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Animated loading screens and stutter


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#1 mattw

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 01:53 PM

Whilst playing F1 2017 I noticed that the loading screens before a race where they show a 3D track map (like on TV) and talk though the history etc. always stutter and pause.

This got me thinking how I saw the same in F1 2016 and in lots of other titles in the past, Starcraft 2 load screens also comes to mind for example.

On some games the audio would pause or drop out a few times whilst loading. Once in game there would be no issue.

I'm wondering if this is something to do with how MacOS handles simultaneous disc access when loading data and playing audio files etc. or something about my setup?

I have my games (Including the Steam Apps subfolder) stored on a separate 4TB 7200 disk whilst my OS and home folder where many preferences files will be are on an SSD.
Mac Pro 09 (now a 5.1, 2 x 3.06GHz Xeon X5675, 24GB, R9 280X 3GB, 480SSD, 16TB HD, MacOS 10.12.6

#2 G_Player

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:47 PM

As I understand it, an SSD disk will always beat out a disk drive in seek time (no moving parts). You'll prolly get a little better performance if you copy the game to the SSD.

Looking at your system specs… good gawd man! A muscle car of a computer!! Congrats!
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#3 edddeduck

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 07:44 AM

The hint is in the name :)

A loading screen is something displayed while a game is loading assets ready to start playing. At this point there is a lot of load on the computer from CPU to GPU along with usually some file access. This has nothing to do with how MacOS deals with file IO and is more down to what a loading screen is designed to hide and that is the loading in of assets before you start that area of the game. The stutter could be reduced in some cases but that would mean less resources available for the actual loading process (as you need to dedicate resources to making sure the animations run without frame rate loss) ending with longer load times!

This is why many loading screens on complex games are hidden behind loading screens with very little animation or are hidden behind un-skippable video introductions to hide this process from the user. A faster HDD can help with some stutters as that can help with file IO however the overall reasons behind the loading screens are usually much more complex.

#4 mattw

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 08:10 AM

Thanks - I might try moving the install to my SSD for F1 2017 as I expect to put plenty of hours in. From what I remember in the past I was disappointed how little difference it made (Borderlands 2 and F1 2012 if I recall).

Edwin - good to know it is normal.

Seems a strange decision by the developer to have as complex a screen if it then makes loading the game slow. One thing that put me off a console to date was talk of load times in minutes.

G_Player this 2009 machine is hanging in there thanks to the upgradability. I am sure the latest top end iMacs would be better but I would prefer a machine with an accessible GPU socket for the future. Already have an RX580 on order should they ever become available again so might get a little longer out of it still!
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#5 edddeduck

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 07:57 AM

View Postmattw, on 22 September 2017 - 08:10 AM, said:

Thanks - I might try moving the install to my SSD for F1 2017 as I expect to put plenty of hours in. From what I remember in the past I was disappointed how little difference it made (Borderlands 2 and F1 2012 if I recall).

SSD's can help with loading assets off the HDD however it won't help for CPU/GPU specific things like shader warming/loading. That why depending on the game an SSD will make a bigger or smaller impact on the load times. SSD's will always be better but they are not a magic bullet.

View Postmattw, on 22 September 2017 - 08:10 AM, said:


Edwin - good to know it is normal.

Seems a strange decision by the developer to have as complex a screen if it then makes loading the game slow. One thing that put me off a console to date was talk of load times in minutes.

That's why loading screens aren't complex :) They usually have a small loading animation but even that can stutter so usually dots or something simpler like rotating images are used. In some cases locked/slow opening double doors with a small corridor in-between are used to hide the fact you're loading in new assets/areas. A small corridor with a few twists and turns is another trick that's used.

This clever designs lowers the load on the game allowing it to load in the rest of the new area assets while you travel though this simple looking area. If you look out for them in games you'll start to notice them a little more :) You might in some cases get a small stutter as a door opens or you pass around a corner. The area looks simple so you'd not expect a stutter but if these happen just before a new large area you'll now know why! :)