It is difficult to explain the issues of Sins have without going into too much "technical detail" which some may not understand. The main problem is that Sins is an older generation 32 bit game. With a two gigabyte memory limit. This is nothing new. All 32 bit games have a 2 gig memory limit. However Sins is NOT like other 32 bit games. Most games have an ability to load their assets "on the fly", or only as needed. Some games can also unload assets that are not needed. This is how they prevent themselves from reaching the 2 gig limit. Some games have been patched to where they can use up to 4 gigs of ram on 64 bit systems.
Sins also can load only what is needed at game start up, but Sins does NOT unload what it does not use. Any assets that are loaded remain loaded throughout the entire game! If you use all three factions (Six in the case of Rebellion), Then Sins will load ALL of its game assets at start up. Entrenchment, and Diplomacy in some games loaded between 1.7 to 1.9 gigs worth of assets at game start up! Graphic settings, The size of the Map, and the amount of Players, or AI opponents also determine how much ram Sins will use in any given session.
In 2006 when Sins was first conceived 32 bit Windows XP was the standard OS of the time. Single core CPU's were also still the standard. Though dual core CPU's were starting to become mainstream, and 2 gigs was considered to be "plenty" of memory. So most game developers at the time didn't have to worry about hitting that dreaded 2 gig brick wall. As time went on Computers, and Sins itself evolved into their present state which is now Rebellion, and soon to be Windows 10 running in multiple core 64 bit systems. With 16+ gigs of ram. Things have changed so much over the years. However Sins still remained the 32 bit game as it was designed in 2006. That uses only a single core of your CPU. With a two gigabyte hard coded memory limit. Sins WILL CRASH when the game reaches that 2 gig limit.
There is some misunderstanding about the 2 gig crash issue. The dump happens when Sins reaches 2 gigs of Ram Usage. That means the ram that Sins uses by itself. NOT what your entire operating system, and/or other programs you are running combined uses. Only the ram that Sins uses. No matter how powerful your system is. If it is 32, or 64 bit, or if it is Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, etc. etc. Sins WILL CRASH when it hits its 2 gig ram limit. It is hard coded into the game.
Nobody was aware that this would be a major problem back when the game was first designed, because Sins was designed based on the hardware standards of 2006-2007. Before 64 bit OS's, Quad Core cpu's, and 4+ gig ram systems became the standard that they are now. There is nothing that can be done about it. Except to re-write Sins in 64 bit. Which is out of the question, because it is too cost prohibitive for the developers to do this (Ironclad said so themselves). Sins is a great game, and it is a shame that this is happening. With the Entrenchment, and Diplomacy expansions Ironclad had unintentionally pushed the game over its own hard coded limitations with all of the new added content.
Over the years as of the release of Diplomacy 1.3, and Rebellion. Stardock, and Ironclad did indeed fix all of the major game crashing issues of Sins. Using the fix's from This Project as a guide. However, NONE of these fix's ever made it into Entrenchment, or Original Sins! While the Stardock, and Ironclad developers have fixed most of these issues over years. They can not do anything to change the game itself short of reprogramming Sins over from scratch. The developers can do no more, but there is something that WE can do as modders to prevent Sins from hitting that dreaded 2 gig brick wall, and improve the performance of Sins "just a little bit more". I have taken the initiative, and applied to Sins what i have learned from my Homeworld Modding days. I present to you....
The goal of this project is to improve your Vanilla Sins gaming experience, and to eliminate the 2 gig crash issue. No changes will be made to Original Sins, or any of its Expansions in game play at all. No stat changes will be made. Nothing "new" will be added. There are other mods that can do that. Original Sins will remain Original Sins, and the Expansions will remain as they are. What we are doing is taking what game assets that Sins already has, and we are "optimizing" them to improve the performance, stability, and to moderate the ram usage in game. The side benefit will be that some lower end systems can enjoy almost the same gaming experience as the high end users do (Especially Laptop Users).
The project initially started out as an idea to reduce the texture sizes, and poly counts of some models. Not just arbitrary reductions. The goal was to maintain the quality of Sins in game. To make it look as if nothing has been changed at all.
We started with optimizations to the Planet's, and Skybox's, because they were the "worst offenders" as far as ram usage, and performance was concerned. Unfortunately my modeling skills left much to be desired in Softimage XSI at the time, and there were un-fixable mesh errors on the optimized planet meshes. Despite that the "proof of concept" was established. A lot of ram was saved, and there was a very noticeable increase in performance.
Then we studied the Particle files, and Textures. Many of the particle textures in our opinion were way too high in resolution for the purpose that they served. A reduction in texture resolution by HALF showed no visible difference in game at all! There were some exceptions where the particle resolution reduction difference was very noticeable in game, and those textures were reverted back to their original resolutions. Remember the goal was NOT to reduce in game quality. Also all of the particle textures were changed from TGA format to DDS format, because DDS uses a little less memory, and is much more efficient, because DDS format loads directly into video memory. The particles can also utilize the mip mapping features of DDS format. Where TGA format does not. Therefore enhancing in game video performance (increased FPS). As of version 0.07 no TGA format textures load in TSOP. With the exceptions of the Mouse Cursors, and Scenario Pictures. This is due to those textures being controlled by the hard coded exe. When you change the texture format those textures do not show up in game.
The developers mentioned something about a Memory Leak. I heard that a memory leak can be caused by a file searching for something over, and over again if it is not there. Example a mesh file calling for a texture that does not exist. Vanilla Sins had MANY particle, and mesh files that had that issue. We removed all of the entries that pointed to non existent textures in the mesh, and particle files. We also removed the entries that have lines like for example "C;\g\main\datasource\textures\effects\aura4.dds", and just used "aura4.dds". This will default the search to Sins, or the Mods "Textures" folder, and speed things up a bit. Also various typo's were corrected in some mesh, and particle files. Some ships had mesh nulls that were Miss-Labeled. For example the Akkan had nulls, and flairs that were miss-labeled. The engine trails, and flairs didnt show up in game. the Marza was missing its bomb nulls. etc. etc. All of this has been corrected as well. If there is a ships mesh file in the mods "Mesh" folder then it had something wrong with it that was fixed. The Soundata, and Galaxydef files had errors too. Regardless if any of these issues caused any memory leaks, or not these issues MUST be fixed! (and they were as of Diplomacy 1.3, but NOT for Original Sins, or Entrenchment).
After the Meshes, Particles, Textures, and the User Interface were optimized, and the very obvious issues were fixed there was a tremendous boost in game performance. Sins ram usage was greatly reduced. As of TSOP 0.07 I could run a game of Entrenchment, or Diplomacy ALL DAY, and I NEVER used more than 1.5 gigs of ram! This was using Maximum Settings. Including Bloom enabled. Tested on Huge Random Multi Star maps with 9 AI's. The 2 gig crash problem has been solved! Our primary goal with this project has been achieved! Without having to use any external memory increasing programs! Stardock, and Ironclad took notice, and they used TSOP as a guide in the Diplomacy 1.3 patch, and for developing Rebellion.
Now that the Stardock, and Ironclad have fixed the issues of the game as of Diplomacy 1.3, and Rebellion. TSOP has been focusing more on Original Sins, and Entrenchment. Since the Ironclad/Stardock fixes never made it into Original Sins, or Entrenchment. However, That is not stopping us from optimizing Diplomacy, or Rebellion "just a little bit more"
You can also use Large Address Aware to give Sins an extra gig to play with, but in vanilla Original Sins, and Entrenchment the Endless Search Loop issues that were never fixed will cause the game to eventually go over that extra gig (Run vanilla Entrenchment, and watch your ram usage keep going up, and up, and up). TSOP is a solution that will stop that issue.
The Sins Optimization Project v1.0
For Original Sins 1.195
For Entrenchment 1.055
For Diplomacy 1.37
For Rebellion 1.82
NOTE: TSOP 0.07 is still hosted on ModDB, and it still works in the current versions of Trinity (OS, E, and D), but you will be playing as if Sins was patched to an older version of the game. Plus some Icons and Buttons wont be visible.
Changes in TSOP 1.0
(All Sins Versions) TSOP 1.0 updated to the latest versions of Sins, and all of its Expansions (Including Rebellion).
(All Sins Versions) The User Interface is completely overhauled to use pure DDS format.
(All Sins Versions) Trade Ships, Strike Craft, Mines, and Constructor Unit Meshes, and Textures are Optimized.
(Entrenchment, and Diplomacy) Starbase Textures are optimized mimicking the Stardock Rebellion Optimizations.
(All Versions) Sounds, and Music are optimized.
(All Sins Versions) All TGA format Textures are replaced with DDS format, and TSOP "force" loads them. The only TGA textures that remain are the Mouse Cursers, and Scenario Pictures. This is due to hard code in the EXE.
(All Sins Versions) "Strategic Texture Reductions" for the Particles return using newer methods to create a better looking texture.
(Original Sins, and Entrenchment) Many Mesh Null issues, and various File Errors were corrected, and Unnecessary Text Entry's were removed in both the Mesh, and Particle files. Entry's pointing to Non Existent Textures in both the mesh, and particle files removed. See the various "Fixed Files" texts in the mods Read Me for details.
(Original Sins, and Entrenchment) The Diplomacy 1.3 graphic fix's have been incorporated into the Original Sins, and Entrenchment versions of TSOP (Pipeline Effects, "White Line" error fix, and Corrected Mesh files).
(All Sins Versions) TSOP 1.0 for Trinity will see the return of Optimized Planets using the planet meshes from Rebellion! but with our Optimized Original Sins Textures!
Community input, and contributions are more than welcome, and they are encouraged! This is a Community Project! All can pitch in!
You do not need to download all versions of TSOP. You only need to download the version of TSOP for the specific version of Sins you wish to play. The Retail version of Trinity is just all three versions of Sins bundled into one package. Installation for Trinity versions of Sins are no different than if you purchased each version of Sins separately.
Other mods are more than welcome to use TSOP. No questions asked! In fact we encourage it! Learn from it! Use it as guide, and an example! Merge it into your projects!
TSOP is intended to be a Stand Alone mod. Run with no other mods enabled. There are issues enabling TSOP with other mods. Enabling with other "Graphic Enhancement" mods is NOT recommended, because the graphic enhancement mod will defeat the entire purpose of TSOP. All of our optimized files will be overridden by that enhancement mods "enhanced" files. Increasing your ram usage instead of decreasing it. Some enhancement mods like Distant Stars are incorporating elements of TSOP into their future updates.
Read the included READ ME text's for installation instructions.