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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
01-12-2010, 01:00 PM
Common Technical Issues and Questions with the STO Client and Gaming on a PC in General
  1. Login error: You are not allowed to log in at this time. This most likely happens when the game servers are offline (down for maintenance or experiencing technical problems), but when the login servers are online. Please check server availability and downtime/maintenance announcements.
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  2. Login error: The server is busy. This happens when the login servers are peaked while handling other player logins, or when server capacity is reached. Keep trying if the servers are officially online and active. You'll eventually be able to login.
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  3. Problems downloading updates, patches, or the client itself. Test your Internet connection with any browser-base bandwidth tool such as SpeedTest.net. If you're getting at least 3 Mbps, your download speed should be adequate at 350 or more KB/sec. Make use of Cryptic's torrent download option, which is often linked below any Cryptic web page for downloading the installer. Torrent may yield better speeds, depending on how many "seeds" (other users) are connected and allowing uploads from their PC. If your download contains corrupted files, which results in failed installs or crashing on launch, try downloading directly from Cryptic instead of a third-party site. The other possibility is that another site is using file compression (zip file) that is incompatible with Microsoft Windows' built-in extraction tool. Use a free program such as 7Zip to extract files instead.
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  4. Poor performance even though you have a fast PC. Many things can lead to poor gaming performance, from what video card you are using and its settings to old video card drivers or lack of motherboard chipset drivers installed. If you have a fast video card, try turning down your graphic settings or even running at minimal to confirm you can achieve a high framerate. Tweak individual settings and test to find out which options take the biggest performance hit. Show advanced graphic options and try changing the most performance hindering options first such as Antialiasing (AA), Ambient Occlusion, Bloom Quality, Soft Particles, and Lighting Quality/Dynamic Lighting. Ultimately, any beta client (closed beta, open beta, beta for an expansion, etc.) may have bugs that act as performance bottlenecks or graphics programming routines that are not yet streamlines.
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  5. Playing STO on a different monitor than your default. Open your options, go to your graphics tab, show advanced settings, go to the troubleshooting area, and change the default monitor on which to run the client.
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  6. Odd pixels or other graphics randomly appearing while playing. This is known as artifacting, and can be a sign of a defective and/or dying video card/sub-system. Download, install, and run the ATI Tool software to check for artifacting outside of STO. The ATI Tool will work with NVIDIA video cards and Intel GPUs as well, even though ATI is part of the name. If you are experiencing artifacting, use your ATI Catalyst software of NVIDIA Control Panel to disable any default overclocking, or even to down-clock your GPU and video memory. Test. If it gets better at lower speeds, then your GPU or memory chips on that card are experiencing signal cross-talking, which means the non-conductive barriers between the microscopic traces are seriously worn down. That happens to chips that have been 1.) too hot for extended periods of time (failure happens quickly), and/or 2.) too much voltage added to the signals, usually in an effort to overclock (happens slowly, over time). If you're getting artifacting even at its lowest clock speeds, you have a defective card/video sub-system, and the hardware will need to be replaced. If you have an ATI card, give Loxanna's solution a try.
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  7. PC and/or video card is overheating while running STO. Hardware overheating is the result of inadequate system cooling. You can improve cooling by ensuring that adequate airflow is reaching your CPU and video card's GPU through the use of additional fans or rearranging cables or other obstructions in front of your CPU or GPU coolers. Larger, full-tower cases have plenty of cool to promote cooling, but lack adequate fan strength to move air completely through the case. For high-end PCs, a mid-mounted fan between the video cards and the front of the PC can help. Even swapping out low-speed fans (low CFM rating) for high-speed fans (high CFM rating) can help, even if they do produce additional noise. If none of this helps, your CPU or GPU cooler may be improperly mounted and does not wick away enough heat from the processor. This can happen even if the cooler was pre-installed when you bough your PC and/or video card. Usually a poorly mounted cooler will allow a processor to run hot even at an idle processing load.

    Also, your video card may be working much harder than needed. By default, most games will have an option called "vertical sync" disabled. This lets your GPU process as many frames as possible without any limits. If your GPU is powerful enough, it may be producing many more frames per second than your monitor(s) are capable of showing, and hence wasting processing power and generating more heat than necessary. The graphics option vertical sync will ensure that your GPU never renders more frames then your reported monitor refresh rate can show. This will keep your GPU from being maxed at out 100% workload. Note that this is a workaround for a GPU that is overheating and not a permanent solution to cooling issues. If your GPU is overheating with 100% load, then you still have a cooling problem that needs to be addressed.
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  8. Grayed-out (unavailable) graphic options. This is normal if you're running the client in windowed-mode. Many DirectX features are only available in full-screen mode. You will get better performance and more graphic options in full-screen mode. To toggle between full-screen and windowed modes on the fly, press Alt-Enter. Or, you can Alt-Tab to switch windows. If you're running multiple monitors, you will still be able to view whatever is on the other monitor(s) when gaming full-screen.
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  9. Slow loading times when logging in or between different areas (or even loading screens that appear to be freezing. Two factors affect loading times the most: your Internet connection and your drive performance (drive where you have STO installed). Test your Internet connection with any browser-base bandwidth tool such as SpeedTest.net. Important pieces of data from a bandwidth test include latency (time it takes to acknowledge responses) and bandwidth (total amount of data your connection is able to transfer per second).

    For hard drive performance issues (not SSDs), try running a defrag. Windows' built in defragger works, but it's not necessarily the most desired method to achieve optimal results. Download, install, and use a free defrag tool that will perform better than Windows' built-in defragger, such as MyDefrag. If you are still experiencing slow hard drive performance, check to see how much free space is available on the drive. Drives with only 100s of MB free or single-digital percentage of free space will drastic decrease driver performance. This happens because not all of the data on a drive is neatly packed into one area. Instead, it is typically scattered around on a drive, especially if it has not been optimized during a defrag. So for example, even though your drive might report 1 GB of free space, the largest, physical chunk of space on the drive that is empty might be only 100 KB. Windows is then forced to shuffle around data to move room for larger files when copying and moving data (which occurs with the page file and other background processes even if you're not doing anything to the drive yourself).

    Another factor that impacts loading times is graphic texture processing. Graphic textures are first loaded from your drive, possibly decompressed or extracted from a texture file, and then processed by your PC, utilizing mostly your GPU, with some CPU overhead. If you're running a PC and/or video card that do not meet the minimum requirements, you may experience incredibly long load times that appear to "freeze". To reduce loading time lag, change your graphic settings by showing advanced options, and disabling or turning down all items, and enabling half resolution.
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  10. Warnings about low memory and reduced textures in-game. If you're seeing these warnings while playing STO it means that your graphic settings were set too high for how much video memory you have available. The STO client automatically reduces graphic texture size/quality as a result and warns the player. STO uses DirectX 9 and therefore cannot make use of "memory virtualization" that is available in DirectX 10 and 11. Memory virtualization allows the video device to grab free system memory and dedicate it as video memory. If your video card has 128 MB, 256 MB, or 320 MB of dedicated video memory on your video card or sub-system, you may see this message appear if your graphic settings are too high. Either turn down your graphic settings (ie: Graphics Quality, Anisotropic filtering, various graphic Detail Levels, etc.), or upgrade your video card to eliminate these warnings.
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  11. Stuttering during ground missions. If you're running an NVIDIA card, please update to the latest drivers. Some NVIDIA driver versions during to the time of open beta would cause and/or contribute to this stuttering problems. Otherwise, try changing your Lighting quality from High to Low as this also contributes to stuttering.
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  12. Entire PC crashes and requires a hard reset or power cycle. This is most likely due to defective hardware. If you lose the video signal to your monitor (black screen, may be monitor power light flashes or changes color), and if you still have sound playing or stuttering, your video card is the most likely culprit.