Saturday, September 3, 2022

Fix for DirectX 9 Games Running in Slow Motion (Radeon)

Recently, I tried playing some older games that are not demanding, only to find out that they were running half as fast as they should be. And I'm not talking about running at a poor frame rate; games ran in slow motion.

Games with this problem include:
  • Death Ray Manta SE
  • Escape Goat
  • Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
  • Khimera: Destroy All Monster Girls
These games use DirectX 9. Geometry Wars 3 is a 3D game (with 2D gameplay), while the other three seem to be 2D games.

This problem is specific to Radeon graphics cards. At the time of this post (August 2022), the problem affects driver version 22.5.2, the most current driver version that is available to me.

The Fix

If your computer uses Radeon graphics, try this first:
  1. Open Radeon Adrenaline
  2. Enable 'Radeon Enhanced Sync' in Global Settings (Gear Icon -> Graphics tab) or game-specific settings (Gaming tab)
This will work for some games, but not for others. Khimera: Destroy All Monster Girls and Geometry Wars 3 are fine, but Escape Goat runs far too quickly. If your game runs too fast, try this:
  1. Download and install MSI Afterburner (or Rivatuner Statistics Server by itself).
  2. Open Rivatuner Statistics Server - an icon should appear on your taskbar
  3. Right-click on taskbar icon, click 'View'
  4. Set 'Framerate Limit' to 60, either in the global profile or a per-game profile
Rivatuner Statistics Server needs to be running while the game is open. You can minimize the window, but do not close it.

I was unable to use Radeon Adrenaline to lock the framerate to 60 in games that needed it. Escape Goat still ran slowly if I just locked the framerate in Rivatuner Statistics Server.

If the game runs too fast after enabling Radeon Enhanced Sync, you can set the framerate higher than 60 in Rivatuner Statistics Server for faster gameplay. This may break things in games where you can do this.

Other Solutions That I Tried

Using Intel integrated graphics worked perfectly for Escape Goat. Integrated graphics were not enough for Death Ray Manta SE, but I have an ancient "gaming computer" with an Intel i3-4130. (It's more like a retro computer that I can play some recent games on.)

I swapped my graphics card out for a GeForce GTX 750 TI, and everything seems to work well. (Yes, that is the newest, most powerful NVIDIA card that I have access to.)

I tried using DXVK (a Vulkan-based translation layer), but I did not see any differences in performance. It's really meant to be used with WINE, but I dropped the DLLs in the game's directory. It's possible that I set everything up incorrectly, but in my experience, the game should use the DLLs found in the directory.

DXVK is a cool project; something to check out if you're trying to run Windows games within a Linux OS under WINE.

I tried forcing VSync in both games, but I noticed no changes.

Escape Goat's performance improves when running in a smaller window. At full screen (1080p), it ran at half-speed, but at the smallest size ("Windowed"), it was nearly at full-speed.

What Is The Cause?

Your guess is as good as mine. Multiple outlets reported in 2018 that AMD broke, then later fixed, DX9 support for Radeon graphics cards.

The games that I noticed this problem with are 2D games that use DX9. Perhaps there something wrong with AMD's fix?

I'm not sure - I had a hard time finding other people with this issue. There are reports of people experiencing a similar issue with Ori and the Blind Forest (see this Steam discussion), but that's a DX11 game and people report issues with NVidia graphics cards.

I don't think that this was a problem in 2019. I played (and beat) Khimera: Destroy All Monster Girls in 2019 according to my Steam achievements, and I don't remember it running poorly then. Perhaps a regression occurred since then?

Celeste's "XDA" version uses DirectX 9. That's a popular, recent game and I haven't found reports of this occurring for anyone with Celeste.

Things I'd Like To Try

I'd like to get a new gaming computer. Perhaps a combination of all of these old parts is to blame?

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