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Fixing Computer Game Problems

Article Index

Click on the section you wish to read (or you can scroll down the page). Use your browser's back button to return to this index.
Introduction - New Game Blues
Step One - Get Some Help
Step Two - Identifying the Problem
Step Three - Update and Test DirectX Drivers
Step Four - Obtain the Latest Video and Sound Drivers
Step Five - Adjust BIOS Settings
Step Six - Last Resorts

New Game Blues

If you have bought a new game recently, and popped it in to your computer expecting gaming bliss, only to find that it crashes or locks up your whole system, then this article is for you.

Step One - Get Some Help

Maybe the game manufacturer has already updated the game and you no longer have a problem. So, the first thing you should do is visit the game manufacturer's web site and determine if there is a "game patch" to download. Also, visit the manufacturer's support area and see if there is a FAQ (frequently asked questions) or other tips that might help you.

Another good resource is game "fan" sites. For almost all recent games, third parties have developed web sites with a host of information on the new game. These sites can be found through the game manufacturer's site links or by searching on the name of the game. Many of these sites have bulletin or discussion boards, and most will have an area dedicated to game problems. Don't be shy about posting your problem if no one else has posted it.

Step Two - Identifying the Problem

So how does one go about coaxing a new game to run?
Do you promise to make amends for past deeds if only the game will work?
Maybe you could wiggle some cables or something?
Or should you just give up and run down to the computer store and buy a new computer, motherboard, or video card?

The first thing you should know is, "If your computer worked fine before loading the new game, then the game is the cause of the problem, not the computer".
Provided that your computer meets the manufacturer's minimum specifications (available on the game box) for running the game, you should not have to buy any new hardware.

So instead of pulling your hair out, apply the steps below in the order listed. After each step, you should try to run your game to see if the problem is corrected.

Warning - While you may choose to perform all steps, you should be aware that the steps progressively become riskier and could cause your computer to become unstable or unbootable if not performed correctly.

Step Three - Update and Test DirectX Drivers

Microsoft's DirectX is required to run most new and old games. The most recent release of DirectX is version 8.0 (it can be obtained free from Microsoft's Windows Update Page ). The majority of games will include a version of DirectX on the game's CD-ROM. If the new game is well behaved it will ask if you want to load its version of DirectX.

[Warning - If you have a newer version of DirectX already on your system - don't load an older version. This could corrupt current, or install older, drivers. Most games will usually work fine with a newer version of DirectX than the game requires.]

OK. Good Advice. So how do you know what version of DirectX you have? In Windows 95/98/Me a DirectX directory is created in C:\Program Files\DirectX. Use your file manager to open the DirectX directory and click on a program called DXDIAG.EXE.

This will open the DirectX Diagnostic Tool which not only reports the version of DirectX you have loaded (on the bottom of the first tab), it also lets you test your video and audio systems for conflicts. You should definitely click on all of the tabs and perform all the tests to make sure there are no problems.

Step Four - Obtain the Latest Video and Sound Drivers

You have a required, or newer version, of DirectX and the DirectX Diagnostic Tool doesn't report any problems, but you game is still crashing. Now what?

The next step is to obtain the latest video and sound drivers. While DirectX/Windows does have some drivers included, you should visit your audio and video card manufacturers' web sites to look for updated drivers. These are usually available in the technical support section of the site and can be downloaded free.

Another possibility for video drivers is to visit the graphic chip manufacturer's site (which you should only do if your graphic card manufacture is doing a poor job of releasing new drivers), e.g. if you have a NVidia GeForce card you could visit NVidia's web site.

Step Five - Adjust BIOS Settings

You loaded the latest video and sound drivers and the game still doesn't work - time to check those BIOS settings.
On most desktops, the BIOS settings screen is activated by pressing the Delete key during the startup boot check of system RAM. Once you are in the BIOS you can try changing the following items, one at a time, to see if they enable your game to work.

Your BIOS probably has various sections and you will have to locate these attributes to change them. No changes will be made in the BIOS unless they are saved before you exit. So if you make BIOS changes, but then decide you really don't want to save them, don't save the changes when you exit.

Warning - The following changes could keep your computer from operating properly. Before changing an item, write down your original setting. Do not change any settings other than those described. Your BIOS may or may not have the following items.

Recommended Settings

1. Enable "Assign IRQ to VGA" .
2. Disable "VGA Palette Snoop".
3. Disable "Video Bios Shadow" and video memory address shadowing like "C800-CBFFF".
4. "AGP Aperture" size should be one-half of available system RAM.
5. Reduce "AGP Speed" to 2/3 (especially good for overclockers).
6. Un-overclock your CPU (of course this is a last resort).

Last Resorts

If nothing else has worked, than the solutions listed below are the last things you should try. You should probably seek help again from your manufacture and other users before you try these ideas.

Warning - These solutions could definitely keep your system from operating properly and should not be undertaken by novices.

1. Move your PCI video card into a different slot. Some PCI video cards will pick up interference from the cards next to them. Trying a different slot might help.
2. Flash your video card's BIOS. New video cards have a flashable BIOS just like a motherboard's. If there is an update to your BIOS it will be available at your video card manufacturer's web site.
3. Flash your motherboard's BIOS. Any BIOS upgrades will be available at your motherboard manufacturer's web site.


Hopefully these steps have helped you solve your game's crashing problem. Feel free to post any qustions you have in our Need Help with a computer problem? Post your question in our *New* InfoHQ.com Tech Help Board.


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