Thursday, 2006-01-12; 03:08:00

If you've ever played the Descent series of games, you should know about D2X-XL (project page). D2X-XL is a port of D2X that works on Mac OS X, Linux, as well as Windows. It's a pretty awesome port: it allows you to play Descent 1 and Descent 2 natively in Mac OS X, just like you used to be able to, provided you have the original data files from Descent 1 and Descent 2. (No Descent 3 support yet, as far as I know, but Descent 3 works perfectly fine under Classic. Sorry for you DTK, iMac Core Duo, and MacBook Pro Intel Powerbook-owning folks.)

(Note that currently, MacUpdate and VersionTracker have a broken URL for the latest release -- for 1.5.86, here's the correct link.)

D2X-XL also supports networking under Linux and Windows, although currently it seems that networking support is broken under Mac OS X, unfortunately. (Work is proceeding on fixing this problem, however, and given that it works both on Linux and Windows, hopefully this will be fixed soon.) It also sports a bunch of bug fixes and minor feature enhancements -- like natively supporting higher resolutions and even widescreen resolutions like my iMac's 1680x1050 native resolution, and a new menu system.

Just in case you wanted to know, D2X-XL is a fork of D2X (project page), which was also an effort to port Descent 2 to modern operating systems. D2X currently works on Mac OS X, but D2X-XL is maintained and updated much more frequently than D2X. You can read the background story of D2X-XL and why it was forked from D2X -- basically the D2X developers weren't updating nearly as often as necessary, and so the D2X-XL developer decided to take things into his own hands.

I've also contributed to the project to help it go along. The latest release of D2X-XL includes some of my code that handles the data folder detection code for Mac OS X. (Previously, the game data had to be put in /Applications/Games/D2X-XL/Data/ in order for it to be detected by D2X-XL. Now you can move the data folder to any place on your hard drive, as long as it's on the same level as the d2x-xl application.) The latest Mac OS X release also fixes up the messy download that existed previously (there was a disk image inside a disk image inside a zip file). So now I wholeheartedly recommend D2X-XL for those of you who want to relive your Descent 1 and 2 days.

If you download it and like it, first consider writing a favorable review on MacUpdate and VersionTracker, because it's gotten some pretty crappy ratings based on the Mac OS X folder detection that I fixed in the latest version, and the messy download that is also fixed in the latest version.

Also consider donating to the project, especially if you're a Mac user. The main programmer currently does not have access to a Mac, and has only gotten around $175 in donations from Mac users. That means that he has no way of debugging the program on the Mac and this hampers the speed with which he can deliver fixes to the Mac version. (The folder detection code was something he wouldn't have been able to fix at all if it weren't for me coming along. :) ) To donate, just go to the project homepage and click on one of the flags in the upper-right corner.

One other cool thing: there's a project called Descent Relived (which you shouldn't confuse for Descent Reviled :P) that's also coming along. The goal of Descent Relived is to recreate all the textures in Descent 2 so that they're at much higher quality. You can see some of the results at the Descent Relived project homepage as well as at this thread over at Planet Descent. Apparently, though, the only guy on this project has been more consumed with his music recently and therefore hasn't had time to redo some of these textures. (He could probably use some help if you're into graphics.) The in-game screenshots and all the recreated textures in the thread look awesome, though, and I can't wait to get this enhanced texture pack.

Yeah, so there's my plug for D2X-XL. When multiplayer gaming for Mac OS X gets fixed, OMG all hell will break loose.

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