Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Yesterday, while nursing a major O'Doul's hangover, I had Lovey and her kids over to Chez Gray where we sat on our asses and played with the new Sims 2 expansion pack taught the children to read. Braille. So that they may help deaf people cross busy streets.

Call us givers.

Okay, yes, we played Sims. Happy now?

Well, I'm not.

You see, I'm what's known as an addict. I have every Sims 2 EP and SP that has been released (except for one, and that will be remedied today), and I have about 7 gigs of custom content downloaded on my computer.

See the fancy wallpaper and flooring? I made them myself! That's not sad at all.

So, what's the problem?

My computer hates me and wants to see me cry, that's what.

I'm having technical difficulties, and I haven't a clue what to do about it. And they've been going on for months.

At first, it was the blue screen of death. I got that a lot.

So, I fixed that problem by throwing money at it. (Note: that DOES fix a lot of problems.) I installed a new nVidia graphics card and a 650 watt PSU.

Have I bored you to tears with technical jargon yet? Well just wait! It gets better.

I updated my drivers, updated BIOS, defragged the crap out of my hard drive, installed End It All to kill all unnecessary background processes that might interfere with the function of the game and SpeedFan to keep tabs on the system temperature.

That bought me all of 15 minutes of game play.

The next step was to--*shudder*--remove all custom content. Which I did, to no avail. Though it no longer took my game 45 minutes to load, I could only play for an additional 15 minutes before the graphics would get all wonky again.

Back to the drawing board.

I tested the memory with a Memtest86 CD. It was fine, and I finally, finally, finally got a glimmer of hope when I happened to read a post about setting page file (virtual memory) size. Mine was set at the minimum.

You know I bumped that bad boy up to the max! Call me a rebel.

And it seemed to work. I cautiously began adding custom content back into my game. All seemed right with the world.

Then yesterday, Lovey, who couldn't build a moderately sized house for her Sims if her life depended on it, chose a big lot and placed a big house on it.

And the game crashed again.


What does a pathetic, 30-nothing loser have to do to get a break?!

Do I need more memory? An even better graphics card? A life and a hobby that doesn't involve little computer people?

Can anybody tell me what to do?


Natalie said...

How much memory does the graphics card itself have? If you spent a lot of money on it my guess is enough, but that is the first question that popped into my little pea brain.

Avery Gray said...

Natalie--it's got 256 MB of memory and a memory bandwidth of 32 GB/sec. When I bought it, the geeks at Best Buy told me it was the "Cadillac of graphics cards." (I should hope so for $300!) I'm told by the all-knowing game guru at the InSIMenator site that it's more than adequate. (Of course, if he's all-knowing, why do I still have a problem, huh?) ;o)

Edge said...

Can't you just play poker or solitaire or something?

Ok, I used to do this for a living so I'm going to tell the bad news. Don't load anything else before you play the Sims. See all that stuff by your clock? Close it, shut it down, discontinue it like a J.C. Penney fire sale. And to find out what's really running Do A CTRL + ALT + DEL and choose Task Manager. See all that stuff? Close what you aren't running.

You could go up to more memory if you wanted to spend the extra cash, hey, you already bought a good video card.


missburrows said...

Have you tried getting a pedicure? I hear that fixes everything.

Lola said...

No, no, no, missburrows, it's chocolate! You can even self-administer, unlike a pedicure.

Groovy Mom said...

If I could tell my sister about my double life (blog vs. real) I could have her help you. It's her thing. But I can't. She's way into Sims too. I can't see the fascination with it at all. You should play Guild Wars where you at least get to whack people over the head with a big hammer.

Groovy Mom said...

Oh, I tagged you.

Stephen said...

Playing off what edge said above, you can actually prevent a lot of crap from running by doing Start->Run->msconfig. Look under the Startup tab and disable any extra stuff like iTunesHelper, AdobeUpdateManager, or realsched. If you're not sure what something is, Google it first, and be sure not to disable any video driver software. That will get rid of any apps lurking in memory.

Did you run Drive Fitness Test or another low-level hard disk diagnostic test on the hard drive? chkdsk or Disk Defragmenter can't always find every little problem.

I assume ventilation is OK, since you said that you were keeping tabs on the temperature.

If you have any other peripherals attached, such as anything USB or Firewire, take those off. Disconnect any unnecessary components from the system board (CD/DVD-ROM drives). If it works, add components one at a time until you find what's messing up.

Try different memory. Sometimes memtest86 says memory is OK, but it's not.

Failing that, a base reinstallation of the operating system might help.

If not, it might be a processor or system board issue.

Does that help?

Jenn said...

What Stephen said. Does that help?

Lola said...

Oh, you wanted a helpful answer? OK then:

- check the GXRAM, because it may be overclocked to 450 THz and need defibrillating (use Tools, Options, Defib and go to the View dialog)

- you may need more processor, because processes need processing. Solution: more processor.

- remove the nVID chip and replace it with the latest nVID 2.0 chip, but make sure it's the right way round (the P terminal upwards)

- poke an unfolded paperclip into the fan, that usually helps

- ask a computery person what their favourite food is. If it's champagne and oysters find a different computery person. If it's something like lasagne, tell them that your lasagne is to die for and invite them to dinner. You know what to do next...

Stephen said...

If Avery wants to send me lasagna, who am I to decline? ;) I work for a tech support help desk for a living, so I do this stuff all day long...

Avery Gray said...

Jef--that's what End It All does. It shuts down all the background programs so they don't interfere with the game. I've even gone so far as to shut down Norton and Spy Sweeper so they don't pop up. I'm living on the edge for my little Sims!

Miss B and Lola--can't we just compromise and have both? ;o)

Groovy--dude, you can turn people in zombie werewolves and send them off to college in my game! You can have people eaten by cow plants and bring them back from the dead with a call to the Grim Reaper. But, best of all, you can build them kick-ass houses with ice rinks in the basement. I mean, if you're into that sort of thing...

Stephen--yes, it does! If for no other reason than my start-up should be a lot faster now! But I'm not exactly sure what you mean by a "low-level hard disk diagnostic test". Could you tell me a little more about that?

Avery Gray said...

Jenn--absolutely! (And that would have been my answer, too.) ;o)

Lola--I like your last suggestion the best! I'll give it a try!

Stephen--if this fixes the problem, I will not only make you lasagna, I'll send along a bottle of wine and whip up some chocolate mousse for dessert, too. (You do like chocolate, don't you?)

Fooferoo said...

I'm asking my resident computer guru for you...he knows everything about games crashing :)

Stephen said...

Ooh, sure, I'll take all of it! :)

I would just try running chkdsk /f first, just in case there's some files or folders that have wigged out. (That's the technical term.) Start, Run, 'cmd', 'chkdsk /f'. /f will fix any abnormalities it finds. It usually requires a reboot and will run as Windows is starting.

Drive Fitness Test runs a hardware-level test of the drives (i.e. outside of Windows). It works with most drives out there and will not destroy data.

The reason you'd want to do a hardware-level test is that Windows chkdsk can't always detect bad sectors or disk abnormalities correctly. (Which reminds me...I need to do the same on my laptop--it has its own unresolved quirks.)

Erin said...

I can't give you any help. But I must say that I'm so jealous right now. I almost bought the Sims 2 this weekend. Back when the original was first out I was addicted. Then our kids came along and my addiction had to get put to the wayside. I'm feeling like re-establishing it though. I LOVE the Sims.

holly said...

okay i don't know the solution to your problem, but you just jumped off the scale on my 'favorite peoples' list.


why? why you ask? because my daughter's computer (no, we didn't buy her a computer, duh, it's our old crappy one. we're wonderful parents that way) has ground to a halt.

and the thing i didn't think about?

the frickin' sims. she has that baby loaded with the halloween crap. OOOOOOOH baby am i going to have a field day on that box.

thank you

thank you

thank you.

you so rock.

i wish i could help *you*. i'll just *wish* you get help. that's almost as good as helping, without actually giving any real help. i'm helpful like that.

Leendaluu said...

Oh, I don't know what to do. Can you open another bottle of wine? That often works for me.....

Mike said...

How much memory do you have in the box? Does the Sims software have a recommended set of requirements (not that they're ever very accurate, but it's one more piece of the puzzle).

meleah rebeccah said...

So, I fixed that problem by throwing money at it. (Note: that DOES fix a lot of problems.)

So. Fucking. True.

If its not an Apple...sorry I can't help. :(

PS....and OFF TOPIC ...if you'd like to see some of the insane capabilities iMovie 07 provides there is a new video on my blog showcasing a few of the transitions, titles, effects ect....which was created in iMovie 07! (then let me know if you'd like an emailed 'lesson') xxoo

Joeprah said...

Play Medal of Honor Allied Assault with Joeprah is of course the answer. I think it is a reasonable outlet to consider. Also, get a new computer or better ram? All RAM aint created equal.

Joeprah said...

Your computer may not be able to handle the graphics may be too much...

loveyh said...

I'd be offended...if you weren't telling the truth. Payton and Shannon Manning's new digs are ENORMOUS.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I have no idea, sorry. Hope t gets sorted. I bet you're wondering why I even bothered to comment now aren't you? But if I can't help with your Sims I can at least comment on your blog right?
Maybe it just needs a kick????