Peter Molyneux’s hugely ambitious god-simulator was dazzling both graphically and in scope when it was originally released back in 2001. Initially critically acclaimed by almost all of the gaming media, the title has had a curious legacy since then. Many critics have since argued that, after the initial ‘wow’ factor had worn off, the game failed to deliver on the ambitious concepts it introduced. A visual tour-de-force at the time of release, Black and White’s huge worlds and detailed villages have aged well compared to many games from the last decade. If you missed this title first time around because your PC wasn’t up to the task, or you are simply looking for something different from your usual strategy game, Black and White can be just as engrossing now as it was when it was first released.
When installing Black and White, we strongly recommend that you install the game to a directory with no spaces or special characters in its name. When you come to install the game patch later, you may find that, due to a bug in the patch installer, you cannot install the patch if you have placed the game in its default installation directory. Something like “C:\Games\BlackWhite” should work perfectly however. Other than this, the game should install normally.
Black and White uses a copy protection scheme that is incompatible with Windows 10 (and Windows 7 and 8 with Windows update 3086255 installed). See the troubleshooting notes for more information.
There were three patches launched for the game, however you only need to install the final patch since it includes all the fixes that were included in the previous patches. You can download the Black and White v1.3 patch from FilePlanet here.
Once you have installed the patch, you will probably find that the game won’t start unless you download a missing dll file, namely p5dll.dll. This file can be obtained here. Don’t bother with the dll fixer tool this site tries to peddle you, simply click the “download zip file” button. Once the zip file has downloaded, open it and copy the p5dll.dll file to the Black and White game folder on your PC.
Tweaking Visual Quality
Note:- If you are intending to run Black and White while running a standard (non-admin) user account, please see the troubleshooting section below before proceeding to tweak any visual settings.
As we said in the introduction, Black and White was at the absolute bleeding edge of PC visuals when it was released. As a result, there are several graphical options you should tweak before playing. Launch the Setup program in the Black and White game folder. The following window will then appear:-
At the top of the window, you should see your graphics card make and model. Choose an option with “Hardware Transform and Lighting”.
Below that, you can choose the Resolution and Colour Depth for the game. You will be limited to a maximum of 1280×960 here, but we’ll see how to get around that limitation later. Don’t worry if you can’t set a colour depth either, that will also be fixed in a moment.
At the bottom of the window there are some options for internet weather and e-mail settings, but the servers that supported these features have long since been shut off, unfortunately.
Clicking on the “Custom…” button will take you to the advanced graphical settings:-
Even on a fairly modest modern PC you should simply max out all the settings as shown in the picture above. When you’re done, click on “OK” and then “Save & Exit”.
Widescreen support and other visual tweaks
In order to add custom screen resolutions and other tweaks to Black & White, we’re going to need the registry editor. If you’ve never used this tool before, proceed with caution, but if you only edit the information as indicated in this guide you will be fine. Open the regedit tool and navigate to
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Lionhead Studios Ltd\Black & White\BWSetup. You should now see several REG_DWORD values, the one’s we are interested in are:-
ScreenD – The colour depth value we saw in the setup program, this should be set to 32.
ScreenH – The height of the screen, by using the registry editor we can set this to any value as we’ll discuss in a moment.
ScreenW – The width of the screen.
HardwareTnL – Hardware transform and lighting, set to 1 to enable.
To edit a value, right click on it and choose “Modify…”. The picture below shows an example of editing the ScreenH value:-
Notice the value above is 438, what kind of screen height is that? Before you edit these values, make doubly sure you click on the “Decimal” option under “Base”. If you enter 1080 as a Hexadecimal number, you’re actually entering the number 4224!
Set the ScreenH and ScreenW to whatever your monitor or TV supports, for 1080p for instance, set ScreenH to 1080 and ScreenW to 1920. Black and White copes well with widescreen resolutions and will run in widescreen mode with no major issues, though cut-scenes may appear stretched.
Set the registry keys according to your preferences and double check before closing the registry editor that you entered the values as decimal and not hexadecimal.
Black and White is a DirectX 7 game, which means you can use the excellent dgVoodoo2 wrapper software to run the game using the more modern DirectX 11 API instead. If you have a graphics card that supports DirectX 11, then follow the tutorial here to install dgVoodoo2. When using dgVoodoo2 with Black and White, use the DirectX configuration tab within the dgVoodoo2 setup tool to set the VRAM to 64MB. You can also turn on antialiasing (MSAA) if you like.
Using dgVoodoo2 with Black and White not only means you can use various in-game tools such as Evolve, Steam Overlay or Nvidia Shadowplay, but you may find it enhances the graphics too. Below are two screenshots, one taken without dgVooodoo2 and the other without. Look at the wood texture on the gate in particular, it seems to show considerable improvement. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Before you dive into the game there are a number of additional downloads you might want to install first. Lionhead launched a number of extra creatures as downloads, you can download the leopard, the mandrill, the gorilla and the horse to use in game. The Village Banter add-on is also highly recommended. There’s also the Football and the Music add-on, that makes your creature dance to music you play in the venerable Winamp media player.
You should now be ready to start playing god from the comfort of your mouse and keyboard. If you have problems running the game, see the troubleshooting section below.
Black and White supports multiplayer skirmishes across the internet and on a local network. The game uses a peer to peer system rather than dedicated servers and setting up a game is rather complicated by modern standards. If you are interested in playing the game online, see this page for some tips on how to do so.
Troubleshooting and known issues
Black and White on a standard (non-admin) user account:- Black & White will run on a standard user account, but the configuration tool has difficulty running properly on a modern operating system. The problem is that the configuration tool asks for administrator access when it runs, which is fine, but after you grant it administrator rights with UAC, it will save its values to the administrators account rather than the standard users account you were trying to configure. If you’re setting up Black & White on a child’s account or any account that isn’t an administrator (i.e, any account where you have to enter a password each time you see the UAC prompt) then you should temporarily change the users account to an administrator, configure the game fully, test it, then switch the account back to a standard user account.
Game does not start and/or prompts user to log in as an administrator:- Black and White uses an antiquated form of copy protection that is no longer compatible with Windows 10. Furthermore, since the software that facilitated this copy protection caused security vulnerabilities, Microsoft have since patched it out in Windows 7 and 8 too. In Windows 7 or 8, you can try temporarily re-enabling the secdrv service by following this Microsoft article.
Alternatively, you can simply uninstall Windows update number 3086255, though doing so may arguably make your computer more vulnerable to security threats.
The final option (and the only option for Windows 10 users) is to find a cracked/hacked version of the game with the copy protection removed. Remember if you have installed the games latest patch, you will need a crack/hacked version that supports this latest patch. Unfortunately due to copyright law we cannot link to files like this. We can tell you that the crack we tested successfully on Windows 10 was by a group called “Deviance” and the MD5 file hash on the hacked “Runblack.exe” was 181209375511986589D0F0E3FBEC26AF. If you need a tool to check file hashes, see this tutorial.
Graphics are distorted or only take up part of the screen:- If this happens then you probably entered the values for ScreenH and/or ScreenW as a hexadecimal number rather than a decimal number. Go back and triple check that they are entered correctly.
Problems saving games:- Like many old titles, Black and White saves its game data into the same folder as the game itself. In some instances on more modern versions of Windows, this will mean that save games cannot be written. To solve this problem you should set the permissions on your Black & White game folder so that your user account has full control. See this tutorial if you are unsure of how to do this.
When trying to patch the game, you get a “Neither command line parameter specified is an existing directory” error message:- This error occurs because of a bug in the patch program. To work around it, try temporarily moving and renaming your Black & White game folder to another location, for instance rename the folder to BNW and place it on the root of your C: drive. Now, apply the patch and manually set the patch directory, then rename the folder back to the original name and copy it back to its original location. If you still have issues, you can uninstall the game and reinstall it to a directory path with no spaces or special characters in it (e.g c:\games\blackwhite).
Thanks to cowgod.net for his original guide to running Black and White on Windows 7, which is still available here.
Click on any screenshot for a larger view:-
Above: Looking down from your sanctuary on high to view the earth at the start of the game.