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Lag.Com: 2005-07-28 10:47:43 am
sda loyalist
Since talking about a run of Descent got popular here, I thought I'd make a new thread to discuss it. Smiley I know little about the non-PC versions, but maybe DOSBox would help for running it nowadays? And, does anyone know of a source port that offered a decent resolution?
Thread title:  
Stupor is as Stupor Does
I remember reinstalling Descent 1 a year or so ago and I found some patches that allowed for better resolutions, 3d hardware support, etc.  I believe I downloaded them from

I would be very interested to see a speed run of this game especially at the higher difficulty levels.
Who needs sleep?
Well, there's d1x (, which I've never used, but it looks like it reached stable status.

Then there's d2x (, which is technically made for Descent 2, but can load Descent 1 data files. Even though it's last release(0.2.5) was in Jun 2003, the CVS changelog shows people are still working on it, with changes made every few days.

There was also Descent32 (, which I think is as dead now as it possibly can be without ever having any releases at all.

So I imagine d2x is going to be your best bet, and maybe a compile from the latest CVS, though someone would have to talk to the devs to see if they think the latest CVS version is stable.

This is all moot, though. Maybe such an engine would be useful for playing back the demos after they've been recorded, but Radix would never allow the game to be speedrun in such an engine. Radix would want the game run in it's original released or patched version. Running the game in a fan-made engine would be similar to running it in an emulator.
I'm running my Descent game in DOS. I stated in the Serious Sam subject that my computer is too fast or something, and whenever I own the ending tower, my screen shakes violently and I can't get out of the level. I can perfectly maneuver the controls too, but my screen literally shakes violently and I can't even see the level anymore.... ugh. Sucks because I'm really good at this game and would love to speed run it. Oh well. Good luck to whomever decides to run this game themselves.
Stupor is as Stupor Does

I am pretty sure one of the patches at PlanetDescent will help with your problem.  I believe I used the OpenGL patch and I did not have a problem.  Your machine may be different though.  Just a thought,

I might give that shot later, but I'm focusing on my UT run for now.
Edit history:
Lag.Com: 2005-07-29 03:00:29 pm
sda loyalist
Downloaded the OpenGL patch, that works fine. God... the controls really are awful! I wish it'd stop banking you when you turn a corner. Might consider speedrunning this... I'm guessing there'd be individual level runs, but that means I get to start with the laughable level 1 laser and 6 conc missiles every level. Smiley Practice practice.

Edit: First level takes about 40 seconds. Anyone know how I can record this long using things that don't cost money? Tongue

Edit 2: Idly running through the game, finally lost in the first secret level (the one with all the fusion robots). Not bad. Smiley The level 10 boss was quite the stickler.
sda loyalist
I hate to double post, but advice needed.

The DEM files recorded by v1.43 OpenGL Descent can't be parsed properly by DEMOEDIT (so I can chop off the millisecond or two on the next level). I spent A LOT of time today trying to write a parser which can do this, but was amazed to find absolutely no way of extracting the POF files from DESCENT.PIG.
I know that doesn't make much sense to a non-Descent knowledgeable person, bear with me. Smiley

What this means is, when I record a level as a DEM and play it back, I go into the exit chute, IMMEDIATELY reappear on the next level then IMMEDIATELY demo playback stops. Which is kind of sucky... any comments?
Record better? Lol, I dunno. That's really quite weird o_O
Edit history:
Lag.Com: 2005-07-30 12:13:19 am
sda loyalist
Ok, just some preliminaries for people to try and beat (hopefully). I'll be working on levels 4 through 10 next.

Times and downloads here!

Edit: Haha, just beat my own time for Level 3 by 10 seconds. NOW try beating it. 8)
Edit history:
stx-Vile: 2005-07-31 09:50:36 am
The man made of sticks
I'm experiencing a strange situation regarding this game... I have the Definitive Collection release of the game, which starts at version v1.4a.  I attempted to update to 1.5 using the patch provided at Planet Descent and got this message:

"Applying ADD File Patch for 'README.TXT'

    New Version of File 'README.TXT' already exists.

Applying MODIFY File Patch for 'DESCENTR.EXE'

error ept0036: Old File not found. However, a file of the same name was
              found. No update done since file contents do not match."

I loaded the game and noted that it was indeed still at 1.4a... however, I was able to successfully run all five (so far) of LagDotCom's demos for the game, so being stuck in a previous version seems to have had no effect, in that regard.  The only clue to this is an old thread that google turned up:

Apparently the problem was known back in 1999... and the situation is as it is now.  Maybe I should just try doing a run and seeing if it works both ways.

EDIT: I notice it did update the changelog for me:

"Registered 1.5:
    Changed:  Some stereoscopic (VR) modes keypress--
              Shift+F5 - Cybermaxx: changes video mode.
                          Other: Resets the stereo parameters to
                          their default values.
              Shift+F6 - Simuleyes: Resets display
                          Other: Changes resolution
              Shift+F7 - Toggles Left/Right eyes.
              Shift+F8 - Toggles VR sensitivity
              Shift+Enter - Toggles the HUD ON/OFF.  This used
                  to be mapped to Enter.
              Shift+F1, Shift+F2 - Changes the stereoscopic
                balance.  Basically, this moves the 3d effect
                into or out of the screen.
              Shift+F3, Shift+F4 - Changes the width of the
                eyes in 3d.  This can reduce or enhance the
                stereoscopic effect.

    Fixed: No bitmaps page in during game now
            Bug with ATZ not waiting for OK in some cases.

    Added: -JoyNice switch that enables interrupts while polling
              the joystick
            -LcdBios switch that works with Don Sawdai's LCDBIOS.
              This should work with any generic LCD glasses.
            -NoDoubleBuffer switch that disables double buffering.
              This will make 640x480 mode work on SVGA cards with
              only 512KB of VRAM.
            -CyberMax2 switch that enables the Cybermax2 VR helmet.
            Made Shift+F1-Shift+F4 toggle eye width in 3d modes.
            -SimulEyes switch for StereoGraphics' LCD glasses.
            Added stereoscopic balance adjustment.
            Made all stereoscopic modes draw the HUD in both

I don't see anything effecting the actual gameplay in there... maybe I'm in the clear with the current version... or perhaps I should fetch an older copy and play it safe.  Meh. Smiley
The man made of sticks

For people without the game and still interested in the proceedings, here's avis of the five existing runs by LagDotCom.  Huzzah!
sda loyalist
Thanks Smiley I am working on level 6 right now, but it is very difficult to get a decent looking demo. Will post when it's done. Level 7 will be the harder than level 8 I think; because of that huge robot to destroy.
sda loyalist
Well, I said I'd post when I'd done it. AND HERE IT IS! That's levels 6 and 7, yes... boss robot thoroughly owned. Smiley I casually played ahead to see some later levels, Descent gets hard fast. Level 13 looks like it'll be VERY fast.

I also uploaded the AVIs stx-Vile made to my webspace, in case you get the bad download speeds I do from him. Enjoy!
Jesus, I remember some of the later levels like level 18-30.... oh man. I remember playing them when I was kid and shit they were hard. Winding pathways, those horrible robots that fire seeking missles at you, the teleports, smart missles.... it just never ends. That is until you hand the last boss his ass.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Geez, it seems pitiful on easiest difficulty... you can just run right over all the guys. You can probably get a decent time without firing a single shot except at the Reactor.

It's been a long time since I've played, and I know it ramps up in difficulty... but not that much, really. Play through to the Vertigo series and then we'll have fun. Cheesy
The man made of sticks
So what would be the ruling on dying after the core is destroyed, since the game will say you didn't make it out alive and go to the next level.

I'd consider having a no-death category, as well...
sda loyalist
hhallahh: I invite you to try. Smiley It doesn't always go as smoothly as in the end result, oh no! Especially the vulcan robots.

stx-Vile: I say for a run you have to make it out alive; otherwise it would be easy to just suicide against a wall. I prefer having the option of dying, but... as you can see, all my runs so far have been no-death. This could actually be impossible to achieve in later levels though, when you simply don't have the shields available to storm through a room.
Edit history:
slYnki: 2005-08-02 08:19:01 pm
Lag.Com, have you ever seen the Doom runs, where they get insane speeds by running sideways? Well, do that with your ship in Descent and I think it makes you fly faster. In that huge area in level 3 when you're heading for the blue key, that's a good area for more speed.
I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Yea, I probably overstated my post, apologies. In retrospect, I realized that most FPS speedruns are done by just running through rooms, unless there's a specific reason why that's not feasible.

It is tempting to play again - I loved Descent - but I simply don't have the time onhand. Besides, if I did, I'd probably just get Descent II and then the Decent I level pack for that. Hm.
sda loyalist
I realise strafe-running (or strafe-flying :D) would make me a bit faster... but I'm loathe to use it, as it could totally screw up my sense of direction, which is already pretty fragile on Descent to begin with. Smiley I'll try using it in open sections like you mention, but don't hold your breath.

hhallahh: Nooo! Descent 1! Smiley More people working on something always gives better results.

The Level 3 demo is ripe for improvements anyway, so I'll try that next.

Oh yeah, also... I made a little tool called 'ddsig' which makes the demo output a little message when it starts playback; I've used it on all my demos to include mapname, time and player info. It's simple to use, and hasn't corrupted a demo file yet. Smiley If it DOES... run it on the demo file again with the signature 'DELETE', which should 'uncorrupt' it. And tell me more, so I can fix my program!
The man made of sticks

That strafing does seem to help, though its use will probably be more limited with slow turning and having to "prepare" to open doors from a distance.
If you practice enough and you get to be more familiar with the controls, strafing isn't that terribly hard. Although I can't vouch for that because I haven't used it too terribly much  Tongue
Personal Text!
Allright, I registered for this forum just to post in this topic, so, blah, whatever, anyhoo.  So you guys are doing descent speed runs?  Allright, sounds good.  I played multiplay descent for quite a few years.  I was never the best, but I wasnt the worst either.  Here are a few tips that I can offer to you guys:

-CHORD! What you guys call "strafing" has been called "Chording" in the descent community for years. Triple-Chording, or TriChording, is a significantly effective way to improve your speed once mastered.  A person trichording perfectly moves 1.74 (or thereabouts) as fast as a person flying straight ahead in only one direction.  You do get used to it after you develop a sense of direction.

-Know the level! Fly around in cheat mode, learn every single aspect of the level you are going to run! Every level has secrets, some of which could more than likely be exploited for speed increases.

-Learn to play on a harder difficulty.  We consider "hotshot" to be the normal skill level of descent, and insane to be hard.  As the difficulty increases, the number of shots fired by enemies increases, their AI becomes (slightly) smarter, and the vulcan bots become pure hell!  The higher the difficulty you played on, the more impressive your run will be.

-Single segment runs will be faster and easier than runs of single levels.  This is because of the upgrades that you will accumulate over the course of the game.

-Use weapons effectivly.  If youre playing a multiple level run, the two main primary weapons you should be using are Quad-Laser level 4 and the Fusion Cannon.  Quad Laser 4 can hit for a potential 52 units of damage if all four shots hit the robot.  The Fusion cannon can deal MASSIVE amounts of damage to multiple robots in a line as it pierces each robot and moves on to the next.  The longer you charge the weapon, of course, the more damage it does.

-Know where cloaks and invulnerability powerups are!  Invulns should be a no brainer, as you can take unlimited damage while under the influence of this powerup.  The cloak can be even more userful, however, as it will allow you to move completely undetected by enemies so long as you dont fire or run in to a wall loud enough to make a sound, thus letting you bypass huge sections of levels without having to destroy enemies.

-Get a good joystick!  This game is far easier to play on a good joystick, perferrably one with a twist (third axis), which will allow you to control your banking on the stick in addition to your Y axis and X axis movements.  My personal favorite is the Microsoft Sidewinder 3D pro (we used to have a joke: The only things to come out of Microsoft that dont suck are vaccums, whores, and 3D Pros). Otrher good sticks that people use are the MS Precision 2, the Saitek Cyborg Evo, and the Logitech Freedom, however some people have had major troubles getting any joystick at all to work with descent on a modern computer, so you may wish to dust off that old P2-400 with an SB16 and use a DOS version of the game such as D1X 1.30 or D1X 1.40.

-Prioritize your targets!  Know exactly which robots are the most dangerous.  IMO, the two most dangerous bots you'll face are the vulcan bot, and the red hulk (shoots homing missiles).  The vulcan bot is the only bot whose fire you cant dodge if moving correctly.  The Red Hulks fire can be dodged, but only if you move correctly (hint: trichord at an angle toward it so you exit the homing missiles view cone).

Hope this helps you guys out.  You could probably do the whole game quite easily once you know what youre doing, since powerups carry over from level to level.  Maybe I'll do it just as a way to get you guys started.
Edit history:
stx-Vile: 2005-08-03 10:00:40 am
The man made of sticks
Hope this helps you guys out.

Help would be an understatement.  Something we hope for when a game is suggested (at least to me, but probably others as well) is a response from an established community that is much more familiar with the game.  On that note, thanks a bunch for your input. Smiley

I do believe the core difficulties of interest will be Trainee, Hotshot, and Insane... doing all five seems like a bit much, but is still welcome, I suppose.  We were talking about doing a QDQ-style run, where each level is run repeatedly, but the results are chained together until the entire game is finished, and hopefully that'll become a reality once we get more experience with the game... or that just might be a pipe-dream, but at least the first step has been taken.

I'm actually starting to think a single-segment run of the whole game would be really fun too, though...