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Screen blackout problem (version 8.3)

 
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Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/11/2004 3:26:53 AM   
Pommel

 

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Greetings!

I'm having a nasty graphics problem, that occurs during turns, in gameplay: the screen turns completely black. I can "redraw" the hex graphics and menu buttons back to visibile either by waving my mouse pointer around, or by turning off/on the smoke by pressing U-key. These blackouts happen every time the view location changes, for example when there's opportunity fire and the view centers automatically to the target unit. In effect, this bug renders the game into an irritating mess of repeating blackouts.

Has anyone else witnessed this behaviour on their computer setups? Any ideas how to fix this? I'm running SPWAW 8.3, Windows XP SP2, GeForce 4600, fresh versions of both DirectX and GeForce's drivers.
Post #: 1
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/11/2004 6:25:27 AM   
minefield


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This is a known and widespread problem.

It seems to happen anytime something external does something that would change the image of the desktop (even though you aren't looking at the desktop) or it may just be the phases of the moon (we don't really know what causes it).

Most people suggest closing any and all programs that you can afford to before using SPWAW. Messenging programs and email clients are notorious for causing the blackening of the screen.

Any action in SPWAW that would cause the screen to redraw such as moving the screen so it has to scroll, etc. will make the blackness go away.

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Post #: 2
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/12/2004 7:47:04 AM   
KNomad


Posts: 339
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From: Buffalo, NY USA
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And I suspect it'll never be fixed because this is an old DOS game running on new Windows systems.

Long live DOS!

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Don't get hurt! (XCOM: Apocolypse)
Incoming firepower has the Right of Way!
Fire at Will (or Wesley)!

(in reply to minefield)
Post #: 3
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/12/2004 11:01:29 PM   
Pommel

 

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Oh, come on.. It's just a graphics glitch. Probably a simple bug, and thus easy to fix; if only someone just pointed the programmers to the right direction. And 8.3 was released just recently - so the game base code is still maintained at least with some enthusiasm. Right?

So, what does it take to get this bug fixed? Probably we'd need to isolate the bug first, find out the environment and causes.

So what do we know about this bug's occurence (help me out here, have a lil' faith):
- Occurs most often when the map view is automatically centered to a unit with opfire
- Sometimes occurs when you try to scroll the screen in any direction (goes black after a short, about 1 sec. delay)

As for the causes suggested by minefield in #2: I turned off every background running application except my antivirus software, and the bug still exists. I even removed shortcuts to my CD drives, so they wouldn't try refreshing the desktop in the background.

I wonder if the bug would go away if you'd be able to play this game in a window instead of full screen (since many gamers nowadays have higher desktop resolutions than SP uses anyway)?

< Message edited by Pommel -- 12/12/2004 9:02:06 PM >

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Post #: 4
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/13/2004 11:26:05 AM   
Pommel

 

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Thought I would mention it here, for the record:

I tried runnin MECH.exe with Windows XP's every Compatibility mode (with 256 colors aswell), but, sadly, it had no effect on this bug.

(in reply to Pommel)
Post #: 5
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/13/2004 3:24:46 PM   
robot


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Im sorry but the only time this ever happened to me was when i tried to run the intro. I run win XP with a ge force 4 card as well. All the latest drivers as well. I do not use a virus protector tho. I also run in 800 x 600 mode 16 bit color. Have run this way ever since i installed 8.2 and 8.3. I did tho make a complete new install with 8.2.

I see all the trouble all these people have with the game and i dont understand why. I have never had the trouble that i have seen reported here thru all the versions of SPWAW. Thats what now 10 years at least I think since the original was released. This is such a great game and I feel sorry for all the trouble people are having that is reported on this board.

I know nothing about how to fix problems with a computor. My only recourse is to go to an expert and get it fixed. If i had all the problems some people are having I would have probly missed out on the last ten years of playing the game. I can feel for you and having to face all the troubles you are going thru. I wish i had a solution for you. I hope this is cleared up for you soon.

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RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/13/2004 4:48:54 PM   
minefield


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Pommel if you really want the technical explanation, this is what I've observed.

SPWAW goes into full screen mode when started. The blackout problem when starting the game is because the video (.avi) files won't play correctly. That has nothing to do with what we are talking about. I'm glad robot doesn't have any problems. Getting SPWAW to run is really like playing the lottery and he won. The video card has little to do with it. I also have a GeForce card and it works fine (still have blackout problem) if I stay away from the newest drivers. Alas back to the black out problem.

It only occurs when the game takes control of the action. By this I mean anytime that you can't actually issue commands is a time that the blackout is apt to occur. This can be during an op-fire (after you confirmed it if you're playing solo). Set your live delay to 100 or 200 and you'll see this is one time when you can't issue commands. Another time is during the replay. Another time is during artillery barrages. Those are the only ones that come to mind at this time. It may occur if you just idle but I can't confirm that right now as I've not been able to reliably recreate this bug.

What we do know is that it goes away when the game has to refresh the whole screen. If it is just drawing animations on the screen you'll see it just draw the part that is animated. You'll have a black screen except for the drawn-in shooter, fire tracer, and target. If it has to show another map location or otherwise refresh the screen then the blackness will be painted over again. Someone once suggested this has something to do with the image being stored on the video card (I don't know much about video cards and their interaction with SPWAW other than that they hold the 256 palette). It is plausible that the video card could lose this information when something else accesses or transmits to the video card.

The reason I suspect that it is caused by outside applications is because I have noticed the desktop 'bleed' over onto the game. By this I mean that I use an anti-virus client that has a small pop-up in the lower right system tray when it receives an update or scans an email or something. I have seen this pop-up in the game, albeit discolored and flashing in and out, when the blackout occurred.

As far as fixing the problem, I don't have any good solutions. Your comments about the programmers and the code and so forth are sadly mistaken. We, and I mean the SPWAW community at large, have begged and pleaded for the code to be released open-source to no avail. They have good reasons not to release it which I won't go into here. 8.3 was the final patch. Matrix Games has stated they aren't touching Steel Panthers again. So we're stuck with what we have. If we wanted to fix something, it would have to be by reverse engineering (possibly illegal) or a completely new game.

If you want a real test, disconnect your computer from the Internet (pull the cord or whatever). Close every application including your anti-virus. Ctrl-alt-del (assuming Windows XP) and look at the processes running. Close all those you can. Some are required for WindowsXP to run. You can google the process name or go to
http://www.liutilities.com/products/wintaskspro/processlibrary/scvhost/
to find out which processes come from which applications. svchost.exe taskmgr.exe alg.exe explorer.exe (there are more) are some of the processes you shouldn't touch. Make sure your power saving settings and screen saver are off. Then start SPWAW and see if the problem persists.

edit: for the record, you can't play the game in windowed mode.

< Message edited by minefield -- 12/13/2004 10:06:37 AM >


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Post #: 7
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/13/2004 6:34:42 PM   
Pommel

 

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Thank you for your thorough description of this bug, minefield. I'm surprised and saddened to hear that SPWAW will not be developed beyond version 8.3, and thus you seem to be quite right; there doesn't seem to be a way to get this bug fixed anymore.

Hmm, perhaps it'd be best to toss the metaphorical smoke grenade here and retreat to rethink the strategy.

(in reply to minefield)
Post #: 8
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 1:39:58 AM   
BlitzSS

 

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I've had this problem and being related to Version 8.3 makes sense as I've never experience this before in the long history of SP*. So what is the answer? Will it ever get fixed or should everyone trash 8.3 and go back to 8.2 or earlier?

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Post #: 9
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 2:06:32 AM   
RBWhite


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BlitzSS

Do you have an ASUS motherboard? What model # is it?
Do you have an Intel chipset? What version is it?
Do you have an Intel Pentium 4 processor 2.4 ghz. or higher maybe alittle lower with Hyper Threading?

I have had this problem for over a year going back to SPWAW 8.0

The screen goes black
Your processor is running at almost at almost 100 %
Do you get a bearly noticable screen flicker about a minute before the screen blacks out.
Right at the time your screen goes black there is a tremendous system resources spike, off the scale.
But you can swipe across the screen and clear the blackout, while holding down the left mouse button, or left click and clear the blackout only to have it happen less than a minute later.
Does the uninstaller crash when you try uninstalling SPWAW, does it take two attempts to uninstall SPWAW.
Well just get a new motherboard and throw the ASUS board away, than you can play SPWAW on your computer.
I thought it was just me. That pretty much what I was told, it's system specific. WRONG.

Rick White

< Message edited by RBWhite -- 12/22/2004 12:23:54 AM >

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Post #: 10
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 2:30:35 AM   
Warhorse


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From: Birdsboro, PA, USA
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I have an Asus P4S8x-x 2ghz, with P4, and have no problem with WAW, so I wouldn't go blaming Asus as a whole...

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RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 2:32:29 AM   
RBWhite


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Not blaming ASUS, it's the only boards I will purchase

< Message edited by RBWhite -- 12/22/2004 12:33:29 AM >

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Post #: 12
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 2:58:10 AM   
BlitzSS

 

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I've been away from the Forums (and the rest of the world in general) but I've been playing a DF Mega/scenario at a time bit by bit when I could catch the time. It was only after I noticed that V8.3 was out and upgraded that I've ever had this problem. Nothing on my CPU has change. Now I've only had this problem intermitantly and I don't run anything else when I'm playing SP. I have the cable modem off and only the same old background viruse and firewall aps are running that I've always had running.

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Post #: 13
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 3:11:05 AM   
BlitzSS

 

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Talk to me about ASUS mbs?
I have a 2.2gh Intel Celeron
When the screen goes black I've only been able to reboot and replay from my last save (very frustrating). It has only happened to me 2 or 3 times. Because it is very intermitent I try to save more often. When it happens it appears to me like a screen saver is trying to kick in or something, but I've never had a problem with SPWAW trying to save the screen before. Now that I'm thinking of it: I have to say that it seems that it happens after I've got busy and left the computer in the middle of a turn for awhile, which is something I tend not to do when I'm engrossed in a game

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"Nuts"

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Post #: 14
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 3:26:23 AM   
RBWhite


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Most forum members that I have asked for information who are having problems with SPWAW all have ASUS motherboards. Boards like the P4C800 Deluxe or similar with Intel chipset 875P MCH with Intel ICH5. Those who have these boards and similar chipsets, SPWAW most probly will never function properly on their computers.

< Message edited by RBWhite -- 12/22/2004 1:27:33 AM >

(in reply to BlitzSS)
Post #: 15
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 3:30:39 AM   
BlitzSS

 

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I have a emachine T2240 and I'm not sure if it is a ASUS mb or not?
Do others have this problem occuring very frequently? I still have my last two computers with older versions on them and the older archived downloads.

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"Nuts"

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Post #: 16
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 3:36:45 AM   
RBWhite


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Yes there are other people with the same or similar problems and again all ASUS motherboards as I mentioned before.

As for E-machine they seem to have a mind of their own. E stands for economically built.

The only thing That disappoints me is that I have to play SPWAW 8.30 on a much older machine.


Rick White

< Message edited by RBWhite -- 12/22/2004 1:39:00 AM >

(in reply to BlitzSS)
Post #: 17
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 4:03:17 AM   
BlitzSS

 

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It's odd that I still have all my old early P computers still plotting allong . The cheap ones always seem to work best for me. My old Packard Bell P166 has a dual boot to DOS 6.2. which doesn't have blackout problems.

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"Nuts"

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RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/22/2004 6:34:41 PM   
Pommel

 

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Interestingly, I've got an Asus motherboard as well, and a Pentium 4 processor running at 2.4GHz, without hyperthreading though.

I've had problems with a motherboard from Asus before. It was a Pentium II model, and my system kept crashing consistently when I was playing Half-Life. The reason was that motherboard could not pump enough current into the AGP slot during intense 3d gaming.

I would think SPWAW isn't really exactly a same kind of resource hog as cutting edge 3D games usually are. Also, my gut feeling tells me this bug isn't really hardware related ... although my intuition could be wrong.

Oh, by the way, I tried re-installing version 8.2 - still, the blackouts keep coming. So there seems to be no difference between SPWAW 8.2 or 8.3, at least not in my system.

Should we try to make a group effort and try to get this bug fixed? Do you think SPWAW's lead programmer Mike Wood would be the right person to listen to us whine and beg?

(in reply to BlitzSS)
Post #: 19
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/23/2004 12:13:18 AM   
BlitzSS

 

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To called this screen blackout issue totally a hardware problem is definitely wrong. I know that something has changed and it wasn't my PC. At least I know now not to drop back to Ver8.2. If my memory serves me then the version on the DF disk(8.0?) plus one patch(8.1) I didn't have this problem.

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"Nuts"

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RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/23/2004 8:18:36 AM   
KG Erwin


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This is NOT a bug. It's got to be a hardware issue. I've run SPWaW on three different PC configurations, with three different OS (98, 2000 and XP), and not once have I had a blackout problem. Like many older games, it MAY require you to roll back to an older driver version for your video card. Nvidia drivers are notorious for this.

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RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/23/2004 8:25:08 AM   
KG Erwin


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Pommel

Interestingly, I've got an Asus motherboard as well, and a Pentium 4 processor running at 2.4GHz, without hyperthreading though.

I've had problems with a motherboard from Asus before. It was a Pentium II model, and my system kept crashing consistently when I was playing Half-Life. The reason was that motherboard could not pump enough current into the AGP slot during intense 3d gaming.

I would think SPWAW isn't really exactly a same kind of resource hog as cutting edge 3D games usually are. Also, my gut feeling tells me this bug isn't really hardware related ... although my intuition could be wrong.

Oh, by the way, I tried re-installing version 8.2 - still, the blackouts keep coming. So there seems to be no difference between SPWAW 8.2 or 8.3, at least not in my system.

Should we try to make a group effort and try to get this bug fixed? Do you think SPWAW's lead programmer Mike Wood would be the right person to listen to us whine and beg?


Pommel, SPWaW IS a resource hog. All background applications should be shut down before running the game. This can only be fixed by a complete rewrite of the code, and that is not going to happen. It is what it is.

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Post #: 22
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/23/2004 6:43:05 PM   
BlitzSS

 

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From: wasChicagoLand, now DC
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Ya I know. I can add a couple more operating systems and CPUs to your list that have never had this problem. Since it is intermittant perhaps it is possible that I've never noticed it before on this machine, but one thing for sure I'll be taking notes here on out on this problem and writing back. I do very much appriciate everyones generous feedbacks. Keep-em coming. I just started that min-Stalengrad campaign***** and so far I think I'm going to like it

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"Nuts"

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Post #: 23
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/23/2004 11:30:40 PM   
KNomad


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Me, I love smaller battles. Jess's "mini" Stalingrad is great and I hope to see more in the future.

Suggestion: a "mini" campaign focused around the USMC?

_____________________________

The gnome zaps a wand of death. (Nethack)
Don't get hurt! (XCOM: Apocolypse)
Incoming firepower has the Right of Way!
Fire at Will (or Wesley)!

(in reply to BlitzSS)
Post #: 24
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/24/2004 2:37:35 AM   
BlitzSS

 

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From: wasChicagoLand, now DC
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I agree with Jess' concept. Great games don't have to be mammoths. Slow, steady, and cautious takes the city if you watch the game turns. I long time ago I started working on a mini N. African series. This kind of motivates me now to work on it some more.

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"Nuts"

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Post #: 25
RE: Screen blackout problem (version 8.3) - 12/25/2011 11:59:33 PM   
Draxzen

 

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Blacked out and discolored screens in SPWAW can be fixed by launching MECH.EXE with a front-end program called Palette Stealer Suspender. 4shared.com has it available if you do a Google search for it. Works for a LOT of old games that tend to have similar problems with newer versions of Windows. Have fun!

(in reply to Pommel)
Post #: 26
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