Troubleshooting FAQ

More useful info:
Bugs In STALKER
Crashes Still in the Patched Game
What You Know That Ain't So
Quirks in the Game
"S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - SoC" Stuff

STALKER-SoC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Troubleshooting


This section is intended to address and possibly solve some common issues you might encounter installing or playing the game.


Quick Links

Installing
Patching
Configuring
Sound/music but no picture
Monitor shows 'Frequency out of range' or 'Input not supported'
Monitor/screen is blank/black

What patch version do I have?
What patch version do I need?
Can I patch directly to 1.XXXX?
Where are my saves? Screenshots? Logs?
Game is slow to load, long load times
Playing the game The flashlight doesn't work
Too much movement lag, too much mouse smoothing
Spinning when I wake up

Head bobbing, head wobbling, camera wobbling
Weird shadows
I'm stuck!
Steam-related Verify game cache before playing: right-mouse click on game in launcher
The Steam version of the game is patched to 1.0006 (as of 2013/09/02)
Windows 8: Turn off Steam overlay (community in-game feature)
Where are my saves? Screenshots? Logs?
Saves don't work
Can't save options, can't change video resolution

Steam game is slow to load, long load times
Bugs/Fixes/Workarounds "A crash has been detected by Bugtrap"
The Permanent Radiation Bug
Cordon trader Sidorovich's bunker door is locked/broken
X18 door is broken
Shaggy's cell door won't unlock
Yantar bunker doors don't work

Game won't start
Game lags with lightning
Other Installing mods
Finding help



Sound/music but no picture
Monitor shows 'Frequency out of range' or 'Input not supported'
Monitor/screen is blank/black

If necessary, even when you can't see the game's main menu you can quit from it by pressing the Q key. Find your user.ltx file. Open it with a text editor like Notepad. Find rs_refresh_60hz and make sure it says rs_refresh_60hz on. Save the file and try again.



What patch version do I have?

While the main menu is showing, look at the lower left of your screen. The patch version will show for all patches 1.0001 or later. If there is no version showing, you are using an unpatched version 1.0. Some digital distributions are 1.0. GOG and Steam versions are currently pre-patched to 1.0006. (Steam's version might still show 1.0005 from a value in the registry, but it is 1.0006.)


What patch version do I need?

The minimum patch version you should use for gameplay is 1.0001. Saves made with version 1.0 are not compatible with any patch. The suggested patch level is at least 1.0004 (good for many mods) or patch 1.0005. Patch 1.0006 has lots of log spam, better wide-screen support and a multiplayer vulnerability that had kept it from official distribution (until recently; Steam is now using it).

For mods, read the info that comes with the mod or is listed at the download source or the forum support for the mod to determine what patch version you need. If it doesn't say, it is likely for patch 1.0001 or patch 1.0003.

In any case, be sure to get the patch for the region in which your game was purchased. There's North America (NA, but the patch might say US), Russia/Ukraine (CIS) and World-Wide (WW) for everywhere else.


Can I patch directly to 1.XXXX?

Patch 1.0004 and patch 1.0005 are cumulative patches if the size is greater than 10 MB; either can be used to patch any earlier version including 1.0. It is recommended that you start a new game if so. Patch 1.0006 requires patch 1.0005.

If you are not starting a new game, you might want to play it safe and progressively patch to the next version, load a save from the previous version, make a new save, then load and briefly test that save. Repeat for each patch in order.

For mods, read the info that comes with the mod or is listed at the download source or the forum support for the mod to determine what patch version you need. If it doesn't say, it is likely for patch 1.0001 or patch 1.0003.



Where are my saves? Screenshots? Logs?
Saves don't work
Can't save options, can't change video resolution

Your saves, logs, screenshots and user.ltx file are stored in the subdirectory indicated by the path on the first line of <STALKER_installation_directory>\fsgame.ltx.

In non-Steam installs, saves, logs and screenshots are on the C: drive by default in the STALKER-SHOC\ subdirectory. In Vista and Windows 7 this subdirectory is under \Users\Public\Documents, Windows 8 uses \Users\Public\Public Documents while in XP this is found in \Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents.

In Steam installs, there are a couple of possibilities. Either fsgame.ltx is pointing to an XP directory or it is pointing to a subdirectory under the installation directory. Examples:

$app_data_root$=true|false|C:\|Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\stalker shadow of chernobyl\_appdata_
$app_data_root$ = true| false| $fs_root$| _appdata_\

If it is pointing to an XP directory and you are running with a later OS, it won't work. You will need to change the path to one that is valid for your operating system. You will need write permission for the directory so that the game can update the user files. This is also true even if the Steam version is using _appdata_ under Program Files\ or Program Files (x86)\ for the user files.

In other words, saves and option changes will work if the path to the user folder is valid and you have the ability to write to the folder. Some users may not be able to write to the Program Files\ folders unless they are logged on as administrator.

If you want to change where your saves, logs and screenshots are stored you can do so here by changing the first line in fsgame.ltx.

Valid XP default:

$app_data_root$=true|false|C:\|Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\STALKER-SHOC\
Valid Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8 default:
$app_data_root$ = true| false| C:\|Users\Public\Documents\STALKER-SHOC\
"Documents" maps to "Public Documents" in Windows 8.

Or you can use any path where you have write permission. Note the vertical bar between the drive's root directory and the remainder of the path.

If you can't save your fsgame.ltx changes, move the file to the desktop, change it there, then move it back.

If you change the path, you should copy your user.ltx file and your user folders from the old location to the new. If you don't do this, the game will recreate the file and folders. The file may need changes; see the references to cam_inert and r2_sun_near/r2_sun_near_border below.



The flashlight doesn't work

Using the lowest quality setting will disable the flashlight, and it will stay disabled even when the quality is set higher. To fix, open the console (press the tilde ['~'] key) and type r1_dlights on followed by the Enter or Return key. Deactivate the console (press the tilde key again). Your change will be saved to your user.ltx file when you quit the game.



Too much movement lag, too much mouse smoothing
Spinning when I wake up

If the game has recreated the user.ltx file for you, the file has the wrong default value for cam_inert (usually 0.7) which leads to terrible mouse response, excessive headbob and spinning when waking up with a sleeping bag mod.

To fix, open the console (press the tilde ['~'] key) and type cam_inert 0 followed by the Enter or Return key. (You can use 0.1 if you want a little delay.) Deactivate the console (press the tilde key again). Your change will be saved to your user.ltx file when you quit the game.



Head bobbing, head wobbling, camera wobbling

You can modify gamedata\config\misc\effectors.ltx and reduce the values for run_speed, walk_speed and limp_speed if the head wobble is too much for you. The ZRP has Modifier options for installing/configuring this file.



Weird shadows

If the game recreates the user.ltx file for you, it has the wrong default values for r2_sun_near and r2_sun_near_border resulting in strange shadow effects.

To fix, open the console (press the tilde ['~'] key) and type r2_sun_near 20 followed by the Enter or Return key. Then enter r2_sun_near_border 1.0 and press Enter. Deactivate the console (press the tilde key again). Your changes will be saved to your user.ltx file when you quit the game.



I'm stuck!

It is possible to get into a location where you can't move. You might move into an open desktop or crawl into a car on its side, and you can't even jump. You might get pinned by an NPC moving in your way, or not moving because he will wait forever to talk with you even after you are done. You might have saved while crouched in a tight place, like on a bunk bed or under stairs, and a reload of that save has you occupying the same space as the bed above or the stairs.

If playing vanilla, you can install the ZRP and then teleport out of there via the Esc J intra-level jump. Or you can activate the ZRP debug mode and use Esc D F to move two meters past the obstacle.



Steam game is slow to load, long load times

It is best to run the game outside of the Steam environment, but that might not be easy. Disable compatibility mode for both the game and the launcher: right-click on the Steam and XR_3DA.exe executables in Windows Explorer and select Properties. On the compatibility tab, disable compatibility mode. Disable STEAM overlay initially. Also apply the suggestions below.


Game is slow to load, long load times

Turn off prefetch caching. This function loads a lot of resources, then pretty much swaps them out for other needed data, defeating the purpose. Use the "-noprefetch" parameter on the command line used to start the game.

Also consider the following:



Game won't start

First make sure you are actually starting the right game.

Try to see if a log file was created. For details on the log file and how to interpret and fix the errors, see Crashes Still in the Patched Game. If the log is blank, the error log was never flushed to disk which suggests a low-level problem like a driver error.

Other things to try: Disable EAX. Update your audio and video drivers. Try using "-dsound" as a command line parameter.

Some mods break the video intro. Use "-nointro" as a command line parameter to skip the intro videos.



Game lags with lightning

There is a newer OpenAL.dll available that can reduce the lag due to lightning (other than the initial caching load of the sounds). Alternatively, you can use the ZRP Modifier to remove lightning or have only good weather; see Modifier > Experimental.cfg > Weather.



Cordon trader Sidorovich's bunker door is locked/broken
X18 door is broken
Shaggy's cell door won't unlock
Yantar bunker doors don't work

Sometimes the doors on a level just stop working. You can repeatedly bump some doors until they open enough to be able to push it open completely. This will be sufficient for some doors, like Sid's door or the scientists' bunker doors.

You can also use the ZRP's Esc J intra-level jump feature to jump inside Sidorovich's office. Then you can push the broken door out from the inside.

You can activate debug mode and then use Esc D F to teleport through the door.

But a couple of doors also need to give you the progress for the storyline to continue (Dark Valley door to X18), or for a quest to complete (Shaggy's cell door). You can use Esc D F near these doors to work around the broken door and advance the story.

As of ZRP 1.07 R3, you can actually fix the door by restoring the door or switch scheme. Use the Modifier to enable the ZRP Support Utilities (ZSU) dialog and add the "Fix Broken Doors/Switches" scripts. In the game, approach within 10 meters of the door and then press Esc Z to display the ZSU dialog. Select the "Repair Nearest Door" utility and click the Go button. The door or switch will function normally.



Installing/Uninstalling mods

Mods are often a problem. The game was not designed with good mod support, and the technology is old. You can run into issues with UAC and Virtual Store.

Your first consideration should be compatibility. The mod should be compatible with your game's patch version. Some mods need high-end graphics cards and/or 64-bit Windows with 4 GB RAM. READ THE MOD'S README before asking questions about it online.

If you have previously installed a mod, you should uninstall it and remove the gamedata\ subdirectory before installing a new mod. You might also need to remove user.ltx if the mod has made custom changes, as well as any files added to bin\. (If you remove user.ltx see references to it above to correct the default version.)

As noted below, mods with their own gamedata.dbn files may require a complete game uninstall/delete/re-install.

Do not load existing saves into the newly-modded game unless the modmaker says you can. This generally means you need to start a new game.

Mods with no installer: The game does not have a gamedata\ folder initially. You can drag/drop that folder from a mod's archive into the STALKER installation directory. If the mod also has files in a bin\ folder, you should back up your original bin\ folder.

You can then edit fsgame.ltx, change any false on the second line to true and save the file. (See here if you have a problem saving fsgame.ltx.) This tells the game to use the modified files in the gamedata\ subdirectory before using the ones in the compressed gamedata.dbn database files.

Another approach: you can try Don Reba's Mod Manager to install and manage most of your mods.

Mods with an installer: This is usually easy, although you will be sometimes prompted to select from among options that may require some research to know what those choices mean. Back up your bin\ folder.

Some recent mods have their own replacement gamedata.dbn files. You should make backups of your game's installation folder or be prepared to delete the folder and re-install the complete game after uninstalling the mod.

If a mod can't "find" the installation, you might have to start the vanilla game first to create the necessary registry entries.

Most installers will take ownership of the gamedata\ folder, so you must uninstall the mod and completely remove the gamedata\ folder before attempting to install any other mod.

After uninstalling a mod: Do not use saves made with that mod in any other game unless the modmaker says you can.

Merging mods is not a matter of simply dragging and dropping one mod on top of another. You must determine if there are any "collisions" which occur with files common to both mods. Then you must use a file merging tool like WinMerge to reconcile the differences between those files. Big mods cannot be merged with other big mods unless you are an expert modder yourself.



Finding help

Have a question that is not answered here? If you can't find it with additional searching, consider asking it on the GSC forum's SoC section.


Last page update: January 9, 2016
Copyright (C) 2012-2016 Metacognix. All rights reserved.