February 2020
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I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
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Ahh, Nostalgia… and Big Stompy Robots

So there has been a long-standing argument between console aficionados and PC gamers, that boils down to this: PCs are more configurable, and they evolve in such a way that games can get better as hardware improves while consoles are stuck with what they’ve got. The console guys respond that the console is always the same, so everyone knows exactly what they’re going to get, and barring some odd manufacturer shenanigans, when you buy a game it will always play on that console. PC games, on the other hand, may become obsolete abandon-ware.

This brings us back around to this weekend, when I realized I had completely missed the launch of Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries this past December. I did my usual digging through the reviews and such, and then the minimum recommended hardware list and discovered the mid-grade gaming PCs I built for the wife and I 2 years ago end up at the very bottom of the list, and one particular reviewer’s performance grid would grade them at just below playable with medium graphics settings.

Crappity.

Even better, I’d be looking at about $575 in parts to upgrade one to play a $50 game. They work just fine for playing things like Civilizations VI, Stellaris, and Diablo III, but apparently the Big Stompy Robot itch needs more hardware. Too bad Mech 4 can’t be played on Win10, it was still a good game especially after the MekTek guys got done with it.

Or can’t it?

Queue another round of Googling, and I found a number of useful things. Like someplace to download a complete copy of the MekTek version of MW4Mercs plus the patches. And a Reddit post with a ton of info about his quest to get this working. And most importantly, a YouTube video about a tool that converts old graphics codecs and drivers with the instructions for modern graphics. Seamlessly. On-the-fly.

(All credit to VolkarTheDestroyer, Ostego Lectric, dgVoodoo2, and MyAbandonware.com)

If you wish to follow in the footsteps of the greats that left the trail for me to find, here ya go.

Install Direct Play
  1. Mash the Windows key and search for Control Panel
  2. Click Programs and Features
  3. Click Turn Windows Features On or Off
  4. Make sure there is a check in Legacy Components
  5. Click the + to expand
  6. Check the box for Direct Play
    Windows will now install the Direct Play Windows Component
Download the Mechwarrior 4 Game Files
  1. Download Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries MekTek MP3.1 Release #51.03.01.0017 here
  2. Download the three patch files to patch Mechwarrior 4 to MP3.1 Release #51.03.01.0030c here
  3. If you are installing the MekTek MP3.1 Release #51.03.01.0030c version of the game you will need to install 7zip to extract the file folders containing the game files.
  4. Download dgVoodoo2 here
    This website is false flagged on some browsers as a harmful site do to dgVoodoo2 being mistaken for a computer virus, this site is 100% safe to use. On top of that, when I extracted the MekTek files my local antivirus threw a fit over one of the files and I had to manually release-and-restore it. YMMV.
  5. Download an Options.ini file from this lovely gent’s site

Extract your files and patch

  1. Extract all the files to a findable place with 7-Zip
  2. Once you do that, go ahead and run the MekTek patches. The executables will just extract a new file to the location you specify, just point them at the folder you extracted the MekTek pack to.
  3. Find the Options.ini file in your MekTek folder and change the name to options-OLD.ini, and then drop the one you downloaded into that location and rename accordingly.
  4. For dgVoodoo2, you’re going to copy 6 additional files into that MekTek folder. For more details, watch Ostego’s video linked above, starting at 26:35. (The video is long because he installs the entire MW4 chain, including Black Knight and the Mech Pack supplementals. The MekTek pack is plenty all on it’s own if you just want Big Stompy Robot action. If you want all the gameplay, feel free to download the other games.)
  5. From here, just follow along with Ostego’s video, he covers the details on the dgVoodoo2 configuration.

Create a shortcut

  1. Go into your MekTek folder, find “MW4Mercs.exe”, and then right-click the file and select “Create Shortcut”. Cut and paste that shortcut anywhere that you like, then open up the properties of the shortcut.
  2. You need to append some command-line options to the “Target” line of the shortcut. The one I used is thus:”D:\<pathtofile>\MW4Mercs.exe” -32 -gl -GameTime.MaxVariableFps 60 /gosnojoystick -noautoconfig(Note the space between the last quote mark and the -32: that is necessary. All of this translates out to: run in 32-bit mode even though I have a 64-bit OS; use the OpenGL libraries; lock FPS to a max of 60 to avoid complications; disable joystick; and do not run the auto-configuration step.)

    (That /gosnojoystick command is a real bummer, because that was my favorite way to play this. Unfortunately, the joystick drivers cause the game to crash on launch and I haven’t found a way around it yet.)

  3. Click over to the Compatability tab and set “Run this program as an administrator” for best results.

Now if the Robot Gods have smiled upon you (did I mention the chicken sacrifice?) clicking that shortcut will launch a playable game. Go stomp an enemy lance or three!

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