Call of Juarez Tweak Guide

[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips

This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address many of the common problems experienced by Call of Juarez players. I can't stress enough the importance of taking the time to go through the checklist of advice below if you're having a problem with the game.

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Official Support: The first place to look for official support details is at the Offical Call of Juarez Site. You should also make a point of reading the game's Readme.txt file found in your \Program Files\Ubisoft\Techland\Call of Juarez directory. Pay particular attention to the game's minimum and recommended system requirements; specifically if your graphics card does not support SM2.0 you will not be able to play the game properly. To check to see if your system meets all the requirements, you should run the CoJ_Detection.exe file found under your \Program Files\Ubisoft\Techland\Call of Juarez\Detection directory. If you're still having problems you should visit the Official Call of Juarez Forums to look for solutions or post a question.

Windows Vista Users: If you're having problems running this game under Windows Vista, first make sure that you're using the latest Vista graphics and audio drivers for your hardware, and make absolutely sure you're using the latest version of this game (see page 4 for patch details), as the recent patches contain both Vista fixes and compatibility improvements, as well as additional DX10 functionality for non-US versions of the game.

Long Loading Times: This is the single most common complaint about Call of Juarez, and stems from a combination of factors. Each time you alter your video settings in the game, Call of Juarez has to either create or alter many files in its shader cache to drive all the special effects in the game. The location of this cache is in separate folders under your \Documents and Settings\[Username]\My Documents\call of juarez\Out\cache\Shaders directory in XP, or \Users\[Username]\Documents\call of juarez\out\cache\Shaders in Vista - note there is one folder for each Shader version you have used (the DX10 version has the name of your graphics card in front of it). This shader cache is similar to the shader optimization routine Battlefield 2 goes through for example whenever you update your graphics drivers or change a graphics setting. The important thing to note is that there are around 3,000 or more individual small files in the shader cache. When you first load up after a setting change, or when loading up new maps/levels, the simple act of creating or modifying these files is very system intensive, particularly for slower or unoptimized hard drives with longer seek times.

However even after you have settled on a stable configuration and don't change your settings, the game still can take longer to load not just due to the large number of shader files it has to load up, but also because it can load up to 600MB or more of the game into memory at the start of a level. The game does this not to bug you, but to minimize loading pauses during the game. So unlike games like Oblivion, it loads more at the start and much less during a game - hence the long loading times are actually a good thing, rather than a bad thing, as they greatly reduce in-game stuttering. However you can improve loading times: see the Memory Optimization and Drive Optimization chapters of my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion, and also refer to the topic below.

Shader Cache Issues/Optimization: This is an important topic, so it deserves to be highlighted here. After you have changed your settings several times, particularly if you've experimented a great deal with the tweaks in the Advanced Tweaking section of this guide, it is important to clear the shader cache and let the game recreate the files the next time it loads up a level. To clear the cache(s), simply go to your shader directory and delete all the sub-folders. Clearing the caches can fix several problems: it can resolve strange performance slowdowns and ensure optimal FPS; it will ensure that any setting changes you've implemented are correctly applied; and it can resolve any graphical glitches you may experience. During the course of preparing this guide, I often found that after a fair few setting changes the game would not display certain changes in settings correctly any more - so I cleared the cache, reloaded the game and everything would be fixed.

To 'optimize' the shader cache, both to improve performance and loading times, do the following: Firstly make sure you have arrived at a comfortable configuration you feel will meet your needs. Close Call of Juarez and clear your shader cache manually (see above) - permanently deleting all the sub-folders in the \Shaders\ directory. Now restart the game and load up a saved game or start a new level; it will take a while longer to load as the cache is being recreated. Now quit Call of Juarez, and defragment your entire hard drive. The next time you go to play the game, it should load faster, it should perform at its best, and you should have no graphical glitches or incorrectly applied effects. This is a necessary step, so please do not ignore it.

Game is Already Running: If you get the error 'ChromeEngine Game is Already Running' when trying to launch CoJ, this is because the game didn't close properly the last time you ran it. To fix this, open Task Manager (CTRL+AL+DEL), go to the Processes tab and look for the process CoJ.exe. Click on this process and then click the 'End Process' button at the bottom of Task Manager. You can now relaunch the game successfully.

SecuROM Issues: The Call of Juarez uses the SecuROM copy protection system. This system can cause particular problems on some systems. If you do have problems, the first thing you should do is disable or even uninstall all disc emulation/image mounting software as these typically conflict with secuROM. Also check these tips to see if they help. If they don't help, contact SecuROM Support directly to get help with your problem. The bottom line is that you may not overcome your problems with secuROM; it is a terrible copy protection method which punishes legitimate buyers of games.

The Latest Graphics Drivers: Since Call of Juarez is such a shader-dependent game, and in particular the DirectX10 mode is quite graphically intensive, make absolutely certain you have updated to the latest graphics card drivers. This means the ATI Catalyst 7.10 or newer; or the Nvidia Forceware 163.75 or newer. See page 4 of my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide or Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide for details on where to download the latest drivers and how to install them cleanly. For Nvidia SLI users, make sure to use the latest Nvidia drivers as these have a profile specifically for Call of Juarez.

Background Programs: The game's developers recommend that you disable all background applications - especially virus, trojan and spyware scanners and messaging utilities. These applications can and do use up valuable CPU resources, take up precious RAM, cause memory conflicts and crashes to desktop, but most importantly they interfere with read/writes to your hard drive effectively slowing it down and causing longer loading times, and in-game freezes and stuttering. Full instructions on how to identify your startup programs and services and how to correctly disable unnecessary ones are in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. This is an important step you should not miss.

Overclocking: Call of Juarez may be sensitive to overclocking, particularly on the graphics card. If you are experiencing graphical glitches or crashing, set everything back to its default speeds and see if this impacts on the problem. If you don't experience the same problems at default speed, or they're reduced in severity, then your overclock is the primary culprit. Either permanently reduce your overclock and/or increase cooling to regain stability. Overheating Video RAM in particular is the most common cause of crashes and graphical glitches. Don't assume that because other games run with stability at a particular speed that Call of Juarez will do the same.

These are just a few of the common problems people are having with Call of Juarez. However if you follow the advice in this guide, you should be able to play the game more smoothly. Just be realistic about balancing eye candy with performance, and focus on tightening up your system as much as possible. Read the guides I link to under Essential Optimization above for more details on how to do that. The Chrome Engine on which CoJ is based actually appears to be very solid and , so chances are the problem is with something on your end.

Read the remainder of this guide for specific settings and tweaks which can help improve your performance and resolve any problems. The next section looks at patches, maps and mods.