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Lock-ups, Exceptions and Other Wierdness


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This particular crusade started many weeks ago after "re-discovering" my Combat Mission CD and becoming a spaced-out-on-Combat-Mission-junkie. My first problem, I was soon to discover, was that I had switched to Windows 2000 Server (from Win98) and to some finicky Detonator drivers for my TNT2 card. The complete text of that ordeal I have printed here in chronological order for those of you who may be suffering the same fate (I contacted tech support via e-mail so I am reprinting the thread of that discussion here). Please notice the response times on these messages--this is OUTSTANDING customer service:

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From: Vihkr

Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2001 12:36 PM

To: Madmatt

Subject: CMBO nVIDIA/DirectX Bug?

Hello:

Love Combat Mission--play it all the time. Here's the issue...

We have 2 workstations at the office with the following specs:

Pentium III 500

128+ MB RAM

Diamond Viper 770 (RIVA TNT2) 32MB graphics

Windows 2000 Advanced Server

nVIDIA Detonator3 v12.41 Windows 2000

DirectX 8.0 (4.08.00.0400)

The bug is that when Combat Mission runs, it drops the white out of all your graphics, leaving the last (or background) colour to show through. That means in the title screen where you have your hazy background, it looks like a swarm of black locusts. The play buttons below that graphic looks like they have been eaten away by termites. None of the briefing screens are legible and neither is the after action report. During game play, if I hit Enter to bring up the unit's stats, the white copy in the black box is legible but the INFO/KILLS button is barely there. When a dialogue comes up to enter IP addresses, passwords or file names, the white fields show background colour and anything I type into them is illegible. So I think it is only affecting graphics, not fonts that are being rendered.

This bug is more of a nuisance seeing as the game still runs beautifully and smoothly even during the largest battles.

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From: Madmatt

Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2001 12:37 PM

To: Vihkr

Subject: Re: CMBO nVIDIA/DirectX Bug?

The bug is in the Nvidia drivers. If you turn off FSAA you should be ok, You can also revert to the much more stable and more recommended older Detonator 3 v6.50 or 6.72 drivers which do not exhibit this issue.

You can find those from this page: http://www.guru3d.com/

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From: Vihkr

To: Madmatt

Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2001 2:55 PM

Subject: RE: CMBO nVIDIA/DirectX Bug?

Is Full Screen Anti Aliasing a game option or card option? 6.72 still exhibits the same issue, BTW.

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From: Madmatt

Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2001 2:57 PM

To: Vihkr

Subject: Re: CMBO nVIDIA/DirectX Bug?

The FSAA is a function of the card, not the game.

Now that I think about it though, the TNT2's don't support FSAA (thats the Geforces).

Now what is odd is that I had the same video card for over a year (Diamond 770) and never saw those sorts of issues. Are you running any custom mouse

graphics, effects or animations? Custom Windows theme packs can also cause severe graphics corruption. Have a look and see if anything like that is running on your systems and if so try and disable them.

I KNOW that TNT2's work great with CM, we just have to isolate whats causing this on your systems. The last drivers I ever used with my TNT were the 6.50's. I had *heard* that the 6.72's were okay too, but perhaps not.

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From: Vihkr

To: Madmatt

Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 11:11 AM

Subject: RE: CMBO nVIDIA/DirectX Bug?

Despite installing 6.50, 6.62 (WHQL), 6.72 etc. and a whole variety of other fixes, patches and drivers, I was unable to get the white graphics back to normal. In addition, I am running no custom mouse drivers, LiveWare, animations, theme packs, etc. Nothing seems to work. Perhaps it is a DirectX 8.0a/Windows 2000 advanced server issue as I too used this TNT2 card while I was running Win98 with no problems in CM.

In any case, I will continue trying (from to time to time) and I will definitely keep playing this title: the bummer is my opponent will have to read the score to me at the end...

Thanks for your prompt attention and assistance: it was a welcome change from the usual 1-2 week tech support turn-around Internet users must become accustomed to.

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From: Madmatt

Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 11:50 AM

To: Vihkr

Subject: Re: CMBO nVIDIA/DirectX Bug?

Whoops, I missed the reference to W2K AS in there. Okay you will have to go WAYYYYY back to, if i recall correctly, version 3.68 drivers to clear up all the TNT/W2k issues. Apparently Nvidia hasn't tried very hard to optimize their W2K drivers (which isn't surprising since no one else has either) and there are many lingering problems with them.

I would also suggest checking through the Tech Support forum as there is a reg hack for W2K that is floating around that may also help you out.

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From: Vihkr

To: Madmatt

Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 1:44 PM

Subject: RE: CMBO nVIDIA/DirectX Bug?

Great news. Prompted by the message above, I installed the W2K 3.78 drivers (first official W2K release) and they work! Also cleared up a host of other screen freezes and whatnot (not related with CM). Thanks.

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Now for my second, and MOST annoying problem....

After playing many of the scenarios, I decided to get into some TCP/IP direct play. Here is what has happened several times, and with total randomness:

After completing X turn during TCP/IP direct play, I begin to send/receive the turn from my opponent. The box pops up which says "Downloading Turn from Opponent" and the red progress metre begins to move. When it reaches complete, I hear my Windows default error sound and Combat Mission totally locks. The ambient sound begins a loop, my cursor still moves but all the keys are locked. If I CTRL-ALT-DEL, I can close both Combat Mission (not responding) and the error message; which reads "Unhandled Exception Error, c000005" and then some other numbers.

During my due diligence, I discovered another post where Madmatt suggested reinstalling DirectX 8.0a to clear up any Unhandled Exception error lockups due to corrupted files. I did so and CM ran fine for about one mission and then I got the same error except there was no Unhandled Exception error pop-up box. The ESC key also worked at this point to exit the fatally crashed CM to the desktop. Fearing a lousy Detonator driver build, I installed Detonator 3.84 (the final "old" release and supposedly the most stable) AND DirectX 8.0a. The result? Same as above but WITH the Unhandled Exception error box and ESC not working. Oddly enough, if I get this crash during a session, reboot, reload the scenario and try the download again, it often works until later on when the crash will happen on another turn.

Not being faint of heart (basically so hooked on CM I'll do almost anything to get it to work), I read every post in tech support and discovered that IRQ conflicts may also be an issue. Can we safely eliminate video as the cause (either DirectX or Detonator) as I have no other errors under any game or application and I have the latest functioning drivers? If this is the case, my IRQ info is as follows:

SHARING IRQ 9:

Adaptec AIC-7850 PCI SCSI Controller (Microsoft driver)

Creative SB Live! Value (WDM) (Microsoft driver)

3Com HomeConnect 3C450 Adapter (3Com Adapter)

Intel 82371AB/EB PCI to USB Universal Host Controller (Microsoft driver)

Could this be it? Is it possible that while ambient sound is playing and the adapter is downloading, it causes a lock-up? Should I disable ambient sound? Should I remove/disable some unused IRQ devices (never use USB, for example)? Any other suggestions? Because, after all, that's why I took the time to write this post.

Thanks for your time and patience.

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Unfortunately sometimes you can't avoid sharing an IRQ. The IRQs usually will get assigned according to what PCI slot your cards are in. For example your USB will share an IRQ with one of your PCI slots, there is almost no way around this with the exception of not putting a card in that particular PCI slot. You PCI and AGP devices will have to share among them only 4 or 5 IRQs. This will include on-board devices that are not directly mounted into a PCI or AGP slot (USB, onboard video, sound, networking, etc.). Getting Windows to use another IRQ is almost never an easy matter however.

The first suggestion would be what you suspected - turn off your ambient sound to see if it will make a difference (probably not in this case). Do you have SCSI and USB devices hooked up in your system ? If not, then the sharing IRQ really should be much of an issue. If you do, then disconnect the USB device if you aren't using with CM. As for the SCSI, this can be a bit more problematic. If it is a drive that you use with Windows 2000 (especially the one with CM on it) this might be the issue. Are your TCP/IP sessions through a Cable Modem (the 3Com 3C450 adapter) ?

Usually when we see the Unhandled Exceptions with the c500000 address we suspect a DirectX error. If you get that while playiing a TCP/IP game, then it is possible that somehow your 3Com internal cable modem is causing a problem with your sound card (the only DirectX device using the same IRQ).

To change IRQs you'll need to know what the IRQ sharing scheme is for your PCI/AGP slots and what IRQs are free. Again you'll only have a total of 4 or 5 IRQs that can be used with all of your PCI/AGP devices (excluding the IDE devices). With the number of devices you have on IRQ 9 I can only guess that a couple of them are onboard (this is obviously true with the USB). The best thing to do in your situtation would be to move the sound card (assuming that it isn't a motherboard mounted device) to another PCI slot. Changing IRQs for your 3Com adapter will probably be more of a headache since you'll probably have to reinstall your TCP/IP cable provider's software over again.

If you can tell us what motherboard you have and the PCI and AGP cards that are installed in it, with the IRQs that are being used we'll see if there is anything that can be done. Hopefully we can get the devices that CMBO uses the most to have their own IRQ if possible (though some TCP/IP problems won't be completely solved with this solution).

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