This site is a collection of information on a problem with Half-Life 2 that has plagued many players of this otherwise excellent game. This problem is characterized by a sudden massive drop in frame rate when turning corners or moving into new areas of the game. These drops are usually accompanied by looping or stuttering sound during the frame rate drop which is how most people become aware of the problem. Aside from these isolated drops in frame rate, the game is otherwise perfectly smooth. These sudden drops kill the immersion and lead to a very frustrating experience. Below you will find additional details on this problem, some theories, and all responses from Valve on this problem.
Some significant news on the stuttering front... A reader sent in a link to a Valve post on the Steam Users Forums that contains details of an upcoming stuttering fix
being worked on by Valve. Here's an excerpt:
A fix for the stuttering problem is currently in development on Steam Beta.Early reports
If you have experienced this problem in the past and would like to test the updates on Steam Beta, please follow the instructions below to start Steam Beta and run through a scenario that would previously stutter for you in and see if that problem still occurs.
are not universally positive but some are reporting significant improvement. Valve is requesting feedback on this patch which can be submitted at the Developers Wiki
In an effort to determine how many are still experiencing stuttering, a Half-Life 2 user has put up a poll allowing people to vote on the matter. While certainly not scientifically accurate, the results are nonetheless interesting. You can vote here:
Just when I thought that my stuttering ills had been mostly cured, they're back and then some. I recently upgraded my sound card from a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum eX to a Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro
. The sound card works beautifully in all my games and audio apps with the exception of Half-Life 2 where I now experience extreme stuttering as well as distorted and corrupted sound effects followed by a complete system freeze within minutes of starting a new game. This distortion is accompanied by missing buttons
and UI elements
in Half-Life 2's menus forcing me to quit by bringing up the console.
This is the same widely reported problem that I previously fixed by adjusting my PCI Latency Timer
BIOS setting which no longer has any affect on this issue. I can rarely make it out of the train station on the first level before my system is totally frozen.
After spending hours troubleshooting this problem, the only cure I've found is to disable anti-aliasing, which considering my system specs
is entirely unacceptable. The recently released ATI CATALYST 5.1 drivers
made no difference.
I have solved my crashing problem by lowering my PCI Latency Timer
BIOS setting to 32 from its default of 64. Since doing this I have been able to appreciate the improvements in the most recent patch.
This patch has made a significant improvement in the stuttering issue affecting my system. While a few hitches remain, the game is completely enjoyable now in the areas that I have seen so far. I achieved the best results by setting mat_forcemanagedtextureintohardware
I will continue to post updates as I progress through the game and receive additional feedback from the community.
Well, I spoke too soon. While the game seems to have less hitching than before, I am now experiencing complete system freezes with looping sounds at certain points in the game.
My system is 100% stable and flawlessly passes extended runs of the Prime95
torture test and Memtest86
. My system is not overclocked and I have great temps on the components in my system. I have absolutely no problems running Unreal Tournament 2004, FarCry, DOOM 3, Painkiller and World of Warcraft among many other games that I own.
My gut tells me that this is a driver problem triggered by something that the Source engine is doing. In Windows NT based OSes, it is impossible for a user mode process to directly cause a total system freeze. However, a user mode process can certainly trigger a bug in kernel mode processes like drivers which can lead to a system freeze. I am going to continue looking into this.
Valve has released a major patch
that contains many fixes related to stuttering issues. Preliminary results look promising on my system. I will post a more detailed analysis once I do additional testing. Launch or restart Steam to automatically receive the update.
Valve has been quiet since the last patch, but rumors are circulating that another patch will be posted soon. In the meantime I have created a video that clearly illustrates the stuttering problem
as it appears on my system. This video was captured using Fraps
and is in Windows Media Video 9
A Steam update
was just released that claims to fix a cause of the stuttering issue:
Fixed sound stuttering problems caused by thread contention in sound system
This update did nothing to fix either the slowdown or stuttering problems on my system. If anything, the slowdown now appears to be worse than before.
Valve's DougV has posted an update
on the Steam Users Forums:
We're still working on a fix and hope to have something available soon (but not before it's ready ;-)).
As of this morning, we've got 506 (open) Incidents in our Support database, we went through and opened all the tickets that were ever created (resolved or unresolved). If you have a ticket about this problem and have not attached an ms32info report, please do so (only 1/4 of the tickets included this info...it's not required but it's good info to for the dev team).
We also found someone near our offices that is having the problem and we are scheduling him to come in with their PC this week.
In DougV's post from yesterday
he claims, "There are currently less than 200 open tickets in our support incident database for the audio stuttering problem". Apparently my personal correspondence with a Valve engineer confirming the problem, and the hundreds of thousands of forum posts on this topic are not enough to convince Valve that this problem is widespread. This site has been on the front pages of Slashdot
, Blue's News
, Voodoo Extreme
and numerous other enthusiast sites and has received over 600,000 views.
To show Valve the extent of this problem, we need to play by their rules. Anyone experiencing the stuttering or slowdown problem should submit a ticket in Valve's support database by using the following link:
Tell Valve About Your Stuttering Problem
Valve's DougV has posted a final update
in the "Stuttering problems in HL2 update
" thread and then locked it. I take issue with several of the points made in this post and it is clear that this issue is being continually mishandled. Take the following snippet for example:
We did not see this problem during testing.
I have trouble believing this considering that the stuttering problem was evident on Gary McTaggart
's own computer, a Valve engineer on the Source engine. The following is a snippet from my IM conversations with him after he put in the first fix that corrects the stuttering but created the slowdown problem
[09:02 PM] GaryMcT: I didn't realize how bad it was until I now see it fixed. :)
I am a professional software engineer, and have cut Valve a lot of slack for this problem as I know the complexities of software development quite well. However, I am beginning to lose interest in completing Half-Life 2 primarily because of Valve's poor community management as of late.
Valve's DougV has posted an update
on the Steam Users Forums
. Here are the most relevant pieces:
I appreciate that people are still having problems with audio stuttering I know it's frustrating that we haven't released a "magic" fix but this problem *is* at the top of our list to fix and we've got a dedicated team working on it. This is a tricky problem as you can guess by reading all 650 posts in this thread...people aren't all having exactly the same problem and the solutions people have found are different on most machines.
We take a great deal of pride in our work and it's just as frustrating to us that you can't enjoy the game that we've worked so hard on. We ARE working on this and hope to have a fix to release shortly.
Valve's DougV mentions a new potential solution
in a post on the Steam Users Forums
. For users experiencing audio stuttering and "Memory cannot be read" errors, installing the latest version of the Miles Sound System may fix the problem. Full details on acquiring and installing this are in his post. I installed this and it had no impact on my stuttering issue.
A reader sent in the following email that he just received from Valve's Yahn Bernier:
No ETA yet, we're still testing stuff. It's the #1 thing we are looking at.
For people experiencing severe stuttering, a new potential solution
has been found and detailed on the Steam Users Forums
. This had no effect on my stuttering issue, but may be useful for those with severe and constant stuttering.
Valve has been very quiet on the stuttering issue this past week. My emails and IMs to Gary have gone unanswered. I am hopeful that things will pick up this week.
A reader sent in the following email that he received from Yahn Bernier at Valve:
We're still looking at a few things, I'm not sure if all of the stuff went out on the 30th update. It's the #1 issue we're investigating and we expect to roll out something as soon as we have it and it's tested.
Thanks for your patience,
Valve's Gary McTaggart has posted a new potential stuttering fix
on Shacknews. This fix did very little on my system, and I am still experiencing the frame rate slowdowns after installing and testing Half-Life 2 Deathmatch
I am still awaiting a response from Valve on the slowdown problem and will post any updates as soon as I hear something from them.
After doing extensive testing with this new patch, I have posted my analysis in the Patch Analysis
Thank you for all of the great feedback on this patch. Keep it coming.
The patch for the majority of the Half-Life 2 stuttering problems is available via Steam. Quit and reload Steam to receive this update. Please let me know how well this works for you as I will forward this feedback to Valve. I will follow up with my own thoughts after I've tested this out.
Gary McTaggart has made a series of posts
discussing the changes in the upcoming stuttering patch:
We're working on it. The stuttering is actually three different bugs. Two of them are fixed and should (hopefully) be out tomorrow. Still working on the third one which only happens on NVidia cards/drivers.
Gary McTaggart (Valve)
Gary has several more posts in that thread, view the whole thing here
has an update from Erik Johnson at Valve stating that the patch may be delayed a day for additional testing:
We're still working through some testing on this release. It might be something we'll want to hold for another day and release tomorrow.
Also, I have received a number of emails asking if the texture management fix will also work for stuttering problems in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. I have emailed Gary McTaggart about this and will post an update as soon as I hear back. I am guessing that Vampire has the same inherent problem based on the reports I'm seeing, but I do not know what kind of arrangement Troika Games has with Valve as far as receiving Source engine updates.
Just received the following email from Erik Johnson at Valve. The patch should come out no later than tomorrow.
We've found a fix for this problem, and we're planning on shipping it no later than tomorrow.
I bought up the issue of level loading times with Gary and he mentioned that this is being worked on. I am speculating that the preloading of textures will add to the loading time so this is good news.
A solution for the stuttering problem has been found and a fix is coming. I've been talking with Gary McTaggart about this today and it turns out that my texture management theory was correct. A patch will be coming for this issue that will load all of the required textures into video memory on level load, rather than doing it during game play. There is currently no ETA for this patch, but I will post an update as soon as I get more information.
An RSS feed of the updates section
is now available as a few people have requested this. Firefox
users can add a Live Bookmark
by clicking on the icon in the lower-right corner of the browser window.
I've started a good email conversation with Gary McTaggart at Valve about this issue. It's clear to me that this is a priority for them now that they have the initial Steam problems sorted out. I will post updates here if any useful info materializes.
Just received an email alerting me to a thread on DriverHeaven.net
in which Terry Makedon, ATI Senior Project Manager on the CATALYST drivers is soliciting people's experiences
with Half-Life 2 and ATI cards. At the end of his post he mentions:
I have played it for the past hour and a half....oooops.. I mean I have been testing it as part of my job for the past hour and a half, and have found no problems.
Except on occasional stutter as it loads up stuff. The stutter also happens in as characters talk on occasion. Anyways thats not catalyst related.
This post seems to confirm that it is an engine issue and not a driver problem. As mentioned in the "More Details" section, the stuttering also occurs with NVIDIA cards.
Slashdot now has a post mentioning this problem
with a link pointing back to this site. In the past 2 hours this site has received over 15,000 visits. At this point, Valve certainly cannot claim that this problem isn't widespread.
The stuttering video link I posted earlier was not in fact the correct video. I have updated the link and apologize for the error. The correct location is http://home.broadpark.no/~krhagen/
Valve has officially acknowledged this problem on the Steam news page
. Also added several items based on user feedback and forum posts: