Thief: Deadly Shadows Tweak Guide

[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips

This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address most of the common problems experienced by Thief: Deadly Shadows players. Many of the tips below are drawn from my guides mentioned in the Essential Optimization section. This is no coincidence, since some of the common T:DS problems are not game bugs, but specific sub-optimal system conditions which lead to problems. Thief Deadly Shadows can be quite system intensive and uses some advanced features, and this brings out instability and problems on many systems. I can't stress enough the importance of taking the time to go through the checklist of advice below:

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Official Support: If you have a problem with the game, the first place to visit is The Official Eidos Support Site. It is also absolutely vital that you read the extremely useful information on troubleshooting the game in the Readme.rtf file found in your \Thief - Deadly Shadows\ directory. This document addresses a wide range of common problems with the game, and I urge you to read it for more details. It is genuinely helpful and the information comes straight from the game's developers.

Unofficial Support: One of the great things about the Thief series is that it has a fantastic community of players who are willing to help each other out. There are several forums you can visit to ask questions and read about other peoples' experiences with this game, both in terms of technical problems/solutions and general hints/tips/spoilers. I recommend that you visit the Eidos Thief: Deadly Shadows Forums and the TTLG Thief Forums. Remember, correct forum etiquette is to try and search for an answer to your problems through existing posts before posting your own question. A good starting point is this List of Bug Fixes.

Minimum System Requirements: You need to remember that T:DS is only designed to run on Windows XP and Windows 2000 and also requires DirectX9.0b. Not meeting these simple requirements can and will result in a great many problems. Another important requirement is at least a 64MB graphics card with hardware support for Pixel Shader 1.1 - basically this means the game will not run on any MX card, or anything older than a GeForce3 or Radeon 8500. The CPU requirement is also fairly steep, at 1.5GHz or higher (2.0Ghz + recommended). If you don't meet these hardware requirements, or barely meet them, then expect to see poor performance, visual anomalies, and in some cases the game simply will not run. Unfortunately there are no "software hacks" or tweaks available to assist you - it's time for an upgrade, as some of the advanced features of the game require full hardware support and nothing less.

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.

Installation Problems: This is usually due to the copy protection system on the game discs. One solution is to copy the contents of all the discs to an empty directory on your hard drive then install from there. Also make sure you have disabled any virtual drive software such as Alcohol. Furthermore, certain CD/DVD drives are incompatible with T:DS' copy protection system and hence won't read the discs correctly. One more thing to note is that you must be logged in to Windows using an account with Administrator-level access to install and play T:DS.

Game Runs Too Fast/Doesn't Load: These are due to CPU-related issues. If the game runs too fast and you run an AMD CPU, make sure to disable the 'Cool'n'Quiet' feature in your BIOS. If the game doesn't load up properly and you have a Dual Core or HyperThreading CPU, see the last page of this guide for more details of a fix.

Virus Scan: Do a full scan of all your files using a virus scanner such as Norton's Antivirus, a trojan cleaner such as A-Squared, and a spyware cleaner such as Ad-aware. Viruses and trojans can cause unexplained behavior and general file corruption, so it's best to make sure your system isn't infected before moving on to other troubleshooting measures. However make sure to disable any background scanning once you're done (See Background Programs below).

Latest Graphics and Sound Card Drivers: You must have DirectX9.0b or newer installed to run T:DS, but more importantly you need to have the very latest drivers installed for all of your major system components, particularly your graphics card and sound card. If you do not, you may experience strange game glitches, crashes and freezes. Most crashes to desktop are either related to the memory-subset (See Memory Subset below) or due to older and/or poorly installed drivers. Lockups during the loading menu are typically due to outdated sound card drivers.

Background Programs: 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 more in-game freezes and increasing load times. Some programs like Nortons Antivirus and Nortons Crash Protector are known to conflict with T:DS and must be disabled (More details in the Readme.rtf file). Full instructions on how to identify your startup programs and services and how to correctly disable unnecessary ones are in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion.

Overclocking: Thief: Deadly Shadows runs on a modified version of the Unreal Engine, which is very sensitive to overclocking. If you have overclocked any components on your system and are having problems, set everything back to the default speeds and try running the game. If you don't experience the same problems at default then your overclock is the primary culprit. In particular, read through my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for tools and instructions on how to correctly stress-test an overclocked system and determine which components are being pushed too far. Even if every other game and program you run works just fine at your current overclock, T:DS may well be crashing because of your overclock.

Fast CPU and Fast Graphics Card: People are complaining about how difficult it is to get playable framerates in T:DS, but upon closer examination their systems reveal a weak CPU or a slow graphics card which explains why this is so. As with most recent games, especially games based on the Unreal Engine (like UT2004 and America's Army), T:DS requires a balance of both a medium to fast CPU and a medium to fast graphics card for optimal performance. If you have a fast CPU but a slow graphics card for example (e.g. P4 3.2Ghz combined with an FX5200), or vice versa, then your machine will struggle. The CPU in particular comes under heavy load in T:DS because of the steep AI (Artificial Intelligence), Physics and rendering requirements, while the graphics card shares the load by undertaking advanced lighting, shadows and pixel shader effects. While you can reduce the load by reducing the in-game settings and undertaking some tweaking, you cannot turn off the advanced lighting effects, tone down the physics or reduce the AI hence the steep requirements.

Memory Subset: It is highly recommended that you run Thief: Deadly Shadows on at least 512MB of RAM for smooth gameplay. The game developers also recommend a Virtual Memory size of at least 600MB. To gain even better performance optimize your Virtual Memory settings by following the step-by-step instructions in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. Combined with the tweaks covered later in this guide, this should help resolve most of your problems. A lack of RAM and sub-optimal virtual memory settings, especially when combined with overclocked memory (and/or aggressive RAM timings), can lead to lots of small in-game loading pauses, longer loading times and memory conflicts leading to crashes to desktop, GPFs and even sudden reboots.

Defragging: Make sure that after you have installed T:DS that you run through the system maintenance procedures detailed in TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. If you only do one thing on that list though, make sure you run the Windows Defragmentation utility after installing a large game like T:DS (which takes up over 2GB of space). Defragging ensures that the game's files are all on the same place on your hard drive, greatly reducing loading pauses/freezes and loading times. It may take a little while but it is well worth it.

Antialiasing/Anisotropic/Multisampling: If you have mysteriously low frames per second despite being certain that your hardware is capable of more, then one place to check would be your graphics card's Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering settings. These are explained in detail in my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. Even 2x Antialiasing for example can turn T:DS into a slideshow in certain areas, depending on your hardware and in-game settings. For maximum framerates set both AA and AF to 0x or "Application Controlled" in your graphics card's control panel. Also make sure that the Multisampling setting in T:DS is set to 1x (the lowest possible) for maximum performance. Multisampling is basically a form of Antialiasing, and while it improves graphics quality it brings with a hefty performance hit at progressively higher levels (See In-Game settings for more details).

Known Bugs: Thief Deadly Shadows does have several known bugs, such as the blue selection spotlights remaining in the bottom right or left corner of your screen after you've put away an item. While many issues with the game can be resolved through changing appropriate settings and optimizing your system, keep in mind that certain odd behaviors and glitches in the game are known bugs and should be fixed by the developers in an upcoming patch (See the Patches and Fan Missions section).

That's just a basic rundown of troubleshooting tips. Read the remainder of this guide for more specific settings and tweaks which can help resolve your problems, and make absolutely certain you read the Readme.rtf file in your \Thief - Deadly Shadows\ directory.