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DCS Causing SteamVR Fail | Description, evidence and how to replicate

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Reverb G2 user here, same issue. Easiest way for me to reproduce is just accidentally hit the steam menu button on the controller... menu comes up, some more epilepsy inducing flashing and then steam vr fails, -203, and DCS still looks ok in the reflector. Switch aircraft, same deal. Sneeze, cough, hiccup or blink too fast seems to cause it as well. Free flight, simple mission, reload, F10, bounce around the system like a boss, CTRL-SHIFT-TAB, new aircraft, whatever, no issue, so certainly related to being under load, but the menu button seems to kill it every time.


I9-9900K, 32GB, 2080 Super, 52% Steam Resolution, 45-90 FPS usual.

Edited by Vanguard
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If I can summarise my last four months since trying to get a better understanding of it, the SteamVR crash still occurs, it's not often, it is annoying, its 100% a Steam VR crash and often needs a reb

This post is 1) a description of an issue that has been plaguing DCS VR for at least two patches now. 2) Overview of how to replicate for ED 3) link to the mission file used in the video 4) Things I’v

Absolutely +1 to OP's message: I have been experiencing the exact same issues he describes, and he describes them accurately (I mean, you learn how to "force" the issues to happen, and how to "cope wi

Anyone made any progress with this. I just got my headset 2 weeks ago, and I've yet to have an uneventful flight in DCS. Any other VR game / experience works fine. DCS though, I just launch Through the Inferno mission, select a plane, no issue. As soon as I try to switch aircraft or even respawn in the one I was in... Oooops, SteamVR error -203. I basically have to restart DCS for each respawn. What a major PITA. There's also a really noticeable lag, when in the weapon loadout screen and right clicking a weapon slot to choose a weapon. 


Edit: Also interesting, based on a comment on Reddit, if I have poor frames, which sometimes happens at the start of a mission sitting on the ground, I just alt-tab out and back in (just alt-tab twice quickly, from a VR perspective all I notice is the message at the top telling me my input is directed outside the app) and poof, my frames more than double. Works every time... 

Edited by Vanguard
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Nice hint regarding alt+tab. I see that framerate drop every now and then. 


Regarding the SteamVR -203 issue I found an interesting video of a fellow DCS pilot on YouTube a few days ago. He proposes to set the pixel density in DCS to 0.5 and increase supersampling in SteamVR to whatever suits your FPS requirements. I've set mine to 250% for constant 45 FPS with my other settings. The visual quality feels just about the same as before at an equal frame rate (PD 1.0 in DCS, 50% in SteamVR)


Since I made the change I wasen't able to reproduce the -203 error. It's a workaround. But if it does the trick, who cares 😄. Good luck tryin' it out.



i7-9700K@4.9GHz - 32 GB RAM - RTX 2080 Super - HP Reverb G2 - Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS

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Ok, I gave it a go... the conclusion would be, I'm hanging up the towel for a year, again... Unfortunately this product brings more frustration than enjoyment, I gave it up for 6 months and didn't regret it, I guess I'm going to do it again. I'm a little tired of the applause at the size of the changelogs when 90% of it is bug fixes, and I've never seen so many bugs in any game every 30 days. Anyways... for those who are interested and want to continue the pain, my findings:


Specs, I9 9900K, 2080 Super, 32 GB Ram, Reverb G2, all done with F18 Free Flight Caucasus.

PD 1.0, 100% SS: ~60 FPS

PD .5, 500% SS: ~60 FPS


Things I noted:

I've been using reprojection from day 1. After playing around with it some more, it really is pro/con. With it turned off, I noticed far less shimmering from medium altitude, but the labels/text of controls, etc in cockpit are a bit hazy when moving your head. With re-projection on, the cockpit is crisp, but I get a lot of ghosting and jaggiest out the window. Especially if looking sideways and down at the terrain in a turn.


The shimmering in this title is out of this world. 0.5 PD and 500% SS certainly reduced the shimmering quite a bit as long as I could maintain 60+ FPS. When I launched Through The Inferno, A10C-II, I was down to 45 FPS on the tarmac, and the shimmering was like being on a dance floor in a techno club, but after taking off things were ok.


The fact that shadows/LoD are per eye was extremely noticeable during the testing. I came to realize the majority of shimmering and feeling like I was cross-eyed was coming from the fact that shadows were being rendering differently in each eye. Disabling terrain shadows altogether made a huge difference in shimmering. This isn't really just a VR issue either. The most immersion breaking thing in this sim IMHO is the shadows popping up like toast and the drastic LoD changes of trees, etc. They should both be unnoticeable if done right, one LoD should blend into the other.


In regards to -203 error... Launch Through the Inferno, select A-10C II, Fly Now... hit ESC, change role, F/A-18C... blue screen in HMD. Try again, fly plane, crash plane, -203. Basically I cannot respawn, even if I reduce my settings enough that I'm at 90FPS and fluidly playing. Blue screen and -203 only happens in DCS. I have to run local dedicated server and launch a separate client if I want to be able to respawn. Luckily, I never respawn, if I die, I die, and I'll restart from the beginning but it's a major PITA for MP.


Cheers and GL

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On 3/8/2021 at 6:32 AM, Pikey said:

If I can summarise my last four months since trying to get a better understanding of it, the SteamVR crash still occurs, it's not often, it is annoying, its 100% a Steam VR crash and often needs a reboot to clear up, I dont use VR for anything else other than DCS but we know DCS is demanding, so we could say that DCS's hardware demand might be the cause without being too inaccurate (I dont subscribe to saying its DCS fault entirely, if it's a timeout, the middleware could still be tweaked to have more tolerance in its values).

I found the issue was often with the F-14, often involving the F10 map, but neither was required and all SteamVR crashes are preceeded by a state of being laggy, low FPS and then a pause and then the headset goes black, SteamVR shows it crashed, DCS continues in a choppy unplayable (but alive) state. Steam cannot then find the headset (not everyone has specificied that).The errors are in SteamVR and iirc relate to a timeout.

The issue never happens immediately, always after 15 minutes (for me) and requires a mission with CPU load. Multiplayer could help exacerbate this, although I suspect MP is just a CPU load and its more about the CPU than actually MP. You can defintiely get there sooner swapping planes, and defintiely zooming on the F10 map will bring it sooner.

It also cannot be purely CPU based because you can stretch CPU usage (loading screens) and the tracking can stop completely but the applicaiton and VR is perfectly fine once it recovers... its something other than pure CPU.

I did consider power draw and USB. I moved my Headsets USB to a powered hub from the onboard and this reduced the issues occurence anecdotally - who knows probably placebo?

I dont have HAGS enabled, by default its off, so I dont think we can say its a cause, unless the work that MS did to put it into Windows changed something. Not sure I want to turn it on.

My gut feeling based on the evidence but not being able to tie the evidence to the root cause, is that the timeout is caused by the graphics handling, especially the texture loading and unloading of DCS, under stress, which is caused by extremely large textures in DCS and limits on Graphics cards, which is noted in this link for which we are still in an endless loop of not being able to explain that there is actually an issue that needs to be addressed:


But I dont think I should have offered a partially substantiated conclusion based on thin evidence. I desperately would love to hear the views of Steam VR developers on DCS, its really time for us users to begone from pseudo science and have developers work this out.



@Pikey - Does your experience with the upcoming DCS 2.7 help with any of this? I realize you might not be able to say in detail, but I could do with some hope on this 🙂




Just to follow up on this I have some success fixing it (or at least I believe, after playing for an hour it now seems ok after days of crashes).


I had to uninstall, clean out and install Steam again. As in, no files left behind at all and a fresh Steam client installation (for me on another drive).


I've left the SteamVR settings all as defaults (which has defaulted back to the resolution I was using at 'Custom' before) and am using the non-beta versions of SteamVR and WMR for SteamVR. Speculation on what was causing vrserver.exe to crash with DCS like that:


- Some previous SteamVR dashboard plugin from an earlier version causing an issue. I've had fpsVR, Virtual Desktop, Advanced Settings overlays installed before so perhaps that caused an issue that showed itself with DCS? I'm going to leave them uninstalled for now, but perhaps some historical issue that won't come back on a fresh install of those?


- I will eventually re-enable motion reprojection (via WMR), but for now it's off. I don't think it is the reason but basically don't want to now touch it while it's working.


- Some sort of file corruption, perhaps from a bad disk sector? I had certainly re-installed SteamVR before enough times so whatever it was it needed Steam completely uninstalled and re-installed.


Hope that helps others who had this issue.


Edited by fearlessfrog
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Hi,  the easiest way to answer this within the remit of what I am able is to say that I haven't changed any opinions, or settings during my testing and I haven't felt the need to change settings outside of what a tester might do for curiosity/testing. Remain both optimistic and excited 🙂

Going back to 2.5.6 and this thread,  the thing that reduces the symptom described form last year (Black screen/HMD fail due to SteamVR crashing (but not DCS)) is that you should be very careful not to reproduce the cockpit swapping as per the videos. Anecdotally, I find the F-14 the hardest to swap into or from and it's my opinion therefore, that some of the cockpits are worse than others in terms of behaviour. But this also could be attributed to changing location! That lead me to the thread discussing 32bit normal maps. But its still Steam VR crashing anyway.




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