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Sadly I haven't been able to play this game at all since I got it maybe a year ago. Luckily it was bought on sale.
Trying to run with WINE under Arch linux it never gets as far as a video or a menu and I just get:

System.Runtime.InteropServices.MarshalDirectiveException: [MarshalAs] attribute required to marshal arrays to managed code. at (wrapper native-to-managed) System._AppDomain.Load(intptr,intptr,intptr)

Winehq has no details on this title. Hopefully somebody out there knows more than I do?
Thanks.
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This game is extremely touchy, but I seem to have it working, although I have so far only gone through one of the tutorials. Also, I'm not hearing any of the in-game music so far (probably a codec issue), but the intro movie works. Here are the steps that worked for me. This is a mess, and there may be an easier way. If someone has figured out a more streamlined method, I'm sure a post on the subject will be appreciated. Judging from some of the other posts in the forum, this game is causing difficulties for Windows users, so I suppose this is just one of those picky games that won't work if the slightest thing is wrong.

The problems with this game likely come down to .NET, XNA, the dreaded Windows Media Player, and DirectX. Getting around these issues isn't at all easy.

This is based on a post that I found on Reddit. We owe our thanks to the person who originally posted this solution there. Here is a link for reference.

https://www.reddit.com/r/wine_gaming/comments/eggnql/distant_worlds_universe_in_wine/

I am using Wine 5.4 on Ubuntu 18.04. I install games manually and then use Lutris to launch them and manage Wine versions. Using Playonlinux to run through these steps should also work.

First, create the wine prefix for the game. It needs to be 32-bit, and I put it in Windows XP mode just to be safe since some of the stuff that needs to be installed is rather old. Remember to replace {path} in everything below with the path where you want to install the game. I find that it works best in a windowed virtual desktop sized to equal the monitor's resolution. My monitor is 1920x1080; replace it with your monitor's resolution. If using Lutris, you'll probably have to set this up there.

WINEPREFIX="{path}" WINEARCH=win32 winetricks winxp vd=1920x1080 grabfullscreen=y

Next, there is a bunch of stuff that needs to be installed using winetricks. I got better results installing each one in a separate step, because some of these items might exit in a way that causes winetricks to stop and not finish installing items that come afterward. The order of some of these may be important.

WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks vcrun2010
WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks ie6
WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks dotnet35sp1
WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks dotnet40
WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks xna40
WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks gdiplus
WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks wmp9
(NOTE: This will start up Windows Media Player. You must exit out of it to continue.)
WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks d3dx9

Unfortunately, d3dx9 doesn't seem to install everything that is needed for this game, so it is necessary to do a manual DirectX installation on top of this. Note that both are required - only doing the manual installation seems to cause some errors, and I couldn't get it to work at all with only d3dx9. This probably requires more investigation, as installing everything listed here might be overkill.

To do this, download the following file from Microsoft (if the forum splits this into multiple lines, note that all of this needs to be pasted into the browser with no line break):

https://download.microsoft.com/download/E/E/1/EE17FF74-6C45-4575-9CF4-7FC2597ACD18/directx_feb2010_redist.exe

This is an executable archive. Run directx_feb2010_redist.exe using Wine to extract the files. It doesn't matter where you extract them, and you don't necessarily need to use the game's prefix - you just need the files in the archive. Another installation step is required. Once this is done, run the following to install the files:

WINEPREFIX="{path}" wine {path to wherever you extracted the DirectX archive}/DXSETUP.exe

(Once this Wine prefix is set up, it might be wise to make a backup. Installing all of this stuff is a royal pain, and a lot of it is really old, so I worry that in the future, the installation files might stop working or some things might just vanish from the internet.)

Now, it is finally time to install the game, but it tries to install .NET and XNA, and it may break the prefix, so it is necessary to set up a separate temporary wine prefix to get the game files.

First, create the prefix. Precise configuration here probably doesn't matter - all we need is for the GOG installer to run. Just to be safe, I have it match the architecture of the game's prefix.

WINEPREFIX="{path to temporary prefix}" WINEARCH=win32 winetricks winxp

Once it is finished installing, simply move the GOG Games folder from the temporary prefix into the game prefix. This way, you can get the game files into the right place without the other possibly prefix-breaking stuff that the setup file installs.

mv {path to temporary prefix}/drive_c/GOG\ Games {path}/drive_c {path}/drive_c

You can remove the temporary prefix now.

Finally, run autorun.exe in the game folder to start the game. The launcher should come up. If it is working, a loading screen will eventually come up after you launch the game. It takes a while, so be patient. If it exits prematurely, the launcher will start up again.

I recommend using Lutris or Playonlinux to deal with games since they are good at managing Wine versions. If you want to run it manually, the command is:

WINEPREFIX="{path}" wine {path}/drive_c/GOG\ Games/Distant\ Worlds\ Universe/autorun.exe

This is complicated, and hopefully I don't have any annoying errors here. Given that systems can vary, this probably won't work for everyone, and variations on this method might be required. It might also be sensitive to Wine version. Proton might be worth a try. If I figure out anything on the music issue, I'll post an update here.

If anyone has a better method or a different method, or if anyone has suggestions on the music issue, please post it here. I know there are others here who are better at hacking Wine than I am; maybe they will figure out something easier and more reliable.

Good luck, everyone. This is the most complicated Wine installation procedure I have encountered so far, but it appears to provide a way to play the game even if it is an enormous mess. I don't know when I'll get time to go into this game beyond the tutorials since I have a big backlog of other games and not enough time to play them, but hopefully it will continue to function properly and won't run into issues later. This game looks interesting, and I am glad I finally got it working.
Post edited May 06, 2021 by heather1348
Thank you very much for this guide.

I've played with it a little bit and it seems, that you can replace this part
avatar
heather1348: To do this, download the following file from Microsoft (if the forum splits this into multiple lines, note that all of this needs to be pasted into the browser with no line break):

https://download.microsoft.com/download/E/E/1/EE17FF74-6C45-4575-9CF4-7FC2597ACD18/directx_feb2010_redist.exe

This is an executable archive. Run directx_feb2010_redist.exe using Wine to extract the files. It doesn't matter where you extract them, and you don't necessarily need to use the game's prefix - you just need the files in the archive. Another installation step is required. Once this is done, run the following to install the files:

WINEPREFIX="{path}" wine {path to wherever you extracted the DirectX archive}/DXSETUP.exe

(Once this Wine prefix is set up, it might be wise to make a backup. Installing all of this stuff is a royal pain, and a lot of it is really old, so I worry that in the future, the installation files might stop working or some things might just vanish from the internet.)

Now, it is finally time to install the game, but it tries to install .NET and XNA, and it may break the prefix, so it is necessary to set up a separate temporary wine prefix to get the game files.

First, create the prefix. Precise configuration here probably doesn't matter - all we need is for the GOG installer to run. Just to be safe, I have it match the architecture of the game's prefix.

WINEPREFIX="{path to temporary prefix}" WINEARCH=win typos32 winetricks winxp
with command:
WINEPREFIX="{path}" winetricks mdx

However, I've encountered heavy screen flickering (both with MS directx and with d3dx9+mdx) on my machine (NVIDIA 1060, Linux mint 19, wine version lutris-5.7-11), so the game runs fine, but is unplayable for me.
I've tried other wine versions and tinkered with wine settings, but so far to no avail. (Also, I was not able to run game as winxp, only as win7)

Does anybody have an idea, what coudld be cause of such flickering?
I'll have to try it with mdx and see what difference it makes. If it makes the installation less finicky, it would be an improvement.

I was messing with it earlier to see if I could move it away from Lutris and use adamhm's wine wrapper instead. That hasn't worked so far. However, I did encounter screen flickering as I messed with the Lutris configuration. It turns out that having DXVK enabled causes screen flickering. Disabling it or not including it in the wine build would seem to solve that problem. However, I wouldn't be surprised if there were other possible causes.

This has to be one of the most difficult games to get working - everything has to be just right, or it will crash.