Originally developed for Company of Heroes by Relic Entertainment, the later versions of The Essence Engine features many new graphical effects, including High Dynamic Range lighting, dynamic lighting and shadows, advanced shader effects and normal mapping. The Essence Engine is also one of the first RTS engines to create detailed faces with facial animations.
In Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, the Essence Engine was further improved to include weather effects, and also added support for DirectX 10 for Windows Vista.
Dawn of War II uses an updated version of Essence Engine (Essence 2.0) which allows for more detailed models and textures; more advanced lighting and shading effects; more complex "sync-kills" than those in Dawn of War; and better support for multi-processor systems.
Company of Heroes
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
Company of Heroes Online
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Chaos Rising
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution
Company of Heroes 2
This article is about the infamous soundbug (SB) and provides an actual working solution that stops the SB about 95% after months of testing and feedback from players from the Elite Mod.
The TLDR answer is the main primary solution is to cap the game at 58 FPS or some other value using Steam's launch options, using the shortcut target properties or the Nvidia Control Panel for Nvidia GPU users. This is primarily for Windows OS users.
If the soundbug still occurs on a slim chance, there are other possible and tested fixes included in another link (although less reliable).
Note: If you play on Linux with Proton GE 6.1 build, you'll be free from soundbug and Linux desync and you won't need to limit your fps (from Guest in the comments).
Ah. The dreaded and TRICE cursed infamous soundbug.
No other bug has caused so much pain and misery among the Dawn of War II Retribution community, while lasting this long for more than a decade.
So what is this horrible bug that every DOW2 player has at least experienced once or a thousand times in their lives?
The worst part is, the bug came about in one of the last latest patches done by Relic, and was not able to be fixed. So, it is no surprise that the players were left exasperated and upset beyond belief.
To provide further context (as someone who read up on the topic over all) back in the day and to give Relic all due credit, the dev team at Relic did do an exhaustive search on finding out what caused the soundbug. Despite their efforts, but they were not able to replicate / reproduce the bug. At the time, they were in the midst of THQ's bankruptcy, so it was a difficult time for them. So things were left as they were, and the community of players were left to endure this horrific malady until now.
Most people initially believe it is a memory leak issue, as the memory leak issues were observed to be prevalent in as far as Dawn of War Soulstorm, Company of Heroes 1, Dawn of War 2 series and even Company of Heroes 2 etc.
Additionally, it is understood that CoH1 and CoH2 has a version of the dreaded soundbug itself.
So, players and modders theorized that the it was a game engine related issue, and it was further narrowed down to the sound engine (FMOD) at least (see section "How it Works" for more explanation).
However, we cannot discount the fact that it is entirely possible that the theorized origin of the SB actually has multiple contributing sources, rather than one single contributing area (though that would be amazing if its isolated to this one root problem). The idea being, memory optimization is not well done, so it could contribute or even aggravate the problem further.
The solution is to cap the game at 58 FPS or some other value (eg: 60 and 144 have been also reported as working for several players, however 58 FPS has the best working results so far) using the shortcut target properties or the Nvidia Control Panel for Nvidia GPU users.
This solution came about from the Elite Mod community, devs and players testing it out. After months of playing and testing, this came out to be the best viable working solution in a decade, that can actually be properly explained! (and not the work of some Chaos influence).
1. At Steam
Step 1: Go to your steam library, and right click on DOW2 Retribution, then click on properties.
Step 2: Set -refresh 58 at Launch Options. Save, exit and you're all good to go to play!
2. At the shortcut (eg: Elite Mod)
Step 1: Find your Elite Mod shortcut, and right click it and click properties.
Step 2: Find for target, and move to the end of the filepath line.
Step 3: Set -refresh 58 at the end of it. Then click okay, and you're ready to play!
3. For Nvidia GPU users (you can use either the 1st or 2nd method as well, however this has been reported to work too).
Step 1: Go to your Nvidia Control Panel (you can find for it using "Search" or Google how to do it).Then click on "Manage 3D Settings" and click on "Program Settings".
Step 2: Select "Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II Retribution".
Step 3: Scroll down all the way to Max Frame Rate. Then, set it to 58 FPS. Click okay, save and you're good to go!
So there you have it! For those that just want the solution, hope it helps and enjoy!
If that doesn't work, I have a compiled guide of other fixes that may or may not help you out further:
Sound Bug Fixes : Huge List of Possible Solutions / Band-Aids to Reduce the Infamous Bug
Disclaimer: I'm going to be honest in that, as the author of this article myself, I don't quite fully understand the technicalities of the solution or even the game engine environment. As such, smarter people who understand the technical aspects better have their explanations quoted (with some edits) here. Thank you to the people who furnished me with these answers!
So, firstly, the origin of the soundbug was narrowed down to the sound engine and DOW2 game engine. Now, how exactly does the soundbug affect the DOW2 game engine that causes the crash? And.. why would the 58 FPS cap work as a solution?
Here's a more technical explanation of it, and what they have to say.
From enlargingcloud, one of Elite Mod's devs:
Dawn of War 2's sound and audio are linked. The camera which you view through has a "listener" program that periodically checks the distance between the camera and areas where sounds were triggered. An example of this is how sounds vary based on where the camera is.
Each visual frame is a moment where the "listener" calculates the distance, so the higher fps you have, the more calculations it needs to perform. The sound engine then has a limiter on how many sounds it will keep track of in total (though this can be modified with one of our fixes).
Therefore, capping the frame rate using the shortcut command or in NVIDIA to 58 fps seems to keep the frame rate within a range that causes significantly less soundbugs overall.
By understanding how it works now, there are several related concepts that affect the soundbug occurences.
For example, the fmodex.dll (in a github repo we have) is a file that swaps the old FMOD sound limit to something higher, which would reduce bugs related to too many sounds being played at once. This is one of our fixes that has helped players. Supporting this is the fact that there are a lot of examples of non-relic games that use FMOD, and it seems there are bugs that were fixed by frame rate capping.
The general idea is that FMOD has files that restrict how many total sounds or actions it will allow. Having the sound channels successfully closed seems to be important in order for it to not over-cap itself. Maximumgame and Nah (two of our players) have talked about this and then made the file which alters FMOD's limit for sounds. It also seems that FMOD being integrated into the animation engine (Havok) and the visuals of games, causing the bugs.. could potentially be a combined result.
G-Sync is a NVIDIA technology that seems to automatically check the game's output frame and sync it with your display refresh rate. There are some other aspects of this feature that I don't fully understand since I haven't researched it in depth, but it seems to be reported to be helping a lot of people, who can use it without capping fps. So, if your computer has it, give it a try!
3. Sound and Visual FXs
I think the way the sound and visual FXs were attached in DOW2 could also be optimized. Normally, sounds should originate from one location, but many sound settings use "random marker" for their origin, forcing the game to randomize whether a bolt pistol sound effect comes from say, the pistol, or his feet. This might cause unnoticeable sound differences, but adds work to the "listener" program. Therefore, ambient FX and dead bodies as well as some weapons.. might be producing many instances of these, thereby placing additional gradual strain on the "listener" program.
Overall, the goal is to prevent sync errors / soundbugs by helping computers manage the different visual/audio elements, while tidying up other things in the game as well, to see if those help further.
From one of our players:
My general thinking was it may cause weird frame-spike where audio can desync with some VFX or SFX, that's why people have it in menu and maybe in games, but not every time, as setting consistent load and frame-time is hard to reproduce. So, lowering framerate actually puts less data and load on hardware and software. That's why people have been asked to lower the FPS even further to lower acceptable levels to test, like 45 fps or so. Back then hardware wasn't really optimized for 60fps in FHD animation, and even with a 5000$ setup, sometimes the game barely gives you even 100 fps.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.
After a decade and more, a viable working solution for the soundbug actually is available! (at least until if Relic decides to reopen this old game and investigate the soundbug, to solve it).
With that, we hope the solution helps and enjoy gaming in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium!
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