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Very strange problem with particle effects in some games

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May 9, 2010 12:35:15 PM

Hi Everyone,

I made a post last August with a technical problem but despite some extremely helpful advice never found out what was causing the problem – until now I think. To recap, in some of my PC games I was getting what I described as large translucent swirling snowflakes mainly in outdoor scenes. This annoyed me in the extreme and ruined all immersion. The worst culprits were the original Assassin’s Creed – the one set in the Holy Land and the original Call of Juarez – the cowboy shooter. Other games had the problem occasionally but not to the same extent. I completely replaced every component to isolate the problem to no avail – I then realized I had enough spare kit to build another rig so now have two gaming rigs (bit greedy in a recession) – I’ll put the specs at the end.

Anyway, I was playing around with Assassin’s Creed recently and found the .ini file hidden in the Users\Documents\AppData etc location. I started to experiment with the various settings and found if I turned off “particles” by setting it to zero the snowflakes disappeared. This setting controls dust clouds, chimney smoke etc so I’ve lost those effects unfortunately which added to the realism. I then went back to Call of Juarez and after some digging found a video.scr file which is the equivalent of an .ini file. By changing “post process” from normal to simple I managed to get rid of the snowflakes here also. Unfortunately as well as removing all the smoke etc effects it also ruins all the transparency effects so glass windows and water are all black and it doesn’t look very realistic.

What I can’t understand is why this is happening identically on two very different rigs? If you look at my two systems one is LGA 775, the other LGA 1366 – one uses a Radeon, the other a GeForce – one uses DDR2 memory, the other DDR3. I bought another copy of Call of Juarez but the snowflakes were the same so I’ve ruled out a faulty copy of the software. I’ve trawled the games forums and the internet and can’t find anyone with the same problem as me. The only similarity between my systems is they use 64 bit operating systems – one uses Vista Home Basic 64 bit the other Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit (these are effectively the same operating system technologically as I understand it). I’m wondering if this could be the source of the problem so if I were to play them on a 32 bit system (and waste half my RAM) it would disappear and I could get my particle effects back without the glitches.

Has anyone experienced similar problems with 64 bit systems having problems rendering particle effects. Can anyone confirm or deny my hypothesis?

Any help would be appreciated as this has issue has been driving me daft for ages.

System specs:

Main rig

CPU: Core i7 920 DO stepping (at stock speed)
RAM: 6GB OCZ Gold DDR 3 1600Mhz
GPU: 2GB Palit GeForce GTX 285 (at stock speed with up to date drivers)
Hard Disc: 300GB WD Velociraptor
PSU: 1250W Enermax Revolution 85+
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58 UD3R
Sound card: Asus Xonar DX
Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
Case: Antec 1200

Back up rig

CPU: Core2 Quad Q6600 GO stepping (overclocked to 3.4Ghz)
RAM: 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR 2 1333Mhz
GPU: 1GB Sapphire Radeon 4870 (at stock speeds with up to date drivers)
Hard Disc: 640GB WD Caviar Black
PSU: 650W Be Quiet! Dark Power Pro
Motherboard: Asus P5Q-E
Sound card: Creative X-Fi Soundblaster
Operating system: Windows Vista Home Basic 64 bit
Case: Antec 600

P.s – I’ve just thought of some additional points

1) Both systems use Antec cases with extra fans installed so overheating is not an issue
2) All software – operating system and games – is fully legal – I don’t use pirate rubbish
3) I use up to date virus software which I disable along with many background services when gaming
4) I use driver sweeper to get a clean install of graphics drivers – I’ve also tried using older drivers but with no success


Thanks in advance

Mag
a b B Homebuilt system
May 9, 2010 2:00:44 PM

I've never had x64 OS's give me visual trouble with any games. The unfortunate thing is, I really have no idea what you've done there! The fact that it does it on two utterly different machines leads me to think it might be an issue with your DVI cable, or possibly your monitor itself (Assuming that's a shared component).
a b B Homebuilt system
May 9, 2010 6:35:19 PM

Yeah, I'd agree that it's likely to be whatever is the same when you use them. I've never heard of this problem before at all. The only way you could make those systems more different is if one of them was AMD. I think they're too different for the same thing to be magically happening.

Unless there's something you're doing when you install the OS/directX/drivers/the games that's somehow wrong and you've managed to do it the same way every time. Which would also be odd.
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May 9, 2010 7:19:49 PM

jack_attack said:
I've never had x64 OS's give me visual trouble with any games. The unfortunate thing is, I really have no idea what you've done there! The fact that it does it on two utterly different machines leads me to think it might be an issue with your DVI cable, or possibly your monitor itself (Assuming that's a shared component).


Thanks for your reply. The plot thickens as I forgot to mention I've also got two monitors - a TN panel Liyama 22" 16:9 and an IPS HP 24" 16:10. I get the same snowflakes no matter which monitor I use - they have different DVI leads and I even bought another lead to try out (with gold plated connectors - wow!). No deal - that didn't work either.

Thanks again

Mag
a b B Homebuilt system
May 9, 2010 7:27:19 PM

Dang. You've got some funny business going on there. I've had something like it though, but it was caused when I took my GPU's shader clock too high, but you're running at stock clocks, so I can't imagine it's that. Is it possible that you're grabbing some interference somewhere? I know DVI cables are shielded, but it's always a possibility - I think...
May 9, 2010 7:30:50 PM

False_Dmitry_II said:
Yeah, I'd agree that it's likely to be whatever is the same when you use them. I've never heard of this problem before at all. The only way you could make those systems more different is if one of them was AMD. I think they're too different for the same thing to be magically happening.

Unless there's something you're doing when you install the OS/directX/drivers/the games that's somehow wrong and you've managed to do it the same way every time. Which would also be odd.



Thanks for your reply. I can't think of anything strange I do on installation - I just follow the wizards for os/drivers etc. I've even tried downloading the latest version of directX 9.0c and installing that but it didn't work. What made me think the os was responsible was it was the only common component. The snowflakes aren't random - they appear in the same parts of the games with the same intensity every time. The systematic nature of the glitch means I think something is responsible for messing up the rendering of dust or other airborne particles.

Thanks again for your help

Mag
May 9, 2010 7:39:07 PM

jack_attack said:
Dang. You've got some funny business going on there. I've had something like it though, but it was caused when I took my GPU's shader clock too high, but you're running at stock clocks, so I can't imagine it's that. Is it possible that you're grabbing some interference somewhere? I know DVI cables are shielded, but it's always a possibility - I think...



Thanks for replying again Jack and so quickly. I've just replied to the other poster and told him that the interference is systematic - same games, same places in those games, same intensity. I would have thought if there was interference the effect would be more random. Anyway I'll try one of my rigs out upstairs see if that has any effect - failing that it might be worth carting one of them to a friend's house on the other side of town.

By the way I live in the UK - nothing works properly here any more - we havn't even got a government at the moment!

Thanks again for your help

Mag
a b B Homebuilt system
May 10, 2010 5:39:58 AM

I was gonna suggest power problems since that's the only other thing that's in common. Though I would think that it being only there when certain settings are being used should rule it out.
May 10, 2010 7:16:26 AM

False_Dmitry_II said:
I was gonna suggest power problems since that's the only other thing that's in common. Though I would think that it being only there when certain settings are being used should rule it out.



Thanks for your reply again. My power supplies are expensive models with ample juice - particularly the Enermax 1250W - that's ovekill really. I told jack yesterday I'd try taking a rig upstairs in case of interference. This should also rule out problems with the mains power supply as its a different circuit.

Thanks once again

Mag
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