UT2003 Tweak Guide

April 22, 2003

Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Overview

This guide provides an overview of how to get the best possible performance out of UT2003, when you have patched  the game to version 2225 or higher.  When tweaking performance, its best to start from the default settings which were set based on your system configuration when you first installed UT2003.  To return to the default settings, delete your UT2003.ini file (in your UT2003\system) directory, and start the game.

You should ensure that you are running the latest drivers for your graphics card as Unreal Tournament 2003 stresses the hardware and drivers to a greater extent than most available games and we rely on a number of bug fixes hardware vendors incorporated into their latest drivers. Check the downloads page on your graphics vendor's web page for the latest driver.  For NVidia drivers, go to www.nvidia.com, while ATI's web site is www.ati.com.

Because UT2003 stresses your system more than most other games or applications, we recommend against overclocking your system.  The high performance requirements of UT2003 can trigger BSODs, lockups, or sudden reboots by pushing an overclocked system too hard. Please see our lockup guide if you are experiencing any of these problems.

While tweaking your UT2003 configuration, you should check the impact of your changes on the game's frame rate.  You can bring up a frame rate monitor in game by hitting the <tab> key to bring up the console, and then typing stat fps at the console.  Typing the same command again at the console will remove the frame rate display .


Left.jpg (1269 bytes) System

You need at least 128 MB of system RAM to play UT2003.  If you only have 128 MB, you will have to run with reduced texture detail.  UT2003 will run best with 256 MB or more of RAM.  More than 512 MB should make no difference to performance.

UT2003 will also take advantage of increased video memory.  We recommend at least 32 MB video memory, with noticeable improvements in visual quality (by using higher texture resolutions) and performance possible at 64 MB and 128 MB.

Because of the highly detailed environments and advanced physics in UT2003, performance is also significantly affected by CPU speed.  If you have a fast video card, you will see frame rate increases as your CPU speed increases.  

If your video card does not support hardware transform and lighting, it will make the system CPU work harder to do the transforms and lighting in software.  Video cards that support hardware transform and lighting include the NVidia GeForce series, and the ATI Radeon 7200+ cards.


Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Settings | Video

Depending on the fillrate of your video card, you may be able to run at a higher resolution with very little impact on frame rate.  On the other hand, older video cards with a lower fillrate will perform better if the resolution is reduced as far as possible.  Its worthwhile to try various resolutions and compare their impact on your frame rate.

Reducing your color depth from 32 to 16 bit has a high impact on frame rate on low end cards as it basically doubles the effective fillrate so if you prefer playing at high resolutions even though you don't have the latest and greatest graphics hardware you should give 16 bit color depth a try. In addition to that, disabling trilinear filtering and detail textures also helps to save fillrate.


Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Settings | Details

Of course, you will always get the best performance results with detail settings set as low as possible.  However, if you have a fast system, you can often enable various detail settings with little or no impact on frame rate.

You will see a significant impact on performance if you set your texture/character/world detail settings too high relative to the amount of video RAM in your system, as your video card will thrash its memory trying to keep all the relevant textures loaded.  The defaults that were set when you first installed UT2003 are optimized for the amount of video RAM you have. 


Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Settings | Audio

If you have 128 MB of RAM, you will need to run with low sound detail - this option will be set by default when you install the game on a 128 MB system.  If you use low sound detail, all the characters in the game will use the same voice pack.  For best performance, you should select the Software 3D Audio mode.  Even with cards that support hardware 3D audio, you will see a negative impact on performance with this option enabled.


Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Settings | Player

The Default FOV setting specifies the width of the field of view (as an angle) that is rendered on your screen.  It defaults to 85 degrees for UT2003.  For UT, the default was 90, so you may want to change this value if you want the game to "feel" more like UT.  Larger values will give the game a  more "fish-eyed" appearance, and may also have a slight impact on performance.


Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Settings | Network

When you select your connection type, UT2003 sets a connection speed that it expects will work well with this connection type.  Selecting a connection type faster than what your connection can support will result in extremely poor network performance, as UT2003 will attempt to use more bandwidth than is available, causing packets to back up.  

The most common reason for laggy, unresponsive gameplay on-line is that somewhere in the connection between your client and the server, there isn't enough bandwidth available to handle the connection.  This can happen if you are playing on a server that has too many players connected for the speed of its internet connection (a common problem with servers running on a cable modem).  If the game plays well until a certain number of players have joined, the server connection is the problem.  

Its also possible that your connection does not have as much bandwidth as UT2003 expects, even if you set the connection speed properly.  For example, a cable modem's available bandwidth may be significantly reduced if many other people are using a cable modem in your area, or if your provider caps the bandwidth at a lower level than UT2003 expects.  Here are the default settings which UT2003 uses for available data bandwidth.  Note that there is additional network and protocol overhead, so these values will be lower than the theoretical maximum speed of the connection:

Modem:          2600 bytes/sec
ISDN:             5000 bytes/sec
Cable/ADSL:  10000 bytes/sec
LAN/T1:         20000 bytes/sec

UT2003 almost never actually uses more than 7500 bytes/second of data for connections.  You can tweak the bandwidth cap used by your client using the netspeed console command.  For example, typing netspeed 4000 at the console will change your bandwidth cap to 4000 bytes/second.  The actual bandwidth cap is also limited by the client bandwidth cap set by the server to which you are connected. If you are seeing poor network performance, experiment with lower netspeeds.  

 If this doesn't address your network play problem, type stat net at the console to bring up network statistics in the top left hand corner.  Several lines of text will be displayed, looking something like:

 - Net ---------
59 Ping
60 Channels
In:  0, Out:  0 Unordered
In:  0, Out  0 Packetloss
In:  19, Out  41 Packets
In:  76, Out  40 Bunches
In:  3212,  Out 2623 Bytes
5000 Speed
0 Reps
0 PV

Ping is the round trip time between your client and the server, including game packet processing time on the client and the server.  Ping is also shown for each player when you bring up the scoreboard (by pressing F1).  Since the ping displayed includes game client and server overhead, it will be greater than the network ping shown in the server browser before you connect.  The higher the ping, the more delay there will be before the server processes your commands.  This will be evident to you as lag before the projectile comes out when you press fire, for example.  Very high pings (above 500) indicate either a distant server, or that your network connection is saturated (in which case you should reduce your netspeed as described above).

You will very rarely see unordered packets.  These have the same effect as lost packets, since they have to be thrown away.  Packet loss of more than 10% (divide the packetloss + unordered total number by the packets number) can cause severe degradation of the connection.  This is a network issue - there isn't anything you can do about it except connect to a different server.

The number of bytes in and out will typically be significantly lower than the speed (your max connection speed) unless you have a very low netspeed selected (for example a modem).  However, they should always be over 1000 bytes/second.  If not , this may indicate a problem with the server (unless its a very quiet server with no action).

Typing stat net again at the console will make the network statistics display go away.

We've also seen this advice posted on the UT2003 forums, to address problems with very high (999) pings:

In Windows, go to Start > control panel > network connections > 

Now here you should see 

- Client for Microsoft Networks 
- File & Printer sharing 
- QoS Packet Scheduler 
- Internet Protocal (TCP/IP) 

Click on QoS Packet Scheduler and click "remove". Then reboot and play. 

Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Settings | Input

These settings have no impact on performance, but can be tweaked to optimize your controls.

Mouse Sensitivity affects how much your view will rotate when you move your mouse.   Enabling Mouse Smoothing will cause your movement to be smoothed by averaging out the readings of your mouse movement.  This will significantly reduce jerkiness.  Mouse Accel. Threshold is used to specify a threshold below which mouse movements will not be magnified, allowing more precise aiming.  The default value of 0 turns this feature off.  The appropriate value is a very individual preference - we'd recommend starting off with a value around 100, and tweaking from there.  Dodge Double-Click Time is used the specify the maximum interval for double-clicking to do a dodge move.  It defaults to 0.25 seconds.

ReduceMouseLag reduces mouse input lag by artificially stalling the graphics card on a per frame basis.  This may slightly reduce the overall frame rate, but it usually is better to keep it enabled as the game will feel more responsive.


Left.jpg (1269 bytes) UT2003.ini

You can directly edit your UT2003.ini (in your UT2003\system directory) to modify most of the menu settings described above.  Deleting your UT2003.ini will result in the game restoring the recommended defaults for your system when you next play.  

There are also many UT2003.ini options which are not exposed in the menus.  Be very careful about changing the ones that aren't documented, as they can have substantial effects on performance or stability.  Here are a few that may be useful to tweak:

The bPreloadAllSkins config option, in the [UnrealGame.UnrealMPGameInfo] section is false by default.  If set to true, all skins and character models referenced in .upl files are preloaded. Only set this option to true if you have a lot of system RAM (512 MB or more). This option reduces the hitch experienced when new players join a multiplayer game during game play.

By default, your frame rate is capped in net play to keep local physics updates in sync with the server.  The maximum frame rate is 90 frames per second, or lower if you have a slower connection.  You can turn off the frame rate cap, making UT2003 run as fast as your machine will handle.  If you do this, you will experience more occasional small hitches, as your position is corrected to match the server's view of the world.  To turn off the frame rate cap, set bCapFramerate=false in the [Engine.LevelInfo] section.

In the [Windrv.WindowsClient] section, is another useful option, MinDesiredFrameRate.  This parameter, which defaults to 35 frames per second, specifies the threshold below which UT2003 will drop optional details, such as enhanced particle effects, to try to keep the frame rate at the desired level.

You can avoid certain hitches that occur at highest detail settings on cards with insufficient video memory by setting AvoidHitches to true in the [D3DDrv.D3DRenderDevice] section. This is particularly useful in conjunction with the bPreloadAllSkins option as it should be possible to completely avoid hitches caused by resource management during gameplay. The drawback of this option is that you might get blob shadows instead of correct shadows in certain cases. This option only has an effect if you have player shadows enabled.


Left.jpg (1269 bytes) User.ini

The user.ini file (also in your UT2003\system) directory, contains your key bindings and aliases, as well as some options for personalizing UT2003.

To turn off the display of non-taunt voice messages on your HUD, add the following two lines at the bottom of your user.ini file


To use a custom announcer voicepack (which must have all the sounds in the original AnnouncerMain.uax, with identical names), named NewSounds.uax (where NewSounds is the name of the voicepack), put the voicepack in your ut2003\sounds directory.  In the user.ini file, change



Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Hosting servers

The most important issue to keep in mind when hosting a UT2003 server is to make sure that the the available bandwidth of your server's internet connection is not exceeded. 

Servers should both cap the maximum number of players which can join, and also limit the MaxInternetClientRate (which defaults to 7000).  Since UT2003 almost never uses more than 7000 bytes/second of data per client connection, any server should limit the MaxInternetClientRate to 10000 or less.  The MaxInternetClientRate property is found in the [IpDrv.TCPNetDriver] section of your UT2003.ini.  Players will still see very good connections with MaxInternetClientRates in the 5000 to 7000 range.  For example, a server on a T1 should limit UT2003 data bandwidth to about 160 KBytes/sec, which equals 16 players with MaxClientRate 10000, or 32 players with MaxClientRate 5000.  Cable modem speeds vary widely, but a typical limit would be about 50 KBytes/sec, which equals 5 players with MaxInternetClientRate 10000, or 7 players with MaxInternetClientRate 7000.  MaxClientRate (defaults to 20000) is the value used instead of MaxInternetClientRate if the server has the "optimized for LAN" checkbox checked.  Don't check that checkbox if internet clients are joining your server!

The total bandwidth used is the product of the number of players times the MaxClientRate.  Make sure that this value is less than the minimum of your upstream and downstream bandwidth (including an extra 25% for overhead).

Check out the excellent community site  http://www.unrealadmin.org/ for more information on setting up and administrating UT2003 servers.

Left.jpg (1269 bytes) Incompatible Game Files

Occasionally, when you connect to a server, you might receive this message.  This means there is a modification running on your client that is not authorized for this server.  This usually occurs when moving from a server running a custom mod that modifies the client to a server not running it.  In this situation, you can try executing the command "obj garbage" at the console.  Often, this will remove the modification from memory and allow you to connect.

If after executing the command you still are unable to connect, leaving UT2003 and restarting will refresh your game to it's original state.