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Games Freezing

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Games Freezing

Post  Blaugrana on Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:42 am

Hi,

I've been thinking about this quite a bit and I have a strong belief that courier use is causing the freezing of many games. Now, 'couriers' can mean:

  • sending couriers to subordinate units via point and click on the toolbar (when you have couriers set to Brigade and above)
    sending couriers to subordinate units using the 'Compose a Message'* window
    sending couriers to fellow players using the 'Compose a Message' window

*I'm doing this without checking wording within the game, so apologies for inexact wording.

We haven't isolated which of these is causing the problem, or if it is mods, communications or corrupted games, or a combination of the above.

I would like, therefore, to suggest:
Playing lots of 1 vs 1 games, in which both players do NOT send any messages using the 'Compose a Message' window. This could be useful because it would separate the two methods of sending courier messages and it would allow us to more easily identify players who can play successfully (fingers crosssed).
Also please make sure all players' mods are off before playing games.

FWIW, I have a hunch that the 'Compose a Message'* window could be more problematic than pointing and clicking.

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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Blaugrana on Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:25 pm

Norb has posted a few posts on threads re courier issues in the NSD forum and has asked:

Here's some things that will help.

1. have someone gather all the logs and send them as one zip file. So that I know which logs are from the same game.

2. everyone should also include their sowgb.log file, sometimes certain information is written to there, none MP stuff that could still affect gameplay.


He's also reiterated that we should play without mods to help them identify problems.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:44 pm

Jeff, we seem to have made great progress in the last couple of days... by uninstalling and reinstalling the games, without mods, then adding in mods after the game is patched to v1.4012. John, Jack and I have all done this and Ike is doing it tonight. I've urged this course of action on several occasions now and it's just an hours work if like me you have loads of mods and about half an hours work if you don't have many.

Jack and I played 2 1v1 games today and while both were short, we didn't crash. Jack, John and I then played a 90 minutes 2v1 game without a crash.

Yesterday Cleburne, Gibson, Jack and I played 2 4vs AI games, one of 70 minutes, one of 90. No crashes.

Two other 3 vs AI games ran fine the day before that.

My last crash was in our 3 vs 3 game on the 19th (NYCav, Me, you, Cleburne, John, Jack) where we had the cavalry brigades on the ECF map. I have had no failures since then and the run of solid games has co-incided with players starting to get rid of their old game installations and installing clean ones.

Like the developer guys on Norbs forum say, they can't replicate the courier crashes and it could be something else. Reinstalling is a minor inconvenience compared to hours of wasted time with games that crash.

We used several mods, mainly Garniers GCM but what seemed to become obvious was that every player needed to have the same mods enabled.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Blaugrana on Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:04 am

Hi Digby,

Great to hear there have been more games played to completion. I too have re-installed (last night) and have been playing without mods for a while, to try and isolate that as a possible cause.

From your list of recent games, it seems to me that player vs AI games are generally OK. Have any frozen??

I've played the odd short player vs player game too.

I think the main problem is getting past the hour mark when playing player(s) vs player(s) games.

Jeff

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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:06 pm

Martin is online this evening at 7.30pm UK time. If you can be there that gives 3, so we'll do a P v P game, hopefully more will arrive, we may get Jack and John from the States so we can do a good thrash to check it out.

Installing mods is fine, the problem (so I'm told) is having them ACTIVATED while installing a patch. I would guess that having them activated while installing other mods is also risky.

A few of us use the GCM mod almost all th etime because the nice random map comes with that so its worth at least putting GCM back in and enabling: GCM_Gameplay2, GCM_Toolbar (or GCM_StockToolbar which ever is your choice) and GcmRandomMap as a minimum. Unlike previous updates of GCM, this latest one seems to require the gameplay activated in order to use the nice random map. Thats not a problem for me since I happen to like the changes in the GCM gameplay but it may not suit everybody.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Martin on Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:49 pm

Hi guys.

Yes have just negotiated this evening free to play, so see you at 7.30 pm GMT.

Did a complete reinstall shortly before the latest patch came out, so should be good to go on that front. No mods, right?

Well done you two for your recent efforts on the Norbsoft forum. I see we still don't have an answer as to what settings MarkT's group use. It would be nice if we were in direct contact with them.

Martin

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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:31 am

Two games played tonight with no mods activated, first 6 players 3 v 3 which ran for an hour and 55 minutes but then froze, though according to Johns debug screen this was most likely a player connection problem.

There was however some apparent courier weirdness going on with intercepted couriers which might prove vital in passing on to Norb.

Our second game was a 1 v 2 which ran an hour and 10 minutes and had no issues. It was also a total blast! John discovered what its like to charge an infantry brigade straight into two artillery batteries with infantry supporting them. I have never seen canister blow such huge holes in units before! Very sobering stuff.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Martin on Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:44 am

I played in yesterday's first game, which was really good. A titanic struggle for the heights at Aps Knob which could have gone either way. The freeze actually came only 5 minutes before we were due to stop anyway, so was not a big issue for the game, although clearly we need to get to the bottom of it. Glad the second one went without a hitch.

I should be free tomorrow (Thursday) evening GMT if anyone's up for another game.

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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:58 pm

I tend to have the TS room open as a matter of course so if enough people gather we can play. I have it open most days in fact.
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Gettysburg - Scourge of Mods

Post  King_Rufus on Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:15 am

Gentlemen,

We (ie Mr Digby, Baylor, Company B and myself) managed (for the first time in my personal experience) to play a multiplayer to completion last night, albeit getting thrashed from ambush by the AI for our trouble.

The fact that this was possible only when everyone deactivated mods subsequent to several previous frozen games, may be a valuable pointer as to the cause of our current problems. While our association with Garniers group has been very valuable in terms of guidance received from them, it may also carry with it a problem of conflicting software.

I believe that I should hold off installing the GCM mods which Digby recommended, in hopes that we can at least carry through some further vanilla games to conclusion.

At your service,

Rufus “Yellowbelly" King, Brig Gen CSA (retd.), HHORM



Last edited by King_Rufus on Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:27 pm

Yes, last night was especially frustrating and demoralising with 2 player vs player games crashing within 20 to 30 minutes after we had had several very stable PvP games recently. This was even when using no mods.

Thus I don't think the GCM mod is the culprit, since we weren't using it.

Unfortunately I'm getting somewhat jaded with the East Cavalry Field map, over-familiarisation with it makes the games less challenging. The beauty of the GCM random map is it comes in 6 variants and Garnier updates them frequently.

I would still ask that players ensure they never install patches while they have mods activated. If you do this a complete uninstall and reinstall seems to be the only certain fix, with mods being added after all patches.

I still find it a little unhelpful that NorbSoft says couriers are 100% stable when the GCM group regularly plays with mods and up to 20 players and has numerous games played to completion (in the order of 75% of the ones they start up), while we, with only 4 to 6 players but using couriers, have perhaps only 33% or less of our games run to completion with the same mods enabled.

The only conclusion this allows is that the courier system is highly, highly sensitive to any game code malfunction, while the game without couriers is not.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Martin on Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:01 pm

Would be interested in hearing more views on the mods question. Some thoughts on other things we might do, partly based on our TeamSpeak discussion yesterday:

(a) Speed things up pre-game by agreeing numbers & teams beforehand eg by email, or using the KN forum.

(b) Speed things up pre-game by agreeing length of game

(c) Speed things up pre-game by agreeing map. Partly a function of (b). If we have say 2 hours, we can use one of the larger maps as we have more time for pre-battle manoeuvring. Have had a look at the Garnier maps and they do look very good. But there are lots of other maps available to us, including several large ones, which we have barely used (4 small G/burg, Alpine, Gettysburg, 3 x Pipe Creek, 4 x Antietam)

(d) Speed things up pre-game by agreeing mods position for that day. I don’t see that it has to be all or nothing here. Some sessions we could use a mod and at other times not. What I do suspect is that Norbsoft may be reluctant to look at log files for games using mods which freeze, as they have given a steer not to do that.

(e) Speed things up pre-game by agreeing an OOB. The way the OOBs are laid-out in sandbox, it is often difficult to find say a division which has the right number of sub-formations for a team of 2-4 players. Fortunately, the game allows the host to use a bespoke OOB, without the other players needing to have it too. I have some that can be cannibalised with a bit of work (perhaps over the weekend, if I have time), and am happy to circulate something to anyone who is interested.

The perceptive will have spotted a theme in the above suggestions Smile

I think we are looking for various things from these trial games. We want information to give Norbsoft to make the games more stable, and also to have a good game which runs to a conclusion. These are of course in conflict, so my final suggestions is:

(f) Start the evening with a team vs team game, provided we have sufficient numbers. If that freezes at some point, immediately zip-up the log files, and then start a new game vs the AI. That way we keep feeding Norbsoft the info they need, but still have a good game too. It does seem that games vs the AI are much more stable (although it would be useful to test that hypothesis), and they can certainly be a real challenge too.

Thoughts on any of the above welcome.

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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Blaugrana on Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:32 am

I believe that the game has a courier bug or bugs. It is very prone to freezing when couriers are used in MP and is really stable in MP when couriers are not used.

We haven't identified whether 'point & click' or 'message window' couriers are the problem but the latter seem more likely.

AI vs Player games seem less likely to freeze.

Mods
I was surprised by your comment on the NSD forum, Digby:
"Our groups experience is that couriers do seem pretty stable with the vanilla game". Looking at your recent posts here, there are references to quite a few vanilla games freezing. I think saying they're "pretty stable" risks NSD thinking the problem is resolved by playing without mods. It seems that perhaps 50% of vanilla player vs player games freeze, however. Is this your feeling too? As I've mentioned before, I think it would be very useful to have comprehensive records of which games freeze. I would be happy to collate this if people wanted to give me the info.

Personally, I don't think mods are the problem, but some exacerbate the problem. However, NSD think they are and I imagine this makes looking for a bug in the game less of a priority. Following Norb's reply to your post, I suggest we play without mods as much as possible and confirm whether or not we get stable games.

I like Martin's proposal to start evenings (GMT) with a player vs player battle to test for freezing and follow with AI vs player battles for a greater chance of a conclusion.
I also like the aim of reducing the time taken to get games started. I think, however, that this will improve with practice & that the risk of trying to arrange lots of things beforehand is that things change when players actually turn up on TS. I like the ability to be flexible and to allow players to play if they turn up 'unannounced'.

Jeff / Blaugrana

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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:49 am

That is my experience, Jeff. I have to be honest about that.

We played 4 games last night, 3 were fine, 1 crashed. That was the only one we tried with GCM enabled.

We do still need to do more testing, but its frustrating that quite often, Jack, John and I are the only people around. We know our 3-way games mostly work now. I know testing isn't the most fun pasttime but if more people can devote time to it the sooner we can get to the bottom of it. Turning up one night a week for one game I don't think is going to get us answers very fast, unfortunately. If family and social and work committments mean you can only make one night a week I fully understand but if people could state which night that would be, that too would be helpful.

Can people PLEASE bite the bullet and play more often? We now seem to have Tues, Thurs, Fri and Sat as agreed game nights from 7:30pm UK time but Jack, John and I (sad old farts that we are) can be on any night and usually are.

Over on the NSD forum I sent a PM to Leffe asking him if our HITS group and his can join forces to try bigger games. His group is about 4 or 5 people so if a mutually convenient time can be found to join them, that could really test the game.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Blaugrana on Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:41 am

Thanks Digby. I've been editing this continually as I can't see previous posts while in msg editing mode.

Recent player vs player games I know about from posts on this thread are:
25 Feb
1 P vs P game successful, 1 froze

24 Feb:
2 player vs player games crashing within 20 to 30 minutes after we had had several very stable PvP games recently.. This was even when using no mods.

22 Feb:
Two games played tonight with no mods activated, first 6 players 3 v 3 which ran for an hour and 55 minutes but then froze, though according to Johns debug screen this was most likely a player connection problem. [...] Our second game was a 1 v 2 which ran an hour and 10 minutes and had no issues.

20 Feb:
Jack, John and I [today] then played a 90 minutes 2v1 game without a crash.
My last crash was in our 3 vs 3 game on the 19th (NYCav, Me, you, Cleburne, John, Jack) where we had the cavalry brigades on the ECF map.

Without counting, for the moment:
the several very stable PvP games recently [don't know how many, or length]
or short p vs p games [too short]
This is 5 freezes vs 3 games to completion.

Again, I'm willing to do some tabulation / collation of this sort of data. If anyone has any ideas how, please shout.

I play when I can and don't know in advance when this will be. I am keen to gather more data and get to the bottom of this.




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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:53 am

2 of the stable games last night were 3 players vs AI.
1 of them was 2 players vs 1 player.

The 2 vs AI went well over an hour, the 2 vs 1 game probably ran close to an hour before the losing side conceded.

The trouble with such small groups is not enough couriers get sent to really 'thrash' the system. We need more players in these games.

I'll be online again tonight, UK time and I imagine Baylor and 4thTexas will be too (Jack and John). More testers urgently requested!

We need to do a 3 vs 3 vanilla game then a 3 vs 3 modded game - regularly - to get more statistics.
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Overcoming the tech issues - the way forward

Post  King_Rufus on Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:18 pm

We don’t know whether use of mods or use of couriers is responsible for the crashes, though the presence of the first and absence of the second in the GCM games may be relevant.

However it seems to me that the online KS group is fast approaching crunch time, and some drastic but methodical action such as that suggested in Digby's recently circulated email is now required.

I suggest to Ike that he consider laying down a list of mandatory requirements for persons asking to play via his TS server. These would need to include:

1 A virgin, vanilla installation of the game, though Pipe Creek and Antietam additions are acceptable.
2 No unofficial modifications of any kind activated or even added, including the GCM mod and changes to the .ini file.
3 Playing on a monitor large enough to be able to access Teamspeak and Hamachi windows without needing to alt-tab out of the GSOW window.
4 Running the usual KS options if hosting, including 10 yard cameras, ‘custom’ + HITS options, no modded maps and no map icons, etc.
5 Each player undertaking to have all necessary patches (and beta tester patches as notified in the GSOW forum) in place before the appointed time and committing to play up to a certain time, say to 10pm GMT if starting at 7.30pm.
6 Rigid adherence to the 20 yard rule prohibiting reporting or discussion of the game situation unless within that distance of the recipient on the map.

The alternative to Digby’s approach could well be the fragmentation and disintegration of the existing group into smaller playing groups who seem to stand a far better chance of mounting a playable game. Very disappointing but sadly inevitable unless we can increase our success rate and thereby retain people’s interest and commitment (including mine) in the face of many other demands on ones time.

Rufus Yellowbelly


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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Blaugrana on Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:22 pm

I think that the freezes are caused by us using couriers. There may also be some specific problems with some installations, PCs whatever, but these don't seem to cause problems when the same players play without couriers on GCM.

The NSD team seem to accept that there is a bug of some sort. This is what they are looking for. No-one at NSD has gone so far as is now being suggested here re 'vanilla' versions. They play with modded games.

There are also, I think, some big practical problems.
King_Rufus wrote:1 A virgin, vanilla installation of the game, though Pipe Creek and Antietam additions are acceptable.
How recent, though? What is the definition of a 'virgin' installation of the game. I re-installed recently, and have since taken part in games that freeze. Do I need to re-install again?!
King_Rufus wrote:2 No unofficial modifications of any kind activated or even added, including the GCM mod and changes to the .ini file.
I think asking everyone to bin all their mods is too much (and not suggested by NSD).
The only way I could guarantee a 'clean' ini file would be to bin it and let the game create one anew (assuming it does this). I think this would lose all my high scores from SP games.
King_Rufus wrote: The alternative to Digby’s approach could well be the fragmentation and disintegration of the existing group into smaller playing groups who seem to stand a far better chance of mounting a playable game. Very disappointing but sadly inevitable unless we can increase our success rate and thereby retain people’s interest and commitment (including mine) in the face of many other demands on ones time.
I'm afraid I disagree. I don't think we will get stable games by doing the above. I think we will get stable games when NSD kill the courier bug or bugs. In the meantime, I think we should try and enjoy playing games and keep tabs on the results. To avoid too much frustration, switch to players vs AI which seems much less likely to freeze. I think imposing too many conditions on people will drive them away.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:25 pm

I'm beginning to think I should design my campaign around a player team vs an AI team - we can do two high level command teams but th ebattles are plaayers vs AI, the AI having vastly superior forces.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Ike on Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:49 pm

It may be that we will have to give up using couriers between the players (in MP games) until and unless the problem is found and fixed. Instead, limited TS chat in lieu of written courier orders may suffice to avoid freezes/crashes. Again, not perfect and only a suggestion of what to do while waiting for a fix to the software issue, whatever it may be.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:54 pm

Good point, Ike. If we had to give up either HITS or couriers in order to get games to work, I would prefer to keep HITS but not use couriers, and limited chat in separate TS rooms would be one way to do it. Not ideal of course but its one way.

If we test again later in the week but DO NOT use couriers and we get some largish player vs player games to work, well... then it has to be the couriers, doesn't it?
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Ike on Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:01 am

Yes, sir, that is the thought that prompted my suggestion. We've tried every other combination at one time or another. Smile
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:45 pm

Some interesting developments. We may be closing in on the culprit! Long hand-typed messages are looking a great deal like a smoking gun now... Norb has some more game logs and notes from Kevin after last nights session.

Also... avoid the "Map_Screen" mod by ADukes. I had to disable it last night to get into a game at all.
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Blaugrana on Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:06 pm

Had an intriguing game last night (5 vs AI) which froze around the 95 minute mark, just as the fighting was about to start in earnest. We all had Kevin's Courier&Minimap mod enabled, fwiw.

I think you were going to send the files in to NSD, Digby. Did you get a chance to do that?

Did you have any other games last night and did they run without freezing?

Jeff
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Re: Games Freezing

Post  Uncle Billy on Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:48 pm

Yes, Baylor, 4thTexas and I had a 2hr game last night without mishap. We also played with the Courier & Mini-Map mod. Although, 4thTexas could not remember the exact wording of the error that crashed your game, it sounded like one that occurs when an internet connection goes south. He blamed it on the solar storm and he may be correct. In any case I'm fairly certain that the crash was not due to mods or the courier bug.

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Re: Games Freezing

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