Disappearing textures

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posted on March 11th, 2023, 6:55 pm
During large games (for example 6 teams on merciless) I often get disappearing textures after a while. Usually it's a couple of ship backgrounds (see the attached screenshot), sometimes it's map icons for nebulas and asteroids, sometimes it's ship bump maps. Sometimes some of these textures come back after a while, but it's annoying and I'd like to know if there is a way to prevent this. My theory is that the A2/FO engine has a limit on the amount of memory it can use for textures, of around 1GB (the game will be using 900-1200MB of RAM when the textures disappear).

I've already given all custom ships lower detail levels (smaller textures with the _1, _2, _3 suffixes), and noticed some textures are stored as 32bit TGA while they don't have an alpha channel so I converted them to 24bit TGA. I've also taken care to not have any textures over 1536x1536 pixels because. In theory all of this should save the game a lot of memory use, but it doesn't in practice and textures keep disappearing.

Any Advice?

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posted on March 19th, 2023, 11:43 am
I noticed a similar issue. Eventually I tracked it down to a problem with the memory usage. If the game consumes too much, it simply starts to spare some by not showing something. As far as I can tell this is hardcoded and also makes priorities. First it spares on textures (note that this may also mean weapon sprites so some shots may be invisible but still hit), then on sounds and finally on 3D meshes. The only workaround is to reduce the size of your files, there is not much else you can do.
posted on March 20th, 2023, 12:57 am
That is so interesting. I always had the game grind to a laggy halt with too many ships or textures or even sounds at a time. I guess I never ran into issues where I was using textures that were simply too big and the game couldn't process it.

Probably best to keep your textures in the 1024px range, IIRC.
posted on March 20th, 2023, 1:10 am
Well, I think using Doca Cola's launcher (which is meant to make the game capable of handling more memory) seems to significantly bring down the number of times these texture glitches happen. The game never pushed 2gb to begin with, but apparently the extra memory does help. I did also cut up some wasteful textures, like systembackgrounds that are 4mb while often only one ship is used from them at any one time. To use the loader, simply install Fleet Ops as usual, but replace the Armada2.ldl file, instead of the Armada2.exe file in the \Data folder (simply rename the Armada2.exe file you were going to use to "Armada2.ldl" and copy over the existing Armada2.ldl file).
posted on March 20th, 2023, 6:19 pm
Sounds sweet, but does it work with 4.0 as well?
posted on March 20th, 2023, 6:59 pm
k_merse wrote:Sounds sweet, but does it work with 4.0 as well?


Yeah it seems to work, I did the testing with my Roots Mod, and that's built on 4.0. I think the loader is still the same as in FO 3.2.7 because that came out in 2013 and the loader has 2012 as its last modified date. Roots has higher resolution textures and more ships (fewer ship classes, but more of each class) in a game than stock FO, though no 2048x2048 textures (16mb per texture file, plus 12mb more if you add a similar-sized bump map to it) for a tiny scout ship like some other mods have.

One thing I also found last year is that bump maps for ships and stations really help with the game's framerate, especially with high poly models, like the stock Borg Sphere. Of course it does add to memory so I generally work with small dummy bump maps, basically just 256x256 of even gray and also gave them detail levels (adding a _1, _2, or _3 at the end of the texture name). Also, detail levels for weapons and effects do actually work, and the transition is very smooth when zooming in and out, I use that in the Roots Mod and I have no idea why stock FO or any mod I've seen don't use that to cut down on memory use since weapon and effects textures can be pretty big and there can be a lot of them on your screen at the same time.
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