framerate. The faster the framerate, the better the missiles ability to track your ship. It's like playing a game of connect-the-dots. On a slow machine, there is a lot of space between each dot, allowing for the player to move in such a way that the missile is no longer able to track him. On a fast machine, however, there are many dots, allowing the missile to compensate for any evasive maneuvers a player might attempt."

Conclusion: Shoot all ten homers at the guy with the fast machine.


Descent 2 Shaker Levels (Frametime = death)

Your fast machine is now your worst enemy. You have to play a guy whose sole purpose in life is to master one -- just one -- of the twenty-some weapons available in Descent2. [...] Tip: Play with the slowest machine you can get your hands on. Slow framerates will save your life. When your enemy fires a shaker into the room, just start using up as many of your computers processor cycles as possible - circle, weave, roll, burn, fire everything... leave zero cycles of your processor to allocate to tracking the incoming death knell. Borrow your grandma's 486 for the weekend.


taken from the Descent Professionals Resource homepage

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