Ah, the lengths a gamer will go.

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.

20 thoughts on “Ah, the lengths a gamer will go.

  1. I feel your pain—big time. My wife couldn’t get DS to run on her machine and had to get her video card upgraded. I ran into the same problem with Neverwinter (awesome game, beating DS hands down, in my opinion), and couldn’t play the bloody thing for almost two weeks until I ironed out my problems.

    DS IS gorgeous, but too linear, even in the multiplayer campaign. I never finished the multiplayer, but did go through the solitaire version completely. I ended up uninstalling it due to the repetitive nature. It’s a shame, since, as we’ve both gushed, it’s gorgeous. Snow scenes are breathtaking, for example.

  2. Why do I suddenly feel a surge of guilt? Oh yeah, because I said “Dungeon Siege! I wanna play Dungeon Siege!” Heh. 

    It sounds like you are on to something with the copy protection being the culprit – I may experience the same issue myself when I get my discs… fortunately for me, though, I’ll have an expert at fixing it on hand by then. *looks pointedly at Les*  😀

  3. Yeah, I agree with Scott – NWN is much better than DS.  I liked DS, until NWN came out… then I said, What’s DS?

    LAN Party eh?  You’ll have to let me know when ya have another – would love to join ya!

  4. I already own Neverwinter Nights and participate in a bi-weekly campaign with a bunch of my old pen and paper AD&D pals around the country (our GM is in California). NWN is OK, but not all that great for just pick-up-and-run type sessions. We didn’t really bother to save our progress through DS so the next time we play we’ll be starting over anyway.

    I think I may have found a way to get DS to run without crashing every 30 seconds. Turns out the SafeDisc copy protection wasn’t the issue. Installing the Macrovision patch didn’t change anything. I tried upgrading to the just-released-today latest Nvidia drivers with still no change, but I noticed that the game seemed most likely to crash when I opened the inventory screen.

    So, on a whim, I decided to dink around with the in-game settings. Turning off object shadows completely (it defaulted to party complex) and changing the texture filtering from trilinear to bilinear appears to have done the trick for reasons I’m not completely certain about. Granted, I’ve only tested it for about 10 minutes before I had to shut it down to leave for a bit, but at least I shut it down rather than it just deciding to crap out for no reason. I’m gonna go eat some dinner and then I’m gonna test it out some more and see how stable it is. More later.

  5. According to the official Zoo Tycoon website the minimum requirements are as follows:

    To play Zoo Tycoon you need:

    • Multimedia PC with a 233 MHz processor, 300 MHz recommended.
    • Windows® 95, 98, 2000, Me or XP operating system
    • DirectX®8.0a (included)
    • 32MB RAM for Windows 95/98 and Windows Me, 64MB RAM for Windows 2000, 128MB RAM for Windows XP
    • Minimum 250MB of available hard disk space, 600MB recommended
    • 4x or higher CD ROM
    • 4MB graphics card, 16-bit color capable, 16MB recommended
    • Super VGA video display capable of 800×600 resolution
    • Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
    • Audio board and speakers recommended

    So it looks like you’re a little shy on the minimum speed, but right on the money RAM-wise. You could try to run it, but they’re saying that 233 is the minimum and 300 or better is recommended.

  6. NWN!! I’m trying to get online with NWN… Tells me i’m banned and i’ve never played before.
    not sure if I need another key or what…
    Email me if you get the chance with an answer to my problem.

  7. hi

    I’m looking for a way to get dungeon siege – v1.11 to run off my pc, not quite the same problem as les and sherri.  I used winRAR to get it to run v1.00 but as soon as I installed the patch it needs a disk.  I’ve tried endlessly, Any one got an awnser? for me?

  8. I borrowed Dungeon Siege from my friend and I installed it. I then applyed a no cd crack to the game, so that I could run it without the cd.
    But, like Martyn’s problem, I installed v1.11, then it asked for a cd. I have been looking everywhere for a crack for v1.11, and I haven’t found one.
    If anyone has one or knows where to download one, please email me at ghost_55@hotmail.com

  9. Look folks, I know the name of this website is “Stupid Evil Bastard,” but that doesn’t mean it’s an invitation to act like one. Please don’t ask for information on how to crack games and pirate software here. This is not the place to make such requests.

  10. yes, safedisc is PURE EVIL!!! I actually bought copies of No one lives forever 2, and it works fine the first time i fire it up, but the next time i boot up the computer, it doesn’t work! after looking at some message boards, it’s caused by some safedisc or some other crap on it. but the game works if i use the executables from ill-reputable sites.  I HAVE TO CRACK MY OWN GAMES THAT I BOUGHT! NOT FOR BACKING IT UP BUT TO PLAY IT!! This also happened to me with Wizardry 8. and Myth 3. Granted, they aren’t new spanking games, but they’re that old either!  On 2 separate systems, with Window XP SP1 with latest patches on it (and yes, even with the so called “safedisc fix” patch that was totally useless).  What’s the point of buying a game if i have to crack it? This “Safedisc” is really an incentive to just burn a copy!

  11. hi
    i feel ur pain m8,i got a similar prob,some1 PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i purchased DS recently,installed it,got it,try to play it,but wen i get to the ‘easy’,‘medium,‘hard’ option,i click on one, and it says insert disk 1 of DS,sounds simple u say,but the prob is, i already ave the cd, i patched it up and evryfin but annoyin fing is,it dont even let me start it!it keeps sayin insert the disk even if its in!im goin crazy and i dont know wat to do!its the original verson of da game,i tryd usin no disk patches,but that jus crashes my pc as soon as i go into the game!

    HELP ME!!!
    if u can contact me, thank u

  12. If you think the errors in DS are being caused by some safedisc issue you MIGHT want to try emulating the CD-ROM through Daemon Tools which if you don’t already have you should. Say for instance you download ISO or BIN files on the internet. Rather than burn them and test them and face the possible copy protection Daemon Tools creates a virtual CD-ROM drive which supports copy right protection emulation. It’s great because you don’t have to burn a cd image you just mount in in Daemon Tools and it takes like 2 seconds and it runs at the speed of your hdd. I am the master, thank you, thank you. I will kiss your babies and screw your interns at a later date.

  13. Actually I managed to figure out what the problem was and it had nothing to do with Dungeon Seige itself. Instead, it was an issue between the VIA chipset my motherboard at that time was based on and the nVidia GeForce 3 video card I had installed. It took awhile to figure out as the problem doesn’t normally plague GF3 cards, but rather the more powerful GF4 series. The downloading and installation of a patched driver is all it took to get DS running stable on that system. I detailed the fix in this entry here. If you’re using an older VIA based motherboard with a GF3 or better card then perhaps this fix will work for you as well.

  14. I’ve had enough problems with them in the past to avoid using them in the future. I’m pretty happy with the nForce2 board in my current PC. It has it’s own issues here and there, but no where near as much trouble as my old VIA based system was.

  15. i just downloaded zoo tycoon but it has come down as par2 file??? how do i install it?  P4 3.6ghz 2 gig ram.

  16. par2 files are newsgroup files. They are used to formulate and repair .rar files. You need a newsgroup reader such as Grabit to properly reintegrate those files (provided you have ALL of the .par2 files needed!) to make the .rar files.

  17. Sounds like someone’s trying to use a pirated copy. The original game can be had for about $10 at the moment or all of $30 if you buy the combo pack that includes the two expansions. A legit copy is pretty easy to install too.

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