Forgotten World: Settings Changes To Improve Ultima 9’s Performance (And Reduce Crashing)

In addition to announcing the release of the latest Forgotten World patch for Ultima 9, Iceblade also explained in some detail a series of settings changes that can be made to Ultima 9’s OPTIONS.INI file to improve the game’s performance and drastically reduce the number of graphics-related crashes that some players may experience:

…we have found a performance configuration that will help those suffering from heavy crashing with certain aspects of the game. These settings are shown at the bottom of this post. While the settings won’t stop crashes, it should reduce their frequency and make certain parts of the game less prone to crashing. These settings are most useful for those suffering from ship travel crashes and Moonglow-Tydus crashes. Unfortunately, you might suffer a small increase in the frequency of crashes from taking stuff in and out of your inventory.

Here are the settings changes. Copy and paste these over the “Performance” section in the OPTIONS.INI file accompanying your Ultima 9 installation.

; Clipping planes
; Enables 16-bit texture maps
; Camera focal length
; Camera distance from Avatar
; The range through which windows can be seen through
; Screen radius of objects culled, and distance culling starts
; Are particle-system flames allowed?
; Poof optimization level:
; 0 = no optimization
; 1 = non-critical particles calculated but not transformed
; 2 = non-critical particles are neither calculated nor transformed
; 3 = all particles, critical or not, cease incepting children
; Default clipping plane setting for underground maps
; Set to 1 to use the compressed texture set for D3D
; Set to 1 to enable the hi-res sky (runs slower)
; Number of frames that unused D3D texture surfaces stay around
; Size in ?? of unused D3D surface pool
; Set to 1 to display frame rate on-screen
; Max # meshes read from disk each frame. Increasing this number will cause
; the game to run slower, but will "pop" items into view sooner.
; Number of frames that an un-used mesh stays in memory.
; Size (in bytes) of the RAM cache for meshes
; Max # of mesh instances created per frame.

Iceblade also recommends changing the StreamDuration setting in the “Sounds” section of OPTIONS.INI to 3000; this should further improve the game’s performance.

40 Responses

  1. Sergorn says:

    Actually no: it doesn’t change anything for the clipping planes. Far 8000 and Middle 4000 are the maximum clipping planes you obtain with the ingames options.

    And really : these fixes work. The game just was hell in some areas and I’ve tried it and it fixes crashes as far as I can tell.

    If you’re playing the game with D3D rather than GOG’s nGlide configuration (which works fine I will point out) – you definitly need them. I would recommend against putting them in a Glide configuration though, it seems to slow things down.

  2. jaesun says:

    While testing 119H I also used these setting. There were still areas that were crashing (randomly) like the Minoc Mines. Also just walking near that one cave near Yew that has skeletons always predictably will crash while approaching it. Just to name a few.

    I am curious how well it is less crash prone with GOG’s settings and using nGlide? Or is it still the usual random buggy crashy mess?

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      Well, I think skeletons bugger things up regardless. For some users at least; I’ve never had a problem with the things personally.

      So probably there’s another problem at work there. But these settings changes should help stabilize the game in and around Moonglow, and also when sailing, which are areas that have proven to be notoriously unstable…especially on modern hardware.

    • Sergorn says:

      Well I guess it’s not all perfect yet then… still random crash is a far cry from Moonglown when it was systematic :- P

      But that’s weird : my last UIX play through was the buggiest experience I ever had of the game, but I never had any issue in Covetous or near Skeletons that I can think of.

      Regarding nGlide I’m not sure about whether it’s less crash prone or not – guess we’d need someone to try it out. It doesn’t look as good (though you can use HD resolutions even if the game don’t scale to widscreen but it’s not necesarilly a bad thing) but runs.

      The GOG guys suggest that limiting the Framerate to 30 FPS reduces crashes and the nGlide version is locked at 30 FPS. I’m not sure if that’s possible with D3D though.

  3. Tony B says:

    I need a fix for the slow-closing books, superslow jumping and weird walking that the Avatar does. Someone mentioned changing to 16-bit colours, but I don’t know how that works. I tried changing to 256 colours in the compatibility setting of the shortcut, but that didn’t help.

    • jaesun says:

      To change it to 16 bit textures, go to the directory you have Ultima IX installed. Look for a file named Options.ini. open it, and look for a section that is labeled [Game]. Under that look for a section with the following:

      ; Screen resolution

      Change the GameScreenDepth=32 to GameScreenDepth=16 and then save.

      • Sergorn says:

        Actually this change is completly unrelated to the textures, it just add more color depth and really doesn’t change much (basically graphics in 32 Bits looks a bit more vibrant).

        The game doesn’t have 32 Bits textures : only 8 Bits and 16 Bits ones and the relevant options is this one :
        ; Enables 16-bit texture maps

        If you put Use16BitTextures=0, the game will use 8 Bits (ie 256 Colors) textures, but I’m pretty sure only Glide support 8 Bits textures.

    • Sergorn says:

      I’m pretty sure sure the walking and jumping is the way it’s meant to be though. I never heard of any bug related to those.

  4. iceblade says:

    The Stream Duration fix will correct the slow-closing/opening books. The performance config posted above will enable 16-bit colors.

  5. Tony B says:

    The fix above didn’t fix it, including SteamDuration. Do I need to start a new game for it to work?

    • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

      Some Forgotten World fixes do require that.

    • Sergorn says:

      Try putting the SteamDuration to 10000 – 3000 is not enough sometimes.

      But this won’t make book opening/closing any faster, this will just remove the stutering when doing this. Speaking of which, I’m rather puzzled by this :

      Toying out with the game in nGlide, I noticed that with Glide, the opening and closing of books is instantaneous. In a split second it’s opened/closed.

      SO I gotta wonder WHAT cause thhis lag in D3D? and is there a way to fix it ?

      • Tony B says:

        No go with 10000 either.

        There’s no stutter, it just all happens in really really slow motion. A single jump takes a good minute or so.

      • Sergorn says:

        Wait… slow motion ? That’s weird – no it shouldn’t be like that.

        Are you running the game in Glide (default GOG configuration) or Direct3D ? Because this sounds like my game was running when I tried nGlide outside of GOG.

        One thing you might try : go in the ingame options (Alt+O) and put the clipping plane slidders to the minimum and see how the game runs. You shouldn’t need to do that on a moderne computer, but this might help to diagnose the cause…

  6. Bedwyr says:

    Have to say, I’m enjoying playing the game right now, though I remember being more and more disappointed as the game went on. It became less about the people and more about the dungeons, which felt pretty antithetical to the spirit of Ultima. In spite of WtF’s dislike, I did install Hacki’s dialogue patch and that helps tie things up on a number of fronts.

    • Sergorn says:

      Just for the record, Hacki had nothing to do with the Dialogue Patch. It was made by Grandor and Maigo Dragon. (Won’t surprise anyone that I’m not very fond of it)

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        I don’t know if I’d say I dislike it…I just don’t see the need for it. And even back in my days as an EA-hating jackarse, I never bothered applying it.

      • Sergorn says:

        The dialogue patch has interesting things really, but it strays too much from the game’s settings and themes for my liking.

      • Bedwyr says:

        It smooths some things out, brings tidbits from the other games in (something that was certainly missing), and generally has better spoken text.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        Well, it certainly brings the game more in line with some fans’ vision of things and tidbits.

      • Sergorn says:

        I don’t know, I never got the complains about the game not having references and tidbigs from other games.

        Ultima IX had tons of references and elements from all previouses Ultima games. Now one might argue some of these elements were not used properly, but that’s a different thing altogether.

        Unless one consider that “tidbits from other games” means specific plot points and characters from Ultima VII (like that guy in the Dialogue Patch’s Britain going about how the Fellowship wasn’t so bad) – but that wouldn’t have made much sense with Ultima IX being 200 years after UVII in a Britannian society that has completly changed and returned to the Virtues.

      • Bedwyr says:

        @WtF: Well yeah. And I do hold at least some of Hacki’s critiques in somewhat higher regard than you do, so it’s probably natural.

        On another note, in comparison to Skyrim which I just started getting into again recently, it’s clear to me that only just now with this game have RPG world gameplay mechanics equalled Ultima VII. I think that 1) UVII was that good and 2) boy it took a lot of years to get over how 3d and recorded dialogue was hogging all the development man-hours for RPGs.

      • Sergorn says:

        A lot of things Skyrim do, Gothic was allready doing ten years ago. Just sayin’

        I love Skyrim and it’s a great virtual world, but… Gothic was there first and PB’s game still go beyond what Bethesda offers in some ways.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        It’d be equally fair to say that only recently have 3D RPGs caught up with the standard set by Ultima 9, at least as regards world interactivity and some other mechanics.

        And even then, I’m not sure that Skyrim’s world is quite as interactible as Ultima 9’s. Can you throw a barrel in Skyrim into the water and watch it sink lower and lower in the water level as you add objects to it?

      • Bedwyr says:

        Hmm I’m game for correction, but I feel you’re overstating what U9 achieved. It advanced in a few things (3d world, physical system, and ambiance) and regressed in others (NPC number, lifelike-ness, and world interaction).

        Skyrim’s breadth of mechanics generally meets or exceeds UVII’s: NPC schedules, depths of conversations, scripted events, crafting and cooking, harvesting, weather events, enemy-interaction, quest system, physical system, magic system, combat system, and alchemical system.

        No, there’s no throwable barrels, but the physical system exists that can do that, so it becomes a matter of design choice rather than prima facie limitation. If I were to give U9 credit vs Skyrim it would be interior world-spaces.

        @Sergorn: Yep, you got me on that. I own Gothic via GoG now, but never played it so it wasn’t in my brain space. And you’re right, it did do some amazing things. I think that while none could match Ultima alone, I recall thinking of the combination of Gothic, Morrowind, and Dungeon Siege as my spiritual replacements.

      • Sergorn says:

        I think there’s king of a glass half full/half empty situation here.

        I mean you can look at Ultima VII and consider Ultima IX was a stepback in the virtual world/interectivity aspect (altough it most definitly was better than Ultima VIII in pretty much every aspects and even as far as Ultima VII goes I would argue the only trully missing thing is Schedules, and we know they were coded in).

        Or you can look at Ultima IX as a 3D game and just point that in those aspects it went beyond ANY other 3D games of the time, and really still beyond a lot of 3D games released today, 13 years later. I mean can you name a game today where just putting an empty bucket or flask into water, will fill it ? Can you can name many games which allow you to move anything and everything around the way UIX does ? (I can’t… except for Arx Fatalis and Bethesda games).

        I think the issue perhaps is that as Ultima fans we kind of took some things for granted without thinking of unique they were and how they were special to Ultima. I mean Ultima VII allowed us to move anything arround, so it’s kind of a no brainer that ULtima IX would allow us to do so! Well except that nobody paused to marvel at how unique it was to be able to offer this in a 3D games. This was true of a many other things in the 3D environnement too : for instance UIX was one of the rare 3D to over real doors rather than sliding them because it dared complexity. I should find CapnBill’s legendary post just to outline how revolutionnary UIX was in some of those aspects.

        And really it’s telling about the direction of the industry, that 13 years later there are very few games that can offer the level of interacvitiy UIX and that technical advancement basically limited themselvs to better models and textures.

        Regarding Gothic, to be fair it lacks the “let’s move everything around” that Oblivion and Bethesda had, but the rest is just mindblowing and for the most part it goes beyond what Oblivion did. And also: it’as a true seamless world: none of these “Loading to get to the interior” sillyness that plagues Bethesda’s games because of consoles limitations.

      • Bedwyr says:

        I think I’m with you, except that I’d say U9 put the emPHAsis on the wrong syllABle. The achievements they made were awesome, but they sacrificed actual enjoyable gameplay for something whose wonder lasted only a short period of time. These days those are principles they teach at Digipen or something I could see James from Extra Credits critiquing (and actually kind of did if you watch the uncanny valley episode).

      • Sergorn says:

        I’ll have to disagree here.

        How did they sacrifice gameplay ?

        You had a lot of towns, over 200 NPCs, lot of dialogues, a (big Ultima standard) fairly big worlds with a lot of exploration to do, a wonderful world design (which IMO has only been surpasse by PB’s games), great dungeon design (IMO the best the series has to offers), quests, serviceable combat… so what would have the game required more then ? How is it radically different from what other Ultima games offered outside of the lack of party ?

        Granted it wasn’t an open ended as Ultima VI or VII, but then it wasn’t more linear than Serpent Isle for instance. So no I just don’t see how they did sacrifice gameplay.

        If anything, is there is one thing Ultima IX nailed as far as I’m concerned it’s gameplay. It’s great fun as far as I’m concerned and really I always got the feeling that most people’s issues about UIX were more about the plot than the gameplay.

        Now of course the gameplay suffered from the poor state of the game on release : bugs, lack of schedules, umbalanced combats… but it’s not like these were “sacrifice” made for other things, they were just a consequence of the rushed release of the game

      • iceblade says:

        The main issue with balancing is that creatures don’t last long enough for players to pick on the complexities of the system, and when they encounter something that takes more than 3 or 4 hits with a strong 1 or 2 handed weapon, they call the game imbalanced. It is all about using the right weapon for the present creature.

      • Bedwyr says:

        Well, I’ll just have to disagree right back. 🙂 I’ll gladly cede to your knowledge in terms of sheer wordcount and NPC number what the comparison is vs UVII, but I perceive that U9 is about 2/3 of the former. Likewise with landmass. All the discoveries of hidden lands tells me they were wanting to making something to-scale with the older games but ran out of time in the rush to deadline.

        Dialogue is something I’m not going to give ground on. It was atrocious. Impressive, perhaps, in that it was spoken, but narrative flow and depth suffered quite a lot. Much of the script was stilted and wooden and the characters just weren’t believable. Themes were surface-level with no subtlety or subtext. Generally I’d put NPCs somewhere between Daggerfall and Morrowind in terms of quality. They were basically wooden billboards with some minor animation and scripting work.

        They were also really really sparse. That tore suspension of disbelief to shreds as the game went on. Britain felt a little thin, but passable. Then you get to the other cities and everything felt so… empty. I don’t know whether time, CD compression, or voiceover budget was at fault, but I would’ve taken a non-voiceover U9 with a third more NPCs having a third more dialogue any day. The story suffered and I think that voiceover was a very bad decision made in the best tradition of Origin (“we push things beyond hardware ability”).

        Dungeon design was well differentiated I’ll grant but it wasn’t to my taste. The feel was more Zelda than Ultima and I would’ve preferred simpler puzzles if it meant the cities got the balance of the man-hours.

        I’ll also disagree with you on PB. There’s two others that bear mention: I think one of Bethsoft’s hallmarks is exploratory world design and boy is it excellent. Likewise Larian because, well, Larian.

      • Sergorn says:

        Well… you’re kind of making my point actually so we won’t disagree that much.

        I mean I didn’t mention anything about writing quality did I ?

        I was just pointing out the quantity of it all.

        We were talking about gameplay, not writing and that was my point really – writing/plot is the biggest issue for most fans, but that’s a separate aspect from the gameplay per se.

        And I don’t think the gameplay was Ultima IX’s issue – I mean there is a reason there were a lot of Ultima fans who upon starting the game, doing Britain genuinely loved the game and gradually lost interest as they realized the didn’t like the plot – and that’s because gameplay per se ain’t exactly the issue.

        I do think most of the issues steems from a lack of time in any case : they DID plan for bigger areas/cities (ie you’re probably aware of the cut Cove map) and things like that but this had to be cut. That’s probably true about writing : going full speech made logical sense, especially in this kind of 3D world… but this meant they had to have all dialogues locked down in early ’99 and prevented any form of late minute polishing that is possible on textual dialogues.

        The main issue with U9’s writing really is that it lacks polishing – the script feels like it’s basically a rought draft that was put in the game because they didn’t had time to do the last polishing touches it required (I remember they had hired and Hollywood writer to DO these polishing touches… but whatever happened she ended not working on it).

        Regarding Bethesda I do feel they make good world design world… but I think they’re a far cry behind PB. The issue with Bethesda’s world design as with anything else is that they aim too big for their own good, and it just doesn’t feel as compelling as it would be. While PB’s world have more personnality and secrets IMO.

        Also really: the fact that they have a true seamless world is a great help in terme of creating a nice world. I mean in PB’s cave you can find a small cave, leading to a tunnel that’ll go through the mountains, leads elsewhere without ever breaking the immersion of being in a single same world. Bethesda’s zoning kind of break this aspect and I sincerely hope this is something they’ll be able to get rid off once the next generation of consoels come along.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        I also think there’s a bit of an unfair comparison being made here. I mean, yeah, of course you’d expect that Skyrim is the creme de la creme of 3D RPGs…it oughtta be, since it’s basically the newest 3D fantasy RPG (Reckoning is technical newer, but is no longer being supported by a developer).

        So yes, we’d expect that Ultima 9 would come up the loser in that comparison in most things. But isn’t it just a little bit telling that we need to compare Ultima 9 to games that are significantly newer than it in order to make it come up short?

        The argument that Ultima 9 didn’t do everything — every last thing — that Ultima 7 did with ponies and unicorns on top has always run a bit hollow to me, because of one simple thing: the shift to 3D. For the decade that followed, 3D RPGs didn’t offer the same level of world interactivity, the same seamless transition between overland, buildings, and dungeons, and just in general the same play experience that Ultima 9 offered. Heck, there are RPGs today, and RPGs that are still in development, that won’t come close to Ultima 9 in any of those categories.

        Skyrim does, sure…thirteen years on. Some of the Piranha Bytes games came close as well, again in the years after Ultima 9. And Larian’s upcoming Divinity RPG might — might — offer something like the Ultima 7 experience…fourteen or fifteen years after Ultima 9, and over two decades after Ultima 7.

        Ultima 9 does have its technical shortcomings, and also has technical shortcomings compared to more modern games; this is indisputable. But it’s also not a knock against Ultima 9 that these things exist. It was among the first of its kind as a 3D RPG, if not the first proper. Of course it has shortcomings compared to later offerings. Likewise, yes, of course it has shortcomings compared to its predecessors; it was breaking new technical ground, and it’s only reasonable to grant that not every trick and feature of previous Ultimas would reappear in the new 3D engine.

        Complaining that Ultima 9 doesn’t measure up against Skyrim is like complaining that Morrowind doesn’t measure up against Skyrim. And complaining that Ultima 9’s world feels small compared to Ultima 7’s is like complaining that Skyrim’s world feels small compared to…Daggerfall’s. Technically true in either case, but also essentially empty statements.

      • Bedwyr says:

        My original comparison was with Ultima 7, showing its original design brilliance. That Ultima 9 got caught up in the same comparison speaks well of it. I’ll readily give U9 its due where I think it’s due.

        But with regard to your comment that U9 didn’t do all that U7 did because of the 3D transition:

        It. Damn. Well. Should. Have.

        To sacrifice the lion’s share of those mechanics and depth of story built up over a whole series remains U9’s greatest mistake next to its unfinished state.

        So there we are and I’m sure there we disagree and I’m sticking by my guns on that one.

      • WtF Dragon WtF Dragon says:

        But with regard to your comment that U9 didn’t do all that U7 did because of the 3D transition:
        It. Damn. Well. Should. Have.

        And I’m sure that Origin could have achieved such a marvel given another eighteen months to develop the game. Maybe more.

        You’re welcome to stick to your guns on this, but I don’t think your sentiment here comports all that well with reality. It was nothing short of a miracle that Origin were able to cram as many features into Ascension’s new and unproven 3D engine as they were able to, especially when more mature and more stable 3D engines that followed it didn’t offer half of what it did.

        But that’s the tradeoff that gets made in development in the 3D space. The more features and systems you want to build into your engine, the less time you’ll have at the other end to build complex stories. Wanna focus on stories instead? Keep the engine simple…or license an extant engine (which wasn’t an option for Ultima 9) and save yourself some work.

        And again, games like Skyrim have finally come along which sort of manage a bit of both…sort of. I think Bethesda are still far better at building worlds than telling stories, personally. And while I don’t know what Skyrim cost to make or how many people ultimately worked on it, I’m pretty sure that Bethesda put more money and more people onto the game than Origin would ever have been able to do (even adjusting for inflation) with Ultima 9.

        But really, in the end, it all comes back to the fact that the shift to 3D meant that sacrifices were going to have to be made. Or to put it another way: no, it damn well shouldn’t have, and to expect it to have done is simply not realistic.

      • Bedwyr says:

        Then they went to 3D too soon.

      • Bedwyr says:

        I’m sorry for the retorts, both of them. More than a bit snippy. You misinterpreted the former though. I thought the meaning former would be pretty clear: Given a choice between furthering the good stuff of UIV-UVII and building an entirely new non-iso 3D engine–especially on a short timeline and a short leash–the former would have been the better choice for a great many reasons. They did as well as they could with a poor choice and achieved some very good things, but it still ended up a poor choice.

      • Sergorn says:

        My issue with your line of thought Bedwyr, is that you make it sound like they choose to sacrifice these things – while the truth that they just didn’t realy had much of a choice.

        I mean it’s easy in hindsight to go and say they really shouldn’t have gone Full 3D, and I’m sure we’ll all agree they should just have completed the BWP version of the game.

        But I doubt that when the decision was made in late ’97 to rewrite the engine with a new point of view, anyone at Origin expected that the company policty would change so much and so fast that Ultima IX would end up with a “ship or kill” rather than be given time to be done properly, and just because EA/OSI suddently decided to stop making single player games out of the blue.

        And really I believe it’s not a stretch to think that with an extra 6-12 months of development they would have achieved U7 level of world simulation considering how close to the mark the game was already (not couting the stuff it did in that respect that U7 didnt). And likewise it’s not a stretch to think that wiht extra time they could have expanded the scope of the plot and most importantly polish the dialogues.

        But it’s not something they choose, and going “Full 3D” wasn’t exactly a poor decision per say. Because while it ended up a mistake in the end, it’s a mistake they could have predicted.

  7. Micro Magic says:

    Ultima 9 was pretty sweet. Being a u9-hater to a u9-lover, it’s kinda tough for me to admit.

    Like the thread in the codex forum states, u9 could do just about everything u7 could insofar as world interactivity. I have a few more ideas I should just post in that thread about u7 vs u9…

    I have a bit of a confession, u9 made me feel really dumb. I quit playing, on my second playthrough back in 06-07 because I couldn’t find the Gringolet. Pretty silly since I consulted walkthroughs to help me with it. But even knowing where it was, when I go into swim mode, I go into first person because it’s easier to control. So I wasn’t able to see a shelf above my head, and since the move speed(without fast_avatar cheat) is so painfully slow, I didn’t thoroughly check it twice, once in 1st person once in 3rd.

    Like I’ve stated before, I guess my main problems were with the walk/run speed(fixed with the cheat) and the bugginess, crashiness(fixed with fancy new computers). So now I can say, it was definitely a marvelous game for the time, and definitely a good Ultima.

    On that note, I still had some frustrations with the game itself. Although I laugh at the dialogue and one-take voice actors, and now I find it novel. Still, seeing a grave for Sir Gregory was just a slap in my face. It was as though they specifically made the mistake or just didn’t take the time to do their due dilligence.

    Thank goodness for the Let’s Play Ultima 9 on youtube, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to get through many parts of the game without it. Even with a written walkthrough some areas, to me, were just incredibly frustrating and not possible or intuitive.

    This will make me sound really dumb, because I am but… with all the ingredients in one place, and the instructions, it still took me 45 minutes and hour to bake my first loaf of bread… I know I’m an idiot. My main problem was knowing which flask was -the- flask and using dirty moat water or a dungeon fountain was the way to fill a potion flask rather than using a bucket, LB’s fountains, or the well in Britain. I dunno, in u7 I used buckets and wells for water.

    In spite of this, I still hold it as a game I’m fond of, mainly for the skeleton zoo I created. having 40-50 skels in one spot was pretty sweet!

    I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a speed let’s play for this game. Mainly for the use as a walkthrough. I don’t want to diminish the role Hoborg had in his let’s play,(honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to complete the game without it) but his is a little long and drawn out. Waddya think? Might be helpful for this GoG release.

  8. Deckard says:

    Anybody playing Ultima IX under a Mac, I’m working through it, and have it up and running, but still have a few issues – videos/cutscenes and mouse cursor disappearing. I’m discussing it in Ultima IX under Mac OS X and Wine/CrossOver