February 15, 2012

Skyrim Update

Interesting thing happened when playing last night - at one point, just outside of Whiterun, I ran into an old Orc who wanted to "die a good death" and after I started to grant his which, the screen froze for 1/2 second, the sound started to stutter and it seemed like the start of a black screen/reboot crash, but then it recovered and no issue for the next four hours.

So what happened?  I think the game started to change all kinds of variables based on that decision to engage the Orc and that caused the stutter as things were loaded and changed.

I think if *THAT* situation happens AND there is a auto-save at the same time, things go downhill really fast and the whole system crashes.  Since I disabled auto-saving, then it didn't crash.  Sound reasonable?

I shouldn't say nothing else happened the rest of the session - after a period of time, I noticed a slight "heaviness" to the whole game.  Seemed a little jerky vs the normal super smooth.  It's barely noticeable.  But I saved the game, exited to desktop and restarted Skyrim and loaded the game and it was back to smoothness (this only took about 20 seconds for me).  I think this is just the engine having too much garbage (memory leak anyone?) in memory and reloading the program cleared it out.  Next time this happens, I will try just saving to a new save file and then loading it to see if the heaviness is lifted.

Anyway, that's my latest update.  And here's a puppy:


  1. I tried everything in gjm777's post including disabling autosaves, and I still had a crash (as did he). I then upgraded my NVidia drivers. Then things got strange.

    I had two crashes, but instead of system-cripling black screens, they ended up crashing to the desktop with Windows saying the video driver stopped responding.

    Then I had a game where two times the screen went black, then recovered! before finally crashing to desktop.

  2. So now after reading some of the interviews with Bethesda developers, I'm thinking that it's definitely a problem with the save file or your current game variables. One of the comments (can't find article now, but just Google for "skyrim lag developers" or something like that) was that the game is so huge that they knew at launch of some scenarios that could cause issues with memory leaks, etc. They thought they got most of them and the subsequent patches were meant to address the rest. Specifically, an example was stated that "simply binding a spell to favorites" could cause the issue.

    It sounds bad, but the bottom line is it's how you play the game that causes these issues. This is in line with the fact that a tiny minority of the millions of players are having our issues. It's a specific combination of things you do in the world and your settings that causes problems down the road.

    I have a save file that CONSISTENTLY crashes on me: it loads inside of Dragonsreach and when I exit the front door, the system dies/black screen/reboot, etc. This seemed like a good litmus test for testing, so I changed things systematically, first with hardware then software settings. Everything from BIOS changes, frequency changes, permissions, compatibility settings, etc, etc. The first thing that worked was the ENB patch - it got me past that point, but it crashed again later.

    What worked for me was removing all the favorites from spells and weapons. I tried it again after just to validate that it still crashes with the litmus test and it did crash again. Then, I removed some favorites again and it worked again. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

    I sent that save file to gjm777 and he said he couldn't even load the game on his box - it crashes straight to desktop for him.

    With a new branch, I've added over 10 hours after cleaning out my favorites, my hot keys and dumping a bunch of crap I've been lugging around. Basically cleaning house. Also, I've knocked down my open quests to a manageable amount and am focusing on clearing those out before continuing progress with the main story line.

    It's a huge game and these things happen. Luckily for us Bethesda seems to know what the problem is and these patches will hopefully get the game to a point where these problems get addressed. I doubt it will ever be 100% though.

    So, I would recommend loading your game and cleaning things out (just go to spells, select favorites and un-favorite them all, same with weapons) and adding back just what you need now. Also, clear out your inventory and selectively add just what you need and start playing.

    The good side for me is that I've now overclocked my CPU. RAM and GPU since they are clearly not the problem and in the course of all this troubleshooting I've actually validated that they are solid enough to do so.

    My current theory is that the game actions accumulate and certain combinations causes some kind of graphics driver scenario where it tries to address a part of memory that doesn't exist, which can cause either the driver to crash and the OS to catch it (as you've seen) or the driver to try to access that memory, which would cause the whole OS to tumble down (what we've both seen).

  3. Fascinating analysis as usaul. I will try this as I certainly do have spells bound to favourites and dozens of potions and scrolls hanging around my inventory. This might explain why people don't notice the problem right away in a new game.

    The good news is I have managed to log many more hours, and I'm having fun again. If these tweaks only help a little more, it will still be worth it.



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