Prey Tweak Guide
[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips
This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address many of the common problems experienced by Prey 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.
Official Support: The first place to look for official support details is at the Offical Prey Support Site. Importantly, check out the minimum system requirements shown there, as well as the supported hardware list, since if any of your hardware is not supported or doesn't meet the requirements then you will experience problems with the game, or quite simply won't be able to run it. If you're having specific problems you should visit the Official Prey Forums to look for solutions or post a question, especially this Prey Tech Help FAQ.
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 the latest version of this game (see page 4 for patch details). Next, make sure you don't change your UAC settings after the game has been installed, as due to Virtualization this can change the location of the game files and settings. If you can't launch the game successfully when UAC is enabled, you will need to run the game with full Admin privileges. To do this either right-click on the launch icon and select 'Run as Administrator', or right-click on the launch icon, select Properties and under the Compatibility tab tick 'Run this program as an administrator' then click OK. I strongly recommend that you refer to the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for Windows Vista for more information - in particular check the 'Gaming in Vista' section of the Graphics & Interface chapter; the UAC section of the PC Security chapter; and the 'Personal Folders' and 'Directory Junctions & Symbolic Links' sections of the Windows Explorer chapter. These will tell you how you can fix game-related issues and also explain the relevant differences of Vista.
SecuROM Issues: The secuROM copy protection system is a method used while creating the game CD/DVD to embed a form of security encryption onto the disc. This is done not so much to prevent copying/cracking by hardcore pirating groups - they defeat it just fine. It's more to prevent casual copying, like making a burnt copy for your friend. Unfortunately secuROM also causes a wide range of annoying problems, from problems authenticating the disc through to irregular crashes and lock-ups. The first thing you should do is disable or even uninstall all disc emulation/image mounting software - these typically conflict with secuROM. Also check these tips to see if they help. If these don't help, contact SecuROM Support 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.
Lag vs. Graphical Slowdowns: This is a common issue in most multiplayer FPSes. Check the Multiplayer Commands on page 10 of this guide for methods of troubleshooting ping problems, however also make sure to adjust your settings to get a consistently smooth average FPS (25FPS or higher is recommended), otherwise when your FPS dips down to the low double or single digits you will experience lag which you may mistake for connection or server problems when online. Display your FPS counter in the top right corner of the game while playing online, and if it shows a good framerate but you still experience laggy gameplay, then you can really start experimenting with the various net_ command variables. Make sure to also install the latest patch (see page 4) as this helps improve multiplayer performance.
The Latest Graphic Drivers: Since Prey is so dependent on your graphics card, make absolutely certain you have updated to the latest graphics card drivers. This means the ATI Catalyst 6.8 or newer; or the Nvidia Forceware 91.31 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, see the last page of this guide for more details.
Sound Problems: Make sure you have your speaker mode correctly set up in the Windows Control Panel before launching the game, and then see page 7 of the guide for more details. If you want to troubleshoot to see whether crashing or problems in Prey are the result of your sound card, sound drivers or sound settings, use the s_noSound command (See Advanced Tweaking section). Importantly, X-Fi owners should upgrade to the latest official X-Fi drivers on the Creative SoundBlaster Site as these have a specific fix for Prey.
In-Game Lag/Freezes/Stuttering: To reduce any stuttering/loading pauses in Prey, make sure you have set the appropriate Texture Quality level based on the information on page 5 of this guide. Because that setting controls textures, and because texture loading is the most common cause of regular stuttering in most games, you need to experiment to have the right balance of image quality and performance. Don't just choose High if your system can't handle it. And of course, make absolutely sure that you have run the Windows Defragmenter after installing Prey - if its files are fragmented this can greatly increase your stuttering and in-game loading pauses.
Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering: To make sure Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering work properly in Prey it is recommended that you first go to your graphics card's control panel, and for Nvidia cards under the Performance & Quality Settings in the Global Driver Settings section select 'Application Controlled' for Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering. For ATI cards go to the 3D section of the Control Panel/Control Center and select 'Application Preference' for Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering. Now go into Prey and set the level of Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering under the Options>Advanced 1 and Advanced 2 screensSettings>Advanced Options area (See In-Game Settings section). If you are unfamiliar with what Antialiasing or Anisotropic Filtering do, see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide.
Virus Scan: Do a full scan of all your files using the following excellent (and free) tools: AVG Virus Cleaner for viruses, A-Squared for trojans, and Ad-Aware SE for spyware/adware. Viruses, trojans and spyware can cause unexplained behavior, general file corruption and system slowdown, and can also steal your CD Key. It's best to make sure your system isn't infected before moving on to any other optimization measures. However make sure to disable any background scanning programs once you're done (See below).
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 even more 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: While Prey is not overly sensitive to overclocking, if you are experiencing graphical glitches or crashing in the game, 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. Don't assume that because other games run with stability at a particular speed that Prey will do the same.
These are just a few of the common problems people are having with Prey. 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 Doom 3 engine on which Prey is based is quite solid and is virtually bug-free, 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.