[Tutorial/Documentation] settings.xml - the underestimated file
settings.xml is an important file used for storing in-game graphical settings in GTA V.
Players (especially low-spec ones) have tweaked this file so much so that now you can even multiply the max draw distance and boost your FPS!
Everything thanks to settings.xml, since before it was all made in a very limited way through the timecycle folder, but now, using timecycle to boost your FPS is not that great, just like using visualsettings.dat for draw distance is kinda wrong in a certain way.
This is a great demonstration on how GTA V's optimization has been done very carefully, and it surely deserves a good tutorial so that all people can enjoy from this amazing file (and consequently, this amazing game).
This tutorial is targeted at low-spec gamers but it can also be useful for high-spec gamers, follow along.
Read below and try to make a good setting compatible with your PC's speed, and your taste.
The "draw distance boost" mentioned above is great to use with a graphics mod.
Use CTRL+F if you're lost.
Inspired by Junior_Djjr's Project2DFX' tutorial.
Reminder: you'll have to wait for a lot of loading screens while testing so be patient. Use Auslogics Disk Defrag (not sponsored btw) and go see memes from this guy or this other guy while the game loads.
These control LOD's and were the settings that got popular on LSG's newest video about GTA V. Use increments of .100000 for better results (e.g. you shouldn't use 0.150000 or 0.350000 but you can use 0.400000 or 0.500000). Use negative values (e.g. -0.300000) for low-spec PC's.
Use from 2.000000 to 5.000000 for high-spec PC's (more than that is not noticeable).
Controls the world draw distance ("Distance Scaling" on in-game settings). It does not give that much of a boost and you might want to leave it like it is.
Controls the draw distance for pedestrians. When messing around with it, switch to Franklin, stay on foot, press V until you're in the "farthest away" camera mode and then look at Franklin's hair. If you can see his hair it means the current value is acceptable.
Controls the draw distance of vehicles. To see if the current value is good enough, go to the movie theater icon on Vinewood (which is also the place in which the car on the last scene of the benchmark is) and look to the west. If you can see high-detail cars 20m away from you it is a good value.
This line controls general draw distance, it's a mix of the three values above. It also controls the draw distance for high-detail world models and it is VERY useful. I recommend using "-0.600000" and you'll have a much smoother FPS with almost 0 graphical sacrifices (except for LODs, if you have a slightly more powerful PC you can use -0.400000).
Be careful as this value also affects the other values in the file, you should start customizing with this value and customize other values afterwards.
Use the last scene of the benchmark to see if there aren't any LOD models on the road.
<LodScale value="-0.200000" />
<PedLodBias value="-0.400000" />
<VehicleLodBias value="-0.700000" />
<MaxLodScale value="-0.600000" />
It's easy to notice if you look for it but it's hard to notice if you don't really care about it.
These settings are very useful if you have a low-end PC but the game is just straight unplayable without shadows for you.
"ShadowDistance" - only works if the shadow quality is set to very high, "2" should probably be enough (and might fix some bugs, like InfiniteQuestion explained).
"Shadow_SplitZStart" and "Shadow_SplitZEnd"
I did not understand these very well but the thing I've noticed is:
if you change the numbers' position the FPS increases and the shadows have a lower draw distance (e.g if you change 0.930000 to 0.093000, then 0.009300 and so on), if anyone has a better explanation I'll be glad to know about it. If you change "SplitZStart" you should also always change "SplitZEnd" in the same way.
Same as the above but apparentely related to planes and aircrafts. Again, I did not understand these settings very well but they were quite useful.
<Shadow_SplitZStart value="0.000093" />
<Shadow_SplitZEnd value="0.000089" />
<Shadow_aircraftExpWeight value="0.000099" />
You can still notice the point where the shadow becomes low-quality but again, if you ignore it it won't be visible.
This value modifies resolution without affecting the UI. It's the option "Frame Scaling" on in-game settings, you better modify it in-game. It is great if you still wanna play on fullscreen mode but without black borders. It works fractionally, so if you're playing at 720p and you set it to "2/3" the game resolution will be 480p, but the UI will retain the 720p quality. If you didn't understand shett, read again, carefully and slowly.
Also very useful for people with powerful PCs. Let's say you're playing at 1080p and you want 4K, how you do that? Simply change the frame scaling to "2/1" (MSAA is probably a better alternative though).
This line controls the DirectX version (duh).
0 for DX10, 1 for DX10.1 and 2 for DX11.
If you're using integrated graphics and 4GB of RAM, you should use DX10. Same thing for people with off-board GPUs but with only 512MB VRAM (e.g. the NVIDIA 8800GT).
For everyone else, use DX11.
Used for shadow quality settings (duh). As explained on LSG, use 0 to disable them. Very useful if you have something like an Intel G43 Express on your PC (I had one of those and oh boi, it is the sinonymous for shett).
<SamplingMode value="3" /> (800x600 resolution)
<DX_Version value="0" />
<ShadowQuality value="0" />
As you can see, the absence of shadows makes the FPS increase significantly.
- "PedVarietyMultiplier" and "VehicleVarietyMultiplier"
- "<system>" section
- "Convergence" and "Separation"
You can also check about commandline.txt, Rockstar Games itself will help you.
I play at 15 FPS, that's right.
If you're wondering then no, the links here aren't rickrolls.
Reflection_MipBlur makes the water practically invisible and has no effect on FPS whatsoever.
I plan on more tutorials for low-spec gamers, stay alert.
If your CPU is good enough for PS2 emulation this may be an alternative (use Google Translate on that page though).
@Lowlolo ShadowDistance set to 2 is the only setting I have ever needed and that's to expand the shadow box. With a high FOV the damn box is too noticeable going under overpasses.
@InfiniteQuestion Oh I see, I've had this problem in a different way though (when I actually had a GPU). I had this problem at certain points of the map (high places, like the top of the Mount Chiliad. It didn't really bother me and I just forgot about it anyways but it indeed looked strange.
@Lowlolo CityDensity increases the amount of cars you see. Not sure does it have any affect on ped amount though since they are kinda limited very unfortunately...
PedVarietyMultiplier and VehicleVarietyMultiplier increases the varieties. Low values can make the same peds/cars spawn too much but higher fps, bigger values makes more different peds/cars to spawn but slightly lower fps (If your high quality addon cars spawn as well the fps drop will be more significant). If you have good PC, increasing them to 2 can make the game more diverse. If you have high end PC, you can push it to 2.6 to 3. I don't recommend over 3 though neither will it makes a big difference. Because the game also has a thing to tend to spawn same cars.
"PedVarietyMultiplier" and "VehicleVarietyMultiplier" above 1.4 is a guaranteed way to crash your game due to memory limitations
@ReNNie well for city density, yes, but for variety multipliers, they work fine upto 2.0 and are recommended by few modders to be set to 2.0
@ReNNie Until I learned about vehicle density can be increased with gameconfig, I was playing with 1.3 City Density and 2.6 Ped and Vehicle variety multiplier.
My pc.. well it's not really bad but not even close to highend compared to today's hardwares.
Alienware 17 laptop (bought at 2015)
i7 4980HQ cpu
Desktop Maxwell Titan X gpu with graphics amplifier
16 GB ram
Samsung Evo 860 1 TB SSD
If I'm not mistaken my mods folder was around 20 GB and it wasn't crashing for me.
At the moment I decreased city density to 1.0 and using 2.5X traffic compared to stock gameconfig and it's mostly constant 60 fps. My mods folder is 30 GB. Although should point out, 2 things causing some issues.
- Since almost all of my police cars have 4k liveries and I also have addon ones, a long chase crashing my game. I will try decreasing their livery resolutions to 1024x1024.
- While addonpeds mod installed, when I die PedSelector.dll changing my model to Micheal to prevent the game crashing. Well it does prevent the crashing but for some reason after I die 2 times especially in a quick roll I'm experiencing texture loss all over the game. Roads just disappearing. Same thing happens if I get busted while in car and spawn at the police station. but if I go out of the car and surrender (Better Chases+ allows me to) PedSelector.dll changing my model back to Micheal regardless but I instantly lose the wanted level instead of respawn at police station and this isn't causing any issues.
Except these 2 situations I didn't experience crash with 6 hour playing. Oh and, also using eshenk's A New GTA mod but only the scenarios (to increase ped amount) and InfiniteQuestion's increased ped amount mod (that one removes birds and fishes to make room for more human ped spawn pool).
At the mountain areas where there are too many grass, my fps can go down to 40 because of probably the graphic mods and ultra grass setting.
I can guarrentee that I can show you 2 videos from my game, one with a modified city density and variety and one with a properly configured game, and you wouldn't be able to see a difference in peds or traffic between the two.
Can we also define the terms here, what do people think it means for density and variety?
Is it variety if you occasionally see the same car, or do you want the game to 100% show every other model before it spawns a duplicate?
Do you want a city density that still looks normal, or do you want every car to be inches from each other?
Expectations versus reality
@InfiniteQuestion City Density most noticeable at the highway but very very noticeable. Like you can't just hold the gas pedal to drive, the amount of cars are being insane there with increased City Density.
Here is a video about it;
and comparison of City Density;
@Aurora11 Really, that's nothing. I can make highways so full of traffic you can't drive between them. Density spacing in the gameconfig can do more than the settings file can do.
The ONLY value of interest in the settings file is extended shadows, stupid shadow box.
I should count how many people I see on the beach, cause it's more than that lol
@InfiniteQuestion I should take a look at it too I'm using shadows at softest and highest quality so they dont look blocky on my character's pretty face haha
Has anyone found a fix to the damn distance shimmering yet? The only thing that makes it better for me is playing at DX 10.1
@noplaymaker You talking about this? https://forums.gta5-mods.com/topic/31417/l-a-revo-distant-road-color-problem