Developer Diary: October Performance Improvements

When you're one of the fastest FPS games on the planet, having rock-solid game performance is a must. As part of our ongoing commitment to improving the experience of Quake, we are releasing several fixes and optimizations for longstanding issues that will improve client and server performance, for the October update.

The Performance Cost of Content

Quake Champions has evolved a lot this year: with new maps, modes, features, and systems being added every update over the course of this year.

June and August were especially feature-heavy months for Quake: adding bots, gore, matchmaking improvements, maps and more. However, the more features we add, the more demands there are on system resources.

Quake Champions is a very CPU & GPU intensive game. As a result, for every update – we’re also looking at the areas in the game where we can optimize to reduce the cost of all of these great features on the client’s side, while also improving performance on the server-side and networking.

Optimization and Improvements

Players’ individual hardware and internet connections will always be a factor in the degree of performance improvements they see, but many aspects of this month’s update will benefit all our players:

Network “de-sync” issues resolved

In this update, we have fixed a number of network “de-sync” issues players were seeing.

At the high level - in any network game, there is a small about of “lag” between what you see on your screen and what the server sees. How much lag depends on multiple factors ( network bandwidth, connection quality, the number of “hops” between your machine and the server, etc. ). It’s impossible to have 0 lag between you and the server, unless you’re both in the same room ( like a LAN ), but we can do as much as possible to mitigate its effect on your experience.

One rare de-sync issue we found and fixed this update involved you sometimes seeing a player facing in one direction on your screen, while the server saw them as facing in another direction. When that player would attack you, it could look on your screen as though they were looking away from you, yet you would still register damage from them!

Another “de-sync” issue we have resolved were “ghost inputs” that would sometimes cause players to move, shoot, or change weapons when they did not mean to, if they had a networking hiccup on their end. These changes will improve the experience for everyone in October.

Game system issues resolved

Earlier we mentioned that Quake was a CPU & GPU intensive game – with Quakes unique brand of non-stop action, rendering in detail all of the rockets, gore, ragdolls, characters, etc. can be taxing, performance wise.

With so much going on over the course of the match, it is important to maintain a consistent Frametime over the course of the game. While many people talk about the Framerate of a game – Frametime is actually much more important. Framerate is how many times you render a frame in a second, but Frametime describes how long each of those frames took to render. It is not uncommon for a frame now and then to take a bit longer than others in any FPS game, but if your frame time is consistently uneven, it’s going to affect the perceived “smoothness” of the game ( i.e. the game will just “feel off”, and won’t give you your best experience ).

For October, we have focused on the causes of several common Frametime hitches, for example, the hitch that players would experience at the very start of each match. We improved the cost of some weapons, like the shotgun on both the server and client, and some of our more FX-heavy champions have had a pass to speed up their FX. Lastly, maps like Longest Yard were improved by reducing the amount of ornate geometry visible in areas of the map.

Updates Going Forward

Our small team is committed to ongoing performance-hardening improvements as we continue to add new features and content to Quake Champions. This will be a continual push that we will make with every update to improve the performance of Quake Champions.

In November, we are going to further improve CPU performance across the board, which is currently the biggest bottleneck for our players. Thank you, and we look forward to sharing Slipgate, Athena, and the fixes and improvements described here in the October 11 update with you!