This issue appears common already with the Links LS 98 release. GOG may not have been aware of some of the potential issues.
Running the course animated flags and background animations (...) can cause crashes.
(...) However, it is also possible certain courses will crash LS 98 even if the animated options are off.
If you have the animated options turned off and still have crashes, please note if the crashes occur only on certain courses and post a reply. This will help troubleshooting the problem.
The last two days, I played a lot "Links LS: 1998 Edition", and I am new to the Links series of golf games.
My former experience with golf games are from consoles ("Golf" on the NES, "Jack Nicklaus' 18 Holes..." on the SNES, "Actua Golf" and "Pro 18 World Tour Golf" on PS1, and from friends some "Mario Golf" versions).
I could not finish any of my three attempts of a Stroke match play. Hence, all my observations here on after are based on extensive "Practice" play on all 18 Holes of each of the four standard courses (Kapalua Bay, Kapalua Plantation, Kapalua Village, and Latrobe Country Club) shipped with the game.
I am running Links LS98 on a notebook with Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics and WIndows 10 64-Bit (1909).
Best results stem from GOG's original clean 1.35 installation without changing the graphics nor display settings in the external wrapper nor ingame, running the game at fullscreen with correct aspect-ratio of 800 x 600 (32 bit colour depth). I can and did run at 1024 x 768 (32 bit) in both windowed and fullscreen mode with significantly slower performance - and seemingly easier swing control. ;-)
1280 x 800 and desktop resolution of 1920 x 1080 caused the game to indefinitely load on the start and build up of the game's initial main menu - unplayable for me!
Other significant impact on performance (speed of gamelogic and screen refresh) did have the shadows options ingame, feasible but measureable slowdowns depending on the course or hole being played.
Likewise, the animated flags appeared to be a problem only when more than one is visible on the camera(s)! (On some holes of the Latrobe Country Club and the Kapalua Village courses you can not only see but also easily reach neighbouring greens and flags!)
The optional background animations seem to be more critical in my cases. (Later more on those in my observations regarding animations and screen / frame construction in the game.)
The three main culprits for instant freezes or crashes (to desktop) that I found are:
1.) Shot track keeping:
A potential memory leak caused by the game keeping track of each shot, including each mulligan taken (independent of whether been chosen to remain mulligan balls and/or tracers displayed). GOG did kept the option for final ball positions of each mulligan on!
And the 1.35 hotfix description (changelog from 02 July 2021) mentions: "fixed animations on systems that haven't been restarted for more than 25 days." Thus, implying a time keeping or memory issue. (For note: my system is being rebooted on a daily basis.)
I did not figured out a specific quantity of shots or mulligans (maybe depending on hole or visual angle), but even when the game is not displaying leftover mulligan balls nor tracers, or refreshing the screen due to change in position or rotation or using ALT+TAB, it is still keeping the "litter" in front of the golfer after each shot (ball support and maybe dirt) indicating its record of them internally.
=> Holes where I took less mulligans were less prone to crash.
2.) ~50 yd SW issue:
I call it the "near hole / aproximately 50 yards SW issue":
What I mean is, instant crashes to desktop (the game's application closes itself immediately and windows asks me to apply compatibility settings--which I always deny!) are easily repeatable on each hole of the four courses when my last shot leaves the ball in an approximate 40 to 67 yards (my current experience) range towards the hole and the program automatically chooses the SW with a straight or chip shot, especially, but not necessarily, when on or near the fringe both with automatic grid display on the green or without. Changing the swing mode or from the SW to PW, an Iron or the Putter does not help.
In those cases, the swing meter/bar does not do the regular bit of 'overswing' after releasing the mouse button but instead always runs to the full circle before returning into the downwards swing, and the game crashes to desktop before the golfer animation is loaded and displayed!
=> My only countermeasure: avoid shots that are landing within that dangerous range. Either getting close enough for the Putter being selected automatically or keeping a safe distance to the hole of about 75 yards or more. Otherwise, taking a "Mulligan" on the after shot report is a necessity to avoid the crash!
3.) Clouds / animations layer(s):
My biggest surprise were the negative impact of the clouds displayed on the sky layer! GOG did kept this ingame option off! Both "less" and "more" clouds options are causing frequent instant freezes or crashes when the ball is passing through a or a specific cloud layer!
I knew golf games from consoles and was used to a less accurate upscaled (bigger) depiction of the ball, making it easier to follow on screen. Thus, I immediately chose the "medium" ball size in the game's menu and was more content than with the 'single-pixel-ball'. But I realised, that the bigger ball which changes on its pass from white to a darker grey colour on the backdrop of the sky is not visible during a cloud pass. It seems to be realistic and is either realised by an alpha-mask or a layering behind the/a cloud layer. Not all clouds (neither at "less" nor "more" clouds option) do cause the freeze but it happened to me very often, even with "less" clouds visible! The ball 'enters' into a cloud and the shot animation does not get concluded.
Similarily, the game often freezes when the animation of the shot passes through a screen element with an extra background animation.
It seems to me that the game can not display correctly more than one animation at the same time. It actually pauses the gamestate for the duration of each animation (e.g. initial 'waggle' of golfer, 'flag projection', golfer swing animation, shot animation, etc.) taking control away from the player--even preventing ALT+TAB or applications such as MS Paint to capture a screenshot!
=> Turning clouds off (again) or keeping clouds off prevents the mid shot animation freezes and crashes.
Additionally, but minor observation linked to number 3.) is related to the audio files and commentary:
Sometimes the game seems frozen immediately after a shot or successful putting attempt animation concluded, but an audio file, especially, a commentary is being repeated in a loop.
See, the game state is only updated and progressing when all animations have taken place and all corresponding audio files have been reproduced to their conclusion. The game stalls and prevent any user input ('seems' being frozen) while there is still an audiofile or script being played. Sometimes it is seemingly 'eternally' in a loop, but other times it just repeated itself a couple of times before the game resumed to an operateable state.
In my case, the audio volume (background noises and commentaries) was really low, so it took me some time to observe this behaviour.
I do not have sufficient experience with playing against AI players, yet.
(Compare my comments in the other thread: my post 14
I hope these observations and theories help someone to enjoy the game a little more or the ones with the knowhow to address some of the issues.
I've seen in the database that Links 98 had a hotfix this month. Has anybody tested it? Any idea about what it is changed?
Hello again Gudadantza!
Currently, I can not recommend the hotfix (or at least the additional patch-executeable), because it renders my installation completely non-functional!
Disclaimer: I have not tried the newer installer package that already incorporates the 1.35 hotfix!
(See also my comment here