Post tutorial RSS Troubleshooting guide (updated January 31)

Follow this guide if you are experiencing issues with Dreamcast mods

Posted by on - Basic QA/Testing

Troubleshooting guide for Dreamcast mods

If you're getting started and just want an easy way to play the game without issues, use my installer, which will likely fix everything for you. If it doesn't or you want to figure it out yourself, read on.

General troubleshooting steps

1. The first thing to check is the integrity of your SADX installation. If you have deleted any files from the system folder or used mods that change sonic.exe or CHRMODELS.DLL, it might be a good idea to start afresh on a clean install of SADX. If you just need to repair sonic.exe or CHRMODELS.DLL, you can use my installer to do that.

2. Make sure the problem occurs specifically with DC mods - check if you can run reproduce it with one or all of the DC mods disabled.

3. Make sure the Mod Loader is up to date. If the game is crashing before the SEGA screen, try disabling the Mod Loader to see if there's a problem with its configuration or the game itself.

4. Make sure all your mods are up to date. If you have any of the following mods, use the arrow buttons in the Mod Manager to list them like this (from top to bottom):

  2. Mods that don't change levels or textures (Input mod, Smooth Camera, Super Sonic, Pause Hide etc.)
  3. Dreamcast Conversion, Dreamcast DLCs, Sound Overhaul etc.
  4. Dreamcast Characters Pack
  5. HD GUI 2

5. Disable other mods and see if you can still reproduce the issue. DC Conversion is incompatible with some level mods, such as the "Autodemo Levels" mod or the "Old Windy Valley" mod. In general, if there are two or more mods that change the same level, it's a good idea to use only one of them.

6. Verify the integrity of all mods and re-update if necessary. Open the Mod Manager, select all DC mods (or one of them if you're having issues with a particular level), right-click and select "Verify integrity". If it doesn't pass, choose "Attempt repairs" and see if the problem is fixed. Alternatively you can right-click again and select "Force update", which will redownload the entire mod.

7. Make sure the game is set up to use either High or Medium framerate, and Clip level is set to Far. If you set Clip level to anything other than Far, the game will disable some animations and effects, so if you're looking to get the best visual quality possible, use the Far setting.

If the game crashes on the character select screen

Update d3d8to9, which is required by the Lantern Engine mod. You need to put d3d8.dll into your SADX folder, where sonic.exe is. Note that each public release of Lantern Engine is made for the version of d3d8to9 that is current at the time of its release. It may not work if a new version of d3d8to9 comes out later. If you're stuck, use my installer to get the correct pair of Lantern Engine and d3d8.dll.

If you see wrong textures or levels look seriously messed up

This is a common issue that is usually caused by one of the following:

1. The Mod Loader is out of date. Older versions of the Mod Loader had a bug in the texture replacement system that messed up textures in some levels. Update the Mod loader.

2. Some or all of the DC mods are out of date. Please make sure all mods are the latest version.

3. Incompatible mods are loaded together with the DC mods. Load Dreamcast mods after other mods and, if you use the HD GUI mod, make sure it's the last item in the list of checked mods. Some mods, such as the old "Autodemo Levels" mod, may be incompatible regardless of mod order, so you may need to disable or uninstall them.

4. Some mod files are corrupted due to an incomplete update. Verifying integrity and/or force updating should fix that.

If some animations are frozen (Mystic Ruins waterfall, Egg Carrier gears)

Make sure the game's clip level setting is set to Far. You can check it in the Mod Manager's config editor, or by opening sonicDX.ini directly and checking the cliplevel value, which should be 0.

If the cliplevel value is already 0 but the animations are still frozen, try adding an exception for sonic.exe in your antivirus or disabling Windows User Account Control (UAC).

If you can't progress in the story

If you have used cheats, especially those that unlock characters and levels before you get to them, those are known to break the story. Once it breaks, there's no way to fix it other than starting a new save.

Most level mods, such as the old Autodemo mods, aren't meant to be used in Adventure mode. If you want to beat the story without issues, you should deactivate all non-Dreamcast level mods, or use them on a separate 100% save.

If the game throws a d3d8.dll error

1. Update your DirectX 9 runtime.

2. Install d3d8to9, which is required by the Lantern Engine mod. You need to put d3d8.dll into your SADX folder, where sonic.exe is.

If the game crashes or throws a Visual C++ runtime error at start

If the game crashes before displaying the SEGA screen, make sure you have installed the latest version of Visual C++ 2015/2017 runtime. You can also use my installer, which covers all Mod Loader dependencies so you'll never have to deal with this problem once you've used it.

If the game crashes at start, but runs fine if the Mod Loader is disabled

If a runtime error is ruled out but the game still crashes before the SEGA screen, it might be that the Mod Loader's graphics settings are incompatible with current hardware or drivers. Try running the game at 640x480, in true fullscreen mode (disable Windowed Fullscreen). Disable VSync and scaling enhancements. If the game runs fine with these settings, enable the enhancements one by one to find the one causing errors on your system.

If the game crashes in a specific location

Please report it on my issue tracker. Scroll to the bottom for more information on how to create a good bug report.

About BetterSADX and other mod packs

A lot of people seem to be using mod compilations such as BetterSADX, often with other mods or edits of my mods. I can't support such mod packs because I have no control over which mods are included in them. However, I have developed my own universal mod installer, and I strongly recommend using it if you aren't very familiar with SADX modding and want to avoid issues.

Note! "Sonic Adventure Premium" is a pirated version of SADX with an old version of BetterSADX and very old versions of my mods included. If you want to stay up to date, you can use my installer, which can repair BetterSADX and "Sonic Adventure Premium" installations.

Why you shouldn't skip mod and Mod Loader updates

Dreamcast Conversion has many smaller updates in-between major releases, and the Mod Loader itself is updated frequently. Updates fix bugs and add new features. Those improvements are pushed to you every time you run the Mod Loader and check for updates. Mod Loader updates also introduce improvements to the mod framework and fix bugs, including those with the update system, so keeping the Mod Loader up to date is absolutely essential.

About system requirements

While SADX is by no means a demanding game by modern standards, Dreamcast mods up its system requirements quite a bit. This is because the mods replace a lot of assets and run custom code, which will make the game load and possibly run slower. Many of my level mods increase draw distance or add new objects, which can also affect performance on lower-end systems. The Lantern Engine mod by SonicFreak94, which is recommended for use with my mods, is relatively resource-heavy, so you can experience some slowdown if you're running it on a somewhat old/less powerful computer (such as a 2008 laptop or a Windows tablet from a few years back), even though the original game runs at 60FPS on it. If you have a very old computer that struggles to run SADX at 60FPS even without any mods, you may run into issues that I may not be able to reproduce or fix.

The mods are tested on Windows 7 and higher. There is no guarantee the mods will run well (if at all) on Windows XP.

How to report issues on the issue tracker

Before reporting an issue, make sure you have followed the general troubleshooting steps described above. You need a free GitHub account to be able to create issues on my tracker. When reporting an issue, please include the following information if possible:

1. Whether it happens in the original Dreamcast game (or on Demul). Please don't use NullDC to report graphical, control and collision issues as NullDC is inaccurate.

2. Whether it happens in unmodded SADX.

3. The exact steps to reproduce the issue. Example: "start the game in Adventure mode as Sonic, go to the Station Square Chao Garden, teleport to the Egg Carrier garden and back to the Station Square garden -> crash". If you have a save file that causes the game to crash, include it too.

4. Attach your SADXModLoader.ini (in the mods folder) or a screenshot of the Mod Manager with a list of all the mods you have enabled. You don't have to upload the entire mods folder.

About things I can't add or fix

When reporting issues or requesting new content, please understand that with this mod and SADX mods in general, I only do: 1) Things that I myself am interested in, and 2) things that I know how to do.

A lot of people seem to think that this mod is supposed to be "the ultimate fixed version of SA1" that takes the best of SA1 and SADX and improves on it, the "Sonic Adventure the way it was meant to be played", or something like that. That isn't true. The goal of this mod pack is to simply replicate Dreamcast SA1 graphics and sound as much as currently possible within the limits of SADX, SADX Mod Loader and my modding skills. If you want the "definitive" experience, play the original game on a real Dreamcast.

There are several issues with the SADX engine that limit my capability to restore things, particularly when it comes to transparent objects and textures with alpha channels. I believe those engine limitations were the original reason behind most changes in SADX visuals, but due to the porting team's lack of time, effort or competence those changes were carried out poorly. While I do my best to introduce workarounds for the best possible visuals, fixing some of the transparency issues is impossible at this point. So if you see transparent things not looking as they should, it probably means I have already tried to fix them but couldn't. For a list of transparency issues that aren't currently fixable please refer to this issue.

As people often ask about this, I need to say I'm only interested in SA1/SADX. I have no interest in making Dreamcast mods for SA2 or any other games.

About issues with original SA1 gameplay/aesthetics

With the scale of this mod I can't help but set some limits. I'm not interested in fixing the game's collision, altering story or gameplay, adding unused content from SA1 Autodemo or changing the design of original assets, however flawed it might be. I'm also not interested in fixing game bugs that happen without my mods or in the original Dreamcast game, unless they affect visuals or gameplay in a meaningful way and fixing them is relatively easy. There are a few exceptions to the above (e.g. I made a high-res title screen, an HD GUI mod and fixed a few code bugs that I needed to fix for accuracy against SA1), but in general I'm not looking for new ideas, and chances are what you're about to suggest has already been suggested before but isn't possible currently.

SA1 vs SADX graphics

In the majority of areas the original Dreamcast game is far superior to SADX graphics and sound wise, which is the reason this mod exists. If you want to find out why and how SADX is inferior to SA1, check out this blog. If you want to pitch a "hybrid" mod that uses elements from both SA1 and SADX assets the way you like it, sorry but you'll probably have to make one yourself. This is out of the scope of what DC Conversion does.

Thanks for reading!

I'm really happy you're playing the game with my mods, and I hope this guide helps you avoid or troubleshoot issues with them. Enjoy the mods!

PiKeyAr Author

If you want to leave a comment, please post on the mod's main page ("summary" tab) instead. It's easier for me to see comments on the main page because I don't get notifications for other pages.

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