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Sugestions For faster load times

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Besides the obvious such as smaller file sizes, Binary over ASCII. what else?

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Don't seek around files a lot -- read sequentially if possible. If it's a file on slower media, particularly optical, then reading the whole file into memory at once may be beneficial.
If you don't need some resource immediately, consider bringing up the main UI and loading that resource in the background, stalling only if the load hasn't finished by the time it's needed.

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Organization... structure files so that you can get in and out quickly and don't have to scrawl through large files often. Stagger file loads, predict file operations and cache sections at a time. ie... if you know a resource load is coming, instead of waiting until the absolute last minute to load the resource, why not start loading parts of it ahead of time in the background without interrupting play. That's not exactly faster file loading, but that can help to offset some of the time loss.

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Putting all your resources into a single file is also a good idea. Opening and closing files is time consuming.

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Especially with binary formats, design the file format such that the data is neatly organized into meaningful sections and tagged such that you can easily find the sections you need. Have a look at how some real-world formats work (over here) for inspiration.

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