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I've been playing Jagged Alliance 2 since when it was new, but I never really got big into the v1.13 mod. I recently thought I'd have a big of fun with Jagged Alliance 2, only to find it halfway impossible to experience it in a reasonable way. Also being a live streamer, I have somewhat unusual requirements.

If you just fire up the game as it comes from GoG, you'll get something like 640x480 resolution, which doesn't work well with modern screens, or capture cards. The "Jagged Alliance 2 Stracciatella" -runtime just makes the map view show more of the map, and everything else really tiny.

I went through a fair bit of trouble to figure out the steps to get v1.13 running smoothly on a modern computer running Windows 10, and to set it up as close to vanilla Jagged Alliance 2 -experience as seems to be possible, and I wrote a quick guide on how to do it.

It goes through installing the game and the v1.13 release (+ patch), setting up WineD3D libraries to fix some UI lag issues, compatibility settings to fix windowed mode, and then configuring the game for vanilla.

There are certain aspects of v1.13 that do not get reverted with the settings (e.g. character creation), and it has a few bugs (e.g. you can't train militia in SAM sites without editing configs manually), but it is about the best one can get from JA2 at this time as far as I can tell.

I wrote the guide in Google Docs, which has a bit better formatting. I pasted the contents below with some quick formatting, but the "original" is available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/13lWGYCmZgQjexsKEjf5yu3QmryuPkohm1_NnQSUnIgw/edit?usp=sharing

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How to set up Jagged Alliance 2

… with the v1.13 community patch, for the best near-vanilla experience. It takes a few steps to get it working nicely on modern computers, but it’s doable.

- Install Jagged Alliance 2
- Install v1.13 release and patch
- Install WineD3D libraries
- Configure compatibility settings
- Configure game settings

Install Jagged Alliance 2

Tested on GoG version, Steam version should likely work fine too as the game executables are overwritten anyway during the process.

Find your game folder, you’ll need it for the following steps.

In Steam:
Right-click on the game, choose Properties. Go to the Local files -tab, and click Browse local files...

In GOG Galaxy:
Select the game. Under the More -dropdown choose Manage Installation and click Show folder

Install v1.13 release and patch
Go to the JA2 v1.13 Downloads -page at http://ja2v113.pbworks.com/w/page/4218334/Downloads

Download BOTH the “Current official Release Version” -file, and “Current official Update Version for Release XXXX” assuming the versions match (e.g. Release Version: Build: 7435, Update Version for Release 7435).

At the time this was written you should end up with 2 files, that you should move in the folder Jagged Alliance 2 is installed to:
JA2_113_FullRelease_English_7435.exe
JA2_113_UpdateForRelease7435_English_7609.exe

Double-click on the “FullRelease” -file and let it extract it’s contents in the Jagged Alliance 2 folder.

Double-click on the “UpdateForRelease” -file and similarly let it extract it’s contents in the Jagged Alliance 2 folder. Afterwards double-click on the “zPatch.bat” -file that will finish installing the update.

Install WineD3D libraries

The game isn’t very compatible with recent versions of DirectX, if you have issues with the mouse cursor being laggy in the game or similar we’ll need to patch it up a bit to get that working. Specifically WineD3D version 1.1.38 is known to work on recent versions of Windows.

Download the wined3d.exe from http://ftp.acc.umu.se/mirror/gnu.org/savannah/wined3d/1.1.38/

DO NOT run it (it could wreck your Windows installation a bit), just use 7-Zip or similar to extract the contents of the .exe -file. You should end up with a set of folders, one of which is $SYSDIR. Copy everything from inside the $SYSDIR -directory in the Jagged Alliance 2 folder. I.e. you should end up with the .dll -files etc. in the same level as the ja2. exe -file.

Configure compatibility settings

If you want to run Jagged Alliance 2 in windowed mode, you’ll have to enable some compatibility settings.

Open the Jagged Alliance 2 -folder, right-click on ja2. exe and choose Properties. Go to the Compatibility -tab and enable Reduced colour mode. Choose 16-bit (65536) colour -mode. Also check Run this program in compatibility mode for, and choose Windows 95 from the drop-down. Click OK.

Configure game settings

After the above steps, the game will likely launch with a black screen, and includes a lot of heavily modded content. To get it to run properly, and to get a vanilla-like experience you will need to configure it.

Go to the Jagged Alliance 2 -folder and run INI Editor.exe. You should get a window with fairly complex looking settings available.

To get a vanilla-like experience open up the first dropdown labeled Select JA2 v1.13 MOD and choose vfs_config. JA2Vanilla.ini.

To get the game to open up nicely and not give you a black screen, you’ll want to choose FALSE from the Play Intro -dropdown.

Next choose a resolution you’re happy with from the Game Screen Resolution -dropdown (800x600 is the minimum for this modded version to work). If you did the compatibility -mode changes you can also enable windowed mode by selecting TRUE from the Windowed Mode -dropdown.

Click on the Save -icon on the top left!

Click the big START -button. If everything went fine, the game should now run fine.

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Since creating this a few of my friends have tried getting into Jagged Alliance 2 and found it a difficult game to get into. I tried to create a quick tutorial on how to get into the game as a complete newbie so that the experience should be a fairly pleasant one. Hopefully it covers most of the clumsy points of the getting started process: https://youtu.be/za9ZxUor66o
Post edited March 20, 2017 by lietu
Your forum reputation is very low as of today, that is why you are not allowed to post links.

I've upvoted your original post to give you a reputation boost and I urge anyone reading this to do the same. I don't know how much rep you need but once you have it you can edit your links.
Upvoted too. I believe the limit is 5 rep or so.
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lietu: Install v1. 13 release and patch
Go to the JA2 v1. 13 Downloads -page at htt : / /ja 2v113. pbwor ks.com/ w/page /421 8334/D ownloads <- remove spaces
Does this no longer work (removing the protocol?): thepit.ja-galaxy-forum.com/index.php?t=msg&th=20380&prevloaded=1&&start=0
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Gydion: Does this no longer work (removing the protocol?): thepit.ja-galaxy-forum.com/index.php?t=msg&th=20380&prevloaded=1&&start=0
I'm pretty sure just mentioning filenames got flagged as a link, but I gave up trying to figure out the specifics and just added extra spaces everywhere.
Rather sure the so called "development builds" (despite running as stable as the official releases)
from "Depris builds and packages" thread on the pit forum, that was already linked ;) here by Gydion,
come with a fix for windows 10, started somewhat after 7609, so the fix is not yet contained in the "official" release.
Rather sure because i use XP to run JA2 and dont even have 10.

However, there are differences between original JA2 and JA2 1.13 @ vanilla settings,
i even ran into a major bug with the helicopter in 7609,
it did not refill fuel in drassen airport, which i did not notice 1st, so it landed when the last drop of fuel was gone,
no way to get it working besides reloading a save with enough fuel to return to the airport.
and start from there with adjusted .ini.
Post edited March 12, 2017 by townltu
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Sufyan: Your forum reputation is very low as of today, that is why you are not allowed to post links.

I've upvoted your original post to give you a reputation boost and I urge anyone reading this to do the same. I don't know how much rep you need but once you have it you can edit your links.
Thanks guys for the upvotes, I was now able to edit the post to clean it up and have proper links now. Added a link to a Youtube video I just posted as a "getting started" guide as well, which I hope will help people to get into the game.
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Sufyan: Your forum reputation is very low as of today, that is why you are not allowed to post links.

I've upvoted your original post to give you a reputation boost and I urge anyone reading this to do the same. I don't know how much rep you need but once you have it you can edit your links.
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lietu: Thanks guys for the upvotes, I was now able to edit the post to clean it up and have proper links now. Added a link to a Youtube video I just posted as a "getting started" guide as well, which I hope will help people to get into the game.
Thanks.
The old "official" release is very old, outdated, bug ridden and generally not supported anymore.

Use the latest builds if you want the most recent. Else, you are missing several years of additional work, the "official" was born outdated even back then, for the pretense of being more "stable" or tested, but that is simply not the case in reality. And thus here may never be another "official" or "stable" release as authors regard that concept of "stable" builds as failed and/or unnecessary.

If you really want to use the "official" for some strange reason or forced to by sub-moods that require that exact version look for Experimental Project 7 by sevenfm it contains bug fixes for "official" and some features different from base 1.13 including AI upgrades (latest version is somewhere near end of that endless thread).
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Enneagon: The old "official" release is very old, outdated, bug ridden and generally not supported anymore.

Use the latest builds if you want the most recent. Else, you are missing several years of additional work, the "official" was born outdated even back then, for the pretense of being more "stable" or tested, but that is simply not the case in reality. And thus here may never be another "official" or "stable" release as authors regard that concept of "stable" builds as failed and/or unnecessary.

If you really want to use the "official" for some strange reason or forced to by sub-moods that require that exact version look for Experimental Project 7 by sevenfm it contains bug fixes for "official" and some features different from base 1.13 including AI upgrades (latest version is somewhere near end of that endless thread).
Oh, I had no idea that there was progress made outside of the "official" sources. However, I specifically don't want all the AI upgrades, etc. "enhancements", I want a vanilla-like experience and the version missing the years of extra work is already too far away from vanilla imo with e.g. the character creation completely ruined. What fun is there just picking your skills and traits off a list vs. the questionnaire?
"Oh, I had no idea that there was progress made outside of the "official" sources. ..."
Then you missed to check the "link" in Gydions post to message 20380, aka most important thread all over the web for JA2 vets.

However there is not really a difference between the sources for stable release 7609 and the dev builds,
as both are created by mostly the same people.

1.13 was made by veterans(&mostly for veterans) who usually know the implications of any answer in the questionnaire,
and as JA2 vet i cant think of anything that changed in a bad way fom vanilla to 1.13 @default configuration.
(incl enable_:massive_counterattack_at_drassen = TRUE).

If you want to have the real vanilla experience, play classic JA2 under XP,
its not that hard to install XP on top of 10, reinstall the 10 bootlaoder and add XP to 10s bootoptions.
Default XP graphic card driver is usuallly sufficient to run JA2,
and other old games that may refuse to run because of windows backwards incompatibilies..
Post edited March 21, 2017 by townltu
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townltu: 1.13 was made by veterans(&mostly for veterans) who usually know the implications of any answer in the questionnaire,
and as JA2 vet i cant think of anything that changed in a bad way fom vanilla to 1.13 @default configuration.
(incl enable_:massive_counterattack_at_drassen = TRUE).

If you want to have the real vanilla experience, play classic JA2 under XP,
its not that hard to install XP on top of 10, reinstall the 10 bootlaoder and add XP to 10s bootoptions.
Default XP graphic card driver is usuallly sufficient to run JA2,
and other old games that may refuse to run because of windows backwards incompatibilies..
This guide however is not for veterans, they already know how to run the game the way they want to. Suggesting new people play v1.13 directly seems like an awful idea, as JA2 is a complicated and hard game and v1.13 just complicates things even further and makes it even more difficult.

People to whom installing an XP virtual machine or dual-boot setup is even an option will still find that option available to them if they want to. This post is about providing the other people with an alternative option, a somewhat easy guide to follow to get the game to run in a way they can enjoy it in a manner reasonably close to the vanilla game.
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lietu: Oh, I had no idea that there was progress made outside of the "official" sources. However, I specifically don't want all the AI upgrades, etc. "enhancements", I want a vanilla-like experience and the version missing the years of extra work is already too far away from vanilla imo with e.g. the character creation completely ruined. What fun is there just picking your skills and traits off a list vs. the questionnaire?
If your aim is to play as close to vanilla, while using modern platform and enjoy high resolution, there is another project that aims to provide just that - vanilla experience as close as possible on as many different platforms as reasonable (they're currently working on android port for what I know) - Jagged Alliance 2 Stracciatella

It is another long running initiative, triggered at least partially exactly by too much deviation in the 1.13 and, while there might as well be some of its own design-choice-change-as-bug-fix creep by now already (as likely unavoidable in any code-level mod project), they at least have declared to do conscious effort to be aware off it and try to avoid such when possible.

Honestly, I have not tested the thing myself (have only read about), so don't know how working it actually is, but for what I know at least some versions on some prior date was supposed to be usable.
Post edited March 29, 2017 by Enneagon
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Enneagon: If your aim is to play as close to vanilla, while using modern platform and enjoy high resolution, there is another project that aims to provide just that - vanilla experience as close as possible on as many different platforms as reasonable (they're currently working on android port for what I know) - Jagged Alliance 2 Stracciatella

It is another long running initiative, triggered at least partially exactly by too much deviation in the 1.13 and, while there might as well be some of its own design-choice-change-as-bug-fix creep by now already (as likely unavoidable in any code-level mod project), they at least have declared to do conscious effort to be aware off it and try to avoid such when possible.

Honestly, I have not tested the thing myself (have only read about), so don't know how working it actually is, but for what I know at least some versions on some prior date was supposed to be usable.
As I mentioned in the original post, Stracciatella is not really good for my needs. It doesn't handle the resolutions very well -> higher resolution means you end up with giant black bars when accessing the laptop etc., the UIs just don't scale at all and in the sector view everything is tiny and you see very far away. The worst bit especially with streaming in mind is that the text doesn't scale so all the text is unreadable on stream.