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Fix-It List

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Technical Support' started by alamo, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. alamo

    alamo bang!

    Joined:
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    The purpose of this thread is to compile the various fixes discussed in this Civ4 Tech Support forum. If you find something useful then let us know! Thanks to all contributors.

    Civ4 makes serious use of recent graphic and sound interfaces, like harware Transform and Lighting. This makes for a cool game, but unfortunately it pushes the limits of the typical PC. You will need the right hardware first and then the right software to run this game.

    The Fixes

    1. New Hardware
    2. OS Updates
    3. Driver Updates
    4. DirectX Update
    5. System Settings
    6. Virtual Memory
    7. Game Settings
    8. Render Error Fix
    9. Art Pack Patch
    10. XML Parse Error Fix
    11. Clear the Game Cache
    12. Restart the Game
    13. Helper Apps
    14. SafeDisk4 Fix
    15. Admin Permissions
    16. Hardware conflicts
    17. New User Account
    18. Other Measures
    19. Debug Logging



    1. New Hardware

    Take an honest look at the system requirements. The minimum is barely functional. You can save yourself some trouble by dealing with this up front.

    Baseline: Win2k/XP, 1.7GB, 4xCD-ROM, Sound Card, DirectX9.0c

    Minimum: 1.2GHz, 256MB(Win2k)/512MB(WinXP), Video 64MB T+L (GeForce2/Radeon7500 or better)

    Recommended: 1.8GHz, 512MB, Video 128MB pixel & vertex shaders

    To decipher the video terms, refer to this spec sheet. Look for 'Vertex shader' not empty (dash).

    If your video card is more than 3 years old then you probably need a new one. Recommendations are not easy, as it depends on your system resources and your wallet resources. See the Video Q+A thread for more on video cards.


    2. OS Updates

    DirectX is tightly integrated to the Microsoft OS, so a new DirectX can expose OS problems. Here's a couple of examples from the WinXP SP2 fixes:

    Also, WinXP SP2 will be necessary for the Art Pack patch, so XP users should go ahead and do it. Win2k users should be interested in any patches relating to DirectX or hardware issues involving graphics and sound.


    3. Driver Updates

    For proper DirectX support get the latest recommended drivers that you are comfortable installing. This includes video, sound and main board. This will be fundamental source of problems until you find a baseline with confidence.

    Video Drivers are critical, but the key seems to be finding the best driver, not necessarily the latest driver. ATI owners have reported better results with drivers from the older Catalyst version 4.12. There are also some comments from Take-2 about testing with older Nvidia drivers.

    Also, be sure to look for video drivers from the exact card maker first, as opposed to the generic ATI/Nvidia/S3/etc reference drivers. Some people have solved their problems by installing drivers that are tailored for their video card.

    Old Sound Card drivers can also cause issues, possibly due to the detailed settings found in XML files. A bad sound card driver can exhibit an XML error!

    Old main board drivers are not usually a problem, but I heard from one person who had no AGP driver (so it was acting like PCI). If you can't run your video card in 4x or 8x mode then check for updates.


    4. DirectX Update

    You must have DirectX9.0c (it comes with the game). Start the DirectX Diagnostics (Start-Run-dxdiag) and run the Display and Sound tests to be sure your drivers are working. Notice the options on the Display and Sound tabs.

    Also, there is a DirectX9.0c October SDK update that contains runtime debug tools. You may get more details in your logs using this (it updates the DirectX runtime, too).


    5. System Settings

    Try adjusting the various system settings that affect sound or video. For example, look at the AGP aperature in the BIOS (video cards with less memory need more). There are many video card options to try - Direct3D vs OpenGL, acceleration, anti-aliasing, etc. More controls are found in the DirectX Diagnostic (start-run-dxdiag). Some people report sucess with turning video acceleration off then stepping it back up. Other people report improvements from turning off sound acceleration in the Sound tab of DxDiag.

    For access to more video settings, try RivaTuner. This will access more features available with your video card driver. In particular, try adjusting the Pixel/Vertex Shader settings.


    6. Virtual Memory

    Virtual memory is space on you hard drive that is used for active memory. When your system boots it creates the file (usually pagefile.sys). For good performance this should be set to custom with minimum equal to the maximum. This prevents the pagefile from becoming fragmented, which insures consistent performance. Generally the size should be double your RAM, up to 1G. I wouldn't go higher unless you see the need for more in taskmanager.

    To check your Virtual Memory settings (XP): Start - Settings - Control Panel - System - Advanced tab - Perfomance box - Settings - Advanced tab - Virtual Memory box - Change - Custom Size section.

    If you need to change this then you should consider defragmenting first, or you may get fragments in your pagefile. The defragger can analyze your disk and show you where you stand. The pagefile is part of the green (unmoveable) sections. The defragger is under Start - Settings - Control Panel - Administrative Tools - Computer Management - Disk Defragmenter. To speed things up you can delete and uninstall anything undesirable before defragging.


    7. Game Settings

    There are reports of issues with permissions when installed in the Programs directory. If you have severe startup problems then you could try installing in another location (or another partion).

    Try changing the game settings to reduce graphic and memory loads. There are options for autosaves, wonder movies, etc. Window mode seems to one person with movie stuttering.

    Look in your installation directory for a file called "_Civ4Config" and open it in notepad. Here are some selected lines of interest.

    Code:
    ; Specify whether to play in fullscreen mode 0/1/ask
    FullScreen = 1
    
    ; Specify the number of turns between autoSaves.  0 means no autosave.
    AutoSaveInterval = 1
    
    ; Set to 1 for no in-game movies
    NoMovies = 1
    Also, be very aware of your startup resolution setting! This can cause 'Failure to Initialize' errors if it is not valid for your current card+monitor.
     
  2. alamo

    alamo bang!

    Joined:
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    8. Render Error Fix

    Indication: Failed to Initialize Renderer - Check DirectX Version and Graphic Settings

    First, check your startup resolution in the .ini file. This should be something your card+monitor supports!

    This was first associated with ATI video cards, but has affected Nvidia owners as well. There are detailed instructions here.

    a.) Uninstall Civ4 and Folder
    b.) Delete c:\windows\system32\d3dx9_26.dll
    c.) Reboot
    d.) Remove Video drivers - ATI has a 'remove all' utility
    e.) Download the latest Video drivers - ATI / Nvidia / S3 - do not install yet!
    f.) Install Civ4, including DirectX
    g.) Install Video drivers

    Go to the Art Pack Patch (next) if you still have problems.


    9. Art Pack Patch

    A new game utility can be found here for WinXP or Win2k.

    The utility uncompresses a game file to (hopefully) make it easier to load. Detailed instructions are at the bottom of the Render Error page. Note that WinXP users must have SP2 for the utility.

    a.) Unzip
    b.) Run PakBuild and Choose PAK / Unpack
    c.) Open C:\Program Files\Sid Meier's Civilization 4\Assets\Art0.FPK (Firaxis Games/ in path?)
    d.) Unpack to the same folder
    e.) Open a windows explorer and go to that folder
    f.) Select Art0.FPK and choose Edit/Cut
    g.) Click the Up button to go to the parent directory
    h.) Choose Edit/Paste (this makes sure the unpacked art gets used)


    10. XML Parse Error Fix

    Warning: Old sound card driver errors can show up as XML errors! Check your sound card driver if you don't have an explicit 'parse' error.

    Critical problems parsing XML configuration files can be reduced by patching the MSXML Parser. Be advised that game setup info is encoded in XML, so basic hw/sw issues can present as an XML error (like bad drivers for an external sound card).

    Here is a manual fix for character encoding problems (source).

    Look under Start/ Settings/ Control Panel/ Regional and Language Options/ and try one:
    a.)Reset to English (United States)
    b.)Customize and change the Decimal symbol to . (dot) and group symbol to , (comma).


    11. Clear the Game Cache

    There is a game cache in the user profile. Apparently some config info gets saved there, so it should be cleared after every change. Look for it here
    C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\My Games\Civilization IV\cache (WinXP).

    W2k users should have something similar in C:Windows\Profiles\...


    12. Restart the Game

    There may be memory leaks that cause corrupt over time. Simply saving, quitting and restarting can reduce problems. Time to critical error probably depends on system resources, your game habits, and the particular game.


    13. Helper Applications

    Rivatuner is an interface to undocumented features of ForceWare(NVIDIA) and Catalyst(ATI) drivers. Some success has been reported from adjusting Pixel/Vertex Shader settings.

    nVHardPage is a tweak interface specifically for Nvidia drivers.

    3DAnalyze is a graphics tool that can assist with graphics has helped one player with stuttering problems. See more here.


    14. SafeDisk4 Fix

    There can be copy protection confusion for people with burners. Try to install from a non-burner drive. Otherwise turn off or remove your burner software.


    15. Admin Permissions

    Game folders and files need to be created, so run under a user with admin permissions (WinXP).

    16. Hardware Conflicts

    Some users have reported load errors or crashes due to the microphone device. In one case there was on-board vs sound card mic setting that made a difference, and in another there was a competing application grabbing the mic.


    17. New User Account

    This is really a diagnostic for WinXP users. You can create new user account and try to run the game from there. This can make a difference for two reasons. First, the user has a new profile and a new game cache. Secondly, the new user can get different hardware settings, like using on-board sound vs added sound card. If you find a difference then you can track down the source and fix your problem.


    18. Other Measures

    Here are some things crafty players have done to work around problems.

    a.) Reveal map - One player modded an XML file to reveal the map permanently, which resolved some render issues.

    b.) Stop Services - Conserve memory and CPU by turning off all those unnecessary windows services. Do start-run-services.msc to see what you've got.


    19. Debug Logging

    Here are instructions on how to enable logging for troubleshooting startup problems.

    c:\program files\firaxis games\Sid Meier’s Civilization 4\_Civ4Config.ini
    Code:
    ; Enable the logging system
    LoggingEnabled = 0
    
    ; Overwrite old network and message logs
    OverwriteLogs = 0
    
    ; Enable rand event logging
    RandLog = 0
    
    ; Enable message logging
    MessageLog = 0
    
    Look for the logs in \My Documents\My Games\Sid Meier�s Civilization 4\Logs\.

    init.log is the most relevant for startup issues.
     
  3. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    Save this spot!

    I'll add some detail now.
     
  4. Nothingman

    Nothingman Chieftain

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    Updating to SP2 helped myself and quite a few others. It didn't completely fix the issues by any means but it lessened them. Also, turning hardware acceleration off on the sound tab in dxdiag helped as well.
     
  5. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    Ok, thanks.

    The only mention I've seen of SP2 was necessary for the Art Pak, but you're the second one to mention it.
     
  6. fjorner

    fjorner Chieftain

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    Mouse Icon Freezes But Can Still Move in Background - Symptom: the mouse icon freezes randomly. System is otherwise ok. Can move the cursor around 'invisibly' and can click around as normal but the icon doesn't follow movements. Even happens in Windows when exiting the game. Only solved by a complete cold reboot of sys. Temporary Workaround: In control panel > mouse, enable Mouse Trails with the shortest possible length. Will only ensure that the mouse icon will be VISIBLE, if not spotty. Obviously not a solution.
     
  7. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    That's a new one on me. I don't know if that is a system pointer or a special one.

    That could be the result of memory corruption, as opposed to a simple leak.
     
  8. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    Added note about maker-specific video card drivers.
     
  9. Lahdoz

    Lahdoz Noble

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    The Art pack fixed most of my issues, then I updated my motherboard BIOS, and it fixed the remaining issues.

    The BIOS update fixed: random (possibly) crashes, graphic artifacts, cut the game start time and between turn time down significantly. Maybe a few others I don't recall.

    (Insert BIOS disclaimer here, refer to your manufacturer)
     
  10. ainwood

    ainwood Consultant. Administrator

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    Another couplf of things:

    Apparently its been confirmed that some crashes are caused by running-out of memory. Interim solution: Play smaller maps.

    Secondly, nVidia graphics glitches might be able to be solved by donwloading a tweaking tool. Thanks to ColdFever for sharing:

     
  11. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    ok - thanks.

    I changed the 3DAnalyze section to a general Helper Application section. I guess I should mention it in the System Settings section as well.


    @Lahdoz: Do you know what the BIOS patch fixed? Was there something sound or video related?

    It is kind of suprising how Civ4 brings out these errors. I wonder if it boils down to a few high-end features.
     
  12. Lahdoz

    Lahdoz Noble

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    Every motherboards BIOS will be different. The only thing mentioned with my specific MBs BIOS update had to do with the power LED for the front panel. It had nothing to do with the video slot at all, but it did make some huge improvements in gameplay for some reason, mostly video. I updated on a hunch.

    If anybody wishes to do this I only recommend it for experienced users, or those with confidence and extreme attention to detail. You must know the specific model and version of your motherboard. An incorrectly loaded BIOS can leave a computer completely unuseable and out of warranty, so proceed with caution. Please refer to your motherboard manufacturers website in their download section for the current BIOS, BIOS flash utility (if required), and details on how to flash.
     
  13. HankSSSI

    HankSSSI Chieftain

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    The Nvidia Tweak program worked for me.

    http://www.nvhardpage.com/

    I run a 2.6ghz P4, 1.5mb RAM and a Geforce 5200fx. I had choppy cinematics and sluggish gameplay/scrollspeed. I downloaded the program from the above site and changed my pixel shader to 1.1 and it dramatically increased performance AND made the wonder cinematics run perfectly.

    Highly recommended.
     
  14. Mr.Spock

    Mr.Spock Chieftain

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    A lot of us Radeon users have the exact same problem - choppy cinematics and suggish gameplay/scrollspeed. Anyone know a similiar program for ATI we could use to fix that?
     
  15. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    Rivatuner is suppose to work with recent ATI and Nvidia drivers.
     
  16. jayeffaar

    jayeffaar Chieftain

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    After playing flawlessly for over a week, the game suddenly started refusing to run tonight with the "failed to initialize renderer" message. I started thinking about what had changed since last night and I finally hit it: I had last played the game on the HDTV, running it at a resolution of 1776x1000 over a DVI connection. When I was trying tonight, the DVI cable was gone and my current monitor doesn't support that resolution, so it's not listed as available in the display properties dialog and would therefore not have been available to the game when it tried to initialize.

    I edited the .ini file to force the game's startup resolution to be 1280x1024 and that fixed it. Now, what if some of the other people out there are running into a similar problem? If your gfx card is hooked up to a plug-and-play monitor that happens to not support the game's default resolution the first time you come in, you'll never be able to start the game and the renderer will fail to initialize. This could be the cause of the problem for some people.
     
  17. alamo

    alamo bang!

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    Wow - good catch!

    Setting it to the smallest resolution should be standard debugging.

    Thanks for the tip.

    BTW - can you show us the starup resolution setting? I don't have my copy yet!
     
  18. esaikku

    esaikku Chieftain

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    I have the same problem with the addition that after a while my keyboard freezes too, usually before I manage to exit to desktop using keyboard. If I can get to desktop, keyboard will be fine. I haven't noticed that the cursor moves 'invisibly' but I'll have to try that.

    Of course when mouse and keyboard both are freezed, my only chance is hard boot.

    This doesn't hang the game. Animations keep running.
     
  19. esaikku

    esaikku Chieftain

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    ADDITION TO LAST POST!

    My hardware-----
    Mouse: IntelliMouse Explorer in USB
    Keyboard: basic PS/2 keyboard
    Mobo: Asus ?
    Chipset: NForce 2
    Processor: Athlon XP 2400+
    Display card: Radeon 9200 128MB
     
  20. WarX

    WarX Chieftain

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    Judging by what nVidia mentioned about "other nvidia driver issues" in their press release, and the fact that obviously coders and testers used earlier (read older) drivers while coding and testing, a possible driver downgrade as a solution should be mentioned above. I did downgrade to an older nvidia driver and that completely solved my crash to desktop problems on my nvidia 6600. I posted more information on this thread http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=137370
     

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