DARKSTAR Common Issues

The issues reported in the following FAQ are real issues experienced by actual customers. Nearly ALL of them relate to getting their computer set up with Quicktime (supplied on our game disc or a free upgrade/download online) and tweaking settings therein. None so far are bugs in the game (knock on wood!). We will post more of these as they come in. Feel free to send us your own as you experience problems, we will respond very quickly.

Note: This is a very important FAQ entry and addresses our most common and current Windows 7 issue from a friend in the UK.

Thomas: Thoroughly enjoying DARKSTAR, but with a few Windows 7 issues, ie Lift to Level 2 freezes game.

Q: I have an Alienware m11x i5 netbook well above system requirements, yet when I click to move to another area, the game pauses and the sound cuts out. I'm running the latest version of Quicktime in Windows Vista compatibility mode. Also, the lift down to Level 2 causes the game to freeze. Any help you can give that means I can carry on further with this wonderful game would be most appreciated!

A: This issue at the lift has come up a few times on W7 machines, and we're trying to replicate it here (haven't been able to yet) so we can see what the problem is and find a solution or patch. Until we do, you might have to simply try other configurations (perhaps XP compatibility), and going through our FAQ and see if any of those other tweaks help performance. If none of that works, the last ditch is to play on a different machine, preferably not a W7 machine, they seem very finicky with Quicktime, and that is the issue.

Thomas: I think I have found a fix after a lot of digging. The issue with Windows 7 is down to the fact that codec support within Windows 7 has been added to attempt to play Quicktime files without the need for Quicktime, which seems to be conflicting with Quicktime itself. To fix this I downloaded a codec pack to override the windows codec which has resolved the issue on my machine, and I can now travel down the lift. This also fixed the issue noted in your FAQ about iShell.exe crashing in Windows 7, as I am now able to run in Windows 7 with no compatibility mode required — a nice bonus!

Parallax: It never ceases to amaze me the tech savvyness of people out there. Thank you Tom! Any others who try this and find that it fixes this issue for you, please write us and let us know!


John P. How to stretch DARKSTAR on an ATI Graphics display.

John P: Here is the procedure to stretch an ATI Graphics display if anyone needs to know. First, open Catalyst Control Center and use the drop down box at the top to click on Desktops and Displays. Next, at the very bottom where your monitors are displayed, click on the little black arrow and click "Configure". If configure does not appear, you're clicking on the wrong black triangle (you must use the one in the very bottom section). This will bring up properties for that display. Choose "Full Screen" or "Maintain aspect ratio", whatever your preference. If you are getting black bars on all sides, you are likely on "Centered". IF THE OPTIONS ARE GREYED OUT, as they were when I first tried this, the workaround is to lower your display resolution before attempting the above. Once you have changed the setting, you can return your display resolution back to whatever you like and the setting will remain as your display changes (movies, games, etc).

Parallax: Thanks John! Many of our players prefer this display configuration, and we really appreciate your sharing this with them.

Larry. Game crashes periodically.

I am running on Windows XP and am experiencing periodic crashes, is this normal?

No it is not, Larry. Deselect Direct Draw Acceleration and Direct 3D Video Acceleration under your Quicktime control pulldowns and try that.

Larry: Awesome, runs smooth as silk now! Quicktime can be finicky on PC’s eh?

Parallax: Ohhhh, yes it can. But with some futzing around, you can always get it to work right if you want to play DARKSTAR badly enough!

Ron. Plays on a widescreen LCD, does not want image to “stretch”.

Is it possible to play DARKSTAR so that it DOES NOT force the game to full screen mode? My widescreen LCD doesn't support 1:1 scaling, so running at resolutions lower than the native res for the display distorts the image to give you a stretched, pseudo letterbox effect.

Hold down the shift key and start DARKSTAR holding the key down until a movie begins to play. That activity keeps the screen from resizing.

Ron: Oh wow... it launches the game, but doesn't let iShell steal control of your desktop, so you end up with 1:1 sized perfectly centered game!

Danny. Game freezes immediately with a black screen.

I received my copy of Darkstar in the mail today and was super-excited to get started. Installation went smoothly and I was ready to go, but as soon as I clicked on the game's icon, it gave me a black screen and froze my computer. I thought this might be a one-time issue, so I rebooted my PC and gave it another try. Same problem. Then, I tried changing the compatibility settings of the game's executable. Didn't make a difference (I tried several different combinations of settings). I then tried modifying the QuickTime settings as instructed on the back of the booklet that was included with the game. No difference. What can I do?

First, I’d do a complete un-install of QT from the add/remove programs control panel, then re-install both DARKSTAR and Quicktime off our disc. This will not just clear up version issues, but also corrupt registry issues for QT. Also, another common culprit can be the hardware acceleration, and this can be turned off in the advanced tab of the QT control panel. Check to be sure you have the most current Service Pack 2, and that Direct X and your graphics card drivers are current.

Danny: SUCCESS! I'm not sure exactly what did it, but I got the game working. Here’s what I did.

1. I ran Windows Update to update my Windows Vista, 32-bit to the latest version, Service Pack 2.

2. I updated my DirectX software.

3. I downloaded and installed the latest drivers for my graphics card (mine is a ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470).

4. I installed the latest version of QuickTime.

5. Last, I did a complete re-install of the game, to a different hard disk this time, to make sure that it wasn't a corrupted installation after all.

Parallax. Although all of those things were good things to do for the overall performance of your PC (and our game), I’ll bet you it was Quicktime that needed to be addressed.

Eric. Error: iShell has stopped working.

I'm in Windows 7 on a 32 bit system and installed the game successfully. Then when I launched it I got the error "iShell has stopped working". I uninstalled the game, reinstalled it, tried launching it with either disk in the drive, as well as none at all, and always get the same error. Any suggestions?

iShell is the authoring software we used to encase DARKSTAR, and it relies on a current version of Quicktime. Do a complete un-install of QT from the add/remove programs control panel. Then re-install off the disc. Also, turn off “hardware acceleration” found in the advanced tab of the QT control panel. If this does not work, try installing DARKSTAR on another machine if you have one available to you and see how that does.

Eric: I loaded it on my laptop here at work and its works perfectly. This is somewhat surprising but good news at the same time as my laptop also runs Windows 7. Not sure why I'm having difficulty at home. In addition, the audio problems I previously experienced at home are nonexistent.

Parallax: PC’s have countless programs, plug-ins, and settings that can conflict with Quicktime, and it is often difficult to diagnose these issues. No two PC’s are alike, and it can be a challenge to sort things out. Since DS is operating on your W7 laptop, I would compare settings back and forth between the two computers and find the difference. ANY TIME thus far we have asked a customer to load DARKSTAR on another machine, it has worked for them. It will work on your home machine if we can find the odd setting or conflicting program, it’s not a problem with the game itself.

Jim. Experiencing darker screen during panoramas.

The game plays great, but when moving from one node to another, the screen lightens to a normal state but then darkens a bit when travel comes to a stop—to the point that it is difficult to see detail. It happens throughout the game. My machine is a Dell Inspiron with an Intel 1.6Ghz and 1 GB of ram. Any ideas?

You are severely under our minimum specs, but I’m glad the game is operating smoothly for you. We purposely inserted a slight gamma change so the player knows when the linear movie ends inside a pano node. If it's excessively dark, you probably need to lighten your screen a bit. Are you on a laptop by chance? They tend to have line of sight issues that are very noticeable in DARKSTAR with its moody motif.

Jim: Yes, I’m indeed on a laptop. I lightened the screen—MUCH better. Thanks!

Jesse. Screen goes black with “Not enough storage…” error.

The game installed effortlessly and the intro played smoothly—then the screen suddenly went black. I clicked everywhere—nothing. I saved and reloaded the saved game—same thing. I closed all non-essential processes, uninstalled, and then reinstalled the game. Still no good. When I load the stored game right after the intro, I get the message "Not enough storage to perform this command." I press "OK" and can't go any further and I'm back at the black screen. When I click on the zoom "+" button, it says "Program error”. I'm using Windows 7 with 4GB of RAM on a 500GB HD.

Go through our troubleshooting online and in the packaging. Number one, be sure you have Quicktime installed properly, then try reinstalling the game. If nothing works, try installing on another machine available to you. Let us know what you come up with.

Jesse: Problem solved. I thought Quicktime was installed on my PC, but it wasn't. My mistake. Game is running beautifully! I'm psyched to no end—looks like you have a masterpiece!

Parallax: I’m actually shocked that the intro played at all without QT, but hey, ghosts in the system come in many forms. At least you are fixed up and where you should be…having fun!

Teresa. Experiencing sound issues.

I'm really enjoying the game, but having sound problems that seem to get

worse as I go along. What can I do?

I’m almost positive this is an old version of Quicktime that was on your machine before install. Go to apple’s website for a free upgrade, or uninstall your old version of QT, then reinstall DARKSTAR and use OUR version of QT that comes on the disk.

Teresa: I can't update Quicktime because I'm still running OS X 10.4.11 Tiger and the latest version of Quicktime calls for Leopard. The RAM upgrade I did made the computer run a lot better in general but didn't fix the sound skipping. Mine is a three year old Macbook. I’ve decided to bite the bullet and upgrade my OS and internal hard drive too.

Parallax: Unfortunately this is the way of the world in PC gaming. All games have a window of time in which they will run on a given PC due to software and hardware upgrades. ESPECIALLY when Quicktime Player is involved. It’s really a testament to our design that it works at all on machines three years old and also works on newer ones. I think a good rule of thumb is to upgrade your system at least once every three years, even if it means replacing the machine. All programs will work better for you if you keep up pace with inevitable industry improvements.

David. Wondering why DARKSTAR has only two disks instead of seven.

I am enjoying DarkStar right now after a long wait. Curious as to why it came on only 2 DL-DVDs when you stated recently that it would be six DL-DVDs plus one standard DVD. Are you releasing this in episodes?

NO, you got the WHOLE KITTY. We did a round of compression just prior to our release that actually IMPROVED imagery and shrank us down from 44GB to 14, saving you money and making it run better.

David: Thank you fast response. Its good to hear that this is indeed the whole project. One thing you may be interested in—I am running on Windows XP and was experiencing several crashes, so I looked at the troubleshooting guide on the DARKSTAR pamphlet in the case and deselected Direct Draw Acceleration and Direct 3D Video Acceleration in Quicktime as directed, and I haven't experienced any crashes since!

Parallax: Yes, that was one of those maddening bugs we had to diagnose during production that only manifested itself on XP. It’s things like this on varying machines that give us issues, a box clicked here, a preference setting there. Those seem to be the main issues we run into, not problems with the game itself.

Michael. Error “Not enough storage”, black video window.

My PC has a 500 GB HDD, 4GB Ram, an AMD Radeon 4870 video card and a Core2 Duo CPU. I'd think that should be plenty to run the game. Everything installed fine. The intro cinematic ran fine (the one where the captain wakes up from his cryo sleep. As soon as that cinematic finishes, I get an error window that says: "Not enough storage is available to process this command." with an OK button. I pressed the OK button. I can still hear the soundtrack, and the surrounding menus still show up, but there's nothing but black in the video window. I can click on the "Prologue" button at the bottom and part of that video, but then it goes black again. I can access Utilities and Save and the like, but that’s about it. Basically, I can't get past the intro video. My fear is that I'm running Win 7 64-bit. Has the game been tested on that OS?

DARKSTAR loves Windows 7 64-bit. Your machine has plenty of muscle, so it’s not that. I guarantee you that you either have an old version of Quicktime or none at all. I would suggest you uninstall DARKSTAR and Quicktime (if you have it at all) and then reinstall DARKSTAR using our version of QT on the install.

Michael: Against all expectations, upgrading QT did the trick. I'm now deep into playing and trying to figure out how to revive Beez (ahh, Beez...). :-) Thanks a million for your insight into the QT issue. I NEVER would've figured that out. And thanks infinitely for your patience, timeliness and personal involvement and I'm thrilled that you got it working for me, and I look forward to the experience.

Ryan. Difficulty beating the game.

I feel I've exhausted my places to look on the Westwick searching for the final two BioLoks. I can;t seem to find where the 3 digit spacewalk code is to unlock the clamp on the EVM Pod Bay doors. Game seems too new for any hints on the internet yet. Help??

It's in a leather valice inside Perryman's cabin (on the kitchen floor). Click on the zipper to open. The code to his cabin is 6661. I'd suggest getting the "All Revealed Guide", it will show you EVERYTHING, even some hidden easter eggs. 120 pages, fully illustrated, only ten bucks! It's an immediate PDF download at But honestly, anyone who emails us and asks nicely will get a prompt clue to keep you rolling!

Ryan: Okay, will do. Thanks for the clues! Great game!

Angelos. Occasional crashes in Windows 7.

I’m experiencing occasional crashes in Windows 7. My machine specs are well within your tolerances, and I do have Quicktime—do you have any ideas on how to fix?

As usual, this is an issue with Quicktime or a setting therein. I would check your version and either upgrade at Apples site or uninstall both QT and DS, then reinstall DARKSTAR and use our version as you install.

Angelos: I ran a few tests and discovered that almost all of the .mov files of the game crash with the latest version of quicktime (7.6.8) while they work perfectly fine with v7.6.5. So problem is solved.

Parallax: We’ve had a few reports that the newer Quicktime is having issues with Windows 7 while playing DARKSTAR, but we’ve discovered that there is no REAL issue between the two. It is doubtlessly a setting somewhere either in QT or in your OS that we’ve not found yet, we know this to be true because the W7 machines we test on operate perfectly with the game as do many of our other customer’s machines—so the issue is not a bug in the game, but a setting somewhere. One of those ghosts we’ll try to bust, but at least we’ve got you going, albeit NOT in the newest version of QT. More to come on this one.

Ken: Error “iShell has stopped working”.

I just purchased Darkstar and installed it on my 17" widescreen dual core laptop, 2 GB RAM, Windows Vista... but every time I try to run it, my system resolution switches down to 1024 x 768 scrambling my desktop, and then I get the message “iShell has stopped working”. Then I'm dead in the water. I looked for a video driver upgrade but I'm up to date. Can you help?

Usually this means you don't have a new version of Quicktime installed. You also need to have a current service pack 2. Is your DirectX current? How old is your computer? A trick to bypass the screen-res change is to hold the shift key down, start the game, and hold it until the movies start to play. I'd recommend installing again after updating QT and anything else that might be out of date.

Ken: It WAS QuickTime. I uninstalled it, rebooted, and then instead of installing it from Apple’s website, I found the installed version in the Darkstar folder and ran it from there. After that, it worked! The game runs in a fairly small area of the screen, using only a quarter to a third of the screen area, but it does run now. I was able to watch the intro and got to the part where I’m stepping out of the hibernation container and moving around the room. I’m also able to save and quit.

Bob: Where do saved games go in your file structure?

I was wondering where the DARKSTAR saved games are written to on both Windows and Mac as I have a laptop and PC and play between the two.

Wouldn't mind being able to copy them back and forth.

On mac they are home>library>prefereces>cache-cache. You'll have to search around on PC, different machines with different OS send them all over the place. I know this because we looked at making it so you could email saved games to friends who had the game also, but instructing folks on how to find the files on PC became convoluted so we didn't want to make a big deal about it.

Bob: I found the location of the Windows save file in > AppData > Roaming > iShell > cache-cache > DarkStar. I copied all the files from PC to Mac OS X and they worked very well.

Andrew: “iShell has stopped working” error.

I have the latest version of Quicktime installed, but as soon as I click on the Darkstar icon the screen resizes and then I get an error: “iShell has stopped working”. I downgraded QuickTime to the version on the game disk, and this time it allows me into the menu and begin a game but promptly crashes (presumably at the first panorama) with the “Not enough storage” error. I have the latest version of DirectX installed and tried disabling hardware acceleration in the Quicktime control panel. Any ideas on what could fix this?

In our troubleshooting of other similar reports, we’ve found that if you run your computer under the capability mode for VISTA, it often solves the problem. Try this please.

Andrew: PERFECT…it runs smoothly under capability mode for Vista. Additionally I’ve installed it on my non-64 bit laptop and it runs flawlessly without having to change any settings. Just opened the second BioLock and am having a look around the ship, the Vista compatibility mode looks like it’s fixed it!

Gunther: I get errors in Windows 7.

I downloaded DARKSTAR from Strategy First and have tried it on two different Win7 machines and have the same problem on both. As soon as I'm past the intro videos, I get an "out of memory" pop-up and the center window (where, I assume, a QTVR panorama should be) is blank. Music keeps playing and I can save, quit, etc., but nothing displays at all in the center. With version of QT that comes with the game I get past the intro, then a blank screen plus the error message regarding out of storage space. With Apple's latest, it crashes instantly. I've upgraded my video driver and DirectX, but still nothing.

This sounds a lot like Andrew’s issue in the previous post. Try switching to Vista compatibility mode and see if that works.

Gunther: Whaddya know, that does in fact work! Thanks a lot!

Timothy: Can I get the game to stretch and fill my wide screen monitor?

My issue is actually not a huge deal, but I was wondering if there was a way to get the game to stretch the video to fit my screen. I’m using Windows 7 64bit, 4G memory, Phenom II processor, Radeon 5700 graphics card, and a widescreen monitor.

Darkstar is set for 1024x768, a 4x3 aspect ratio. Wide-screen monitors are often 16x9, or some other ratio, meaning that black bars at the side are inevitable. Your monitor should have some setting that can stretch to fit if you so desire.

Larry: Wants to transfer a downloaded version of DS to another machine.

Hi there. I’d like to be able to play DARKSTAR on my laptop, but downloaded it from Strategy First to my desktop machine. Is there a procedure for transferring the game from one machine to another?

Yes there is. If you installed the game in its default location, navigate to your local hard disk (usually C:), go into Program files, then locate the Strategy First folder. Inside you will see the DARKSTAR folder. All of the game files are installed in there. Copy the entire contents of that folder, and move them to the new machine via your network device or hard drive. Once transfer is complete, go into the folder on the new machine and locate Darkstar.exe. Right click on it and select "Send to Desktop (Create Shortcut)" so you can launch the game from there.

Andrew W. Where did the saved games go when I upgraded to OSX Lion?

Andrew: When I upgraded to OSX Lion I had trouble finding the saved game files for a bit but I figured it out. It's in the same place, but by default folders within the Library are hidden in Lion. You have to run the following command from the Terminal to view them:

$ chflags nohidden ~/Library

Parallax: Thanks Andrew!