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Vulkan on Sims 3

JoshQ

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Short story: it works (for me) and there’s some improvements YMMV. 
 

Semi-long story:
If your computer / Sims 3 knowledge is basic avoid doing any of this, there’s very little support on the web and I won’t take any responsibility if you end breaking your game / computer.
Tested on Windows 10 1903 (x64) with the latest monthly update, this might work on Windows 7 but probably not on XP/Vista.

To run The Sims 3 under Vulkan you need three things:

  • a modern gpu with the latest drivers
  • 7-zip (or any other program with .tar support)
  • change windows’s environment variables

Before doing anything BACKUP YOUR GAME specially your ‘options.ini’ because doing this will cause a change in the ‘lastdevice =’ line and that automatically resets ALL YOUR SETTINGS. By making a backup you can copy the new ‘lastdevice=’ into your original options.ini and then swap it to have all your settings back. Obviously if you want to revert things you will have to backup the file again in advance.

options-ini_last_device.jpg.13026e1b4edc22aea6b8bcf638eac22b.jpg
 

Still here? 
Go to the D9VK project page and download the latest release which will give you a .tar.gz file, if you uncompress it twice you will eventually find two folders: ‘x32’ and ‘x64’, for this game go inside ‘x32’ and extract ‘d3d9.dll’ inside your ‘Bin’ folder (the location of your ‘TS3W.exe’ file). If you want to uninstall it just delete the file (backup option.ini first).
That’s it, start your game and after a couple of seconds it should start, you will see D9VK’s HUD:

s3_vulkan.thumb.jpg.5160506b7f4b2c2b474131b161ab94d9.jpg
 

If you receive an error disable any ‘compatibility mode’ you might added to TS3W.exe ,if keeps happening disable any game overlay or just stop because finding the yeti looks easier than finding help (maybe on steam’s forums).


To disable the HUD add this environment variable to Windows: 
DXVK_HUD     0
Also add:
DXVK_LOG_LEVEL    none


On my PC (Ryzen 1400@3.6Ghz / GeForce 1050 2Gb / 8Gb DDR4@2999Mhz / Basic SSD) the game took 30 seconds less to load (3min 32s), nothing to be excited I know. Once inside the game I found moving the camera felt snappier, then I started to jump between lots which normally generates stutter before returning to full speed, under Vulkan I got fewer. I know stutters can be caused by reading assets from a slow / fragmented disk, a low-end CPU, bad CC, a stuck sim, etc. But I can testify that, compared to the original and ancient DirectX 9 API, Vulkan was indeed making stuff “faster”, how much improvement will you see? I cannot tell, your hardware and game might be completely different (for example, I don’t use “heavy” mods like OKW that change the game entirely). 


On a sidenote, Rivatuner and Borderless Gaming still worked and so taking screenshots within the game, taking video did not but there are dozens of better alternatives (the windows gamebar works on borderless, on full screen the HUD didn’t show but it recorded). Could this work on The Sims 4? Maybe(?) I removed Origin sometime ago, another brave soul will have to test it (probably you'll need to use the 'd3d9.dll' file contained in the 'x64' folder instead)


In general using Vulkan on different games can indeed improve framerate but not always, also D9VK is still in early development so bugs and crashes might occur and of course it wasn’t supposed to be used by Windows users, but here we are 😁


Thanks for reading I stopped making blog posts but because this worked (again, on my particular case) and because info is very scarce I wanted to share.

UPDATE 1:

One caveat of using d9vk is that all the extra settings you can apply using Nvidia’s Control Panel just won’t work, that means you have to use the game’s antialiasing solution which isn’t that bad but Sims 3 lacks anisotropic filtering.

You can fix that by creating a file named ‘dxvk.conf’ in the same directory your ‘TS3W.exe’ resides (also the same were you install d9vk), inside that file include the next line of text:

d3d9.samplerAnisotropy = 16

dxvk_conf.jpg.2495fca34b67f611f8391f0d3ff16433.jpg

16 is the number of samples, historically anisotropic is the least demanding of graphical options so it shouldn’t affect your fps.

There’re more options available but finding information for d9vk is a royal PITA, hence why I decided to document my experience so far, the good news is that besides forcing anisotropic Sims 3 works pretty good or at least I haven’t found a trouble in all this time using it.

D9VK_anisotropic_Sims3.thumb.jpg.89784bfd029949c36cf4866e8b2be8ba.jpg 

 This was tested with 441.20 drivers, using d9vk 0.30 on Windows 1909.

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