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Black/blank screen -- flickering happening at random.

By on February 17, 2008 5:42:29 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quemaqua

Join Date 03/2006
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AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
2GB RAM, XP/SP2, 7800GT

I checked around and didn't see mention of this anywhere, so wanted to start up a new thread. It may well be related to the nvidia problem that we all know and love, but I have no way of knowing at this point because it's a new error that just started occurring for me.

I did originally experience the well-known nvidia driver crash bug, but as it has for some people, turning off the bloom effects seemed to do the trick. I've gotten random minidump crashes (just straight CTD stuff with a minidump, not a freeze like the nvidia bug, and obviously without the driver error), but that only happened maybe 2 or 3 times. Then suddenly I got a new thing about an hour ago: the screen went completely black for a second, then came back. I waited to see if it had crashed, but it hadn't. The game went on uninterrupted. Then it blanked out again. And again. And it began to do this repeatedly at an increasing rate (though there wasn't a steady pulse of blackouts, it was a series of random blackouts that came at different intervals and lasted for seemingly random short amounts of time).

I moved my mouse, however, and noticed that between these blackouts the mouse was still moving. Because of this I was able to go to the menu and save my game, and then I alt+tabbed out of the program just to see if something was up. When I tabbed back in, all was well. I quit the game anyway just in case it had something to do with memory, started back up, and it was fine. Played for a number of hours again, and then it happened to me again a second time... but it was just a few quick blackouts and then it went back to being fine again. I alt+tabbed out and back again just to be safe, and didn't quit the game... it's been fine for another hour or so now.

I'm guessing this is related to the driver issue in some way since I've heard others report of their screens blacking out due to that (though mine never blacked out before, it got garbled with a ton of artifacts before clearing up and crashing). Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there.

Kudos to the devs for making an incredible game. I sincerely hope you guys are willing and able to support the needed patching and get this thing stable soon. Salute!
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February 18, 2008 5:28:52 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
Quick update: it's happened 4 times since this post, but each times it's just been a short flicker or two and then it goes back to normal. Weird. And yes, just in case, I know it's related to this game alone and not Windows/my video connections/other games/etc.
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February 18, 2008 5:48:02 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
I get this to, but sometimes the game crashes altogether.

Kye.
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February 18, 2008 6:02:08 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
Happened to me again just now, but this time it was the same as the first time: weird artifacting, then random repeated blackouts that didn't stop until I alt+tabbed out and back in again, but the game didn't crash.
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February 18, 2008 7:20:03 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
It's amazing how wide spread this is and the only thing I have heard from the devs is that it's a video driver issue and up to Nvidia to fix. Apparently it was around during the beta and no one informed Nvidia that there was an issue.

I am a pretty patient person but having the game pause like once every 10 minutes gets old real freaking quick and almost makes the game unplayable.

Personally if I was in charge of releasing this game, I would have held off until it was ready and stable, and that includes working with graphics manufacturers to ensure proper driver support.
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February 18, 2008 9:23:16 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
Yea..it happens to me almost every time i played the game...on random interval..does any1 know how to solve it?
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February 18, 2008 9:41:41 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
Don't get me started on screen flickers.
It's an issue with Nvidia, I've had it happening on my 7600GT for the last 6 months or so. It happens with WoW, Half Life 2 and regrettably SoaSE. Nothing makes you want to snap a $100 keyboard over your knee like a game crashing 10 minutes since your last save.

I am unsure of how many of Nvidia's cards it occurs for but as of their most recent driver update I downloaded 2 days ago the issue is still unresolved. I don't think it's Ironclad or anyone's fault BUT Nvidia's since I haven't heard of this conflict with any other make of graphics cards.

My resolution: Buy a Radeon and crap-talk Nvidia to lose them sales. They're inadequately maintaining one of their products on a market they supposedly specialise in and don't deserve anyone's business.

Since this is my first post I'll add this: Keep up the great work Ironclad and Stardock.
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February 19, 2008 5:08:41 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
Unfortunately my Nvidia GEFORCE 7950 GTX is mounted INSIDE of my laptop... so I can't go buy an ATI card. Since I have to get drivers through Dell and they never update the drivers, I'll be waiting for a while.

The black screen causes a freeze for me - anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute (the minute being rare). Playing multiplayer my friends have to wait for a second before I can tell them anything about it being frozen. A couple of times (in single player) the screen went completely black. I switched windows and it finally came back. I always get several "Your video driver has stopped working and been restored" type errors when I exit the game.

I tried a modified driver, and instead of the black flickering screen I now occasionally get something that looks like everything is jumping around on the screen. It goes away faster than the black screen.
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February 19, 2008 10:05:03 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
I am using a Nvdia BFG branded 7600gt card without a problem. Not using the latest drivers, i figure if it isn't broke, dont fix it. Driver version 6.14.10.9424. Dated april 2007.

I am using XP media center edition.

Also - Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4ghz
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February 19, 2008 11:34:29 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Apparently it was around during the beta and no one informed Nvidia that there was an issue.

Actually we did - for about 7+ months - and were put on the backburner. Until the day we shipped and then finally we got noticed.   

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February 19, 2008 11:43:02 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
Don't get me started on screen flickers.
It's an issue with Nvidia


Indeed it is... nVidia has had buffer-flipping errors plagueing their drivers since Vista was released. Mostly with Vista, though some have occured with XP as well (XP is stable for most though). It's an ongoing uphill battle to get them to reproduce and fix the things, only to have them sprout up in later versions.
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February 19, 2008 12:07:31 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
I've had it happening on my 7600GT


well... i dunno i have 7600GT Silent on win XP Pro and lastest Nvidia drivers ( checked yesterday if i had lastest ) and i didn't get any game crash at all.... so dunno what it is

And i've had it for quite a while so.... i have all same games as you do, yet not a single crash... don't know maybe something else is eating your computer ...
maybe bc i format my computer on a 3 month basis maximum? who knows, but my card and drivers work perfectly fine and has been ever since i got em

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February 19, 2008 5:24:19 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
Apparently it was around during the beta and no one informed Nvidia that there was an issue.
Actually we did - for about 7+ months - and were put on the backburner. Until the day we shipped and then finally we got noticed.   


My bad then! Just can't help but to be sarcastic when my game freezes and crashes every 10 minutes. I will keep bugging Nvidia... they haven't replied to my last email where I uploaded them my dxdiag and msinfo as they asked for.
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February 19, 2008 5:34:34 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
Here's my email to Nvidia as they haven't felt it necessary to email me over the last week...

I have yet to hear back from anyone. Looking at the Attach Additional Documents to Question, I see my DxDiag.txt is there twice, once from the first email, again from the second, along with my msinfo.nfo. I have provided you with all the details you have asked for.

The IronClad / StarDock devs say that they contacted Nvidia numerous times about the blinking, flashing, freezing and crashing glitch that plagues this game but you guys didn't do anything about it for the 7 months they emailed you.

Well now it's the gamers turn to pester the ever living daylights out of you guys until a suitable driver corrects this issue. It's sad that the only sure fix is to revert the drivers back to the 97.xx

Can I please get a response to let me know that you guys are aware of the problem and that you are working on drivers that are actually worth installing?
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February 19, 2008 8:02:34 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
I am having the errors occur on XP/SP2 which I have found to be a really stable platform in every aspect so I don't think its the OS, rather than Nvidia's ineptitude.
I formerly had Radeon 9200 or something then a 9550 or whatever their naming scheme is and never had a graphics error.

I think this thread can be summarised with two words: Screw Nvidia.
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February 19, 2008 9:52:45 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
i cant even play the game it does the blank screen as soon as it starts and game crashes and i can find no reason
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February 19, 2008 10:47:21 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
You know for all the problems we are having, they should give every one who bought this game the CD download as an option.

Tonight was the first night since I bought the game where I did not freeze or go black. I get a lot of flickering of the HUD displays, but the background, planets and ships remain fine.

I haven't even ventured into playing online multiplayer... figure I will just tinker around in single player until graphic glitches are fixed. As much as I complain, it's still not as bad as DICE/EA games... 8 months for a patch is ridiculous. Looks like these guys at least have the desire to support the game. It's just frustrating to have to suffer through constant freezes and black screens.
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February 20, 2008 8:25:59 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
From Nvidia support:

"Thank you for updating with required information.

The issue you are experiencing does not seem to be a known issue. However, I would request you to install the latest display driver version 169.21 by following the instructions described below."

WTF? How can it not be a known issue? My ticket has been in their box for well over a week, so they should know about it from my ticket. I have sent them links to the forums where every one talking about the exact same problem. I know I am not the only one who has submitted a ticket.

I was about to upgrade 8800gts in SLI, but might start looking at the ATI(amd) cards.
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April 28, 2008 12:22:33 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
How can it not be a known issue?


That's defect management terminology there. It means you're the first to tell them about it. Except you're not. So either they can't connect the dots or they don't have a fix and don't want to talk more about it.

I have an NVidia and Vista and it definitely has given me some problems with things like FEAR and such (made it unplayable unfortunately). The vast majority of things seem to run just fine though, so some libraries run safely with it and others have issues. It might be time to do some looking around to see what works well on Vista and still supports multi-monitors of doom.

Incidentally, my symptoms seem to be a little more severe than some reported here. I was getting the flickering once per X minutes for awhile, but now I'm getting an infinite cycle of black-screen live screen but non-responsive UI and back to the black. My only way out of that was to hit Windows-D.

I also had problems installing the app originally. I'd encounter black screen on setup launch. I had to reboot in order to install correctly.
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April 28, 2008 1:29:20 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
I have an NVidia and Vista and it definitely has given me some problems


If you've got Vista, give the latest 174 drivers a shot. They're supposed to fix this particular issue.
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May 1, 2008 2:16:58 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
I don't know if it will be any help, but I had the same problem with my ATI card. It turned out that I had it set to override AA and AF settings for other games. Checking the boxes to let the application control them fixed the problem for me.

Prior to that I couldn't finish a game, since after an hour or perhaps a few it would start to flicker and then crash. I haven't had any problems since changing the driver settings.
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May 3, 2008 8:11:16 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
In all fairness to the devs Ive bashed my brain with sli and non sli configurations and the latest nvidia drivers are really sub par. Some will say they arent but Im in the priveleged position where I have a multitude of games. I collect them, majorly.

I also dont know what nvidia is playing at because the most up to date driver has been on the site for months now and it is utter crap. I have had to go like 3 or 4 drivers down from the current one to get all around stability that includes my sli. As an alternative theres the nvidia NGO drivers but tbh that whole black screen thing is new to me . I have seen cards with artifacts before, usually if cards have like coloured funny looking squares they are on the way out, be it sooner or later.

Just out of curiosity:

Does it just happen with sins? and
Are there many other games you put as much time in as you do playing sins and is it the case that other games are okay in this situation?
When you were getting black screens was it happening after exiting sins and affecting the whole system?

I have seen some funky problems with nvidia cards the last while. May be stating the obvious , well it is but have you checked your dvi connection or whatever at both ends - monitor and tower, its just sometimes I get lazy and dont put the screws in right and it slowly comes out, causes black screens. (Im thinking you prob have all that okay though)

I had it set to override AA

That works well for SOME people with nvidia sli , a few folk thats said it works for months now well they are still waiting on a proper fix so overide isnt needed. (Nvidia drivers have had that issue with many for ages now)
Either way good luck

(by the way Im using xp but theres a good chance going back drivers like the mod suggests will help, what gets me is vista users seem to have more fixes now and people assume xp is sorted but it still has the same problems. I really hope nvidia get their drivers fixed , I reckon I have been waiting 1 year nearly now and very little improvement)

Don't get me started on screen flickers.
It's an issue with Nvidia, I've had it happening on my 7600GT for the last 6 months or so.


lol I laughed at this then I almost cried , I have had all that flicker crap as well and you know what its GT users which are getting it worse . Nvidia doesnt seem to want to do a GT fix though I sometimes think. To that quote if you are getting sli flickers and have a GT you definatly want to try the NGO driver 100% because I have a system with the same card , spent months and LOADS of drivers and unnoficial drivers and my GT card will only run without flicker with the NGO drivers. (There was an official nvidia one as well but it was a bit old rest are rubbish)

I am unsure of how many of Nvidia's cards it occurs for but as of their most recent driver update I downloaded 2 days ago the issue is still unresolved. I don't think it's Ironclad or anyone's fault BUT Nvidia's since I haven't heard of this conflict with any other make of graphics cards.


You are bang on and the thing is more people need to inform nvidia I have been looking into all this specifically on GTs for a while and there are people who have the correct ampage and really good systems , properly configured that still get the flickering. Your correct the latest drivers dont fix it at all(for many GTs) yet they have been up for months now. You need to go considerably back to get a stable one or use the NGO drivers (Dont get me started on nvidia now either lol)
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May 4, 2008 12:07:43 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
174 beta drivers seem to fix the problem for me. I'll have to upgrade my attitude towards NVidia to scowling as opposed to the previous state of massing a fleet on their border in preparation to impose an embargo.
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May 4, 2008 11:42:54 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
are there 174 version drivers for xp? If someone can link xp equiv ones It would be greatly appreciated?

In saying that I have 3 licenses for vista unused , I dunno I have been thinking of upgrading since alot of display driver fixes have been made for vista and some of the bugs on xp havent been fixed. Is sins okay on vista for most?

Thanks!
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May 10, 2008 1:53:32 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums
I had screen flicker issues as well and what was causing it for me was my hard drives were overheating. Try opening your pc case and feeling your components to see if anything is uber hot. If it is, you may need to "re-arrange" your components and make use of case fans and such.

My personal situation was that I had 2 HDD's in Raid 0 that were not getting enough airflow. I had to unscrew them and separate them a bit to create space for air to get through. I also moved 2 of the case fans to better positions.

Bottom line, feel around for "hot spots" in your case. Get a vacuum and clean out any dust and stuff that might impede airflow. Heat is the #1 cause of pc problems.
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April 16, 2009 10:13:50 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Mine would do that black flickering when ever i held my mouse of something.....but i dont use Nvidia, i use a Radeon

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