Troubleshoot graphics issues in Age of Empires III

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INTRODUCTION

This article describes the known graphics issues that may occur when you play Microsoft Age of Empires III. This article also provides general troubleshooting information that may resolve any graphics-related issues that you have.

MORE INFORMATION

General troubleshooting information

Download update

Make sure that you have the latest version of the Age of Empires III software. Updates (also known as patches) are developed to address many issues with the game. To download the game update, visit the following Ensemble Studios Online Web site:
http://www.agecommunity.com
To download and install the latest game update from the game, follow these steps:
  1. Start Age of Empires III.
  2. On the main game screen, click Help and Tools.
  3. Click Update Game.
The latest game update also fixes pause issue. If the game loaded paused, press Pause Break on the keyboard to un-pause it.

Install the latest drivers

If you have graphics problems, such as a black (blank) screen or slow performance in Age of Empires III, download and then install the latest video card driver.

The video card lets you see graphics on the screen. A driver is software that enables your computer to communicate with hardware or devices. Without drivers, the hardware that you connect to your computer—for example, a video card or a webcam—will not work correctly.

The latest driver for your video card can enable more efficient use of your video card features to improve the performance of the game. Generally, companies release their drivers regularly for the cards to keep up the pace with ever-changing software technologies.

To download and install the latest drivers, contact the computer or video hardware manufacturer. See the "Additional information" section for more information about how to contact the video hardware or computer manufacturer. To determine whether applicable driver updates are available for download, visit the following Microsoft Windows Update Web site:
http://update.microsoft.com
To identify the name and the manufacturer of the video card, follow these steps on a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Vista:
  1. Open the Direct X Diagnostic Tool. To do this, click Start
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    the Start button
    , type dxdiag in the Start Search box, and then click dxdiag.exe in the Programs list.
  2. Click the Display tab.
  3. Under Device, look for Name and Manufacturer.
  4. Click Exit.

General video card Issues

You may experience the following issues when you play Age of Empires III.

Display issues that affect monitors and resolution

For some computer monitors, certain resolutions may cause display problems. Age of Empires III provides support for many resolution settings based on the settings that your video card supports. However, the monitor may not support all the resolution settings. Any display problems that you experience when you play Age of Empires III may occur because of your display configuration. The display configuration includes the video card, the monitor, and the drivers.

We recommend that you try the various resolutions in Age of Empires III so that you can revert to another setting if the monitor does not support a selected resolution. See the monitor documentation or visit the monitor manufacturer's Web site for information about the native resolutions of the monitor.

Poor image quality on LCD monitors

LCD monitors provide poor image quality at non-native resolutions. See the monitor documentation or visit the monitor manufacturer's Web site for information about the native resolutions of the monitor.

Blocky smoke or units

When you play Age of Empires III, you may see blocky smoke or units. To resolve this issue, lower Shader support. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Start the game.
  2. Click Help and Tools, and then click Options.
  3. Click Graphics Settings.
  4. Set Shader to Low.

Video hardware specific issues

ATI

When you use certain ATI video cards, you may have problems when you repeatedly press ALT+TAB to switch between the Age of Empires III game and another program. We recommend that you do not use the ALT+TAB keyboard shortcut.

Nvidia

Age of Empires III may close back to the desktop if the antialiasing mode is enabled. To resolve this issue, turn off antialiasing or set it to application-controlled by using the video driver control panel.
  • Nvidia 6800: You may notice graphics flashing or slow performance in Age of Empires III when you use an Nvidia 6800 video card. This is a known issue. This issue does not have a workaround.
  • GeForce 6600gt: You may see horizontal brown lines across the screen. This issue does not occur on all GeForce 6600gt cards. This issue occurs only on GeForce 6600gt cards if the video card manufacturer has overclocked the video card. There is no resolution for this issue. For more information, contact the video card manufacturer.
  • GeForce FX 5200: The game performance might be choppy. To resolve this issue, turn Shader support to Low. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Start the game.
    2. Click Help and Tools, and then click Options.
    3. Click Graphics Settings.
    4. Set Shader to Low.
  • GeForce 6200: You may see some graphics problems in the game, such as white blocks instead of water or smoke, very slow performance, or distorted graphics. To resolve this issue, reset the graphic settings options. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Start the game.
    2. Click Help and Tools, and then click Options.
    3. Click Graphics Settings, and then configure the following graphics settings:
      • Anti Alias Quality: Low
      • Shader Quality: Low
      • Shadow Quality: Low
      • Water Effects: Off
      • Bloom Effect: High
      • Poly Models: Off
      • Terrain Detail Objects: Off
    4. Click OK, and then start the game.
To download and install the latest video card drivers, visit the following Nvidia Web site:
http://www.nvidia.com

Matrox

When you use a Matrox Parhelia 128 megabyte (MBO video card or a Matrox Millennium P750 video card, Age of Empires III may not correctly show bump mapping. Bump mapping refers to the snow or solid gray texture that appears in Age of Empires III. The Matrox Parhelia 128 MB and Matrox Millennium P750 video cards use the 6.13.0001.1691 driver and reference the 6.13.0001.1873 and 6.13.0001.1914 drivers. To download the latest Matrox drivers, visit the following Matrox Web site:
http://www.matrox.com/video/support

Intel 965

The game may freeze after the introductory movie. To resolve this issue, download and install the latest game update. To do this, visit the following Ensemble Studios Web site:
http://www.agecommunity.com/gameUpdates.aspx#english
If the issue continues to occur, visit the following Intel Web site, and try their suggestions:
http://www.intel.com/support/graphics/intelgm965/sb/CS-026146.htm
Next to the game, click the Details link. Additionally, download and install the latest Intel video card drivers.

Intel 82945G Express Chipset

Download and install the latest game update. To do this, visit the following Ensemble Studios Web site:
http://www.agecommunity.com/gameUpdates.aspx
If the issue continues to occur, you may have to purchase different video card.

Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

Specific Video hardware error messages

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Error MessageResolution
Your graphics driver may be too old to run Age of Empires III. If you wish to update your drivers, please contact your computer manufacturer for any necessary assistance.
This issue may occur if Age of Empires III detects that the computer video hardware drivers do not meet the minimum requirements. Contact the computer manufacturer or the manufacturer of the video card for information about how to update the drivers.
DirectX 9.0c or higher is required to run Age of Empires III. Please run Age of Empires III setup again to install DirectX.
This issue may occur if DirectX 9.0c was not installed correctly.

For more information about how to update or reinstall DirectX, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
256182 You receive a DirectX error message when you start a Microsoft game: "Game cannot run because the version of Microsoft DirectX installed on your computer is incompatible"
Initialization Failed. Direct3D initialization failed. Possible causes: Old or corrupted graphics driver. Direct3D improperly installed. Hardware acceleration disabled. Starting the application with the workstation locked. Please check the log file for more information. Age of Empires III requires at least a 64 MB video card. This computer appears to have a 0 MB video card. If you wish to upgrade your computer, please contact your computer manufacturer for any necessary assistance.
For more information about how to troubleshoot this issue, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
191660 DirectDraw or Direct3D option is unavailable
Your system does not appear to meet the minimum requirements for Age of Empires III. Running the game on systems that do not meet the minimum requirements may result in instability, graphics corruption, and/or severe performance problems. If you wish to upgrade your computer, please contact your computer manufacturer for any necessary assistance.
This issue may occur if your video card does not meet the game requirements. To resolve this issue, purchase and then install a video card that is supported by Age of Empires III. If you do not want to install a new video card, you can return the game for a refund. For information about the Microsoft Satisfaction Guarantee, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/productrefund/refund.mspx

Additional information

For more information about how to update your graphics adapter drivers by using the Microsoft Windows Update Web site, click Play to view this streaming media presentation:

REFERENCES

For information about your hardware manufacturer, visit the following Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/gp/vendors/en-us
The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.

Properties

Article ID: 907881 - Last Review: September 28, 2011 - Revision: 6.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Age of Empires III
  • Microsoft Age of Empires III : The WarChiefs
  • Microsoft Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties
  • Microsoft Age of Mythology Gold
Keywords: 
dftsdahomeportal kb3rdparty kbdisplay kbhowto KB907881

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