Astral Performance Optimization

Getting the best possible performance on Astral

With any graphics-intensive web-based services, performance will depend on several factors. These include internet connectivity, hardware specifications of your device, graphics drivers, browser choice, etc. With so many factors included it is near impossible to provide minimum system specifications recommended for using Astral.

That being said, there are steps that can be taken to ensure both you and your group members have a memorable, immersive experience in your sessions. Here are some troubleshooting tips and tricks to improve performance on the site.

Using the right mindset

As a GM, you may make an expansive, feature packed map that runs beautifully on your high end gaming rig. All good, right?

While a map may run well on your test run, keep in mind that Astral’s performance is on a per-device basis. Each of your players will be connecting to this map. Most of your players will likely have an amazing experience, however if one of your players is running on a lower-end computer, their experience may be compromised. Keep this in mind when making maps. One player being excluded from the session due to hardware restrictions can negatively impact the whole party.

Use the right browser for the job

While we try to provide support for as many browsers as possible, there are some browsers that are more supported than others. Our list of supported browsers include:

  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Opera GX (**With Gesture Control disabled)
  • Brave

We will continue to expand our supported browsers as much as possible. In the meantime, it’s best that all Astral members use browsers that are supported and known to be stable.

Dynamic Lighting (and Special Effects)

One of our most popular features, Dynamic Lighting, also happens to be one of the most resource intensive features on the site. Worry not, you can still use Dynamic Lighting in your sessions and have good performance. There are some considerations a GM should keep in mind when choosing to use Dynamic Lighting in their maps.

The size of your map

The size of your map affects how resource hungry Dynamic Lighting is. The distance between points and the distance from your token to all points regardless of visibility is one of the largest performance hits reported. A 1,000x1,000 square map with 200 points will consume far less resources than a 10,000x10,000 square map with the same amount of points.

The further Dynamic Lighting has to draw and make calculations, the more impact Dynamic Lighting will have against performance during a session.

Additionally, all of the “Enhanced” Dynamic Lighting modes are offloaded to your devices GPU. In larger maps, this may mean that your GPU can’t render the entire map in Dynamic Lighting. This will present itself as the upper left quadrant of the map being fully functional with Dynamic Lighting, but any tokens on the bottom, right, and lower right quadrants only showing a black screen.

If you or your party experience bad frame rates or lower-right areas of the map being obscured, try either breaking your massive maps into several smaller sections whenever possible.

If the map can’t be broken into smaller sections, try flattening the map, then reducing the resolution or size in pixels as much as possible, then reuploading to Astral. High resolution images or very large maps can be edited with a file converter to reduce the size/resolution.

If you use this option, you will need to scale the grid to match the new image size. You will also need to move the DL points to match with the new size.

If you can’t break a very large map into smaller pieces or lower the map asset’s resolution without compromising game quality, you can downgrade Dynamic Lighting to Standard for the large map only. This will resolve the issue, though the quality of the Dynamic Lighting effect will be reduced.

Dynamic Lighting is Map-Specific, not Game-Specific, meaning you can set up extremely large maps to use Standard Dynamic Lighting and all other maps to use enhanced Dynamic Lighting without issues.

The number of Dynamic Lighting points

The second biggest hit to performance with Dynamic Lighting is the number of points currently on your map. Each point is a new set of calculations that needs to be processed, regardless of visibility.

It’s a common misunderstanding with Dynamic Lighting that every edge of your structure needs to have an individual point. In most cases, tracing a general shape near your wall is far more than enough. Having 50+ points outlining a room’s every detail when a box made of 4 points will suffice is a common situation found in troubleshooting.

As a general rule, don’t use more points than you need. The less points you use elsewhere means more points you can add for detail where it really counts.

The type of Dynamic Lighting

Dynamic Lighting has several modes. Standard, which is a sharper edged, less performance-intensive option, and the Enhanced modes. Most prefer the Enhanced Dynamic Lighting options, but if your party is experiencing issues, try using Standard Dynamic Lighing. This easy fix often solves many performance issues related to Dynamic Lighting.

Special Effects

Special effects, such as Godrays, affect performance. When used in conjunction with Dynamic Lighing and animated assets, it can easily overwhelm less performant devices. If your users are having performance issues, consider disabling Special Effects.

Assets

Both the number of assets and types of assets affect performance. Having thousands of assets on a map, including MP4 and GIF filetypes, can contribute to degraded performance. This is often not the heaviest performance hit, but if all other troubleshooting tips have failed, reducing the amount of assets used on your map as well as using animations sparingly can help.

Remember, we at Astral strive to provide the best experience for all community members. We understand that bad performance is immersion-breaking. If you are having performance issues, feel free to drop us a bug report. We will investigate.