TF2: Tech detectoring

Playing TF2 at home continues to pose problems. I mentioned before how playing the Developer Commentary caused my machine to shut off. Sometimes it does this during a real game as well. Other times it doesn’t. There is one new development: sometimes, instead of shutting the machine off, it just gets stuck for a while, looping a second or so of sound and puting some garbage pixels on the screen before popping up a system dialog stating that the graphics hardware stopped responding and it’s had to reset them. After this, I can resume the game as if nothing happened except the loss of some valuable time during which I naturally got killed.

What’s more, I’ve now seen this happen outside of TF2. It also happened in Darwinia — a game I finished some years ago, but I gave it another look simply because it was in that Steam Indie Pack. Anyway, it’s a pretty clear confirmation that the problem isn’t just in TF2. It really seems like a malfunction of the graphics card, and I turned all my graphics settings down to the minimum during today’s session to see if that would help. It seemed to, and I had a nice crashless session (during which I managed to get one more Achievement as a Heavy), but I still got a crash when I tried Developer Commentary mode.

Well, the one real difference in Developer Commenty is the voiceovers. And in fact I had voice chat turned off in my online session — it seems to get turned back on automatically sometimes, and I specifically turned it off while I had the Options menu open to change the graphics settings. So my working hypothesis at this point is that the real cause has to do with sound, and that the reported graphics problems are just a symptom. We’ll see how that works out.

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