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Old 05-14-2012, 07:31 AM   #1
grahamsh
 
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Problems launching Portal and in game hangs and crashes.

I have installed Portal (and Portal 2) on 2 PC's both running 64 bit Windows 7. One is a stationary with a Geforce 580 and the other is a laptop with a Geforce 560.

On both machines I have been suffering with the game "randomly" not starting after the "Preparing to Launch Portal" message.

Once in the game I have been suffering from random hangs/crashes/freezes. The hangs occur mostly but not always either during loading of the next level or while entering or leaving the entrance corridor of the new level. In all cases the picture just freezes and I have to ctrl-alt-delete to the task manager and terminate hl2.exe.

It is a great game, that I like so much that in spite of the crashes, I persuade my girlfriend to buy it for her macbook pro. I was hoping it would work better for her. Hah! we have not got it to start yet.

I have googled and found numerous suggestions for launch options, re-downloading, reinstalling the game, reinstalling steam, reinstalling the OS. I have tried many of them. None of them seem to work for many of the seemingly considerable number of people experiencing these problems.

I cannot believe that a longstanding developer like Valve could produce such a brittle game, and not patch it.

I cannot believe that a huge distributor like Steam promotes and even features a game that is so picky to get to work, but does not feature a FAQ to get it to work. There is a general Half Life faq which is pointedly useless at helping Steams customers to get the Portal up and running.

I suspect that if I get any replies it will be from those lucky enough to have the game run on their rigs, who think that all three of my machines, that do not run it without problems, are somehow sub-standard.

Graham
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Old 05-14-2012, 09:15 AM   #2
Zekiran
 
 
 
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It has been patched. Not all systems are capable of running it smoothly. That's research on your end that should have been done before buying.

The upside is, you own the games and will be able to put them on any computer that is capable.

Millions of people are "lucky enough" - if it was the game's fault, there would be a whole lot more complaints.

You need to list your full machine specs please. That way we can see whether there are conflicts, issues or hardware specs that are out of bounds. For each of the rigs you've got it on, though I'd say head over to the mac section for helping on that macbook, which I don't believe could run it anyway but I'm not a mac user so that's just my inner feeling on it. It's not a gaming machine.

Though it's only a very bare minimum suggestion, head over to the Can You Run It site and check against the game's min/recommended specs to see if there's an obvious problem. That might narrow it down a but.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:25 AM   #3
grahamsh
 
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Originally Posted by Zekiran View Post
It has been patched. Not all systems are capable of running it smoothly. That's research on your end that should have been done before buying.
As I expected - you assume it is the PC that is not "capable".

Laptop:
MSI Gaming Laptop
Intel i5 M 460 @ 2.53 GHz
4 GB DDR3 RAM
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M
Windows 7 64bit

Stationary:
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 @ 3.16GHz
8GB DDR2 RAM
Nvidia GeForce GTX 580
Windows 7 64bit

Both machines are well capable of running modern games with medium-high graphics settings.

In fact I have yet to come across a game they will not run.

Starcraft II
Dragon Age Origins
LOTRO
World of Warcraft
Mass Effect 2
Call of Duty 4
Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising
Dungeon Siege III
Empire Total War
Total War Shogun 2

And lots more. Never had a problem with any of them on med-high or high settings.

To blame machine specs is no excuse except for a poorly programmed game. Any well made game will play on any machine by reducing options. Games may go slow, they don't refuse to load or freeze.

There is no excuse for hardware incompatibilities with Intel CPU's and Nvidia 4 5 or 6 series graphics. Glitches yes that are first documented and then fixed. Game not even loading no.

There might be software incompatibilities, but there is no excuse for them when no other games are suffering from them. I have 77 games in my Steam Library almost all full price mainstream games and plenty of non-Steam games. RPG, RTS, FPS, TPS, you name it. No problems with any of them except Portal and Portal 2.

The biggest frustration is that I have read every thread I can find and there are two kinds of problems that you find again and again - "Preparing to Launch" - nothing happens and screen freezes/hangs. There seems to be no interest by the developer or the distributer to fix them or collect information on why it is happening.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:37 AM   #4
Zekiran
 
 
 
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I'm noticing there are no Source games on that list, so comparing the games you CAN run to those you cannot is absolutely irrelevant. Source =/= Steam. The Source engine is extremely graphics intensive, and uses a lot of processor space that others don't.

Verify the game files? Roll back video card drivers? Run in 32 bit mode, or in XP compatible mode, try running with -windowed in the launch properties so you can reach the menu and alter your video or audio settings? Check audio drivers and arrangements?

The distributor and developer in this case happen to be the same, but making the assumption that it is somehow on their end is still pretty poor thinking. A distributor has *exactly nothing* to do with the condition of a game. The developer may have no ability to fix something given there are so many variables involved.

They DO collect information, but you have to understand that with every single computer out there being different, everyone will have different issues. In your Steam library there is a Help tab at the top. Click that and run the System Information item, and then click 'compare your computer' so that they have your system info added to the Steam pool.

So calm down and try other things. There will be a solution.
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Old 05-14-2012, 02:06 PM   #5
grahamsh
 
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I have run Half Life and Half Life 2 as well, and most major FPS and TPS games. As I say I have 77 Steam games and at least as many non-Steam. I don't believe the Source engine is more graphics intensive than all the other FPS, TPS, and RPG games out there. IMO it is relevant to compare them.

It is also relevant to expect games to scale, but it is not computer or graphic power that is the problem here as the specs I put up should tell you. The game does not fail to launch because of lack of CPU or GPU. It does not freeze for that reason either. There is no slow down or stuttering whatsoever while it runs. It fails to launch and freezes because of bugs, either bugs in the program or drivers or incompatibilities. All of which only the developer can do anything about. For the developer to do anything they have to be interested in helping their buyers and finding out why the game doesnt run.

I have verified the game files, reinstalled the game files, run in 32 bit, run in XP SP2, XP SP3 and Vista compatibility mode, I have tried -nojoy, -noipx, -novid.

All of these things I have done after suggestions by gamers trying to help other gamers.

Why is their no game faq that actually give step by step debugging instructions?

I can try -windowed. I admit that there could be something in your suggestions about video drivers and audio drivers. I have to ask though, why publish a game that so challenges video or audio drivers that it will not even get past the Steam message box saying "Preparing to Launch"? I have the latest drivers for audio and video - but not Beta, and I do not install new drivers until they have been out for at least a month.

As you say the distributor and developer in this case happen to be the same, so they are inescapably responsible.

Steam as a distributer has a big responsibility because Steam forces games into installation and launch modes that they were not originally designed for. But since they are in this case distributer and developer they should at least be able to ensure that games can launch through Steam!

I know that in the PC world no to machines are alike - but every other developer has to live with that too so it's no excuse.

I do not normally multitask in games but games developers need to assume that there are other programs and services running on a machine. The days are over when a developer could expect you to boot into a game.

Expecting someone to do a clean Windows install or create an empty user to run a game is just absurd, when developers can create fantastic games with increadible graphic and audio depth that you can alt-tab and alt-enter in and out of, with no problem.

I have allowed Steam to gather my PC information when they ask - I have also used the 'compare' option.

I am calm, and I appreciate that you have given some constructive advice. I don't appreciate being treated like a child with an Atom based laptop.

Graham
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamsh View Post
I cannot believe that a longstanding developer like Valve could produce such a brittle game, and not patch it.

I cannot believe that a huge distributor like Steam promotes and even features a game that is so picky to get to work, but does not feature a FAQ to get it to work. There is a general Half Life faq which is pointedly useless at helping Steams customers to get the Portal up and running.

I suspect that if I get any replies it will be from those lucky enough to have the game run on their rigs, who think that all three of my machines, that do not run it without problems, are somehow sub-standard.

Graham

Graham, My advice is when you're looking for a solution, don't include these kind of comments because your opinion at this point does not help solve your problem. Stick with the technical info and your more likely to get help that solves your problem sooner. Once you have solved the problem, then voice your complaint based on facts of what the problem was, and what it took to solve it.

Example, I can tell you that I have installed Portal on several machines, 3 of my own, and a few others for friends. All have installed and ran Portal 1 & Portal 2. Maybe 1-2 systems needed some tweaking to get the best results, but were are not talking about major problem. Your comments above make it out to seem that issue is wide spread and Valve released games the doesn't work well on anyone's system, and worse you assume they intentionally did it and don't care. If the issue was so massive, this forum would be filled endless complaints just like yours. Take a look for yourself, scan back 3-4 pages, and see how may crashing problem you find.

Honestly who mostly like right, me and others who have it working well, or you who for some reason can't get the game to work on your systems. You may have a legitimate problem, but I suspect its your system configuration, not the games. You're hardware looks fine, but it could be anything from anti-virus, ports blocked, drivers, hacking tools installed, or simply a poor\slow Internet connection, etc.

Last edited by nrnoble: 05-15-2012 at 06:20 AM.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:00 PM   #7
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Seriously, OP, it must be a problem on your end. VALVE games run smoothly on almost every computer. Heck, I can run Portal 2 decently in my laptop even when it's not officially supported.

Before blaming others, try to see if the problem is on your end. If Portal was as broken as you claim, there'd surely be a lot more complaints here.
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Old 05-15-2012, 12:08 PM   #8
grahamsh
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrnoble View Post
Graham, My advice is when you're looking for a solution, don't include these kind of comments because your opinion at this point does not help solve your problem. Stick with the technical info and your more likely to get help that solves your problem sooner. Once you have solved the problem, then voice your complaint based on facts of what the problem was, and what it took to solve it.

..worse you assume they intentionally did it and don't care.
You are absolutely right of course in your first comment. Frustration gets the upper hand when you google and actually find quite a large number of hits with similar problems but very little help.

The part about me assuming the game is bugged intentionally is just not true. But I stand by the APPARENT lack of official help and support.

As you say there is nothing wrong with my machine specs. I have the current version of Windows. I have turned off my anti virus. For a windows machine there are very few background things.

In my opinion there is still no excuse for a program not to launch. At the very least there should be some kind of debugging message to say why it isn't launching.

I ran the game yesterday TestChamber 17 where you use a block as a shield. I got to where you direct a ball into a target. First time the ball hit the target the game froze. Restart. Second time the ball hit the target the game froze. Restart. Third time the ball hit the target the game didnt freeze. On to the next target. First time the ball hit the second target the game froze. Restart. Second time the ball hit the second target the game didnt freeze. On to third target. First time freeze, second time didnt freeze.

Not sure if it was true of all the targets but after at least one maybe all of them the moment you hit the target the voice starts talking - so maybe that is what causes the freezes - dont know.

@MartinKhan there are people looking for help there are long threads for Portal and Portal 2 - for some people it helps with for example -32bit some it doesnt. I suspect that many give up when none of the help offered by players helps. Many people do give up you know. Many people will not even look for help when a game on sale for 6 euros wont even launch after installation.
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Old 05-15-2012, 01:23 PM   #9
Zekiran
 
 
 
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Have you tried going to the minimum options on video and working your way up through them? If you're having that kind of issue there may just be one specific thing that either your mobo or some aspect of the game interacting with your card is screwing up. Particles, portal draw... not sure. Isolating at what point the game does and does not freeze could be of great importance to getting the issue presented to steam support.
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:50 PM   #10
nrnoble
 
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamsh View Post
I ran the game yesterday TestChamber 17 where you use a block as a shield. I got to where you direct a ball into a target. First time the ball hit the target the game froze. Restart. Second time the ball hit the target the game froze. Restart. Third time the ball hit the target the game didnt freeze. On to the next target. First time the ball hit the second target the game froze. Restart. Second time the ball hit the second target the game didnt freeze. On to third target. First time freeze, second time didnt freeze.

Not sure if it was true of all the targets but after at least one maybe all of them the moment you hit the target the voice starts talking - so maybe that is what causes the freezes - dont know.
Two likely things to cause this is running a newer version of DirectX and\or Over-clocking your system. Assuming you're not OC'ing, try forcing the game to run with DX9 or DX10.

If i were guess, I'd focus on the newer 580 config as a possible source; investigate the 580's config options to see if there might be some high end settings triggering problems for older games like Portal. Portal was developed back in 2006, so as time moves forward, there is a higher probablity that newer hardware (ie GPUs) might have problems like what you are seeing. Currently I am running NVidia Driver 285.62 with my 480 SLI config.

Also, unless you've got a 3D setup, its best to uninstall the 3D drivers. I have not specifically heard problems with Portal, but other games (Borderlands) have had siginficant problems when NVidia's 3D drivers have been installed, but the system does fully support 3D gaming (ie monitor not a 3D monitor). When the 3D drivers were uninstalled, the problems went away.

Last edited by nrnoble: 05-15-2012 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 05-16-2012, 04:00 PM   #11
grahamsh
 
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Thanks to nrnoble and Zekiran for continuing to try to help, despite my complaining.

I am not OCing. What is the launch option to force DX9 - assuming it is a launch option?

This is just the sort of thing that I feel is hard to find, and should be in a Portal FAQ. Yes there is a HL2 faq but it just lists a load of options without, in my opinion, giving any advice as to which you should try to clear up problems in for example Portal.

rgds
Graham
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:52 AM   #12
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Setting DX Level: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_...1040-JWMT-2947

Full list of Commands: https://developer.valvesoftware.com/...d_Line_Options

Another thing the comes to mind about Portal crashes. If the game crashes consistently at specific spot, then its possible that a specific sound is triggering a crash. This problem has happened before in Portal. To determine if it sound related, you need to completely disable your sound card using Windows device manager. Turning the sound down won't stop playback. This is not a solution, it just helps isolate the problem. If its the sound card, then you know what to focus on.

And if you have not done it already, be sure to verify your game cache, any corrupt files will be re-downloaded.

Last edited by nrnoble: 05-17-2012 at 01:54 AM.
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Old 05-20-2012, 05:09 PM   #13
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Where you able to fix the problem?

If so, what what the problem, and what did you do to fix it?

Posting the info may help others solve their problem quicker.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:21 PM   #14
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Did this problem get fixed?
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:38 PM   #15
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What was the final conclusion?
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