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bulldog
9th Jul 2002, 12:33
Hello,

I'm hoping someone may have a suggestion on getting better performance from Thief on my PC or if I'm out of luck. I've read and tried the Tidbits and it helped some, but I'm still having a particular problem (Like the Tidbit author, I don't claim to be a PC expert - obviously, since I'm still using an old work horse).

I have a "barely-above-minimum" system. Pentium MMX 200Mhz with 32M RAM and a Voodoo 1 graphics card with Win95. I did the maximum install of Thief and applied the latest upgrade.

My initial load of the game occurs nominally (kind of a long wait, but not intolerable). The "flow" during the game is sketchy, but again, not intolerable. However, when I have to reload a game (which is fairly often since I'm just getting the hang of it), the wait-time during the "quick" reload gets worse and worse until it is too frustrating (once it does reload, the gameplay is OK).

Is this normal and is there anything I can do about it? Or am I hosed until I upgrade my computer?


Thanks, Bulldog

TRoosevelt_26
9th Jul 2002, 13:06
It's normal. I've got a Dell 4300 with 128 MB of RAM, a 1.6GHz P4 and a 40 GB hard drive, and it still does it to me, only not so soon. What is wrong is that Thief, Thief Gold and Thief II all have memory leak problems, which get worse and worse the more you play until you are forced to reboot. Usually the final sign to reboot is that your in-game gamma has darkened significantly, and you can't fix it.

But rebooting should solve all these things (sorry, no patches to fix this, although for some reason System Shock II didn't have trouble with memory leaking at all, even though it used a modified Thief engine). Good luck, and may the Upgrade Fairy visit your house someday soon. :D

Grey Mouser
9th Jul 2002, 19:35
Hi bulldog - welcome to the forums!

Another suggestion is to not use sound acceleration in Thief, which on your system would likely degrade the performance some.

Check under Options>Audio>turn hardware accel and EAX OFF if they are on and try Thief with both 4 and 8 channels. It may do better if you have been playing with acceleration on.

Hmm, also on my snail-system at home, all Dark Engine games (sorry TR_Roosevelt26 - including System Shock II) experience gradual framerate problems ("lag" and "chuggy" behavior) but usually only after considerable time, like more than a couple of hours of continuous play....this is definitely affected depending on whether sound acceleration is enabled, how much total system RAM has been installed and occurs on several different hardware configurations I have experimented under (TNT's 1 and 2, Voodoo's 3 and 5, Sound Blaster Live and Aureal Vortex 1 and 2) and with all 4 Dark Engine games. Meaning....yep, they all gots "memory leak" issues.

DJC
9th Jul 2002, 20:12
Ok, interestingly, bring up a point TR mentioned about memory leaks. I have never noticed this on the 3 systems I have played Thief on. (P2 350, Athlon 900, Athlon 1700). On my P2 the quickload used to take aaaages to do, but that was comparable with most games of the time on my machine, so no problem there.
My old Athlon 900 was much quicker at loading at the quicksaves, even after reloading some 20odd times getting to the top of Angelwatch in the T2 demo when it came out. My current system also has no problem with performance degrading over a play session. I've taken 6hours or so in one play session on one level before now. (It was LotP and I was doing something interesting. Actually I'm 11hours in and still going strong on that one ;)).

So, it would seem that either I am the luckiest person ever and never get memory leaks while everyone else does, or, it is configuration based.

Take your pick :/

Grey Mouser
9th Jul 2002, 20:57
Well, you may be lucky DJC ;)...however I pick the latter, but it is an unusual symptom, not always duplicatable. I am thinking it is a Win 98/x type problem, due to the fact that none of the Thief games (have not tried SSII) have the same issues running under XP on my work test unit.

Should also note that occaisional clean install fixes the symptoms on my home system....for a while.

TRoosevelt_26
10th Jul 2002, 19:41
Originally posted by Grey Mouser
Hmm, also on my snail-system at home, all Dark Engine games (sorry TR_Roosevelt26 - including System Shock II) experience gradual framerate problems ("lag" and "chuggy" behavior) but usually only after considerable time, like more than a couple of hours of continuous play....this is definitely affected depending on whether sound acceleration is enabled, how much total system RAM has been installed and occurs on several different hardware configurations I have experimented under (TNT's 1 and 2, Voodoo's 3 and 5, Sound Blaster Live and Aureal Vortex 1 and 2) and with all 4 Dark Engine games. Meaning....yep, they all gots "memory leak" issues.

No problem, guess I just got lucky on that one... :)

Peter_Smith
11th Jul 2002, 02:30
Bulldog,

Welcome to the forum.:)

In my opinion a Pentium MMX 200Mhz with 32M RAM and Voodoo 1 is not nearly enough to play Thief properly. I am amazed that it is playable. If you enjoy the game at all after your limited but frustrating trials, I suggest that it would be well worth it to buy another computer. You could probably find a very reasonable ($300.00?) used or rebuilt system with the following specs:

at least P-III 550 MHz (733 preferred)
Geforce 1 or better graphics card (GeForce 2 preferred)
"sound blaster live value" sound card or better
at least 128 MB memory (256 MB preferred)

You will be delighted with the improvement. Bear in mind that when Thief 3 comes out you will need a machine that is a lot more powerful than the above, so it is your decision whether to go all the way now or to wait and upgrade again in another year. If you want to go all the way now, post back under a different thread, and we can work on that problem separately.

On the memory leak issue, I understand that some people have a problem with that. So far as I know, however, I have not had a memory leak problem on any of four different systems, three with Win 98 and one with Win 2000. I can play for hours at a time, with browser and e-mail running, and not notice a difference in reload times or performance. Sometimes it will freeze and need a hard reset, but that is another issue. All my systems have had at least 128 MB of memory, typically 256 MB. They have all had Nvidia graphics cards - TNT 1, GeForce DDR, GeForce II Pro. TNT 1 was all-around clunky, but the GeForce's were fine. I usually set virtual memory to a fixed size, not letting Windows manage it, and I use Norton speed disk to defrag and relocate the swap file to the low address space.

Grey Mouser
26th Jul 2002, 20:04
Just to revisit the question of Thief (and other Dark Engine games) behaving in "memory-leakish" fashions, meaning gradual framerate problems or drop in framerate in particular areas and/or crashing after running for a lenghty period of time.

Definately a configuration issue.

System in question: a freebie spare-parts bin special that started life as a Dell PIII 450Mhz, Win 98SE now with 512 megs of cheap SDRAM, a Voodoo 5 5500 AGP, and either an SB Live or Vortex 2, a couple of old, slow 4 gig drives and thats about it...yanked all other cards, no internet access, nothing but a lot of games installed, and I had manually set virtual memory to 384 mb. A decent system for "old" games.

After thinking it over a bit and having to put in more effort to it than I thought would be necessary I got Windows to recognize whatever Sound Card I am using as IRQ 5 instead of IRQ 9 or 10, which is what Win 98 kept wanting to auto-assign to sound, in spite of my efforts in CMOS to tell it otherwise. Since those are shared IRQ's, and because my framerate problems in Thief etc on this particular system seemed directly related to areas with Lots-O-Sound functions being used, it seemed a good idea to try re-assigning sound to a different IRQ.

I finally figured out, after disabling COM 1 and 2 and LPT 1 and playing musical PCI slots for the sound card, I had to use dip switches on the mobo to allow the desired PCI slot to be configured for IRQ 5. At least, I think thats what finally did it. :)

With SB Live firmly in place and humming away on IRQ 5, I promptly played several hours of System Shock 2 and gave particular attention to what had been a problematic area for me, the dang cargo bays with the Monkeys...previously when riding an elevator Up, and getting blasted at by vile screaming Monkeys (with EAX enabled and so on) the game would just chug down to about 1 frame every two seconds, for as long as I was riding elevators up or down and getting shot at/blasted at/chased by something that made lots of noise. I thought was a sound-related issue in the Dark Engine...Thief v1.33 and Thief II v1.07 and v1.18 both had similar spots where, depending on my settings and in-game actions, they could be made to slow down as well.

But now - with sound using IRQ 5 - everything is working smoothly, and SS II, Thief and Thief II all behave like champs...moral of the story: Dark Engine RoXz0r!! And - Never trust IRQ 9 or 10 for sound!!


Curious if any one else who has experienced this type of problem also has sound set to IRQ 9 or 10.

theBlackman
26th Jul 2002, 21:35
Originally posted by Grey Mouser

... allow the desired PCI slot to be configured for IRQ 5. At least, I think thats what finally did it. :)...

...With SB Live firmly in place and humming away on IRQ 5,
But now - with sound using IRQ 5 - everything is working smoothly, and SS II, Thief and Thief II all behave like champs...moral of the story: Dark Engine RoXz0r!! And - Never trust IRQ 9 or 10 for sound!!


Curious if any one else who has experienced this type of problem also has sound set to IRQ 9 or 10.

I too had trouble with the SB series of cards. I usually set the IRQ to 5 for these to solve the problem.

I am trying to install an Audigy Platinum at the moment, and this is my next "fix" to get the puppy up and running.

Peter_Smith
27th Jul 2002, 03:31
On my system, with Windows 2000 Pro, almost everything of intestest, specifically, all of the AGP and PCI expansion slots, is automatically assigned to IRQ 9. Following is a breakdown:

System Information report written at: 07/26/2002 09:23:03 PM
[IRQs]

IRQ Number Device
9 Microsoft ACPI-Compliant System
9 NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS/GeForce2 Pro
9 VIA USB Universal Host Controller
9 VIA USB Universal Host Controller
9 Creative SB Audigy
9 OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller
9 Network Everywhere Fast Ethernet Adapter(NC100 v2) #2
9 Win2000 Promise Ultra100 (tm) IDE Controller (PDC20265)
8 System CMOS/real time clock
13 Numeric data processor
6 Standard floppy disk controller
1 Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard
14 Primary IDE Channel
15 Secondary IDE Channel

BIOS edits have no effect on this. I don't seem to have any confilicts or performance issues. I asked about this once before and was told that it is not a problem. Is it a problem? Should I do something about this.?

I take it that GM has Windows 9x, with which IRQ 5 for sound may be more of an issue. But I thought that theBlackman had Win 2K like I do. So what's the deal here?:)

Vanguard
27th Jul 2002, 15:46
I am in the same situation regarding lots of devices sharing the same interrupt in Windows 2000. I have all PCI cards in my machine and they all share IRQ 11 - the video card, SCSI controller, Promise Ultra100 controller (for hard drives since my mobo only support UltraDMA33), network card, Soundblaster, and USB controller (on mobo). IRQs 5 and 10 aren't even used! I'd like to put the Soundblaster on IRQ 5 and the video card on IRQ 10 but I am not allowed.

In Device Manager, the "Settings based on" option in the properties of a device in Device Manager is disabled. That's because the default install of Windows 2000 (for most new PCs with BIOSes that support ACPI) has it use the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). If I had installed with the Standard HAL then I could change the interrupts, but switching HALS requires you reinstall Windows NT/2000/XP from scratch (you cannot update or repair to switch HALs). See http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;[LN];Q269491 and http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;[LN];Q237556 for info. To use the Standard HAL, I believe you have to change your BIOS to disable its support of ACPI, then install a fresh copy of Windows and select the HAL during setup (see http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;[LN];Q216251 for info). You can switch from the single- to multi-processor HAL (but not back) but switching from ACPI to Std HAL requires a reinstall. So the "Advanced" HAL gives you less user-configurable options. Yeah, that's Microsoft's logic.

16 interrupt lines might've seemed plenty back in 1984, but after 18 years Intel couldn't figure out how to add more interrupts and the mobo vendors would follow? If they are using binary addressing on the lines to address the interrupt, they'd only have to add one more line to up from 16 to 32. No, instead they had to add sharing to the PCI spec. See http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q252420 for info on sharing. "It is normal behavior for PCI devices to have IRQs shared among them ...". Yeah, but that doesn't mean it is preferred, especially if other IRQs are free. What happens when you have a half a dozen people trying to pass through a single person sized door at the same time? They bunch up. Duh! Guess Intel and Microsoft share one brain, and it's only half a brain at that.

Peter_Smith
27th Jul 2002, 16:08
Thanks for the information, Vanguard. I will study those articles.

I am not so sure that IRQs are so sacred. I would need to learn more to be convinced about that. Evidently HAL gives you a programming interface that takes care of the duplication. If you have programmed in C/C++, consider the overloading of functions. The C compiler introduces name mangling, which is a composite name that accounts for all the differences between versions of a function. That ensures a unique function and call. It is possible that HAL and ACPI behave the same way. If so, then the only argument is whether a direct path is better than a quick calculation to find an indirect path. It may be that ACPI is a more robust solution (less prone to conflict), and this is why it was adopted as the default.

theBlackman
27th Jul 2002, 16:51
Peter,
I am using W98SE. I had no faith in 2000 or ME (although I do have the patch) and with my 300 games am avoiding XP as long as possible.

I am in the process of fine tuning my XP1800 sys, and building a multiboot Dos/3.1/98 for old games to run with my multiport hub.

I don't know about the other sys, but my BIOS (all of them) allow selective support for IRQ and "legacy" devices, either by slot or IRQ assignment or a combination of both.

Peter_Smith
27th Jul 2002, 16:58
Yes. BIOS allows you to set the IRQs, but Windows 2000 ignores your BIOS settings when ACPI is turned on. It's all done by Windows in software.

theBlackman
27th Jul 2002, 17:26
Originally posted by Peter Smith
Yes. BIOS allows you to set the IRQs, but Windows 2000 ignores your BIOS settings when ACPI is turned on. It's all done by Windows in software.

I can disable ACPI for a specific slot or IRQ on most of my boards.

Vanguard
27th Jul 2002, 20:03
Disable ACPI per PCI slot? Is this for your ASUS mobo?

theBlackman
27th Jul 2002, 20:18
Originally posted by Vanguard
Disable ACPI per PCI slot? Is this for your ASUS mobo?

I can set a specific slot to a specifice IRQ and let ACPI set the rest.
This is on my ASUS A7V (both MOBO) There is an option in BIOS that allows you to set for a "Legacy" board (setup)