Does Windows 7 Hate Dragon Age?

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Dragon Age Origins

If you're wondering where my review of Dragon Age Origins went, it's wasn't gnashed by the dog, the computer didn't spontaneously combust, and no, I haven't been obsessively sitting back-to-back viewings of This is It.

Sadly, it seems something about the 64-bit version of Windows 7 and BioWare's epic roleplaying apotheosis don't get along.

The trouble? Crashes to the desktop that occur randomly after arriving in Ostagar, the story's early-on "hub" through which all six character origins process sooner or later. I'm running dual Nvidia Geforce GTX 280 video cards, and can trigger the crashes reliably if I enable SLI ("scalable link interface," Nvidia's technology that lets you harness the power of two GPUs in tandem). I'd thought disabling SLI corrected the issue--it seemed to at first--until I got further afield, at which point those spontaneous collapses resumed without rhyme or reason. Anyone who's troubleshot haphazard app failures knows how maddening they can be. The floor drops out from under you, you lose everything you've accomplished up to that point, and trapping the error can be like tracking a fly (a particularly puissant, pestilential, yet incomprehensibly stealthy fly) through a bog.

BioWare's technical support team was kind enough to take all my details, and they're presumably hard at it, working to come up with fixes or explanations about whatever boneheaded thing I've done (though, so far, two clean installs and older versions of Nvidia's drivers haven't solved anything). I'm frustrated, obviously, but also sympathetic. PC game developers get short shrift. They're supposed to somehow safeguard their applications against untold hardware permutations, coupled with all the different versions of Windows, each of those iterating according to "Windows Updates" and legions of drivers. Factor the panoply of utilities that slipstream processes into your memory load and you're looking at a hostile cauldron seething below the operating system's slick, innocuous veneer.

I discovered this thread poking around BioWare's official discussion forums in the "self-help" section. Many (though not all) of the problems listed sound similar to mine. I'm passing it along in hopes someone may eventually stumble in with the solution (or at least a workaround) while we're waiting for a patch.

Follow me on Twitter @game_on

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