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Observability: How to Boost Gaming Performance in 5 Ways

  • Lipsa Das
  • July 5, 2023
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boost gaming performance

For a game to provide the best user experience, certain elements come into play. These factors can be hardware components in the user’s computer, like the CPU and GPU, operating system settings, or specific game settings. 

In fact, if there’s misalignment between these components and a game’s intensity, performance issues can crop up. The most common performance issues in gaming include frame rate drops, input lag, stuttering, rendering issues and network latency. 

In this article, we’ll look at the root causes of these gaming performance problems and how having a strong observability platform can help resolve them.

Gaming performance issues

1. Frame rate drops 

Frame rate drops occur when the frame rate of the game drops below an ideal level, usually below 30-60 frames per second (FPS). Low frame rate results in a choppy or jittery gameplay experience, making actions seem less responsive.

Frame rate drops can happen due to GPU limitations, CPU bottlenecks, or high resource demands from certain game parts. 

2. Input lag 

Input lag is the delay between when a user executes an input command and when the action occurs on the screen. A higher input lag makes gameplay less responsive.

This input lag comes from latency within different hardware components, such as the display, controller, and CPU/GPU processing time. 

3. Stuttering 

Stuttering is when you experience very brief yet noticeable drops in frame rate during gameplay. Stuttering results in inconsistent frame times that cause the graphics to freeze briefly or hitch during gaming.

This is often due to limited video memory, CPU bottlenecks, or streaming assets while running the game. 

4. Rendering issues

Sometimes complex scenes or levels fail to render properly, resulting in visual glitches, pop-ins, and missing textures. These are rendering issues, which usually happen due to GPU limitations and insufficient video memory. They can also stem from optimization issues within the game itself. 

5. Network latency

Network latency in online or multiplayer games is the delay between sending and receiving information online. Higher network latency reduces responsiveness, making actions seem out of sync and quick reactions difficult. Network latency depends on connection speeds, traffic, and the server infrastructure. 

Digging deeper into gaming performance issues 

All of the gaming performance issues mentioned above stem from common root causes. These include:

1. CPU bottlenecks

If you have a modern game, you’ll likely have a lot of game logic and physics simulations. These intensive operations can cause the CPU to be stretched to its capacity, resulting in performance issues.

For instance, AI characters, complex player animations, and realistic physics interactions can bottleneck the CPU, making smooth and lag-free gameplay difficult.

2. Memory constraints

Many games require a lot of memory for storing graphics assets, level and world data, and gameplay data—to name a few. Memory constraints and the resulting issues like memory leaks can reduce frame rates, increase hitches and stutters, and even cause game crashes.

3. Poor game optimization

Sometimes games are just poorly optimized, with unoptimized graphics rendering, AI, physics, or memory usage. Improving game optimization is an ongoing challenge for game developers.

4. Software bugs 

Performance issues are often caused by actual software bugs. For instance, memory leaks, infinite loops, and other bugs can cause the game to slow down or crash.

These issues can be resolved by identifying and fixing the game code bugs and releasing regular patches.

5. Graphic rendering constraints

Many games are graphically intensive, pushing the limits of GPUs and graphics cards. Using high-resolution textures, complex 3D models, advanced lighting and shadow effects, and similar elements can result in a slower graphics rendering process.

Consequently, the frame rates can drop, leading to a less smooth and enjoyable gaming experience.

How to boost gaming performance with observability

Observability tools provide quantitative and qualitative data that helps identify, debug and optimize performance issues. Here’s how observability can help resolve performance issues in gaming:

1. Optimized graphics rendering

Observability can improve graphics rendering in games by providing insights into your rendering systems’ performance. Logging and metrics can capture detailed frame rate data — average, minimum and maximum frame rates, percentage of frames below a threshold, and more.

This data will help you pinpoint trends in performance degradations and outliers. Additionally, tracing can help identify the specific code paths that are causing rendering issues, allowing your developers to optimize or fix them.

2. Improved memory management

Observability tools like Coralogix can help monitor memory usage patterns and provide metrics on memory usage. Detailed memory usage logging — current usage, allocation sizes, allocation counts — over time reveals memory leak patterns and areas of high consumption. 

3. Real-time issue detection

With observability, you can also get insight into the runtime behavior of your game code. Logs, traces, metrics, and crash reporting capture data on performance, errors, and other issues as they occur.

Through this data, your developers get the context to understand complex bugs, actively identify issues, and resolve problems that impact player experience. With better visibility into how the code is actually behaving in production, you can identify and fix issues you may have never discovered otherwise. Further, Coralogix’s Dynamic Alerts feature allows you to detect issues in real time by setting up dynamic thresholds and automatic alerts.

4. Optimized CPU usage

You can measure CPU usage in real-time and pinpoint hotspots and bottlenecks by applying a combination of metrics, traces, and logs. For instance, metrics monitor live CPU usage to reveal spikes and show which parts of the code consume the most resources.

Similarly, tracing the game requests will uncover where CPU optimizations would have the greatest impact and logs can indicate issues causing excess CPU load. Coralogix’s observability dashboard allows you to visualize all these CPU dependencies in one centralized dashboard.

5. Better game optimization

With observability tools, you can gain valuable insights into your game’s performance and optimize the player experience. For instance, with Coralogix’s DataMap, you can visualize the game’s overall health and identify areas for further optimization.

Boost game performance for improved user experience

Performance issues in games can be detrimental to user experience and the success of your game. However, with the help of observability, you can gain deeper insights into your game’s performance and identify and fix issues quickly. 

Observability enables your developers to monitor key metrics and detect anomalies, providing a holistic system view. Leverage observability tools like Coralogix and optimize your game app for a better user experience.

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