Tweaking Dawn of War
I was a bit under whelmed after I made my first badge and saw it in game.
Everything looked blurry, and despite having a reasonably new graphics card
installed, the in-game graphics seemed a lot more low-rent and chunkier
than I was expecting from all those juicy screengrabs. The first thing I
usually do with a huge 3D shooter game is to scour the web for some tweaks;
so I simply did the same for Dawn of War. A quick search for game revealed
a couple of sites: one in French,
and a lone
user page. I figured it was high time RTSC provided an English speaking
Just some words of warning:
Most lag on Dawn of War network games comes
from excessive graphics settings, not network traffic. Actually,
the amount of network traffic generated by even an hour long game between
eight players is miniscule. Dawn of War uses a peer
to peer (or P2P) networking system, which
means there's no one central server hosting any game. This can lead to
some frustrating problems with networked games, especially with NAT
routers. Make sure you've set your modem correctly!
For the uninitiated: NAT is
an acronym for the Internet networking protocol called Network
NAT was invented to allow
single IP address to be used for an entire
network of computers connected to the Internet. (Basically, they
were running out of IP addresses!) The most common use of NAT is
in the home, where several home computers all connect, via a router,
to a single modem to access the Internet. As all the home PC's
talk to the Net, NAT makes it look like there's only one computer
to it. Your NAT router cleverly remembers which network packet
came from which computer, and makes sure any answering packets
to the right one.
Problem is, NAT has security associated with it
that can obstruct peer to peer networking, Dawn of War netgaming
being one of them.
While you do can suffer network lag, you can also bog your PC down by
setting your graphics too high and lag the game even though you might
have a clean cable connection. This game syncs to everyone's frames, so
if one machine is struggling to keep up, the game slows down to accommodate
it to keep everyone in sync.
In any case, once a game's under way, it really doesn't matter if your
environment has no interactive lighting, low resolution shadows or no
bodies and decals cluttering up the battlefield. Gameplay is that good!
Many people play with medium settings Online,
and then switch to nice, high resolution settings for the playback.
Anyway, on with the tweaks. Open up your Dawn of War
folder on your hard disk. Inside you'll find a mass of little files,
including the actual game executable itself and a whole swag of folders.
You'll need to grab a text editor as well, because many of these tweaks
involve editing some .ini files. With your text
editor, open the following files and make the following changes.
For the uninitiated: ini is
short for initialization.
An .ini file is a Windows text
file that records all the settings the game uses when it fires up.
Every time any Windows program starts up or initializes,
it reads all its .ini files and sets all
its options accordingly before it presents you with the main menu.
Every time you change your graphics, sounds, game controls or other
settings, these .ini files will dutifully
record everything for next time.
First up, editing your Dawn of War shortcut. If
you don't have a Dawn of War icon anywhere, you can always make a shortcut
of a new one by opening up your Start menu, and
bringing up Programs / THQ / Dawn of War menu,
and then right click and hold the Dawn of War game icon in the
menu and drag and drop it to your desktop. (Note: I can do this in Windows
2000, but had unsatisfactory results in Windows XP.) You'll be given the
option of making a shortcut.
A more reliable method is to open your Dawn of War
game folder and simply make a shortcut of the original W40K.exe
For Winter Assault, you would be making a shortcut
of the W40KWA.exe file in your game folder.
For Dark Crusade, you want to make a shortcut of
the Dark Crusade.exe file in the "Dawn
of War - Dark Crusade" game folder. For some inexplicable reason,
it is impossible to change the name of this folder when you install the
game - which must be an annoying first in the fifteen years I've installed
software and games on my PC's. We're stuck with a long name with far too
many spaces! :P Bah humbug.
On either shortcut, right click your new
shortcut to open its Properties, and then edit
the Target: field. You can add either of these
Like other Relic games, you can disable the barrage of opening logos
when the game first fires up by including this option in the Target:
field. It'll jump straight into the main loading screen instead. However,
this feature will also disable that amazing opening animation by Blur
Studios, seen in the first two games.
Using this option forces the game engine to use the most detailed versions
of all the models representing units and buildings. You may not notice
too much different with your characters, but buildings will suddenly look
more sharply defined and you'll be able to pick out much cleaner details
on your favourite heroes. This increased graphic setting will tax slower
systems though, so be warned. I only use it for watching playbacks, myself.
This option sets which custom mod you want to play when the game starts.
At this point in time most mods won't work for Dark
Crusade. At least, not until official mod tools are updated or the modding
community cobbles tobgether its own fixes. For example, if you
were going to run the DoWPro mod, you'd add this:
In the first two packages, DoW and WA share the same folder. If you want
to start with Winter Assault as a default, you'd
use this instead:
You can still switch between any mod you like in the Game
Manager (found in the Main Menu), but
its simply a convenience to jump straight into the mod of your choice.
In Dark Crusade, the unmodified game does not
appear in the list. More details on that when I get around to it. Most
custom mods come with their own shortcuts anyway, so you'll rarely have
to do this. Note: If you omit this command, the
shortcut will simply start you in the custom mod you were in last.
it didn't work!
Its not unusual to set up all these shortcuts, only
to find nothing happens when you try to use them. First thing to
do is make sure you've actually spelt everything correctly; typed
in commands are extremely finicky, and Windows (like all operating
systems) wants things juuust right - otherwise, it'll simply refuse
your request. This includes putting the hyphens before commands
correctly and exact, anally retentive use of naming, capitalis
and spacing. Computers might be incredibly high tech and impossibly
fast, but they have an IQ of exactly 0. They are absolute retards,
and you must spoon feed them all of the time.
For Winter Assault, make sure
you made a shortcut from W40KWA.exe and
NOT WinterAssault.exe. For some
reason, WinterAssault.exe won't let you apply any options or changes
to its shortcut. Its a bit like those logos on your DVD that you
can somehow never skip, pause or fast forward through.
If it can't find the game when you click on it, put
the path name in the Target
field in double quotes. For example: "C:/Program
Files/THQ/Dawn of War - Dark Crusade/DarkCrusade.exe"
Can you see why long convoluted names with lots of spaces
are best avoided on your PC? Keep it short and simple and things
will be less prone to errors. PC's are complex and confusing enough
as it is.
Notes: Wot's a path name?
For the uninitiated: This is the name and location on
your hard drive when the game file lives. Its like an address really:
all computer systems use them to identify files and installations.
Try this more exact definition here.
Any path name with a space anywhere within it will need
to be put in quotes to stop it from being read by Windows as two
seperate commands. Spaces are used to seperate commands. Sharp eyed
readers will realize that "Program Files" has a space
in it by definition, so without quotes, your default
Dawn of War shortcut will be trying to find two seperate things,
C:/Program and FIles/THQ/Dawn of War/W40K.exe,
neither of which would exist on your drive - and thus it fails.
Setting anti-aliasing in-game
By default, Dawn of war is "aliased", which means there is
no smoothing of edges in the graphics. This can be a little unsightly,
especially if you're someone finicky about their juicy graphics card,
and for some inexplicable reason there is no option to set it anywhere
in the Options menus! I tried dabbling with some global graphic driver
settings in Windows, but all this did was cause some ghastly graphics
malfunctions and some outright crashes.
Edit the W40K.ini settings file in your Dawn
of War game folder with a text editor (like NotePad or TextPad).
Change the line screenantialias=0 to screenantialias=1.
Again, be careful: anti-aliasing chews up graphics resources and the in-game
fonts will go blurry. If you're using some of the latest graphics cards,
you probably won't notice any performance drops, but older cards may start
to lag. The solution is to either drop to a lower resolution or turn it
off again. Personally, I keep it turned off.
For the uninitiated: in computer terms, 1
is the same as "yes" or on, while 0
is the same as "no" or off. Setting
an option to 0 basically turns something off, while 1 turns it back
1 and 0 are the only numbers used in binary,
the mathematics of computers, which deep down are just vast electronic
circuits made of billions of simple on/off switches.
Setting high resolution badges and textures
Edit the local.ini settings file in your Dawn
of War game folder with a text editor. This time you're adding a
new line to the bottom of the file: fullres_teamcolour=1.
Exact spelling IS important. This graphics setting sets the badges,
banners and all the other textures throughout the game to full
resolution - no more fuzzy blobs for your banners and badges - but it will
require more graphics memory. You'll be able to see the wrinkles in the
Force Commander's eyes and all that lovely detailing Relic put into everything
will jump out in sharp relief. I ran a 128Mb graphics card without any lag
issues, but I would guess a 256Mb card would be far safer for network play
- but I also use a lot of onboard system RAM (1 full gigabyte) which is
probably recommended for most big games these days... :/
Save the high resolution settings for replays; really, if you're admiring
the pixel quality in an actual game, you've probably about to lose. You'll
notice load times increasing with the higher resolution artwork being loaded.
fullres_teamcolour=1 was actually applied in
the 1.5 patch - causing all kinds of lag throughout
the DoW community. (Along with other lag issues as well) It was removed
in the 1.51 patch. I wouldn't use it unless your
PC is very powerful.
For the uninitiated: at the risk of sounding very rude, RTFM.
Assault and Dark Crusade's readme documents are
particularly informative, covering everything from game tweaks,
troubleshooting, how to fix game lag and even how to configure
NAT Router for network gaming. You obviously took the time to
read this page all the way to the end, so why not have a squint
the readme_wa.txt in your game install?
True, there aren't any nice pictures of heroic Force Commanders
their big guns in a lowly text file, but from such humble sources
you find great knowledge. You can access the game readme from
the THQ menu from Window's Start
-> All Programs button.