Friday, September 1, 2023

Maybe You Just Need To Sleep On It?

Before we get started, some background. This post is emblematic of the problems I was talking about the other day, the kind that can arise when you write posts ahead of publication. I only wrote this yesterday but it's already out of date in some key respects and it would be misleading if I just posted it without an update.

I could have just put the new information in a postscript but that would allow more negativity to accumulate than now seems appropriate, so here's the coda in the preamble. It'll all make sense eventually. Probably.

I logged in to Steam about an hour ago and there was a small update to New World. Once that had processed, I was able to log into the game with no issues at all. I was also able to play completely normally, with no errors or interruptions. 

It looks like most of the problems I was having yesterday related to the big update a couple of days ago. Just my luck to try and come back right after a major content drop. I should have realised. It's not like Amazon don't have a history with this kind of thing.

Everything ran smooth as silk at "High" settings with FPS capped at 60. I didn't try it at "Very High/Unlimited" because it looked and played perfectly well as it was but I'm sure that would have been fine, too. The fans on my new card barely needed to turn. As a test, I can finally say it was extremely successful. I'm very pleased indeed.

I didn't stay long. Typically, now the hardware and the software were all co-operating, the connection to the US East server I play on was very poor. Nothing I can do about that other than move to an EU server and that's not happening. It's usually fine, anyway. This was an exception.

I did hang around long enough to visit my house in Mourningdale and pay the outstanding rent. I remember that used to seem quite onerous but now it looks to be trivial. It was about a hundred gold and I have over 33k from doing pretty much nothing. I spent a pleasant few minutes putting all the furniture I'd acquired in appropriate rooms and then I logged out to finish up this post. 

Everything after the next picture is what I wrote yesterday. Once you've finished it, what you just read will make a lot more sense!

I thought I might as well write a post to kill time while I wait for Steam to verify my New World installation for the second time this afternoon. I should say my New World re-installation. Verifying the first installation really didn't help and I don't imagine verifying this one will, either.

Back up. Why am I trying to play New World? Good question. It's not because of the upcoming Rise of the Angry Earth expansion, interesting though it sounds. I don't actually have any particular desire to go back to Aeternum at the moment. I'm more than busy enough in Dawnlands.

No, I just wanted to use New World to test my new graphics card. As I promised (Myself.) I have indeed bought an upgrade to my extremely reliable but even more extremely outdated Zotac GeForce GTX960, the card that came with this PC, when I bought it about six years ago.

Given that it was barely a mid-range card even then, it's astonishing how well it's lasted. Until recently, it ran every game I threw at it and mostly it ran them well, even when the minimum spec said I shouldn't even bother trying. It's still soldiering on. If I was just going to carry on playing the same games I'm playing now, I wouldn't need to change it.

Of late, though, it's becoming obvious that soon newer games won't be an option, even at low settings. I don't tend to play the most graphically intense kinds of games but it's getting to the point where even new MMORPGs and survival games are starting to look like they might be to much for my old card to handle. 

I was aware it might be a waste of time upgrading the card if it just shifted the problem to my equally aging processor, but I ran a few tests and apparently I got lucky there. My CPU over-performs for what's expected of it. If it does need to be replaced at some point, my motherboard can take something quite a bit better but for now it looks as though I can stick with what I have and still get full benefit from a new GPU.

I've been through this upgrade cycle before - swapping out key components mid-cycle before replacing the whole lot with a new machine - but last time I did it, the whole life of that PC, including upgrades, was shorter than this one's already lasted unchanged. If nothing actually fails then, with the overhead for improvement still open to me, I might get a full decade out of it, which would be amazing.

Because it's been so long since I bought it, just about any new card would have been an upgrade. I could have saved myself some money and picked up something from a couple of generations back . Given the above history, though, I thought I'd take the plunge and buy something up-to-date.

Obviously, I'm talking no more than mid-range, at best. Let's not get carried away. I was going to get a GeForce RTX 3060, which would have been a huge upgrade, but I prevaricated for so long, by the time I finally got my wallet out that card had been superceded by the 4060.

I read a bunch of reviews and it seemed that while the 3060 had had a pretty good reputation, the 4060 wasn't seen as a huge step up. It seemed it was a very decent card, just not sufficiently advanced in any way to justify being marketed as the next generation the four-zero prefix implied.

Hah! Who cares? It's the fourth generation of that line after the one I'd be upgrading from! It might only be 15-17% better than 3060 and that might not be enough for someone to consider trading them out but for me it would be like swapping a mule for a moon-rocket! Okay, maybe not quite, but it would be a hell of an upgrade all the same.

The 4060s I was checking out weren't a lot more expensive than the 3060 I'd had my eye on so it made no sense to go for the older one. I also found out that the 4060 was significantly less demanding on power than the 3060, meaning I wouldn't even need to look at upgrading my PSU, and it was smaller, which would mean I wouldn't have to do any fiddling to get it in the case. The 4060 is also optimized for 1080p gaming, which is a real positive in my view. The 3060 is supposedly better for 4k, but I don't have a 4k monitor and I have no intention of getting one. 

I was even enough on the ball to read some specific reviews for the exact makes and models, which led me to buy an "MSI GeForce RTX 4060 VENTUS 2X BLACK 8G OC", for which I paid more than I've ever paid for any computer component in my life. I got it from Amazon because it was easy and convenient and they could deliver it by 1pm the next day but in fact I checked a lot of places and it was pretty much the same price everywhere, give or take a few quid.

It came this morning, complete with a rigmarole where I had to give the delivery guy a six digit code that had been sent to me by email. Since he arrived about five minutes after I'd gotten up, I hadn't even switched my PC on yet, let alone checked my email but he was very patient and waited for me to get myself together.

A new graphics card is just about the easiest component to swap out but I still managed to have to do it twice because I tried to put the fixing screw in backwards. That wasn't a mistake. I thought it would work better that way. It didn't. 

Since my previous card was also a GeForce, the drivers I already had were fine. They were even up to date. The card worked perfectly out of the box. I ran some benchmarks and was very happy to see that my new card was considered more than capable of running pretty much anything currently available. All that remained was to try it out.

And that's where my problems began. For one thing, as I said, my old card had been doing a very good job of playing all the games I wanted to play right now. I was mostly upgrading so I could play new games - games I don't yet have. I logged into a couple of things but naturally I couldn't tell any difference. 

I could have started jacking up the quality to see what happened. I do tend to play a lot of games below the maximum graphical settings. But instead I thought of New World.

My GTX960 could run New World but it really hated doing it. After a while the whole box would heat up and start to make some alarming noises. I had to keep the graphics on a low setting and even then I didn't like to play for much more than an hour at a time. 

That was why I started playing New World on GeForce Now, a solution that allowed me to play at higher settings without my PC bursting into flames, but which involved jumping through an annoying extra set of hoops every time I wanted to play, including sometimes having to wait in a queue for a not insignificant amount of time. It also meant, somewhat ironically, that I could still only play for an hour at a stretch because that's what non-subscribers get and I wasn't about to pay a subscription just to play a free game.

Of course, playing on GeForce Now meant I hadn't needed to update New World on Steam for about a year and a half. When I came to do it today there were more than 36GB of files to download. That took a while.

Once the game was patched I went to log in and... not much happened. It took what seemed like forever but was actually about fifteen minutes before I could even see my character. Since I last played there'd been some server merges but I didn't much care about that. My houses were safe, apparently, apart from any I might have had in First Light, which was now under occupation by the Angry Earth.

As far as I could remember I didn't have a house in First Light so that was okay. I logged my character in and found myself in what was the new area this time last year, Brimstone Sands. I haven't played since November. I turned the graphics up as high as they go and started to move around but unfortunately my PC was having other ideas.

The new card was absolutely fine as far as I could tell. It was bloody Steam messing about, as per usual. I have a lot of issues with Steam acting like a needy child and wanting attention. I've disabled just about every automatic process I can find but it always manages to be up to something I'd rather it wasn't.

Eventually it started to settle down and I was able to begin moving about again. I collected all the presents that had piled up in my Claim window and then I opened them all. Mostly they seemed to contain materials, few of which I had any memory of what to do with, but there was some furniture in there as well. That was a bit more interesting.

I took a couple of screenshots and started to head out of town, whereupon the game popped up a message telling me I was missing a file and that was the end of that. I closed the client and had Steam do a full file check, which found three files absent or corrupted. It assured me these had now been found and installed so I logged in again.

This time I almost made it to the corner of the street before the game told me it suspected I was doing something suspicious and kicked me out again. Apparently this is a common New World error although I've never seen it before.

Checking, it seems the error is usually related to missing files. Since I'd just done a file check and been told all was in order, I decided to do a full re-install. That turned out to be about 66GB and looked like it was going to take quite a while so I went downstairs and prepped a salad and put the topping on the pizza for later.

When I came back, Steam had closed and my whole PC was unuseable. Something had obviously gone wrong. It looked as though the PC was doing some work on itself so I waited for it to finish. And waited. And waited. 

After about a quarter of an hour I lost patience and shut it down. It started up okay so I opened Steam and carried on downloading from where it had crashed, which was about half-way. That took a while, during which I caught up with all the "End of Blaugust" posts I'd missed. Once the re-install had finished I logged in yet again.

It went much faster and more smoothly this time, until I tried to log my character into the world, at which point I was told another file was missing. FFS! I ran the file checker again. This time there were six files missing. Re-installing the whole game had managed to make things twice as bad!

Supposedly the file check had automatically located and installed the missing files but it said that last time. Just to be sure, I ran it again. This time it came up 100% complete.

So I crossed my fingers and went again and guess what? I'm still waiting. This time I got as far as  character log-in but the game has just hung there for fifteen minutes with the HDD whirring away. I'm wondering if it might an issue with the drive. Next plan would be to reinstall New World on a different HDD and see if that makes a difference. 

Or I could just quit while I'm behind and play something that actually works. I've wasted over five hours on this now and all I wanted to do was try out my new card. I'm sure there must be some other game I could use to do that. 

I just got an email telling me Horizon: Zero Dawn is 67% off right now. That was one I thought my PC would balk at. Maybe now's the time to give it a try...


  1. These are the kinds of situations (and they seem to happen to me frequently) that always send me scurrying back to the safety of my consoles whenever I try to get back into PC gaming. I just no longer have the patience.

    I sure they happen to me frequently because I am so often coming back to a game (as you were) after a long absence, or it's the first time I've tried a game and it doesn't like something about my system. I'm sure PC gamers who play regularly have these issues quite infrequently, but I never make it over that hump.

    1. This is the problem with the "games as a service" model. If you just want to pop back and have a nostalgic couple of hours after a year or two away, you might just as well have bought a new game. Still, it gives me something to write about so I'm not that bothered!


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide