Since earlier this evening, I was able to play STALKER for an hour without it crashing when I tried to save !!!!!?!!!!!
I have no idea why this works, and I shudder to think what’s likely happening under the covers when this works – it’s the oddest workaround ever:
I marked the Stalker executable as Large Address Aware.
Put precisely, I opened an SDK command prompt, then ran EDITBIN /LARGEADDRESSAWARE XR_3DA.exe in the Stalkerbin directory.
After doing that, I played for about an hour – the longest period ever – without it crashing.
I should add I’m using a 64-bit copy of Vista, and on 32-bit, you also need to bcdedit the UserVA to 2290, they reckon (the GSC forum doesn’t seem to be well-indexed, so I can’t find the link easily enough to post. But if you go trawl “single player bugs” in the official Stalker forums, you’ll find the threads. Eventually.)
Others in the same forums recommend the -noprefetch command line switch; I haven’t tried this yet, but hell, why not?
It looks like LAA might be the next big thing in 64-bit Vista compatibility. It’s already claimed as a panacea for Supreme Commander and others; might give it a try with Armed Assault, to see what shakes out.
Wonder why that works…