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RUSH

35 FPS - The cause or cure for headaches and motion sickness?

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So I've been playing through Ultimate Doom again recently and I've noticed a huge difference in terms of game enjoyment that depends entirely on the FPS output of Doom. While I typically play with uncapped frame rate, I notice that after 30-60 minutes of gameplay I begin to get really bad eye strain (and subsequent headaches.) I noticed that my monitor was 60hz and that plenty of screen tearing from 200 FPS was the culprit. Or so I thought.

After enabling V sync the problem temporarily improved, but I'm still finding more and more that uncapped frame rate tends to be something of a first-impression enjoyment. It feels so slick and smooth - and in the short term is much easier on the eyes. 35 FPS by comparison feels choppy and headache-inducing at first, yet after playing for longer periods of time I find it gives the opposite effect. Normally around the 1 hour mark of uncapped gameplay I need to take a long rest or my eyelids start twitching (seriously.) With 35 fps I'm finding there's literally no limit to how long I can play. I've been converted after so many years; and here I thought smoother was better!

So, I'm curious what you guys think about frame rate not only in Doom but all other games in general (especially more modern ones.) Is it worth sacrificing that precious 60 fps for better graphics? Do games with 35 fps give you problems or alleviate them? How about before and after the application of motion blur - a helpful smoothing of lower frame rate or a nauseating mess?

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When I first played ZDoom again this year after several years away, with a new bigger monitor, I soon found that playing with uncapped frame rate made me feel ill very quickly and I had to cap it. There's my anecdote!!!!

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I'm much the same as you guys. At first, I see uncapped and I'm like "damn, this looks good!" then like 3 minutes later I feel I'm about to lose my lunch and have to cap it at 35.

The same holds true for all games I've played, especially first person games. The inability to cap the framrate has actually killed my ability to play and enjoy many modern releases. I would love to find a TV or monitor that optionally 'forces' a capped frame rate, I really do want to play and enjoy some recent titles but my eyes and head simply wont allow me to look at anything on a screen above 35 fps..

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Is the uncapped stable? I usually use 70fps in other games. Pretty much using the lowest fps I can maintain stably.

If uncapped is always putting out the max for that specific moment, it could be constantly changing. Maybe that is the reason.

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RUSH said:

So, I'm curious what you guys think about frame rate not only in Doom but all other games in general (especially more modern ones.) Is it worth sacrificing that precious 60 fps for better graphics? Do games with 35 fps give you problems or alleviate them? How about before and after the application of motion blur - a helpful smoothing of lower frame rate or a nauseating mess?

It's perfectly possible that some people get motion sickness, or issues related to motion sickness, on higher fps, just the same way that some people get sick in a car or on a boat. I recall hearing anecdotes that some get motion sickness because of weapon bobbing in Doom, and it would only make sense that those effects would be increased on higher frame rate. You could try disabling that and see if it helps.

Your initial conversion into the church of high fps wasn't wrong, since objectively speaking more frames is better. But since you yourself are subject to motion sickness from games then obviously you have to try and circumvent those issues with whatever works for you.

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I get no nausea from playing at any frame rate. There are other things that makes me sick, including sitting in the car and not looking outside, but sitting at the computer playing games isn't one of them.

I wonder if entire games got cancelled or simplified just because part of the user base couldn't bear playing them for long.

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~40 FPS or below is uncomfortable for me, it feels like my input is detached from the action onscreen, wading through mud.

I tweak settings to get to 60 FPS in pretty much every game I play, the smoothness I get from that framerate is so important the graphics actually look better to me, even if assets would objectively look much worse in a stand still screenshot. While low FPS doesn't make me physically sick, it definitely confuses my brain in a weird way.

Doomkid - there are various software solutions to cap your FPS either per application or globally. If you have a NVIDIA card, I think you can define a FPS cap through your drivers. Many recording programs such as MSI Afterburner, DXTory and so on will let you cap FPS as well, and this feature tends to be free.

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I don't normally feel any kind of sickness from playing any game at any framerate, capped or uncapped. But for some reason, playing Alien Isolation with vsync turned on gives me a headache. I initially chalked it up to being tired or something, but then I switched back and forth between vsync on and off, and I kept experiencing the same thing. I'm fine with an uncapped framerate in that game, because I'm one of those 'more FPS is always better' people. It's just strange.

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Phml said:

Doomkid - there are various software solutions to cap your FPS either per application or globally. If you have a NVIDIA card, I think you can define a FPS cap through your drivers. Many recording programs such as MSI Afterburner, DXTory and so on will let you cap FPS as well, and this feature tends to be free.

Thanks a million for the info! I've tried googling, but I didn;t exactly know what to search for. This should prove very helpful.

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The smaller screen size border feature supposedly helped with this back when people had 486s with 70 Hz CRTs. Would be interested to know if it makes any difference in this situation.

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I can play games for hours and not have any nausea as a few have mentioned. I must cap the framerate at 60 because seeing screen tearing drives me nuts as my monitor maxes out at 60Hz.

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I've never been motion sick from playing any game, but I do get motion sick when I try watching a demo in PRBoom+. It'll mess me up for hours. That's really the only time motion sickness has bothered me.

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Only if I play at an extemely long preiod (lets say 2 hours) which I think is OK because I don't want to spend too much time playing.

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A proper motion blur may be the key. If you watch a movie, pause it at an action scene, and advance frame-by-frame, you'll notice that fast moving objects are always blurry, and, if the camera is moving, the whole scene is blurry. But, when you go back to full speed, the movie no longer looks blurry, and, in fact, looks smooth and correct.

But, video games render each frame exactly correctly, so moving objects "jump" cleanly from one position to the next, with no blur. For those people that get dizzy or get headaches, maybe your eyes are literally jittering, trying to follow that choppy movement.

Maybe a properly-implemented motion blur would actually solve the problem. I'm not sure what motion-blur-enabled ports are doing - blending previous frames with the current frame? In any case, when I say "proper motion blur", I mean to say "mimic what movies do". It'll be some multi-frame blending, with the blend ratios adjusted "just right", whatever that is. Some experimentation is in order.

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kb1 said:

A proper motion blur may be the key. If you watch a movie, pause it at an action scene, and advance frame-by-frame, you'll notice that fast moving objects are always blurry, and, if the camera is moving, the whole scene is blurry. But, when you go back to full speed, the movie no longer looks blurry, and, in fact, looks smooth and correct.

But, video games render each frame exactly correctly, so moving objects "jump" cleanly from one position to the next, with no blur. For those people that get dizzy or get headaches, maybe your eyes are literally jittering, trying to follow that choppy movement.

Maybe a properly-implemented motion blur would actually solve the problem. I'm not sure what motion-blur-enabled ports are doing - blending previous frames with the current frame? In any case, when I say "proper motion blur", I mean to say "mimic what movies do". It'll be some multi-frame blending, with the blend ratios adjusted "just right", whatever that is. Some experimentation is in order.

I'm pretty sure some kind of motion blur trickery is already implemented on consoles, which explains why a 30fps console game looks much smoother than it would on a PC. Why it hasn't been implemented in PC games, I don't know.

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I don't get motion sickness from any game and I've only rarely experienced slight headaches, usually when tired / played for too long, and stopping to play solved it, of course. I only really dislike whenever FPS rate drops below 25 so that I can notice it. Otherwise I don't even think I can notice differences between framerates/vsync etc., at least not distinctly enough to influence my experience.

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I never had headaches or motion sickness and I remember even playing 3 days stright without sleep. I would always go with 60fps in every game and no blur, but my computer is weak, some games are too demanding and I want to always use native resolution and max texture details, at least turning AA off gives some fps.

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I've never really had too much trouble with games making me feel sick. That said, though, I've gotten too used to playing Doom uncapped, to the point where if I try to play it with a capped framerate, it kinda feels like staring at a strobe light and I do start to feel kinda disoriented. And I really can't stand motion blur in modern games. I don't know why, but it always makes me feel that I'm somehow "out of sync" with the game. Like, it doesn't actually affect the framerate, but somehow, at least for me, it creates this effect where it feels like it's constantly lagging between the time I move and the time I see the movement on the screen. I'm sure it's just an illusion, but motion blur always makes me feel like I'm playing drunk - like my reaction time gets slowed down, even if the framerate is solid.

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This thread is interesting. I can't really enjoy games properly nowadays with less than 60 fps in largely because of the increased input lag. I don't think I've ever gotten sick on a high frame rate (or any kind of video display for that matter). Of course practically speaking that tends to mean I have expensive tastes. :(

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Linguica said:

When I first played ZDoom again this year after several years away, with a new bigger monitor, I soon found that playing with uncapped frame rate made me feel ill very quickly and I had to cap it. There's my anecdote!!!!


I would only get nauseous from high framerate in a Doom sourceport if I was watching a demo. I knew a guy way back when in 2000 that couldn't play any FPS due to nausea.

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The conclusion I can safely reach from this thread is that all decent monitors and TVs released in this era should have an optional user set framerate scale going from 35 up to 120 (or whatever the screens max frame rate is.)

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Doomkid said:

The conclusion I can safely reach from this thread is that all decent monitors and TVs released in this era should have an optional user set framerate scale going from 35 up to 120 (or whatever the screens max frame rate is.)


This. So much this.

Also, I found for my 60hz refresh rate monitor it helped to set Vertical sync to ON, smooth mouse movement to ON, and also enter the command "vid_refreshrate 60." Helped make zDoom more playable, although I still prefer 35 FPS but both are certainly enjoyable now. I can't wait to finally upgrade to a 120hz monitor.

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