Friday, 3 February 2012

Skyrim Post 1.4 Patch and Riften Woes

I don't know.  It seems I'm either having a perfectly running game or one that CTD's every ten minutes between patch releases.  I'm trying not to be a whiner but I'm nearly at the stage where I'm going to shelve this game and wait for six months until the Unofficial Patch team do what they do best.  By that time I'll probably have lost interest and moved on to something else.  I hope not as at it's heart it's a great game albeit with a lot of problems, but it's looking that way because I'm getting heartily sick of it's problems.

I should have stayed with the Skyrim 1.3 patch but no, I had to go and update since the changelog for 1.4 seemed like it was actually worth it although I had had only one quest not complete previously and very few other issues.  I have to update anyway if I want to use the Creation Kit when it's released, and I do, so the choice is essentially removed.

There was no noticeable difference to performance for me since the game never lagged anywhere at all, including Markarth, and always ran smoothly on Ultra.   The other fixes besides performance are mainly to do with weapon racks and things I could care less about.  I did notice loading times had reduced by half so I suppose there are some performance boosts.  Instead of one and 1/2 loading screen messages I barely get time to read one most of the time.

Last night in a space of two hours or less, I had two silent CTD's, another one that had the usual Microsoft message and a weird crash around Falkreath where the game froze several times for a few seconds, resumed, froze and eventually stopped responding.  It took ages to shut it down via Task Manager...five or more minutes.   I had been to Falkreath and surrounding areas several times during the same play session for quests, so I have no idea what that was about.

One thing of note, and may be co-incidental but I don't think it is, is that the CTD's (not the Falkreath stuttering error) happened when there were enemy mages around and casting spells.  I have Marcurio with me and he of course uses magic against all foes and I've never had a problem with just him, or myself using magic.  However, it seems to be a particular spell, and I'm suspecting Ice Spike as it doesn't happen unless that one is used.   It may not be that spell but the mages use just about everything else in their arsenal and this one seems to be problematic where it wasn't previously.

It's not a mod problem because I'm only using SkyUI, Categorized Favourites, (latest versions and SKSE of course,) a crafting mod, Weapons of the 3rd Era and a few things like Essential Companions and Horses and the most important NoNPC Greetings.  I'm also using quite a few texture packs for creatures, vanilla armour retextures, and flora, but not complete world textures as I think it looks fine as it is.  

The main problems I've been having consistently before the 1.4 patch are random complete freezes in, around and south of Riften.  The rest of the entire map was perfect so there is definitely something wrong in the Riften area and Google results say I'm not the only one.  I haven't yet gone near the area since the 1.4 patch as the freezes are so random and they piss me off so much because locking down a cause would be nigh impossible.  It could be when I'm jogging along a road minding my own business and the next step...freeze.  About to talk to someone...freeze, look up at the sky...freeze.   This could be after ten minutes or an hour play time and it's completely and utterly random.

My current character visited Riften for the first time at level 20 a few nights ago (remembering past experience with freezes and my first character) and after having taken a carriage from Whiterun I arrived at the Riften Stables to be met by a Frost dragon.  The Khajiit merchants were also camped there so they and the guards followed by myself attacked the dragon....instant CTD.

**This was a reproducible CTD however and I tried at least five times with the exact same result.   I couldn't actually fast travel directly to the stables or the town as I hadn't previously been there so taking the carriage always resulted in the frost dragon appearing and an instant drop to Desktop as soon as aggro is established. 

What I ended up doing was running from Ivarstead in a round about pattern being distracted by caves and other things until I ended up on the other side of Riften near Goldenglow.  As soon as I got close to Riften docks the frost dragon appeared and this time I was able to kill it and continue on into the town.   However, now, unlike my previous character, I'm getting freezes inside the town as well.

I read somewhere in one of the many Google results that someone mentioned on the Official forums that this particular dragon could be the cause of some of the problems, but I couldn't find the reference.  I have no idea if that's true, but it seems like that particular dragon encounter is scripted as it's always a frost dragon and appears whether one walks or fast travels.  I also read in that Google result that it was suggested to let the guards and NPC's kill the dragon, but that didn't work either.   Nothing happens until, as I said above, aggro is established and then the game CTD's.  Until then for five to ten seconds I can run to the town gates but don't have time to enter, or just stand at the stables and wait for the inevitable.

Whatever the case, visiting Riften itself is the catalyst for freezing in the whole area south and in the town for me.  If I roam the wilderness below and surrounding Riften without actually going to the town I don't have a freezing problem, but since there are important quests in Riften, including part of the Main Quest, it is actually a BIG issue.

Next week EBGames is getting a Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition with all the DLC's and a few other extras so I'll be getting that and probably going back to the wasteland for awhile unless things improve on the Skyrim front.    I'll give the game a few more days, but if it still crashes I'm giving up for the time being.

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