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michaeldcannaday

how to speed up game loading time...

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How?  It takes 10 minutes to load up my game alone and then about another 5 minutes to load up a city.  I know the more plugin files that I have in my folder, the longer it'll take to upload the game but is there any other way to speed it up without having to modify my plugin folder?

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Get a solid state hard drive (SSD). That will help speed up your game and loading times if you install SC4 and put all your plugins on it.

 

Using datpacker can also help speed up loading times, and I believe SC4 Launcher helps too (but I don't use it).

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You could run regular disk maintenance to clean up your disk space and get rid of multi-extent files.  Once a week should do it.  The game creates a lot of multi-extent files on city saves.

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It may help to close any unnecessary open programs or background processes. Task Manager will list these in the "Processes" tab. The msconfig utility can disable programs that start at system boot. Some of these non-system ones aren't needed, especially bloatware that may be installed by PC manufacturers.

When playing the game, I'd also suggest disabling your internet / network connections. The game does not require one at all. On older PCs it can make a huge difference to performance. This can be done inside the control panel, under "Network" options.

With connections disabled, setting your antivirus to silent mode is a good idea. This will prevent any background scans or activities from taking place. There may be an option to configure this to occur when the game starts. I use Norton Internet Security which has this option. When closing the game, normal service automatically resumes.

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I think it's also a good idea to remove unnecessary files from the plugins folder, like the manuals and the pictures.

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If you're using a Win OS post XP, you can add up to 4gb virtual memory using a thumb drive USB memory stick. After inserting the stick, go to the drives "properties" setting. The 3rd or 4th tab is to dedicate the stick to virtual memory. 

 

I'm currently using one on with this laptop and there is a slight noticeable improvement in loading time and reduces some of the 'laggyness' in game.

 

Tried using 2 virtual memory sticks once, and although it did further improve some areas, I also felt it started having a negative effect in other areas of game play. One stick seems to run better than two IMO.

 

You can pick up 4Gb+ thumb drive for pennies on the dollar now a days. So I would recommend this slight boost in the mean time.


I think it's also a good idea to remove unnecessary files from the plugins folder, like the manuals and the pictures.

You can always go a step further and also remove any custom content (usually parts of sets) that you just don't use in game, so why even have them bogging down the system.

 

EDIT: Plus, it seems the loading time for me is better WITHOUT the dependency files being DATpacked.

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If you're using a Win OS post XP, you can add up to 4gb virtual memory using a thumb drive USB memory stick.

 

While a high-quality (expensive) SSD might help, I'd recommend AGAINST using any budget-priced thumb for a page-file. Low-end flash memory is only good for 3000-5000 cycles before it dies. A pagefile's frequent rewrites can wear out a cheap flash drive in a hurry.

 

If you turn off networking, then besides silencing anti-virus, you can also disable your firewall (or put it into game-mode).

 

You might also scan your whole computer for malware. I have 1.3 Gig of plugins on a machine built from used parts 3 years ago for $250, but my game and first region load in 2 minutes apiece without DAT-packing. 10m and 5m sound suspicious.

 

Finally, maybe it's time to build a faster machine. Find a Free-Geek or business-surplus store where decent dual-core processors and compatible components are available at garage-sale prices.

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  • Original Poster
  • You could run regular disk maintenance to clean up your disk space and get rid of multi-extent files.  Once a week should do it.  The game creates a lot of multi-extent files on city saves.

    are you speaking about doing a defragment on the harddrive? If so, I do that on a regular basis every couple of weeks and also try to keep files sorted... I wished it was that easy :)  lol

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  • Original Poster
  • If you're using a Win OS post XP, you can add up to 4gb virtual memory using a thumb drive USB memory stick. After inserting the stick, go to the drives "properties" setting. The 3rd or 4th tab is to dedicate the stick to virtual memory. 

     

    I'm currently using one on with this laptop and there is a slight noticeable improvement in loading time and reduces some of the 'laggyness' in game.

     

    Tried using 2 virtual memory sticks once, and although it did further improve some areas, I also felt it started having a negative effect in other areas of game play. One stick seems to run better than two IMO.

     

    You can pick up 4Gb+ thumb drive for pennies on the dollar now a days. So I would recommend this slight boost in the mean time.

    I think it's also a good idea to remove unnecessary files from the plugins folder, like the manuals and the pictures.

    You can always go a step further and also remove any custom content (usually parts of sets) that you just don't use in game, so why even have them bogging down the system.

     

    EDIT: Plus, it seems the loading time for me is better WITHOUT the dependency files being DATpacked.

    I have all my plugins and regions saved on my flash drive, just incase and there's no telling how many times that has come in handy.. but are you saying to delete all my plugins from 'my documents' tab and just play the game using my flashdrive??  Just seeing if that's what you meant...I didn't know it would work that way

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    I have all my plugins and regions saved on my flash drive, just incase and there's no telling how many times that has come in handy.. but are you saying to delete all my plugins from 'my documents' tab and just play the game using my flashdrive??  Just seeing if that's what you meant...I didn't know it would work that way

     

    Not quite.

     

    You'll need a dedicated (not used for anything else) thumb drive to be used for virtual memory. Once you put the new thumb drive in the USB (after the drivers install), go to the drives properties. (See Image). From there you'll select the "Ready Boost" tab to set up the thumb drive for virtual memory.

     

    hzle.jpg

     

     

    While a high-quality (expensive) SSD might help, I'd recommend AGAINST using any budget-priced thumb for a page-file. Low-end flash memory is only good for 3000-5000 cycles before it dies. A pagefile's frequent rewrites can wear out a cheap flash drive in a hurry.

     

     

    I totally understand that using the thumb drive for virtual memory will take it's toll on the drive. But since 4Gb (max allowed for Ready Boost) memory sticks can be purchased for a few dollars (in the US), it's a cheap band aid for in the mean time until being able to upgrade the actual RAM or computer itself.

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    Defragmenter is only one tool.  Before you run it you also need to run disk cleanup.

     

    And speaking of thumb drives, consider this:  A thumb drive is a read-mostly memory and dies after too many writes. 

     

    What do you suppose would happen if you copied all your plugins folder on to one, then renamed your current plugin folder to be Plugins.hold.  Next, using windows explorer, make a short cut (link) on the thumb drive with the exact name Plugins (actually Plugins.lnk) that points to the plugins directory on the thumb drive.  Then copy this short cut into C:\<you>\Documents\SimCity 4.

     

    NTFS's short cuts are transparent to most applications, including SC4.  If your plugins are now coming off a memory-speed thumb drive it should be a lot quicker.

     

    Do not put your city files on a thumb drive because they are updated too frequently, but plugins should be pretty static.

     

    And yes, the only things in the Plugins should be .sc4lot, .sc4desc, .sc4model, .dll, and if you run Daely's DAMN, the txt file it needs.  The rest is el punko junko as far as the game is concerned and it is skipped but not without loading cost.

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    What do you suppose would happen if you copied all your plugins folder on to one, then renamed your current plugin folder to be Plugins.hold.  Next, using windows explorer, make a short cut (link) on the thumb drive with the exact name Plugins (actually Plugins.lnk) that points to the plugins directory on the thumb drive.  Then copy this short cut into C:\<you>\Documents\SimCity 4.

     

     

    Have free time and a spare drive to attempt this. Might need a just bit more help/explanation to get it just right.

     

    Is it necessary to use the .ink when renaming, or do I just need to make sure the shortcut for the thumb plugins is inside the Doc/SC4/Plusgins folder?

     

     

     

    EDIT: First attempt didn't take. The game loads, but without the content on the thumb drive. So far I've tried with & without the .lnk extension inside the Doc/SC4/Plugins, but kept the folder on the drive named plugins.hold.

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    I think it's also a good idea to remove unnecessary files from the plugins folder, like the manuals and the pictures.

     

    The best way I have found to do that is to open the "computer" window and then navigate to the plugins folder, then once you are in the plugins folder the search box int he upper right corner of the window should by default read "search plugins", when it says that, type into the box, one at a time, "thumbs", ".txt", "html", "document", "readme", ".sav", "goog", and "text", it will then display everything in the entire folder that has those in their names or extensions.  The only exception to this the "thumbs" in order to see these you will have to hit "alt" to bring up the tool bar and then under the tools drop down menu you will see "folder options" and then int he "view" tab enable being able to see hidden files and folders, if you don;t them you will not be able to see the "thumbs", the search will not find them either.  thumbs are automatically system files so your PC hides them, they aren't essential, not the ones in your plugins folder anyway.  Once you see the list of things you want to delete just click and drag and delete them en masse.

     

    Also, be careful not to delete anything that is not garbage.  You may, when you use the "text" search, you will come across several files that are actually things you need, perhaps texture packs or something I have a huge plugins folder and when I use that as a search term, I get about 10-15 things I need to watch out for.

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    I think it's also a good idea to remove unnecessary files from the plugins folder, like the manuals and the pictures.

     

    Don't remove pictures. I did and I regret it immensely. Without pics I have sometimes have no clue what a file does in my folder.

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    I keep all pictures/manuals in a separate folder, within folders named for what they belong to.  Organization is key.  You can always open mystery files with the Reader or appropriate tool anyway to see what they are.

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    Running the DatPacker will speed up loading times more than all the other solutions here put together.  It gives you the equivalent speed boost of removing the vast majority of your plugin files.

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    I'm going to give my two bits on using a flash drive for paging memory. I tried it once on my Dell mini laptop, and I think it made it a heck of a lot less stable. That and once I took the flash drive out and reset the system settings, it felt slower and I think it messed up my system a little bit. I would definitely recommend against using a paging file, the positives from it aren't that great and it's really easy to mess up your system while doing it.

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    Get a solid state hard drive (SSD). That will help speed up your game and loading times if you install SC4 and put all your plugins on it.

     

    That is right, I have one SSD for OS and another for games. SC4 starts instantly (no loading time at all), and loading up a city takes about 3-10 seconds, depends on city size and population.

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    Get a solid state hard drive (SSD). That will help speed up your game and loading times if you install SC4 and put all your plugins on it.

     

    That is right, I have one SSD for OS and another for games. SC4 starts instantly (no loading time at all), and loading up a city takes about 3-10 seconds, depends on city size and population.

     

     

    But what's the size of your Plugins folder?  It must be fairly small to get those times.

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    Running the DatPacker will speed up loading times more than all the other solutions here put together.  It gives you the equivalent speed boost of removing the vast majority of your plugin files.

     

    This cannot be mentioned often enough.

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    And yes, the only things in the Plugins should be .sc4lot, .sc4desc, .sc4model, .dll, and if you run Daely's DAMN, the txt file it needs.  The rest is el punko junko as far as the game is concerned and it is skipped but not without loading cost.

     

    Let's not foget the .dat files......important, because a lot of gamefiles nowadays are indeed .dat files. ;)

     

    And yes, the datpacker is about the best thing that can be used to speed up the loading time.

     

    Here is what I use, only two things and my plugins are in between 4 and 7 GB's big, depending in what region I play.

     

    There are two Plugins folders for the game. one is in MyDocuments/Maxis/SC4 and the other is in Programfiles/Maxis/SC4.

    Every game file, that is a .desc, .lot, .model file I put into the MyDoc/Maxis/Plugins folder andf all the Mod files, such as terrain, traffic, Nam, Cheats, etc files, I have them in my Programfiles/Maxis/Plugins folder. This last folder will load first and since it loads faster than the MyDoc Plugins, you will save yourself a few minutes/ seconds, depending the size of your Plugins.

     

    The other thing is that some of my gamefiles are packed into a .datfile. Example: All the farms I use are in one datfile and I can leave it out when I play in a downtowntile where I do not have farms. You can do this with other categories also (Hi-Risers....Seaports...Airports...Seawalls...... etc)

     

    Then , most of my Mod files in theProgramfiles/Maxis/SC4/Plugins folder, are also datpacked in different categories such as Terrain mods, including water, rock, tree controllers etc. One thing though. DO NOT datpack the NAM! It will cause problems. ;)

     

    My loading time used to be around 7 minutes and 20 seconds, now it is 4 minutes 10 s. Organizing the Plugins is the trick.

     

    Good luck

     

    Fred/ mrb

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    Getting back to the shortcut to the thumb drive containing your plugins.  Should work as outlined.  It works for me on Linux, even if I am running an NTFS file system, which I don't any more.
     
    Short cuts are the same as links.  Links in Windows have a bit more to them, perhaps, than in other file systems, but basically they are an indirection to the actual object.  The extension .lnk is automatically created by NTFS when you ask for a link, and if you are not viewing extensions you won't even see it.  The filename of the link to the folder must be exactly Plugins.  The extension is needed for NTFS to recognize it as a link, and you  don't create it as part of the name.  The last thing you want is a name Plugins.lnk.lnk.  This will make the game think you don't have any Plugins and it will create a new empty folder.
     
    If you are shaky in your understanding of the file system (NTFS) spend some time researching them in your help files.  Look up "short cut" and "link".
     



     
    So I am running on  Ubuntu 13.04 (GNU/Linux 3.8.0-25-generic x86_64) currently using wine 1.6 with a disk resident plugins size of 898.3 MB with 4377 folders and files in it.  My game loading time is less than one minute (around 45 seconds) including script interpretation, wine initialization, and game set up.  The accessing script is:
     
    #!/bin/bash
    date
    env WINEPREFIX="/home/john/.wine" \
    wine "C:/Program Files (x86)/Maxis/SimCity 4 Deluxe/Apps/SimCity 4.exe" \
     -intro:off -CustomResolution:enabled -r1920x1080x32 -d:software \
     -f -CPUcount:1 &>~/sc4.log
    date
     
     
    The time to load my biggest city is: 2 minutes and 10 seconds with a population of 271,277.  Here is a screen shot of Inner Harbour:
     
    UENNi8T.jpg

    Nothing terribly exciting, but these readings were taken in the last few minutes and i have that city running right now in another desktop (I have four desktops at the moment).

    It is a matter of getting the right tools for the job, and windows is a monkey wrench compared to the Swiss Army knife of Linux.

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    If you are shaky in your understanding of the file system (NTFS) spend some time researching them in your help files.  Look up "short cut" and "link".

     

    As of Windows Vista, there are now four kinds of links available on Windows:  shortcuts, junction points, symbolic links (like Unix symlinks), and hard links (like Unix hard links).  You can find a description of all of them here.

     

    I keep all my plugins in the Program Files plugins folder, but I like it to be near the rest of my SC4 files, so I have created a folder called Plugins Master right next to the normal Plugins folder and put all my files in it.  I then removed the normal Program Files plugins folder (after copying its contents to Plugins Master) and replaced it with a junction point to my Plugins Master folder.  This arrangement has been working fine for years.

     

    I find that junction points are a bit more flexible than shortcuts on Windows; they often work where shortcuts don't.  And unlike hard links, they're not restricted to a single file system.  There are various ways to create junction points, but my personal favorite is the free program Junction Link Magic.  Junction points work with Windows 2000 or greater.

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    Thanks.  I haven't actually run Windows since XP.  I like links.  They give you great flexibility as to where things actually are in a file system.  They are all supposed to be transparent when accessing the referenced files.

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    Get a solid state hard drive (SSD). That will help speed up your game and loading times if you install SC4 and put all your plugins on it.

     

    That is right, I have one SSD for OS and another for games. SC4 starts instantly (no loading time at all), and loading up a city takes about 3-10 seconds, depends on city size and population.

     

     

    But what's the size of your Plugins folder?  It must be fairly small to get those times.

     

     

    You are right, I try to keep it reasonable, its 1.21 GB at the moment. Also overclocking your CPU helps a lot, my i7 2600k runs at 4.6 GHz.

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    You are right, I try to keep it reasonable, its 1.21 GB at the moment.

    Reasonable, shmeasonable.  The only reason my Plugins folder is only 4.5 GB is that I haven't had time to load it up in quite a while.  Still, my cities of 2 million load in 45 seconds.  The SSDs definitely help.

     

    Also overclocking your CPU helps a lot, my i7 2600k runs at 4.6 GHz.

     

    Yeah, my ancient i7-920 won't run stable past 3.8 GHz.  Still, that's a lot better than its stock 2.67 GHz.

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    If you are shaky in your understanding of the file system (NTFS) spend some time researching them in your help files.  Look up "short cut" and "link".

     

    As of Windows Vista, there are now four kinds of links available on Windows:  shortcuts, junction points, symbolic links (like Unix symlinks), and hard links (like Unix hard links).  You can find a description of all of them here.

     

    I keep all my plugins in the Program Files plugins folder, but I like it to be near the rest of my SC4 files, so I have created a folder called Plugins Master right next to the normal Plugins folder and put all my files in it.  I then removed the normal Program Files plugins folder (after copying its contents to Plugins Master) and replaced it with a junction point to my Plugins Master folder.  This arrangement has been working fine for years.

     

    I find that junction points are a bit more flexible than shortcuts on Windows; they often work where shortcuts don't.  And unlike hard links, they're not restricted to a single file system.  There are various ways to create junction points, but my personal favorite is the free program Junction Link Magic.  Junction points work with Windows 2000 or greater.

     

    I use a few symbolic links for my plugins, so I can easily switch between my personal plugin set and my shared plugin set for NORO ;)

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    Notes:

     

    1) A real SSD can handle 100,000 rewrite cycles while a thumb drive is good for only ~3000. Using solid-state for pluggins, OS files etc is a good thing (if you can afford it), but using a thumb for virtual memory is dangerous.

     

    2) I don't see any advantage to putting anything into the plugins folder under "program files". Only the rare bug-fix needing to be dat-packed into a system dat file would qualify (after saving the original dat file in a back-up folder). User plugins belong together in the user profile. Load order can then be controled via folder and filename prefixes.

     

    2.5) On the other hand, I am putting custom DLL's into the program files\SC4\apps folder. This is where the game exe lives and finds its own DLLs.

     

    3) Advice to "remove" images, text files etc from the plugins folder shouldn't be interpreted as deleting them. Instead, you should move those files to another folder nearby (creating a manuals folder outside of the plugins folder). I discovered very early in my download spree that all info can be precious, and I'm too new to predict what info will turn out to be so. I now have a well-organized documentation folder along side my plugins folder.

     

    4) Rather than mess with symbolic links, you may try the game's command-line switch to point to the profile of your choice (any directory containing regions and pluggins subfolders). I think it was intended for machines where more than one person might play under the same user account, but it can easily support one player who likes to "wear different hats". Just create a separate shortcut to invoke the game in each config. See the Tutorial on SC4's command-line switches.

     

    5) While you're playing with switches, turn the intro off.

     

    6) Call me simple minded, but when I get around to dat-packing my plugins, I intend to keep the unpacked plugins collection in a renamed folder. Any time I need to add or delete or re-order anything, I'll work on that collection and then use it to make a whole new replacement dat-pack. I do not (yet) see a reason to mess with repacking.

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