Bill Freist Talks Optimization and Performance

by Bill Freist on 22nd August, 2012

Hey, everyone, I’m Bill Freist. I’m here to discuss two topics we’ve been seeing a lot of questions about over the last few months: optimization and performance.

Before getting into that, though, you might be asking yourself, “Who is this Bill guy?” I’m part of the Quality Assurance department here at ArenaNet, and I specialize in gathering information from you, the players, about performance and compatibility issues. I make sure that the programming team gets the appropriate information and reproduction steps needed to achieve quick turnarounds with fixes for technical issues. In short, my job is to help ensure that the game is compatible with as many different computer configurations as possible—with solid performance to boot.

Guild Wars 2 engine programmers have made major client-side and back-end improvements over the past couple of months, including several different kinds of optimizations that have led to performance gains. Because we strive to ensure the smoothest player experience possible, we try to implement these changes only when they’ve been appropriately tested to ensure stability. This has led to the fluctuation in performance that many players have experienced through the Beta Weekend Events and stress tests.

At present, Guild Wars 2 has already received a massive amount of optimizations. This means that players who have suffered from poor performance in the past should see an improvement to their frame rate. But there are still discrepancies between individual systems. As we investigate those, it leads us to discover interesting bottlenecks. For example, here’s a chart showing how much of a difference a graphics driver version can make. (This data is aggregated from all players who participated in recent stress tests.)

We’ve found other issues that can cause similar performance discrepancies. That said, even if it’s an external factor impacting performance, we’re going to work as hard as we can to ensure that your Guild Wars 2 experience isn’t hampered by poor performance. To that end, as issues are reported, investigated, and a fix is found, we will update our knowledge base. That way, the proper information will be made available to those that need it. The knowledge base will also include user-friendly instructions on how to fix performance problems.

But what about the hard data? How does your graphics card perform with Guild Wars 2? The following chart contains data from recent stress tests that was pulled from players playing Guild Wars 2 on systems with an Intel Core i5 processor or better (ensuring the data reflects graphics card performance differences only). When comparing your system’s performance to the following averages, keep in mind that having an adequate processor, graphics card, and sufficient system memory are all important to having a smooth gameplay experience.

What if the chart says your hardware gets a good average frame rate, but the game runs poorly on your computer? We’re aware that your experience may not match the chart above. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! If you find yourself suffering from poor performance and nothing in our Knowledge Base relieves the issue, open a support ticket and provide our Support Team with the appropriate information. By providing us with this information, we can work to make your Guild Wars 2 experience a positive one. Just because the bulk of the optimizations have already been implemented doesn’t mean we’re done. Optimizations will continue up to and beyond launch day, using the information that you provide.

With the launch date approaching quickly, it’s mind-boggling how much the team has been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. But we can’t take all the credit. You, the community, have helped shape Guild Wars 2 into the game it is today.

On behalf of the team here at ArenaNet, I would like to thank each and every one of you for participating in the Beta Weekend Events and stress tests, for voicing your opinions about the game and your concerns about performance, and for supplying the vital information we need to take care of these issues before launch day. Consider yourselves a part of the team.