Wednesday, 31 October 2007

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Solutions!

Well, i did buy STALKER a while back with the full intention to play it! However ive had some trouble trying to get it going AND ive not really had the time to sort it out and actually get on with playing it!

 Anyway, i thought its high time to get it sorted and have a go on it properly, and to help anyone out, heres a few pointers if your having similar problems!

First of all was the Vista thing.... blah blah, this game doesnt support Vista and so on... maybe so! But as per usual Vista can emulate old operating systems quite readily so right click your STALKER short cut, select the 'Compatability' tab, the select XP from the list... sorted!

Patches... On the interweb, especially on STALKERS home page you will find 3 patches. In which case the first time i installed the game, i dumped patch 1.0004 on alone. Im not quite convinced this was correct! This time round i downloaded 1.0001/1.0003 and 1.0004 and intended to add them one-by-one.
Patch 1.0001 went on fine, then patch 1.0003 complained that it was only able to patch version 1.0000 :-S so i forgot that and just put 1.0004 on, which did work.
Started the game, and, RESULT! It actually loaded into the first FMV, as before hand it was just CTDing when i clicked new game. Patches can be found on the STALKER website, under 'Downlaods'.
However... it seemed VERY choppy and quite slow? (See next section!)

Shortcut Target Mod... One reason for slow performance apparantly stems from the prefetching function in the games programming, designed to pre-load objects before the player gets to them within the game. Now in some games this goes without notice, but appears to lag STALKER quite alot! The solution...

Find STALKER shortcut and right click it (desktop or start-menu).

In the box that says 'Target' you should see this > "C:\Program Files (x86)\THQ\S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl\bin\XR_3DA.exe"

You need to add -noprefetch in that EXACT manner at the end of the target line... like this...

"C:\Program Files (x86)\THQ\S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl\bin\XR_3DA.exe" -noprefetch

This will disable prefetching and you should see an increase in game performance. :-)

Large Address Set... It  appears in the first version of STALKER that the XR_3DA.exe file for starting the program was not capable of handling more than 2gig of memory. The classic problem with Windows not allowing more than 2gig of memory allocation to any one program. In which case STALKER did not want!
Some websites mention how to alter the .exe using a CMD prompt. This offers plenty of ways to make BAD mistakes! In which case i will recommend using something like CFF Explorer.
Now... i may come back to CFF later and explain how to modify for the large address set, but with the addition of the patches to the game it seems to be something already rectified so i wouldnt worry about it too much!
Just on a side note, if your going to fiddle about with .exe files in such a way, backup the .exe first! Dont blame me if you turf a program or your OS up!

And to finish off tonight with something a little different!

Just another scenario with this Compatability note... my girlfriend was needing to use Pro Engineer as part of her Uni course and unfortunately her PC which is just a generic Dell 3100 (or something like that) doesn't of course have the ability to do anything as such, and in true Dell fasion some moron put the motherboard in the wrong way (thats sarcasm BTW!) so its not easy to 'upgrade'. Regardless of that, i said id try it on my machine.

Now ProE states that you need XP Pro (32bit) and an OpenGL capabale graphics card and some half decent PC specs as any CAD computer would ever need... all is good, bar the OS.

After a breif internet hunt, all the usual crap came up, mostly stating Vista makes ProE run 85% slower than it does in XP (LOL!) Anyway, installed, it was a little uneasy on startup, but tweak the shortcut to XP Compatability and again it runs like lightning! Barely even bothering system resources while working in ProE and having the likes of Media Player on and the XBOX sharing the hardrives!

 Just a little easter egg for you there ;-)

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