Character voices freeze/crash the game

1

I've been fiddling with some issues with this game for the past 2 days, and want to share my problems and findings:

Settup:

     Xeon E3-1231 V3 (4 core + hyperthreading @ 4.3GHz)

    Radeon R9 270 (maybe the x version, im not sure, and windows wont show me the actual name)

    8GB ram

    Intel Xonar DX/XD sound card

    OS on smal SSD (see post why this is important)

    Game installed on a several years old HDD (reads small random chunks @ ~1Mb/s, linear reads are @ 65Mb/s)

What is happening:

Audible voice lines from characters (maybe some others too, dont know) freeze the game for either a pretty long time (feels like 30sec) or completly (longest test was 30min).

Workaround:

Alt tabing out of the game shortly after plays the sound and the game continues - except when it rarely crashes the game.


The storry:

After starting the game for the first time, it went through the main menu (+some settings by me), intro video and cut scene without problem, but froze at the moment the swap to user controled game play happened.

With some dumb luck i found out that i could unfreeze it, by tabing out of the game, while its window setting was at "full screen". To be clear: it continuessome time after the window looses focus without the need of getting it back.

Maybe related to this is that my background music some times loops or plays multiple times.

Playing along i encountered this freeze everytime some character wanted to audibly say something, but not if the line itselfe was already heared. In full fletched dialogs (like the "background talking" in the mission) and sometimes boss lines dont cause this to happen, but i gues those sounds are just part of a bigger sound item, that gets loaded together and the bigger item itselfe triggers the freeze.

Since setting any volumes to 0% (including master) did not help i thought of my sound card - its working well and i never had troubles with it, but its a piece of equipment most ppl dont have. Changing the windows standart output to the only other sound device i have (the steam streaming speakers) didnt help either. Nor did changing any of my sound cards parameters (but i didnt expect that).

Flamethrowers and the litle circle at the characters feet and and propably some other effekts keep on going, and the background music still plays while frozen, some other sounds loop.


Then i looked at what the game was doing with its files and using Procmon i found some issues:

1. The game inconsistantly bundles its assets. Sometimes they are packed into N2PK files (dont know that) sometimes they are scattered in the folders - and it dosnt seem to be consistant what the game tries to find first. In addition: if assets get loaded from N2PK files they dont get batched. (Just in case you want to improove your load times), and

2. the background music gets read more than once. Looking at different game starts n stuff most of the time i see doubled reads on the playing background music, but i have seen three and even four.

3. If the game freezes, the last action done is a read on the game .exe itselfe

4. Same for the occasional crash i have. (see below)


Then i moved some of the most used data (folders: Cfg, Effects, JSON(not much used but pretty small - so why not), media, Models, Strings, Ui) to my 60GB SSD partition and symlinked them back into the game folder.

This improoved on the game behaviour so much, i finaly felt like i could play and enjoy this game! I'm not sure what improoved, but its certainly the amount i have to tab out - went from once every 3 seconds in campain to like once every 15sec at the start of the map to nearly never at the end or maps whith similar enemies. And the time between tabing out and continuing went from like 1 to 5sec to under 1sec.

This dosnt work always - sometimes the game freezes for a lot longer, and windows asks me if i want to kill it - but so faar most of the times it continued after like a minute or so.

Sadly something else arose: now sometimes the game freezes in a non-surrectible (is that a word?) way. This happens at i gues mostly the same points, but im not sure. Tabing out changes its behaviour from minimizing the window to adding a white blury plane on top of it, and even flamethrowers freeze. Windows does not ask me if i want to kill it! One single time (out of like 10 this has happened) a games own dialog sait something like "game crashed - reported". After killing the process it keeps on going, further atempts to kill it via taskmanager result in a windows error message (some generic "i cant do that", and rarely a "you dont have permission") and the load of the volume containing the game sits at 100%. Taskmanager shows 95-90% CPU load but cant find a process to attach that to it, this continues after logging out and back in, and trying to shut down the machine lets it sit at the blue "shutting down" screen for at least 20min, have hard reset it every time. While in this state i still see readFile attempts every few seconds on the game.exe made by the game process, that result in an "IO DEVICE ERROR" and after hitting alt+f4 which kills the window, the exact same happens to fmodstudio64.dll. Interestingly those readFile calls alternate between two possible offsets, and my windows event log gets spamed with "Warning - the io for $block and device $device was repeated"

Thinking that my HDD could be at fault here i moved the installation to another (litle bit faster) HDD (with the same symlinking) but this didnt help. A file system check did not reveal any issues on the drive.


So my current state is: i can play somewhat fluently, if i tab out of the game like 15times within the first few minutes, later on it gets way less often, until it crashes - which it does somewhere between 5 and 30 minutes. After that i have to forcefully kill my machine.

The posibilitie to completly disable sound would be an acceptable workaround for me, but any other hint on how to improve on this is verry much welcome.


The emperor protects.




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Character voices freeze/crash the game
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4 years 175 days ago

Not sure if this is asking for technical help or a bug report - gues its both, so pls move the category if you want.