In an effort to improve loading and zoning times, we've added the ability to cache textures to your hard drive. One of the things that your computer is doing when you load up the game or change zones is building textures and putting them into RAM on your computer. Each time you log in or zone the game has to create the textures you need and put them into RAM for use during gameplay.
This, obviously, takes a little time.
We have added an option that allows you to save that information to your hard drive rather than creating it each time you log in or zone.
This does have a few drawbacks. It will require a lot of hard drive space to store these textures. In the most extreme case it could use up as much as 1.5 GB of hard drive space, though this would be the extreme. It could, however, easily use 500 MB of space on your hard drive. And because writing all this data to your hard drive takes a little time, the first time you use this feature it will take a bit longer to log in.
The game will never allow you to fall below 500 MB of space on your hard drive when creating the texture cache. This is to prevent any problems with a shortage of space on your hard drive. But it also means that you will need to have plenty of hard drive space free to use this option; 500 MB plus the amount needed for the texture cache.
Also, if you change any of your setting for graphics (like changing the texture quality) it will have to rewrite these files, meaning that your first log in after making such a change will take longer than usual as it writes these files to your hard drive.
The benefits is that once you have allocated the hard drive space and logged in to create the needed files, the game can then read that information directly into RAM from your hard drive rather than creating them each time you log in or zone.
What this feature does not allow you to do is to increase the settings above those that are recommended. If the game suggests that you only use ten models, turning on the Texture Cache will not make it a good idea to turn on more models. This feature will not change that. Those recommendations are based on the amount of RAM you have available and your video card. The hard drive cache does not effectively add RAM to your machine, it just allows the game to save time creating the textures that your existing RAM and video card use.
There are two ways to activate this feature. You can check the 'Texture Cache' box in the Options screen, or you can turn it on from within the eqclient.ini file. To activate it, add the following line to the eqclient.ini file:
This could improve load times dramatically depending on your settings. The more models and graphics features you have turned on, the greater the potential increase in loading times you will see using the Texture Cache.
Remember: This will require a lot of hard drive space, so be certain that you have a lot of free hard drive space if you turn this option on. The more stuff you enable (models, texture quality, etc.) the more space you will need.
We expect this to be of greatest benefit to folks with 256 megs of RAM and a lot of hard drive space. The more RAM your system has, the less benefit you should expect to see by using the texture cache.