Getting the Most Out of Modded BC

Although Bridge Commander has some of the best quality mods available for any Star Trek game, the antiquated game engine (which we are currently unable to update for legal reasons) has made performance an issue. By taking the following steps, you can minimize performance problems and keep your Bridge Commander install running at optimal speeds.

Basic Ways to Increase Game Performance
The following steps are listed in the original "Bridge Commander" manual that came with your game. If you would like details on what these functions are, please consult that manual.

1. Use low color depth.
2. Use low damage settings. Older computers may want to turn them off completely.
3. Turn off mipmaps.
4. Turn off enhanced glows.
5. Turn off specular highlights.
6. If you are on a computer with integrated graphics of 256mb or lower, you'll want to turn off the T&L option.
7. Reduce screen resolution.

Additionally you should make sure that your graphics card is up to date with all the latest drivers and configured for optimum performance. Please consult your GPU manufacturer for all the necessary information.

Starship Models and Textures
These are the biggest slowdowns of Bridge Commander today. We live in a time where 30,000+ polygon models are possible and 2048 pixel resolution textures are quickly becoming the norm. Bridge Commander's game engine can handle polygons a lot easier than textures, but it is still a good idea to keep the count in the 5000-13,000 range. As for textures, I personally will never go past 1024 resolution unless it is a single map (for example LC's Defiant). 2048 textures, although capable of adding a brilliant level of detail to the game, are simply a lot for Bridge Commander's game engine to handle, especially with NanoFX 2.0. My advice is to avoid textures that huge for everyday gaming, unless your system is capable of handling them.

NanoFX 2.0
NanoFX 2.0 beta is without a doubt one of the most revolutionary mods created. Released in 2004, NanoFX 2 brought brilliant explosion effects, planet atmospheres, and plasma trails to Bridge Commander, and made warp travel possible in quickbattle. Today it is part of the foundation of modded BC.

Unfortunately, despite the revolutionary quality to the mod, NanoFX 2 is still technically a beta, and as such is quite buggy in some areas and in others it can be a serious drain on Bridge Commander's resources. Here are some options you can use to get the best performance out of the game with this mod:

1. Turn off BridgeFX
2. Turn off SpecialFX
3. Turn off ExplosionFX

Bridge Plugin
Bridge Plugin is a mod that makes advanced bridge modding possible. It brings the game features that were previously deemed impossible such as map swapping and animated bridge models. As any modification of this scope there are some features that can cause slowdowns on older systems, so here's a look on how to get the most out of this mod (please note that you will need Unified Main Menu (UMM) to access these options):

1. Disable Active LCARS.
2. Disable Animated Maps.
3. Disable Animations.
4. Disable Extra Bridge Models.

The final option at the time of this writing is only applicable to the Galaxy- and Sovereign-class bridges. The team that created Bridge Plugin and the updated Galaxy and Sovereign sets has to superimpose second models over the stock Galaxy and Sovereign bridge models in order to cover up the badly mapped and modeled sections of the bridge, as modifying the models directly was impossible. The Third Era team tried to make sure the performance cost was minimal, and did a good job doing so. Only older systems should have issues with this feature.

Every Bridge Commander install should have DS9FX. If not for the exciting gameplay and features offered, then install it for the performance boosts and game fixes. DS9FX Xtended contains memory cleaning features and game fixes that make BC more stable and in turn makes sure that the game can run faster, longer, and better.

Despite those things, there are still some things in DS9FX that may cause slowdowns. Here's a brief rundown of how to avoid such issues (note that you will need UMM to access these options):

1. Configure DS9FX's systems to use low planet texture details. DS9FX places all the planets in a system into one single map for more realism. An unfortunate side effect of this decision is that some maps, such as Bajor or Cardassia, contain a large number planets (14 and 8 respectively). That many planets in one map can cause performance drains as the game has 14 and 8 planets and their individual textures to load, in addition to any ships and stations. If you would rather not have planets in those systems, you can remove them completely.

2. DS9FX's default wormhole model (Wormhole 7) is ideal for use because it is both low-poly with low-resolution textures and quite faithful to the wormhole we saw on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. If you are on an older system, it may be wise to avoid "Wormhole 8," as it is a little more detailed then the other wormhole models included in DS9FX.

3. Another thing you can do to reduce performance costs is to reduce the amount of plasma storms in the Badlands. Only very old systems that fall below Xtended's minimum system requirements should have to do this, as the plasma storm models are low-poly and use low-resolution textures.

4. We went over memory cleaning a little bit in the introduction. You should make sure this option and "Model Pre-Loading" are both turned ON. If you would like more information on these features and how they help your BC installation, please consult the DS9FX Xtended manual.

Preventing Slowdowns With Recently Installed Ships
After installing a new ship, your game may slowdown slightly when you play with it for the first time. This happens because when you first run your new ship, the game has to create VOX files to correctly render visible damage and ship pyc's. There is no way to avoid this, as these files are necessary and done automatically by the game, so it is best to avoid playing with a lot of new ships at the same time. What I do is play as one of the new ships and set all other news ships to friendly, allowing the game to do its thing. Afterwords I restart the game and I'm ready to go.

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