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Doom for OS/2- by Colin L. Hildinger


Last month's tip about running the Doom for OS/2 beta stirred up quite a bit of interest from our readers, so I decided that this month I'd give it a more detailed treatment, as well as update some of the information on the Ultimate OS/2 Gaming Page about Doom for OS/2.

Once upon a time, in an IBM far, far away...

If I remember correctly, the Doom for OS/2 story starts in 1994 with the upcoming release of OS/2 Warp. Doom was still a fairly young game and it was a big hit. IBM was planning their OS/2 Warp consumer campaign and was expanding OS/2's multimedia and gaming capabilities. They commissioned Jim Thomas to port Doom to the OS/2 platform.

At the time when the port was begun, DART didn't exist and DIVE was an incomplete and buggy shadow of what it is today, so Jim started his work using the GPI. Needless to say, the frame rate left little to be desired in these early versions, but Jim was on track. Adding DIVE support wasn't really that hard and as Jim progressed, the game began to take advantage of more and more of OS/2's new capabilities.

IBM Make a Huge Mistake? Never.

I believe the first public showing of Doom for OS/2 came at Spring COMDEX in 1994, and it was one of IBM's many mistakes in OS/2's history. I wasn't there, but I remember friends coming back and telling me about it. At this time, the first public Warp beta was still not released, but everyone expected to see the "performance beta" soon. The fact that IBM was porting a game as cool as Doom to OS/2 made OS/2 the topic of conversation at Creative Labs. While many took the "Why would you want to play it in a window?" attitude, they knew that Windows 3.1 didn't have a prayer of doing Doom in a Window, so they were a little in awe. Everyone was trying to find a copy on the Internet and no one was having much luck.

After a few months people began to talk about WinDoom. WinG was being developed and WinDoom would be the first thing to really take advantage of it. Microsoft wanted to make it easier for game developers to write games for Windows. Everyone knew that Windows 3.1 was a joke as a gaming platform and up until then, Microsoft hadn't cared. But after the public saw Doom for OS/2, they realized that they were going to get beaten badly if they didn't do something quickly.

By Fall COMDEX, IBM's mistake in showing their hand had come full circle. Id was still showing Doom for OS/2 at their booth, but IBM certainly wasn't. A guy at IBM's booth actually said to me, "You wouldn't BELIEVE how many people have been asking about that!" when I asked if they were showing it. Of course I would believe, it was really cool, something IBM just couldn't grasp.

In the meantime, WinDoom was being played on dozens of Windows 95 beta boxes all over the floor. Windows 95 (most people were still calling it Chicago) wasn't capable of doing much at this point, so having one cool looking application that didn't crash the system repetitively made them look good.

IBM had had another brilliant idea, had played their card too early, and was once again getting beaten by the Microsoft hype machine. In reality, WinG was a far cry from DIVE, and Microsoft wouldn't release DirectX 1.0 for another year. IBM still had the advantage, but instead of pressing it, they tucked tail and ran from a company only a fraction of their size.

Doom for OS/2 would never be officially released, only leaked as a beta with no networking code. The Entertainment Developers' Toolkit would never be completed and released, and IBM would stop supporting technologies aimed at the "kitchentop" market. In the mean time, ever person who had a copy of one of the Windows 95 beta CD's had a copy of WinDoom.

Enough of the Doom and Gloom

Of course it's not nearly as bad as it sounds for us users. While IBM made some terrible mistakes that cost OS/2 in the consumer market, a person involved in the project leaked a beta of Doom for OS/2 that is quite playable. (Please don't ask me for this person's name. It certainly isn't his fault what happened and he's moved on to other things now, though he still works on OS/2 projects within IBM.)

This was the first game to take advantage of DIVE, FSDIVE, and DART. The only thing really missing from the game is networking support and for that, most people are playing Quake these days anyway. Of course, the original vision for the Doom for OS/2 networking would have allowed it to work over any network protocol instead of just IPX (and later Kali simulated IPX) as the original Doom did.

"OK," you say, "enough babbling about history, let's get on to Doom for OS/2. What do I need?" The last beta of Doom for OS/2 will actually play Doom and Doom II .wad files. So what you need is the beta and a .wad file. I've created a new archive with the most recent shareware Doom .wad file from id's FTP site. This will get rid of the annoying errors some have experienced about the demo being for a different version of Doom. It also contains a patched version of the executable that doesn't have the expiration date that the original executable did. You can, of course, use any of the thousands of Doom and Doom II .wad files available on the Internet, as well as the .wad files from the registered game.

After you've unzipped the game into a directory, you may want to try FSDIVE. PLEASE NOTE: FSDIVE will cause problems on some systems, so I recommend backing up your MMOS2 files before installing it. I've never experienced problems with it, but I've had reports from some people who have. At least back up your DIVE.DLL and MMPM2.INI files before tinkering with FSDIVE. If you don't know what FSDIVE is, it's an abandoned effort by IBM to create a set of full screen libraries that would allow a developer to write games that would work in both full screen and windowed modes using DIVE. Since it never made it out of beta, it doesn't work with all cards. If it does work with your card, you should be able to use <ctrl>-<home> to switch between full screen and windowed modes.

Finally, you'll need DART support. Warp 4 includes DART support in the basic install, but Warp 3 does not. I recommend updating to FixPak 26 and installing DART support. The easiest way I know of to add DART to a Warp 3 system is to install the Netscape Plug-in Pack from IBM. I believe this will add all the necessary files to your system.

Once you have everything set up you should be able to play Doom to your heart's content. For the most part it works pretty well. On slower machines you may have a tough time playing it in a maximized window. Some things just work better in full screen mode. Part of the result of the cancellation of the Doom for OS/2 project was that IBM never managed to create a full screen graphics library for OS/2, so all full screen games are something of a hack... But that's a subject for another day.

In Conclusion

I'm really not sure what possessed IBM the day they cancelled this project. They seem to have a habit of killing projects about 90% of the way through the development cycle. At this point, Doom is an old game, on the verge of deserving the name "classic," but it is quite a fun game as well. If you get the urge to play Doom and are annoyed by the fact that sound doesn't work properly for Doom in OS/2 VDM sessions, have a taste of where IBM could have led OS/2 if they'd only had the backbone to see things through.
 * Ultimate Doom
by id Software
MSRP: US$25

 * Doom II
by id Software
MSRP: US$40 (CD only)

 * Doom for OS/2
by IBM and SoftPort (formerly WinWare)
Registration: Free upgrade for Doom owners


Colin Hildinger is an Aerospace Engineering senior at Oklahoma State University and has been using OS/2 for the last 3 years. In addition to being the Games Editor for OS/2 e-Zine!, he maintains The Ultimate OS/2 Gaming Page and the AWE32 and OS/2 Page in his "spare" time.

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