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Thread: A Guide to a better RS2 experience:

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    dvk901's Avatar Consummatum est
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    Default A Guide to a better RS2 experience:

    I've noted a number of times...well, many times, that when people have problems with RS2 they quantify the statements with "I never had problems with Vanilla or BI or Alex or any other mod." I don't mean to question anyone's veracity, but I would be willing to guarantee that 'all the above' had problems, because I know the code in detail, and have seen the errors that were in the Vanilla versions of these games. And no modder, I think, has put any more effort, study and testing into eliminating problems and CTD's than I have. It annoys me immensely, and I have dug into some of them with a vengeance to put a stop to them.

    But, there is something also that I have avoided saying because I don't want to sound arrogant. There is a reason that people want to the use the environment and a lot of the stuff we created for RS2. That's because it's good, and perhaps in many cases, it's the best available. Five years of work on a silly game should, I guess, result in something like that. But also, the things we did to RTW have taken an old game and brought into a 'category' that is somewhat unique....it has an old engine with far more modern graphics. It has aspects of newer TW games that were ripped out of them and put into RTW to make it look better, and as has been said a lot of times....RS2 will tax the crap out of a PC for the very reason that it is an older game doing or displaying newer things. You could indeed, probably play Vanilla versions of anything without the issues RS2 will cause, because they won't be as hard on your PC.

    I've been working with computers either as a hobby or professionally for almost 30 years, so I kinda think I have a little knowledge about this stuff, and I'm going to put everything I can think of in this thread to help people deal with issues that are most likely NOT the fault of RS2.

    Example 1:
    One reason for frequent crashes in RS2 (or just RTW period) can be an install of RTW that's corrupt. Now you ask, how can that happen? Well, an install of RTW can just die.....truly! Just give up the ghost and plain die when you didn't do anything to cause it. I know this because I've had it happen. The symptom is frequent and unexplained crashes. The solution is a clean install....but be advised and read example #2.

    Example 2:
    You can also install RTW and it will, to all intents and purposes 'seem' OK. But then you start getting frequent and unexplained crashes all over the place. One reason I know of for this is another thing I've had happen.......you installed RTW from a CD that was scratched or had your lunch stuck to it. I have actually seen this happen.....RTW will just skip over stuff on the CD that it can't read and install a 'broken' copy of RTW right off the bat! It may start fine. It may even play fine...until it looks for and cannot find what is missing. Installation CD's should be then, like a perfectly clean 'mirror'. If they are all scratched up from being improperly stored, your CD drive will have trouble reading them. If they are dirty in any way...even a finger print or smudge....the CD drive will likely misread the CD or have trouble with it. Clean CD's with something like 'Windex' or any window cleaner...NEVER use anything abrasive. If the CD is too badly scratched, buy a new one, because this will always cause you grief anyway.

    Example 3:
    I play RS2 on my laptop, and it keeps crashing all the time. Why? The question is....where are you setting the laptop? Is it in your lap? Do you have it sitting on a pillow or something soft? Is it sitting anywhere where air flow is blocked on the underside of the Laptop? The reason for asking this is that Laptops are cooled from the sides or the underside. Anything that blocks air flow will cause them to overheat, and overheating will cause things to crash....not just games, but everything. Most modern PC's of any type have built in sensors that will automatically 'crash' your PC if it reaches a dangerous temperature.

    Example 4:
    RS2 crashes all the time...on the Strat map, in battles...I'm frustrated. Question: When was the last time you cleaned your PC? And by 'clean', I don't mean wiped the dust off the outside of it, I mean looked inside it and noted whether it needed cleaning. My own PC sits in a very clean room in the house, but after 6 months or so, you'd be amazed how much dust, lint, dead bugs and just plain dirt can be found in your PC. This is because the fans are blowing air out of one hole, but sucking cooler air IN another one (or many). Power supplies will start acting 'erratic' when they are dirty (because they are beginning to overheat). Processors will start causing unexplained crashes when their cooling fans are blocked by dirt, not working, or the heat sinks are full of crap. The same goes for Video cards....video card cooling fans are notorious for just not working at all, because they are inherently and generally dirt-cheap little fans that will only last for so long. They'll start to 'bind up' and will then just stop working. Sometimes a little squirt of machine oil will fix them, but they can be replaced if they aren't working. I've seen this particular issue so many times that I'd feel safe betting that a 'significant' number of people could have this problem. So a clean PC will be a much happier PC. Buy a can of compressed air.....shut the PC OFF and let it cool down, and then blow out all the dust and junk. NEVER blow compressed air at hot components, as they can be 'frozen' in an instant by the compressed air and actually crack or explode. (Been there, done that So I learned the hard way.)

    Example 5:
    Now here's another example of what can cause RS2 to crash that a lot of people would probably not ever think about. You buy a newer video card (or have one), and your system has a couple drives in it. It should be good to go, right? Wrong! RS2 crashes frequently, but other things don't seem to be affected. Modern PC's tend to be like 'pin cushions' lately for all the stuff that people can plug into them...USB drives, phones, camera cards....you name it, people jam it into their PC's. And with the cost of drives being so cheap, why not put an extra drive or two in the PC, along with a nice new Video card that can play anything? But what people forget is the POWER SUPPLY.

    Off the shelf power supplies in PC' s 'generally' are in the 400-500watt range, and they are fine for the PC itself 'as you bought it'. But unless you built the thing yourself, I'd be willing to almost guarantee that your power supply is limited as to what it can do. My own PC had a 450watt power supply, four hard drives, and an older Nvidia video card at one time that got toasted. So I replaced it with a newer and much better ATI card. The difference here, however, was not only the card, but the power the card required. My system became unstable, sometimes rebooted all by itself, and finally just died! The power supply was toast. So I replaced it with a 500watt, thinking that the old one was, afterall, a bit old. Within a few months, that one died as well! Same behavior before it did, however...things crashing, Windows behaving oddly, and RTW acting like it had been shot. So I did some investigating, and found that my new Video card actually required a minimum 500watt power supply, with 600 recommended!
    I bought a 700watt single rail power supply after that. End of problem. My PC can run a refrigerator now.

    The moral of this story is that 'under-powered' can well mean that RS2 will tax your system more than anything you are running. It uses your Video card and processors in a 'backwards compatible' way...the old way....and taxes them a lot more than newer games would.

    Example 6:
    RS2 is crashing frequently. I have 1GB of RAM, and my hard drive is almost full. Several issues can occur with a PC like this, and none of them are good. There are three 'swap files' on your hard drive when you are playing RTW. The first is the swap file Windows creates itself. This is called an 'Application swap file'. By default, it is set to 2GB (usually), and is allowed to expand and contract depending on usage. The second swap file is one you'll never see...although I tricked Windows into allowing me to see it only once. This is a 'hidden system' swap file where windows will store parts of itself if it is forced to swap out memory too much. When this starts to happen, things will really start to slow down. The third swap file is the one that RTW creates itself....it is a swap file created INSIDE the normal Windows application swap file.

    Now, in a low memory PC with a nearly full hard drive, a cascade of events begins to happen the longer you play RTW......which also, by the way, has a known 'memory leak'. RS2 especially, which is very memory intensive because of the much larger textures, files, descriptions, etc than Vanilla, all needs to be stored 'somewhere' in memory. If you don't have enough 'physical memory' (RAM), the game will start to swap things it isn't using 'now' into the swap file. The memory leak causes RTW to chew up more RAM over time, which then means more memory has to be swapped, which then means your drive is filling up. Either the 'leak' itself or running out of disk space can cause RS2 to crash. Or, as can still happen in any PC, Windows or RTW 'accidentally' write information to the same memory address, and your game vaporizes. Windows can recover from this, and it is built to vaporize your game first.

    Example 7:
    I have my settings set pretty low, but RS2 still acts slow and sluggish, and crashes frequently. When was the last time you Defragmented your hard drive(s). I've met a lot of people...even very technical people, who think defragmenting drives is a waste of time. I beg to differ and always have. And here's why.....Windows uses an 'Index', like a library, to keep track of where it stores files or parts of files on your drive. So when it wants to retrieve a file, it looks in the Index first, finds the file, and then goes looking for it. This is all on the slowest component in your PC...the Hard Drive....which has a mechanical arm that has to track over the plates to find the spot where a file or it's parts are stored. If you don't defragment at least once in a while, files can be 'splattered' literally all over your hard drives. One file may be written in 20 different places or more, and however minuscule the time may seem for the drive to find the file and its parts...it still takes more time. Defragmenting your drives puts files together in the same place on the drive....it's as simple as that...with the resulting effect that it takes less time for the file to be found.
    So defragment to save time.

    But not 'just' time. Heavily fragmented drives are more prone to errors. Windows makes a mistake in the index. The PC is shut down improperly either by accidentally pulling the plug, power failure, or just muscling the power button 'because I'm mad'. Any one of these can cause a file to 'go missing', or the location of it to become a mystery to Windows. The result...whatever used that file will crash. So run a disk check occasionally (and always if Windows advises it), AND Defragment to save yourself grief.

    Example 8:
    I'm playing RS2 and progressing happily along when all of a sudden weird black streaks and artifacts start appearing in battlefields, or even on the Strat map. Then it starts crashing. Why?

    There are only two things that can cause 'artifacts' in RTW, and especially in RS2 (which again, is taxing your video and processing power more than other games will). The first is an overheating video card, or faulty, badly written, or just plain 'bad' video driver software. There are no if's, and's or but's about this problem....it is a video card issue on your PC. I know this from personal experience, because I have seen it several times, and tracked it down to my Video Card. Try updating your video card software, but if that fails to solve the issue, either turn down the settings in RS2\RTW or get a new card.

    Example 9:
    I didn't read, or didn't follow the advice in the installation thread and installed RTW\RS2 on my Desktop, in 'Program Files', or Users folders.
    Or, my Steam account is located in one of those areas, and I had no choice.

    This one requires some 'tough love', folks. I advise not installing RTW\RS2 in any of those places because newer versions of Windows from Windows XP SP3 and up have built in software that 'protects' those areas from what Windows may consider 'unwarranted tampering'. This is a good thing, by and large, but it also requires that modern software meet certain specifications, and have certain codes built into them so that Windows knows they aren't 'tampering'. RTW, being an older game, does not have this information to tell Windows anything. The result is and will likely be that Windows will either screw up the installation of the mod (RS2 or any mod), and may cause erratic behavior in the game. As explained in the installation thread, I HIGHLY advise NOT installing RTW in any Windows protected folder.....nor any other older game, for that matter.

    If you are a Steam user, and you have installed Steam applications in one of Windows protected folders, I would suggest moving them out of that folder if you are having issues with RS2 or installing it.

    Example 10:
    I use Norton Anti-Virus, or McAfee, and RS2 is crashing randomly for no reason. Why?

    Well, the absolute worst case scenario for this would be to have RS2 installed in a Windows protected folder, and one of these anti-virus programs. In order to justify the exorbitant price of having and updating these applications, they tend to go 6 steps beyond what Windows does in order to 'protect' you from outside tampering. And, they are notorious for generating false-positives (labeling something a virus, or blocking it) for no reason. We have virtually proven through testing that Norton will cause RS2 to crash randomly....I'm assuming McAfee may well do the same.
    So, if you are getting a lot of random crashes, try disabling or turning off these programs while you are playing, or go into their configuration software and tell these programs to 'ignore' the RTW folders. The same is true with any anti-virus program...configure them to ignore RTW.

    This seems to be a 'new behavior' regarding these anti-virus programs, since we didn't really see this in the past...so something has changed in them, and RTW is doing something they don't like.

    Example 11:
    I have used 'Auto Save' as long as I've been playing RTW, and it never gave me any problems. Why disable it?

    I am aware that the RTW auto-save feature has never given some people problems. BUT, it is a known fact that it is buggy. Also, it's a crutch that players should not use for a few reasons. RTW is far from perfect, and I've never played a long campaign yet where it didn't screw up something. The things I have seen involved characters that appear out of nowhere and can't move, and cause CTD's when you either look at their traits or try to move them. This is due to an 'RTW mistake', and unfortunately, if you are used to using auto-save, that 'mistake' will get stored in your saved game and your campaign could well be done at that point. ONLY the ability to go back to a previous saved game can allow you to continue a campaign after RTW has made one of these mistakes. So save often, before battles, before ending a particularly 'significant' turn, and don't use auto-save.

    It is also very easy (I have done it) to forget to make sure the script is activated when starting a new campaign or a saved one. If you rely on auto-save...your done. I had an experience recently where I forgot to re-activate the script in a saved game and played only one turn. The next turn, weird characters started getting 'married' all over the place to no one in particular. I looked at one of them and wham...welcome to Windows.
    So all it takes is one turn...the script is stored in the save, and if you don't activate it, one turn is enough to screw things up.

    I also suspect that the reason some people have issue with auto-save crashing, and others not, may be related to the Anti-Virus program they are using. I once used Norton AV in another life, and I know auto-save would crash my game almost instantly then. So don't use it.

    Example 12:
    I set my interface to use 32Bit in options, and now my game crashes. Why?

    Don't know the answer to that, but one of our testers has reported than doing that crashed his game also. My 'slightly educated guess' as to why this would happen is that the option may have addressed some software routine in older video software that is no longer there, or just isn't there in your drivers. It isn't necessary anyway.....all the files in RTW are 24bit and displaying them at 32bit doesn't accomplish much.

    Example 13:
    My game is laggy, even though I have a really good PC with top-notch hardware and software. Why?

    Although there can be a number of reasons for this, a player just reminded me of this one. Windows, by default (as I mentioned above) sets a 'swap file' in place that will grow to a certain limit, and shrink...depending on usage. A 'fairly' commendable idea, but this in itself can cause laggy performance because Windows has to bother with managing that swap file. A better way to handle this is to go into your computer's 'Advanced Settings' under 'My Computer' and look for the 'Performance' setting for 'Virtual Memory'. If you have never seen this before, you'll likely see that this is set to 'System Managed Size'....which is the grow and shrink version. But instead, choose to set it to a 'Custom Size', then enter into the 'Intital' and 'Maximum' size boxes the same number. If your PC has 1GB of RAM, I would recommend setting it to 1024\1024. A general rule is that the swap file shouldn't be larger than the RAM you have in the PC. But whatever numbers you choose (2048\2048. 3096\3096. etc.), make them the same so that the swap file is a fixed size. The result will be a Pagefile that Windows no longer has to waste time managing as far as size goes, and this will result in a nice little performance boost.

    Personally, I would not set the size of this Pagefile\swapfile larger than 3GB as it's just overkill and chews up disk space unnecessarily.

    Example 14:
    I fight this huge battle for 45 minutes (or so) taking a settlement or even just on the battlefield and then my game crashes! Why?

    I (along with others) am fairly convinced that part of the reason for this is that RTW is sometimes 'slow' in finishing all the unit and ownership calculations that have to be made after battles. Especially at the 'Occupy, Enslave, Exterminate' screen, it is a good idea to wait at least a minute or so (or until you see no activity on the hard disk [watch the light]). This will give RTW time to finish it's calculations. It isn't necessarily a 'fix all', as there seem to be multiple issues that cause this, but people have reported that this drastically reduces CTD's.

    Example15:

    I want to play RS2, but I'm running short on disk space and this mod takes up a lot of room. How can save disk space and still be able to have other mods?

    If you are running strictly the original RTW patched to version 1.5, there's not much you can do to save space. BUT, if you are running RS2 with the BI exe you can save a lot of space. RS2 breaks BI anyway, so the whole 'BI' folder is just dead wood. There are 785MB of files in there that will never get used by RS2. Delete ALL of the files in the BI folder, and save over 3/4's of a Gigabyte of space. BI will run fine. I do it all the time.
    Last edited by dvk901; June 03, 2012 at 02:18 PM.

    Creator of: "Ecce, Roma Surrectum....Behold, Rome Arises!"
    R.I.P. esteemed friend CALVIN

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    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Guide to a better RS2 experience:

    Closing and stickying as we don't want to lose the message after pages of comments.

  3. #3
    dvk901's Avatar Consummatum est
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    Default Re: A Guide to a better RS2 experience:

    Updated.

    Creator of: "Ecce, Roma Surrectum....Behold, Rome Arises!"
    R.I.P. esteemed friend CALVIN

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