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The Pain of Playing Old Games


Recently I tried to play Knights of the Old Republic. My PC said no. I then tried to play Imperium II. My PC said no. I tried to play Battlefront II. The PC said yes, but only if I plug something into the microphone port – and I mean anything as long as it fits. Welcome to the pain of getting old games to work.

As of June 14th I was a free man, having finished my exams. I decided to play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – which is a favorite of mine. I hadn’t played it in two years (though I still remember everything, literally everything about that game) and thought revisiting it to be a good way of celebrating my freedom. I installed it, booted it up and created my character; the music of Jeremy Soule creating a suitable level of hype simmering within me. The text rolls, the cutscene begins. I meet Trask, get given the most blatant but actually quite useful tutorials in an RPG ever and begin the adve…

*Kotor.exe has stopped working. Windows will close the program and notify you if there is a solution*

Well fuck you too.

I booted it up again. Windows 7 was not kind to Kotor (though the Windows compatibility stuff worked) so Windows 8.1 would probably butcher it and roast it over an open fire. I thought ‘alright, time to set all of the things to run on XP and in admin mode’. I did, and I repeated the process. Trask cries ‘FOR THE REPUBLIC!!’ and the bat…

*kotor.exe has stopped working. Windows will close the..*

Alright Windows, admit it. You are about as helpful as the paperclip that everyone told to sod off for being useless and annoying. It seems the spirit of that paperclip lives on in Windows 8. It is useless and annoying, and offers me some bollocks about the Windows App Store that I’ll never use instead of getting Kotor to run, which is infinitely better and may allow me to vent my rage onto some Rakghouls instead of your putrid offerings. Begon Windows! I’ll deal with this. I WILL explore Anchorhead.

I had a final card to play before moving on. Kotor 2 had this odd trick where you replace two .dll files with the same .dll files, just from a different game. It massively increased the stability of the game (no idea why, but it did) so I thought to try it here. Ripping the files from another Bioware game I booted it up, loaded the save and began my quest anew. Trask tells me to get back as a Jedi and Dark Jedi duel in front of us, the Sith falls and the Jedi is killed in an explosion. Two Sith Troopers run into frame, heralding the arrival of combat. I prepare to click.

*kotor.exe has stopped working. Windows…*

Sod it – I’ll rebuy it on GOG.com. They did a kind of Windows 8 port thingamajig and sell the updated game for $9.99. I begrudge paying for what is essentially a compatibility patch, but I have no choice. It now works like a dream, not one crash ever. I’d say I got my ten bucks worth if it means I can play Kotor again, god I love that game.

But between trying to play Kotor and actually playing Kotor I tried Imperium II. It’s a kind of 2D Civ game, but with a better trading and resources system (and slightly worse everything else). I thought I’d give it a go, I probably poured about 250 hours into that when I was in my mid-teens so a revisit will only hurt my time. Ha ha! My naivety – to think that Windows 8.1 would accept such a game. The launcher launched, I clicked play and… nothing. I try again, the same. I try a third time, nothing.

Then Battlfront II popped into my mind. I might as well play it before EA ruins the franchise in favor of milking the mass market. The installation goes fine. The game starts up fine (in compatibility mode). I set up a skirmish game in Mos Eisley - there is something charming about slashing apart Stormtroopers to the cantina music – it’s all fine. I click to start and…

*Windows has encountered a problem, it will…*

Well bugger it all. After 30 minutes of hunting forums I found my prize: a fix. Plug something into the microphone jack. Doesn’t have to be a microphone, just something. I grabbed some old headphones and gave it a whirl and have a guess. It actually worked – games are weird sometimes. Though I cannot play Mustafar in the Clone Wars era, that still makes Windows cry for some reason. Still plays better than Arkham Knight (I had to, I’m sorry).

The next day I tried to play Total War: Shogun 2, the TW franchise at its best (though Attila’s pretty good too) and it was only released a few years ago. It crashes every time I launch the game right after I hit play. Every. Single. Time. It’s the Steam version too – a shameful display! No fix as of yet, despite pouring over forums. I took a break to play Far Cry 3.

‘Did I ever tell you… the definition… of insanity?’

Cheers Vaas.

I gave up on getting these old but wonderful things to work. May Windows 8.1 crawl back into the hole from which it spawned, and may Windows 10 bring in a golden age where compatibility mode actually works.

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About James Internet Egoone of us since 2:56 PM on 04.21.2015

Howdy! Welcome to the little corner of the internet that a part of me calls home. Here's some stuff about me.

Occupation: Student

Hobbies: Videogames, Chess, Philosophy

Interests: Law, Philosophy, Gaming

Chores: PC maintenance, Uni prep

Current Thought: Damn you Witcher 3! Damn you Crones to hell!

Favorite Game: KotOR 2 for reasons, but Witcher 3 is now joint first, bloody marvelous game.

Current Game: The Witcher 3

I am a fan of the written word as well as the spoken variety, so you'll find me doing a lot of written stuff. Every couple of days hopefully.

Here is a nifty list of what I think is my best stuff.

Destructoid C-Blogs
How Cities: Skylines Almost Screwed Up My Exam
Why the PR Man Can Lie
On Mods and Money
How Mass Effect Made Me Like Music
Questing For Immersion
An Afternoon With the SWG Emulator
How to Buy a game in 2015
Some Upbeat Thoughts on Bioware
The Pain of Playing Old Games
Why Citybuilders Are Not ABout Building Cities
On Valve's Inability to Follow The Law
Band of Bloggers: KotOR

Some Written Word on Game Design
Ambivalence and Not Caring

Front Paged Things
Bloggers Wanted: KotOR 2

Kotaku UK
The Best Zombie Game Out There

That covers the bio, right?

Oh, right - name. I'm James, in case you couldn't guess.