Basic WW2OL Setup

In this section I am going to try and list some of the basic things you should try if you have just tossed a game in the machine and it isn't working right. This assumes you haven done anything yet. These may be in no particular order. Then again, maybe they are...

My Computer:

You should set your computer's role to that of 'network server'. To do this, right click on My Computer, click Properties, click the File System button. On the Hard Disk tab, set the role of your computer to Network Server. Its probably set to Desktop Computer. Also make sure Read Ahead Optimization is set to Full. Setting your computer to Network Server changes some disk cache settings and shuts down some (usually) useless, performance-robbing Microsoft apps that run in the background. Click Okay and go back to the System Properties window. On the Performance tab, click the Graphics button and make sure Hardware Acceleration is set to Full. Click Okay and go back to the System Properties window.

Enabling Direct Memory Access (DMA)

DMA allows your hard drive to bypass the CPU and feed data directly into memory. This frees up CPU cycles for doing more important things and gets data from hard drive and into memory a bit faster. You have to have a DMA or UDMA (U for Ultra) IDE hard drive, and a bus master IDE controller to use DMA, but the easy way to find out is just look and see if the DMA checkbox is in the hard drive's properties. Right click on My Computer, click Properties, click the Device Manager tab. Find the line with Disk Drives and click the + sign next to it. You should see something like the photos, an entry that says 'Generic IDE disk type47'. Highlight it and right click on it and choose Properties. Click the Setting tab and make sure there is a check in the 'DMA' box. Exit out and reboot.


Clean that Hard Drive!

A big part of getting WW2OL to run well on computers with less than 512 megs RAM (or more, in some cases) is getting the hard drive running as well and as fast as possible. This is because WW2OL uses a LOT of virtual memory...virtual memory, or swapfile, are located on the hard drive. When you hear your hard drive churning away in there while you are playing, it is accessing the virtual memory. The faster we can make it do this, the less FPS spikes we will get. I'm not going to go into partitioning here, but we can still make sure the drive is running good as it is. The first thing to do is go thru and get rid of programs, games, and files you no longer want manually. Be brutal. Anything you dont use, trash. Any games you have on CD, get em off yer computer if you dont play em often. Throw out as much as possible, this isnt about saving room, its about making the drive work more smoothly. The next thing to do is get a file system cleaner like System Mechanic from Iolo and scan for old, dead files. Delete them all. The next thing to do is to...

Clean up your registry:

Your registry is like a phone book for your computer. The registry assigns addresses to files and then programs on your computer use the registry to find the files they need to run. These files' addresses change sometimes, and the registry updates itself to those changes, but it does not delete the old addresses. So when a program needs a file, it goes into the registry and sees the first address, goes there, finds no file, thinks "hrmm", and goes back to the registry, where it finds another address. It then goes there, finds no file...this repeats until it finds the file it wants or it times out and the program or your entire computer crashes. There are literally dozens of good registry cleaning programs out there. The one that comes with Windows kinda sucks. The registry is the cause of a lot of problems. Things like peripherals (joysticks) not working, program conflicts that cause lockups, crashes, blue screens of death, ect. System Mechanic does a great job of cleaning up the registry. Scan for bad references and then delete ALL of them. Here is a hint: in System Mechanic, after a bad file scan, or registry scan, is done a remove button will appear. To the right of the remove button is a little arrow. Click it, select Delete All Files. Exit the program.


First, run Scandisk (click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Scandisk) and correct all the errors on your hard drive. Then defrag your hard drive with a good defragmenting program. This may take anywhere from 15 minutes to 5+ hours, depending on how badly your drive is fragmented. This is VERY important to do! The longer it takes, the more you needed it. Once you are done, remember to do it once a week (it'll take far less time, next time). Most defrag programs have an analysis function that lets you check how fragmented the drive is. Use it often, and defrag when needed. Reboot when the defrag is completed.

Virtual Memory:

AFTER you have defragged, in the System Properties window, click Virtual Memory. There is a lot of debate about virtual memory. In most cases, its best to manage it yourself rather than let Windows do it. Personally, I set it to a static size twice as large as the amount of RAM I have. I have 256 megs RAM, so I set the min and the max to 512. This seems to work good for most people. The reason for managing it yourself is...if Windows manages it, Windows will fragment the virtual memory across the hard drive, and it takes longer to retrieve data from a fragmented drive. The reason for setting a static size instead of a variable size is...Windows has to manage this memory...that means it needs to map and provide addresses. If Windows is forced to manage a variable sized memory, it takes more of Windows time and energy than it does to manage a static sized memory where mapping and addressing have to be done far less. The reason for setting it to 512? It says so in the WW2OL FAQ ;)


This line should be in your system.ini file. One way to see is to click Start, Run, type msconfig and hit enter. Click the system.ini tab and scroll down to the [386enh] folder. Click the + symbol to open this folder and scroll down thru the folder to see if this line is included. If it is, yer good. If not, add it. Another way to find the system.ini file is to click Start, Run, type sysedit and hit enter. Click on the system.ini window to bring it forward, scroll thru it and add the line if needed. Another way to find the system.ini file is to click Start, Find, Files or Folders, and search for system.ini. There is also some debate on the WW2OL boards about this, but not much elsewhere. This is considered a great tip for any game that uses a swapfile (virtual memory), period. This tip does work better for some than others, here is why: What this line does, basically, is tell your computer to use all of the physical RAM available before using the virtual memory. This is good, because RAM is far faster than virtual memory. RAM is in memory sticks and virtual memory is on the hard drive. Why do you need to tell your computer to use all it's RAM? Because Windows like to set aside RAM for itself, and not let any other programs use it, even if Windows doesn't need it. This command is available to override that memory hogging. When Windows hogs some memory, it hogs a percentage of the available memory. For example, if you have 256 megs of RAM, and Windows decides it wants to hog 10% (I dont know the actual number), then Windows will hog 25.6 megs of RAM. On a computer that has 512 megs of RAM, Windows would be hogging 51.2 megs of RAM. Therefore, the more RAM you have, the more RAM you will free up using this command. That is why this tip benefits people with more RAM more than it does people with less RAM. Simple math. With under 512 megs of RAM, the benefits of this might not be noticeable, but even if it isn't noticeable to you, it IS helping. Add to this a few other tips that 'arent noticeable to you' and suddenly it becomes noticeable ;)


While you are in your system.ini file, you should take a look in the [386enh] folder and make sure the line LoadLocalHigh=1 is present. What this does is tell the computer to load all system settings into the upper memory area. It moves these settings out of memory that games can use and into memory that games cant use, thereby giving a slight increase in performance. If the line doesnt exist in your system.ini file, go ahead and add it, then reboot.

Display Settings:

The easy way to get into the display settings is to right click on the desktop and click Properties. First, get rid of that wallpaper and just have a color. Select (None) in both wallpaper and pattern. If you wish to change the color, click the Appearance tab and in the Item dropdown, select Desktop, and choose a color from the colorbox on that row. Next, click on the Settings tab. This is important: make sure your desktop colors are set at High Color (16 bit) and not 32 bit! Some people will say this makes no difference. They are utterly wrong. Its very important for 3D games, no matter what resolution you run them at. The only exception to this rule is when running some OpenGL applications. WW2OL does not run in OpenGL. Next, click on the Advanced button, click on the Performance tab and make sure Hardware Acceleration is set to Full. For GEForce cards, there is a GEForce page with specific tips for those cards. For the rest, basic rules in Direct3D are turn anti-aliasing off, turn of FSAA, disable Vsync.



Time for your first benchmark. Go to Mad Onion and get the 3DMark program suited to your computer. The 3DMark programs are unlimited shareware and are free to use, as is the Online Results Browser on thier website. One of the purposes of this benchmark is to compare to other real life computers. You dont need to wonder if your score is good or bad, you simply go to the Online Results Browser (ORB) and compare to a computer exactly the same as your own. Run it at the default settings and when done, click the button under your score to 'Publish Results Online'. The service is free and your results will be added to a database of thousands of other users. You can then compare your results to another person's...or you may share your specific providing a link to the comparison, thus: P3@501, 256 RAM, GEForce2 MX-400. The actual link looks like this:


Useful commands to know:

Click Start, Run, type dxdiag and hit enter. An applet will search your computer and a window with many tabs will pop up. This can tell you many things about whats working on your computer. You can save a file of this information by clicking the "Save All Information..." button under the "System" tab. Save as a text file and remember where you put it. Exit the diagnostic applet and click Start, Run, and browse to the text file you just saved, open it, copy it, and you can paste that in the message boards so folks can help you.


Click Start, Run, type msconfig and hit enter. A window will open with some startup options and some tabs named for files. Click on "Startup" and uncheck anything you dont really use. This is a great way to free up available system resources, and the more of this stuff you disable (you can always go back and re-check the box to enable it again) the more system resources you will have free...dont remove System Tray though...everything else is safe ;)


Checking system resources? On your desktop or in your Windows Explorer, right click on My Computer, click Properties, and click the "Performance" tab. BTW, your file system and virtual memory should both be 32-bit. A good system will be running around 88-92% after cleaning up and rebooting.


How to check graphics settings? Right click on your desktop, click Properties, click "Settings" tab, click "Advanced" button, and click on the tab with your graphics card. While you are in there, click on the "Performance" tab and make sure hardware acceleration is set to "full". While you are in your graphics card, make sure Anti-Aliasing is turned off. This will make a HUGE improvement in the game.


That finishes the basic part of tuning. I may come back and add more to this page, as I am sure I've forgotten something. Now that you have a basic benchmark of your machine and you have the hard drive cleaned up and organized (note the 3DMark doesn't test hard disks), you can start trying out new drivers and other tricks and compare your benchmark with these to your baseline benchmark you just created.