MechWarrior 2 3D FAQ
|I. What are the 3D Enhanced versions of MechWarrior 2?|
|In late 1995 and through
1996, Activision worked with several chipset and
videocards manufacturers to create new versions of
MechWarrior 2 that featured 3D hardware acceleration.
These versions of the game were included with some of the
new generation of 3D capable video cards that were
released throughout 1996-97. The new features added to
the game included higher polygon counts, texture-mapped
objects, terrain, scrolling skies and [w/ some versions]
higher framerates. Activision's labeling for these new
versions of MW2 was usually listed as "3D Enhanced
for the xxxxx." These versions of the game continued
to be offered for as long as the corresponding video
cards were produced in retail form. On some cards, the
game bundle was revised prior to the card ceasing
production and MW2 was replaced with a newer game (like
with late Diamond Monster 3D cards), so this is not
always the case. Some basic questions on the 3D Enhanced
versions of MW2 are answered below, in A-C:
A) How many verisons were made? Not counting the packaging variations, there were a total of six 3D Enhanced versions of MechWarrior 2 released during 1996-1997. Of these six, five were PC/Win95 versions and included ports for the ATI 3D Rage, Matrox Mystique, S3 ViRGE, 3Dfx Voodoo, & PowerVR. A single Macintosh/MacOS version using Quickdraw 3D RAVE was released in 1997 as well. All the PC/Win95 versions have native 3D API support and you will need a videocard with a specific chipset to be able to run them [with one of two exceptions]. The Macintosh QD3D RAVE version may be able to be run on several differnt Mac videocards, because it uses a broader 3D API, but that would depend on how well the game gets along with your videocard's RAVE drivers. While it seem like it would have been a hell of a lot easier if they made just a single D3D or OpenGL port, realize these games are a product of a time when D3D performance was very weak and OpenGL support was very rare, so the best 3D performance available [by far] was achieved by using a chipset's native 3D API.
B) What's so great about them? While the original DOS/Win95/Mac MechWarrior 2's gameplay, storyline, multiplayer, sounds, and music all still hold up very well all these years later, the one area that looks most dated is the software rendered version's graphics. As you can see from viewing the screenshots on the gallery pages, the 3D Enhanced versions may not be up to the new 2001 game standards, but in their own way, they still look damn good. In many ways they look better than the Titanium series, plus many versions run faster and have higher resolutions than Titanium as well. Another great thing about the 3D Enhanced editions [for PC/Win95] is that they also include a 3D accelerated version of Netmech which is fully compatible with the regular Pentium/Win95 versions of Netmech. This now means less than it used to with the decline of Netmech leagues, but it compatibility used to mean a hell of a lot because there were huge numbers of people playing the non-Titanium Win95 Netmech online and you were able to join and host games with them, unlike those playing Titanium Netmech. Titanium also wasn't available until 1998, a point where the leagues where beginning to enter the twilight period of their popularity. Unfortunately, the Mac RAVE version does not include a 3D accelerated version of Netmech.
If you are looking to buy a PC version, my recommendations [when considering performance appearance, resolutions, & availability] are 1) the 3Dfx Voodoo Edition as the best, followed by 2) the PowerVR version (when used on a PCX2 based card). They both look great and run pretty fast, but the Voodoo is much easier to find, offers 800x600 resolution, and runs the fastest on most systems. The PowerVR version has really nice fog, 640x480, and it seems to suffer the least from polygon pop-up, but it is a bit harder to find. As far as the other versions: The ATI 3D Rage version only does 512x384, but is relatively easy to find and can be a option if you have a Rage Pro powered latop/notebook (Rage II, II+, IIc will work, but may be too slow on a laptop to give you acceptable fps). The ViRGE version looks nice and offers higher resolutions, but is just too damn slow even on the fastest system w/ the fastest ViRGE/GX2 card and despite being available as OEM and retail, it is somewhat hard to find. The Matrox Mystique version [when originally released] offered the highest framerate of the MW2 versions made for the 2D/3D cards, but it suffers from pixilation (a result of lacking bilinear filtering) and is really not worthwhile anymore unless you are running an older system and you have no other option or you are a very big Matrox Mystique fan.
Macintosh users are limited to the Quickdraw 3D RAVE version. I have seen several sites list the version that came with the TeckWorks Power3D as the *only* RAVE version available/made, but the "Accelerated for the 6500" version that was included with the PowerMac 6500 series is the same thing! I've noticed on eBay, people often bid really high the Power3D version, while at the same time a 6500 version will go unsold or won for almost nothing. Arm yourself with knowledge and you'll be twice as likely to find a RAVE edition up for auction and you may also save some money!
C) Where can I buy them? As mentioned above, these games were used as a tool by videocard makers to convince customers that they needed to buy their new 2D/3D or 3D videocards. Activision and several card manufacturers made exclusive deals that limited the release of these MW2 versions to the software bundles that came with certain videocards and computer systems. The only version available for retail purchase was the S3 ViRGE Edition, which could be purchased directly from Activision, but this has long since been discountinued. All of the videocards including these games have also long been discontinued, though you may occasionally find them collecting dust in the corner of a computer or software store. The result is that you are left searching used software stores/outlets, garage sales, etc. or online auction sites like eBay, game trading websites, and even USENET where you may see a for-sale ad or place a "wanted" post. It's really not too hard to find most of them and since MW2 is considered by many to be one of the all-time great computer games, and Netmech one of the all time great multiplayer games, they are definetly worth picking up IMO. If you are running an OS like NT, 2K, or XP, and you have a spare PCI slot and some extra hard drive space, you could make with a Win9x partition, and pick up a Voodoo or PowerVR card and version of the game.
|II. Did Activision ever offer a 3D upgrade patch for the regular DOS/Pentium/Win95 versions of MechWarrior 2, like they did for MW2:Mercenaries?|
|No, they never made any patches to upgrade the regular DOS/Win95/Pentium versions (or Macintosh version) to the 3D accelerated versions. The only 3D upgrade was for Mercenaries, in the form of the v1.08b, v1.081b and v1.1 series D3D patches.|
|III. Did Activision ever make any patches to fix bugs in any of the 3D Enhanced editions?|
|No, but fortunately the only bugs left are pretty minor (see the version pages for bug details). According to Activision, all the 3D Enhanced versions are already patched to v1.1 (the last PC revision). The one noticable issue is that the when the ATI version was first being included with the ATI 3D Rage (I) cards, it was released several months prior to the v1.1 patch release. So unless they were sitting on the patch for a while, this early ATI version may actually be only v1.0. The Macintosh RAVE version is already updated to v1.2 (same thing as v1.3 aside from the installer). If you go ahead and apply the patch to these games anyway, it will probably result in the game to crashing and forcing you to uninstall the whole thing. I'm not sure what would happen to the early ATI version (if it is actually only v1.0) and you patched it using the Pentium/Win95 v1.1 patch.|
|IV. What files are different between the Pentium/Win95 and the 3D Enhanced versions (can I convert a Pentium version into a 3D enhanced one or visa-versa)?|
that a total of five main files are different between the
standard Pentium/Win95 and the 3D enhanced versions..
There are also a few other minor file differences, like
the TECH.HLP file, but they are not vital. Three of the
main files for the enhanced versions are of a different
size and two are new and not found in the Pentium/Win95
Different Size Files (using the 3Dfx Voodoo vs. the Pentium v1.0/v1.1):
All the 3D acclerated editions should have unique versions of the above four files. (The same 52kb MECH2.EXE seen in the Pentium/Win95 edition appears to be reused in all the different 3D versions).
The results of the tests I've done have shown that by [minmally] changing the MW2.DLL and MW2.PRJ you should be able to convert a Pentium version into a 3D enhanced one (or 3D enahnced into a Pentium). It would be best to also replace/add the other files above as well to insure best performance and stability.
Without getting into coding and creating an *.EXE that would update and create files, the one way to create a 3D Enhanced version patch for the regular Pentium/Win95 version would be to put the five above listed files (six, if you include the tech.hlp) into a *.ZIP archive to be extracted into the installation directory of the Pentium/Win95 version. You'd be looking at creating Winzip patches that are somewhere in the realm of 40-50mb (25-30mb zipped) for each 3D Enhanced edition. I have tested this process using 3Dfx Voodoo and PowerVR patches on the Pentium Edition and from what I saw, it worked fine.
For those wondering, "Can I drop these files in a Pentium/Win95 GBL folder and create a 3DFx Glide (ATI 3D Rage, etc.) version of GBL......." You are on to something there, but it's not that easy otherwise it would have been done long ago. There are additional many additional objects/models in GBL and even if they are already in the original MW2.PRJ from the MW2, you would still have much to do. The major undertaking would be in having to attribute mip mapping to all the new objects. Much easier, but still time consuming would be modifying the skygnd.par file, which would involve choosing terrain and sky tiles rates (sizes) and the sky scrolling/animation rates. At least you can read and understand the skygnd.par in a text editor and see what you need to change, but the mw2.mip file is coded and has to be understood for attributing mip mapping (textures) for objects. You don't have a guide to refer to when looking at the mw2.mip file (or the MW2.PRJ for that matter) and when using a hex editor, all you'll see is a hell of a lot of "y's." I could go on about this, but this subject is much more of Maerlyn's field of expertise. Of course having the source code would make all this much easier, but Activision is really not the type of company that would ever do such a thing [I hope they prove me wrong], but I'm sure they will continue to repackage the game yet again, probably in "classic" and "antique" editions in an attempt to squeeze out a few more dollars.
It would be nice to create a GLMechWarrior 2 and a GLGBL that runs [at least] at 800x600, adds fogging like the PowerVR version, and maybe a few more features. Depending on the capabilites of the MW2 "engine", maybe one could add bitmap horizon features (ala Titanium) to create the appearence of forests, ice bergs, mountains, etc. in the distance that could fill out thegame world nicely. Also the view distance should be increased to at least 1000m and perhaps the object pop-up problems could be reduced or eliminated. If *carefully* done, something quite nice could be created, that makes the game more visually appealing in this day and age, yet remains faithful to what made the original game so great. Some would say "why bother? It's too old!" I would answer that it is obvious that this game is very different than MW3 and MW4, and we're not just talking visually. The feel of the game may not be pure 100% Battletech, but it sure has a style and feel all its own AND *it is fun* As long as a game continues to be fun, it is not obsolete and worth a look. I guess I've rambled (or ranted?) enough on this subject, so I'll stop here....
|V. Did Activision ever make Rendition or nVidia specific versions of MechWarrior 2?|
As far as the original 3D Enhanced versions go, the answer is - no -, there was no "VMechWarrior 2."
Rendition Verite (V1000) based cards* were released just before the original Voodoo Graphics cards came out and were a pretty good 3D performers [for a 2D/3D board], though not up to the Voodoo level. Some probable reasons for the lack of a Rendition port of MW2:
The MW2 Titanium editions, released in the Spring of 1998, did finally offer some level of RRedline support, though I never could find any details, aside from Activision's basic information stating that it supports RRedline and finding a "zredline.dll" file in the plugin folder.
I was very surprised to find out that there was a 3D accelerated version being worked on for the nVidia NV1chipset, but it was never quite completed. For more details, refer to the Q&A with Chacko Sonny.
The nVidia NV1 chipset (and SGS Thomson's STG2000 variant) was released in the fall of 1995 and was used in Diamond Multimedia's Edge 3D series and LeadTek's Proview series. Along with a non-traditional rendered method, the NV1 based cards also had onboard sound and input for Sega Saturn controllers. It sounded good on paper, but just didn't work out well in the real world.
|VI. How can I measure the frame rate (fps) in the 3D Enhanced versions of MW2?|
first started looking into all this stuff, I noticed
that, unlike GLQuake, D2, TR, etc, you never saw any
framerate numbers for these versions of Mechwarrior 2
(nor do you see any listed at my site). The reason for
that? Well, the framerate command is there but appears to
be broken. The GAMEKEY.MAP FILE has a listing for the
command "TOGGLE_FRAMERATE_MAIN" with
"ALT+f" as the keys mapped for it, but it does
not work and trying remap it to another key(s) does not
work either. I have tried this on the 3Dfx, Mystique,
PowerVR and ViRGE versions with no luck.
**UPDATE** According to First of One, the FRAPS utility *does* work with the ATI Rage version and I did get it to work with the PowerVR version, though changing some of the advanced features settings on the PowerVR Display Properties tab can cause it to disappear . While I no longer have the Mystique and ViRGE versions to test, I suspect that FRAPS would probably work with them as well. It does NOT work with the 3Dfx Voodoo version (like many other utility programs).
As far as the MW2's built in framerate counter: After looking through old alt.games.mechwarrior2 posts @ Google Groups, I found out that Pierre Perret had created a fix for the framerate counter in back 1996. It was called WEDGE.EXE that worked on the DOS versions of MW2, GBL and MercNet. He found out that you needed to use the "-x" command line switch to activate the framerate counter, but this could only be used directly for the SIM part of the game (not the intro shell) and therein lies the problem. MW2 is designed to start off in the shell page first and that would cause a crash. The WEDGE.EXE program solved that problem. Unfotunately I have't been able to contact Pierre or find his program anywhere to see if it would work. What I did do is take the information about the "-x" switch and try it with the command line enteries for going straight into missions (See X. below), figuring this would bypass any crash problems with the shell. Be damned if it didn't work! Once in the mission I hit Alt+f and there is the framerate counter. Example of shortcut target:
MECH2.EXE -x userstar.bwd ****scn1
MECH2.EXE userstar.bwd ****scn1 -x
Where **** is the 4 letter mission code (see codes below at X.)
|VII. Does MechWarrior 2 have the ability to run a time demo to measure performance?|
|According to Chacko Sonny, the answer is no. The MW2 team would just play through certain scenarios and monitor the frame rate.|
|VIII. The scrolling sky/moving clouds in the 3D Enhanced version(s) are moving to fast, how do I slow them down and make them look more realistic?|
feel the sky is moving too fast, go into the skygnd.par
file and reduce the animation rate(s). I tested mine by
using the registration cheat "freebirthtoad" to
unlock all Jade Falcon missions and started with the
first mission listed, "Pink." on planet Colmar,
which had a sky that was moving way too fast. **Note: You may want to
save a backup copy of the original file and rename it
"skygnd.bak" before editing it, encase you have
problems after changing values** If you double click on the
skygnd.par file, it will ask you what program to open it
with. Choose Notepad, and make sure that the "always
open with" box is checked, so you can go right into
the file in the future. Once in the file you will see a
total of 70 missions listed (*See note at below*). The sky animation rate for
each mission is listed on the far right. Ex:
mission=pink tile_sky=12.0 tile_ground=20000.0 anim_rate=0.00004
After some testing I changed the animation rate to by adding an extra zero and slowing it down quite a bit to anim_rate=0.000004 Depending on your systems speed and own personal preference, you will probably have to mess around with values until you find a result you are happy with
As far as the other two values, tile_sky & tile_ground, they control the number of terrain map files per given unit area. Increasing the values will create smaller tiles, decreasing values will stretch the tiles out over a larger distance. I messed around with both values for the "Pink" mission. Increasing the sky tile number did make the sky more realistic overhead (and changed the perceived cloud altitude), but it made it look for unrealistic and tiled-looking as you looked toward the horizon.
These tweaks may not offer any huge insight, but they are starting point to becoming famliar with the MW2 3D game engine.
*Note: There are 70 Missions listed, but it appears that there really are only 68: 6 Jade Falcon training, 16 Jade Falcon campaign, 6 Wolf training, 16 Wolf campaign, 10 Instant Action, and 14 Netmech. Two others are listed, but I never got around to checking them out.*
|IX. Does the Battlemaster patch work with the 3D Enhanced versions?|
|Yes, the Win95 Battlemaster patch works fine with these versions. Everything is the same in regard to the use of Enzo, Calvin and Hobbes in the Trials of Grievance missions. The one thing you want to avoid is choosing the Elemental in MechLab. If you do so it will crash the game along the lines of "MECH2 caused a divide error in module MW2SHELL.DLL." My guess is it has something to do with the 3D model displayed in the lab may be missing or corrupt. The Tarantula and Battlemaster work fine in MechLab, aside from not being able to customize them. If you want to use the Elemental, only choose it from the scenario configuration menu.|
|X. Are there any command line arguments that can be used to tweak the performance of the 3D Enhanced versions?|
|A good question, but one
that is being asked way to late, with many years gone by
and the development team long gone. I know MW2 is not
exactly GLQuake with a console and all, but you figure
there had to be *some* performance related command line
arguments. Well, I couldn't find anything for tweaking
the game's performance and the only command line info I
came across was a couple things for DOS Netmech and a few
for MW2 for going directly into a specific single-player
mission, which is somewhat useless with the existence
"FREEBIRTHTOAD" registration cheat.
Unfortunately, even a long time supporter like Dan K. has
long since disappeared from the MW2 scene and there's no
one I know of to ask about this topic, unless Maerlyn
over at NavAlpha knows or came across something.
Here are the command line arguments for entering specific missions. The must be added after MECH2.EXE in the Shortcut Target Box: i.e it will look something like this:
D:\Mech2\MECH2.EXE userstar.bwd ****scn1 (where **** is the mission name)
The mission name uses a four letter abbrevition and the key is listed below. Note that this justs lists the single player campaign missions, because using this method with multiplayer missions causes the program to crash and training missions took forever to load and the colors were somewhat screwed up. Basically, this is not worthwhile IMO (because of the FREEBIRTHTOAD cheat) unless someone can use it as a starting point to figure out how to change the command line text and enter the Netmech missions offline.
Ex: MECH2.EXE userstar.bwd pinkscn1
Since this method uses the userstar.bwd files, the mechs that you enter the mission with are determined by what you last entered a mission with in the Trials of Grievance part of the game. SO if you want to change the type of number of mechs for you and your star, choose them in the trial, drop into the mission, then exit and the next time you run the command line short, it will be set up for those mechs.
|XI. How do I view the *.888 files that are created when I take screenshots in the 3D Enhanced versions?|
DOS & Pentium/Win95 versions that dump screen images
as *.GIF files, the 3D Enhanced versions use a rather
strange *.888 file format. Though there is a way to of
view *.888 files [kind of...], I generally recommend that
you avoid using the command "Ctrl+P" for taking
screenshots. For whatever reason, it appears that
Activision either did not finish the screenshot feature
or did not think it was important. In most of the PC
versions you can use the Printscreen key then copy and
paste into a paint program. Better yet, download
Hypersnap from Hyperionics, which is an excellent
screenshot utility. Unfortunately, the 3Dfx Voodoo
version will not work with Hypersnap, because it uses a
very early version of Glide and will require a 3Dfx
specific screen utility. I recommend good 'ole Snap3Dfx
which is available from many download sites (the Snap3Dfx Homepage is gone). Just do a search for
"Snap3Dfx." The most recent version is v1.2
If for some reason you still really want to try to view the *.888 files, you can use a procedure posted by VMaxx in alt.games.mechwarrior2 way back when. You will need a program like Adobe Photoshop or Paintshop Pro (both have evaluation versions available for download). Once you have a program to view the image with, you'll first need to change the *.888 extension to *.RAW (or just use "Open As..." in the program and then choose *.RAW).When the file is opened in Photoshop, Paintshop, etc. you will be prompted for some additional information before file can be displayed. In the dialog box that pops up, choose RGB, 4 byte header, and 1024x300 resolution. Acitivision's support page tells you to choose the resolution the game was running at to set the *.RAW size but this does not work. You will end up getting an image that is sort of a split widescreen version of what the screenshot should have looked like. Also, you will not be able to get the HUD overlay using this procedure. I have messed with this one on and off over the years trying to get it to work correctly, but I've given up. I really think it is a big waste of time unless you're really curious about it.
|XII. What exactly was the 3Dfx Interactive version of MechWarrior 2 that was available in retail stores?|
|Around June of 1997, Activision did release a retail "3Dfx Interactive Edition" of MW2: Mercenaries into stores (note, this game was Mercs, not the original MW2: 31st Centur Combat) and it started appearing in the gaming bundle for the JazzMM Adrenaline Rush 3D (3Dfx Voodoo Rush chipset) cards in retail box and with some OEM systems. The retail version caused a bit of controversy at the time, because it was NOT actually a game written for 3Dfx Glide, but just Microsoft D3D. It has been said that this version of Mercs was given the 3Dfx name because Activision had done "extensive" D3D testing on the 3Dfx Voodoo chipset, though it sounds more like a marketing ploy as well. The product did look pretty nice, though it was a bit buggy, chugged along at a much lower framerate than had it been a Glide port and didn't include 3D acceleration for Mercnet, which was also still DOS based at this point. Being that the game is actually D3D, it *might* work on other cards that support D3D, but it may have problems. Given the time frame that the retail "3Dfx Interactive Edition" was released, it should be the same thing as adding the v1.08 Beta patch to a regular version of Mercs (1.0-1.06). The v1.081 Beta patch did not come out until July, a month or so after the 3Dfx retail version had been in stores. The major change from 1.08 Beta to 1.081 Beta was increased compatibilty for more chipsets. Mercnet did not add D3D acceleration or become Win95 native until the v1.1 patch was released in late 1997. The v1.1 patch improved the framerate problems (if not fixing them totaly) and also had numerous other small fixes (and bugs). The final evolution of Mercenaries was the Titanium edition released in the Spring of 1998, which fixed some bugs and added several more. Even though I am not a fan of Titanium, my personal experience has been that Titanium Mercs seems to be the most stable and best performing 3D accelerated vesion of Mercenaries.|
|XIII. Did Activision ever make a 3D accelerated version of Ghost Bear's Legacy?|
|Yes. The Titanium version of Ghost Bear's Legacy offered 16-bit 3D acceleration, but it was *only* available in the Titanium Trilogy (a 3 CD pack that included Titanium Editions of MW2, GBL, and Mercs). This was the only 3D hardware accelerated version of GBL ever offered and for whatever reason they did not offer Titanium GBL separately, like the did with Titanium MW2 and Mercenaries. No 3D upgrade patches were offered for owners that already owned the DOS/Win95/Battlepack versions of GBL. The Titanium Trilogy is getting harder to find as it has not been made for a while and even Activision's own store does not offer it. If you really want to find it, try eBay or a local software store (the type that tends to have stock that is several years old). Bottom line, unless you find it for real cheap, it is not worth the getting. I was really looking forward to it myself and when I finally bought it, I was very disappointed. Yes, DOS/Win95 GBL looks very dated, but the use of crappy low res blurred textures, incorrect insignias and other issues make this version of the game a huge let-down.|
|XIV. Where can I find technical support for the 3D Enhanced versions of MechWarrior 2?|
|I doubt Activision's still provides support for a products of this vintage, but you could still try to contact them in the hope of some miracle. Also, check out Activision's support page. In addition, I have listed all Activision's problems/solutions to the bundled versions of MW2 on my support webpage. Finally, you can try posting in the alt.games.mechwarrior2 newsgroup or the Bad Karma forums, where there may be a few people around who may be of some assistance.|
|XV. How many versions of the MW2, GBL and Mercs were made? What were their release dates?|
|I have noticed this question asked many times on the MW2 newsgroup, message boards and elsewhere, so I put together a versions webpage with an extensive list. I think that it is pretty close to 100% complete, but you never know.....For the curious, I also made a release dates webpage as well.|
|XVI. What is the difference between the Pentium Edition and the Win95 version of MW2?|
|According to what Dan Kegel has said in alt.games.mechwarrior2, they're the same exact thing. It was just an attempt by the Activision marketing department to capitalize on the Pentium brand name. They later dropped the Pentium name for just plain "Win95" though there still seems to be some new leftover "Pentium Edition" stock floating around.|
|XVII. What is the Battlepack Edition?|
Battlepack was released in March of 1997 and like the later Titanium Trilogy, it included three CD's that had revised versions of the MW2 series, in this case: MW2, GBL, & Netmech. (Unlike Titanium, the third CD was not Mercenaries, but just Netmech packaged seperately). Also differing from the later Titanium Trilogy/Series, it was *not* hardware accelerated, with the main change for the Battlepack Edition being the use of the Mercs 1.0 game engine in MW2 and GBL. This gave these new versions some visual enhancements, but they still were only software rendered. Also, the Battlepack version of Netmech was *not* compatible with the other versions of DOS/Win95 Netmech already out at the time (a bad decision) and lead the mulitplayer part of Battlepack into quick obscurity online. Apparently the 8-bit Titanium versions are the same thing as the Battlepack Edition (once again, source is a USENET post by Dan K.) and I believe that the Titanium 8-bit Netmech is compatible with its Battlepack counterpart. Battlepack changed very little in these games and IMO was a waste of resources that could have been used to either get people Mercs v1.1 earlier and/or get rid of many of the v1.1 multiplayer bugs. Finally, while there is a v1.0.5 patch available to fix some bugs in Battlepack, Activision did not make any patches that would upgrade Battlepack versions of MW2, GBL, or Netmech to the Titanium versions, though this was originally discussed the Dave G. and others back in the Spring of 1997 when the Titanium Series was first announced.
|XVIII. What is the Titanium Edition?|
The Titanium Editions were the final evolution of the many versions of the MechWarrior 2 series. First offered in the Spring of 1998, they can be found in three packaging variations: A) Titanium MechWarrior 2 B) Titanium MW2:Mercenaries and C) the Titanium Trilogy, which includes all 3 of the MW2 series: MechWarrior 2, MW2:Mercenaries and MW2:Ghost Bear's Legacy (Titanium GBL was never made available for purchase separately). Each CD in the Titanium series included 2 versions of the game: an 8-bit software rendered version which was basically Battlepack Edition v.1.0.5 and a 16-bit 3D accelerated version, including D3D, RRedline and 3Dfx Glide options (more on this below in XIX.) On paper this upgrade sounded great, but the execution was not there and Titanium ended up falling far short of most people's expectations, with Activision earning many a mechwarrior's [further] animosity. Below, I'll try to cover some background on the Titanium edition's problems.
Some history first: As far back as the Fall of 1996 when the ATI, Mystique and other 3D versions were being released, people starting asking for a single D3D (or even OpenGL) port of MW2, so that you did not have to buy a new videocard to get a 3D accelerated version. Of course, D3D was new and immature at the time and would have resulting in a much slower port than any of the native API versions. Still, many at Activision stated that it would be done at some point in the future. During the Spring of 1997 Dave Georgeson made a post refering to upcoming MW2 series prodcuts with D3D acceleration:
Over the next several months, many possible features where discussed and the name was changed from Gold to Titanium by the marketing department. The talk of Titanium died down a bit as Activision released the beta D3D patch for Mercenaries in the summer of 1997, then the final v1.1 D3D patch in late fall. Dave Georgeson stated that they could not release any more patches to fix the outstanding issues, but explained they would have to be taken care of in the Titanium product. Throughout early 1998, people waited to hear news on how Titanium was shaping up, but all they got to see were occasional posts that were made by Activision employees indicating that the project's original lofty goals where dramatically reduced. In the end of March 1998, Titanium went into stores somewhat quietly and received mixed reviews. Some reviewers loved the improved graphics, but many mecha fans found that the game that was little changed from Mercs v1.1, with some additional bugs just for good measure. Some of the criticism:
|XIX. What 3D acceleration modes are supported by the Battlepack and the Titanium Editions?|
|As mentioned above,
Battlepack is *not* hardware 3D accelerated and just uses
improved software rendering for MW2, GBL, & Netmech.
Titanium does offer 3D hardware acceleration with 16-bit installation option (the 8-bit choice is basically Battlepack). Activision's webpage states that it supports 3 API's: Rendition RRedline, 3Dfx Glide and Microsoft's D3D (D3D mode has limited compatibility w/ non-3Dfx & Rendition cards). After checking into this, there are three files in the PLUGIN subfolder that is within the main installation directory: 1) dx5draw.dll 2) zglide.dll and 3) zredline.dll. I'm not sure if you would really consider Titanium a true Glide or RRedline game, as these are just plugins (vs. the Enhanced vesions being specifically ported to one API). In the past, I ran the Titanium series in D3D on TNT and TNT2 Ultra cards, but it did look better on a plain old 4mb 3Dfx Voodoo card. You can run these games in D3D with many other videocards as well, but you may have graphic anomalies, which may be compounded by the graphics glitches that result from rushed and/or unfinished programming
|XX. Is there any way to increase the resolution beyond 640x480 in the 3D Enhanced versions of MW2, the D3D versions of Mercenaries or the Titanium Pack?|
3D Enhanced (OEM) Editions
To date, I honestly have never really spent much time trying to change the resolutions of these versions. Considering the hardware that the ATI Rage, Matrox Mystique and S3 ViRGE versions were made to work on, they are generally not worth trying to change. Perhaps the ATI Rage version at 640x480 or higher would be nice on an 8mb Rage Pro on a decent system, but supposedly it is locked to 512x384@60Hz. The 3Dfx version already offers 800x600 (as does the ViRGE, oddly enough). Now that I think about it, the one that I would most want to increase resolution in would be the PowerVR version, since it is one of the nicest ports and the card supports up to 1024x768. Recently, I found out that using a different MW2SHELL.DLL file for 3Dfx/D3D Mercs unlocked higher resolutions (for details, see below) and this makes me think that I might be able to do this for MW2 as well. The S3 ViRGE edition was the single one that offered resolution changes in the "Combat Variables" section of the shell and it appeared to be scalable with the amount of video memory available. Perhaps, if you were to use that ViRGE Edition MWSHELL.DLL on another version, such as the ATI 3D Rage or PowerVR, you just *might* be able to change to respolutions from the Combat Variables screen of the shell and successfully drop into single and multiplayer missions in higher res. This may even work for MW2 Titanium, since the shells are so similar to the older versions (aside from the Titanium running full screen). If the Titanium code handle running at 800x600 or higher, this may be the way to unlock it. I'll see if I can get a hold of the S3 ViRGE MW2SHELL.DLL and test this theory out.
"3Dfx" Mercenaries (retail version, OEM Adrenaline Rush 3D version, & 1.08b/ 1.081b patches)
Through experimentation, I have come up with way to increase resolutions in the 3Dfx Versions of Mercs. You can acess 800x600 and higher (if your videocard can handle it) by using the MW2SHELL.DLL file that came with a special OEM version of Mercs that does not cap resolutions like the later 1.08/3Dfx series. Fortunately, I have own this version :) Since this game isn't z-buffered, it should go 800x600 even on old 4mb 3Dfx cards. You can download the fix from HERE. *I would first back up your original MW2SHELL.DLL as a precaution* Then, just unzip this file and drop it into your Mercs installation directory. When you go into Mercs again, check your Video Options menu for the available resolutions. You should see resolutions up to 800x600 or higher, depending on your videocards memory.
D3D Mercenaries v1.1 (aka the v1.1 patch)
There are two ways of getting higher resolutions with Mercs v1.1:
1) The easiest way is to just use the same method as listed above for the 3Dfx versions of Mercs and while it is not flawless, it does work. Some problems are caused by the fact that the older 3D Enhanced shell DLL has some minor compatibility issues with the v1.1 code in the shell part of the game. Fortunately, the sim seems totally uneffected. You will lose the Mercnet and Options buttons on the main shell screen, because the older shell predates the addition of those buttons. This is really no big deal, because you can access both seperately anyway, Mercnet via Mercnet.exe and Options (Combat Variables) is available on the top menu. The other problem is that some of the shell's sound effects will be mixed up. You may get the Dropship thrust sound while hitting the exit button, or the "Enter Callsign" sound when clicking on the Mercenary button. It seems that the rest of the game functions fine though. One major benefit is that when you drop into a mission in Mercnet 1.1, the game will be at the resolution that you selected under the Video Options in the single player part of the game. It still will only show 320x200 or 640x480 for the Cockpit Resolution choices in the Mercnet shell, but you can ignore these as they are now irrelevant. If you want to see how your framerate is, use ALT+CTRL+SHIFT+FR to toggle the framerate counter.
2) I am including the second method only to help those who interested in understanding some of the inner workings of Mercenaries, because it is not very practical. This method involves editing two registry values and it only works with the Mercnet part of the game. These are the same values that are editing automatically when you choice your resolution under Video Options in the game. Here, the idea is to increase them beyong what the Video Options offers. This main problem is that once you go back into the single player, the shell DLL will change the registry values back to 640x480, as it is the max resolution that the v1.1 MW2SHELL.DLL file allows. This means if you are going back and forth between the single player and mercnet shells as most people do, you will have to go back into the registry and change the values each time you want higher resolutions in Mercnet after playing single player. (The DLL fix listed above changes the version of the MW2SHELL.DLL to allow the greater than 640x480 resolutions to stay in the registry). Here's the procedure:
Use REGEDIT to find: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Activision\Mercenaries 3D\1.0 If you highlight this key you should see two DWORD values under it, titled "DISPLAY HEIGHT" and "DISPLAY WIDTH." Right click on each of these and choose "Modify." An "Edit DWORD Value" box should then pop up. In this box, under "BASE" choose "Decimal" Value and change the value for the height and width to 600 and 800 respectively as a starting point. Note: If you try to go to high for your present videocard (i.e. trying to get 1024x768 out of a Vodoo I card), you will get an error when launch the Mercnet Mission. When done changing these values, close REGEDIT and go strait to Mercnet. *DO NOT ENTER THE SINGLE PLAYER SHELL TO GET TO THE MERCNET BUTTON OR THIS WILL VOID YOUR CHANGES!!* When you go into the Mercnet shell choose a Free For All mission, so you can stay in it and check it out. You will notive that the values under "Cockpit Resolution" will still read 320x200 or 640x480. Don't bother with them, because they will not change. When you enter the mission, it should be in higher resolution you set in the registry. If you get an error, you might have gone to high with the resolution or the resolution is not supported by your videocard.
I was able to do all this because I came across some early OEM D3D versions of Mercs that don't cap the maximum resolution . I've seen two different variants so far. 1) a "3D Enhanced Edition" that came with Sony desktop systems w/ PowerVR cards and 2) a "Enhanced Direct3D Video and 3D Positional Sound" ELSA version that also adds some new sound effects.
Looking at the file dates on the 3D Enhanced Edition, the lastest date is April 1997, which means that these versions actually predate the release of the 3Dfx Interactive Edition and the 1.08b patch by a couple months. It seems like they later decided to cap the resolutions at 640x480 on the 3Dfx/1.08x versions for performance reasons. This was probably done because even people with higher end systems w/ 3Dfx cards complained that 3Dfx Mercs in 640x480 was very slow and they must have know based on their testing that very few if any people would have achieved an accepatable framerate.
I have long since dumped the Titanium versions, so I am unable to test them, but the answer has generally been "no" to the higher resolution question. *BUT* you do have some options to try:
You may want to check the registry for keys mentioned just above under "D3D Mercenaries v1.1" Perhaps you may be able to change resolutions this way (or at least for Titanium Netmech/Mercnet) until you have to reenter the single player part of the sim, at which the game would probably reset them to 640x480.
The Hi-Res Patch that I made for Mercs 1.08-1.1 does not work on Titanium Mercs. The code was changed and [apparently] also the MW2SHELL.DLL, MW2.EXE, and MW2.PRJ work together. There is now an additional PLUGIN folder that contains 3D DLL's for D3D, Glide and RRedline and somewhow these also figure into the mix.
|XXI. Is Netmech or Mercnet still actively played anywhere online?|
|I haven't played Netmech
in a very long time, so I'm hardly current on this
subject aside from what I have heard from other people or
read online here and there. Still, I see people asking
where they can play Netmech so I'll try to answer the
question the best I can. As of 2000:
Unlike the Titanium version, Netmech DOS and Netmech95 (Win95 version inc/ the 3D Enhanced editions) really require third party software to help them find games on the internet as they only support modem, null modem (for DOS only), TCP/IP and IPX connections. Such third party software is available from websites like Kali, Kahn, MPlayer and other companies. This software ranges from Freeware to a small cost to register the software. In the past there might have been little [free] hack programs out there that might help out set up games, but I'm not familiar with any at this point.
As far as playing Netmech on Kali, Kahn etc. services: Up to the Spring of 1999, Kali had many Netmech games showing up and many Netmech Leagues that helped provide both league and no league related games for players, but after MW3 was released almost all of these games dried up. Even though MW3 multiplayer did not really replace Netmech (many Netmech players were very disappointed by MW3 and MW4 for that matter), they seemed to move on to other newer games like Half-Life, Tribes, etc instead of going back to Netmech. MPlayer continued to have some life after the Kali games died out, but it has since merged with Gamespy and no longer [at least presently] supports Netmech. Apparently Kahn has some Netmech activity on it as well, but I have never seen it first hand. I'm not sure of the state of other gaming networks, aside from knowing that Heat and Dwango have closed their doors.
The Mercenaries, Battlepack, and Titanium editions all added a Intenet game option to multiplayer and allow you to look for servers hosting games included many that were offered by Activision. See XXI below for more details.
From what I have read at Bad Karma, on USENET and elsewhere, many people that play Netmech have moved to LAN games. I've never taken part in any LAN games outside of running Netmech on the network in my house a few years back. I would imagine, LAN parties would probably be bigger in larger cities or around college campuses, but you might want to look around and see what you can find out. Also, if you have the money & the room, you can build your own Netmech network for you and your friends: get some old P200's or so w/ 3Dfx and NIC cards and you're set. This type of older 3Dfx based setup can also be used for Descent 2, GLQuake, etc.
|XXII. Are any of the Netmech or Mercnet versions available for free download?|
|Yes, the standalone versions of DOS Netmech and the Titanium versions of Netmech and Mercnet are available for download from Activision. I'm not sure about the DOS version, but the standalone Titanium versions cannot be used to host games [only to join] or you will get a "cannot find CD" error. Also, because these are standalone versions, you do not have Mechlab to customize your mechs, but you can get custom versions from someone else and drop them into the MEK folder. The DOS Netmech download is ~10mb, Titanium Mercnet is ~30mb and Titanium Netmech is ~ 50mb. Seeing as these games can be picked up for a few dollars, it would probably be easiest just to buy the damn thing.|
|XXIII. What multiplayer servers are available for Mercs, Battlepack, & Titanium?|
|The more recent server
list that I am aware of was posted by by Dan K. on
alt.games.mechwarrior2 in April of 2000: Realize that
some of these servers may be down/gone by now.
|XXIV. What cheat codes are available for MechWarrior 2, GBL and Mercenaries?|
** For all of the cheats below: Hold Control-Alt-Shift while typing these in during the game**
MechWarrior 2 DOS/Pentium/Win95/3D Enhanced:
- toggle invulnerability
toggles mini-front-view, shown in place of mini-rear-view
MW2: Ghost Bears Legacy DOS/Pentium/Win95:
- X-Ray vision
MW2: Mercenaries DOS/Win95 (All versions from v1.0 - v1.06):
- invulnerability on\off
Easter egg: Click on the third flashing light on the bottom right (heading down a corridor) and a picture of the programmers will appear. Put the cursor over a specific person and their name will appear, double click and their message will appear
Mercenaries v1.08x, v1.1 and the entire Battlepack &
** Note:Do not enable this code followed by any code that starts with "i", since it will be misinterpreted by the CPU as the level skip code
|XXV. Why doesn't MechWarrior 2 have a level editor?|
|The ability to create new
worlds, especially for Netmech, would have greatly added
to the game's longevity. Unfortunately, the Activision
team never created one. For the reason why, [ex-]
Activision artist J.J. Franzen summed it all up long ago:
|XXVI. Has Activision released the MW2 Series source code yet?|
The answer as of my writing this (Oct 2001) is still "no" and I honestly don't know if it will ever happen. I'm hardly an expert on this subject, but the most credible info I have subject is from almost 3 years ago (Feb 1999) when Dan Kegel mentioned on alt.games.mechwarrior2 that Activision "was thinking about it," but I've never heard anything since then. I'm not aware of anyone or group that is actively petitioning for its release and most people seem to be fed up dealing with Activision and have moved on to other things.
|XXVII. Misc trivia - Reuse of MW2's game engine.|
This web page is intended as an unofficial FAQ. I constructed it for the purpose of
answering some of the basic questions about the 3D Enhanced editions of MW2.
I am not affiliated with Activision in any way.
FAQ last revised on April 04, 2002
|Legal: MechWarrior® 2 © 1996 Activision, Inc. MechWarrior, BattleTech, BattleMech and 'Mech are registered trademarks and NetMech is a trademark of FASA CORPORATION © 1995-2000 FASA CORPORATION. All video card brand names & product references are copyright of there respective holders. Webpage design and artwork (c) 2000 by K. Lupinsky. All Rights Reserved.|