Note: This probably works on Vista as well.
Having purchased Jade Empire from Steam for the cool price of $15, I was having all sorts of trouble trying to get it to run. Basically the configuration program would crash every time I attempted to run the application, and it refused to run the actual application without running the configuration program.
Searching on the net proved pretty much worthless – turned out quite a few people were having the problem, but no one seemed to know any way to fix it. Other people were saying it ran fine if you just skipped the config program but the issue is you can’t skip the config program on the “first run”. That was the trick – how to convince the game it was no longer the first run.
First stop, good old post-moretem debugging with Windbg. Sadly, this told me that it was crashing trying to free a block of memory that had either not been allocated or had already been freed (the call stack was inside HeapFree, and through a few compatibility layers Win7 had tossed in for me). No help there, and telling it to ignore the exception didn’t make matters any better – even to get it through the “first run” stage.
Next stop, Process Monitor (one of those evil apps that daft DRM companies like SecuRom decide shouldn’t be allowed because they may actually help you fix their games for them I guess?). The last file it tried to access before crashing was SystemInformation.xml in the game’s data directory. Turned out that file didn’t exist, and so was a big clue about what the game used to determine whether the config had run or not http://vardenafilotc.net/.
Nothing to lose – create a blank file with Notepad and save it as SystemInformation.xml in C:\Program Files (x86)\steam\steamapps\common\jade empire\data. Attempt to run the config program and it still crashes. Next, attempt to run the main game and it skips the config and actually starts and plays without issue (at least to character creation so far).
Cool – not a waste of $15 after all!
Edit: As pointed out in the comments, make sure you run Notepad as Administrator to create the file or it won’t do what you think. Thanks to Blog Kindle for the tip.