|I decided to try out Noctis in DOSBox again, and while Noctis IV's performance still isn't exactly stellar on my Athlon 3500+, I ended up being surprised by something else. First I'll detail my results with Noctis IV. : )|
To be able to switch settings with relative ease and make setup a bit easier, I used D-Fend Reloaded to create and run a DOSBox profile for Noctis. I played around with the settings, and found that only a couple of these listed seem to be of major importance. Setting the core to dynamic and the cycles to max on the CPU tab seemed to be the important ones. Increasing the memory is probably pointless since Noctis doesn't use extended memory. The graphics settings had a relatively minimal effect for me, though I kept mine at normal2x, original fullscreen resolution, since that looked fine on my CRT.
The results were interesting. Both inside the stardrifter and on the surface of planets, I averaged around 4 frames per second. While that may seem low, it surprisingly remained borderline playable, with navigating menus on the stardrifter being the only major concern. The interesting part is that when on the roof of the stardrifter, Noctis actually runs at full speed, or possibly even faster with speedup enabled. At first, I thought this might be related to speedup disabling the framerate limit on the roof, but further testing disproved this. Even with a version of Noctis IV that has the limiter completely removed, or in NICE with speedup also enabled within the drifter, the framerate remains around 5 times faster on the roof than anywhere else.
Following this, I decided to try out Noctis II. This was the real surprise. Not only was Noctis II running at full speed everywhere, but it was running with sound. The stardrifter menus beep, the surface capsule audibly launches and even thumps off the ground. On the surface, the rain pours and thunder crackles during storms, while the wind howls across frozen tundras. I always thought Noctis was fine without sound, but having heard how well it works in Noctis II, I'd love to see it reimplemented in Noctis IV Plus. It might not play natively on modern computers, but works beautifully in DOSBox.
Anyway, I also tested Noctis I and Noctis III, and both of those run at full speed as well. This is on my 3500+, a processor that came out five years ago. Pretty much any desktop released in the last few years should be able to handle Noctis I, II, and III at full speed in DOSBox. Noctis III is quite similar to Noctis IV as well, so it's strange that they perform so differently when off the stardrifter's roof. Something must have changed in Noctis IV that significantly hurts its performance, so it might be worth looking for a solution. I did notice that activating 'disable display' on the main menu seems to improve performance slightly, so maybe it has something to do with the way the transparent text is being handled. The text does disappear when on the roof, after all. Of course, no such text is visible when on planetary surfaces, and performance appears roughly equal in either location. It's definitely something to look into though.