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Supreme commander FA - not working?
Somewhere to find help when you can't get Supreme Commander/ Supreme Commander Forged Alliance to work.
This document will continue to be added to over time and if you have any contributions they will be considered. The intention of this document is to collect a series of solutions to the most common problems people seem to have with the forged alliance game. Most solutions in here will work for supreme commander too, but file locations will be relative to the supreme commander folders instead. Hope this helps some of you out!
Contrary to popular belief, the game 98% of the time does work straight away within steam, but a few of you may be noticing some problems. You will find that people who can play the game and have no issues do not moan about anything on forums. People who have a problem tend to get frustrated and become illogical and irrational. If you want to play the game, don't be either, just read through this guide and try each item step by step. This guide was created to help with a few of the common problems that keep being asked over and over again in Steam Discussions and also to give you a simple 'start at nothing and follow step by step instructions'. Breathe, stop, read slowly and you will be ok...
Also, to dispel another myth - the steam version of this game is not corrupt or rubbish, you probably just happen to be one of the unlucky ones, so read on...
A note to those running FAF or those who have been told to run FAF as a solution:
The reason I don't recommend the 'use FAF to solve all problems' route which is the solution that is being branded about steam is simply this - chances are, until you go back to stock original steam files, you will never figure out the problem. Adding FAF at this stage is like adding needles to a needle stack. I have no issues with FAF users, or FAF itself, I simply think that to solve a problem you need to ensure the problem is not something you added yourself or something not supported with the stock Steam game.
The majority of the issues solved in this guide are because the game is old, and as with all old games on modern systems, there may be some drawbacks or potential fixes that are needed regarding drivers, third party issues that never existed when the game game out or something else obscure. The only way you will solve it is by narrowing down the problem until you find the solution that works. Just be thankfull that the game runs at all for anyone - It is no longer in dev and it is no longer supported. I have helped people get this game to work on vista 32/64 windows 7 32/64 windows 8 32/64 windows 8.1 32/64 and even intel Macs and 1 hybrid hackintoshboth natively and thru wine. If you own any of these, chances are the game will work but currently if it doesn't you have something present or not present that is either in conflict or is required to play respectively.
To try any of the tests in this guide I always recommend you start with a FRESH install, and have NO MODS or lobby EXTENSIONS running until you get the game to work first. For the squillionth and tenth time, read this bit again please and act upon it.
If you then get a glimer of hope that the game will run - then, and only then can you mod to your hearts content.
FAF is an excellent product and I highly recommend it to those wishing to play outside of Steam. To those who don't it is not the answer to all issues and the Steam community is just as alive as the FAF one. Steam actually collaborated to add multiplayer fuction to this game following the demise of the games original online support - despite the fact they didn't have to. As this is a Steam guide - it makes sense that it is for supporting mainly Steam users, but may just as equally help FAF users who have startup issues too. Remember - I am under no obligation or contractual agreement to help anyone, and I am defo not about to start supporting all and sundry modifications and extensions too. Please bear this in mind when you get frustrated. IT IS NOT MY FAULT, and other people are unlikely to benefit from any ramblings in the comments. This guide is the best I could do to provide information in one place from years of my own experience. I sincerley hope you get it working and enjoy the game which ever way you choose to play because it is a very good game.
***Caution*** Some of the fixes in here will not work for all guaranteed. By removing files and/or changing settings you need to take the usual precautionary measures and make a backup. If you un-hide hidden folders, make sure you hide them again so you don't cause any unintended damage to your system. I, Steam and anyone else who offer similar solutions are not responsible for the consequences of your own actions or failure to take the right precautionary measures. Good luck but think first. MAKE A BACKUP.
VERY IMPORTANT Many people whom I have helped have got much bigger issues with their systems than just not being able to 'play this game'. Before you get frustrated - just make sure all your drivers are up to date and that your computer is clean. By clean I mean free of viral infections, spyware and malware and running as few processes as possible that may clash with the program. I only ever have a volume control, my graphics control and my sound control running in my taskbar. If you have more than these icons its time for a clean up if you are serious about playing any games without any third party clashes. I have a PC for games and one for work, Never the twain shall meet because it's easier that way.
Why hark on about checking your system? It seems one or several items of spyware and quite a few viral infections like to latch on to the supcom exe. For reasons unknown even spyware not associated to the program location can cause it to not open, my guess is that supcom has some form of anticheat system that sometimes picks up the spyware activity. In fact it is so common I would go so far as to say that if supcom does not work - you have spyware. Thats almost better than norton detection. Nuff said.
Due to popular demand...Clean up your act!
Before you even read this guide and attempt any of the things below you must promise me this first: Your PC is clean. A lot of problems people have had recently have been because people have malware or viruses and just didn't know it. Even people who claimed they had clean machines didn't - so I won't even attempt to help if we spend most of the time doing basic PC maintenance. Start by closing all programs and open chrome up.
install it, close chrome and run a full check and immunize.
Which is best? Niether, I always have both on at once. And I have used both for 15 years so no claims please that they are malware. The are legit programs and they do the job - nothing else is required in your life other than basic virus protection and a good firewall. My machine is clean, hasn't had a virus for 15 years and I use Microsoft Security centre and those 2 programs above - all free. Make your own mind up. Stick with that and remove EVERYTHING ELSE you pay for or think its doing you a favour. I don't or never have paid for anti-virus or anti-malware. And I seem to be the only one with a clean machine? hmm...
When it is clean (and you will have malware, I guarantee it) then you may proceed!
Resolving start up problems - the main quick fix
Does your game not open, or does it stay on a game steam box but appears to make no progress?
Try deleting the game.prefs file:
The game.prefs file is a problem that has plagued Supcom since its birth - way before Steam came along. Sometimes if the game crashes or a mod conflict arises, or even if a monitor is changed, this file will become corrupted and cause the game not to start. Some of you have difficulty in locating this file and some of you don't even have it if you have not been successful in running the game.
In case you don't know - the game.prefs file is in a folder called AppData (it is a hidden system folder so you will need to go to your user folder (usually your log in name) click 'organize' then select 'folder and search options' then click the view tab. About 7 lines down you will find 'hidden files and folders' inside there tick 'show hidden files and folders' select apply then click ok.
In your user folder you will now see a ghosted folder called AppData (all hidden folders are ghosted) open it and navigate to a folder called 'local', type 'g' and it will jump past all the nonsense folders. Open 'gas powered games' folder. Select 'supreme commander forged alliance' and you will see a cache folder and a file called game.prefs alongside it.
To reset all game settings, or to remove a corrupt file just delete the file named game.prefs. When the game re-boots it will re-generate a new file and go back to default. You will have to set your game up as you like it again, like your graphics settings, but it solves most problems with unexplained crashes. Try this anyway, as often after a crash this file becomes corrupted anyway even IF the game runs.
If you do not see any files in your appdata/local/gaspoweredgames/supremecommanderforgedalliance/ folder chances are the game cannot initialise direct X so it has never run, and thus has never created a game.prefs file. If you notice this is the case you are already part way to solving the problem, which is due to the game being old. See further on for a few Direct X solutions.
Altering the way the executable runs
Some people have been told to use a non-standard .exe file, to get supcom to run on Steam. I have no issues with the standard steam .exe on win vista, 7 and 8. This is also the case on several verified friends running on laptops, desktops as long as it is a 64 bit operating system from what we can tell (the odd 32bit OS is causing issues with the game anyway and XP in general) I would NEVER recommend downloading ANY .exe of a forum anyway, you would be daft to run something you have no idea what it does.
There should be NO reason you need to use a different .exe other than the steam version to get this game to run. Also doing so will make your files non-verifiable by the Steam Cache. I have my suspicions that the .exe everyone is being told to 'use' is the FAF one, so if you are not running FAF, this is going to cause you more problems than it actually solves. Only use the FAF exe if you get the stock Steam game to work FIRST, otherwise its needles in a needlestack time again. Never mind the hay.
If all else fails, by all means try this method, but I don't recommend it myself. See section on drivers as it is more likely to be an issue here or an issue with direct x not initialising or a non-standard resolution.
Some people need to set the game to run in administrator mode and in an older operating system compatibility mode too if they are using windows 8. But we don't. (will add more to this later as I get the full win 8 instructions on how to do this as it hasn't happened to us yet.)
To help you out you can create a shortcut and alter admin rights and compatibility modes on the shortcut, by right-clicking the shortcut itself. What may or may not work for you is trial and error, so add admin rights if you do not have them and try as many compatibility modes as you like. Apply the settings and try to run the game again to see if it works.
Messing with properties
Many people have had success with a simple change to the properties of the exe.
Locate your supreme commander .exe file (usually [/list]steam/steamapps/common/supremecommanderforgedalliance/bin/supremecommander.exe relative to where you steam folder is).
Right click the exe and choose [properties].
Click the compatibility tab and then tick [run this program in compatibility mode] In the drop down choose [windows xp (service pack 2)].
Click apply, then ok.
This is the most common one that works but feel free to try other combinations.
Some people have further success by also ticking [run this program as an administrator] which is located further down on the same tab - again click apply and ok and then try to run the game again. This is common on computers with multiple user accounts.
Thanks to Wingman, Xion'sWake and quite a few others for these tips.
Sounds like faulty video?
The game is so clever that you can temporarily remove resources from it, and it will still run. So what good is that to me I hear you ask?
Well it just so happens that it is a simple way to test what is stopping the game from working. If you locate the main game folder first - usually;
or relative to where your steam folder is installed.
This is the main game installation folder and inside it you will find a few folders like the following:
Now the beauty of this is that without causing any damage to the game you can eliminate 2 problems by renaming just 2 folders - specifically MOVIES and SOUNDS
If you rename the folder (right-click [rename] or left click once in the text of the folder) for sound to something like sound-off, you will notice that in the log the game chooses to disable sounds as it can't find the original folder name and therefore it can't use the sound resources, they are then simply disabled and the game continues to load. If you then run the game and it works, but with no sound - it stands to reason you have an issue with audio drivers or directx audio.
You can also rename the movies folder to stop movies loading using the same method. With movies it may be a fault with directx but can also be related to sound and or video problems. It can even be related to faulty video third party installations like miles video technology or dodgy encoders you may have inadvertantly overwritten.
If renaming either of these folders gets the game to work for you then you are one step closer to finding the real cause of the faults. IF this worked for you and at least got you to the game menu, then see the section on drivers and directx, also name the folders back to the original names and then check the log file. (see section on doing your own homework).
Yes - you now may need to do some work to figure out what it was but it is a helpful method. To get both to work again simply rename them back to their original folder names as above.
Driver issues or Direct-X
9 times out of 10 if it is not the game.prefs files or a non-standard .exe then it is generally a direct x problem or an out-of-date driver that can cause startup issues.
Typically out of date sound drivers cause most startup issues as they are needed for the video and menu system.
The direct x version used for the game is 9, but higher versions should support these backwardly, however this is not always true if your drivers are out of date or incompatible with a higher direct x version or lower direct x version. Try re-installing the latest direct x or try installing the older direct x that is supplied in the directx folder where the game content resides. Sometimes a file error or permission error on a direct x file can cause it to behave in a strange manner. You may never know it is corrupted because newer games may not use this specific library resource. Always worth a shot.
Get a well supported card with drivers that are direct x 'family' compatible and can run in generic soundcard or software mode if all else fails.
The same also stands to reason for graphics cards. Get the latest drivers, or try a roll back or beta drivers if all else fails. People with ATI/AMD cards seem to have more problems than Nvidia. Some of this is maybe down to odd refresh rates like 61hrtz which can be enforced using the *fudger solution further on in this guide. It may not necessarily show up as options in the menu of the game. The difference between 60 and 61 hrtz can mean the failure to load, or a black sreen, or worse an out-of-sync screen.
If the game won't even start, there is one specific direct x problem that you may be encountering which relates to you not having the 'default' screen size recommended by the game when it was conceived. See the second to last section for more details on how to *'fudge' this.
*a 'fudge' is like a fix, in that it temporarily solves a problem but it is also a bit of a bodge - hence a 'fudge' which sounds better than a 'fodge'.
Third party software conflicts
This step is more complex and if you do not know how to alter processes or startup applications then I will not go in to any more detail as you could cause irreprable damage to you machine and I will not be liable.
Failing all of the other options you can stop all un-neccesary proceses or startup programs and turn them on 1 by 1 again until it crashes again.
You can do this live via task manager - providing you have some knowledge of the processes running on your system. Generally try anti-virus or anti-malware programs first. Even things like Google Drive have been known to cause issues.
Once the offending process is found, try turning it off in selected startup so it does not run or search for a solution as to why that software causes a problem. Report it too, so other people can benefit (to the conflicting software manufacturer not Steam or GPG).
Some people have reported that the game starts, but when a battle is launched the user (or certain users in a multiplayer match) are left 'in transit' but the game never starts for them.
This is quite often caused by an offending mod or map that is either not compatible with another mod or not working or not installed correctly.
Turn each mod on or off in mod manager and run a skirmish map until the game hangs. Kill the game app with CTRL +ALT + DEL, run task manager and end the task. Run it again and you will find that that mod or combination was the one to cause the problem. Turn it off. Try again until all options are eliminated.
This can then point to several things:
a) The mod is badly programmed and will never work until the mod is fixed b) The mod is not compatible with one or all of the oither mods running c) The mod is fine but it was packed or extracted incorrectly
for a) and b) always report the issues to the original mod progrmmar so they can at least try to solve the confilct in future - but be patient. In the mean time, just run without the mod.
For option c)
Even though a mod or map may appear to be selectable in the game lobby it may actually be installed in sub-sub folders in the mods folder which is wrong.
[mods] / [shield mod] / < ---------------------------------the folder causing the issue [shield mod 1.0] / <----------------the folder and its contents you want some lua files and other folders
If you followed the above steps to finding the problem mod, this will help as you will have a fairly good idea which mod it is you need to check. Once you know, locate the mods folder.
The mods folder can be found in username/documents/mygames/gaspoweredgames/supremecommanderforgedalliance/mods.
If a mod, in the example above, is called [shield mod] as it's zipfile, and inside that is another folder called [shield mod 1.0] then inside that are some LUA files. Chances are that the mod is actually called shield mod 1.0, and that Shield mod is in fact the name of the zip extraction folder and is not really relevant to the mod
To rectify this, copy the last folder with the name and all the lua files in it and go back one level and paste. In this example above we would open the folder [shield mod], and cut the folder that is inside it called [shield mod 1.0]. Go up one level so you are back in the [mods] folder, then paste the folder into here. Delete the empty folder.
You should then have this structure below:
[mods] / [shield mod 1.0] /<----------------the folder and its contents you want some lua files and other folders
Try the game again, turn the mod on again and try to start a skirmish map
This can happen with badly packed files on maps, mods and some FAF files too as this can be caused not by the program or download system but by the original folder structure of the mod or map. The game can still see sub-sub folders and mods within them and will even list them in the mod manager in-game giving the 'illusion' that the mod works. However this often causes the map to look 'infinitely' for the mod in the root folder (top level) of the mod folder when the game launches, making 'in-transit' last forever.
This is especially relevant if multiplayers have slightly different folder structures to each other, as this can often cause some players to start play and others to stay in transit. This happens a lot in FAF if some users get the files from different sources. Get someone in charge, tell them to get all the mods and maps you require to play your clan games, then ask that person to zip or rar the mods and maps folders in their documents/mygames/gaspoweredgames/supremecommanderforgedalliance/ folder and host the file so everyone else can download it and use identical files and structures. Its the only way to be sure.
None of the above issues should affect campaign mode unless the mod is an overhaul mod that overwrites any files within the common apps folder within steam. For these mods, you are on your own! I only use mods that install in the documents folder (location shown above) or come with a removal tool like Sorian Ai - which enhances the AI and game lobby, but can be removed if required easily
If a mod does overwrite your game files, don't forget you can use the Steam verify game integrity fix explained in the next section to role back to your original files.
Ensuring you have valid files for the game
A game can easily become corrupted at any time and if a game does not start it may be a simple file corruption or mod installation that went wrong.
Don't panic - Steam comes with its own built in game validation system
go to the Steam library, then right click the game name. On the menu select properties at the very bottom. On the tabs select local files then click 'verify integrity of game cache'
Another reason for not using a 'special' exe file to run the game. If you have a non-standard .exe, the game may run, but the verify option will replace your non-standard .exe with the original one.
This goes for any Steam game - not just Supreme Commander Forged Alliance
Not starting because of a direct x error?
This is the hardest fix - but it is also the most common one for people playing on laptops. After several hours trying to help someone who's game did not start, I eventually found out why some people can't get the game to initialise. If the game has never run (never initialised), and you are running it on a laptop, you may come accross an error like 'can't start directx' or 'failed to initialise direct x' due to your laptop's obscure screen resolutions. This is also true for some newer wide screen monitors that have non-standard resolutions.
It turns out this is simply because the original game needed to run in 1024 x 768 to initialise directx 3d d3d9.dll. This is a fault with Direct X 9 from 2007 rather than a fault with the Steam version of this game. Not all displays support this resolution now. Some laptop screens will not go lower that 1280 x 768 these days. All you need to do is create your own game.prefs file with a corresponding resolution to your monitor's native resolution. If you have a laptop, chances are it can only display 2 resolutions like 1280 x 768 and 1960 x 1080. You also need to know your refresh rate (hertz or Hz) usually 60 or 70 (can go up to 120 but i would stick with 60 if you have the option shown in your control panel.)
Create a new file in notepad called game.prefs and enter the text from the next section in this guide - the section titled - 'game.prefs fudger file'.
Once you have the text in a notepad document, save it as game.prefs. Search through the file, changing [yourname] to be your name and the screen res references [width x height x hz] to match your OS available screen resolutions. Note: in the text in the next section there are 4 references to width x height and hz which you must enter all to match your highest native resolution. Most of the key sizes you need to change are close to the end of the file.
Example: if your screen size is 1280 x 768 and your hz is 60, change the following lines to read like this:
take care not to remove the single quotes in the LUA script. The above is an example of what you should change but you must include the entire file contained in the next section for it to bypass d3d initialise and work. The example above is NOT the entire file.
Save your now edited file as game.prefs and add it to your appdata folder. (where this file should be located and how to find it is explained in the first section - Resolving start up problems) Make sure you don't save with an extension like .txt in notepad as the extension must be .prefs
Once done the game will now run and work long enough for you to select your own settings and then it will generate a new game.prefs file that will contain all your actual screen resolutions for you to use forever more. Just don't select 1024 x 768 again!
Make a back up of this file so if the game.prefs is ever corrupt you can use the starter file again to get you going, rather than the factory default one which will cause the same issue again.
If you still find you are having problems with SCFA, then you can always try a little Sherlock Holmes yourself.
There is a little known tool available that will generate a log file that you can read through and it will give you a few good indicators as to what is wrong. This will also work for crashes that happen during play, not just startup crashes.
To set up the error log just create a short cut from the main .exe file. To do this simply go to your steam library, right click the game name on the left (when in list view) and go to properties. Click the local files tab and then click browse local files... This will take you in explorer to the files for the game. The main .exe is in the folder called bin (binaries). Open it.
In the bin folder you will see the main icon for the game executable called SupremeCommander.exe Right click on this file and you then click create shortcut
You will now have a shortcut icon with a small arrow in the bottom left corner. Right click the short cut icon and go to properties. You will see a text area labelled target: and you will see some text similar to this "C:\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\Supreme Commander Forged Alliance\bin\SupremeCommander.exe". Your steam library may be in a different location but it will end the same - you don't need to change this text just add something to the end. Click in the box and press the end key to take you to the far right without removing any text and type a space then add the following text: /log C:\supcomlog.txt so you end up with the whole line like this example: "C:\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\Supreme Commander Forged Alliance\bin\SupremeCommander.exe" /log C:\supcomlog.txt
note: Some older OS's may need to remove the preceeding forward slash like vista.
Click apply then Ok and close the properties window.
Now run the game by double clicking the shortcut icon. If a fault occurs on load it will be written to the log file. If a fault occurs during game, it will be written to the log file when the game crashes so play until it does.
To read the log file after a failed startup, or a crash, just go to your c: drive in the root folder and look for the file called supcomlog.txt - this will open in notepad. Check the very end of the file as this is usually the problem area - the last thing written to the log. You don't need to be a computer whizz to figure it out - you just need to know how to google.
Example: To solve the not-starting issue mentioned previously I asked a user to remove all traces of mods etc. and install the game fresh and try everything in this guide first as a process of elimination.
I then showed them how to get the log to work as above. Once working, we analysed the last section of the log file to find a 'call to creating a prefs file' had failed and the last one was a 'direct x GAL exception Dx9 DX3d (189) error'.
If you google this error it shows a few examples where graphics cards cannot initialise a specified screen resolution in many games, so directX will not work, thus it does not initialise. To the computer this is the same as directx not being there as a resource. The response from the game was DIrect3D object not found which is not helpful, but the log told a slightly different story and pointed us to a solution.
This highlighted the fact that the game was trying to load at 1024 x 768 resolution - its default, but how could it? especially if the monitor did not display that resolution. I asked the user to tell me their available resolutions and we found that 1024x768 was not actually available on their monitor - hey presto. It was then a simple case of using the 'fudged' game.prefs file above and ammending it to contain their actual available resolutions. The game then ran for the first time ever, but thought that the preferences were already set because it found the game.prefs file in the place it expected it to be.
It therefore thought it was not launching for the first time and could finally initialise direct x, at a working resolution. Once in the menu, the user could then change their preferences as normal and the file was changed automatically to reflect those choices instead. One happy customer. This fault is a fault of modern standards being more improved than the standards set when the game was made, rather than a fault with Steam or the game itself.
that just demonstrates how you can help yourself too - give it a try!