Tutorial: Rise of the Triad on Win 7

Doom sparked interest in a genre of games that have since become the bread-and-butter of many a software house.  It’s true that we had seen first-person shooters before then, but it brought with it improvements to control and gameplay that made the genre much more accessible.  Obviously the graphics and sound were also stupendous for the time but the fact remains that if the game wasn’t so damn playable we would have forgotten about it long ago.

A term was coined and regularly used throughout Doom’s relevance.  People looked down upon attempts to build upon its fame by other companies and the words “Doom clone” were used negatively in reviews by the gaming press.  One such game was special though…

Rise of the Triad was developed by Apogee who had previously published Id’s Wolfenstein 3D.  It was intended to be a Wolfenstein expansion, but the game was retitled and the story rewritten after John Carmack attempted to cancel the project.  This wasn’t another Doom-clone; this was a distance relative.

Getting Doom to work on your average modern PC is as easy as installing one of the many source-ports available.  However, Rise of the Triad was never fortunate enough to garner a similar following and after a lengthy period of time without any source-code being available to the public is somewhat more difficult.


If you have an old copy of RoTT you may want to brush the dust off the CD now.  I used to own a copy, but I haven’t got even the slightest idea as to how to find it, so I went for the alternative option of purchasing it from GoG.com.  If you’re really stingy, or if your nostalgia attack isn’t severe enough to make you break out your wallet, you can grab the shareware version here.

Installing the game will depend on how you obtained it in the first place.  GoG like to package games up with a copy of Dosbox and this is certainly a valid way of obtaining an extremely retro experience.  If you’re like me though and your eyes aren’t quite as willing to interpret a low-res display as a portal into a 3D world as they used to be; read on.  CD owners will have the most difficulty here as the old install program will probably need to be run using something like Dosbox.

Source Ports

You have a choice to make here.  Two versions of WinRoTT are available; a standard port and an OpenGL version.  I’ll run through the OpenGL one first.

First, head to the home of Birger – obviously quite the RoTT fan.  Download the latest version of WinRottGL, alongside the GLGraphics pack and unzip them to your RoTT directory (which should create a “gl” directory within it).  If you get an error about .dlls when you try to run the port, get the dll pack from the same page.

I ran into an error about glut32.dll.  This can be found here, and I just dropped the .dll into my RoTT directory.  You could also put it in system32 if you wish.

My experience with the OpenGL version wasn’t the greatest.  I remapped the keys from the options screen in-game to WASD, inverted my mouse from the extended options menu, added a crosshair and then attempted to play a game.

  1. The mouse sensitivity appears to be linked between x and y directions in an odd way, meaning that I had an overly sensitive up/down action but left/right was fine.
  2. Sound effects didn’t work – only music.

If, like me, you found the issues above too jarring then don’t worry.  As of the time of this blog the owner of the page (one of the WinRoTT developers) had made a recent update so it appears that work is continuing and hopefully such issues will be addressed.  Secondly, the non-opengl port is more more solid.

Standard Port

Visit the standard port page and download a copy of the latest version.  Drop this into the same directory as RoTT.  Now, to get this to run under Win 7 I had to set the compatibility mode to Windows XP (Service Pack 3) which is easily done by right clicking the .exe, going to properties then choosing the “Compatibility” tab.  You may need the .dll pack if you didn’t grab it earlier.

Again, some options are worth changing.  You’ll notice that the resolution selections don’t go as high as with the OpenGL version, but you probably won’t notice that in-game.  Also, you’ll probably want to change the key mappings once you’ve launched the game.  Mouse-aiming is in the extended options menu but I gave this a miss.  It suffers some a similar problem with regards to up/down being overly sensitive but this is mainly an engine problem from what I can surmise.  The crosshair will move upwards as you look up, amplifying the movement.  This was never a full-3D engine, and the up/down distortion (similar to Heretic and other 2.5D style engines) is too much for comfortable mouse-aiming.  The game was designed to be played with autoaim, so why not leave it that way?

Extra Options

I’m yet to explore the rest.  The port seems to have bot support, and RandRoTT appears to be built in.  However, this is all I needed to do for a lengthy session of RoTT in relatively modern comfort.

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