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Default Dark Messiah - 1.02 Patch @ Fileshack

December 16th, 2006, 01:49
I see what you're getting at but the thing is that is it not the actual picking up of the spider key or the opening of the door or the slaying of an opponent or any other specific "action" that causes the crashes (at leat I haven't been able to spot any discernable pattern and belive me I have looked for one).

I'm not saying that it is NOT sound related because I haven't got a clue as to what is causing the problems. The ultimate humiliation, however, is that everything else is running flawlessly. I have no problems with the intro movies. The performance is just fine. There are no graphical glitches and the sound is clear and crisp. Everything is as it should be … for a few moments and then it crashes in the exact same way throughout all 3 versions. It is not even better or worse with the patches, it is unchanged … which is also why I suspect that Arcane simply hasn't been able to find and fix the problem yet. Hopefully they will soon, otherwise I'll have to wait until I upgrade my rig at some point in the future.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 16th, 2006, 05:26
Do you have another system or a friends system that you could try that copy of DM on?
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December 16th, 2006, 13:17
Not at hand no, but since I've already tried to download the game via Steam without any use of the DVD (i.e. two different version of the game), I'm certain that the problem is not with the disc but rather that there is some kind of conflict between the game code and my hardware/software.

One of the developers from Arcane has started appearing again at the official forum and if you read between the lines of some of his comments it appears that my particular problem is not widespread and they have absolutely no clue as to what is causing the problem. He didn't say that they're giving up but with 2 patches out and with Arcane still nowhere near finding the problem, let alone fixing it, I'm starting to doubt that it will ever be fixed. Unfortunately.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 16th, 2006, 17:14
When your usual bag of tricks is empty and you're still no closer to a solution you either give up, start over or pull out your bag of unusual tricks. While the disc was in the drive I thought I might try the most basic of all user error tests: Start the program and do NOTHING. I started the game sat and while it was loading I sat back and twiddled my thumbs for a couple of minutes and BAM it crashed again. I didn't touch the mouse, I didn't touch the keyboard, I didn't progress any quests or activate any triggers. I did NOTHING, yet still it crashed.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 16th, 2006, 20:55
Wow, well really wished we could have helped you out man that sucks.

Oh one last thing do you have a VIA mother board by chance, if so when was the last time you undated your 4 in 1 drivers, also how new is your motherboard, do you know if you have a BIOS upgrade avaliable.
If you haven't done BIOS upgrades before you might want to only consider it if your specific problem(s) are mentioned, otherwise if your computer is runng good it maybe better to pass.
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December 17th, 2006, 22:37
Yes I do have a VIA motherboard and it has indeed been a while since I updated the drivers but then again I haven't changed any hardware recently and where graphics drivers are constantly attempting to improve performance of existing hardware as well as making sure the new games and cards are supported, it is my opinion that mainboard drivers and BIOS upgrades are exclusively about hardware support.

I DID flash my BIOS when I bought the motherboard because it didn't support the 90nm version of the AMD 3500+ CPU that I purchased at the same time but unless I have hardware compatibility problems I'm loathe to flash the BIOS and it really shouldn't be necessary to update my VIA drivers either when I'm not experiencing any problems in other games … or am I just being old fashioned?

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 17th, 2006, 22:57
The MB I'm using right now also has a VIA chipset. I don't think that's the problem.
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December 18th, 2006, 04:10
It bet you a beer it's your 4 in 1 drivers.
I just forgot to ask, it's usually one of the first things I try to check.
I have one too.
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December 18th, 2006, 14:22
Ok, I installed the 5.1 VIA drivers (from september 2006) and the one I replaced was version 4.55 so it wasn't exactly new. After a suspiciously easy installation and reboot I fired up Dark Messiah once more.

"Master Phenrig. Where are …" *CRASH*

Same error. Same 2 memory register addresses as before. I think it is safe to say that the VIA drivers are not the culprit in this case. Oh well, It was worth a try at least.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 18th, 2006, 20:48
"4.55 so it wasn't exactly new"
Hehe, well 4.55s came out in 11/04 so that is more than 2 years.

Bummer it didn't work.

I asked about dual cores or video cards, whats your harddive setup anything unusual?
Also you said you can run Bloodlines and Half-Life 2, has this been recently or have you changed hardware, BIOS settings since?

Hey what about overclocking your CPU or your GPU and are you using any special tweaks or programs like Coolbits or ATI tray tools?

Are you on a network?
At work? Maybe you company Admin is having some fun with you?
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December 18th, 2006, 21:23
As far as I know I have a pretty regular rig. I have 3 Seagate HDs. 2 IDE HDs, one of which is dedicated to my games installations and a SATA only used for storage.

I might have purchased my current X-Fi SB card after playing Bloodlines but I'm pretty certain that my most recent run through of HL2 was with my current hardware. I haven't changed the BIOS since my latest motherboard/CPU ugrade and that was before I played both Bloodlines and HL2 (I had Bloonlines lying there waiting for me to play it for more than a year before I found the time to go through it).

I'm not overclocking anything and neither am I running any tweak software (I have already tried killing all "unecessary" processes before starting DM to no avail). If it really is the admin having fun with me I'm going to be both pissed and worried. Pissed because he's a real ass to do something like that to me and worried because I'm the admin so if I did this to myself without my knowing I've obviously lost my marbles big time

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 18th, 2006, 22:17
Have you tried to run the game w/o the X-Fi card? With all due respect for the (former) Creative… their cards have gotten worse over the years as far as drivers and compatibility are concerned, and coupled with a VIA chipset (which are not exactly known for reliability) there's a lot of potential that the X-Fi may be to blame due to an IRQ sharing issue. I think you should try to play the game with the card unplugged or at the very least check the IRQ tables in your mainboard manual to make sure that the X-Fi does not share IRQs with any other PCI slots or onboard components. If it shares IRQs then you should move it to a different PCI slot that doesn't share resources. With older (Asus) VIA boards this used to be PCI slot no. 3 (counting from top where the AGP slot is) but you better check the manual to be sure. PCI slots no. 1 and 2 are a big no-no since they are traditionally sharing IRQs with the graphics card (AGP) and the mass storage controllers.

Another thing you might want to try is to update the BIOS (it really can't hurt ) and then load the fail-safe defaults. Then try to play the game.
You could also try to up the memory timings by a couple of cycles for each setting. And make sure that 'PCI Delayed Tansaction' is enabled and that the 'PCI Latency Timer' is at 32ms (both pretty important setting, especially with a VIA chipset and when there is a PCI card like the X-Fi present). Finally, the AGP aperture size should not be too high. In some (outdated) tweak guides it says to set it to 2x the graphics RAM. That's overkill and actually harmful in some cases/configurations. Just leave it at 64MB or 128MB. You might actually lose performance with higher values.
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December 18th, 2006, 23:08
" I'm the admin"
It's always the admins fault.

"Have you tried to run the game w/o the X-Fi card?"
Moriendor great idea, I wanted to suggest that too, especially if you had in Onboard Sound chip, but was worried (until you mentioned you were the offending Admin ) you might not know how to add and remove cards
Especially bad crash problems usually have been coming from the software mostly EAX, I personally use the "Only install the Driver" option when loading Creative software.

"which are not exactly known for reliability)"
Questionable though probably better in another thread or at least till we get fatBastard() up and running.

"Another thing you might want to try is to update the BIOS"
Might be best to read the update notes first if, this is his only problem, unless he is very comfortable with it and his mb is from a comapany which makes relialble BIOS upgrades some have been know to casue problems.
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December 19th, 2006, 04:49
Do you have Starforce(copy protection) installed by any chance?

Many problems (games crashing) have been reported due to incompatibilities with that program.

Also, is Dark Messiah the only game on your system crashing at all?
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December 19th, 2006, 12:42
Just to be absolutely sure I left the computer running memtest for 12 hours straight overnight and I can say for certain now that there is NOTHING wrong with my RAM (since they are my most recent purchase they were the prime suspect from the beginning).

I did indeed have Starforce installed so I removed it and fired up Dark Messiah again. No dice I'm afraid.

The thing is that Dark Messiah is the only game that I've had any serious problems with since C&C Generals (and every single piece of hardware has been upgraded since then). Sure, Gothic3 crashes left and right (save game crash) but it does that for everyone (when playing without the latest patch … long story, don't ask). All other problems or crashes in games that I experience can be traced right back to engine/gameplay bugs in the game code itself and what's more important: The problems happen to a LOT of people (e.g. everyone with an nVidia card or everyone with AMD CPUs, etc.), so either the developers address the problems in a patch or they fold and admit they can't fix the problem at all (e.g. Dungeon Lords).

Usually I'm spared all but the most rudimentary of bugs. Mainly, I guess, because I try to stay away from "experimental" equipment (I use well established hardware producers and always check for compatibility issues before purchase), software (nothing but Zonealarm and AVG running in the background) and drivers (I only use official drivers whenever possible). I also try to maintain a relatively "clean" installation without too much unnecessary eye-candy ("windows blinds" or whatever it is called and the like). Lastly I don't overclock or bother with excessive tweaking unless absolutely necessary. I know a lot of performance can be gained by both but it also comes with a potential price in stability and since I play a lot of games (in average I buy around 2-3 games a month) and a lot of different types of games I'm more inclined to accept less than stellar performance in exchange for fewer problems like the one I'm having with Dark Messiah than a few extra frames per second whenever the system isn't crashing left and right.

With that being said perhaps you can understand why I have been pretty sure from the beginning that it wasn't my rig that has been causing the problems I have with Dark Messiah. However, since most people are now able to play Dark Messiah, albeit many still have performance issues, and I'm still unable to play the game, the previous assumption seems to be incorrect and it would appear that I do indeed have some kind of hardware/software conflict with the game … but where do I draw the line? I mean, I'm a programmer myself and seeing how the error message is always the same I'm pretty certain that with the source code and a good debugger program I could locate the error within a few hours, but that's because the error occurs consistently on my machine and it obviously doesn't on Arcane's test machines. If they can't reproduce the error there is no way in hell they can fix it outside of stumbling over it be sheer luck and considering that I'm not having unexpected problems with any of my other games I'm boardering on trying to fix something that isn't really broken.

Even IF it turns out to be the sound card then what are my options? Playing the game without sound is out of the question and forking over another $400 to replace an otherwise perfectly fine sound card is also out of the question. So that leaves me with putting the game on hold until my next upgrade and then see if the problem has gone away or hoping that Arcane will figure out the problem in a future patch … neither one sounds ideal to me

*edit*
My BIOS doesn't have the "PCI Delayed Transaction" or the "PCI Latency Timer" options so I couldn't do much with them but the AGP Aperature size was set to the amount of RAM of my video card which is 256. Just to be safe I tried it on 128 but it made no difference in DM.

I also tried to disable my sound card in the hardware profile and to be on the safe side I ran DM with the "-nosound" option as well. Pretty dull experience but "fortunately" it didn't make any difference because I still crashed with the same error as before. I know I didn't physically remove the card but I would think that what I did ought to count as the same, right?

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 19th, 2006, 22:56
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
Just to be absolutely sure I left the computer running memtest for 12 hours straight overnight and I can say for certain now that there is NOTHING wrong with my RAM (since they are my most recent purchase they were the prime suspect from the beginning).
Well, it seems like you're knowledgable enough about configuring your system so I guess that just about everything humanly possible has been done and checked by now to resolve the issue .
However, as a final piece of advice, I'd keep an eye on that RAM, regardless of MemTest. I have personally owned memory in the past (2x 512MB sticks) that showed absolutely zero errors when running MemTest and also zero errors when running the highly sensitive Prime95 which is often used to test system stability especially when you overclock your system. I could also play all games (minus WoW… more on that in a sec) without a problem.

But still… in the end it turned out that the memory was bad -or as I suspect- that there must have been an incompatibilty issue between the memory and my memory controller (nForce-2).
How could I tell that the memory was bad? It was a slow learning process. First, I very occasionally had trouble to unzip/unrar large zipped/rared archives. It was rather sporadical at first but as demo sizes for games increased steadily, it happened more and more often that I got CRC errors.
I used Gamer's Hell as my main resource for demo downloads back then and due to the absence of any other issues with my system, I thought that they had screwed up the archives upon packing or uploading.

Then I got WoW when it was released and had major trouble with installing and patching the game. It was either my whole install or the patch(es) that got corrupted during the install or patching process. It was a nightmare.

When I checked around the net, everyone and everything was always pointing out that it could be a RAM issue so I finally got new memory as it was time to upgrade to 2x 1024MB anyway.

Well, haven't had a single archive corruption error or issues with WoW (quit a looong time ago but back then the prob went away with the new RAM) ever since.
It's really strange since all the tests for bad RAM were negative but in the end it was that very same "flawless" memory that caused the few issues that I was having with my system.
Thus I'd advise to keep an eye on that RAM of yours, even if MemTest says it's OK .
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December 19th, 2006, 23:22
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You know another thing I forgot to ask and can't remember if you mentioned, did you try to type in the specific error in google with the words, dark messiah source?

Trust me, most of the names I have been called you can't translate in any language…they're not even real words as much as a succession of violent images.
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December 20th, 2006, 14:46
My RAM upgrade was done in order to be able to play Gothic 3 properly. I had 2x 512 Mb PC3200 Dual Channel Corsair RAM blocks and I upgraded it to 2x 1024 sticks of the exact same RAM (speed, type, brand). I still have the 2 sticks of the "old" memory lying around so I could try to put them back to see if there is any difference. I haven't noticed any other problems with the new sticks but I've had the old ones for almost 2 years now and I have NEVER had any problems with those, so they "ought" to be okay. I'll get back to you on that later.

The real bitch about the error message I'm receiving is that is an OS level error message. In other words: Neither the game (Dark Messiah) nor the engine (Source) is catching the exception so it passes along to the outermost layer and that is Windows XP. Unfortunately for bug fixing purposes, the reporting details at this stage is minimal at best. When trying to search for the nature of the error I ran across everything from media player crashes (the genre as a whole and not necessarily the program by that name) and browser crashes to crashes from games (also from some that are not even remotely connected to the Source engine).

It is very unfortunate that Arcane aren't catching this error but even more so that Valve themselves have failed to make proper exception handling in their engine. When I started searching for means to fix or locate the problem I ran across a link to a FAQ on Steam where this error message is mentioned. It basically says that if you get this error then you're screwed because they have no idea what is causing it or how to fix it (well, the wording was slightly less defeatist but that meaning was clear). This is what bugs me the most: If this problem lies with the engine and not the game then why the hell am I only getting this error in Dark Messiah and not HL2 or CS: Source or Bloodlines. Basic logic, and that is what programming is all about, dictates that this can NOT be the case so therefore it MUST be something that is done in Dark Messiah, but not in the other Source based games, that is causing the game to crash … but I can't figure out WHAT. I'll be back after trying with my "old" memory sticks.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 20th, 2006, 19:45
Son of a … @${[/&(#!@ BARBARA STREISAND!!!

I put back the old RAM and started Dark Messiah. Oddly enough I couldn't get it to crash right away and as I had an errand to run and was consequently pressed for time I decided to start the tutorial, turn off the sound and leave it to its own devices while I went about my business. 2 hours later I came back and the damn thing was still running.

I did notice however that the console was filled with red lines of this or that "could not be initialize" or whatnot, So I thought: "AHA! the reduction of the memory is causing the faulty code to fail to execute so the crash inducing lines are never run". A quick couple of yanks and pushes later and the new RAM is back in and I fire up the game. "Physical objects are the easiest you will face Sareth. Now is your chance to conquer them …" *CRASH*. Exact same error message and this time the console is also filled with lots of red lined system messages … in other words: The only discernable factor that I can find is the physical RAM sticks …

GOD *beep* MOTHER *beep* *beep* FIDDLESTICKS!!!

How the *beep* can 2 months with an average daily use of 14 hours AND a 12 hours straight session of testing with memtest *NOT* indicate that there is something wrong with the RAM? I mean, I've played 100+ hours of Gothic3 (a game that due to memory leaks actually run OUT of memory after a few hours) and 150+ hours of NWN2 and none of them have done anything other than what could be expected (i.e. NWN2 has never crashed on me, not even once and Gothic 3 only crashes when/where everyone else is having problems) … although, now that I think of it, I have noticed that my bittor … erm … my "solid conception exhange service" program has crashed more often than I remember it doing before but it has been a while since I last used it for anything taking more than a few hours to "acquire" so I didn't think anything of it.

At any rate, how the heck do I explain to the place where I bought the memory that I can only detect problems in a single game and maybe in a … less than legal application?

While I'm quite pisssed that this took so damned long to figure out and that even a respectable program like memtest (which has only one task: to test the memory) couldn't find anything wrong, I am glad you guys didn't let me off the hook. Otherwise I would have given up a long time ago and since I wasn't expecting to include memory when next I'm to upgrade I would still not be able to play the game. So thank you all for being so damned persistent

Oh and I obviously have to eat every bit of criticism I have blurted out previously since neither Arcane nor Valve can be expected to handle hardware errors in their software. That is the OS's responsibility and for once Windows does just what it is supposed to do so I can't even blame Microsoft this time (there has got to be a first for everything ). Even though I have tried to be civil I suspect I won't go to bed hungry tonight

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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December 20th, 2006, 21:18
Hehe, well congrats!
I don't depending on your relationship with your hardware vendor, if it's someone respectable like NewEgg, I am thinking they will take it back in exchange, for better or differnent brand.
DId you say which brand of RAM your using?

Trust me, most of the names I have been called you can't translate in any language…they're not even real words as much as a succession of violent images.
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