Copyright Sierra Stdios & Valve Software

Visual CVARs Names, Values(Range or Toggle), Default Values, Explanations and Performance considerations
based on 3Dfx Interactive's Voodoo2 running 3Dfx's MiniGL driver
by )))Reverend(((


Some facts on the relation between Good Visuals and Performance and a couple of FAQs

First, download my demo called "Smoking" (created after applying the v1009+TFC patch, which you must also do to run the demo). You can get it here. After downloading it, read the enclosed readme.txt for instructions on how to run the demo.

NOTE about demos

With the v1.0.0.9 patch, all demos made with Half-Life versions prior to this latest patch won't work. It has to do with network protocols (of which demos really are recordings of).

And so...the below benchmark figures are based on patch v1.0.0.9 .

(A) The Absolutely,Undeniably Best Visuals config would be my recommended config with the exception of these changes:

r_traceglow 1

*NOTE that, somehow, that the v1009 patch causes a crash if you were to set gl_round_down to its best-looking value i.e. 0 . So I'm not recommending it here. 

(B) The game's Default config would be my recommended config with these exceptions:

gl_ztrick 1
gl_texsort 0
cl_himodels 0
r_shadows 0
lambert 1.5

My machine is a Celeron266 overclocked to 448MHz, dual 8megVoodoo2-SLI, 128MB RAM.Timedemo was run with high sound quality,EAX and at 1024x768:

(A) 10.4fps
(B) 17.6fps
(C) 16.1fps //my config (and yes,it could be higher....L )

So,you'll see that the difference is BIG.
My config above more or less balances these two extremes out, enabling very good visuals and smooth gameplay.

If you want to know your in-game real-time framerates, type host_speeds 1 at the console. You'll then see a few lines of a changing readout at the top left corner of your screen. This is your frame-rate in real-time as you move around in the game.

I have also received quite a number of queries on what sort of config is good for non-P2 or slower boxes, something that still looks good and is more tolerable speed-wise. For them, use my above config but change these settings :

gl_ztrick 1
gl_texsort 0
cl_himodels 0
r_shadows 0
brightness 2
gamma 3
texgamma 2
lightgamma 2

Another query I've been receiving is the question on why,during the game, whenever you enter a different room or new area,there's a slight glitch in movement. I'll answer those queries here. If you have the CreativeLabs SoundBlaster Live! soundcard, it's the EAX presets kicking in. The game has different EAX presets for different areas. That's how EAX works.

If you want a complete FAQ of Half-Life go to  .This is pretty comprehensive. It talks about things like from installing the game and system requirements to certain bugs.

Some notes

Half-Life is constantly being studied by me and as such this guide will be upgraded as and when new settings are tested and confirmed to be relevant to the nature of this guide.

If you're reading this on-line, I'd suggest you download the entire zipped package of this guide which, in addition to having this guide you're reading, includes a readme and a separate folder that consist of 3 configs - one which is my recommended config as above, another less hardware-demanding one for "slower" machines and the last, Half-Life's default config. This'll save you the work of copying and pasting.

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