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How to run Oblivion with VSync + Triple buffering on Win 8

I still love this game and play it every now and then. One essential mod is the Oblivion Stutter Remover (OSR), a nifty utility that significantly enhances the smoothness of the game and removes almost all the stuttering that plagues the game, even on high end systems. No matter how high your fps is, frame drops are always possible and annoying, it's probably a flaw in the engine and was never fully fixed. OSR does some clever things to kill almost all the stuttering, unfortunately it has to impose a rather drastic frame rate cap at 30 fps to make it really work. Now, 30 fps sounds low, but for a relatively low-paced game like Oblivion it's just about good enough for good gameplay. I rather live with a constant and steady 30fps instead of getting 100+ on average combined with annoying micro-stuttering.

Now, the 30fps cap means that enabling VSync without Triple Buffering (which Oblivion doesn't support out-of-the-box) is a no-go as fps could drop below 20 then, because of the "VSync slashes your fps effect". Triple Buffering can, however, counter this dreadful effect allowing VSync with no real fps loss up the the refresh frequency of your monitor.

For games that do not support Triple Buffering out of the box, D3D Overrider (just google it) was always a welcome tool and I've been using it for many games to force them into Triple Buffering mode, because, matter of factly, I absolutely *hate* the tearing effects and generally prefer to play with VSync enabled.

For Oblivion, this was a tricky one, but finally...

The good, old nifty tool D3DOverrider doesn't always work on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 as it simply fails to detect games at startup. It works fine for games running in Windows 7 compatibility mode, but it's a bit tricky to get Oblivion running in compatibility mode on Windows 8 or 8.1.

oblivion_comp_mode.PNG
How it should look

A few steps are needed:

    1. D3DOverrider should be run as administrator.
    2. The game should not be run as administrator.
    3. Do NOT enable VSync in Oblivion's own settings. To do this, start the launcher, click on Options and make sure that the V.Sync check box is unchecked.
    4. Create a profile in D3DOverrider for Oblivion.exe and tick all check boxes starting with Force.... You can leave LoadLibrary hooking disabled as this doesn't make any difference.
    5. In the compatibility settings for Oblivion.exe, you have to enable the compatibility mode and set it to Windows 7. The thing is that D3DOverrider fails to detect games that are not running in compatibility mode and therefore cannot force VSync and triple buffering on them.

      The other issue is that Oblivion, when running in compatibility mode, will not enter real fullscreen mode. Instead it will get an ugly window frame and title bar making it look like running in windowed mode. If you can live with that - fine, then no further steps are necessary and D3DOverrider will do its work just fine, forcing Oblivion into VSync wit Triple Buffering. If you cannot live with that (like myself), one further option is necessary: In the compatibility options tick the Reduced Color mode checkbox and make sure the dropdown just below this box is set to 8 bit (256 colors). Now, don't panic, that doesn't mean the game will look like shit, it will look perfectly normal, but for some reason, this very option will re-enable the fullscreen mode for Oblivion when running in Windows 7 compatibility mode. It's weird, but it's the way it works.

There is still a small flaw left

While this works, the Window frame / title bar will be back as soon as you alt-tab out of the game and then back into it again. I have not yet found a solution for this, but since I run a dual monitor setup and rarely have to alt-tab out of games, I can live with it. Most importantly, I can play with VSync enabled without the loss of frame rate and without screen tearing.