Can't snow a snowman...and my middle name's Frosty!

CrossOver Games for Linux Running Diablo 2

Date/Time Permalink: 11/30/08 09:31:50 pm
Category: Reviews

For those of you wondering where the blazes I've been - this should answer your question! Between the manic pace of pre-Holiday-season work and getting back into Diablo 2 again, I haven't been much good otherwise.

The back-story is that I saw the post on Slashdot where CodeWeavers was giving away licenses to CrossOver for a limited time. So I'd been curious about it, but not urgently. This was just the time to try it.

Got the coupon-code and downloaded it and installed it, but I was stuck for what to do with it. Most anything Windows-based I'd already gotten running on Wine or DOSBox over the years? What's left? I wanted a real challenge to put CrossOver through its paces. Then I remembered that I still have the full Blizzard's Diablo 2 + LOD expansion disk set and dug it out.

It runs like a dream! My hints for CrossOver are to go ahead and try something even if it's not listed as being officially supported, check the Wine database for clues as to what you'll run into for that program, and learn the concept of bottles really well.

A bottle, as documented by CodeWeavers, is simply the container for a program or set of programs. As opposed to Wine, which puts everything in /drive_c/, or DOSBox which mounts whatever you tell it to as the C:\ folder, CrossOver lets each program think that it has "Windows" all to itself. You can install more than one program in a bottle, of course, which is necessary to do things like get the whole Diablo 2 thing in there.

This pains a lot of people, even on Windows, so I'll describe it here. For getting Diablo 2 going, choose the FULL install of all three disks, exit, use CrossOver's "run Windows command" option to install the official D2 1.12 patch from Blizzard, install the LOD expansion disk, exit, do the same for installing the official D2 1.12 LOD patch from Blizzard. Many users online complain about the game not finding the disk. This is a bug which is fixed with the patch. Do not try to fix it with "no-CD" hacks and moving files around, they will not work. There's lots of bad advice from script kiddies out there telling you different.

One more common complaint, especially trying to run it on Linux, is lousy performance. The game will freeze or be very slow and the sound will stutter. This is caused by picking the wrong option at the end of the video test. Run the video test and no matter what it tells you, pick the top 2D option. See image:

the answer to your problem

After you have all that going, have the LOD play CD mounted and start Diablo 2 LOD through CrossOver. During play, I've even been able to switch to a different virtual desktop (how I got Gimp to take the screenshots) and consoles (how I'm writing this), with no issues; D2LOD will be minimized when you come back to it, but still running fine. I've got it running smooth on hardware from the turn of the century, even with Firefox and Emacs running with it at the same time.

So now that we're on the subject, I'll be the typically self-indulgent RPG geek and bore you with the gallery of my character builds in Netha- , ah, Diablo:

Lucky the Barbarian

Lucky, level 16 Barbarian
specialty: combat masteries

I named him lucky because I hope he'll be a good little magic-finder some day. Right now, though, he's not very exciting. I'm trying to keep him as focused on pure passive masteries as I can, because I'm tired of characters who are mana pigs.

Lupina the Druid

Lupina, level 24 Druid
specialty: lycanthropy, wolf summoning

Obviously, a wolf motif. His sword is a gladius with the Runeword 'Steel' socketed, which helps with his attack. Probably going to go all the way.

Marrow the Necromancer

Marrow, level 18 Necromancer
specialty: bone skills, skeleton summoner

My billionth-or-so attempt to build a pure skeleton necro that will be able to play all the way through the game. Yes, I know necromancers suck and skeletons are weak. I'm stubborn that way. He was pure hell to level until 18, when he can finally use bone spear; now he rocks. I have the unique helmet 'Wormskull' ready for him when he makes level 24.

Vanity the Assassin

Vanity, level 32 Assassin
specialty: traps, shadow skills

My advice if you want to play through the whole game as a single player is to use the insanely-over-powered assassin, as long as you:

  1. avoid claws and martial arts skills like a necro avoids poison dagger.
  2. weild an ultra-damaging melee weapon. I have the unique morning star 'Bloodrise', which is working very well.
  3. do not melee, but use Blade Fury (in traps) for your main attack. Blade fury uses 3/4 of your wielded weapon damage. Counting damage mods from charms and such, I'm currently doing 77-120 per shot, which makes it the most damaging skill in the whole game for a paltry 1.8 mana.
  4. pump Burst Of Speed (in shadow skills), which also boosts your attack speed. Add any gear that increases both running and attacking speed.
  5. add skill points in the Shadow Master summon, keep a few traps handy for backup, and keep your Act I rogue mercenary.

Course, I haven't been into Diablo in years, so it's slowly coming back to me. Anyway, I've tried CrossOver on various other sundry little tasks and it performs excellently. It's very well-behaved, and is less clumsy that raw Wine. It's actually kind of a front-end for Wine, so I assume anything Wine can do, CrossOver can do, with much less work. I don't know if I'd be using it if I hadn't gotten it for free, since my need to run Windows software on Linux is not that urgent, but for those out there aching to do so, CrossOver is a good solution.

Yours truly, happily level-grinding through the holidays (until I get tired of it again)...

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