So after reinstalling my OS, installing a bunch of drivers, software and updates… The game still wouldn’t run in Debug-mode. After a LOT of googling and double-checking I finally found the culprit. At least this time I could use System Restore to go back and fix it.
A platform update for Windows 7 broke the DirectX debug environment. The article suggests installing the Windows 8 SDK but, apparently, PIX for Windows is no longer supported. I actually had half a mind to write a post about PIX, as I fell in love with the tool during my university days.
To debug rendering and shaders with the Windows 8 SDK, I would have to get my hands on Visual Studio 2012 but the free Express editions don’t seem to include the graphics debugging tools. So to avoid piracy, I’ll just keep running the June 2010 DirectX SDK and just not install updates carelessly.