WINDOWS 8 AND RM2K3

Some tips to try to get your RM2k3 games running smooth in windows 8

  • Ramza
  • 10/28/2013 03:29 AM
  • 20826 views
Windows 8 and RM2K3
...and You!
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First off, hello all, I'm Ramza, and I'm not nearly active enough in this community to be instantly recognizable to everyone. I was the webmaster of a rather large, and quite active rm2k3 website back in the day, and I'm a bit of an oldschool rpg maker 2k/2k3 "programmer" of sorts.

I have recently purchased a brand new laptop, whose system specs are nothing to balk at, which is running Windows 8. After many months of tweaking my OS so that it is bearable, I have discovered a few issues with it that translate into poor rm2k(3) performance.

For reference, I am not sure if the true cause of these issues is actually windows 8, as I only have the one laptop running it, it could also be my particular video card setup.

Now, to the good stuff:
I have noticed a couple of video related issues with rm2k(3) while running on windows 8

  • Fullscreen does not work


Running the RPG_RT.exe in compatibility mode allows the game to play, but that leads me to the second problem:

  • The frame rate in fullscreen mode is horrible, even when nothing is happening on screen in a brand new project with no common events running.


I ran a screen capture program to verify, the game would run at a consistent 15-17fps in fullscreen, while running fine at 60fps windowed (as an aside, I'm sure rm2k3 runs at 30fps normally). I'm sure that most people probably run their rm games in windowed mode anyway, so this isn't such a big deal to most of you. But for some of us, this is a pretty solid problem. I want to be immersed in the rm games I play - it brings me back to a simpler time - of early console games, where the entire TV was filled with the game. It's all part of the experience for me.

So what can we do about it? Well that's what I'm here for.

When I first discovered the no fullscreen problem, I scoured the forums looking for resolutions, I discovered Cherry's another fullscreen Mod. This shell application hides the original window, and draws a duplicate of the window using OpenGL, which can support fullscreen. This worked for making the game play at fullscreen, but my monitor is widescreen, and has no way to make the aspect ratio stay fixed (or at least no way that I could find). Despite this, if you're not using a widescreen monitor, this program should pretty much fix this issue for you, and the additional filters can make the game look a lot better than it normally would. The main downside to this workaround, is the need to run the separate Game Starter exe for it to function.

I managed to find an alternate method of essentially doing the same thing as Cherry's Mod, however. DXGL. A directdraw wrapper that translates DD calls into OpenGL calls. Obviously, for this to work, your graphics card needs to support OpenGL. After downloading and installing the program, a settings window is used to specify what program you want to intercept directdraw calls from. As this is not an rm specific program, you do need to specify the location of your RPG_RT.exe file. This program supports maintained aspect ratio scaling, however, it doesn't support minimizing, or windowed mode (attempts to minimize the window result in it still being up on top of everything, setting it to windowed mode causes it to crash entirely).

This program causes the specified application to run scaled in a window that is the same size as your desktop resolution, bypassing any issues your OS or GPU have with running something below 800x600 resolution. It has a number of filters that can be applied to make the application appear more fancy, although I just prefer the setting which simply upscales the graphics without a filter.

An issue that I found with it, however, is that if you've previously set windows compatibility settings on the rpg_rt.exe file, these settings are incompatible with the DXGL wrapper. If you run the setup exe as administrator on your computer, it will warn you if this is the case, and automatically remove any such compatibility settings from the registry for you. Alternatively, you can manually remove them, but I didn't have much luck attempting that.

While I was messing with settings on the DXGL, I did manage to have the overlay program detect that rm2k3 was running at 60fps, I am sure that was incorrect, however. After nailing down the exact settings I was looking for, I was able to get rm2k3 to run at a solid 30fps according to the overlay program, which was a lot nicer looking and less jumpy than the 15-17fps I was getting with the windows compatibility mode method.

A slight issue I've noticed is that screenshots taken while running this way are at my full desktop resolution, and need to be cropped and resized back to 640x480, but that's not a big deal.

The windowed mode/alt-tabbing problem is pretty serious, but the programmer of DXGL is still working on many compatibility problems with newer versions hopefully ironing out this bug. On the other hand, not being able to tab out, or go into windowed mode isn't that big an issue to me, as I said above, it's all about immersion.

As I said above, I am not entirely sure if this problem happens on all windows 8 computers, or only the ones with the type of GPU I have (a dual switching intel HD/nvidia geforce GTX 675MX). I have seen it said that having videocards in a crossfire, or SLI configuration can cause the fullscreen crash problem as well, and that using only one video card can resolve it without any of this DirectDraw trickery - I'm not sure.

Either way, it's better to have this information available somewhere if someone should need it, than sit on it myself and never tell anyone.

Cheers,


-Ramza

Posts

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Good article. Nice to have this around to link to when people have these kinds of problems, which I'm sure will happen more often in the future.

To give you some extra data for your conclusions, I am running Windows 8 and I have no problem playing 2k3 games in full screen. It takes about 10 seconds for it to make the switch, but when it comes up the ratio is fine and there is no lag. So that alone is enough to say that it's not simply because of Windows 8.

My specs, if it helps

Processor: AMD A8-4500M APU 1.90GHz
Video Card: Radeon HD 7640G
Ram: 8gb
64-bit OS


Before getting this PC I was worried about compatibility issues with Win8, but so far I have had no problems with any program old or new.
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
2k/3 games just straight up crash on my Windows 8 machines even in compatibility mode. Any suggestions?
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5363
No error message or anything? Bizarre.

To get RPG Maker XP to run in Windows 8, I have to run in Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode, run the program as an administrator, and check the box in the compatibility settings that says "Disable display scaling on high DPI settings".

Meanwhile, defying all expectations, RPG Maker 95 runs flawlessly without compatibility mode or anything.
rpg maker 95 is truly the future
Thank you for posting this. Windows 8 is providing me a lot of difficulty as well. I have actually found that VX games run a bit slow as well, but not as poorly as RM2k and RM2k3 games.

The game I used for testing was Yume Nikki, though I've tried several others with similar results. Three computers were used, two of which run on Windows 8 and the other on Windows 7. Fraps was the measure for frame rate. I could not measure exact frame rates when in windowed mode.

Windows 8 machine #1 hovers around ~24 fps during the menu and drops down to ~11-12 when waiting at the diary. Windows 8 machine #2 (which has significantly higher specs) was at ~26 during the menu and ~11-13 when waiting by diary. Machine #3, Windows 7, smooth gameplay with no stuttering.

The MAJOR difference between Windows 7 and 8 is the Start menu, an obvious fact, but what makes the Start menu function the way it does in 8? I've gotten on this idea that perhaps Desktop Window Manager handles it, and so I've gone about trying to disable it when I run Yume Nikki. After some trial and error writing batch files and using PsTools provided from this Microsoft site, I've managed to quell DWM, but with the added effect that Yume Nikki now crashes as it loads, giving me the error "RPG Advocate is awesome." Has anybody encountered such a error before? I'll try testing more games and the other machine with the files I've written.

Link_2112
snip
What games have you played on that machine? Did you happen to use a program to capture the frame rate? I'd be interested to find out why it is you are not experiencing issues. My Windows 8 laptop is similar in specs.
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
author=LockeZ
No error message or anything? Bizarre.

To get RPG Maker XP to run in Windows 8, I have to run in Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode, run the program as an administrator, and check the box in the compatibility settings that says "Disable display scaling on high DPI settings".

Meanwhile, defying all expectations, RPG Maker 95 runs flawlessly without compatibility mode or anything.

No error message, just a generic 'not responding' and it crashes. Windows XP and up just straight up work with no special settings needed, though. I have no performance problems with them, either. Actually, I think they run more smoothly now.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
21237
I don't remember having issues with RM2k3 when I had a Windows 8 laptop, but it wasn't very long before Windows 8 bricked my laptop by overworking the fan and killing it.
Most of the RM games I play, I record and upload to Youtube https://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U&pi=2

I never measure frame rate but I don't recall any major problems with slowdowns.

If it's a video card thing, then maybe my driver version and video card type are compatible with these games. I don't update things, so it's maybe even a slightly outdated driver. I really have no clue why I'm so lucky :/
Sailerius
Which games have been crashing for you? I would like to test them on my machine and perhaps the other.

Link_2112
Watched a few videos, but it's hard to tell with some of them if gameplay is perfectly smooth, since youtube is not reliable for such things. Really the only measure would be exact frame rate. It sounds and looks like nothing really noticeable anyway. Your drivers are probably as generic as mine, since we both have the Vision series from AMD.
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
author=Wonsungi
Sailerius
Which games have been crashing for you? I would like to test them on my machine and perhaps the other.

All of them.
This is because 2K/2K3 has a bizarre rendering engine built on top of what appears to be DirectDraw. XP and VX instead use Direct3D and render flat graphics- same as all my 2D engines- this lets them run on just about anything since it's easy for modern systems to understand (and it makes rotation, scaling, etc. very easy to do and very fast performance wise).

What you need is something that specifically works with DirectDraw applications.

A quick Google search shows that Windows 8 has lots of trouble running DirectDraw applications well.

The error "RPG Advocates is Awesome" appears if you attempt to modify specific locations of the .exe (I think its looking to see if their name is intact in the dialog boxes or standard VERSION information in the .exe resources).
author=Sailerius
author=Wonsungi
Sailerius
Which games have been crashing for you? I would like to test them on my machine and perhaps the other.
All of them.

I've found that running an rm game in fullscreen by running the RPG_RT.exe file (no testplay mode) causes it to lockup and crash 100% of the time on my machine. Try setting some compatibility options. I've had luck with windows XP SP3, but as mentioned in the article, the framerate tanks in fullscreen mode like that.

Edit:
It appears that my machine is picky about what works and what doesn't. I tried messing with some compatibility options to check framerates, and they all appear to be around 24-25fps now. Since it's not consistent, the video appears choppy, though.

I'm kind of annoyed TBH. I'm considering installing a windows XP partition on this computer so I don't have to deal with RMs crummy performance. Even the DXGL wrapper isn't perfect. I noticed lately that it seems to having missing pixels, or shows a checkered line in between the boundaries of different elements on the screen (like between the bar color and the bar graphic in the DBS) which is distracting.

It is still a work in progress, however.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
21237
Saw this on a microsoft KB discussion:

It is possible to accelerate and also fix fullscreen DirectDraw applications in Windows 8. However you will not get the speed you were used to like in Windows 7 or before.

Save this as a *.reg file and modify the path to your game executable:


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers]
"C:\\Program Files (x86)\\YourGame\\GameExecutable.exe"="$ DWM8And16BitMitigation Layer_ForceDirectDrawEmulation"


Then run the registry script.


I don't have windows 8 so I can't tell you if this works or not...
Layer_ForceDirectDrawEmulation is not Acceleration, it's the opposite. It's emulation. It's a HEL method for DirectDraw.

This is why

However you will not get the speed you were used to like in Windows 7 or before.

It should, however, fix this problem even if it occurs on other versions of Windows. The way you're doing it, there should be a way to do this from a .bat script that you can package with your game (that starts the EXE with these settings, not edit the registry!). Then you can give it to people and they don't have to edit their registry.
I just want to thank those that have stayed with this topic and have offered some solutions. It's good to see the community preserving some of the older games/software.
author=kentona
Saw this on a microsoft KB discussion:

It is possible to accelerate and also fix fullscreen DirectDraw applications in Windows 8. However you will not get the speed you were used to like in Windows 7 or before.

Save this as a *.reg file and modify the path to your game executable:


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers]
"C:\\Program Files (x86)\\YourGame\\GameExecutable.exe"="$ DWM8And16BitMitigation Layer_ForceDirectDrawEmulation"


Then run the registry script.


I don't have windows 8 so I can't tell you if this works or not...


I'll give this a shot next time I'm on nightshifts with my laptop. It'll give me lots of time to mess with it and compare the results to the other options we've got.
I am going to develop a new, more performant and less buggy version of AnotherFullscreenMode soon, and I'm glad I found thread as I didn't know about DXGL before ;) So my goal needs to be being better than DXGL for RM2k(3).

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that the RPG Maker is running at 60 FPS normally, not 30.
Is there a way to turn this into an IPS instead? It's kinda weird to have to open this after starting, versus having it open automatically.
I have very little experience with Windows 8 so far (7 4 lyfe), and last weekend I tried running my game on my friend's Win 8 laptop. It looked and played fine as far as I could tell, but the laptop keyboard didn't work at all. So you basically couldn't do anything. Anyone have this problem?
Huh. I didn't have that problem, but yea, I had extreme resolution lag (it's noticeable on bigger screens or those with lots of events. And no, you ask, it's not parallel events. It ran fine on XP, it ran (well windows 7 sucks) ok on Windows 7 except for practically stalling on a snow screen, and it ran great on Vista. If you simply advance the map of a screen, animation is choppy and skips.

The second (AFM game starter fails because I have some sort of glitch with "subscript out of range (-1)" if I start minimized. So I have to basically start, then load the AFM.
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