Guide to running older 4k demos on Windows 10

category: general [glöplog]
If at first you don't succeed...
If, like me, you like old stuff (yes, a decade is old now) you'll probably be sad to discover that a lot of demos from then just don't seem to like your brand spanking new rig you got for playing all those brand spanking new gaimz on. Well never fear! It took me a while but I managed to get both Solitude (Unknown Artists) and Texas (keyboarders) to run and so can you. And those are some of the best in their category. If they don't run without some necessary tweaking, nothing will...

1) A lot of 4k demos from this era (and possibly beyond) use Crinkler to remove unnecessary stuff from the executable to get them down to this size but Windows 10 looks for other things previous versions of Windows did not so we need to 'uncompress' these files so they run on modern hardware.
Recompress the 4k with Crinkler 1.4 or better (http://www.crinkler.net/). Command line is: "crinkler.exe /recompress demo-name.exe".
(thanks ramon)
Don’t run Crinkler in a system folder (Program Files etc.) or in the demo’s folder unless you don’t mind losing the original file you’re working on as it’s overwritten, unless you specify otherwise in the parameters (see manual).
2) To keep things small, 4k demos seem to look for whatever version of DirectX/3D was around at the time so demos either won’t run at all (in the case of solitude) or you’ll get a basic error message mentioning the version the demo’s looking for e.g. “d3dx10_33”. Your modern OS has the undreamt-of at the time DirectX 12 already installed which is little problem for most old games but no good for demos. To solve this, download and install the DirectX End-User Runtime Web Installer here. This basically gives you every old version of DirectX’s system files for compatibility. It’s an old trick. Whatever you do, don’t go downloading random .dlls from random websites. You just can’t trust ‘em.
3) The last thing to do is to run the Compatibility Troubleshooter on your new exe. Right click and it’s under Run as Administrator. Once it’s done its thing, clicking Test will run the demo. It’ll decrunch things for a while but should work so don’t be put off by the wait; there’s a lot of work for your computer to do now you’ve done some. You can then save those settings for next time (and tell Microsoft about it while you're at it).
And if all that doesn't work, perhaps it just won’t run on your AMD hardware? I dunno. I don’t have anything AMD that works beyond DirectX 9, sorry!
added on the 2017-07-18 02:21:24 by MagikGimp MagikGimp
I should point out that this doesn't apply to every 4k demo of that era -- I've just run a bunch of others without having to do the above -- but those two I mentioned just happened to be two of the best, were the first I wanted to see and both didn't work at first.
These others crash (at the end!) without any extra tweaking (compatibility settings needed I expect) but while they were nice, they weren't anywhere near as impressive so my guess is the more intensive demos require more work.
added on the 2017-07-18 03:01:42 by MagikGimp MagikGimp
well this is sorta common windows (and crinkler) knowledge, I guess the intros of the pre-dx9-era are more of a problem these days.
anyways, good to see someone is caring.
added on the 2017-07-18 13:05:29 by wysiwtf wysiwtf
i guess it's only common knowledge if you've recently made an intro.
added on the 2017-07-18 13:17:02 by skrebbel skrebbel
For stuff from the DOS dropper era (up to the late 2000s), run the *.com file in Dosbox, wait for the error message ("can't run in DOS mode"); pick up the exe (often c:\tmp.exe or some such, hence you should mount your dir as c:, easiest with a swift drag'n'drop of file_id.diz*) and run in Windows.** Also "common knowledge" I suppose, but yeah, while we are at it... :)

* only works in DAUM, no drag'n'drop in vanilla Dosbox.
** does not always work (decompression/file write fails?), but more often than not
added on the 2017-07-18 17:39:06 by tomaes tomaes
* only works in DAUM, no drag'n'drop in vanilla Dosbox.

I suppose you mean drag&drop on a running DOSBox instance? Because you can drag&drop directly on dosbox.exe (or a shortcut to the EXE) just fine with vanilla DOSBox.
I suppose you mean drag&drop on a running DOSBox instance?

That goes without saying. =)
added on the 2017-07-18 17:58:39 by tomaes tomaes
Upgrade to Windows 7

Who the hell installs Windows 10 on a PC?? XD
added on the 2017-07-18 20:50:00 by Photon Photon
with 'common knowledge' i was mostly referring to the dx9/sdk-dll and compatability setting stuff. its really not rocket science and every gamer and steam user should know about it, not just demosceners.
crinkler wisdom is of course demoscene-specific, but believe me i dont code intros and i know about that /recompress option for a long time now (but maybe thats because i was there when the first problems occured with newer versions of windows and the pe loader)...
anyway, if anybody can run more intros now than before its a job well done, im not complaining at all.
added on the 2017-07-18 21:02:58 by wysiwtf wysiwtf
I had a feeling there'd be quite a few in the know but I'd noticed there were comments left on both the demos I mentioned (one the current coup de coeur, the other one of the top of the list of the 4k category) which suggested there were people like me who only drop in on this stuff now and then and needed a straightforward guide. It's nice to hear that people appreciate it, even if they don't need it. ;)

As for Windows 7, now that I don't appreciate at all! God, I hate that OS, for a good few personal reasons. And I know full well I'm in the minority here! lol
added on the 2017-07-19 01:43:51 by MagikGimp MagikGimp