The more information you can provide about your system, the better we can identify possible issues with the hardware or configuration. At a minimum, you should provide the basic system spec (processor, RAM, graphics card make and model, graphics driver version). It can also be helpful to check the logs on the system to see if any errors are reported.
The Direct X Diagnostic utility is the best place to find out what hardware is in your system. The reason this is preferred over say the information given in Device Manager is that it tells you what DirectX has recognised. Since most games run via Direct X, this is generally more important than what is actually there.
To run : Windows XP Click on the start menu, "run" and type dxdiag Vista/Win7 Click the orb, in the search box type dxdiag
When ran, you will be presented with a new window. It may take a few minutes for Dxdiag to poll the drivers and report the hardware. There's a loading bar in the bottom left which will show you it's progress. Note also the "check for WHQL digital signatures" checkbox. If this is ticked, it will check on the internet to see if the drivers have been signed by the Windows quality lab. Generally speaking, you're better off unchecking this.
The initial page presents you with some basic information, including the Windows version ("build"), system RAM, processor and page file. On the display tab, you can see the make, model and manufacturer of the graphics card, as well as the current driver version and release date. The box at the bottom will display any issues detected with the card, if this says anything except "no problems found" then please mention this when posting.
The sound tab gives you the same information for your sound hardware. Usually this won't be needed, unless you are having a problem with the sound. If asked for though this is where you can get it from.
There are several logs Windows reports various events and issues in. To view these, you need to launch event viewer, or you can access them in the Control Panel under Administration. There's two logs in particular that may be useful
System - Reports general system messages
Application - Reports issues regarding applications
If the game or Windows is crashing, check these logs for the time around the crash. Anything marked as an error could be a potential cause.
Within the Warband directory is the rgl_log.txt. This logs the initialisation of the game. If you're having problems getting the game started check in here for any errors.
Blue Screen Crash / PC reset
If the PC resets of it's own accord it could be encountering a kernel exception, particularly if you then get the message "Windows has recovered from a serious error". You can turn off this behaviour by going into the system properties (from control panel, or right clicking "My Computer" and selecting properties), Advanced, Startup and Recovery and unchecking automatic restart on error.
If this is unchecked then you will receive an infamous blue screen of death error code. This consists of three parts, the error type (which is in English, i.e. STOP detected ..), the name of the faulting driver if any (i.e. ntlm.sys) and some memory registers(usually in hex; 000x0). The registers are irrelevant to most problems, however the error message and faulting driver can help diagnose problems, so you should make a note of it before restarting the machine.
The more information you can provide regarding the problem, the more likely someone will be able to help you. To this end, there are several questions you should try to answer.
Has it ever worked?
Did the issue appear overnight, or has it always been like this? For example, were you playing Warband fine yesterday and then when you come to play today it won't even start up? Or has it always crashed when you try to start a siege?
If it was working, what has changed between then and now? Have you updated a driver, or modified any files?
Is it reproducible?
Does it occur every time, or only sometimes? For example, does the game crash every time you enter battle, or only if it's against a certain party? If you're playing from a saved game, try starting a new game and see if it still happens.
Can you capture it?
Particularly for graphical problems a screenshot can be far more helpful than attempting to describe the problem. You can use print screen to copy whatever is currently being displayed on the monitor and then open up Paint and select "paste" to create a file. Save this and upload it to one of the many free image hosting sites on the net such as photobucket. To include it in your post, use the img tags or just link to the file.
Is this a system wide issue, or just Warband?
Or in other words, do other games crash too? If you're getting the problem in other games then it's likely there's a common cause, and therefore a common solution.
Before posting for help, there's some basic troubleshooting you can try which generally fix more than half of all problems. Furthermore, they're likely to be the first things you get asked to do.
Out of date drivers can be a main cause of crashes, glitches and other anomalies. Most manufacturers release driver updates on a monthly basis, so it always pays to check you're running the current ones.
For graphic and sound hardware you need to know the manufacturer and model of your card. For graphics, this is usually either ATI or Nvidia, and they've got a user friendly website to get to the latest drivers (www.nvidia.com or www.ati.com).
If the manufacturer is more obscure, then try googling their name. Usually if they provide drivers they'll have them available on their page. If your PC is an off the shelf model, or you're using a laptop, try checking the manufacturer's page to see if there's any updates there.
It can also help to make sure Windows itself is up to date by running Windows Update. Make sure any Important updates are installed.
Another common cause of problems is background applications interfering with the game in some way. To rule this out, you can perform what is called a clean boot which will prevent Windows from loading any application or software which isn't part of Windows itself. To do this, we use a utility called msconfig.
To run, type into the run box in XP (or the search box in Vista/Win7) msconfig and hit enter. A new window called System Configuration will open up. Click the Startup tab (second from last). This shows a list of programs loading when Windows starts, with a check box to enable or disable them selectively. For a clean boot, simply hit "Disable All" and then OK. Reboot the system when prompted and try to recreate your problem. If that fixes it, then something loading with Windows is causing a conflict somewhere, go back into msconfig and start re-enabling each app in turn and testing the game until you hit the one causing the problem.
If the issue still occurs then re-run msconfig to undo this, as more than likely it will have turned off any anti-virus or similar programs you are running. Enable All will check everything, however you may wish to check the list and only check those applications you actually need starting with Windows. Doing so will result in reduced loading times and more free resources for Windows, which is a good thing.
Viruses and spyware are bad things in general, and can cause problems when running games. Make sure you have a decent antivirus program running, and try a virus scan on the system to see if it finds anything. There are plenty of free antivirus programs available on the net, personally I recommend Avast anti-virus, which is free but requires registration.