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A Hat in Time - Crash to Desktop Loops and How to Fix Them

Written by Sunbro Dave   /   Nov 12, 2019    


A step-by-step process to follow if the game repeatedly crashes to desktop on startup and how to recover it. This is usually preceded by the game crashing to desktop while it's running which is normally caused by loading back in to the hub after acquiring a timepiece, and usually for no good reason.

I provide no guarantees that any of these methods work, but they should be tried at least once, and in the correct order.

More A Hat in Time Guides:


Foreword



A Hat in Time is built in Unreal Engine 3, while it's an antiquated version of the engine by modern standards and now that most machines can run it, the problem lies with the fact that the Unreal Engine has been a buggy mess since its initial 1997 release.

Anyone who has sank enough hours in Unreal or Unreal Tournament in the late 90's will know this.

Anyone who has sank enough hours in other non-Epic games built in older versions of the Unreal Engine will know this. For example, the original boxed retail edition of Postal 2 frequently crashes to desktop when too much is happening in the game, because the engine can't cope.

If ultimately your crash to desktop issue isn't game configuration or mod related, you may want to ensure that your system and hardware drivers are up to date, and carry out any essential hardware upgrades if you happen to fall short of the game's minimum recommended system requirements.

As of recently, Valve has released a major update to how the Steam client works. With this in mind, it could also be issues with how the game, the Steam client, Steam servers, GFB/AHIT servers, and the Steamworks API might not communicating with each other properly.

In light of this, the best advice that I can offer to you right now is to follow the advice in this guide. Failing that, wait for a little while before retrying the game, or wait for Valve to roll out another patch for Steam.

If you believe none of these apply to you and your game is still crashing, you should consider reporting the issue to Gears for Breakfast.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot I can do about the inherently resource intensive and buggy nature of the Unreal Engine. It's Epic Games responsibility to ultimately iron out these issues, and to practise writing more watertight code.

Prerequisites



Before proceeding, please be aware that you will be required to:

  • Perform basic administrative tasks
  • Know the location of your Steam installation folder
  • Know the password to log back in to your computer
  • Know your Steam password or have access to a two-factor authentication token
  • Know how to navigate through a file system
  • Know how to delete or move files
  • Modify configuration files with a text editor

It is important that you have prior knowledge of these before continuing.

Uninstall D9VK (Third Party API)



If you don't have D9VK installed, you can safely carry on to the next step.

D9VK is a Vulkan graphics API abstraction layer for DirectX 9. It is used to significantly improve the performance and graphical fidelity of the game.

Developers are slowly moving away from the antiquated OpenGL graphics API to its successor, Vulkan. OpenGL and Vulkan are alternative graphics APIs to DirectX.

GFB can not take responsibility for any issues arising from the use of D9VK.

If for whatever reason your system is not compatible with it, you should remove it.

You can uninstall it by finding, and deleting the file 'd3d9.dll' from one of the following locations:

  • …\Steam\steamapps\common\HatinTime\Binaries\Win32
  • …\Steam\steamapps\common\HatinTime\Binaries\Win64

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

Uninstall Standalone File System Mods



If you don't have any mods installed at all, you can safely carry on to the next step.

This is an important step.

If you have any standalone, non-Workshop, or custom-made mods installed directly in to your file system, you should temporarily copy these out to a backup folder for the time being.

They can be found in the following folder:

  • …\Steam\steamapps\common\HatinTime\HatinTimeGame\Mods\

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

Unsubscribe to Recently Subscribed Steam Workshop Items



If you don't have any mods installed at all, you can safely carry on to the next step.

This is an important step.

You should check your recently subscribed workshop items, and unsubscribe from them. Don't just disable them in-game.

Mod authors who aren't careful can cause their mods to either conflict with others, or negligently leave behind references to invalid game or mod data in their code.

This applies double to any mods that make significant changes to the way the game works. Mods for small things like cosmetics, custom weapon models, and custom stickers/emotes should be fine.

Lastly, you should erase the contents of HatinTimeMods.ini

This file can be found at the following location:

  • …\Steam\steamapps\common\HatinTime\HatinTimeGame\ Config\HatinTimeMods.ini

A text editor like Notepad is required to edit this file. Though a free, fully featured and comprehensive text editor like Notepad++ is preferred.

Ensure that you have file extensions visible in Explorer windows. In Windows 10, you can do this by selecting the 'View' tab from the ribbon at the top of the Explorer window, and filling the respective checkbox. Other versions of Windows or non-Windows operating systems may differ.

Deleting the configuration file to the Recycle Bin is not necessary. Once you have the file open in Notepad, press CTRL+A at the same time to select all. Then press delete/backspace and save.

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

Verify or Uninstall Modding Tools



If you don't have modding tools installed, you can safely carry on to the next step.

This is an important step.

You shouldn't normally need to install modding tools or have them installed unless you are contemplating modding or are serious about modding.

Performing certain actions through the use of modding tools can potentially break your game or corrupt crucial game critical files, necessitating the verification of said files.

If you absolutely need modding tools, you should verify the installation as you normally would with any other game.

In your Steam library, scroll to 'A Hat in Time - Modding Tools', right click and select 'Properties…' from the context menu.

In the Properties window, click the Local Files tab.

Under the Local Files tab:

  • Click 'Uninstall Tool…' if you have no intention of making mods for A Hat in Time.
  • Or… Click 'Verify integrity of tool files'. (This will take a few minutes to complete)

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

Verify Game Files



This is an important step and should NEVER be skipped.

In your Steam library, scroll to 'A Hat in Time', right click and select 'Properties…' from the context menu.

In the Properties window, click the Local Files tab.

Under the Local Files tab:

Click 'Verify integrity of game files'. (This will take a few minutes to complete)

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

[Nyakuza Metro DLC] Disable Online Party Mode



This step only applies to you if you own the Nyakuza Metro with Online Party DLC.

If you do not own the DLC, you can safely carry on to the next step.

This is an important step and should NEVER be skipped.

A particularly busy/active Online Party lobby such as 'peck' might be crashing the game on startup, when you load your save, or when you load in to the hub.

First of all, you will need to go offline in Steam.

To do this, mouse to the top left, click 'Steam', and then select 'Go Offline…'

Please bear in mind that doing so will restart Steam without a network connection.

Once Steam has restarted:

  • Start the game as you would normally.
  • Load your save as you would normally.
  • Once you have successfully loaded in to the hub, bring up the pause menu and disable Online Party mode.
  • Perform a clean quit to desktop.

If you still cannot start your game in order to disable Online Party, fear not as there is an alternative method. You can disable Online Party mode by modifying its configuration file.

This file can be found at the following location:

  • ...\Steam\steamapps\common\HatinTime\HatinTimeGame\ Config\HatinTimeOnline.ini

A text editor like Notepad is required to edit this file. Though a free, fully featured and comprehensive text editor like Notepad++ is preferred.

Ensure that you have file extensions visible in Explorer windows. In Windows 10, you can do this by selecting the 'View' tab from the ribbon at the top of the Explorer window, and filling the respective checkbox. Other versions of Windows or non-Windows operating systems may differ.

When you have the file open a text editor, find and modify these values. They should be at the absolute the top of the file, underneath the [GhostParty] heading:

  • LobbyName=
  • UseOnlineFunctionality=False

LobbyName should be left blank.

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

Erase the Contents of HatinTimeMods.ini



If you haven't been using any mods, you can safely skip to the next step.

This is an important step.

As explained elsewhere in the guide, this file holds configurations for all of the mods you have used, including ones you have unsubscribed from.

This file can be found at the following location:

  • "...\Steam\steamapps\common\HatinTime\HatinTimeGame\ Config\HatinTimeMods.ini"

A text editor like Notepad is required to edit this file. Though a free, fully featured and comprehensive text editor like Notepad++ is preferred.

Ensure that you have file extensions visible in Explorer windows. In Windows 10, you can do this by selecting the 'View' tab from the ribbon at the top of the Explorer window, and filling the respective checkbox. Other versions of Windows or non-Windows operating systems may differ.

Deleting the configuration file to the Recycle Bin is not necessary. Once you have the file open in Notepad, press CTRL+A at the same time to select all. Then press delete/backspace and save.

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

Restart Your Computer



No. I am not kidding.

This is an important step and should NEVER be skipped.

As mentioned in the foreword of the guide, it's because the Unreal Engine is a buggy mess and any unclean exit may leave traces in your system's memory that will prevent the game from starting up successfully at all, until you next restart your computer.

Do NOT restart in to Safe Mode.

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

(Re)Start Steam, with Online Enabled



I can't remember if or not Steam preserves offline mode following a system reboot.

If it does, you will need to mouse to top left and click Steam, followed by selecting 'Go Online…'. Steam will now restart with connection to the Steam servers.

You may be prompted by Steam for your password or a two-factor authentication token. Have these ready.

Once you have completed this step, move on to the next step.

Start the Game as Normal



You may attempt starting the game as normal.

If the game loads successfully, remember that:

  • You will still need to re-enable Online Party mode along with setting your preferred party name.
  • You will still need to reconfigure any workshop items that you remain subscribed to.
  • You will still need to restore any standalone file system mods back to their original location.
  • You will still need to quit to desktop to reinstall D9VK, if you were using it before.

If the game continues to repeatedly crash to desktop:

  • Go through everything I have previously suggested in the 'Foreword' section at the top of the guide.
  • Wait for a little while before trying again (20-30 minutes minimum).
  • Wait for Valve to roll out another patch for Steam/the Steamworks API.

Game:   A Hat in Time
Written by Sunbro Dave.