Jade Empire on Windows 7

Posted in General at 7:46 pm by jw

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.

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.


Event 2017 and 2021 from “srv” in Vista

Posted in General at 8:24 pm by jw

Yeah, this will be a technical one, but thankfully pretty short.

I noticed today that both my Vista sp1 machines (one x64 and one x86) were getting a bunch of errors in the log claiming that

The server was unable to allocate from the system nonpaged pool because the server reached the configured limit for nonpaged pool allocations.


The server was unable to allocate a work item 1 times in the last 60 seconds.

This was rather disconcerting as it was making it difficult to copy files between the machines without errors.  A quick google search showed I wasn’t the only one and after a little bit of digging, I came on the quick and dirty issue – Vista appears to have some sort of memory leak in the new SMB2 server that makes it eventually reach an internal limit and refuse to allocate any more.  This makes network shares break.

Not wanting to just disable the SMB2 sharing as it’s amazingly fast at copying files across gigabit networks, I went looking for the more simple solution but wanted to get some data first.  Firing up poolmon to look at the nonpaged pool before and after and restarting the “server” service, I noticed the entry marked “LS2w” dropped from 256k of allocated nonpaged pool to 0 allocated nonpaged pool – fairly obviously the source of the leak (LS2 is pretty clearly an acronym for Lanman Server 2, which is really old school naming).

In any case, the easy solution is to just go into the “Services” part of managing “My Computer” and just restart the “Server” service.  Makes the problem go away for another week or two.

In the end, although it didn’t really give me any information to work on the issue, it might be useful for someone at Microsoft if they’re eventually trying to track down the bug.  Hope so…


And… it’s back!

Posted in General at 12:36 am by jw

Went dark for a long time.  Sorry about that!  I found I’d been a little lax in my upgrades of Coppermine and some internet slime had decided that boosting their Google rank would be a cool thing to do with my php pages.  Soon as I saw it, I pulled the blog down and just haven’t been dedicated enough until now to put everything back together.

I’ll honestly try to write more stuff from now on.  With a baby on the way, things should be interesting enough to share with the world though the volume of photos has certainly decreased now we don’t have the photos of the US to show everyone.


GameTap loses from stupid DRM decisions

Posted in General at 2:50 pm by jw

Another company loses my business from stupidity in DRM.  It’s crazy, but these people are harming the people who actually want to give them money, forcing them to look elsewhere to spend their cash.  Hardly a business model that I’d be willing to back at all!

So what’s the deal with GameTap?  Well, the software they chose for their DRM happens to use a device driver because that’s apparently so sneaky that no one will ever figure out how to crack it.  Sadly for them, this restricts their platform support to 32 bit only when the fastest growing market segment in PC operating systems is the 64 bit market, primarily because many games really are pushing the 2G limit of 32 bit systems and are also enjoying the 10–15% performance boost a native 64 bit app will give you.

Not only does GameTap not care (they openly state they have no plans to develop for x64), they are blatantly obnoxious in their refusal of support:

Conclusion: If you have a typical use of commercial software such as “GameTap” with no need to work with “huge data sets”, upgrading to a 64-Bit OS is not recommended.

Whoever wrote that needs to be fired.  Games often work with “huge data sets”, in fact they are one of the most compute-intensive applications known to exist.  Similarly, just because people using GameTap itself may not have a desperate need to go to 64 bit right now, it doesn’t mean they don’t run other applications that benefit quite markedly from the improved processing power available from the 64 bit platform (say anything that has a native 64 bit engine such as Half Life 2 and derivatives, Crysis, Far Cry, Hellgate:London, and many more).

Sometimes I just don’t understand companies.  They keep finding new and ingenious ways make it better for end users to go down the piracy route and then wonder why they fail in the marketplace.  Idiots.


Interesting Stuff from E3

Posted in General at 11:48 pm by jw

A list, more for my own reference than anything.

  • Black Prophecy – new space MMO
  • Sacred 2 – Diablo clone
  • Dawn of War 2
  • Spore
  • Fable 2
  • Far Cry 2
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Project Origin
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld
  • Warhammer: Battle March (not the MMO)

Next entries » · « Previous entries