Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Fallout Tales #1


A few hours ago I got off the phone with a friend who complained Fallout didn't work on his brand spanking new Win7 (yeah, he's behind the times a bit...). Of course I said he's a pansy and it works. Even with the Hi-Res patch. I'll prove him, I said. I'll just install it on my PC, I said. Naturally, it didn't work.

After a bit of cursing and screaming, I had to resort to black computer magic (you need a black computer for this, obv.) and it's working now. Yay for black computer magic!

So what's the problem? I have a fairly new PC, and I blame it entirely. It's Phenom X4, HD 5770 new. It would scream its raw power in your face, were it not so silent. So let's try and run a 13 year old Windows 95 game on it.

Thanks to the guys at gog.com there's already a properly modernised version of the original Fallout games available, what with a working installer and all. The following stuff specifically applies to the first Fallout as I haven't bothered with F2 yet.

On most new PCs the GOG version will run slower and a bit choppy - this is the price we pay for paying such a low price. It's no certainly no dealbreaker when playing at the original puny resolution of 640x480 (there's phones out there with higher resolutions nowadays...) but it gets pretty choppy as soon as you crank up the resolution via the aforementioned Resolution Patch. Unplayable even. Bummer.

But! It can be helped. The nice community at gog.com has found a nice workaround for this problem. Simply delete the ddraw.dll from the game's installation folder and it will resort to using the one that's included in Windows. It works for pretty much everyone. Except for me.

My machine unceremoniously hangs itself with a black screen as soon as I fiddle with the ddraw.dll in any way. In that case, replacing it with the one found in timeslip's Sfall mod. Which is no longer distributed in its original form since Interplay decided to steal it for their Steam-release of the Fallouts last fall. No thanks Interplay!

So here's where I stopped screaming and whipped out the black computer magic. After downloading the semi-official 1.2 patch  here (both 1.2 and 1.2.1 EN-RC) and the 1.3.x patch here and installing them in the correct order (1.2 -> 1.2.1 -> 1.3.x) nothing changed. Apparently, they don't come with a new ddraw.dll either (anymore?). But it's nice to have a fixed version anyway, so thanks to TeamX for patching the game.

Applying the Fallout1 Resolution Patch (this) to the newly patched falloutw.exe didn't help either. The game lagged with the original ddraw.dll and wouldn't start up without it. But I was not going to give up.

So, yeah. Long story short, I just copied the ddraw.dll from my Windows\SysWOW64 folder into the game directory. Naturally, 32-bit users should copy the one found in Windows\System32. Because that's the one it was supposed to fall back to anyway. It just wouldn't do it. "If the Hill will not come to Mahomet..."

Additionally, it was necessary to enable "Run in 256 colours" under Properties -> Compatibility -> Settings for falloutw.exe to stop the game from having weird graphical glitches. Oh, and I had to disable vsync in the Catalyst Control Center ("Always off"). It's working now, in full 1920x1200 pixels for me to awe at. And it's as gorgeous as ever.

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