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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Well it's a lazy sunday morning and I thought I'd share with people what I've learned over the years as far as Anti-Aliasing in games goes. As you all know it seems like traditional MSAA has fallen out of favor recently with game developers. A lot of post-process AA algorithms have been made and if you are anything like me you think they all look like garbage. The reason why this has happened is many developers have switched from forward renderers to deferred renders which apparently makes traditional Multisample AA extremely memory bandwidth intensive. I don't know the ins and outs of any of that but I think it's awful. There are work arounds in fact AMD's Leo tech demo was made in order to show that MSAA was possible with a deferred renderer. I think a lot of people missed the point with that one. If you happen to be on an AMD card and are perusing this thread AMD has much better driver forced AA options in CCC. Their Adaptive Anti-Aliasing and Super-sampling AA options are both Ace and work with more games then Nvidia's standard CCP options.

Here on the Nvidia side we are lucky because Sparse Grid Supersampling or SGSSAA provides similar IQ to traditional super sampling and does it with a much reduced performance hit. It also works with nearly every game. For a more in-depth look at the types of AA out there this link right here is the best I've ever seen it explained.
Quote:
The story behind SGSSAA:
Nvidia implemented TRSSAA as an alpha test that supersampled pixels that passed. A bug was present in one of the drivers they released for the new fermi cards that caused the alpha test to always pass and therefore apply SGSSAA to all pixels. They fixed the bug in the next release but many users said that they liked the look of fullscene SGSSAA and complained about its removal. This caused nvidia to release a tool that allowed the bug to be re-enabled. Despite the fact that this tool was made by nvidia they do not officially support it, it comes with a nice fat "use at your own risk" warning. The new fermi cards + new drivers made nhancer no longer compatible (since it never got updated for the 200 series drivers) and since the developer of nhancer has dropped off the face of the planet we can expect it to never be updated. However in the meantime another developer made a better app that did the same thing, nvidia inspector. He included the SGSSAA hack in it.

Therefore SGSSAA technically comes in two forms, FSSGSSAA (fullscene sparse gride supersampling anti-aliasing, which is SGSSAA applied to the entire scene) or TRSGSSAA (tranparency sparse grid supersampling anti-aliasing, which is SGSSAA applied only to transparent textures).
As far as nvidia inspector and nvcp (nvidia control panel) are concerned they are listed under the following names:
FSSGSSAA is just called SGSSAA
TRSGSSAA is just called TRSSAA or "Transparency Supersampling"

Technically both of them are SGSSAA, but only the fullscene implementation is called SGSSAA.

http://naturalviolence.webs.com/nvidia.htm

What you need to use SGSSAA

First off you will need to download Nvidia Inspector.

http://downloads.guru3d.com/NVIDIA-Inspector-1.94-download-2612.html

From here on in I will explain what the different functions of Inspector do. You are going to be most concerned with the profiles page. In each section of the guide I will refer to this picture here to show what to change.

595

Driver bits

This picture here shows what settings you will need to change in order to use SGSSAA. However it is missing one big setting and this is the part that's a pain. Under the settings tab there are two options for Anti-Aliasing compatibility. For each individual game you are going to have to find a compatibility bit in order to get SGSSAA actually running in your game. These are commonly referred to as driver bits and if you get into this you will have to spend hours scouring the internet to find them for each of your games. It is important to note that Nvidia often provides driver bits for certain games however sometimes these will not work for SGSSAA and you will have to go find a different bit in order to enable it properly. You will be typing the bit into either the Dx11 tab or the standard anti-aliasing compatibility tab depending on which API the game uses.

595

The following link is the best I've found in terms of a resource that puts all the bits in one place. There are obviously many games not listed here but with any luck the game that you want to make pretty is. It's in German but it's pretty easy to follow so don't be scared off.

http://www.forum-3dcenter.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=490867

Anti-Aliasing mode

Ok we have our driver bit the next thing we have to do is figure out which anti-aliasing mode to use. Depending on the game you are going to either enhance or force. Rule of thumb states that if the game you are playing already has an MSAA option you will be enhancing application settings and if a game has no MSAA or only post-process AA support you will be overriding. Generally if you find the driver bit the person who found it will say whether or not it works in enhance mode or override mode so don't worry about this too much.

595

Important things to note

At this point you are pretty much set up for amazing IQ but we're not done yet. You must set the Sparse Grid Sample number to the exact same amount of multi-samples. In other words if you are using 4XSparse Gride you also MUST use 4xMSAA in the profile. Otherwise you will end up with a blurry mess.

You also are going to have to set the LOD bias so there is no blurring. You must change the LOD bias setting from clamp to allow. This is a general guideline on LOD bias settings.

2x MSAA + 2x SGSSAA: -0.500
4x MSAA + 4x SGSSAA: -1.000
8x MSAA + 8x SGSSAA: -1.500

595

Also make sure your anti-aliasing behavior flags are set to none.

Also it is important to note that the difference between 2XSGSSAA and 8XSGSSAA is minimal. If you jump straight to 8X and your getting 15FPS don't be discouraged as this is normal.


Anyway I know this guide is a bit of a mess and there are no pictures to show it off either. I will add to it in time. Any questions feel free.

Deus Ex Human Revolution FXAA High

338

8XSGSSAA

338

Mass Effect 3 Anti-Aliasing ON?

338

Mass Effect 3 8XSGSSAA

338

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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 09:55 AM
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This is a nice start, J. I look forward to the pictures and other illustrations that will make it a bit easier for the average person to follow wink.gif

Also I'm keen to know whether type of AA can be applied on Stalker Shadow of Chernobyl (as you probably know, it's DX9, with a deferred renderer ... it's in-game AA option is applied only on the DX8 static lighting render method) ... and if you're going to provide comparative screenshots (which would also be nice on a thread like this), that particular game would make an excellent example to illustrate with. It has quite a bit of annoying aliasing that one can do nothing about through 'normal' means ... and it still has a pretty good-sized following on OCN thumb.gif

Edit: Actually ya know what, I think I have enough info here to see if it'll work on SoC (as the bit is on that German site). I'll let ya know how it goes.

Edit 2: So does this look about right?

587

Edit 3: Wow, NICE on the DX:HR ... too bad I just friggin finished that game (finally ... got distracted by Skryrim and KoA:R for a while there).

Edit 4: Looks like it's working on Stalker SoC ... COOL! However, the 4xSSSGAA is CRUSHING. I'm looking at 99% usage on SLI470's in friggin Stalker SoC here (Complete Mod, but still tongue.gif) and like 30-40fps. Probably have to drop to 2x here cause I need 60fps for this game. Once it's 'daytime' in the game I'll take and post comparative screenies.

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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
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That looks good. The only STALKER game I own is COP I can install it and take pics if you like. Human Revolution shots are up now. Not the best game to show it off but a start. Clear difference in quality though I think.

Edit: Saw your comment. Yes SGSSAA becomes an obsession if you are really into IQ. It can make a bad game look amazing. Alpha Protocol for example has awful IQ but SGSSAA makes it look pretty good. In fact I should install it and show some comparison screens..
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 10:59 AM
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Kay, here's my before and after in SoC. All settings in-game are maxed except AA since it doesn't work anyways.

4xMSAA + 4xSSSGAA (via nVInspector Profile shown above)

375

No AA (default nV profile)

375

I guess this game isn't as aliased-looking as I thought it was ... the only place I see a tiny difference is at the top of the building wall on the right, the little inverse stair-step where the wall meets the roof. The AA definitely helps clean it up there ... but the perf hit is pretty staggering. I'm going to try the 2xAA next. Also this AA effect definitely seems to darken the look of this game, as the screenies were both taken immediately after a quick-load so the time of day is identical ... and the No AA shot is considerably brighter-looking.

I also need to suss out why my shadows are totally jacked in this game all of a sudden. Not related to the AA though, same thing happens w/stock profile. It's a common occurrence w/this damn engine.

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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Does STALKER use a post process AA algorithm? That would explain it. SGSSAA will show the largest improvement on transparencies and I really don't see much aliasing in them in either pic you posted. The performance hit is different game to game but considering this gives a super-sampling level of quality 2X is generally better then 4xMSAA or any post-process AA.

Maybe the complete mod add some sort of FXAA? I dunno but neither picture looks aliased very much at all.

Edit: Also if any AMD users want me to write a similar guide for RadeonPro I could probabally do it. AMD cards have powerful AA options if your willing to dig into it as well.

Edit: Mass Effect 3 comparison is up. I would recomend that people just use 4XSSAA (with -1LOD Bias) rather then SGSSAA for this game in particular number one because this game supports it (most don't) and number 2 I experienced some flickering. Only posted it to show off the difference.
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 12:40 PM
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I don't believe there's any PP AA involved with Stalker, modded or not. There is an option in the config called like r_multisample or something like that, it's set to 2 ... maybe it's some type of transparency AA already in effect, cause you're right it's not real aliased. However, 2xAA is working nicely via your method, I'm looking at a steady 60fps and around 70-90% usage with v-sync on. So I'll use it for my next (meaning like 15th) playthrough, thanks J!

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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah sure if your or anyone needs driver bits I have a file with everything I've found, feel free to ask.

What I'm hoping is someone figures one out for BF3. Just 2XSGSSAA would look amazing in the game. Bad Company 2 looks really good with it so I'm sure it's possible.
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-20-2012, 01:13 PM
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Thanks for the tutorial. I love me some full scene SSAA. cheers.gif

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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 05:08 PM
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Tried it put on D3. I think it made a difference from what I want tell. I'll have to take some before and after shots.


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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom1121 View Post

Tried it put on D3. I think it made a difference from what I want tell. I'll have to take some before and after shots.

i was just wondering if it would make a diff in d3. didnt want to go thru all the hassle if it wasnt worth it.

i'm also using the dark mod in d3 i wonder how to two would play together

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