My experience with the toolset is usually reasonably “plain sailing”, albeit with the occasional “minor” issue. However, starting yesterday, I had the toolset drop to desktop after simply closing an area. I thought nothing of it until I realised I had not saved recently and had to rebuild the last few parts of the area.
Then today, working on the area some more, I went to add a prefab I had made (wall torch with light and flame effect) and it hung before crashing to desktop (again). I tried various resolutions (copying area, exporting erf, reusing older backed up version, different computer, reboot computer, different 2da etc), all with the same result of crashing to desktop whenever I tried to pick up and use a prefab … most often one that used a “flame” by the looks of it.
I was about to give up when I put all the original area files back and tried once more and the prefab worked fine.
I have done nothing but move the files around. Bear in mind that this exact same set of files (imported as an erf) confirmed the same failure on a different computer with its own copy of NWN2!
Any clue at all as to what may have happened to help me avoid this issue again appreciated … and if I ever deduce what caused it I will let you know.
THE FINAL RESOLUTION (Copied from below) …
I suppose I had better conclude this post from my own perspective …
First, thanks to everybody who helped me examine this issue, especially to Sawdust37 and Travus for testing the area on their 16GB computers.
It appears the issue does “simply” boil down to the fact that the toolset does not handle 32x32 areas very well, and your mileage with such a size area will vary according to what you do to it when and with what objects. In particular, a fresh computer boot may allow you to open and continue working on a large area, but only if further work does not aim to use particular VFX “heavy” objects like adding flaming effects or (in my own tests) a “drowned” monster. As it appears that trying to “introduce” any new element to a large area will likely cause the toolset to crash. Furthermore, even if you are able to eventually add such elements (through pure perseverance and a little headway without crashing), then even trying to remove said elements will also likely crash the toolset.
In my own example of working with this mega area (also born out by Sawdust 37 and Travus on 16 GB computers), the actual memory you have does not matter as it is down to the way the 32 bit toolset program manages its resources, and some of those resources appear to vary in their impact even dependent on whether you are adding or removing them at any time on the area.
The workaround in the end, as has often been stated, but “I never saw it coming” is to stick to smaller areas, or if you are working in a 32 x 32, then keep a careful eye on what you add and how much you add, making sure the area saves and “closes” without crashing the toolset. You will know when you have hit the toolset maximum limit when the area you are working on crashes the toolset when you try to simply close the area before closing the toolset.
For my own solution, I ended up dividing the area into three new ones. At the moment, I managed to keep a 32 x 32 section, which I am glad I was able to do, as its layout works better if I could keep the size. However, I removed two sections from the original design (thereby reducing overall resources used for the area) and made two new areas that will transition to and from the main. In testing ,the 32 x 32 currently remains stable with the reduction of some of the surrounding tiles that have now been moved to their own areas.
I hope the advise helps others as a reminder, and I also thank everyone for the posts regarding the toolset memory issues too, as they were the reminder I needed after forgetting how old the toolset is.
Thanks again all, Lance.