Dad fails at first world problems: I can't make Spore run.
November 20, 2012 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I can't make Spore run on my Macbook Pro. My 9 year old is nonplussed. Please help...he's getting pouty....

After extensive "communication" with EA that included an escalation, EA gave me a new product key for Spore (as I lost the box but not the disc in a transcontinental move). Apparently their SaaS version is MFST only.

After doing a clean install and updating all the patches, I get the following error message after a crazy jumbled screen that looks like it wants to launch the app:

"Unhandled page fault on read access to 0x00000000 at address 0x00817928. Do you wish to debug it ?"

Selecting Yes or No has no effect. The game ceases to run and quits. The Internets and their tubes have been little help, although I gather that Spore hanging on start up (sans the error message above) was A Thing for Mac users a while ago.

I'm running fully patched OS X 10.8.2 on a Macbook Pro 2.3GHz Intel Core i7 / 8GB memory at 1333 MHz DDR3
posted by digitalprimate to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I'm a little behind the curve on current MBPs, but does that model have dual graphics processors (one integrated, one more powerful)? If so, can you change any graphics settings in the Energy Saver preferences to activate the other card?

(My Mac & OS are a few years old and I have a choice between "Better Battery Life" and "Higher Performance," and switching can often resolve game issues)
posted by bcwinters at 11:27 AM on November 20, 2012

I think that the physical install media is cross-platform, is it not?

If you have a valid product key, I'll happily send you my physical media for Spore to make your nine-year-old happy.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:29 AM on November 20, 2012

Response by poster: @bcwinters - that option is no longer available with this OS

@DWRoerlands - thanks for the offer, but I have the disc and a new key from EA.

I just don't understand how EA can mess this up so badly.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:34 AM on November 20, 2012

It looks like you can control the graphics cards in Mountain Lion with a utility like gfxCardStatus. (I don't mean to harp on this one thing, but "crazy jumbled screen" just really sounds like a graphics card issue to me...)
posted by bcwinters at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2012

The other things you might try are:
1) moving or trashing the prefs file and start up Spore again
2) try it from a new/clean account
posted by nightwood at 11:45 AM on November 20, 2012

Spore is a relatively old game. Here are the SysReqs:
* Mac OS X 10.5.3 Leopard or higher
* Intel Core Duo Processor
* 1024 MB RAM
* ATI X1600 or NVIDIA 7300 GT with 128 MB of Video RAM, or Intel Integrated GMA X3100
* At least 4 GB of hard drive space, with at least 1 GB additional space for creations.

For computers using built-in graphics chipsets, the game requires at least:
* Intel Integrated Chipset GMA X3100
* Dual 2.0GHz CPUs, or 1.7GHz Core 2 Duo, or equivalent

Supported Video Cards
NVIDIA GeForce series
7300, 7600, 8600, 8800

ATI Radeon™ series
X1600, X1900, HD 2400, HD 2600

Intel® Extreme Graphics
GMA X3100
This game will not run on the GMA 950 class of integrated video cards.
I think your MBP has the Intel HD Graphics 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics chipsets. I'm not sure if Spore works with these.
It could be that Mountain Lion is missing certain key bits that a game designed for Leopard is looking for. A lot of changes went on under the hood of OSX between Leopard and ML.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:45 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm leaning to Mountain Lion being your biggest problem with your integrated graphics being the second issue. Because your processor and memory should knock that one out of the park.

Have you given WINE or parallels a shot? Run the Windows version that they spent a ton of money on instead of trying the OSX version that they (EA) spent the minimum on to make it work?
posted by Sphinx at 11:55 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it's at all an option, I thin that Sphinx has the right idea.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:59 AM on November 20, 2012

Did you try this?
posted by al_fresco at 3:52 PM on November 20, 2012

Response by poster: Did you try this?

Yeah, it was already set properly: "fbobackbuffer" = "1"

And I thought about running the game in WINE/Parallels/Boot Camp, but I really don't want to have to do that for a game on my work machine where my son will be playing unattended.

Does anyone have any idea, at least of what the error message - 0x00000000 at address 0x00817928 - indicates? Like, it's looking for something at that address, but that something is not there?
posted by digitalprimate at 1:39 AM on November 21, 2012

That probably means that the address 0x00817928 was interpreted as a pointer, but contained the value 0 — in other words it was a null pointer. You're never allowed to dereference null pointers, so this causes an instant crash. You can't fix it: the program has a bug and is trying to do something it isn't possible to do.

The cause of that bug could be in all sorts of places. Most likely the program writers made some assumption somewhere that is no longer true in Mountain Lion, or else ML has changed the layout of some graphics memory which has turned an error which was harmless on earlier OSX releases (because it overwrote memory that was never used for anything perhaps) into one which causes problems.
posted by pharm at 2:43 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dropping this in here in case anyone ever looks this up again.

What finally worked was this:

Delete All The Things - this means deleting Spore's preferences folder which is hard to find in the new OS.

Zap the PRAM

Do a clean install - do NOT update.

Restart, zap the PRAM.

Open the game, it will ask you to update. Let it load the first update, then quit.

Restart, zap the PRAM.

Repeat the single udpate - restart - zap PRAM process until you've done all five updates.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:58 AM on January 6, 2013

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