March 03, 2012

Bethesda Support

I've been exchanging emails with Bethesda support regarding the Skyrim issues I've been having.  They've been really patient with me and I really appreciate their support.  The latest exchange has involved them looking at my system configs.  Their current concern is my overclocking:

From Bethesda:

Given that your system is crashing at a very low level and it is restarting this does not really point to a great amount of system stability. It should be noted that the person in the youtube video who which you passed to us is also overclocking their system, which could point to a common demoninator.

My Response:

I'm not sure what to say other than I have the same amount of problems
when I'm not overclocking and even when I'm underclocking and even
when everything is set to auto.  I do agree with your statement in
general terms, but in my case, everything I've tried thus far has NOT
pointed to anything OTHER THAN a stable system.  I have not been able
to create a crash, either system or to desktop, or errors or anything
at all OTHER THAN in Skyrim. The ironic part is that I bought this
system specifically for Skyrim and had only Steam and Skyrim installed
when I first started having problems.  I did NOTHING to my system when
I started having problems, it was literally out of the box.
Troubleshooting started when I started crashing over and over and the
game became unplayable.

Here's a quick summary of what I've done to date:

* Reinstalled Skyrim from Steam
* Validated files in Steam
* Replaced power supply with a known good brand, high rated, over
powered (1000W)
* Reinstalled drivers (Video/System/etc) using a clean install
* Ran Prime95 (to test RAM) for 7 hours
* Ran Linx (to also test RAM) for 1 hour
* Ran OCCT (to test GPU RAM)
* Ran OCCT:CPU (to test CPU)
* Ran Kombustor
* Ran Heaven
* Ran Linx, OCCT and Kombustor AT THE SAME time
* Monitored for GPU, CPU and System Temperatures (logging to a file
every second) - no spikes seen just before crash in Skyrim.
* Removed Creative Labs audio card
* Underclocked CPU, RAM and GPU one at a time
* Disabled Intel speedstep
* Disabled CPU Parking

Non of these tests showed any problem whatsoever.  If the above tests
are not enough to test for system stability, then please let me know
what I can test for.

Again, there are NO ISSUES outside of Skyrim.  Skyrim could run for
four hours or 7 minutes before the system reboots.  At one point I had
a save file that would CONSISTENTLY cause this problem, but that file
could not be opened by your support staff and since the latest patch
would no longer crash for me.  This file would load inside of
Dragonsreach and I would turn around and exit the front door and the
system would reboot.  I did this multiple times in a row and then
loaded a different save game and didn't experience the reboot.  I've
also found that unbinding spells from favorites seemed to have caused
the reboots NOT to happen.  This clearly showed it was *something* in
the save file.  Again, I did this systematically: reboot/crash,
reboot/crash, reboot/crash, unbind spells, no reboot/crash, load
again, reboot/crash.  As I said earlier, this save file could not even
be opened by your support staff - it would cause the game to crash to

I have zero issues in other games, namely Batman:Arkham City,
Battlefield 3 and Grid.  But I bought this system specifically to play
Skyrim and it's the only game causing me problems.

Others in the Internet have the same symptoms, as it's popped up in
multiple forums.  Clearly it's something that is specific since only a
minority of the millions of players out there have this problem.  I
know of two people personally who have had no issues in Skyrim.  As I
said above, overclocking is something I've done just recently because
all my testing showed that the system is solid - I can't find a
problem with it AT ALL, except for Skyrim crashing.  In other words,
crashing is isolated to Skyrim.

I read an interview with Bethesda's Todd Howard where he had stated
that things you do in the game cause issues, such as the PS3 lag
that's been widely reported.  I can't help but thing it's something
like that for my issue.  Now, I do understand about software
development and software issues, so what I'm looking for is this: what
is happening with my install/game that is causing this problem?  If
it's something like "binding spell x and spell y at the same time"
then it's not a problem to avoid that behavior.

I've maintained a blog with some graphs and more detailed information
of the troubleshooting I've done, including a red herring of disabling
Intel Speedstep (it did make it more stable, but I think it only
masked the problem) and disabling Windows 7 Core Parking.

This link shows you all the Skyrim related posts:

But please, if you believe my system is unstable, let me know what
test to run so I can start to pinpoint the problem on my end, because
I've been trying to blame my system for the past three months but I
can't find a problem.

Thank you.

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