Just to show that I’m as human as anyone else and prone to going to exceptional lengths for questionable purposes I offer the following tale of woe: I can’t get Dungeon Siege to run on my PC.
This is all my friends’ fault and I intend to give them endless shit over it in return for which I’m sure they will mercilessly tease me about how inadequate I am as both a PC technician and a gamer for failing to overcome this issue. That’s how you know who your true friends are. This all came about because of the LAN party a bunch of us got together for last weekend wherein we all sat around and played Dungeon Siege for way longer than any sane group of friends really should. The party host supplied the majority of PCs we used as well as the snacks (thanks R!) and, not to sound ungrateful, the majority of them were in desperate need of patches and driver updates to bring them up to snuff. Lack of any kind of Internet connection, however, had prevented that from happening. Still, all of the PCs involved did manage to run DS at a playable frame rate and once we got used to how ugly it looked using the stock XP drivers we all managed to get so wrapped up in the game that we didn’t make it home until well into the next morning. DS is a beautiful game, however, so I resolved that next time we got together I would unhook my personal PC and drag it along with me so I could enjoy it in all it’s splendor.
This, of course, involves actually installing the game on my PC. Which I did thanks to a borrowed copy from Eric so I could get more familiar with the game before trekking out to buy a copy for myself. Got it installed, got it patched, fired it up and not 1 minute into the single player campaign I got an exception error that caused the game to crash out to my desktop and ask if I wanted to send off a report to Microsoft. Hmmm. I’ve not had a game crash on my PC for anything short of a total power failure in quite a while and I had restaged my PC relatively recently so I was a bit puzzled. Still, I did all the stuff you do in situations like this: made certain that all of my device drivers were the most current version, verified I had all the latest XP patches installed, fiddled with a few settings in the game’s options and so on and so forth. The game remains stable as hell in the setup and option screens, but it still crashes as soon as I start actually playing it. The longest it’s stayed running has been 1 minute and 24 seconds regardless of whether I try the single player adventure or the multiplayer. Nothing seemed to fix the problem.
This was rather distressing, but I had been dinking around with some stuff that could, in theory, have screwed something deep in the OS up so I took it to the next step and backed up my data, wiped out the hard drive, updated my machine’s BIOS and installed XP Pro SP1 fresh on a clean partition. Applied all the Windows update patches. Applied the latest VIA 4-in-1 drivers, the latest SoundBlaster Live Value drivers and the latest Nvidia Detonator drivers. Installed DS and applied the 1.11 patch and fired it up. Not even 10 seconds into the game and it crashes with an exception error. Now I’m getting frustrated. The only other application installed outside of DS and Windows is Norton Antivirus. This is as fresh and clean a system as I could get and it won’t run DS.
Frustrated, but undaunted, I go even further. Scouring the web I find that a lot of people are having issues like this with DS. The game was last patched in August and the folks at Gas Powered Games are strangely silent on all the problems everyone is having. I try some of the different suggestions folks are throwing out such as not enabling AGP 4X in my BIOS and disabling the Nvidia Driver Helper service in XP. At one point I begin to suspect it might be the 128MB of RAM I bought off a buddy not too long ago so I yank that out of my box taking it back down to 256MB, still double the minimum RAM requirements for the game, and it still doesn’t last longer than a minute. At least one crash causes my PC to go straight to warm boot without even generating an error log. My system is no slouch either. I’ve got an AMD 1.2 GHz processor on an Abit KT7A-Raid motherboard with 384 MB RAM, a 20GB 5400 RPM Western Digital hard drive, a TDK VeloCD 40x12x48 CD-RW, a Creative Labs Live! Value sound card and a Hercules GeForce III TI-200 video card with 64MB of RAM (ranked the best of that class). The minimum requirements for the game are a PC with a 333 MHz CPU, 128 MB RAM and an 8 MB Graphics Card. I should be able to run this game smooth as silk. Yet there’s something about my system it just does not like. The part that is most annoying? I can remember playing the demo of DS that was released months ago with nary an issue. Three things have changed in my PC since that time: I got the GeForce III, I got the TDK VeloCD, and I got an extra 128MB of RAM. Frustrated and tired, I gave up around 12:30AM last night and went to bed.
I spent way more time on this than I probably would have if my friends weren’t talking about getting together again for another LAN party playing DS. Had I not spent hours playing it on a machine that’s not even close to what my personal PC is capable of and wasn’t even patched properly to top it off then I probably wouldn’t be taking my inability to run the game so personally. I suspect the problem is either with my choice in video cards or the TDK CD-RW drive. The drive is suspect only because the game’s copy protection is Macrovision’s SafeDisc 2.0 and we’ve had problems with games using that protection scheme in the past. My wife’s PC, for example, wouldn’t run Zoo Tycoon (which is also distributed by Microsoft as is DS) because the CD-ROM drive in her PC at the time was old enough SafeDisc wouldn’t work on it. Once I gave her the old DVD drive I had in my PC after I got the TDK she was able to run ZT without issue. Macrovision has even admitted to compatibility issues between SafeDisc and Windows XP that can cause the dreaded BSD. In fact, the one fix I haven’t tried yet is to download a SafeDisc driver patch that Macrovision offers on their website.
Sitting here thinking about it, I’m starting to lean heavily in the direction that it’s the SafeDisc copy protection that is at the root of my troubles. This shows you how hardcore of a geek I am. Even as I sit and rant about a problem I’m finding new ways to attack it. I can’t help it. This is the only game I have ever had a problem running on my system and that just bugs the shit out of me. Normally I don’t bother using program cracks that disable a game’s copy protection, but if the SafeDisc patch does allow it to work then it would be one helluva strong argument for making use of a crack that got rid of the CD check just for simplicity’s sake.
So that’s my tale of woe. Sad part is, it’s not over yet.