Steves XP Legacy Games Corner
Steve's XP Games Corner - System Shock (CD-ROM version)
By Steve Metzler (Last updated: 11th August, 2003)

While technically classed as an action/adventure, System Shock is still one of the best adventures to ever grace the PC. This was another game that was written off as not being able to work at all in XP as it was rumoured to use VCPI (Virtual Control Program Interface), a technique that basically involves reprogramming the processor - a definite no-no in the realm of XP. However, this rumour turned out to be unsubstantiated. Origin, the publishers of System Shock, used VCPI extensively in their games from this era. But the catch here is that System Shock was only published by Origin. The developers were the (now unfortunately defunct) Looking Glass Studios.

Thus it was that an industrious lad going by the moniker of Mok eventually debugged System Shock, and posted a patched executable on VOGONS in January 2003. It transpires that all that was wrong was some sloppy memory management from Looking Glass. The programme was accessing memory outside of the blocks it had allocated, which causes an XP programme to fail. All Mok did was tweak the programme to allocate an extra 4K of memory for itself each time, and... it works! So here courtesy of Mok, Quandary, and yours truly are the files and instructions necessary to get this incredible adventure running:

  1. Insert the System Shock CD, then start up a Command Prompt via: 'Start' -> 'All Programs' -> 'Accessories' -> 'Command Prompt'
  2. At the Command Prompt, type in the letter of your CD-ROM (usually d or e), followed by a colon like this: d: then hit ENTER to switch to that drive. Then type: origin and hit ENTER again to begin the installation process. Just select the 'Install System Shock' option to install to the the default folder, which is: c:\SSHOCK
  3. Copy the VDMS.INI file from wherever you installed VDMSound (usually, c:\Program Files\VDMSound) to c:\SSHOCK. Replace the following section in c:\SSHOCK\VDMS.INI with the data shown below:
    [SB Controller.config]
    version = 4.05  ; 1.05 SB1.x, 2.01 SB2, 3.02 SBPro, 4.05 SB16
    port    = 0x220 ; usually 0x220 (or: 210, 230, 240, 250, 260, 280)
    IRQ     = 7     ; usually 5 or 7
    DMA8    = 1     ; usually 1
    DMA16   = 5     ; usually 5
  4. From the Command Prompt, switch to the c:\SSHOCK folder by entering: cd \sshock. Then install the VDMSound drivers by entering:

    dosdrv -i:c:\sshock\vdms.ini
  5. At the Command Prompt, type: install and hit ENTER again to begin the configuration of your music and digital drivers. Just choose 'Setup Sound System' from the menu, 'SoundBlaster 16' as both your music and digital cards, and allow the installation programme to auto-detect and test your music and digital cards (which are a 'fake' SoundBlaster 16 as we configured in c:\SSHOCK\VDMS.INI). Then choose 'Save Settings and Exit' on the way out.
  6. Next, we get our patch files. Download and unzip the following two files into c:\SSHOCK:

    You should now have, amongst other things, the files: CDSHOCK.EXE and MOUSE2KV.EXE present in the c:\SSHOCK folder.
  7. Now we are ready to run System Shock for the first time. Just enter: cdshock.exe at the Command Prompt. First, it looks like you're in big trouble, because the game tries to access COM2 and XP puts up a warning message. But it's only a warning. Just hit the 'Ignore' button, and double-click on the now minimised Command Prompt to re-activate it. The intro plays, and you get the option afterwards to start a new game. Do so. The game starts up in a hokey default 320 x 200 mode. But we can soon change that! Hit the space bar to enter the game, followed by Esc to bring up the menu. Then select: 'VIDEO' -> 'VIDEO MODE' -> '640 x 480'. Now we're almost suckin' diesel, but you notice that the cursor is very slow. At this point, you must SAVE THE GAME, and then 'Quit'. Now we run the game again with a utility to speed up the cursor in VESA mode. At the Command Prompt, type:

    mouse2kv 640 480 8 8 cdshock.exe

    Then CONTINUE your game... and enjoy! :-)

Copyright © Steve Metzler 2003. All rights reserved.

See also the Help! page for links to additional help in getting games to run.