The Settings

Visual Aspect

Console Variables Best Performance Best Visuals Best-Of-Both-Worlds
  1. set r_drawsun 0 1 0
  2. set r_picmip 3 0 1
  3. set r_fastsky 1 0 1
  4. set r_smp 0/1 0/1 0/1
  5. set r_swapinterval 0 1 0
  6. set r_texturemode gl_linear_mipmap_nearest gl_linear_mipmap_linear gl_linear_mipmap_linear
  7. set r_finish 0/1 0/1 0/1
  8. set r_dynamiclight 0 1 1
  9. set r_vertexlight 1 0 0
10. set r_mapoverbrightbits 2 2 2
11. set r_allowextensions 1 1 1
12. set r_lodbias 2 0 0
13. set r_lodscale 5 5 5
14. set r_subdivisions 999 1 10
15. set r_intensity 2 1 1.5
16. set r_ambientscale 3 1 1
17. set r_directedscale 2 1.5 1.5
18. set r_ext_gamma_control 1 1 1
19. set r_ignorehwgamma 0 0 0
20. set cg_draw2d 1 1 1
21. set cg_marks 0 1 1
22. set cg_shadows 0 1 0
23. set cg_simpleitems 1 0 0
24. set cg_drawcrosshairnames 1 1 1
25. set cg_drawattacker 0 1 1
26. set cg_drawgun 0 1 1
27. set cg_brasstime 0 2000 500
28. set cg_gibs 0 1 1
29. set cg_drawteamoverlay 0/1/2/3 0/1/2/3 0/1/2/3
30. set com_blood 0 1 1
31. set r_gldriver opengl32 opengl32 opengl32
32. set r_depthbits 16 24 16
33. set r_colorbits 16 32 16
34. set r_texturebits 16 32 16
35. set r_fullscreen 1 1 1
36. set r_gamma 1 1 1
37. set r_noportals 1 0 0
38. set r_ext_compress_textures 1 1 1

Cvar Explanations and Considerations
1. r_drawsun
Toggles effect of sunlight on dynamic lighting. r_fastsky must be "0" for this to work. There is no in-game menu for this. No noticable performance impact.

2. r_picmip
Sets texture sizes. Equivalent to in-game menu "Texture Detail" slider. This is scaled according to hardware support. Some of the textures in the game are of 512x512 dimensions. Setting the value to "0" will mean using 512x512 textures but will be scaled down to the maximum supported by rendering hardware. For the maximum "texture detail", set to "0" but will noticeably impact performance adversely.

3. r_fastsky
Toggles rendering of sky textures ("1" disables rendering sky textures). Equivalent to in-game menu of "High Quality Skies". Enabling this would disable viewing through portals. Performance enhanced when set to "1".

4. r_smp
Toggles symmetric multiprocessor support and acceleration if your system has two or more CPUs. DO NOT set this to "1" if your system does not have more than one processor. There is no in-game menu for this.
NOTE to Voodoo3 users - there appears to be a bug in the NT drivers that prevent this from working. Hopefully, 3dfx will have a fix for this in a future driver set.

5. r_swapinterval
Toggles frame swapping. There is no in-game menu for this. This has the effect similar to disabling a video card's VSYNC when set to "0", which is akin to visible screen "tearing". Useful for benchmarking purposes. Performance enhanced when set to "0".

6. r_texturemode
Sets texture filtering modes. Available modes are :

GL_NEAREST (nearest interpolation filtering)
GL_NEAREST_MIPMAP (nearest interpolation filtering with mipmapping)
GL_LINEAR (linear interpolation filtering)
GL_LINEAR_MIPMAP_NEAREST (linear interpolation filtering with nearest (bilinear) mipmapping)
GL_LINEAR_MIPMAP_LINEAR (linear interpolation filtering with linear (trilinear) mipmapping)
The last means enabling trilinear filtering and is the best visually but impacts performance adversely depending on hardware. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Texture Filter".

7. r_finish
Toggles syncing to frames. More specifically, an OpenGL function that is for the purpose of ensuring proper timing between various rendering functions and actual frame data output. More of a troubleshooter for hardware/driver inadequacies. Set to "1" should you experience "jerks" or "stutters" while moving or looking around. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Sync Every Frame", which does NOT, despite its name, have anything to do with VSYNC.

8. r_dynamiclight
Toggles dynamic lighting. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Dynamic Lighting". Dynamic lighting basically means real-time lighting effects. Examples would be immediate lighting up of nearby textures surrounding an explosion or following a weapon projectile. CPU intensive task and naturally, performance enhanced when turned off (set to "0").

9. r_vertexlight
Toggles between vertex or lightmaps. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Lighting". Vertex lighting are not done in real-time and does not render illumination on the entire texturemap, which significantly improves performance but looks visually worse than lightmaps (set to "1" for faster performance at the cost of visual quality). Lightmaps look decidedly better due to real-time illumination rendering.

10. r_mapoverbrightbits
This sets intensity of "bounced/reflected" light from textures (and hence affects brightness of textures) provided lightmap lighting is used instead of vertex lighting. Otherwise known as adjusting lighting saturation. Lower values appear to make textures darker. Not available in any in-game menus.

11. r_allowextensions
Toggles usage of various OpenGL extensions. Equivalent to in-game menu of "GL Extensions". If disabled ("0"), performance should dip as Quake3 will use only the very basic of extensions required to run the game, omitting some that either speeds up rendering process or enables various visual effects. Probably more useful for developer purposes than anything else.

12. r_lodbias
Sets Level-Of-Detail (LOD) bias. LOD basically means resolution and size of mipmaps. "Biasing" the value means adjusting the resolution and makes things ugly by using smaller mipmap sizes. Very much dependent on triangle count as well. Going into negative values would result in incomplete models/geometry. Does not impact performance much. There is no in-game menu setting for this although it is related to r_subdivisions (more later).

13. r_lodscale
Sets scale with which LOD should be adjusted according to distance. Having a higher value would mean faster "reduction" in detail as distance increases. Not available in any in-game menus.

14. r_subdivisions
Basically sets the "smoothness" of curves. Higher values would result in lower vertices/triangles drawn, which directly affects curves. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Geometry Detail" - "High" would mean a setting of "4" and "Low" would mean a setting of "999". Note that "4" is not the minimum - you can still notice very slight jaggedness in curves (only if you really scrutinize the curves). You can eliminate any jaggedness by setting this to "0". Does not impact performance much with current hardware (where triangle throughput rate much exceeds the ability with which the CPU can process them) unless you have a really old CPU.
NOTE that id Software have seen fit to raise the minimum value of this to be above "0" in a future patch.

15. r_intensity
Adjusts overall strength of RGB color intensity, of which the base value is the color White. This has the visual effect of something akin to adjusting brightness (but not quite). Increasing this value would make everything "brighter" at the cost of texture detail. Does not impact performance. Not available in any in-game menus.

16. r_ambientscale
Adjusts the scale with which ambient lighting changes the "brightness" of entities (such as your weapon). As an example, when at default value of "0.5", the weapon would darken much more in dark areas or even when you point your weapon straight down (your body blocks some of the ambient light - try pointing your weapon up and down to see the effect). When set to, say, "3" your weapon would essentially stay at the same brightness level no matter where you are. Does not impact performance. Not available in any in-game menu.

17. r_directedscale
Adjusts the scale with which the "brightness" of entities (again, like your weapon) is affected by the proximity of the entities to light sources. This cvar, however, works in reverse, i.e. a higher value in a place with many lights (and hence a bright place) results in darker entities and a lower value in a place with less lights (and hence a darker place) results in brighter entities. Does not impact performance. Not available in any in-game menu.

18. r_ext_gamma_control
Toggles ability to affect in-game gamma via video card's Windows9x gamma control if available. Basically means if your video card has gamma adjustment in Windows9x, the adjustment will affect game's gamma. Dependent on driver support. Not available in any in-game menus.

19. r_ignorehwgamma
Toggles ignoring (or not) hardware/driver gamma support. If hardware/driver supports OpenGL driver gamma control extension, setting this to "1" would mean the game will ignore it, "0" would mean using the extension. Not available in any in-game menus. See also r_gamma.

20. cg_draw2d
Toggles display of 2D items on screen, including HUD/status bar icons and also the crosshair (i.e. when set to "0", status bar/HUD/crosshair will not be displayed. There is no way to disable the status bar/HUD but enable the crosshair at the same time). Not available in any in-game menus.

21. cg_marks
Toggles gunshot marks on the walls. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Marks On Walls". Slight performance increase if off (although this really depends on how much you shoot at walls and stare at the marks before you move away :-)

22. cg_shadows
Sets type of shadows rendering when cg_marks is set to 1. Possible values:

0=no shadows
1=ordinary shadows
2=stencil buffer shadows (r_stencilbits must be set to 8)
3=very dark stencil buffer shadows (r_stencilbits must be set to 8)
Note that stencil buffer shadows only works on hardware supportive of a stencil buffer. Performance enhanced if set to "0". Not available in any in-game menus.

23. cg_simpleitems
Toggles the drawing of weapon, ammo, powerups, health and armor entities as models or as sprites. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Simple Items". Does not impact performance much.

24. cg_drawcrosshairnames
Toggles the ID display of other players when your crosshair is on them. Not really visually related but, well, it affects the screen display :-). Equivalent to in-game menu of "Identify Target".

25. cg_drawattacker
Toggles the display of the last guy to do damage to you in the upper-right corner of the screen. If you hurt yourself, that guy will be you. Again, not really visually related. Not available in any in-game menu.

26. cg_drawgun
Toggles the rendering of the weapon model. Not available in any in-game menu. Slight performance increase if set to "0" (no weapon model).

27. cg_brasstime
Sets how long weapon effects (like the ejected shells from the shotgun) will be rendered. "0" will disable any rendering of such. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Ejecting Brass". Here's something you can try just for the heck of it or simply to illustrate the extremities this cvar is capable of doing:

1. Load up on Shotgun or MachineGun shells. You can use either later on.
2. Go into third-person perspective by typing at the console cg_thirdperson 1.
3. Adjust this third-person perspective view so you can see the entire player model by typing at the console cg_thirdpersonrange 200.
4. Type at the console cg_brasstime 20000 (that's twenty thousand).
5. Fire away!!! Take a look at the cool ejected shells sprayed all around you that remain for quite a bit more than the game's default but it's cool to run around a map seeing all these shells!
Higher values means slower performance naturally since there's more to render/display.

28. cg_gibs
Toggles broken body parts (when shot), which are commonly (in this vicious gaming industry :-) known as "gibs" (pronounced with a "g", not "j"...right? :-). Blood effects still works regardless of this setting. Not available in any in-game menus. Faster performance when off.

29. cg_drawteamoverlay
Sets not displaying your teammates names, position and status ("0"), or whether to display them in the upper right ("1"), lower right ("2") or lower left ("3"). Maximum number of teammates displayed is 8. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Draw Team Overlay". Does not affect performance.

30. com_blood
Toggles gibs and blood effects. Setting to "0" means no blood effects and no gibs. Not available in any in-game menus. Faster performance when off.

31. r_gldriver
Sets name of OpenGL driver to use. This is not something to tweak :-) but rather useful should you want to experiment with different driver revisions for your video card to determine visual and performance quality. Equivalent to in-game menu of "GL Driver" where "Default" would mean using the operating system's opengl32.dll load library which subsequently loads your video card's OpenGL ICD.

32. r_depthbits
Sets various textures bit-depth, combines with r_stencilbits for maximum value of 32. Does not impact performance.

33. r_colorbits
Sets color bits-per-pixel, in other words rendering output color depth. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Color Depth". Depending on hardware, performance impact may vary from great to almost indiscernable. Setting to "0" will mean using your desktop color depth.
NOTE to Voodoo3 users - leave this at 32 with no speed loss but greatly increased visuals.

34. r_texturebits
Sets texture bits-per-pixel, in other words rendering output of texture depth. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Texture Quality". Does not impact performance much.

35. r_fullscreen
Toggles between windowed and fullscreen mode. Depends on whether windowed mode is supported by hardware. If windowed mode is supported by hardware, also dependant on :
1) maximum color depth output support ; and
2) r_ignorehwgamma is "0"
Example : If your hardware supports only up to 16bit output, you must set r_colorbits 0 and r_ignorehwgamma 0 before attempting r_fullscreen 0 (which means windowed mode). If you have trouble going into windowed mode even after performing the above steps, try setting to 640x480 resolution first (in addition to the above steps) before attempting windowed mode. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Fullscreen" (on/off).

36. r_gamma
Sets in-game gamma value. Equivalent to in-game menu of "Brightness". The availability to actually adjust the menu's "Brightness" slider depends on hardware/driver support, however. This value can be in infinite decimal points (eg. r_gamma 1.308975). Very subjective setting as this very much depends on the availability and adjustment of monitor brightness and contrast controls. See also r_ignorehwgamma.

37. r_noportals
Toggles the "see-through" ability of portals. Not available in any in-game menus. Slight performance boost when set to "1".

38. r_ext_compress_textures
Toggles hardware/driver texture compression (eg. S3's S3TC and DirectX7's DXTC) if available. No harm in leaving it on (it's on by default - good thing in case you currently don't have such hardware but your future upgrade does :-). Not available in any in-game menus.

|| Initial Recommendations Settings:Visual Aspect (screenshots) || 

t h e   p u l p i t
All trademarks depicted on this document are properties of their respective owners.
Copyright 1999/2000 by Reverend - All Rights Reserved