Today’s video games are becoming more and more complex and resource hungry, and the chance for peculiar malfunctions to appear is quite high. However, most games will experience the same general issues.
Troubleshooting interface lag
Not to be confused with internet connection lag, the interface lag is a sudden drop in the amount of frames per second generated by the video card. Usually, the number of frames is never constant, unless your video card is way too powerful for the game played, but instead it will have oscillations in time. The human eye is tuned to see around 24 frames per second. Everything above this will not be visible to the user, but the overall performance of the game is slightly higher.
Interface lag has several causes. Usually, it is caused by out dated, corrupted or poorly installed drivers. Uninstalling then reinstalling the video card should do the trick in this case. A lot less common causes are game file corruption, disk fragmentation or faulty video cards.
• Reinstalling video drivers: Right click “my computer”>properties>device manager>right click the video card and click “uninstall”. After the card uninstall is done, restart the computer. When you are back in windows, go to the video card manufacturer’s website and download the latest driver.
• Solving game file corruption: This can be done by either reinstalling the game or by running a repair tool (if provided).
• Defragmenting the hard disk: Go to start>all programs>accessories>system tools>disk defragmenter. In the new window, analyze each hard disk partition before commencing the defragmentation process, which can take a while, depending on the partition size.
Internet connection lag
Usually seen in multiplayer games or on online single player games, the internet lag behaves in several ways. At first, the player may notice an apparent drop in frames per second; usually, when there is a connectivity issue, the game will warn the user in some way, either through count downs or by displaying warning messages. Usually the internet lag is caused by the internet service provider. However, there are a few things to try before contacting the provider such as restarting the computer, resetting the network adapter, flushing the DNS resolver chance:
• Resetting the network adapter: go to control panel>network and sharing center (in the network and internet category)>change adapter settings (usually the link is found on the side panels of the network and sharing center window) >right click the network adapter currently connected to the internet and disable it. Wait a few minutes, and then re-enable it.
• Resetting the modem/router: simply unplug the device for a few minutes then plug it back in.
• Flushing the DNS resolver cache: Press windows key +R; this will open up the command prompt. Type “ipconfig / flushdns” and press enter. Then restart the computer.
• Most games require a broadband connection. Using wireless or 3G connections may hinder the game experience, as these types of connections are very unstable and depend a lot on positioning and weather conditions. Ethernet (fiber optic cable) connection is best for gaming.
Audio and sound problems
Sound issues are usually caused by poor configuration of the sound devices or by the lack of an appropriate sound driver. Before moving to more advanced troubleshooting, make sure the sound output devices are properly plugged in; In addition to that, check if the game sounds are turned off from the “system sounds” control panel which is found by right clicking on the small speaker icon near the clock.
• Configuring the audio devices: Usually, each sound card has a control panel, from which the users must set the appropriate sound output device. If you are using on-board audio cards, this shouldn’t be a problem, since you can’t change the function of each audio jack. However, if you use dedicated sound cards, you will have to bind each audio jack to a specific output device.
• Configuring the game sound output: Usually, games have different options for sound output. To avoid problems, it is best to set the game to use the system default audio output.
General crash, lock outs, blue screens of death, and other application failure
The most common cause for crashes is the corruption of game files. Uninstalling then reinstalling the game should fix it in most cases. If it does not, the list bellow contains general-applicable troubleshooting sets. For blue screen issues, refer to this article.
• Keeping windows up to date: Use the Windows Update utility to install the latest reliability and service pack upgrades for your windows system. They contain quite useful resource optimization and driver management upgrades.
• Updating video, audio and motherboard drivers: This can be done either through windows update, or by manually downloading and updating the drivers from the manufacturer’s website. Note that windows update does not always provide the latest drivers, as Microsoft needs some time to test new versions.
• Error checking and defragmentation: These should be done every 5-6 months as part of periodic computer maintenance. Right click a hard disk partition>properties>tools; both defragmentation and error checking tools can be found there. Note that windows can’t perform error checking while the hard disk is used. The checking must be scheduled to run next time windows start up.
• (Re)installing directx: although directx can’t be uninstalled and reinstalled like other programs, running the installation application will copy newer directx files in the installation folder. If files were missing or are corrupted, they will be overwritten and thus repaired.
• Reinstalling windows: If none of the above helps, it’s time to reinstall windows
Usually occurs when the components are not strong enough to run the game, or when there is significant dust inside the computer case. Overheating manifests itself through application failures, sudden drops in performance, unexpected shut downs. If the game runs fine for a while and then starts to shutter, overheating is likely the cause. Hardware temperatures can be monitored with this free software.
• Cleaning up the computer case: Open up the case, and clean all the dust inside, especially the fat one sitting on the cooling fans. A cooler filled with dust loses up to 50% of its cooling power.
• Providing additional cooling. If the coolers are fine, yet the temperatures are still high it is a good idea to replace the coolers with new ones or add additional cooling devices to the computer case.
• If your hardware is below minimum system requirements for the game, it is best to avoid playing said game, as the overheating of components can cause permanent damage.