Old Dogs Vol III: Windows 7 & 10 Compatibility Guides for Classic Wargames

By Zach Zimmerman 27 Jun 2018 1

We return with more games and their compatibility with modern systems. Previously with volume I and volume II, we established that many classic wargames can be remedied with some virtual tinkering. Much better than hitting the computer with a hammer!

In case you missed it, we recently published a list of the best Korean War games, check it out!

This series continues to serve the purpose of taking a look at classic wargames, and ensuring that each game is still playable through a step by step guide. Whether it be from CD installation, digital distribution or other online means, the intent is to make sure these titles are approachable and playable today.       

Shattered Union

Developer/Publisher: PopTop Software/ 2K Games
Released: 2005
Purchase:  Steam

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Shattered Union is an exciting title which sees the player battle across the former United States as one of seven factions. A great unit selection, impressive visuals and a reputation system that effects what powers can be used in the fight (with a bad reputation you’ll get offensive and destructive attacks and with a good reputation there is more emphasis precision strikes and repair buffs on deployed units just to name a few). 

Today, Shattered Union suffers from a nearly unplayable state for Windows 7 & 10 users. Running the game out of the box, you’ll get errors for colours and memory limits. To make Shattered Union compatible with modern machines, only a few steps are required. What is necessary is copying a few files into the game’s directory and tinkering with some of the graphical options to ensure a stable experience.

  • Click on the link here and find yourself looking at a web page dedicated to fixes for Railroad Tycoon 3. Scroll to the middle of the page and download the fix titled Blurry Texture Fix (36 kb)

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  • Inside this file, you’ll find d3d8.dll a file which tricks the game into thinking you have the right system requirements. Place this file in your game’s root directory. Don’t know what a the game’s root directory is? Right click on the Shattered Union installation and click properties. Shuffle right to the Local files and go to Browse Local Files. Viola! Copy and paste in this main directory.

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  • While that will settle some cases just by itself, most players will be prompted that Shattered Union is unable to find Steam. Luckily there is a super quick fix for this. If the Shattered Union directory is still open, click a few folders up to the Steam Library and find yourself the steam.dll file.

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  • COPY (do not cut!) this file and place it into the Shattered Union game directory. With this, launching through steam or through the directory should be a hassle free experience.

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  • Shattered Union will now successfully run, but there is still some optional house keeping that is required. Users who find themselves crashing on some maps (such as the New York or Los Angeles maps), this is because of some rendering issues. Dropping your graphical options to about half way, as opposed to maximum rectifies this issue. You’re not losing too much on the beauty scale on this 13-year-old title, so don’t be worried about putting that slider to the left. Resolution options are also limited, and the game seems more stable in window mode than in full screen, so consider that option if you are still having any troubles.

Make sure you are continually saving, as this game does not have any auto-save features! You would hate to have to repeat turns if you were unprepared for potential crashes. Now it is time to unite the contiguous United States and strike down each of your opponents and achieve total victory!

Gates of Troy & Spartan

Developer/Publisher: Slitherine
Released: 2004 & 2005
Purchase: Slitherine (Gates of Troy), Slitherine (Spartan)

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This guide is going to be slightly different, encompassing two similar Slitherine developed games that suffer from the same issue, Gates of Troy & Spartan. These titles are essentially companion games, both dealing with the ancient times of spear, shield and diplomacy. Manage your settlements and amass your armies to dominate the ancient world landscapes found in these scenarios and campaigns which to choose from.

These titles are the same in that they are both missing a select file and some visual options that are required to run the game on modern hardware. These steps are following the work of user zakblood who has done a lot of fantastic compatibility work over at the Matrix Games forums, so thank you for this! The original thread can be found here.

  • The first step is to add a .dll file in the game’s directory for it to run. This is a trend for newer operating systems to be missing these files, as they become less relevant with each year passing. Posted by Slitherine themselves, you can find the missing .dll file here.
  • Once downloaded, open the file and place it in the game’s main directory.

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  • Additionally, copy and paste this .dll file in your System32 folder.

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  • Spartan the other title will require the exact same step of adding d3drm.dll to the game’s main directory. You won’t need to add d3drm.dll to System32 again, in case you were wondering.
  • You should now be able to run Gates of Troy and Spartan on your modern computer without any issues. Alt-tabbing the game essentially makes the game’s knees buckle so it is recommended to not do that. For those who are multitaskers, there is a window option available. In the game’s main directory, click on the data folder and find the user text document. Make sure you have administrative permission to do this. If your computer (or you’re not too sure what the hold up is) isn’t allowing you to edit the user text file, save it somewhere else and copy it over and replace. You’ll now be able to run it in windowed mode!

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  • Oh no! Looks like the windowed mode isn’t cooperating, do not panic however. Just need to edit the compatibility mode of the game to Windows XP (service pack 2 was used here) and run the game in reduced 16-bit colours mode, and you’ll be happy with the results.

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With all of that out of the way, you’ll be able to boot up and begin your conquests.

Note: While zakblood in his steps turned off 3D mode, I did not. I saw no difference in performance or graphics. If there is trouble on your end, feel free to switch from 2D/3D in the start up menu.

Steel Panthers: World at War

Developer/Publisher: Matrix Games
Released: 1995
Purchase:  Matrix

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The Steel Panther series is a fantastic legacy in wargaming. Fantastic gameplay clashes head to head with phenomenal scenarios and established detail in each game.

Wargamers are fortunate enough that because of Steel Panther’s legacy, support has carried through to the latest iteration of Windows operating systems. A fresh install of Steel Panther: World at War will boot on Windows 7 & 10 but without changing anything, these games can suffer from technical issues.  

With a fresh install, users will find that their modern computers tend to manage Steel Panthers: World at War with a little less finesse, and a little too much blitz. You’ll have your mouse speeding through your battle screens (and is particularly awful in the artillery menu). Graphical glitches, broken audio are also possibilities, particularly for Windows 7 users. So how do we fix these potential errors?

Dedicated fans have gathered and with the generosity of members from members of SP:WaW Depot, there is an excellent forum, scenario depository and many troubleshooting elements out there for those looking to get their Steel Panther fix.

For bugs regarding the artillery window, you can find the patch here. Note that this only works for version 8.403.

For wargamers with corrupted colour palettes for Windows 7 (or 8 … if there are any people on Windows 8 still), this link here will straighten you out. 

If any wargamers are looking to enhance their stock experience, the depot also has you covered with Enhanced FR (also known as SP: WaW 2016). Download and installation steps can be found on the depot’s forum here. So special thanks to depot user Major Mess.

Enhanced FR changes and adds Order of Battle (OOB) details, assembles patches that fix errors created by modern operating systems. To install Enhanced FR, simply install wherever you like, it is a stand alone compilation.

And with these fixes and the alternative of Enhanced FR, Steel Panthers: World at War has plenty of life on Windows 7 and 10. Now with your tanks at the starting line, it is time to close the hatches and forward into the enemy! Happy hunting.

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