Don't want to see articles from a certain category? When logged in, go to your User Settings and adjust your feed in the Content Preferences section where you can block tags!
We do often include affiliate links to earn us some pennies. See more here.

Building a Retro Linux Gaming Computer Part 39: Beyond Heretic

By - | Views: 24,699

Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving

Continued from Part 38: The Stagnant Demesne

I stated before that neither of the contemporary HeXen ports, Linux Hexen and its fork HHexen, supported MIDI music playback through the /dev/sequencer device. This still remains the case, but hiding on the venerable SunSITE network I found the linux-hexen-0.99last.tar.bz2 archive, the only online trace of another early HeXen source port released in December 1999 by Russian programmer Stanislav Nesterov, as opposed to the aforementioned source ports done by Karl Robillard and Dan Olson.

Nesterov had adapted the musserver and sndserver code from Andre Werthmann's Linux Heretic to be usable with HeXen, and it was exactly what I was looking for. It supports running the game with X11, SVGAlib, as well as GGI binaries, and even allows for playing the music off the CD-ROM if you prefer. It seemed my desire to continue the Serpent Riders Trilogy from Linux while still utilizing my Sound Blaster 16 had been fulfilled; that is, until I got stumped by the return of a nasty bug.

First noticeable in sooth when you reach the bell tower on the first map, a few specific sound effects can break in such a way as to interfere with the other sound effects on the level. After a four day troubleshoot I determined this was due to a bad interaction with the sound sequence code, in particular the "StoneMove", "MetalMove", "LavaMove", and "WaterMove" sounds that are all set to "playrepeat" in the sndseq.lmp script included as part of the HeXen WAD file.

The solution I settled on was zeroing the values for those effects in the sound.c source files. This stopped these sounds from playing at all, but as they are mere grinding and gurgling noises which go for the most part unnoticed, I did not find this to be too much of a sacrifice. Even then a few other events still spam the sound server to the point of disrupting other sound effects, such as with one fireball trap in the Castle of Grief, but the "playrepeat" sounds were the worst offenders.

In sorting this issue I found out that SDL Hexen, a further fork of Linux Hexen from February 2000, also suffered from the same problem, but a build of HHexen from June 2000 did not. At this point, and given that I had already made a number of tweaks to Nesterov's build files in order to achieve my desired behaviour, I decided that I had changed the code enough under the hood to now qualify as my own fork. To that end, I am pleased to introduce VoxWare HeXen to the world.

 

Also included is a patch file I discovered that allows you to use the xdelta utility to update the HEXEN.WAD file off the CD-ROM to the required 1.1 release. There is no external configuration outside of launch flags, but you can still remap keys by editing the ~/.hexen/hexen.cfg file. It does not use standard Linux keycodes, but by swapping with strafe I managed to reassign jump to be on the Alt key. All seemed well, but little did I know that the level scripting in HeXen would be so janky.

The doors to the Heresiarch's Seminary refused to open when I first reached the hub, forcing me to bypass them by using the Dark Servant artifact to summon a Maulotaur I could hop on from a pillar to fluke my way inside. Then, when I reached the final area of the Gibbet level in the Castle of Grief hub, the Chaos Serpents refused to spawn in after I killed all the Afrits. The event scripting for that room is infamous for breaking, but it is usually done by killing the Chaos Serpents too fast, not the Afrits.

I ended up just loading up my save file from the end of the Seven Portals so I could also unlock all of the secret levels on my second go around, and this time the doors to the Heresiarch's Seminary opened without a hitch and the scripting at the end of the Gibbet worked as intended. Apart from a few glitches with some of the moving sectors and a few of the monsters vanishing everything else was smooth sailing; that is, until I started playing the Deathkings of the Dark Citadel expansion pack.

The Sump and Abattoir levels are impossible to complete due to certain Stalker enemies causing the game to segmentation fault. Unfortunately the worst room for this held the Flame Mask I needed to unlock the final Planet for the first hub, so I had to try some other ports. SDL Hexen had the same problem, while Chocolate Hexen and Crispy Hexen complained that my save files were corrupt, but the final release of HHexen did load my save files and allowed me to resolve those two maps.

Overall I enjoyed HeXen, with it sharing a lot of technical and design similarities with my all time favourite game Blood, but the elaborate puzzle hubs and downright mean enemies do wear you down after a while. This is not helped by the expansion pack doubling down by spawning even more enemies into already cleared maps; repopulating levels with Slaughtaurs and Stalkers is an affront to good taste no matter how patient you are. I think I need to blow off a little steam.

Carrying on in Part 40: The Cyborg Project

Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
13 Likes
About the author -
author picture
Hamish Paul Wilson is a free software developer, game critic, amateur writer, cattle rancher, shepherd, and beekeeper living in rural Alberta, Canada. He is an advocate of both DRM free native Linux gaming and the free software movement alongside his other causes, and further information can be found at his icculus.org homepage where he lists everything he is currently involved in: http://icculus.org/~hamish
See more from me
12 comments
Page: 1/2»
  Go to:

After the awesome thumbnail in Part 38...... I was disappointed not to see a Tux head on the fishman creature.......
My disappointment is immeasurable..... And my day is ruined......
Hamish Mar 5
Further links and resources can be found on the official website:
https://icculus.org/~hamish/retro/part39.html
TheSHEEEP Mar 6
View PC info
  • Supporter Plus
Yeah, HeXen is more than anything else a test of patience.

How long until the endless backtracking and looking for hard to find levers, doors and keys will drive you insane?



Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 6 March 2024 at 1:33 pm UTC
Hamish Mar 6
Quoting: TheSHEEEPYeah, HeXen is more than anything else a test of patience. How long until the endless backtracking and looking for hard to find levers, doors and keys will drive you insane?
I actually did manage to get through the entirety of the main game without a walkthrough apart from being told that the secret exits would all be stashed somewhere on the main area of each hub. They pull a nasty trick for this with the secret exit in the final hub area but I will not spoil it here.

I almost managed this feat with Deathkings of the Dark Citadel except I did end up looking up how to find the fifth planet in the first hub, as I already had the fact I was looking for a planet spoiled for me when trying to resolve the issues with the Sump level, and its location is by far the least telegraphed secret in the entire game. I also needed to play every level to know which ones were actually solvable at that point.

I am looking forward to coming back to HeXen with say Crispy Hexen somewhere down the line now that I will have some hazy memories to guide me. The first games I played through on Windows 98 from Dianoga was the Arthur Yahtzee Trilogy which I went through as a teenager with heavy use of the walkthrough, but over a decade on I had my recollections guiding me and managed it entirely on my own. It seemed a good balance between tackling moon logic and a genuine mental challenge.
ugly Mar 6
I've recently been playing through Hexen using GZDoom and the texture packs.

I remember playing the game as a kid, and never beating it because I got lost and didn't know what to do next. That's the type of thing I usually chalk up to being an impatient and stupid child.

But, no, Hexen was ridiculous. The complexity of the level layouts are taken to the extreme. The level designers absolutely were not afraid to hide important switches and doors in very difficult to locate spots or behind secret walls. And beyond saying that a door opened somewhere, there was usually no indication of what a switch did. I did have to rely on some walkthroughs for Hexen.

I'm playing through Deathkings of the Dark Citadel right now. I just started it, and I'm in the Sump area now. I'm playing through with each class. In the expansion they do put you up against difficult enemies early on. Without a ranged attack, the Fighter class is significantly harder than Cleric or Mage so far.
gbudny Mar 6
Thank you for the article.

I wonder if you have stability issues if you used the same distributions as authors of these ports.

I have to admit that I liked reading how you sorted out all these issues. It probably wasn't fun for you to frequently encounter them.

You reminded me this video when NCommander wanted to play Doom on AIX with a source port:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzhCGSE7KKw


Last edited by gbudny on 6 March 2024 at 9:09 pm UTC
Hamish Mar 6
Quoting: uglyI'm playing through with each class. In the expansion they do put you up against difficult enemies early on. Without a ranged attack, the Fighter class is significantly harder than Cleric or Mage so far.
I played both the main game and the expansion as the Fighter just for that sweet instant gratification. I do understand the Cleric and Mage classes will grow in power while the Fighter stays mostly flat, but hack and slash for me was the way to go. Especially since I went through most of the game twice. The alternate fire on the Hammer of Retribution served me well enough for range.

Quoting: gbudnyI have to admit that I liked reading how you sorted out all these issues. It probably wasn't fun for you to frequently encounter them.
It is all part of the experience. If I wanted stable and supported I would just be playing the game through Crispy Hexen on my modern Arch Linux computer after all. Next article should not take nearly as long to publish though.
TheSHEEEP Mar 7
View PC info
  • Supporter Plus
Quoting: HamishIt seemed a good balance between tackling moon logic and a genuine mental challenge.
Totally.

It's just.... I can't speak for everyone, but that isn't really what I'm looking for when playing these kinds of games.
gbudny Mar 7
Quoting: HamishIt is all part of the experience. If I wanted stable and supported I would just be playing the game through Crispy Hexen on my modern Arch Linux computer after all.

You are right.

You reminded me why is I still like playing the beta version of Mohaa even if OpenMoHAA is more advanced in many ways like a support for official mods. Both versions are great, but I have more memories of the first version of this game.

I frequently play the first versions of other games like Doom 3 or RTCW on the old PCs.

Quoting: HamishNext article should not take nearly as long to publish though.

Great!


Last edited by gbudny on 8 March 2024 at 12:20 am UTC
ugly Mar 9
Quoting: HamishI played both the main game and the expansion as the Fighter just for that sweet instant gratification. I do understand the Cleric and Mage classes will grow in power while the Fighter stays mostly flat, but hack and slash for me was the way to go. Especially since I went through most of the game twice. The alternate fire on the Hammer of Retribution served me well enough for range.
I didn't notice an issue with the Fighter in the original game. I think the difficulty curve was a little more forgiving. The first two hack and slash weapons were fine for the Fighter early on and you get the Hammer of Retribution at the right time to handle a lot of ranged enemies.

In the expansion, I find that they throw a lot of enemies with ranged attacks at you early on. And, unless I missed it, I haven't found the Hammer of Retribution yet, even though I just picked up Quietus. I'm currently in the Sump area, and I'm going to have nightmares about swinging my axe with all these Slaughtars firing at me.

By comparison, the Cleric gets the Serpent Staff in the first area, and the Mage' first weapon is good enough to handle everything.

I think in the original game I found the Mage to be a bit harder at the end, because a lot of his weapons are unreliable. Frost Shards seem useless. And his final weapon eats too much ammo.
While you're here, please consider supporting GamingOnLinux on:

Reward Tiers: Patreon. Plain Donations: PayPal.

This ensures all of our main content remains totally free for everyone! Patreon supporters can also remove all adverts and sponsors! Supporting us helps bring good, fresh content. Without your continued support, we simply could not continue!

You can find even more ways to support us on this dedicated page any time. If you already are, thank you!
Login / Register


Or login with...
Sign in with Steam Sign in with Google
Social logins require cookies to stay logged in.