Weekend Question: What's the greatest length you've gone to just to run a game?

PCG Jody

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Dec 9, 2019
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I ask the PCG staff a regular Weekend Question and post the answers on the site. If you'd like to throw in an answer here, I'll squeeze the best into the finished article!

This week's question is: What's the greatest length you've gone to just to play a game?

Thank Gordon we're past the days of needing boot disks and an understanding of conventional memory and how to free up more of it just to play games on PC. That doesn't mean it's always easy to get games running nowadays, whether because your hardware is somewhere south of the minimum requirements, or you want to play an older game that'll only run in a virtual machine or emulator. Maybe you've used a VPN to play an online game that's not available in your territory, or reverted to a previous patch that was compatible with your setup. Heck maybe you rebuilt a 1998 PC just to play Half-Life, or built a tiny PC for playing classic console games.
I can't remember specific examples, but I know I've spend many hours messing around with (community) patches, editing ini files and changing graphics options. Getting multiplayer to work was sometimes also a real challenge and necessitated learning about port forwarding or trying 3rd party programs like Hamachi or Tunngle to trick the game into thinking you were on the same network.
Though when I was about 13 and made friends with the kid who moved in next door to us, we ended up just getting a really long ethernet cable and directly connecting our computers, running the cable over our balconies. Until the neighbours had their balcony renovated a few years later and the cable was cut during, but by then I think most games just worked fine over the internet.
I don't guess I've gone to really any extraordinary lengths. The one that comes immediately to mind is when I bought the original Fallout 3 many years later and it took me about half-an-hour to get it sorted. Had I spent $10 more and bought the Game of the Year version I wouldn't have had to do anything. To add insult to injury, I then bought a DLC with an improved ending that would have been included with the GOTY version.
I replay a lot of older games, so getting them to run on modern PCs and at higher resolutions efficiently is always a concern. But since Windows 10 became the standard OS, I haven't had any major issues with installation or running an older game. Plus, there are many "enhanced" versions and remasters available that make installing and playing an older game a better experience.

The one game that I couldn't get to even run initially was Sacred 2 Gold (Steam version). Sacred 2 is a great and often underappreciated ARPG from 2008, and the Gold version includes the one expansion pack (yes, expansion and not just DLC) Ice and Blood. But it wouldn't run. Opening Task Manager shows it's running, but it's certainly not playable. So I had to manually shut it down.

Doing a quick Google search, I found that it needed the Legacy PhysX driver to launch, available on the Nvidia web site. I installed that (and it runs alongside the current PhysX driver) and the game launched perfectly. To keep it running without any CTDs, the current community patch (available from a fan site called Dark Matters) needs to be installed (which also fixes several hundred bugs and adds some QOL improvements).

Pretty easy fix and not very extreme, took me maybe 30-40 minutes for the entire process. One of the great things about the global PC gaming fan base is the dedicated modding community. Want to run an older game? Chances are that there's a community patch, unofficial patch, or a mod that will get that game up and running without crashing.
This isn't for a single game per se, but my old gaming laptop that I gave to my brother was really limping along. It had a Nvidia GT 555M and a Intel sandy bridge i5 (I think it's the i5-2430M, but I can't recall precisely) with 2 cores and 4 threads. This thing is firmly in the "struggle bus" category. We took the entire thing apart (which was a giant pain in the ass. That thing is a monstrosity) to replace the thermal paste on the CPU+GPU. It did legitimately help to a decent extent, since the CPU had been throttling constantly and tanking it's clocks to reduce temps. In Borderlands 2 (my brother's most played game) it definitely provided some extra stability to the frame rate as the throttling had been dealt with. Still, at the end of the day a potato is a potato. You can only do so much with these old systems.


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It took me many hours of tries to get running Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun properly on modern hardware. In theory it's as simple as installing the community patch. It should eliminate any difficulties on Windows 10. In practice the community patch introduces very long loading times on many hardware configurations. They're so ridiculous that the game is almost unplayable. Especially on high difficulty level, where you must load your saved games a lot.

So I scrapped the community patch and decided to try dgVoodoo2. It worked but... the wrapper introduced another problem: terrible lags appearing randomly during gameplay. And when I mean terrible, I mean terrible. Basically everything slows down and even the cursor gets serious input lag. So the result was once again unplayable.

The next few hours I spent tackling with all available settings in dgVoodoo2 and trying other versions of the game. All this to no avail. I was determined to get the game running on my hardware though, so I didn't give up. I used the compatibility mode in combination with many different dgVoodoo2 settings. It didn't help. I even tried mixing some files from dgVoodoo2 and unofficial patch. The result was even promising. No long loading times and no lags, but then... crash! The game started crashing every few minutes.

When I was desperate to even try older dgVoodoo2 versions, one last idea came to my mind. The game worked suspiciously good in windowed mode. Yep! Full screen optimizations! That was the key. After disabling them (in the Properties after right-clicking the shortcut to the game) and using standard dgVoodoo2 the game finally started running on modern hardware without meaningful problems!

This finding was occupied by long hours of try, so if you want to play the game and the unofficial patch doesn't do its job, try the above. There are still some quirks, but nothing you can't live with.
Oh god. I could mention getting an ageia physx card to run some stuff, but I'll have to go with what I did to run Mech Warrior 2 on what originally was a 486 33mhz computer with 8 megs of ram and a 1 meg svga card. If you are old and are a nerd you'd know how huge that was when my dad got the pc in 1992.

Anyways it just wasn't powerful enough to run Mech Warrior 2 and there was no way my dad was gonna get a new mobo and chip to run it. So some time later my dad bought me a computer magazine and inside it there was something about the Evergreen Upgrade chip. It could make your old 486's run at pentium speeds allowing you to play Quake and..... Mech Warrior.

Well I was sold and thankfully I was lucky enough that the local Future Shop had a few. That was the fastest chip install cause I wanted me some Mech Warrior goodness.

Sadly it didn't work without a good old boot disk. So I grabbed my glorious boot disk the was created with my X-Wing game *best boot disk auto setup ever btw* and I enter the line for the cdrom to work. I booted it up and my god it was heaven......
Another example for me was trying to game in Linux like 15 years ago. If you are playing games in Wine, sometimes you have to jump through a lot of hoops and do a lot of research to get them working.

I worked for a company for a few months that gave us Mac laptops and struggled with Wine on there too. I don't think I managed to make anything I tried work, I ended up just playing games that had Mac ports.
Jun 6, 2021
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Major Upgrade mother board, Pentium chip etc, for Wing Commander 4. Chris Roberts and I have a love/hate relationship. Thats why unlike these kids, I never bought into Star Citizen. It might be done when I am in Baby Diapers!!
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Aug 2, 2022
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I have bought several consoles or graphic cards in my life just to play a single game. IIRC this started with buying the 1Mb expansion for the Amiga 500 just to play Dragon's Lair, but I've did it so many times that I lost count... I am an impulsive buyer, unfortunately.

But, the greatest length I went to play a game was, well, not really tied to a game, but to a specific in-game event. The evening when Ulduar was released, my graphic card died. I could have just skipped the raid, but I was so happy to have been chosen as main tank to go in there for the first time, that I couldn't. So I went hunting for a graphic card at 19pm, with shops closing in 30 minutes and raid starting in 1 hour, and ended up buying a barely decent card for an indecent amount of money.

It was one of the best night of my gaming life.
I have bought several consoles or graphic cards in my life just to play a single game. IIRC this started with buying the 1Mb expansion for the Amiga 500 just to play Dragon's Lair, but I've did it so many times that I lost count... I am an impulsive buyer, unfortunately.
Man, in the late 90s, I kept my Best Buy and Elek-Tek credit cards maxed out from impulse buying computer upgrades all the time. :LOL:
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Welcome to the forum :)
That's a great story, thanks for sharing.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned buying a CD drive for Myst yet, I was sure there would be multiple guilty parties here :)
I played Myst (and loved it) back when it was new on my shiny new Pentium 75 Packard Bell. Luckily, it came with a CD drive.

Earlier this year, I played the remake on my Xbox with Game Pass, and it was truly awesome playing it like that with better graphics, smooth cameras, and a controller.