“Remove Plugins” error in Left4Dead 2
Recently, I began having issues playing on servers in Left4Dead 2 – I would get this rather annoying and uninformative popup in l4d2 saying something like “Remove any plugins before attempting to connect to a VAC secured server.”
The problem was, I had no plugins and have never had any plugins. I’ve heard that programs such as FRAPS can cause issues but I’ve never used it and certainly have never used any programs or scripts for cheating. Yes, my level of FAIL in l4d2 comes entirely from skillz.
Regardless of what the original root cause was, I found that one thing I was doing was causing it to happen over and over, which was rather frustrating (the error certainly gives no indication of what was wrong) and I ended up losing my slot in several good games after a random crash or internet issue dropped me from a game and I could no longer rejoin.
The fix: make sure that any shortcut you use to launch l4d2 is using this text as the target:
I use ObjectDock from Stardock and had originally created a shortcut directly to the left4dead2 executable rather than the URL above. Sometimes I launch l4d2 directly from the Steam GUI right after starting Steam (I don’t have Steam start with Windows) and was confounded when I could join a server that way, but couldn’t after that, when I was clicking on the l4d2 icon in ObjectDock . . .
So, all that was needed was to create a desktop shortcut for l4d2 from the Steam GUI (right-click on Left 4 Dead 2 in the Games list and choose “Create Desktop Shortcut”) to see what it was pointing to, and sure enough, using the steam URL shown above seems to fix the issue.
Additionally, I had deleted my addons folder (contained only community-made maps) and had even renamed my autoexec.cfg (contained only a few personalization settings like sv_search_key for my Steam group server, etc), just to make sure that nothing was messing with VAC – but it turns out that I likely didn’t need to do that.