The MMORPG is a strange beast. They are unique in that just as important as the game itself is the people we play with. Community forms the backbone of the genre and when one member of the community goes above and beyond solely for the benefit those whom share this game, it’s the least we can do to help share and recognize the work done for our community. Today the spotlight falls on Exca, lead developer of SWTOR Unleashed from Darth Nihilus who put in a multitude of man hours and effort to create and maintain for us a program that potentially improves the gameplay for us all. I got the chance to talk with Exca and learn just how this program works and what it does to improve the experience. Hit the jump to learn more about this valued member of our community and how you can take advantage of his work.
Note: While this program worked for some, it may not work for you. With any third party program, use caution and verify legitimate copies before running. As this is not our own utility, we cannot offer support on it of any kind. If something goes awry in the process of using it, direct your concerns to Exca's original post on the official forum.
Let’s get technical
So what exactly is SWTOR Unleashed, how does it work and how does it benefit us? Since I’m not the most tech savvy man in the world, I think Exca would be best suited to answer that question.
Exca: SWTOR is a 32 bit game (x86). It means it's compatible with most computers, but it also means SWTOR executable file can only access a 2GB memory page. Since the game uses about 8GB of data approximately when you play, it has to switch data in and out of those 2GB. This means the game reads this data from the hard drive and writes it in RAM. So when you have a lot of changes happening fast on the screen, the hard drive reads a lot of data to load it in RAM (this is called a "swap") and this makes your game FPS drop drastically (from 30fps to 5fps for example) because the HERO 3D engine of the game doesn't render until it has the data to display. Using SWTOR Unleashed, you make the game read from RAM instead of hard drive for the files you select. This limits a lot the FPS drops and can even raise the max FPS on most computers as well.
The structure of the game allows it to be played on lower tier machines and is subsequently accessible to most people. The tradeoff is that those of us with higher end machines don’t get to utilize our hardware which leads to FPS issues when loading and rendering game dynamics (other characters on fleet or boss encounters with large amounts of enemies/effects for example). SWTOR Unleashed attempts to eliminate this barrier by tricking SWTOR into thinking it is reading from the hard drive, when it is actually reading a RAM drive that the program creates containing the game files that would normally read from the HDD. Even players using solid state drives will notice a marked improvement as RAM is still significantly faster to read from than an SSD. Unfortunately, the utility’s gains or losses are dependent on the user’s available system RAM that means users with less than 8GB of RAM in their machine will gain limited performance increase and will experience performance loss if too much RAM is dedicated to the game files. The good news is that this program is geared more towards those of us with hardware that remains underutilized due to the game’s structure so for those of you out there with atrophying monster rigs, do yourself a favor and check it out to see for yourself.
How to get SWTOR Unleashed
Exca was kind enough to create a comprehensive and easy to navigate thread found here containing a download link, installation guide and plenty of technical information for all you light readers out there. Head over to the SWTOR Unleashed thread and see if you can’t improve your experience.