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Shaders mod for better VR performance (experimental)


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I was slightly frustrated with poor performance when playing in VR with the new deferred rendering engine, so I had a look what would be possible to remove/simplify from the shaders to improve the framerate without too huge sacrifices in image quality. Focusing on anything that has a potentially high memory bandwidth cost (which is usually a big problem with deferred renderers + high resolutions) I was able to do some seemingly decent "optimizations".

 

The mod nowdays also does visual improvements. Full list of changes/options:

 

Performance optimizations:

- Simplified canopy glass shader

- "Emulation" for the OpenVR hidden area mesh

- Simplified histogram calculation

- Disabled bloom & color grading

- Simplified grass rendering

- Reduced shadow PCF maximum sample count from 16 to 10

- Simple transparent objects rendering, ie. propellers and smoke

- Disabled atmosphere for things close to camera

- Removed one GBuffer entirely for bandwidth savings

- Removed water refractions shader as it doesn't work with the above

 

Visual improvements:

- Albedo texture supersampling, for sharpening object textures. Visible especially with cockpit text labels.

- Multi-sampled shadow sampling in terrain with MSAA enabled (less aliased shadows)

- Alpha-to-coverage support for trees and tree flat shadows with MSAA enabled (less aliased trees)

- Improved night vision goggles, useable in VR with smaller, properly positioned scope and new noise effect.

- Optional NVG scope raise/lower feature with gain control (fixed gain)

- Added dithering to HDR tonemap to smooth out banding, visible especially at the sky

- The 3D mouse cursor is less bright at night time

- Slight mip bias adjustment for text rendering (sharper text)

 

Many of these can be toggled/configured from the config file.

 

Info about albedo texture supersampling here: http://www.kegetys.fi/dcs-shaders-perf-mod-update/

AToC & Multisampled shadow sampling comparison here: http://junk.kegetys.fi/atoc.jpg

Dithering comparison here: http://junk.kegetys.fi/dit.png ('off' is a bit worse in the shot than it is in-game)

 

Example scenes:

Stock shaders in Hornet, 65fps: http://junk.kegetys.fi/xzy/carrierlanding_orig_ssaa.jpg

With the mod, 98fps: http://junk.kegetys.fi/xzy/carrierlanding_opt_ssaa.jpg

Stock shaders in Harrier, 61fps: http://junk.kegetys.fi/xzy/readyramp_orig_ssaa.jpg

With the mod, 94fps: http://junk.kegetys.fi/xzy/readyramp_opt_ssaa.jpg

(These are taken in non-vr mode with some SSAA to get accurate FPS numbers)

 

Download for DCS World 2.5.6.50321: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20mod%20for%202.5.6.50321.zip (latest)

 

Download for DCS World 2.5.6.49314: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20mod%20for%202.5.6.49314.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.6.47224: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.6.47224.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.6.45915: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.6.45915.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.6.43503: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.6.43503.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.5.41371: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.5.41371.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.5.34644: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.5.34644.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.5.33184: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.5.33184.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.4.25729: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.4.25729.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.3.21107: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.3.21107.zip (old version)

Download for DCS World 2.5.2.19273.411: http://junk.kegetys.fi/DCS%20VR%20Shaders%20performance%20mod%20for%202.5.2.19273.411(b).zip (old version)

 

See the readme for install instructions. Its very likely it will break with future DCS versions that change the shaders...

 

It works in non-VR mode too, but likely the performance gain is not that huge unless you play in very high resolution.

 

FAQ

Does the mod work in multiplayer?

Only on servers with disabled integrity check.

 

My game freezes at startup with the mod?

It just takes a long time to compile the shaders at first run, be patient. If you want, you can monitor the progress with SysInternals DebugView.

 

Game freezes when starting a particular mission?

Likely you have loaded a new terrain for the first time after installing the mod and metashaders for the terrain are getting recompiled. Just wait as above and it should be fast the next time.

 

Plane cockpit is missing/transparent?

This seems to happen randomly when the shaders for the cockpit were just compiled. Re-entering the plane/restarting the mission or DCS should fix it and it should not happen any more when the shaders are already compiled.

 

Changelog

2.5.6.50321:

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.6.50321 (6.6.2020)

- Fixed tree AToC in TGP

2.5.6.49314:

- Renamed the mod to 'DCS World VR shaders mod'

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.6.49314 (23.5.2020)

- Removed MSAA_MASKSIZE setting as ED "cloned" it to DCS itself

- Added multi-sampled terrain shadow sampling (less aliased shadows with MSAA)

- Added alpha-to-coverage support for trees and tree flat shadows (less aliased trees with MSAA)

- Fixed ship wakes being permanently "burned in" with high water detail

- Simple transparent objects rendering setting (off by default - not well tested)

- Fixed some issues with NVG especially with NVG_GAIN_ADJUSTS_POSITION enabled

2.5.6.47224:

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.6.47224 (19.4.2020)

- Fixed some potential issues with GBuffer decoding

- Fixed simple glass albedo color

- Added ENABLE_NO_BLOOM setting to keep bloom enabled (appears to perform better nowdays)

- Changed HMD mask outside area to write black rather than discard to be compatible with bloom

- Added albedo texture supersampling (ENABLE_DIFFUSE_SS setting)

2.5.6.45915:

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.6.45915 (3.4.2020)

2.5.6.43503:

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.6.43503 (16.2.2020)

- Restored original sun flare

- Added simplified version of histogram calculation (previously it was removed completely)

- Above can be turned off with ENABLE_SIMPLE_HG setting

- Removed the sRGB fix as the game seems to have some other workaround for it now

- ENABLE_SIMPLE_SHADOWS now limits the sample count to 10 instead of 16

v2.5.5.41371:

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.5.41371 (4.1.2020)

v2.5.5.34644:

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.5.34644 (14.8.2019)

v2.5.4.28615:

- Restored resolveDepth as it was causing problems with haze and NVG depth effect

- Fixed fog not being visible near the camera

- NVG effect improved for VR goggles (smaller scope, correct positioning, new noise)

- NVG gain now does something proper rather than just brightens up the sky

- NVG parameters configurable from _HMD.hlsl

- Included the sRGB gamma fix in the mod (fix elevated black levels, visible esp. at night)

- Added simple dithering to HDR tonemap to smooth out banding, visible especially at the sky

- Made the 3D mouse cursor less bright at night time

- Some optimizations can now be turned off from _HMD.hlsl (simple shadows, grass, canopy)

v2.5.4.25729:

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.4.25729 (20.12.2018)

v2.5.3.21107:

- Compatibility with DCS World version 2.5.3.21107 (31.8.2018)

- Fixed moonlight illuminating cockpit glass too much

v2.5.2.19273.411(b):

- Fixed compile error with DIFFUSE_UV

v2.5.2.19273.411:

- Fist version

Edited by Kegetys
update for 2.5.6.50321

As a cyborg, you will serve SHODAN well

http://www.kegetys.fi

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I was slightly frustrated with poor performance when playing in VR with the new deferred rendering engine, so I had a look what would be possible to remove/simplify from the shaders to improve the fra

I gave this a shot. Resolution seemed better and the frame rate seemed the same, but I definatly have the weird artifacts around the edge of my vision now. It kind of felt like I was getting eye strain after 10 minutes or so. Any suggestions for the MASKSIZE value for an Oculus Rift?

 

 

Edit: I used 0.575 for the MASKSIZE and it got rid of the artifacts at the edge of my vision and FPS seemed unaffected. A lower value might work, but trying it out will have to wait until I have more time.

Edited by Zeroskills
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definatly have the weird artifacts around the edge of my vision now.

 

Same, although I still just had them at .575... :puke:

 

 

this looks VERY interresting. Does it work in MP or does the Integrity Check freak out?

 

It will kill the integrity check as it is making changes to core game files, but it does look very promising.

Edited by Highwayman-Ed

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It will kill the integrity check as it is making changes to core game files.

not that there was any doubt, just to confirm i tested it and its triggering IC problems

'controlling' the Ka50 feels like a discussion with the Autopilot and trim system about the flight direction.

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Can this be used via OvGME? Do the visuals suffer much

@ Highwayman-ED be nice to hook up with some hornet flying with you mate :) Hope all is well with you down under :thumbup:

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Can this be used via OvGME? Do the visuals suffer much

 

Yes, it can and no they don't. The only thing that I've noticed any real degradation with is the grass, and right now, I'm not seeing a lot of that in my Hornet ;) (Notice I said in my Hornet, I'm seeing plenty of it at the end of my silk let downs :( )

 

I've found setting the mask size to 0.600f works great for me with a CV1 and I will congratulate Kegetys for making my text easier to read in my MFD's!

Edited by Highwayman-Ed

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@kegetys so we do not need to enable MSAA in the DCS settings? I noticed you don't have it enabled in your settings.

 

Awesome work. If this was just a quick attempt, I can't wait to see how you tweak it further!

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Tried it out briefly today. Running a GTX1060. Incredible improvement in FPS, it's absolutely fluid now. No loss in graphics quality; in fact, I was able to change shadows from flat to high without any visible loss in FPS. So... Better graphics coupled with a dramatic increase in FPS.

 

What sorcery is this?!

Matthew 'Mags' Maclauchlan

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interesting. will check this out this weekend, (too much RL activities during the week). thanks OP.

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Impressive. I'm running a pretty decent rig, and was having FPS issues with the Hornet in the Gulf; this solves that. Be sweet if ED could implement something like this. Thanks for your work!

Sorry, no cool signature here.

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Hi Kegetys, you’ve done a great mod.

Yesterday night I tried to set my settings to MSAA 2x using your mod. Unfortunately DCS freeze during startup. Since I restored the legacy shaders directory, no problem ?

I run VR with a WMR headset via SteamVR.

 

Does anybody get the same issue ?

 

 

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Is it possible to get an ic ok version for mp or is there practically no changes that will work in that case

 

Sent from my SM-G925I using Tapatalk

 

Nope, not unless ED does it as it makes changes to core game files

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Wow, Kegetys to the rescue! While I don't own VR gear yet (waiting for next gen), I can only imagine you guys are in for a treat.

 

This guy is a true talent and THE WIZARD of modding (you would know, if you ever played OFP or ARMA). I really hope ED will pay attention to what he brings to the game.

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Yesterday give it a try and while I can't check the performance improvement ( ASW was active and locked at 45 fps ) I feel that was back in time to 1.5 version of DCS so for sure it would give a big performance improvement. Unfortunately I can't go back to these graphic quality levels, but congrats to the autor for his great job.

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So yes, i will critic and demand if i need to.

 

Nothing wrong with criticism per se. But constantly using phrases like "they can't make anything like this" is just stupid and thoughtless, because if you don't have any manners, you won't get heard either. How old were you again?

The DCS Mi-8MTV2. The best aviational BBW experience you could ever dream of.

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There are a lot of interesting ideas in this mod. The ED team can try to take over some of them in future releases. I will test this on my computer as soon as I get the time. I only fly in vr, so this is huge for me. I believe the most important part is the MSAA can be limited to the middle of the screen. This is the first step to forfeated rendering and a very big deal for us.

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