UT2004 Tweak Guide

[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips

This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address most of the common problems experienced by UT2004 players. Most of the tips below are actually drawn from one of my guides mentioned in the Essential Optimization section. This is no coincidence, since most of the common UT2004 problems are not game bugs, but specific sub-optimal system conditions which lead to problems. UT2004 is a new and very system intensive game, and hence brings out instability and problems in all but the most rock-solid of machines. Again, I can't stress the importance of taking the time to go through the checklist of advice below:

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Official Support: The first place to check for a solution to your specific issue is the UT2004 Official Support Forum. There are several common problems listed, with suggested solutions you can try. This is also where you can request official Technical Support if you're really struggling. Also make sure you read the Readme.int.txt file found in your \UT2004\Help directory for more handy troubleshooting tips straight from the game's developers.

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.

Virus Scan: Do a full scan of all your files using a virus scanner such as AVG Virus Cleaner, a trojan cleaner such as A-Squared, and a spyware cleaner such as Ad-aware. Viruses and trojans can cause unexplained behavior like forced disconnection from the net, ping spikes or crashing of UT2004 to the desktop while loading. Note if you are crashing to the desktop while loading and it's not a virus, try the official solution here.

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, and raise ping, but far more importantly they interfere with read/writes to your hard drive effectively slowing it down and causing more in-game freezes and increasing load times. 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: The Unreal Engine is extremely sensitive to overclocking. If you've overclocked any component(s) on your system, set everything back to the default settings 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, UT2004 is likely to want even more stability. Each game has different tolerances based on the way it stresses different components in your system, and UT2004 is about as overclocking-unfriendly as you can get.

CPU Speed: UT2004 is extremely CPU hungry, so if you have a high-end graphics card (e.g. Radeon 9800 Pro) but a lower powered CPU (e.g. P4 1.6Ghz), or vice versa, then you will find that this will hold back your performance significantly. Put simply the Unreal Engine requires both CPU and rendering power. The only solution to this problem is an upgrade.

RAM & Virtual Memory: UT2004 is also extremely memory hungry. This is evident from the long loading times and in-game loading hitches and freezes some people are experiencing. Aside from buying more RAM (1GB or more is ideal), one thing you should do to address this problem is to optimize your Virtual Memory settings following the step-by-step instructions in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. Combined with the tweaks covered later in this guide (such as the Preload All Player Skins setting), this should help resolve most of your problems. Note that there will still be some loading pauses, but they should be less severe.

Hard Drive Speed: UT2004 takes up over 5.2GB of game information on your hard drive, and quite obviously a lot of that will need to be loaded up at some point. On a modern operating system like WindowsXP, memory management is quite good, however it can't work miracles. The whole process of continually loading information from your hard drive into RAM and back onto the drive is dependent on both the speed of your actual hard drive, and your Windows File Cache and Memory Management settings. You can optimize your Windows memory management settings as covered in the tips above, but if you have low RAM (i.e. 512MB or less) and/or a slow hard drive then expect a lot more hard disk activity and hence longer loading times and in-game stuttering and freezes as UT2004 data loads into and out of RAM.

Defragging: Make sure that after you've installed UT2004 you run through the system maintenance procedures detailed in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. In particular it is vital that you run the Windows Defragmentation utility after installing such a massive game as UT2004. 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.

General Protection Faults: If you are continually crashing to desktop with a General Protection Fault then this is directly related to the memory subset on your system. That means either the L2 Cache on your CPU, your RAM (including Virtual Memory), or a background program in memory are having problems. The solutions are covered in the tips above that is, disable all unnecessary background programs, make sure your system is not highly overclocked, and optimize your Virtual Memory settings.

Antialiasing/Anisotropic: If you have mysteriously low frames per second (FPS) despite being certain that your hardware is capable of more, then one place to check would be your 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 UT2004 from playably smooth (e.g. 30+ fps) to unplayable (e.g. 18 fps) depending on your hardware and in-game settings. For maximum framerates set both AA and AF to 0x or "Application Controlled".

That's just a basic rundown of troubleshooting tips. Read the remainder of this guide for more specific setting and tweak information, and of course although I've said it a dozen times by now (you want to kill me, right?) you really do need to go through my various tweak guides to make fully certain you've covered all your bases. These guides have been around for quite a while and are tried and tested by literally tens of thousands of readers.