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I've built a retro PC with Windows ME, a GeForce 2 MX 400 (drivers installed) and DirectX 8.1.

But it seems many of the games have graphics errors. In most cases these are black areas. (See screenshots below.)

But I found something out that could be helpful information. The game 4x4 evo2 has 3 rendering engines in the settings:

  • Direct3D8.1 (default)
  • Direct3D8.1 Hardware TnL
  • OpenGL

The first engine produces graphics errors like all the other games. The second engine is fast and there are no graphics errors (perfect). The third engine is slow but no graphics errors.

But most games don't have this setting. I assume all my games use the first engine because only this one produces graphics errors. If it would be possible to change the default engine for all other games this would be a solution.

It is sad because I invested much time and now it doesn't work well. Any ideas?

Update: I bought a GeForce4 MX 4000 and reinstalled Windows ME. The issues remain. I will try Windows 98SE now.

Here are some screenshots:

The Settlers 4

settlers4

Nosferatu

nosferatu

Crazy Machines (it only shows one word of the text)

crazy machines

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    @somega in my experience 98SE works much better than Me; Me really is a case of newer not being better. For a “general-purpose” retro PC aiming for late 90s vintage, the choice is either 98SE if you care about DOS games and older Windows games, or 2000 if you only want to run Win32 games (AoE, Half-Life etc. work well on 2000); never Me IMO. Nov 29, 2022 at 16:01
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    I don’t know how apocryphal it is, but at the time ME was regarded as an emergency thrown-together release when 2000 was deemed not quite consumer-friendly enough. XP, just 20 months after Windows 2000 and 13 after ME, is where Microsoft wanted to be.
    – Tommy
    Nov 29, 2022 at 17:53
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    @somega Historically, every alternating Windows release was a solid, reliable product, and the others were downright awful. Win 3.1, 98, XP, 7, 10 were (eventually) pretty good, and Win 95, Me, Vista, 8, etc. were somewhere on the scale between less-than-stable and dumpster fire.
    – bta
    Nov 30, 2022 at 2:03
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    My experience was that WinME was barely running itself (throwing random exceptions even if nothing was started or installed) ... anything else was better than that ... I encountered maybe 30 PC's with it and each of them sucked ... Hoever gfx bugs like these on nVidia + DirectX are pretty common (even on nowadays HW/SW) once you run long enough any application that has some kind of gfx card side memory or handle leak which was/is pretty common for game engines like Unity ...
    – Spektre
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:08
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    Windows ME was a dumpster fire from day 1. Even if you find the solution to not be ME related, I can deduce that other issues will crop up and be a nightmare. Windows ME should only be used as an exercise in futility, not as an expectation of stability.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Nov 30, 2022 at 14:30

2 Answers 2

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I suspect your problem isn't specifically Windows ME related, but rather your choice of drivers. In general the best practice (then and now) is to use the most up to date drivers you can find for your card and OS combination (GeForce 2 MX 400 and Windows ME) from the graphics chipset manufacturer, not drivers from Microsoft nor whatever may have been provided by the manufacturer of your specific card. In this case that would be Forceware Release 80 which is still available for download from the NVIDIA website. This will give you support for up to DirectX 9.0c and OpenGL 2.0. If that doesn't eliminate your issues then you can do further troubleshooting to determine what is actually going on. This same driver is compatible with both Windows 98 & 95 as well, should it turn out that ME is still causing you issues.

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    I am already using the latest forceware 81.98 but I will try to update DirectX.
    – zomega
    Nov 30, 2022 at 9:08
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    However, going newest isn't always best, because there can be regressions. (eg. If I boot my ~3GHz Athlon 64 into WinXP, Frogger (1997) has rendering bugs that make it unplayable unless you switch it to software rendering, and GOG.com sometimes lists things like "AMD drivers must be version X or lower" in system requirements for old games. Likewise, Clint from LGR found that a Ryzen-era PC could be made to boot DOS, but the video BIOS's CGA emulation... nVidia, I think... was bugged to hell.)
    – ssokolow
    Nov 30, 2022 at 11:27
  • @ssokolow Of course there are exceptions. I'm only pointing out the best practice of what to try first when having graphic issues.
    – mnem
    Nov 30, 2022 at 16:03
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I am glad to tell you that I found a solution. After a trying a different graphics card and also Win98SE (both did not help).

I know it is best practice to always use the latest drivers. But in this case it was the cause of the problem instead of the solution.

I first tried NVidia forceware 81.98 (2005, latest) and then 71.84 (also 2005). Both cause graphics errors.

Then I tried 56.64 (2004) and now the graphics errors are gone. I will later edit this post and add the latest working version.

Update: I now tried some newer driver versions and the games crashed or had graphics errors. So I recommand version 56.64.

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  • Good job! Retro problems are sometimes solved through such difficult trials
    – TAbdiukov
    Dec 5, 2022 at 7:07

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