Ivar Hill

Mad Otter Games
Developer
Last edited
#1
By demand, I'm posting this guide here! If you got a less powerful computer, below are my personal recommendations for how to tweak the graphics settings to make the game look decent but still keep a playable framerate. Note that these are not official recommended settings, just my own experience of how V&H functions. Finally, do not take the below recommendations as fact - all computers are different, and you may find that different values work much better for you.

Game resolution
First a word on game resolution, a value you can tweak in the settings when running the game in fullscreen mode. In windowed mode, you can change the resolution by simply resizing the game window.

What is resolution?
For those of you who are completely unaware of what this means or how computer displays work, here is a quick and simplified breakdown. Computer monitors show what you see by changing the color of pixels - tiny dots that together make up an image. Looking closely at your monitor you can usually see these pixels, but at a viewing distance they are normally too small to be seen - very much like how printers show an image by printing tiny dots on a sheet of paper.

Resolution is a word for the amount of pixels that are being shown, and the dimensions of what you see. As an example, a resolution of 1920x1080 means that what is shown is 1920 pixels wide, and 1080 pixels tall. Doing the math (1920 times 1080) this means that there are over 2 million pixels all changing color to create an image on the screen. Important to keep in mind is that resolution is somewhat of an arbitrary concept and when it comes to games it is generally used in two contexts:
  • Monitor/screen resolution, also known as your native resolution. This basically means how large your computer screen is, measured in how many pixels it contains. This is usually marketed when you buy a laptop or a monitor - most laptops today have a resolution somewhere between 1366x768 and 1920x1080 (also known as full HD). A higher screen resolution means that you can fit more on the screen since you have more pixels to use.
  • Your current resolution. Basically, the resolution you are currently using on your computer or for a specific game - this can be lower than your monitor resolution. Easiest way to think of this is by imagining Villagers & Heroes running in a window. Say your screen resolution is 1920x1080, but the V&H window is not taking up the whole screen. This means that the V&H resolution may be something like 1400x800, or 1280x1024, or anything else.
So what happens when you run V&H in fullscreen mode? Basically, if the resolution you've chosen is smaller than your screen resolution, it just stretches the game out to fit the screen. This means that the game gets blurrier, but since it's technically still smaller it's also easier on the computer, and thus leads to better performance. If your game resolution is the same as the screen resolution, everything will look much sharper and more crisp, since it's exactly as large as the screen.


What does all this mean for V&H?
Well, performance-wise it means that if you run the game in a low resolution - either in a window, or in full-screen - it will make the game run better but it'll also be blurrier (if in fullscreen) or smaller (if windowed). The size of the UI is also affected. On the flip side, if you run the game in your native resolution - this is usually the highest number in the list in the game settings - the game will look much sharper, but it'll also be harder for the computer to run the game as well.

My recommendation when it comes to game resolution is to try your native resolution first - either maximize the game window, or if you prefer to play full-screen, choose the largest resolution in the list. If the game doesn't run well enough, you can try shrinking the window or picking a lower resolution.

FPS (or frame rate)
Before going into the game settings, let's have a look at FPS - the value you are generally trying to increase when making the game run smoother. You can view your FPS by going into the game settings while in-game - it will be shown in the upper left corner of the Graphics section.

What is FPS?
Games work in a similar fashion to movies in that they come alive through frames - still pictures shown very, very quickly to give the illusion of movement. FPS stands for Frames Per Second, is also known as frame rate, and is a measurement of how many of these frames that the computer is capable of rendering every second. If your FPS is too low, you will actually see these individual frames - at very low FPS the game will indeed appear more like a slideshow! Generally you want to increase your FPS as high as possible - higher values result in a game that feels smoother and more responsive to control. Here's a look at a few common FPS values to strive for:

24 FPS
Movies generally use 24 FPS. I'd say this is the absolute minimum for the game not to feel stuttery and unresponsive. A common misconception is that frame rates above this do not matter since the eye cannot tell the difference from here on, though this is incorrect - that being said, it is the limit at which you won't see individual frames. Frame rates above this will simply feel smoother and more responsive.

30 FPS
Many gamers' minimum frame rate. Below 30 FPS there is a noticable unresponsiveness to many people.

60 FPS
Hardcore gamers will tell you this is the minimum acceptable frame rate - at 60 FPS the game will feel much smoother. That being said, there are definitely many people who can't tell any issues at lower FPS than this, so don't feel you have to hit 60 or above.

Above 60 FPS
Above this amount, you need monitors with a higher than default refresh rate to tell a difference. Generally not highly relevant to anyone but hardcore gamers.

A note on Vertical Sync
This will lock your framerate to your monitor's refresh rate - in most cases this is a good thing (and in most cases this means that you can't go higher than 60 FPS). This setting can be turned on in the general settings of the game - if you never get to 60 FPS it is irrelevant, but if you peak above you can turn this on to avoid screen tear and make the game feel better. Note that Vertical Sync only works when running the game in full screen.

Now, onto the actual game settings!

For low-to-mid end computers
Visible Distance

Raise to maximum
This increases the distance you see things far away - basically, make the game look less "foggy". Most of the time, this doesn't have a huge effect on performance, but it makes the game look much better.

Shadow Detail
Big impact on both looks and performance, change depending on your computer
This increases the distance that you'll see shadows - on its lowest setting you see no shadows at all. This is a tricky one - it has a huge effect on how good the game looks, but it's also heavy on performance. If you can, raise this since it makes a big difference, but also keep in mind it can be lowered if the game does not run well.

Reflections
Use next to lowest setting
This decides what water in the game will reflect - nothing, only the sky, sky and terrain, sky and terrain and non-moving objects, or everything. Reflections make water look better, but they have an enormous negative effect on framerate. I'd recommend using the next to lowest setting - it enables *some* reflections - namely, from the sky - but avoids reflecting everything so the performance doesn't take quite the same hit.

Anti-aliasing
Use lowest or next to lowest setting
This smooths out the edges within the game and make them look less jagged and pixelated. Try the very lowest - if it looks too jagged, increase it by 1, but otherwise it can be left off since it has a decent performance hit.

Terrain Detail, Environment Detail
Use default settings
These settings can be left the default for whatever preset you are using - they do not affect the appearance of the game hugely.

Object Clipping, Creature Clipping
Raise to maximum
These settings increase the distance monsters, NPCs and other objects will appear. Increase to maximum to make gameplay easier as you can see enemies, NPCs and players from a greater distance.

Particle Clipping, Light Clipping
Use default settings
These settings increase the distance that particles and lights will appear - it's not as important so I'd recommend leaving those as default.

Ground Cover
Use middle setting
This affects the amount of grass and other plants on the ground. Keep it somewhere in the middle to see some foliage but not reduce performance too much.

Shape Detail Adjust
Use default settings
Doesn't have a huge effect.

Texture Detail
Use next to highest or highest setting
Raising this make all textures look sharper within the game which has a large effect on how it looks. It's worth trying a few ones out and compare the difference - it's rather easy to spot.

Shader Effects, HDR, Advanced Lighting
Turn on if you have a mid to high range computer
These settings have a drastic effect on how well the game looks! Try turning them on and see how it affects your framerate - if there is no huge difference, you've just made all lighting in the game look much better!

Ambient Occlusion
Turn off
This setting makes corners and areas where objects intersect darker - it makes the game look more realistic, but it's rather subtle and the performance hit can be huge. My recommendation is to leave this turned off.

For very low-end computers
Here's a quick guide if you have a very old or low-end computer and still want to make the game look decent!

Pull these sliders to maximum:
Visible Distance
Creature Clipping

Make sure these settings are at their minimum or turned off:
Reflections
Anti-aliasing
Shader Effects
HDR
Ambient Occlusion
Advanced Lighting

Change these settings depending on your performance:
Shadow Detail (usually would end up somewhere in the first third of the slider)
Texture Detail (usually would end up somewhere in the last third of the slider)

Leave the rest to Low defaults.

Hopefully this guide helps! Feel free to ask anything about either the game settings or the way resolution works, and I'll be happy to answer! :)
 

Ivar Hill

Mad Otter Games
Developer
#4
Do these settings also work for slow internet?
Generally, any issues caused by a slow internet connection are completely unrelated from your framerate or game performance. There isn't really anything in terms of settings that would help for a slow internet connection - in such a case, you will want to look into the following:
  1. The internet plan provided by your ISP. The really low-end < 10mbit plans are likely to have issues running the game well.
  2. Your modem and wireless router, if you have one. It may be that your equipment has issues. The most common way to check is plugging your computer directly into the modem without using the router. If things improve, you may want to get a new router.
  3. The network card in your computer. If everything else works well and provide good speeds, there could be a hardware issue with your computer. You can try updating the network card drivers, plugging the computer into the router with a cable, or getting a USB wifi adapter.
 
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