OpenGL, Quake 3 engine games, and BearShare

I’ve been having problems with OpenGL/nVidia/Quake engine games for four months now, and after coming to this forum for the first time last night, I read through all the messages posted over the past year and discovered I wasn’t the only one.

First, here are my specs:

Compaq Presario 5BW120
600mHz Pentium III
192 megs ram
Windows 98SE
GeForce2 MX/400

When I first got this comp, I was able to run Elite Force with just the onboard 11 megs of video ram. No problems at all, except for lack of performance. After a few months, I installed an ATI Xpert 128 with 16 megs of ram. Performance improved, and I still had no problems. I played games like Elite Force, NOLF, and RTCW for hours and hours with no crashes. A few months later, I replaced the ATI with a GeForce2 MX400. Performance improved tremendously, and for the first couple of months I still had no problems.

Then, one day, RTCW suddenly froze. The image on the screen phased a bit and froze with a few vertical pinstripes, and the sound currently playing got stuck and repeated over and over again like a machine gun firing. Since it had never happened before, I figured it was a fluke. I had to hard reboot the machine to get it going again, and I resumed playing RTCW. After a while, the same thing happened. After I rebooted, I tried playing EF, and it didn’t crash. Then I tried playing NOLF, and it didn’t crash either. Only RTCW crashed. So I uninstalled RTCW, then reinstalled it again. It worked fine for a day, then started crashing again. EF and NOLF started crashing too, but not as often. I updated the card’s drivers, but that didn’t help. Then DirectX 8.1 came out at that time, so I installed it. That solved the problem. I could play EF, NOLF and RTCW without any problems again.

About two months later, I downloaded the MOHAA demo. After the second time I played it, the crashing started again. And the crashing has continued for the past four months. I’ve tried everything I can think of, including everything that’s been suggested in this forum. And I mean everything. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled so many different versions of drivers my head is spinning. I’ve deleted DirectX and tried different versions. I’ve trimmed my startup to bare bones and gotten system resources above 90%. I’ve physically removed the card and started over from scratch. Just about the only thing I haven’t done is try to drive evil spirits out of my comp. Nothing helps. If I play UT with Direct3D, my comp never crashes. But if I play EF or any game that uses OpenGL, the game eventually locks up. Sometimes I can play for two hours, sometimes only for five minutes. But eventually, it locks up.

The only thing I did just before the crashing started again after installing DirectX 8.1 had fixed it was to install two things: the MOHAA demo, and the peer-to-peer program BearShare. The crashing started again just after I installed these. I don’t know if either of these is a possible culprit, or perhaps both, or perhaps neither. But I do know that a lot of people are having problems with MOHAA. And I also know that a few times when I was using BearShare and the number of files listed in the search window ran into the hundreds or even thousands, I got the same kind of lock up while on the desktop that I get after running OpenGL games for a while. The same phasing and vertical pinstripes. And even though my comp runs fine after I reboot following a lock-up during a game, every time I rebooted after BearShare caused a lock-up, my comp would freeze again within seconds after reaching the desktop. The only way I could stop this was by uninstalling and reinstalling my video card’s drivers. I stopped using BearShare because of that, and I’ve never again gotten a freeze like that on the desktop except when playing OpenGL games. So I had to come to the conclusion that BearShare was corrupting my drivers somehow. What’s causing the games to crash, only God knows.

I think I’ve found the solution to my problem. I deleted the opengl32.dll in my win/system directory and replaced it with a different one, the 717k version that’s dated 7/29/96. After making this switch, I was able to play Elite Force for five hours without any crashes. For the past four months, the longest I was able to play without a crash was two hours. But today, after five hours, it still hadn’t locked up. I still want to see what happens over the next couple of days, but it looks like the problem may be solved. So if anyone else has trouble with OpenGL games locking up under Win98SE, delete the opengl32.dll in your win/system folder and replace it with the 717k version dated 7/29/96, and see if that helps.