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Ever get bored with being the good guy? Most of us have slogged through dungeons in our favourite RPG games, but have you ever stopped to consider who keeps those torches burning and those monsters fed and watered? That is the job of the Dungeon Keeper, the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen of the underworld. If you fancy trying your claw at dungeon design, this classic strategy game should keep you occupied and entertained for hours. Unlike the dreadful new mobile version, this game was designed to be challenging and entertaining rather than to simply suck money from your pocket. So if you were disappointed by the newer game, take a look at how dungeon keeping should be!
Dungeon Keeper 2 should install without any issues on modern versions of Windows. If your copy of the game has two CDs, you should only need the first one as the second one is for installing alternative language versions of the game. Simply pop the first CD in the drive and run the autorun program. An installation menu should then appear, click on “Install” and follow the on-screen prompts. If the Autorun program doesn’t start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and open it. Now, find a file called “Autorun.exe” and double click on it. The installation menu should then appear.
On some versions of Windows, you may be prompted to download and install a component called “NTVDM”. This is normal and you should allow this process to take place.
To stand any chance of running Dungeon Keeper 2 on a modern PC we are going to need some patches. First of all, you should patch the game to version 1.7. You can download this patch here. If you have a later edition of the game (such as a budget re-release) you may not need this patch. Simply run the downloaded patch file and follow the on-screen prompts to patch your game.
For the next step, we need to install the General Improvement Mod. This is a fan-made patch and mod that updates several files and includes vital fixes to the games 3D acceleration options. Installing this mod is a little bit tricky, so we’ll try and help you through it as best we can.
First of all, download the latest version of the mod. At the time of writing that was version 0.95. You can download the mod here. Scroll down until you find “GIM_v0.95.7z” (or whatever the latest version is) and click on it to download it.
Once the file has downloaded, we need to extract the contents. The file is downloaded as a 7z archive file, which means we will need the 7-Zip software in order to open it. You can download 7-Zip here. There is also a tutorial on how to use the program here. Use 7-zip to extract all the files from the GIM_v0.95.7z archive to a temporary folder, e.g c:\temp\GIM.
Now, use Windows Explorer/File Explorer to browse to your Dungeon Keeper 2 installation directory. By default this is under “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bullfrog\Dungeon Keeper 2”. Delete all the files (but NOT the folders) in this top directory, except for the following:-
When you are finished, your Dungeon Keeper 2 folder should look like the one shown below (click on the picture to see a bigger version).
Now, open the Data sub-folder in the Dungeon Keeper 2 installation folder. Inside this folder is another sub-folder called “editor”. Open this folder and then delete the “Maps” folder contained within.
Now, go back to the temporary folder where you extracted the files from the GIM 7-zip file you downloaded. Select all the contents of this folder and copy them to the Dungeon Keeper 2 installation directory. Windows will prompt you several times to confirm that files will be replaced, you must confirm this and replace the files.
When you are finished copying these files, you are ready to play. Note that there is a new file in the Dungeon Keeper 2 game folder now, called “DKII-DX”. This is the file you should use to start the game from now on. You will need to update your Start menu/Start screen shortcuts to point to this new file. For a tutorial on how to do that, click here.
Remember, if you want to watch the in game videos/cut scenes, leave disc 1 in your CD drive while you play.
Tweaking visual quality
There are a handful of visual quality settings we can change. Some can be changed in the game while others require a little registry editing. If your graphics card supports it, you can also improve visual quality by turning on antialiasing too. Let’s start with the in-game options first. Start the game and choose “Options” from the main menu, and then select “Graphics Options”. The options shown in the picture below will then appear.
First of all make sure that “Water Translucency”, “Environmental Mapping” and “Hardware Acceleration” are all checked. Direct3D mode should be set to “GOG HW Patch” and should not be changed. “Shadow Detail Level” should be set to maximum and “Graphics Options” set to “High”. “Gamma” affects how bright the image is and should be set to taste.
Finally, the “Resolution” option at the bottom will max out at 1024×768. This is the highest resolution the game originally supported, pretty high for the time, but relatively modest now. If you want to, you can do some registry editing and enable higher resolutions. Be warned if you do this that the game does not officially support any higher resolution than 1024×768. You may find graphical elements or text are out of place if you try to run the game in a higher resolution. However, in our tests the game ran pretty well as long as we stuck to 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen) modes.
To change to an unsupported screen resolution, we are going to need the registry editor. if you are not familiar with this tool, there is an introductory tutorial here. Browse to the following key:-
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Bullfrog Productions Ltd\Dungeon Keeper II\Configuration\Video
There are three DWORD values we are interested in. Screen Depth, Screen Height and Screen Width. Screen Depth should always be 32. Screen Width and Screen Height should be set to your desired resolution. We recommend using 4:3 resolutions such as 1280×1024 or 1600×1200. To set 1280×1024, first double click on the Screen Width DWORD value. Now, before you edit any values, make sure that “Base” is set to “Decimal” and NOT Hexadecimal! This is vital, since 1280 in hexadecimal is actually 4736 in decimal numbers!
Enter “1280” for Screen Width, then double click on Screen Height and enter “1024”. Again, make sure you select decimal base before entering the value.
There are two other registry values that may be significant, one called “Res 1280*1024 Enable” and one “Res 1600*1200 Enable”. We’re not sure where these come from or if they are even used, but if you are enabling these resolutions, edit these values and set them to 1 to be on the safe side.
You are now done editing the registry, close the registry editor and start the game. It should start in your new custom screen resolution. If it does not, see the troubleshooting section.
For those gamers who have ATI or Nvidia cards in their system, it may be possible to enhance the graphics further by turning on antialiasing options in your graphics cards control panel software. On our Nvidia equipped test machine, we opened the Nvidia control panel, went to “Manage 3D Settings”, selected “Program Settings” and then added the DKII-DX executable as a custom program. We then selected “Override any application setting” and “32x CSAA” as our antialiasing options. This significantly improved the graphical quality in game, smoothing out those noticeable jaggy edges on the image. See the documentation that came with your particular graphics card for more details on how to do this.
Game crashes when starting a level:- If you entered a custom resolution for the game by editing the registry, check that you entered a decimal number and NOT a hexadecimal one!
Game refuses to start in the chosen resolution:- If this occurs, try setting your desktop resolution to the same resolution as the desired resolution for the game. Now, run the registry editor again and make sure that your custom resolution settings are still applied (since the game may have overwritten them with the defaults again). Finally, try running Dungeon Keeper 2 again. Remember, you must use the DKII-DX executable to start the game.
Game scrolls too fast:- Dungeon Keeper 2 was designed for older PCs and so the game speed may be a touch too high on a modern rig. Remember you can press the “Escape” key while playing the game and then select “Game options” and then “Control Options”. Here you can reduce the scroll speed and game speed. You may need to reduce these settings to their minimum values or at least close to their minimum when playing on a modern PC.
Problems saving games:- Like many older games, Dungeon Keeper 2 places its save game files in the same directory that it is installed to. This can cause problems on more modern versions of Windows as programs are not normally permitted to write to the program files directory. To avoid this problem, either install the game to an alternate location (e.g c:\Games\DK2) or manually edit the permissions on the “Dungeon Keeper 2” folder. A tutorial on editing folder permissions is available here. For reference, the game places its save files in the Data\Save sub-folder of the main Dungeon Keeper 2 installation folder.
My game still won’t work!:- In this case, you may wish to purchase a pre-patched version of the game from GOG.com as a digital download. You can do so here.
Click on any screenshot to see a bigger version.