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Syndicate Wars Port

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First post, by DosFreak

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http://swars.vexillium.org/

Syndicate Wars Port is a port of the 1996 DOS game Syndicate Wars to modern operating systems. In particular, it runs on GNU, Ma […]
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Syndicate Wars Port is a port of the 1996 DOS game Syndicate Wars to modern operating systems. In particular, it runs on GNU, Mac OS and Windows, but it should also work on any system supported by the SDL library on the i386 architecture.

To create the port, we disassembled the original DOS executable and replaced most of the DOS-specific parts with platform-independent code, using SDL for input and video display, Vorbis for music and OpenAL for sound.

As part of the port we only provide a modernised executable which will run on contemporary systems. However, we do not provide the game data. To install the Syndicate Wars Port, you will need to have the original data from the Syndicate Wars CD.

The port is not fully complete. It is possible to finish the single player campaigns, but support for networking is missing. There is also no support for joystick control.

The project was in many ways challenging, it took us two attempts and a considerable amount of effort to understand the LE executable format, write a disassembler that would produce re-compilable code, understand the old DOS interfaces, Watcom register calling conventions and recognise its statically-compiled C library functions; we had to analyse the disassembled source code, interface the assembler code with C code by using automatically-generated function wrappers and fight with Apple compiler bugs; all this before we could provide our own C replacements for the DOS-specific assembler parts and finally make it all work (after endless hours of debugging the assembler code with gdb, of course); months of tediousness and uncertainty before we could even see the mission screen pop up (and crash). Lots of pain, lots of work, but in the end, lots of fun and lots of satisfaction!

It should also be noted that we got our inspiration for creating this project from John Jordan's Frontier: First Encounters, which is a similar port of a space sim game.

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Reply 1 of 30, by sliderider

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How can it be considered a "port" when the original CD is required? If you don't already own the game it's going to cost you between $20 and $50 to scrape up an original copy and if you're going to go that far, then you might as well just install it in a VM and play it from there. This "port" is useless.

Reply 2 of 30, by leileilol

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sliderider wrote:

How can it be considered a "port" when the original CD

Because that would be illegal

and it's good that it requires the cd and original files. Some 'ports' don't even bother and include them anyway, irresponsibly. Like that Z one, that Dune II one,... which is probably what you believe are the only 'ports' in existence because of so.

sliderider wrote:

This "port" is useless.

It ain't useless for owners of the game!

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Reply 3 of 30, by sliderider

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leileilol wrote:
Because that would be illegal […]
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sliderider wrote:

How can it be considered a "port" when the original CD

Because that would be illegal

and it's good that it requires the cd and original files. Some 'ports' don't even bother and include them anyway, irresponsibly. Like that Z one, that Dune II one,... which is probably what you believe are the only 'ports' in existence because of so.

sliderider wrote:

This "port" is useless.

It ain't useless for owners of the game!

Whether it would be illegal or not still doesn't make it a "port".

And how is it not useless? Owners of the game can already play it without using this "port". I'm going to waste my time downloading something to play a game I can already play without it?

Reply 4 of 30, by leileilol

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yeah same with all those doom ports, whats the point when you can just dosbox doom instead!
🙄

You're making me want to facepalm hard. I do a port, too.

Also wasting time? What are you on, dial-up? Engine only ports are small as hell. especially this one which is just 2.1 F'IN MEGABYTES. At this point, you're just arguing for the sake of arguing with no actual reasoning logic at all so you're better off dropping it right now before you start to look even more stupid by telling others how pointless their hobbies are.

Last edited by leileilol on 2011-09-08, 13:13. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 5 of 30, by sliderider

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leileilol wrote:

yeah same with all those doom ports, whats the point when you can just dosbox doom instead!
🙄

All it says it does is allows the game to run on modern operating systems, it doesn't say it upgrades it in any way. You don't need to download anything to do that. You can already run it like I said, either in compatibility mode or if not that then in a VM running it's native OS. The whole project is waste of someone's time coding it and a waste of the users time downloading it if it doesn't do anything any differently than under it's native OS. It's not like all the graphically upgraded versions of Quake that are out there that actually require later hardware or a later OS to run because the original hardware can't handle the upgraded polygon counts or larger texture sizes.

Reply 7 of 30, by sliderider

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leileilol wrote:
sliderider wrote:

it doesn't say it upgrades it in any way.

There's nothing wrong with purist-bound ports. You probably will be extremely offended by the existence of this, then.

I'm just saying that with VM's that are capable of running older games there is no point in porting them to newer OS's unless you're going to improve them so that they no longer run on the original hardware. I can create a VM and run every game that I want to with it. Why do I have to download unique versions of every game just because they run under Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.7 natively?

And no, I wouldn't download a Windows 7 native version of Doom when I can just run the original in a VM, like I already am doing. A Windows 7 native version is completely useless to me unless there are substantial upgrades that go with it.

Last edited by sliderider on 2011-09-08, 13:21. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 8 of 30, by GL1zdA

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sliderider wrote:

How can it be considered a "port" when the original CD is required?.

Because porting has nothing to do with all the media assets. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porting

sliderider wrote:

You can already run it like I said, either in compatibility mode or if not that then in a VM running it's native OS.

That's the whole point - it runs NATIVELY without VMs or compatibility modes.

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Reply 9 of 30, by sliderider

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GL1zdA wrote:
Because porting has nothing to do with all the media assets. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porting […]
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sliderider wrote:

How can it be considered a "port" when the original CD is required?.

Because porting has nothing to do with all the media assets. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porting

sliderider wrote:

You can already run it like I said, either in compatibility mode or if not that then in a VM running it's native OS.

That's the whole point - it runs NATIVELY without VMs or compatibility modes.

Ooohh, like it takes a whole lot of effort to drag and drop the game .exe to your VM application or install it to your virtual hard drive.... heaven forbid you might sprain your left mouse button finger.

Reply 10 of 30, by leileilol

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sliderider wrote:

heaven forbid you might sprain your mouse button finger.

Oh just shut up.

dosfreak is going to have to clean this thread because you don't understand having the freedom of choice, such as, choosing not to partake in a thread about something you deem pointless (which isn't, as for a programmer it's an AWESOME learning experience to reproduce the behavior of an original game, perhaps you don't understand the huge EFFORT it takes to accomplish that especially when the original source isn't even available), and choosing not to argue against other's choices to use a port.

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Reply 11 of 30, by GL1zdA

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sliderider wrote:

Ooohh, like it takes a whole lot of effort to drag and drop the game .exe to your VM application or install it to your virtual hard drive.... heaven forbid you might sprain your left mouse button finger.

Why should I do it in such a inconvenient way if I can simply launch it?

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Reply 12 of 30, by F2bnp

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Wow... Just wow. Sliderider you've just hit an all-time low by calling one's hobby completely pointless. There is point in it, just like leileilol said, it's an awesome learning experience, and a lot of people just don't know or don't want to bother setting up a VM or heck even DOSBox, they find this stuff confusing. They just want to play their favorite old game and relive their memories. Plus, if they ever decide to, a port can do a lot more than the original, because you can actually alter the code. But anyway, your behaviour is completely uncalled for.

Reply 14 of 30, by sliderider

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leileilol wrote:
sliderider wrote:

heaven forbid you might sprain your mouse button finger.

Oh just shut up.

dosfreak is going to have to clean this thread because you don't understand having the freedom of choice, such as, choosing not to partake in a thread about something you deem pointless (which isn't, as for a programmer it's an AWESOME learning experience to reproduce the behavior of an original game, perhaps you don't understand the huge EFFORT it takes to accomplish that especially when the original source isn't even available), and choosing not to argue against other's choices to use a port.

I DO understand the huge effort involved, which is why I question it in the first place. Why bother creating a way to run an old game on a new machine when plenty of options already exist? All you're doing is duplicating the efforts of someone who already did it before you.

Reply 15 of 30, by sliderider

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F2bnp wrote:

Wow... Just wow. Sliderider you've just hit an all-time low by calling one's hobby completely pointless. There is point in it, just like leileilol said, it's an awesome learning experience, and a lot of people just don't know or don't want to bother setting up a VM or heck even DOSBox, they find this stuff confusing. They just want to play their favorite old game and relive their memories. Plus, if they ever decide to, a port can do a lot more than the original, because you can actually alter the code. But anyway, your behaviour is completely uncalled for.

How is questioning a duplicated effort uncalled for? I can already run that game by other means so why do I, or anyone else, need to download this new version of the game which isn't new at all since it adds nothing and only runs the game under a later OS which you could already do before it was written? Duplicating the efforts of someone else IS pointless.

Reply 16 of 30, by sliderider

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ADDiCT wrote:

I've noticed before in some other threads, Sliderider seems to know everything and has the ultimate opinion on everything. I'm glad a genius like him is sharing his profound thoughts with us.

Like, what other threads? I never claimed to know everything, but I DO know a wasted effort when I see it because there is nothing that this "port" does that I couldn't already do before I knew about it.

Reply 17 of 30, by leileilol

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ADDiCT wrote:

I've noticed before in some other threads, Sliderider seems to know everything and has the ultimate opinion on everything. I'm glad a genius like him is sharing his profound thoughts with us.

Teenagers

sliderider wrote:

Duplicating the efforts of someone else IS pointless.

More bullshit excuses? There's no duplicate effort. This is the first time it was ever ported.

Anyhow, so far these are the reasons that you think this sucks

  • - It doesn't come with the game data itself, requires CD, ports should ship data with them illegally and be stand-alone
    - It requires the CD, and since you own the CD you don't need the port then
    - It's a waste of time (kind of ironic considering the time you spent to argue about it on the internet...)
    - It does not add features or upgrade graphics
    - You can just run it in a VM, why bother
    - Just VM it if you own it, why bother
    - It's a duplicate effort

I can't wait to see what the next stupid excuse is, because really, you can apply this list to almost any faithful game port out there.

Last edited by leileilol on 2011-09-08, 14:58. Edited 2 times in total.

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Reply 18 of 30, by sliderider

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leileilol wrote:
Teenagers […]
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ADDiCT wrote:

I've noticed before in some other threads, Sliderider seems to know everything and has the ultimate opinion on everything. I'm glad a genius like him is sharing his profound thoughts with us.

Teenagers

sliderider wrote:

Duplicating the efforts of someone else IS pointless.

More bullshit excuses? There's no duplicate effort. This is the first time it was ever ported.

Teenagers? I'm 43 years old.

I'm not saying it was ported before, I'm saying the port was completely unnecessary to begin with because other means have already been devised to run old games on later OS's. The duplicated effort I am referring to is the ability to run an old game on a new system, not the port itself. It may have been valuable as a learning experience for the writer, but ultimately it has no value to an end user because it doesn't do anything new or different that the end user couldn't already do and that is where value comes from.

Reply 19 of 30, by sliderider

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leileilol wrote:
Because that would be illegal […]
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sliderider wrote:

How can it be considered a "port" when the original CD

Because that would be illegal

and it's good that it requires the cd and original files. Some 'ports' don't even bother and include them anyway, irresponsibly. Like that Z one, that Dune II one,... which is probably what you believe are the only 'ports' in existence because of so.

sliderider wrote:

This "port" is useless.

It ain't useless for owners of the game!

Oh, and another point, what about games like FreeCiv or Zelda Classic? They duplicate the look and functionality of the original games without using the original game assets. Are they illegal by your definition?