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Dikiyoba

G4 Running Slowly (Windows)

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After about five minutes of playing G4 (a rough estimate), the game slows to a crawl. I have tried everything in the forum header but still have this problem. I can get the game to run without problems by messing with the virtual memory settings but I have to mess with them again every time I want to play, which is incredibly annoying. I'm running Windows XP on a Dell INSPIRON 600M using a 1.6 GHz Pentium M. Anyone have any ideas on what's wrong and how to fix it?

 

Dikiyoba also has problems with the A4 demo (and Dikiyoba isn\'t the only one ), though G1, G2, and the Avernum Trilogy are working fine.

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My first guess (and only, for that matter) would be a background process and GF4 not getting along too well. Close out any background processes you aren't using and then try running it. If that doesn't fix it, you're not missing out on much.

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I had that problem with Avernum 4, to begin with. Defragmenting my hard drive, and deleting all the crap, greatly improved matters. Geneforge 4 runs like a dream.

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I have the latest DirectX version, and I'm not defragging because people with hard drives that are 500 GB or more can only defrag if they set aside a week in which to do so. tongue

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Quote:
Originally written by Dikiyoba:
... I can get the game to run without problems by messing with the virtual memory settings but I have to mess with them again every time I want to play, which is incredibly annoying. ...
What do you mean by "messing with virtual memory settings"?

If memory is the issue, closing all other programs is the best solution. (Yes, that includes your web browser and MP3 player. tongue ) If that is not enough, use Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services (or the equivalent for your version of Windows) to shut down everything you don't need. (I wouldn't recommend shutting down anti-virus while your computer is connected to the Internet, but many other servicies can be shut down safely.

Defragmenting hard drive is also helpful if you are using virtual memory, but it's better to not need virtual memory in the first place.

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Unfortunately, most of us don't have enough memory to bypass VM altogether. Actually, with the way games are designed nowadays, I don't even think that's possible.

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You can turn virtual memory off, but it causes a major slowdown on most modern computers. Starting with Windows 2000, virtual memory page files have become standard.

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I know that VM shouldn't be turned off. What I meant to say is that since accessing hard drive is orders of magnitude slower than accessing RAM, you should try to get as much free RAM as possible for the memory-hogging games.

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I already had the latest version of DirectX, I close out of all the other programs before I play, and defragging the hard drive didn't help, unfortunately.

 

Originally by Zeviz:

 

Quote:
What do you mean by "messing with virtual memory settings"?
Making the initial VM size smaller.

 

Dikiyoba.

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Quote:
Originally written by Sarasaphilia:
Maybe a new graphics card is in order?
I highly doubt it. I've got a GeForce 6800LE that handles powerful 3D games, which Geneforge 4 is not. tongue

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If you were on a Mac, you could go to the Activity Monitor utility and shut down all un-nessessary processes, hidden or not. But I doubt you are. If Windows has the equivalent of Activity Monitor, I would check that out.

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Of course! Task Manager! You can use task manager to end unnecessary processes, or, if GF4 is running at the moment, set it's CPU priority to High!

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Quote:
Originally written by Nioca:
Of course! Task Manager! You can use task manager to end unnecessary processes, or, if GF4 is running at the moment, set it's CPU priority to High!
It's better to shut down processes (as opposed to applications that appear in the first tab of Task Manager) by following the steps I've described in my earlier post, to decrease the chances of stopping a process you shouldn't mess with.

Quote:
Originally written by Dikiyoba:
...
Originally by Zeviz:
Quote:
What do you mean by "messing with virtual memory settings"?
Making the initial VM size smaller.
...
That doesn't sound right. I'd assume that increasing amount of swap space improved performance, but if it has to be decreased to work better, there might be a bug in the game. (Civ4 originally had a bug in graphics code that caused the game to run worse on machines with more RAM, so this might be something similar.)

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Quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:
Quote:
Originally written by Dikiyoba:
Making the initial VM size smaller.
...
That doesn't sound right. I'd assume that increasing amount of swap space improved performance, but if it has to be decreased to work better, there might be a bug in the game. (Civ4 originally had a bug in graphics code that caused the game to run worse on machines with more RAM, so this might be something similar.)
Actually, this is completely feasible. Virtual Memory is created by using the Hard Disk as RAM. The problem is, Hard Drives are nowhere near as fast as RAM, which means that it takes longer to load something into or out of Virtual Memory. And if you have a larger Page file (or in my case, three page files varying sizes), it further aggravates the problem.

Actually, I may have a bit of an advantage with having three page files (there is a page file for each drive; I couldn't support one larger page file on a single drive). One page file is one drive C:, an unpartitioned disk. The other two are on Drives E: and F:, which are two separate partitions on the same disk. Because of that fact, my computer can probably access VM faster because it has two disks working on it instead of one. I'm not exactly sure about that, though.

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Quote:
Originally written by Nioca:
Quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:
...That doesn't sound right. I'd assume that increasing amount of swap space improved performance, but if it has to be decreased to work better, there might be a bug in the game. (Civ4 originally had a bug in graphics code that caused the game to run worse on machines with more RAM, so this might be something similar.)
Actually, this is completely feasible. Virtual Memory is created by using the Hard Disk as RAM. The problem is, Hard Drives are nowhere near as fast as RAM, which means that it takes longer to load something into or out of Virtual Memory. And if you have a larger Page file (or in my case, three page files varying sizes), it further aggravates the problem.
...
In case you didn't know, Virtual Memory is used only when computer runs out of physical RAM. So having more virtual memory shouldn't cause any slowdowns, unless there is a bug in the program that causes it to eat up as much memory as it can, using up all physical RAM and filling Virtual Memory to the limits.

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I run Windows 2000, and have had no performance issues at all with G4. I surprised that this slowdown did not appear during beta testing, as it seems to be specific to the most common operating system. So, did any of the beta-testers see this? A bunch of folks as smart as this ought to be able to eliminate quite a few possibilities and figure it out rather easily. I heartily recommend being very wary of ZoneAlarm and memory intensive applications. On more than one occasion it has blown up while I've been editting graphics in Adobe PS. Standard caveat applies, regarding connectivity and such.

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All I can say about this problem is that it is rare, and none of the beta testers had it. I'm also not getting complaints about it by E-mail. Because it seems to afflict only a small portion of machines, I kind of doubt it's my fault.

 

I strongly recommend doing all the regular things. Uninstall-reinstall. Defragment. Shut down other processes. Reinstall drivers and directx.

 

And if anyone can track down the piece of software that is interfering with my games, I would hugely appreciate it if you'd let me know.

 

- Jeff Vogel

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All I can say about this problem is that it is rare, and none of the beta testers had it. I'm also not getting complaints about it by E-mail. Because it seems to afflict only a small portion of machines, I kind of doubt it's my fault.

 

I strongly recommend doing all the regular things. Uninstall-reinstall. Defragment. Shut down other processes. Reinstall drivers and directx.

 

And if anyone can track down the piece of software that is interfering with my games, I would hugely appreciate it if you'd let me know.

 

- Jeff Vogel

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I shall track down all and any programs that interfere with your games, O Fearless Leader! Or perish in the attempt!

 

But I'm fairly sure since you say this problem is limited to several machines, it is going to be a hidden process, not a piece of software. Easily traced by either Activity Monitor or Task Manager.

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Quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:
In case you didn't know, Virtual Memory is used only when computer runs out of physical RAM.
False. Virtual Memory is used well before you run out of RAM. In fact, most programs will use Virtual Memory alongside RAM so the actual RAM doesn't get burned through with a single application.

Quote:
So having more virtual memory shouldn't cause any slowdowns
Virtual Memory essentially consists of one large file being used as a storage program. The slowdown with more Virtual Memory comes in because:
A) The computer has to sift through a larger pagefile to locate the data it's trying to find.
B) The computer has to rewrite the pagefile when it deposits new data or gets rid of old or unneeded data.

Fortunately, you can usually set the pagefile so that it starts out small, but will expand as needed. Sort of like a sponge.

Quote:
Originally written by Sarasaphilia:
With Mac, you can shut down any process you like, it'll only restart the computer if you did something wrong.
Windows is pretty much the same way, only there are certain processes it won't even let you touch.

EDIT: Pared down on the quote pyramid.

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Summary for people not interested in university-level computer design discussion: Nioca is wrong. Under normal conditions, it's better to have a single large swap file than to let a small one grow.

 

Quote:
False. Virtual Memory is used well before you run out of RAM. In fact, most programs will use Virtual Memory alongside RAM so the actual RAM doesn't get burned through with a single application.

You are right that I was oversimplifying. My point is that I haven't heard of any OS that sends more memory pages to disk just because a larger swap file is there.

 

Quote:
A) The computer has to sift through a larger pagefile to locate the data it's trying to find.
It seems you have no idea about how Virtual Memory is implemented. When application tries to access a page of data, the computer checks the page table to see where (in main memory, or on disk) the page is currently located. The page table itself is stored in main memory, so the lookup time is negligible. (Accessing main memory is about 1000 times faster than accessing hard drive.) If the requested page is on disk, the corresponding block will be read into main memory. This is the time consuming part and it takes the same amount of time regardless of the size of your page file, because only the required chunk of data is read.

 

Quote:
B) The computer has to rewrite the pagefile when it deposits new data or gets rid of old or unneeded data.
This is also completely wrong. Read the above paragraph for an explanation of the page table. When new data needs to be written, only required blocks are overwritten. When the data is no longer needed, no disk writes are performed at all. The space is simply marked as free in the page table (stored in main memory), so new data can be written into it if necessary.

 

Quote:
Fortunately, you can usually set the pagefile so that it starts out small, but will expand as needed. Sort of like a sponge.
This is a very bad idea, because it will cause fragmentation of swap file. (Fragmentation means that parts of the file are stored on different parts of the disk.) Fragmentation is bad because the time it takes for reading heads to find the right track (seek time) and time it takes for disk to rotate to the right position on the track (rotational delay) is much longer than the time required to retrieve the data itself. If your file is a continuous chunk of disk space, you will waste a lot less time positioning the heads than if you have to go to a different part of disk for every block.

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Yes, I have had the problem with the game running slow and did e-mail someone about it. Got no reply to that. However, it feels like the memory is not getting refreshed...over time it just gets slower and slower. The slow down is worse when the training or inventory menus are opened. End the game and the computer spends time dumping something a few seconds before it comes back. Also the memory usage on the task manager never comes all the way back to the level before the game was run, I do not know if this in normal of not. I can watch proc usage hit 90% on both cores when it is slowing down. I would say that it is not a hardware issue. AMD X2 3800, 2 GB of ram, 8800 GTS video card. lots of horsepower under the cover (it runs Oblivion as 1900 x 1200 res with all of the goods turned on). I would like to know what to do to make the game go faster.

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Quote:
Originally written by Benzdoc:
Also the memory usage on the task manager never comes all the way back to the level before the game was run, I do not know if this in normal of not.
It's not; that suggests a memory leak, which unfortunately can be very difficult to fix. In any case, there's not a whole lot you can do about it except hope for an update.

One thing you can do is avoid running other programs at the same time as G4; SW games generally don't like running in the background or sharing CPU time with other programs.

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So i turned everything off in the background and task bar. Get more time with the game running normal speed, but it still gets slow after a while and needs to restarted.

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In brainstorming ideas on this, I wondered if people have tried running any of the spy-ware finder software (Ad-aware, Spybot, etc). All this talk about memory drain makes me wonder if malware isn't somehow involved.

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I regularly sweep for malware on a weekly basis using 3 different programs, so I doubt this is the problem. On a more interesting note, it works on my Vista partition, so it's not a hardware problem.

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I'm using XP Home edition, on a reasonable computer (not the best specified here), and I'm not getting any slowdown.

 

I use ZoneAlarm, so that isn't an issue, although I do set it to block all internet access when I start playing. And I also have other apps open at the same time.

 

From what I'm reading, it's a problem with the game grabbing all the VM it can get, so, I don't know how feasible this is, but installing it onto a smaller hard drive might work.

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Okay, an update. I bought the game even though I never fixed the problem. Shutting down all the background processes I could didn't help. What does work (most of the time and at least for as long as I usually want/have time to play) is starting Geneforge 4 right away before everything finishes loading when I turn on/restart my computer, so there's something interfering with it.

 

And now, a new bug. I haven't tested it thoroughly and I'm too lazy to start a new topic, so it goes here. It's not an issue with the game because I redownloaded but it could be a corrupted save file. In two different zones I have consistent crashes. They seem to be triggered by having too much stuff (probably 100 or so items) piled in one area.

 

Dikiyoba.

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