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Game Suddenly Became Unplayable


c0c0c0

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Hey, folk - I need a little guidance.

 

I'm playing a new-ish Skyrim set-up, using the latest S.T.E.P. (somewhat modified) and Mod Organizer.  Here's my set-up:

 

i5 Dual @3.47GHZ

12 GB Mem

GeForce GTX 670 2GB Mem

S.T.E.P. 2.2.6 Baseline + some of the optionals

Mostly 1 MB textures, with some 2 MB interiors

 

Last night, I added about 5 non-S.T.E.P mods, mostly gameplay related ESPs, and they worked pretty well for about two hours.  I had a CTD which, for a heavily modded game I'd been playing without error for 2 hours, I counted as pretty good.  However, when I restarted the game, just *launching* the game took over ten minutes (from @ 2), and I'd lost maybe 25 FPS from what had been playing fine just a few minutes earlier.

 

Since the problem starts on launch, this doesn't sound like a corrupted save issue.  And, in fact, I can continue to play the game (at 5-15 FPS).

 

So I have a few questions:

1.  What just happened?  Did my install somehow just get corrupted?

2.  How do I recover?  

 

I was thinking that maybe I just need to re-install Skyrim.  If I do that, can I re-apply the mod configuration I was using last night?  I've been modding this thing for a straight week and just about had it done so I would hate to have to start over from scratch.  Especially if I don't know what happened.  I have been saving my mod profile every day before any significant change.

 

I haven't advanced past 5th level, so it won't kill me to start over though, of course, I'd rather not.

 

BTW, if the Mod Organizer team is listening, you guys are gods.  The ability to un-apply a texture overwrite that didn't work out is just fantastic.

 

Edited to add some setup detail

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Disable the new mod additions and check by starting a new game again. This is also fairly easy with MO. Everytime you get a profile to work properly, then save it and make a new one for the next set of changes etc.

 

The only difference between profiles is the settings files which are just a few kb in size.

 

Long startups are due to very large amounts of .esp´s which need to be loaded etc. Slowdowns are most likely due to more stuff being added in which cause a slowdown due to game conflicts.

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Long startups are due to very large amounts of .esp´s which need to be loaded etc. Slowdowns are most likely due to more stuff being added in which cause a slowdown due to game conflicts.

Even when the same profile loaded up and ran just fine a few minutes earlier?  The same batch of .esps?

 

I've got several saved profiles I can fall back on, so this is doable.  In fact, that was my plan, anyway.  Really didn't want to lose the time I spent playing last night as it was a real challenge (the Ghostblade dungeon).  It ran so well right before it CTD'd...

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Well other then hardware related issues then I am at a bit of a loss.

 

Also if you have some lighting overhauls that add light sources then you can run into issues. This is because they provoke a much more complex shadow computation that can bog down any system. However that should not affect the startup noticeably...I assume you have the mod that removes the loading screen fog etc.

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Yes, I have the loading screen fog remover. And, yes, this is probably a hardware issue.

 

Last night I went back to an earlier profile, and it loaded and ran fine. Then I added everything back one mod at a time until I was back to the same exact profile that was killing me the night before, only now it worked just fine. I played for around an hour, and then the frame rate started dropping off like it did the night before. I went and walked the dog, and then came back and it ran just fine for maybe a half hour, and then it started dropping off again.

 

The rest of my PC seems to be just fine, so now I'm wondering if my video card, which is only a couple months old, is starting to overheat or something like that.

 

Maybe I should take this as a sign to stop playing marathon Skyrim.

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Run the game with Skyrim performance monitor or some other monitor software enabled.

Specifically ones that can measure the clock speeds of the CPU/GPU.

If they somehow get throttled down after a while then you would get what you describe.

 

Also some locations in skyrim are just horriblely optimized, and will provoke FPS drops even on the most monster of rigs. Make sure to mention in which location you are testing!

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This one is almost impossible to troubleshoot. Looks like the behavior has changed. Now, I'm not slowing down but, instead, go straight to CTD.

 

I did run Skyrim perf mon and what I saw was that, after an initial period of no problems for about 90 minutes, every time I approached a GPU temperature of 170 degrees, I became increasingly unstable. It could run around 165 for a while, going and down, but at some point, I'd press the wrong button and it would CTD. The periods of stability decresed until I stepped away. Then, the longer I was away, the longer I could play.

 

Is this game killing my video card? Did I get a bum card?

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I am going to assume you are meaning F for those temperatures :P

 

And no around 80C (175F give or take) for a gfx card under full load is normal depending on room temperature etc.

 

For further testing then set your shadow resolution to 1k in the ini´s and run only with the Official textures. If you made an optimized loose file version of those then you can just drag those mod folders down to the bottom of the mod list and they will overwrite all other texture mods. Will save you the time of disabling everything etc.

 

This way you should have reduced the stress on the CPU, and reduced the memory load by a really large amount. This should in all cases not stress your hardware as much.

If you still experience the problem after that then I would be at a bit of a loss as to why.

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Sigh. Nope. No difference. But since the performance drops have transformed into plain ol' fashioned random CTDs, maybe this is just life running 200 (even hand-picked, carefully ordered and cleaned) mods. Other than the fact that it seems to get worse with time, this isn't that different from what I had with Oblivion.

 

Thanks for all the ideas!

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Ok a few questions before I go into my general advice. 

First have you recently added any large texture packs or large resolution textures i.e. 4k exterior textures or SRO? Second, have you tried underclocking your graphics card with a tool like MSI Afterburner to see if it's something to do with your clockspeeds?

 

General Advice

1. Make a new game (doesn't matter how either sit through Helgen or Alternate Start Live Another Life)

2. Since you are using Mod Organizer (which keeps your mods installed in a separate folder from your game) have you tried deleting your Skyrim Folder and replacing it with your Vanilla install archive? (assuming you made an archive after you installed)

3. Try following the cleaning advice from Neovalen's Skyrim Revisited Guide for any of the mods that you have installed that are also in his list.

 

@Aiyen I wouldn't say 80C under full load is typical. It shouldn't damage the card but I wouldn't say it was typical. For instance I have a highly overclocked graphics card in my laptop (which I use to play skyrim) and it never goes above 70C. My desktops card isn't as comparable (it's a GTX 460) but it's highly OC'ed and never goes above 60C. Each card is different.

 

@OP bottom line in terms of temperatures.

1. Clean out any lint traps on your case if you have any.\

2. Make sure your fans are all functioning.

3. Check the airflow to make sure it's good. (There are a few guides on the internet and I highly recommend you check out Overclock.net)

 

@all Making sure your cooling is working right will help reduce your energy bill too (a little) as the hotter your components run the more energy they require/waste. The waste portion of that is because heat is one form of energy. I'm not explaining it well I know but cooler is a. more stable (generally) and b. more energy efficient.

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To answer your questions, no, I didn't just add any new large textures - I did those first, I did the 1k & 2k versions only, and performance tested all of them before beginning my "real" play through. Oh, and I did follow Neovalen's guide as a companion to my STEP install. I have (recently) blown the dust out of my case, and confirmed my fans are working. I've also started using the spot cooler I have in my office to lower the ambient temperature.

 

That said, I'm beginning to think we're barking up two different trees. The first is the CTDs, which isn't that unusual for a heavily modded Skyrim (at least from what I'm reading). That one is bearable. The other issue, which hasn't happened that often but did happen again last night, was the framerate drop. This can happen in mid-play, no scene change or fight required, and it can happen even before start-up (meaning game start is excruciatingly slow). Yesterday, I had Skyrim Perf Mon up and saw that, while the game was struggling to launch, the GPU wasn't even engaged. It's so random, it's hard to see how it has anything to do with my mods. As an additional data-point, twice this weekend, I came in to my office to find that my PC was shut all the way down (which is not how I have patching set up). The second time, I couldn't get it to boot back up until I had taken the entire thing apart.

 

Based on that last bit, I'm beginning to suspect that my (not very old) power supply is dying. I tried to replace it yesterday, but my spare power supply didn't have the right connectors (and possibly sufficient wattage) to power my video card. I have another one on the way, and I'll swap it out and see what that does.

 

As an aside, I'm planning on adding the "AutoSave Manager" to save me from the occassional CTD when I've been negligent with my saves. I've heard that auto-saving increases the odds of save file corruption. Any truth to that rumor?

 

Thanks for all the advice, folks!

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Speaking of power supplies.. have you made sure that the one you are using is capable of delivering enough power on its 12V rail to supply your GFX card under full load ?

 

Many people make the mistake of buying a 750W powerfull that has 4x 30A rails instead of 1x 60A or so (semi random numbers from memory) and then the card(s) are not able to draw enough power to function under full load.. However then it should be a persistent problem and not a random one... but I guess it is worth checking out regardless.

 

@Aiyen I wouldn't say 80C under full load is typical. It shouldn't damage the card but I wouldn't say it was typical. For instance I have a highly overclocked graphics card in my laptop (which I use to play skyrim) and it never goes above 70C. My desktops card isn't as comparable (it's a GTX 460) but it's highly OC'ed and never goes above 60C. Each card is different.

I did not bother to go into all the gritty details of fan speed, air flow, room temperature, efficiency reduction due to dust etc. 

For most standard use cases with decent airflow and the fans not running at above 60% all the time then 80C is fairly normal during the summer. Of course if you live in a house with air condition, have an open side case etc. then the temperature will go down. 

But regardless 60-80C under full load is within normal operating parameters, I would first get worried once it gets between 80-90C persistently, or if the card fan speed is at all times above 50%.

 

As you say you cannot compare a mobile card with a desktop one. For once the desktop one has several hundred more Watts going through it at any given time. While all cards are different then the thermal conditions ultimately dictate how it all goes. 

The main point I wanted to get out was just that running at 70C-80C is not uncommon in contemporary cases. And it is not something that should cause major " OMG my card is burning out" alarms. Only if it like does it when running idle obviously! ;) 

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I had something similar happen a few months back. Played one night for several hours at a fairly decent fps on a newly created mod order. The next day I jumped in and the fps was abysmal. I couldn't make sense of it. Did a complete reformat thinking I'd picked up a virus or something.

Turned out my CPU fan had died.

Got that replaced and works great now. Seems to me that you're on the right track thinking its hardware related.

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As a little update for anyone who comes later with this same issue, I got the new power supply, but it's still sitting in a box on my floor. The slow-down issue never happened again. I still get CTDs, of course, but that's pretty normal. Now I'm theorizing that whatever was wrong with my hardware was "fixed" the first time I tried to replace my power supply and realized my spare wasn't good enough. Putting everything back must have jiggled the right wires. I'm totally guessing. At this point, it's all blue smoke and magic.

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