Friday, May 25, 2012

Tips For Game Recording, Quick Edition (Text-Only Version)

Recording your gameplay, whether it is for sharing with family and friends, uploading tutorials, contest/challenge entries, or just your own archive to watch when you are relaxing, is a great way to share and preserve gaming experiences. There are a handful of game recording applications out there today and while each one has it's ups-and-downs, I want to make a post however, focusing more on the problems people run into when trying to record their games. I wanted to quickly share some Tips that will help no matter which game recording software you have chosen as your own to use, whether your problem is 'it causes lag', 'framerate drops', 'video is choppy' or any other symptom. Here are some ideas to help you out, presented in order of the effect it should have on your game recording, from the most effect to the least:

  • Reduce the resolution of the game. That means instead of playing at 1920x1080, set the in-game resolution (usually in "Options") to something smaller like 1280x720 (720p HD) for example.

  • Reduce the resolution of the game recording. Not all game software will give you the same amount of choices for this, but reducing the resolution that the game is being recorded at (not the size you are playing at, set in the game, but the size of the frames being recorded, set in the game recording software such as "Half Size" or "75%" or a resolution like "1280x720"/"720p") will help reduce the amount of data your system is dealing with, and will help reduce things like framerate drop and recording lag.

  • Reduce or turn off Anti-Aliasing. This is one that can greatly affect recording smoothly but not many people think of it. When AA is on, video data is being 'processed twice' as stair-stepping is being detected on the frame, and then the video frame is being compressed for the recording itself. Do some tests on your system to see how lowering or turning off AA (even FXAA or Morphological/SMAA or 'Fast AA' albeit for reduced gain) has an effect on your game recording. You may need to set it in the video card's Control Panel and/or in the game itself.

  • Use the fastest drive on your system. If you have more than one drive in your rig, using something like CrystalDiskMark or Dxtory's built-in disk benchmark/testing tool (usable even in the Trial Version) or Nero's Burning ROM ('copy' using an image file, there is a drive speed tester in there), can help you find which drive recording to will be the smoothest/fastest. Always try to record to your fastest drive and the earliest (firstmost) partition on that drive that you can use for it.

  • Change the format you are recording into. By this I mean the recording codec you are using. Some codecs [COmpressor/DECompressors] that are used to handle the video data keep a lot of the detail but take up more space (like FRAPS' codec). Some codecs are 'lossy' and give up some quality in order to take up less space and keep the output file smaller (like Bandicam's MPEG-1 VBR codec). Some are just less taxing on the system or take better advantage of it (like the UT Video Codec's ability to use multiple cores of your CPU). If you have tried other things, try changing the codec and level of quality you are using. Record at 60% quality instead of 90% [Playclaw uses MJPEG set at 90% by Default and Bandicam uses MJPEG set at 80% for it's 'For Editing' Preset] and see if it looks ok to you (especially if you are recording at say, 1920x1080 and going to resize it down to 1280x720 for uploading).

  • Reduce the settings in-game. What I mean here is the Special Effects like lighting/shadow detail, graphic detail (complexity of the shapes/models/meshes and sharpness of the textures on them), effect detail (splatters and smoke) and even sound detail. All of these things make the system work harder (especially the CPU) to process them [very simplified; it must take data from the game files, process it, size and shape it and then finally show it on the screen and then buffer it and process it and write it to the recording file]. This will increase your frames per second in the game as well, and more of your system's resources can be put toward recording smoothly.

  • Reduce the frame rate of recording. This means, recording at 24 frames-per-second as opposed to say 60fps. There will be literally less frames for the program to deal with, and your system will not have to process so many and push them around, finally writing them to the recorded file. Dealing with less video data means that your system can handle it more smoothly, processing and writing slower to the drive being recorded to.

  • Defragment the drive being recorded to. These days, with how Windows7/NTFS and Linux's Journaling System handles files and with Solid State Drives, it is not as needed as in the days of yesteryear; but making as much space as you can and ordering the files as much as you can does still help with game recording overall. 

  • Upgrade your system's hardware. I hate seeing and giving this advice, but it really does help with just about anything that you are trying to do with your computer, so I am including it, last (even though the effect a computer upgrade can have can be greater than any of the steps above). Game recording uses not just your video card, but also your motherboard (everything 'talks to each other' through it), your CPU (the traffic cop, dictating how fast everything should go and when), RAM (the holding and transport areas for most things), and finally the hard drive (which receives all of this data and computes writing it to the file). Purchasing anything as an upgrade, whether it is a newer/faster drive, processor or video card, will all help in game recording.
    Lastly, a dedicated Sound Card is always [always] more efficient for a system than using the Built-In/Onboard Audio. Even a good USB soundcard can help alleviate problems like sound stuttering, clicking and popping, static, input lag and other problems, as processing is done without bothering the CPU and using main system resources for audio.

Hopefully, these Tips will help you record your games, no matter what software you've decided to use/try to record with. As always, when having problem with programs, going to the Support portion of the developer's website, even if it is just a Forum there, is a good idea to look for help with a specific program and the problems you are encountering. These general Tips are more concerned with your computer and how it interacts with programs/games in general and should help 'No Matter What'.
Good luck with it and have fun!

See you in the games!

1 comment:

  1. This blog post is really great; the standard stuff of the post is genuinely amazing.Toomky Games