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Texture Popping - [SOLVED]


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#1 MadWizard25

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 02:03 PM

I would really appreciate some thoughts and suggestions with this issue.

As the various issues with my skyrim setup have been every so slowly ironed out for 1.6, i can focus a little on an issue that has been bugging me for quite some time.

The dreaded texture pop!

I understand that this is an engine issue, but with vanilla skyrim its much less apparent and abrupt. It was also evident in oblivion, but by the time i modded oblivion, the mod scene was 5 years old. With all the optimizes and patches, this issue never happened with a fully modded oblivion.

Im using the term texture pop quit generically. The actual issue relates to several types of pop in. These are mainly related to exterior environments. Its totally immersion breaking to see a plain vista, move a few meters and then suddenly see many LOD to normal objects change, objects such as npcs and monsters, and grass to just massively pop in all at once.

I have;

1. Grass pop
  •  grass ini tweaks, such as increasing the amount of grass rendered does work but it still pops in. With an increased grass draw distance, there is just more grass that pops in.
2. Tree LOD to normal pop
  • Again, ini tweaks regarding trees does not seem to change this much. I can increase the draw distance that normal trees are rendered, but i still get a massive pop in from LOD to normal when i cross a certain distance.
3. Terrain pop
  • Terrain detail such as rocks, waterfalls, etc. This has been mitigated by some mods, but is still apparent, especially LOD to normal transition.
4. NPC/ Monster pop
  • This is the least evident, mostly because these things do not take up much of the vista. But sometimes is still noticeable.
5. Decal pop
  • Certain decals, like moss on ruins walls, also pop in, and are more delayed than the above ones. Still, its not so bad since they are again a small part of the environment.

I would not be asking for help if it was not so bad. Its bad on open plains, and its bad in forest, etc. Major eyesores are the terrain, grass, and tree pop in. Every thing just pops in at a certain point, usually when im half way across what is rendered using ugrids 5.

Fixes i have tried;
1. Moved skyrim to an SSD drive - didnt help at all.
2. Various ini tweaks regarding draw distance for certain things. A lot is already covered in the z-fighting fix tweaks. Other tweaks like LODmeshes had no effect.
3. Mods - these help by allowing me to see more lod terrain in the distance, but the transition pop is still as evident.
4. Removing Hi-Res DLC - actually helped a bit. No idea why, removing other large texture packs didnt reduce the issue as much as removing the DLC did.
5. Texture optimization using latest DDSOpt pre-III - did not help, but helped in ensuring i stay well clear of my vram limit, which allows me to eliminate that as the problem.
6. Various tools such as CleanMem, Gamebooster, FPS Booster, CCleaner, etc. Nothing either.

Fixes I have not tried;
1. uGrids 7 - This would work. I know it works with my setup, but its just causes too many stability issues.
2. Rolling back to a nvidia driver earlier than the last 2xx version. Currently using latest stable release 301. Beta drivers higher than that did not seem to make a difference.

Thats about it. Has anybody experienced this problem? It would be fine if things were rendered gradually, but the pop in so immersion breaking it drives me crazy. If you know a fix, even a partial one, I would be super happy to hear it :) Thanks!

Computer Specs:
CPU: i5 2400 3.1GHz
GPU: gfx 560 Ti 2GB
RAM: 8Gb DDR3
HDD: 60GB SSD
OS: Win7 64bit
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#2 Neovalen

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 02:31 PM

I wish I had an answer for you MadWizard, I'm having the same issue with my game and it drives me nuts with high res textures. If I am ~30 feet from a castle wall then move up to ~25 feet all kinds of little details just "pop in" to the texture and I'm hating it. Hope someone has an answer.
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#3 torminater

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 03:00 PM

do you guys also get texture flicker on structures like in this video of mine  www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqsJti9nZco as of 1:33 it's demonstrated. Just curious.
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#4 JudgmentJay

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 03:12 PM

I think the only way to eliminate or at least greatly minimize lod fade-in is with uGrids set to 7... or higher. Z-Fighting tweaks + Skyrim Distance Overhaul is probably the second best option as most things are at least visible in the distance, and the lod -> full resolution transition is much less noticeable than a non-existent -> visible transition. I've always wondered... what exactly is it that causes the instability with increased uGrids? I'm assuming it's just an engine limitation as most computers mid-range or higher should be able to handle that just fine.
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#5 Neovalen

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 03:32 PM

I think the biggest thing with the higher uGrids is it runs all the scripts and spawns NPCs for the additional cells. As we all know, Papyrus is very sensitive to being overloaded no matter your PC.
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#6 JudgmentJay

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 03:44 PM

It'd be nice if there were a way to have higher uGrids for textures/lod only. I guess that's not possible?
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#7 MadWizard25

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 05:34 PM

Hopefully it is, but probably a year or two down the line :) @torminater I get the flickering on walls sometimes during transition as well, but hardly happens, just assumed it was part of the sudden change.
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#8 frihyland

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 09:59 PM

It sounds like you are just flipping from one mipmap to another, try using ddsopt to properly mipmap all your textures. If the textures are actually changing and not just becoming more detailed, then Ugrids or a mod that simulates it, is really the only way to force them to load sooner.
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#9 JudgmentJay

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 12:25 AM

This may just be me being crazy/ocd, but I tried out the Texture Pack Combiner, and as I was checking out the result (no other mods/textures installed), I noticed the ground LOD loading in at a very close distance as I traveled N/NE down the path from Ivarstead. Like 20 feet in front of me. That doesn't seem normal... is it? I don't recall this happening with a normal STEP install.
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#10 frihyland

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 12:35 AM

LOD shouldn't be loading at all unless you are hundreds or thousands of feet away from something, it should be various sizes of mipmaps that are loaded at that range. The general problem with mixing texture packs is that you will more often notice the textures themselves because many won't look right together. Each one individually may look awesome, but the effect as a whole is still not the intended result, its what STARAC is always talking about, it can be immersion breaking when this occurs.
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#11 JudgmentJay

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 12:39 AM

LOD shouldn't be loading at all unless you are hundreds or thousands of feet away from something, it should be various sizes of mipmaps that are loaded at that range.

The general problem with mixing texture packs is that you will more often notice the textures themselves because many won't look right together. Each one individually may look awesome, but the effect as a whole is still not the intended result, its what STARAC is always talking about, it can be immersion breaking when this occurs.


Sorry, guess I used the wrong terminology. The point is I can see the textures changing at a very close range and it's pretty distracting. It's like the path is completely bare and bland then all the sudden it has texture. Tomorrow I'm going to back up textures/meshes and do the beginning of a STEP install and compare.
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#12 MadWizard25

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:01 AM

It sounds like you are just flipping from one mipmap to another, try using ddsopt to properly mipmap all your textures. If the textures are actually changing and not just becoming more detailed, then Ugrids or a mod that simulates it, is really the only way to force them to load sooner.


Ah, forgot to mention i have used the latest pre release version of DDSOpt to optimize all my textures. Doesnt help much. In any case, the transition is not the worst part, its really the true texture popping that bugs me.

To clarify, ugrids helps, but the popping is still as sudden if you look beyond the increased draw distance. The sudden massive pop of all these textures was never so evident in vanilla skyrim. For example (and this all on default ugrids), in vanilla, the grass would not all suddenly pop in as one big mass, but would gradually be rendered as you walked along. With a modded skyrim, still at default ugrids, the grass now just appears as one big block all of a sudden. My main issue is the mass pop of textures of all types that seem to all be rendered at the same time, very abruptly. Increasing to ugrids 7 mitigates this because the pop occurs at a further distance, but it still happens, and is still very evident.
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#13 frihyland

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:18 AM

Well I would start by troubleshooting the ini, first rename them and then start up from the launcher to recreate them using the defaults. Play and see if your problem persists, if yes its a mod, move on to a binary search to find which one. If it is gone, than take a look at your renamed ini files, something went amiss.
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#14 MadWizard25

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 01:47 PM

Default ini's dont help. Modified ones dont either. I know which mods cause the issue. Its a combination of all the hi-res texture packs from STEP. If i remove all the mods recommended in the first two sections, SRO, 2KHD, etc, then all the misc clutter stuff, vegetation etc, the popping is much less apparent. In terms of texture re-placers, I have pretty what STEP recommends, and all at 1024. I also have some armor and weapon mods that have textures, but those are few. Thats another frustration, with my computer specs i dont think its a hardware limitation, and yet with all the STEP texture mods (all optimized as well), i get massive and sudden popping. I well clear of my vram limit, im on SSD drive, and my RAM and CPU are capable. Now that i have eliminated freezes (i hope), im addressing this issue. Another note is that this issue was more apparent after patch 1.5 I have run out of ideas :confused:
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#15 JudgmentJay

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 02:41 PM

Are you looking at a particular area to test? If so what is it? I'll check it out at home and see if I get the same thing.
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