Working around Steam issues with hybrid mobile GPUs

I have an Optimus enabled Acer Aspire 5750G with the NVIDIA 540M, and I have purchased quite a games (mostly ones on sale) on Steam over the last few months. The games work pretty well and the GPU is powerful enough to play them at the native resolution of my laptop.

I did find some games playing sluggishly even though they had pretty moderate requirements. The worst was in store when I tried playing the game Hoard. This game continually crashed to the desktop after showing its loading screen saying that reuben.exe has stopped working. I did some investigation into the matter and found a helpful thread on the game forum discussing this issue wherein lots of people with mobile hybrid GPU config (both NVIDIA & AMD\ATI) have faced crashes.

The fix that worked for me was this one:

Navigate to the folder that holds the Reuben.exe (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\hoard\win32) and right click on the app, select Run with this Graphics processor.  Then select Choose Default.  When the next screen comes up click add and then navigate to the folder and select reuben.exe.
Looks like while Steam was correctly getting autoselected to the nVidia chipset, Hoard was getting the integrated.

image

NVIDIA by default uses its GPU for Steam, but not for all the games on Steam – especially the Indie games. This also explains why many games are slower than expected, as the integrated Intel HD graphics is not that powerful. So, if you are having trouble with games on Steam, go to the Manage 3D Settings section of the NVIDIA Control Panel and add profiles for your games on Steam, setting them to use the NVIDIA processor as shown. Steam stores the games in the folder – C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common by default, and the main game executable will be within the subfolders.

On a side note, another issue I face frequently with Steam is that it takes quite a long time to launch games, and the duration seems to be dependent on the network speed. Haven’t found a workaround for that other than to launch Steam in offline mode, which seems to prevent it from trying to check for updates online on every launch.

Installing Giveaway of the day & Game Giveaway of the day behind authenticated proxy

Giveaway of the day and Game giveaway of the day are pretty interesting sites wherein they give away a commercial software for free for a period of 24 hours, periodically. The software installers are encapsulated within the giveaway of the day software that connects to their servers to check the validity of the giveaway period. One of the limitations of this software is that it does not work behind authenticated proxies, i.e., proxies wherein you need to enter your userid/password to access the internet (quite common in education institutions).

It seems to use the “Internet Option” settings of Internet Explorer to detect the connection settings. So, the simplest way to use the software behind such a proxy is to use a HTTP tunnel client that creates another proxy layer with the userid/password settings already entered. HTTP-Tunnel Client is a useful software in this regard and can be used to serve the purpose (something I had used earlier to make the State software work behind an authenticated proxy). Just follow the instructions to configure the proxy in the software and change the settings in Internet Options.

HTTP-Tunnel

 Internet Options

Once this is done, the installer should run fine and connect to the server without any errors. It may fail the first time, in which case just try once more.

This is a pretty useful workaround and should work for other software that use the Internet Options connection settings, but do not support an authenticated proxy.

Getting in sync with the latest game graphics

Game graphics seem to have progressed by leaps and bounds over the last few years. I thought that the Crysis graphics were awesome with realistic water effects and shadows, but the game Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune for the PS3 seems to take things up a notch further (while supposedly using only about 30% of the PS3 power).

I wonder where things will stand by the end of this decade. And just to see how game graphics have progressed, check out how the rendering of water in games has evolved over the last 2 decades (site in German).