November 25, 2011 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Help me understand how Skyrim crashing on one PC causes other PCs on my network to hiccup.

I have multiple PCs on a 802.11g wireless network. On one I'll be playing Skyrim, while a netbook hooked to my stereo is streaming music from the internet (Radio Rivendell).

When Skyrim crashes, it crashes my computer harder than anything I've ever seen, even going back to pre-Windows days. My video card stops sending a signal to my monitors, the sound goes into infine Aphex Twin rush loop, and the hard disk activity light goes solid on. I have to use the reset button or hold the power button in. Sometimes even this does not bring back video and I'll have to completely power off, wait a minute, and power back on to get a signal to the monitors.

I've noticed when this happens, the audio stream on the other computer will drop out. The only thing in common is that they are both connected wirelessly to the same WRT54G router.

My video card, by the way, is a AMD Radeon 6870 and they have not released any AMD drivers for Skyrim. It runs fine with all my other games (FIFA 12 is my most recent other game). I am intimately familiar with crash problems with the Oblivion/Fallout3/Skyrim engine, but Obliv & the Fallouts tend to just crash to the desktop on my rig. As far as I know, Skyrim doesn't even touch the network stack (I'm using the non-steam .exe but it was also doing this before I implemented that).

So what's going on here? Is Skyrim hosing my system so badly that it's causing the wireless adapter to murder my netbook? When it crashes it's causing the wireless adapter to blast out destructive interference that knock out the steam on my netbook? Am I crazy?

Could I install some wireless sniffer software on a 3rd machine and see what's hitting the airwaves when Skyrim dies? If so, what software would that be and what would I look for?

To be clear I'm not trying to fix the crashes, I'm just curious as to what's going on with my gear. Never seen one machine crash's affect another before.
posted by Edogy to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is the tool you'd want to use to view what's going on.

The netbook isn't, somehow, using the PC as a network proxy/bridge, is it? Are you able to start the stream when that PC is off?
posted by jangie at 7:16 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

The netbook isn't, somehow, using the PC as a network proxy/bridge, is it? Are you able to start the stream when that PC is off?

No. Yes. I'll check out WireShark. Thanks!
posted by Edogy at 7:21 AM on November 25, 2011

Since you're using the non-Steam version, can you try retriggering the crash situation with the PC disconnected from the network, wireless or otherwise? That would at least confirm whether it's some network issue or not.
posted by jangie at 7:29 AM on November 25, 2011

I would be surprised if it isn't just coincidence that the crash takes out the network, but it is possible. Before using Wireshark, try something like iptraf (for Linux, but there's probably some Windows equivalent) to look at the traffic volume. You're looking for a flood of activity from the Skyrim PC that effectively runs a denial of service attack on your router --- this would choke out everything else on the network. Wireshark might give you too much detail; it has a habit of creating gigantic log files if run for any length of time.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:36 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've reinstalled Windows 7 and Skyrim and it's still crashing like that, just to tick those off the list.
posted by Edogy at 10:53 AM on November 27, 2011

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