Sunday, August 4, 2013

Doom 2 Master Levels in Doomsday Engine

I looked high and low trying to find a set of dead simple instructions that would help me get the Doom 2 Master Levels to work in Doomsday, but I came up empty. Therefore, I decided to post my own, for all to see. This post makes several assumptions, not the least of which is that all you need are the instructions contained herein. If you need further info, feel free to leave a comment, and either myself or another helpful person may find the time to oblige.

A couple of quick points: I'm using Doomsday Engine version 1.10.4 (frontend version 1.6). I'm using the Master Levels for Doom 2 from Steam.

Naturally, I placed the DOOM2.WAD file within the 'data\jdoom' folder under the Doomsday program folder. I created a subfolder under 'jdoom' called 'master_levels'. You can call this folder anything you want, just place all the Master Levels WAD files within. If you have them all, you'll have 20 WAD files. You may also have the accompanying TXT description files, which you can  place in the same folder if you wish.

If you have Doomsday set up with Doom 2 already, it probably looks something like this:

Click the Shared Settings profile at the top of the list on the left, then make sure you are on the Settings tab, looking at My Addon Folders. Click the plus sign button below that:

Browse to your 'master_levels' folder (that's what I called mine, maybe you called yours something else), click to highlight it, and then click the OK button:

You should now see the path listed in the My Addon Folders box:

Go back to your Doom 2 profile, then click the Addons tab, and then click the Refresh button toward the bottom. Now you'll see the levels listed by file name in alphabetical order:

If you want to play a specific level, click the check box on the left side of the level to select it, then click the Play button in the bottom right:

This next part is a little tricky. The Master Levels contain 21 maps (I know there are only 20 WAD files, one of them has two maps in it), but many of them replace the first map in the game. This means you can't have them all loaded at the same time. For instance, if you wanted to play through them all consecutively, you can't just check all the boxes and start the game thinking you'll go from one to the next.

If you already have experience playing Doom with custom WAD files, this will probably make perfect sense to you anyway. What you need at this point is a list of the custom levels and which maps they replace. Well, here you go:

ATTACK.WAD ("Attack")......................1
CANYON.WAD ("Canyon")......................1
CATWALK.WAD ("The Catwalk")................1
COMBINE.WAD ("The Combine")................1
FISTULA.WAD ("The Fistula")................1
GARRISON.WAD ("The Garrison")..............1
MANOR.WAD ("Titan Manor")..................1
PARADOX.WAD ("Paradox")....................1
SUBSPACE.WAD ("Subspace")..................1
SUBTERRA.WAD ("Subterra")..................1
TTRAP.WAD ("Trapped On Titan").............1
VIRGIL.WAD ("Virgil's Lead")...............3
MINOS.WAD ("Minos' Judgement").............5
BLOODSEA.WAD ("Bloodsea Keep").............7
MEPHISTO.WAD ("Mephisto's Maosoleum")......7
NESSUS.WAD ("Nessus")......................7
GERYON.WAD ("Geryon")......................8
VESPERAS.WAD ("Vesperas")..................9
BLACKTWR.WAD ("Black Tower")...............25
TEETH.WAD ("The Express Elevator To Hell").31
TEETH.WAD ("Bad Dream")....................32

Once you know the level you want to play, you have its box checked and you launch the game, you'll need to warp to that level unless it happens to replace map 1. To warp to a level, you need to enter the command "warp #" in the console. For example, if you want to play Geryon, you'll enter "warp 8" in the console.

One problem I was having that I couldn't find any answers on was how to access the in-game console to warp to a specific level. If your desired level replaces the first map, getting there is easy, no warp required. But if you want to play "Black Tower" and don't want to play through the first 24 levels to get there, you need to warp.

Everything I could find said that tilde (~) was the hotkey to open up console, but that just plain didn't work for me. Here's how I did it. Start Doom 2 from Doomsday like you normally would to play. Go to Options, then Control Panel:

Click 'Console' in the left menu, close to the bottom, then to the right you'll see the 'Activation key' setting:

The default is "tilde", but I had to change this because it didn't work. I used the same key (as tilde) which made it say "apostrophe". I couldn't get it back to say tilde to save my life. Try it and you'll see. Anyway, apostrophe is good enough, same key anyway. Finally, click the 'Close Panel (Esc)' button and you're done. You can play and access the console.

In case you're wondering, like I was, where Doomsday stores this data, it's here:
C:\Users\[Your Username]\Documents\Doomsday Frontend\runtime\configs\doom\game.cfg

The above path assumes Windows Vista or higher. Within the GAME.CFG file, the setting looks like this:

# Key to activate the console (DDKEY code; default is tilde, 96).
con-key-activate 39

Mine says "39" because it's already changed to apostrophe. If you want to change it back to tilde for some reason, since you can't do it in-game you can just edit this value (changing it back to 96), save the file then re-launch Doomsday.

I'd love to hear from anybody that finds this helpful. Let me know if I've got anything wrong or if there's a better way.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dear Dell power supply, I hate you

Sure enough, sometime in December the power supply (PSU) for my Dell XPS 15 failed again!! How ridiculous is that? I'm usually in favor of getting replacement PSUs from the manufacturer, but it's getting dang expensive. So I took a chance and picked up a couple off Amazon Marketplace, two of them for under $40. They look like legit OEM parts and work fine. Even if they don't last longer than the ones I've been getting from Dell, they are worth it. I got two of them so I'm not left waiting for a new one to get delivered when my next one fails, as I'm sure it will. I'll just try to stay one PSU ahead of the game.

My Dell XPS 15 has turned out to be a lemon for sure, but it still works for the most part, doing what I need it to do. If I weren't a computer tech, and able to get through (and in some cases, simply ignore) much of these issues on my own, I'd never expect an average consumer to think the problems I've had are acceptable. Here's a quick run-down:

  • Three power supply failures within 18 months, out of pocket for all

  • DVD-RW drive failure within first 12 months, replaced under warranty, but dealing with their locally contracted tech was a... story for another time (hint: it was bad)

  • System fails to shut down or hibernate about 50% of time, instead choosing to reboot, have had this issue since day one (S4/S5 problem?)

  • Frequent random service crashes, mostly 'PC Doctor', but one or two others as well, have had this issue since day one

  • Two burnt pixels on the LED LCD screen. Have never had this before on any LCD display, and I've owned many (I know, I've been lucky)

A side gripe about Dell: I've been disappointed that they no longer automatically ship operating system discs with their systems, but I'm really miffed about inconsistent support practices regarding said discs. I recently attempted to order one for a Dell laptop I purchased at work within the last couple of months. I received an email back stating that I would have to call by phone and pay for it. Although inconvenient, I figured that's just how Dell is doing it now, so I'll do it when I have some time. Even more recently, a colleague forwarded me an email she received from Dell support, in response to her same request, but for a three year old out-of-warranty system, stating that they were overnighting her the operating system disc at no charge. I can't share with you the words that came to mind when I saw this. I shake my head and wonder when Dell is going to get their shtuff together. It's soooo disappointing that their customer service and support still sucks, so badly.

QuickBooks error -6123, 0, and my solution

I was troubleshooting error -6123, 0 with QuickBooks Pro 2008, finally solved the problem and thought I'd share.

The text of this error message was something to the effect of "cannot connect to database server," however, mine was a single user installation with the company file residing locally. I realize QuickBooks may use a database server to connect to even a local database, but the knowledge base article on Intuit's website for error -6123, 0 was aimed at situations that did not apply to me. I was not using the company file over the network, I was not in multi-user mode, nor was I restoring a backup.

I went through a bunch of things, including the use of the QuickBooks File Doctor, which said my database was perfect. I disabled Windows firewall, and was using no other. I restored a backup of the company file using Windows Previous Versions. I checked QuickBooks services but found nothing that jumped out at me. I was stymied.

I started thinking about how I had the system set up. The computer is joined to a domain, so I logged in as Domain Administrator, tested QuickBooks, and it worked. The user I have set up to use QuickBooks doesn't have local admin, and I'd rather avoid giving it to her if possible. So I started Googling and ended up finding another Intuit knowledge base article for "Configuring multi-user access requires Windows Admin rights". Even though I'm not in a multi-user scenario, I decided to see if the information was helpful anyway, and it turns out it was.

Solution: For QuickBooks Pro 2008, there is a Windows user account called "QBDataServiceUser18" which I added to the local Administrators group. That did the trick and now my user can access QuickBooks without that pesky error anymore, and without admin rights!