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Firaxis and Laptop Owners: Alienation of a Core Demographic

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Technical Support' started by Meat Wad, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. batteryacid

    batteryacid Prince

    Jun 14, 2004
    good thread!

    I mean look at the polls about civ players- the average age is about 25 or so, many people (me icluded ) NEED a Laptop for work and spent some extra money for a Laptop with a decent 3d acc. card.

    I had no problem so far with titles like Jedi Knight3, Dawn of War, Warcraft 3, Serious Sam, S.T.Armada 1 and 2 - I mean these games all have good (if not better ) graphics than Civ4 , and they are realtime and not turnbased, so I see absolutely no reason why this game shouldn´t run on my Lap- this game lacks a good beta testing and is bugged.

    Sometimes hardware drives software, and other times, like this time, software drives hardware. This is the "killer app" that will encourage more widespread use of real graphics chips in laptops and cheapo brand name pc's.

    think a bit before posting- all these Laptops that have problems HAVE A REAL GRAPHIC CHIP and all these Laptops ARE HIGH QUALITY LAPTOPS and they FULFILL ALL REQUIREMENTS THAT ARE POSTED ON THE FIRAXIS HOMEPAGE
  2. Hozchelaga

    Hozchelaga Chieftain

    Oct 10, 2005
    I picked up the game today (Australia). It comes in DVD format. I have a DVD reader. New system (February). Dell Inspiron 9200, all updated drivers and better than min. specs.

    I put the disk in, CTD. Blue screen of death.

    I said this on another thread. This week I read posts from so many angry customers, so many different problems. So I had very low expectations for Civ IV. But I collected all the information on all the fixes this week, ready to have a go correcting everything that should have been right on the factory floor.

    But instead of a shot at fixing the errors, I get CTDs and an apparently blank DVD disc.

    The program isn't even installed on my comp. So this seals it for me. There is no second go at it. I can't risk my system over a game.
  3. MattR

    MattR Chieftain

    Nov 3, 2005
    Just to offer a counterpoint - it works fine for me on a Dell Inspiron 6000D laptop with an ATI x300 128mb graphics module (plus 1.73PM, 1gb RAM, 80gb HD). Though it is only 2 months old...

    The only issue I have with the game at all is that it doesn't seem to support wide screen resolutions - the 6000 has a 15.4" screen, some of the lower widescreen resolutions cut off the lower 1/4 of the screen. Currently I'm either running in a lower standard resolution (1024?) and bumping up the graphics quality, or the highest available (1680?) and lowered quality, steps inbetween don't function. Very playable in either of my available modes though.
  4. Skraut

    Skraut Chieftain

    Nov 3, 2005
    I have a HP Pavilion zx5280us which exceeds each and every recommended spec. Yet I can not run the game. It does not progress beyond the Checking XML on the load screen, just dumps to the desktop. I have gone as far as formatting a BRAND NEW partition with a clean OS fully patched, and the game still hangs in the same spot.
  5. BlackBetsy

    BlackBetsy Chieftain

    Feb 15, 2005
    Can't get Civ IV to run on my Acer Tablet PC that is a 16-month old machine. Sure, it's not meant for super graphics, but the Civ IV series is about strategy and game play, not how cool the warriors look when they are fighting (for the record, it's not that cool).

    The laptop thing is mucho frustrating for several reasons - one, my laptop is my computer of choice. I Wi-Fi myself around my house, watch TV, play Civ III, etc. I also head up to my place in the mountains, where a desktop is out of the question.

    I don't see why the Firaxis folks would frustrate people like me. I just want to play the damned game.
  6. Old Dood

    Old Dood Warlord

    Oct 26, 2005
    Excellent Thread...Excellent Post MeatWad!

    For the life of me I still can't see why they didn't add Graphic Sliders. Even to the point of making the game at the higher zoom that looks like 2D. Why we can not turn off certain graphics like the Movies,Leaders,etc. baffles me.

    I am one of the lucky few that can play this game. I still have querks. I can not Alt-Tab out to Desktop with out freezing the game. When a Wonder movie,Era change box shows up I get a black "box" behind it with a great big jaggy X. It disappears after I click on the Wonder box...but still it should not be there. I think in my case my saving throw is my extra ram. I updated everything I could weeks before I bought this game. (chipset,sound,etc.) My BIOs can not be upgraded. It is still too new. I have Dell's A01 BIOs for the Dim 5100.
  7. Juardis

    Juardis Chieftain

    Feb 18, 2004
    I have a Dell Inspiron 9300 laptop, bought this past June. 2 GHz Pentium M, 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM, 256 MB GeForce 6800 Go (PCI Express x16). I have WIN XP Pro and I let Windows manage my virtual memory. I installed CIV 4 last night and played a couple of hours. I increased the resolution from 1280x754 to 1900x1200 (or whatever the highest resolution is on my 17" widescreen monitor). I turned on 4x anti-aliasing.

    I had no problems at all. But remember, I only played a couple hours, so hopefully things don't change or maybe I haven't gotten to the part where there's trouble? I never got to a point in the game where a movie would play (except the opening movie, which played just fine).
  8. andileft

    andileft Chieftain

    Nov 1, 2005
    i have an evo n800v with a radeon mobility 7500 32 MB card.
    tried running civ4, and guess what, as with all the other 7500 users out there, got the cheshire cat leaders and the black terrains. so far i've been able to play using the xml alteration workaround, but that simply is not a comfortable way to play, because:
    1. no more exploration
    2. all the terrains look the same, so i don't know which one has been explored and which hasn't

    now, just a few months ago i was playing pirates, and it runs quite well, aside from a few graphical glitches now and then. nothing that can't be cured by a simple restart of the game.

    now why oh why, if this game runs on the same engine as pirates, would i be able to run pirates and not this?

    oh well, i guess i have to play on my cousin's pc for now. poor him.. :p
  9. Keith Larson

    Keith Larson A Wild Boar

    Feb 28, 2003
    I agree totally with this thread. I must say that my home built desktop runs the game fine (as long as I keep the map normal or smaller), but I sorely miss being able to play on my laptop, and here is why: Turn based gaming + a laptop = having a real life. With a laptop I can sit in the family room and watch a movie with the wife and kids, I can sit in bed a play my game will my wife reads, in short I can have a life. What I have notice the last several nights is I have been isolating myself in my study playing CIV4, totally cut off from the people I love and care for the most. I am much older than most here, 44, and I have learned life is too short to waste on a game no matter how good it is. My olderest daughter is going off to college next year, I would be crazy to spend my free evenings at my desktop. I looks like it is back to Civ3.
  10. viking1958

    viking1958 Chieftain

    Apr 25, 2003
    And here I was thinking I was the only laptop user having problems with CivIV. I have a Dell Precision M60. I've set the graphics setting within the game to lowest. I can get it to play but as I get further in it starts to lag and if I have to Alt+Tab to check on another program (ok, so I play this at work when things are slow), the game freezes up. I am very frustrated with this right now and will stop playing until Firaxis can come out with something to correct this.

    I also have pretty powerful desktop at home and even on that the game runs sluggish and will freeze up the further I get into the game.

    Excellent comments from everyone here. Thanks
  11. maartena

    maartena Warlord

    Nov 12, 2001
    Orange, CA
    Laptops are not suitable for 3D games, period. It is not Firaxis fault that laptop manufactorors still haven't been able to properly incorporate today's desktop standards in a laptop. Cards with Hardware T&L have been around since 2000 or so, and became mainstream in most computers from 2002 and onwards.

    Anyone not having a T&L card can buy a decent one for about $75, and that just leaves the laptop users. And quite frankly, I think that they have probably sold over a 100,000 copies by now and only a small percentage of those buyers have a computer or laptop on which the game does not work.

    It doesn't work on my laptop either, but I knew that in advance. It has an Intel chipset and video, and therefore does not meet the system requirements. But I knew that when I bought it, and I bought the game exclusively for my desktop system.

    The fact is that the requirement for hardware T&L video cards for most current 3D games (Sims 2, Quake 4, Age of Empires 3, many others) will not go away. Most future games will probably have the same requirements, and many in 2004 already did.

    Sif Meier's Pirates! was released earlier in 2005 and already had the hardware T&L requirement.

    Laptops always are a few years behind on technology when it comes to graphics. And laptops will always be looking for video cards that produce the LEAST heat, use the LEAST energy, but still provide decent graphics, and it is not uncommon for mobile chips to miss many of the features that their big desktop brothers have.

    Bottomline: Don't expect your laptop to have the same feature set as your desktop.

    Check here: http://www.srtest.com/referrer/srtest

    If it says "Fail", don't buy the game.
  12. Jason The King

    Jason The King Deity

    Mar 3, 2002
    Bay Area, California
    I have a laptop, dell Inspiron 2200, one of the lower end dell laptops. I have 760mb of ram (upgraded from 256), and it is an integrated graphics/video card, with appx. 64mb. My CPU is Intel Celeron M 1.5ghz. I fail the test for T&L on one of the online websites that tests your system.

    And I play the game just fine.

    Its a little choppy, but not so unbearably choppy to where I can't use it. I have windows xp professional, and am no tech wizard. I just turn off all programs, and launch.

    I had a few problems early off with video, but once I unpacked the graphics of the game, which I learned from a thread here, it plays fine.

    Definitly playable, and it is a great game. Im sorry for all those who can't play it, especially if you have a better system. Look around this forum, they have solutions to almost every problem, I'm sure you will be able to fix yours.
  13. BBarl

    BBarl Chieftain

    Oct 27, 2001
    Silver Spring, MD
    I also appreciate this thread being set up, and I do hope Firaxis will pay attention. As someone who has faithfully bought and played each Civ edition and spin-off, I too have become dismayed as it has become clear that laptop users were deemed to be expendable customers.

    The company's defenders have pointed out that laptops usually lag behind desktops, and that laptop users were on notice that their specs may not measure up. Fair enough. But the same reasoning suggests that Firaxis was on notice--it seems inconceivable that the designers wouldn't have known they were trading off established customers for souped-up graphics. (Especially since so many laptop users can't just buy a new card to fix the problem.)

    Question for those of you in the know: would it have been hard to create a "switch" feature to turn off the glitzy stuff and make it playable for more of us with lower specs?

    I also agree with those who suggest that laptop users are a potential goldmine for the Civ series. I fit the demographics that have been mentioned: 40s, business travel, need a computer that can move around, I love the strategy behind CIV, and I don't buy or care about shoot-em-ups and pretty pictures. (I always felt that CIV was MY game, and that's why it was the only game I came back to.)

    Ah, well. It's only a game, though it has been a great solace when I needed to unwind. And after months of licking my lips at all the CIV4 previews, I find myself uninterested in playing Civ 3 any more. Another spoiled American, I guess. Time to read some books.

    Final note to Firaxis if you're reading: please break radio silence and post a little something about your understanding of whether a patch is feasible. Pretending not to acknowledge the outpouring of frustration on your website is pretty bush league.

    Sorry for the lengthy sermon--I guess if I had the game working, I wouldn't have so much time to write.
  14. wtw

    wtw Chieftain

    Nov 1, 2005
    Jason, I also have a Dell Inspiron 2200. I think the frustrating thing for people is that the game works partially on some systems and, further, it works on systems like the 2200 which supposedly fail the test.

    I'll admit I was floored when read the fine print and thought that Civ IV wouldn't run on my brand new machine (even if it was a laptop).

    I understand where both sides are coming from (1. Laptop users should know better and 2. C'mon; it's not like Civ SHOULD be anti-laptop users!). But we're all on the same side, folks. The flack generated by these problems is going to hit Firaxis and Take Two more than the execs of those companies ever thought. Shockingly, it could kill the franchise. And no Civ fan wants that to happen.
  15. Doc Tsiolkovski

    Doc Tsiolkovski Deity

    May 4, 2003
    Köln, Cologne, Colonia. Finally.
    Two year old Dell Inspirion 8600. Game runs fine with low gfx settings.
    Was a bit hard to find a driver update for the Nvidia Fx5650Go, though. Kept me out of the beta for quite some time.
    But no reason to complain IMHO.
  16. agoodfella

    agoodfella Prince

    Nov 12, 2001
    I couldn't disagree more with this post and this kind of inward thinking.

    This is a PC GAME folks! Think about how many people who are buying desktop replacement laptops instead of desktops...

    Laptops are the way of the future NOT desktops.

    Further, a PC game should play on a PC (as long as it is fairly recent). The fact that many many recent laptop purchasers cannot play this game is totally unacceptable.

    That's akin to a console maker like, say XBOX or PS, saying, "you're fine as long as you have an HDTV Plasma wide screen - otherwise you are S_h*t out of luck, pal"

    This kind of thinking: "dude, get a desktop if you want to play games" is fine for a 16 year old with acne and their recent Alienware desktop that their daddy bought them for Christmas, but it shouldn't be acceptable for a game developer looking to satisfy the widest possible audience of Civ fans. It's up to them to come up with a product that plays properly on PCs - desktop or laptop (again as long as they satisfy the minimum requirements).
  17. maartena

    maartena Warlord

    Nov 12, 2001
    Orange, CA
    Most of the laptop problems I have seen come by here are the ones that have a laptop without hardware T&L support. Sure, they have a nice fancy new laptop with all the bells and whistles and this Radeon IGP 345 card that is not even 6 months old..... but if it doesn't have the hardware T&L support you aren't gonna get very far with it with regards to Civilization 4.

    Or for that matter, Sims 2, Quake 4, Age of Empirers 3, Sid Meier's Pirates! and a good many other games released in 2005.

    So why is it that laptops often lack the GPU for hardware T&L calculations while the desktop counterpart of the same chipset has that feature?

    In an older Tom's Hardware article I found this.

    We know it since the release of NVIDIA's GeForce256 last October, hardware transform and lighting lets the 3D chip do the power hungry floating point calculations that make a scene out of a 3D world ('transforming'), remove the objects that are outside of the viewing range ('clipping') and give each vertex a light vector after computing the 3D-scene and its light sources ('lighting').

    Power hungry? I don't exactly know, or was able to find in that article whether that refers to the CPU power used, or the electrcity used, but either way, a processor doing calculations is going to generate a lot of heat and power anyways. If they in any way can prevent a laptop slurping up battery power because they run an application that requires hardware T&L, I think they probably will.


    The article on Tom's Hardware where I got the quote from also explains what T&L does, and it may make people understand why the decision of going with hardware T&L as the requirement for an application is at the core level, and can't be easily "patched out" after the fact.

    This article: http://www.macworld.com/news/2001/08/27/mobilitydetail/index.php - although on a Mac site, explains in detail how the Radeon 7500 Mobility chip works. This chip HAS hardware T&L support, but it does say that hardware T&L consumes more power, and it explains how ATI has been dealing with that on the card level to reduce the power it consumes. Interesting article indeed, but it does show again why so many laptop producers may favor a card that does not support hardware T&L.

    Here's another interesting link:


    A forum post about a lady looking for laptop advice - must run Civ 4 and cost less then $2k.... and although the posts are mostly user opinions and not always facts....it does state that many intergrated graphics cards (no matter whether they are Geforce or Radeon) do not have hardware T&L support.

    I think the bottom line is that many players have a laptop that....

    1) Is less then 2 years old.
    2) Costed them an arm and a leg. And their first born.
    3) Does not have hardware T&L support, OR a poor implementation of it to save power.

    And yeah... if you just spent $2k on a NICE laptop a year ago, you sure as hell aren't gonne replace it just to play Civ 4. Although some of you might. ;)

    If you are a laptop user, run the link in my signature before you buy the game. If it FAILS to pass the test, DO NOT buy the game.

    And I think thats the final word on it.... I truly don't believe that Firaxis will develop a version of Civ 4 that works on laptops that don't have T&L built in, but I do believe they will issue a patch (hopefully soon) that will address a lot of the issues that people have with laptops that HAVE T&L built in.

    I am in the same boat as all of you, my laptop has a Intel 855G chip in it, and will not, and will never run Civ 4 properly. I may give it a try tonight just to see, but have no real hope. :)

    I will have to keep playing it on my desktop...
  18. maartena

    maartena Warlord

    Nov 12, 2001
    Orange, CA
    All this still doesn't change the FACT that:

    1) Laptops DO NOT have the same feature set as Desktop computers. See hardware T&L support.

    2) Most 3D games developed in the last 2 years DO REQUIRE T&L support to operate properly.

    I'll say it again: IT IS NOT A SOFTWARE PUBLISHER'S FAULT If hardware manufacturors such as ATI have the GUTS to develop a chip in the year 2004 that does not have hardware T&L support.
  19. lightnng

    lightnng Chieftain

    Oct 18, 2005
    Thank you for acknowledging that there are those in this situation... like me :) I, too, am hoping such a patch will come out.
  20. PadresFan104

    PadresFan104 Chieftain

    Oct 31, 2005
    Running great on my HP Compaq nc6230 (2GHz Pentium M, 1GB RAM, 64MB Radeon X300).


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