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v0.31:Maximizing framerate

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This article is about an older version of DF.
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Framerate is used in Dwarf Fortress to measure the speed at which the game is running. It is measured in "frames per second", or FPS for short. To check your FPS in Dwarf Fortress, simply change [FPS:NO] to [FPS:YES] in init.txt, and your FPS will be displayed on the top row of the screen. The first number is the current frame rate, while the number in parentheses is the current graphical frame refresh rate.

[edit] Increasing your Framerate

In general, the more stuff the game has to keep track of, the slower the game will run. So, reducing the amount of stuff active keeps your game running fast. Some possible reasons for slowdown, and ways to reduce and/or eliminate them:

  • Fewer items inside a fort means fewer items to be stockpiled, checked for wear, and so on and so forth.
  • Flowing water slows the game down.
    • Don't build mist generators, pump stacks, or other major water-moving projects. If you do build them, build a way to switch them off.
    • Don't embark on a river or ocean. Rivers aren't too bad in their natural state, because the game only needs to calculate at where the water enters and where the water leaves, more-or-less skipping the water in between. Then you start damming them and pumping water out, and it gets worse.
    • Aquifers don't impose load until you start digging around in them.
    • Dwarven water reactors also slow down the game, often significantly.
  • Each dwarf needs to keep track of where he's going.
    • Limit the number of dwarves by setting the population cap.
  • Each animal needs to pathfind, too.
    • Tame animals can be put into cages, keeping them from having anywhere to go. Or you can butcher them.
  • Invaders also need to pathfind.
    • Turn off invasions using the option in D_init.txt. Or you can kill them all.
  • Contaminants, including blood spatters, accumulate on the ground and on dwarves and creatures. When they walk over contaminants, these sometimes get smeared and spread. There is a bug (Bug:296) which makes contaminants continuously multiply and another bug (Bug:3270) which prevents blood spatters from ever disappearing.
    • There is a setting in D_init.txt (as of v0.31.16) that prevents them spreading from dwarf (or animal) to ground. For Fortress Mode, this is WALKING_SPREADS_SPATTER_DWF and is already turned off by default.
    • If the contaminants are outside, isolate the area and let rain slowly wash it away. Pets can be kept out with a pen/pasture or a pit. Similarly, setting the traffic designation to restricted and/or assigning Activity Zones strategically may keep dwarves away.
    • Add in some in-fortress means of cleaning dwarves and pets. The "Dwarven Bathtub" is one example. And make sure you have the cleaning labor enabled. Details of these and other suggestions can be found on the cleaning page.
    • Finding the above cleaning measures too tedious or lacking, some players opt to cheat by using the dfcleanmap tool from the DFhack library.
  • G_FPS is a setting in the init.txt file. It controls how often Dwarf Fortress redraws the screen. It also controls how often the game checks for keyboard or mouse input.
    • Reducing G_FPS can speed up the rest of the game. The default choice of 50 works well, but many people reduce it down to 20 with no ill effect.
    • Reducing G_FPS too far can make the game unresponsive and glitchy. Some people can cope with 5; most cannot.
  • PRINT_MODE is another init setting. It controls the method Dwarf Fortress uses to draw the screen.
    • More advanced methods allow DF to make more use of OpenGL features and therefore your graphics card. STANDARD and VBO are good starting points.
    • More advanced methods may still have bugs. 2D is more likely to be reliable.
  • Temperature and Weather are two more features which users may or may not notice.
    • Disabling them, using the settings in d_init.txt, can speed things up.
    • But then rain won't refill murky pools, magma won't melt goblins, etc.
    • One user reported an FPS boost from 35 to 90 upon disabling temperature.
  • The size of your world and embark site both increase the amount of terrain which DF needs to keep track of.
    • If you don't mind going vertical, try reducing your embark site from the default 4x4 squares to 3x3 or even 2x2.
    • World size probably doesn't matter except for the size of the save files, but reducing the number of cavern layers (default of 3) will help. You need at least 1 cavern layer to get underground plants, and 2 caverns to get all the underground trees.
  • Proper use of traffic designations will help.
    • Setting corridors to "high" traffic, and dead-end workshop rooms next to them to "low" traffic, means the pathfinder algorithm will search more quickly along the corridor, and waste less time searching in the rooms.
    • Changing the normal traffic weight to 1 in d_init.txt will optimize the pathfinder at the cost of High traffic zones not making a difference (source)
  • Closing off unused areas with raised bridges and locked doors can help.
    • Reducing the area which the pathfinder algorithm has to search lets it run faster.
    • In general the pathfinder algorithm is good about not searching irrelevant areas. Caverns are probably the worst offender.
  • Disabling your Dwarven civ from wearing clothing as a mod (required regen of world) may help maintain higher fps later in the gameBug:3942, if you don't mind naked dwarves running around. Alternatively, finding a way to dump excess/worn out clothing might help restore fps on existing fortresses. Requires research.
  • Encountering HFS will dramatically reduce FPS if you seal the breach (Bug:1340). Either avoid doing so or use the work around posted in the bug report.
  • Use the default ASCII Graphics Tileset. Custom tilesets (such as Ironhand, Mayday, and Phoebus) can decrease your framerate.
    • Citation needed; if you don't use creature graphics, it handles it the exact same way as the normal ASCII tileset; they're both just images.
  • Mac OSX: Spotlight indexes files on your mac. Since DF constantly changes files, spotlight will keep indexing them using 60-70% of your CPU. Exclude DF in system preferences: spotlight's privacy settings and you can get a factor of two in FPS. This can easily provide benefits of over 30 FPS, even on multicore computers that do not need to worry about CPU.
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