I have finally managed to get Doom and Duke Nukem 3D running under Windows XP. Yes, it took a long time, but not because the task was difficult. The delay was due mostly to my procrastination and some other projects which got in the way. Actually, the process of getting these two games back up to speed was very easy, easier than the installation process of some modern games.
To get DN3D running again, I had to download a port of the engine used in the game. After 3DRealms released the source code of the build engine (by Ken Silverman) and GPL'd it, some enterprising programmers set to work porting it to various platforms. Once such individual made a very good port of DN3D for use with Win XP, and in the process added some useful features. I managed to find this port after reading through some messages posted on the PlanetDuke message boards, but anyone else should be able to find it by doing a Google search for "JonoF's Games Site". After downloading the ZIP file for JonoF's port, I installed the game from CD the same as I did back when I first purchased it. Then I created a new Directory called "JFDuke" and unzipped JonoF's port to that directory. After that, I simply copied the *.CON files, DUKE.RTS, and DUKE3D.GRP to "JFDuke" and the game was ready to go. The port includes a setup program which you may want to run first to setup the video and sound. In my opinion, the controls can be adjusted easier from the in-game menu. That's all it took to get Duke back on my computer. I should also mention that the port includes an OpenGL renderer which helps improve the graphics quite a bit.
To get Doom running again took a little bit longer than DN3D only because I started using one Doom port, then switched to another one I liked a little bit more. First, let me discuss each of the ports before I get into the details of installation.
The port I played with first is called ZDoom, which is at version 2.0.61 at the time of this writing. There were a number of things I liked about this port, not the least of which was the map overlay (similar to the map overlay in DN3D). I also felt the crosshair that changed color depending on the players level of health was a nice touch. The addition of simple particle effects for things like bullet puffs and blood was also nice. ZDoom also implements blood splattering better than the other port I use. Furthermore, the saving and loading of games is enhanced with a screenshot, date, and time. ZDoom will also create an autosave at the beginning of each level, a good thing when you begin the next level already surrounded by enemies. The only problem I had with ZDoom was that the graphics are only slightly better than they were back when Doom first arrived on the scene. This may seem inconsequential (after all, the game is 10 years old), but once you've seen what Doom Legacy does with the graphics in Doom, anyone who cares first and foremost about graphics may not want to continue with ZDoom.
After I had used ZDoom for a while, I found another port that has now become my port of choice, though I do go back every now and then to play ZDoom. This new (to me) port is called Doom Legacy, and while it doesn't have some of the features of ZDoom, the graphics more than make up for them. If my only experience with Doom had been through Doom Legacy, I would find it difficult to believe the game is 10 years old. The programmers responsible for DL have added a number of special effects and ported the Doom engine to OpenGL. Spectacular! Everything looks much better. They've also added an option to make the status bar transparent. I don't want this to become and advertisement for Doom Legacy's graphics, so I'll just add this: If you tend to be what they call a graphics "whore", then you'll want to at least give DL a try. As I mentioned, there are some features missing from DL, including the map overlay, the date/time on saved games, and the ability to start a new game without ending the game in progress.
Ok, now the installation. Both ports installed similarly, but running them was slightly different. I started by installing Doom from the CD, just as I did with DN3D. Then I uncompressed the ports, each to its own directory (note: ZDoom comes in a .cab file while Doom Legacy comes compressed in a .zip file). After the ports were unzipped, I copied the DOOM.WAD file from the original DOOM directory to each of the port directories. That's all that was involved to install these ports. To run ZDoom, all you do is execute zdoom.exe. Doom Legacy requires you run the program from their launcher (named launcher.exe). There are a few settings you'll need to play with in the launcher before you can start a game for the first time.
That's it, now I can play Doom and Duke Nukem 3D under XP! Now I've just got to get a new video card so I can start buying new games too. Anyway, that's it for today's entry. I'm thinking my next entry will be Linux related, as I just downloaded and installed Mandrake Linux 9.2 (I was running 9.0). We'll see, there are other things to talk about too - like Mozilla, or this free program for burning/copying CD's.