Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Modern Baldur's Gate Install?

I've been playing Baldur's Gate since it first came out in 1998, and I still think it's one of the best computer role-playing games ever made. It may be a little surprising, but in 2010 there's still a very active community around Baldur's Gate and other Infinity Engine games. How many other mainstream computer games can boast of a 12 year development cycle? I can only think of Quake 3 as coming even close...

Getting Baldur's Gate and friends to run on my Linux box wasn't very complicated, mostly because Wine provides pretty excellent support for it out of the box. However, I have not yet tapped into the vast array of modifications and customizations available for these games, something I want to rectify now. The problem? There are too many modifications! Some of those even overlap, so installation order determines the resulting gameplay experience in somewhat non-obvious ways.

The only "basic" decision I've made so far is that I will use the Baldur's Gate Trilogy framework which integrates all of the existing Baldur's Gate titles (Baldur's Gate, Tales of the Sword Coast, Shadows of Amn, Throne of Bhaal) into a single game. There are other ways of getting the more advanced Baldur's Gate 2 engine to play original Baldur's Gate content, but Baldur's Gate Trilogy seems better maintained than BG1Tutu as far as I can tell.

What to install on top of that? That's what I hope to detail in updates to this post. I'll experiment with various modifications and their installation and I'll try to document the effects of those here for fellow Baldur's Gate fanatics. I'll first try to work my way up to the install suggested in Dan Simpson's FAQ, which will probably take a few weeks given my schedule. Stay tuned! :-D

Notes on Wine: I had to update Wine to 1.1.42 to get Shadows of Amn installed. I am not sure which version broke it since an older Wine installed SoA fine before. Also, after being unable to install Throne of Bhaal into a new path due to a previously installed ToB, I decided to start with a fresh Wine directory for all of this. Maybe you want to do the same.

Baldur's Gate and Tales of the Sword Coast: I have the 4 in 1 boxed set, so Baldur's Gate was already patched to 1.1.4315 on install. However, Tales of the Sword Coast was at 1.3.5508 by default, so I patched it to 1.3.5512 before continuing. I also applied the DirectX 8 patch, which may or may not be a good idea, we'll see.

Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal: I installed Shadows of Amn and patched it to 23037, then installed Throne of Bhaal and patched it to 26498 before continuing. I also applied the 26499 beta patch, which once again may or may not be a good idea, we'll see.

Checkpoint: I made a backup copy of the .wine folder at this point, mainly so I won't ever have to sit through the demo movies again (the BG and TotSC installers won't let you break out of those horrible movies). The .tar.gz for this was 4.2 GB. Pretty darn big! :-D

Baldur's Gate Trilogy: The first thing I tried was to install BGT without anything else. That fails bigtime since the installation scripts rely on various Windowsisms (yeah, that's a word!) that are not present in Wine. Luckily someone already worked out the kinks but it makes the installation process a little more involved; I found this article helpful too. So we start by installing dos2unix and mmv (I used emerge in Gentoo). Then grab mospack and compile it using "make -f makefile.unix" in the source directory, then add the source directory to your PATH. Now grab Baldur's Gate Trilogy and bgt_linux.rar and extract them into your Shadows of Amn directory. Now grab the Linux version of WeiDU, extract it, and add the resulting directory to your PATH. Now execute the "tolower" program from WeiDU in both the Baldur's Gate and the Shadows of Amn folders to convert everything to lower case. Note that for the scripts to work you need to remove the spaces and capital letter from your path names to the installation directories as well.

Update 2010/05/22: Bad news. I had to give up on this project because the install scripts simply assume way too much about Windoze to be processed nicely with Wine. So I bit the bullet and installed an ancient Windows 2000 CD I had lying around in VirtualBox instead. Now I can play all my favorite games with all the fun extensions I want. And over the last few weeks, the "guilt" I felt whenever I started VirtualBox also diminished. Of course it's still frustrating that I had to give up. :-(