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Macs, ViDock 4, PC emulators, Widescreen and BG1 GUI


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This documents a fairly complex test (and test environment) of a non-tutu, non-BGT, and non-BWP modification of BG1/ToSC (5512). I’ve played both BWP and EasyTutu versions on several occasions, so it was of some interest to go back to a closer incarnation of the original release and see how well modifications worked and how much I’d miss some of the nicer mechanical aspects of the BG2 IE world.


Up until this point, all of my BG-world has been on a Mac (OS X 10.5.8) using Mac versions of the game software and adapting mods as needed to the OS X universe, but when Amazon started selling a PC DVD 4 in 1 box set of BG1/ToSC/BG2/ToB for about $15, I decided it was time to experiment a bit. Since I’m an IT consultant for engineering companies writing technical proposals to capture work, I already had a lot of emulation software for thinking about (and experimenting with) conceptual uses of virtual machines (VMs). I have four different emulation engines - CrossOver Games 9.2 (and its big brother CrossOver), iEmulator 1.7.9 (and its newer incarnation iEmulator V), Parallels 7 and VMWare Fusion 3.1.2.


The hardware used for testing is listed below:


MacBook Pro (MBP)

2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo


NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT (built in graphics card)

ViDock 4 with an installed ATI Radeon HD 5770 HD (external graphics card)

OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard)


Mac mini

2.7 GHz Intel Core i7

8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3

AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256 MB (built in graphics card)

OS X 10.7.4 (Lion)


Onkyo TX-SR508 (stereo receiver) with a 7.1 speaker system

HP 2511x (monitor)


A discussion of the hardware and its setup:


I wanted to play with the ViDock 4 to see how effective an external graphics card could be. Normally using a laptop with its internal graphics card would make you want to commit ritual seppuku when playing something like Dragon Age Origins when set to maximum graphics performance. Using Cinebench 11.5.29 (available for multiple platforms/OS’s as a free download at www.maxon.net) gives a fairly effective frames per second rating and nice comparisons to other graphics cards’ fps performance ratings. The MacBook Pro’s built-in NVIDIA card tests out at a painful 6 fps - I’m skipping the fractions here. By plugging in the ViDock 4 to the MBP’s ExpressCard/34 slot, the installed Radeon 5770 scored a respectable 24 fps - quite the improvement over the internal card, and more than good enough for a modded version of ToSC. (It even runs DA:O respectably.)


[For the technically minded, if the manufacturers of the ViDock 4 follow through on their promise to produce a Thunderbolt version of the ViDock, this will overcome the PCIe x1 lane width constraint imposed by using the ExpressCard/34 slot and make the performance of external graphics cards much more attractive. This setup will never make the true hard core, “maximum graphics performance at all costs” video gamer happy, of course, but for those of us that use laptops for a living, having a desktop swappable/upgradable graphics card is appealing once you get past the upfront cost of the ViDock, which should last through multiple laptops. As a simple example of how fast even inexpensive graphics cards improve in performance, in the three years between the MBP and the Mac mini’s manufacture dates, the mini’s mobile/laptop-like graphics card - the Radeon 6630M - tests out at 25 fps - 4 times faster than the MBP’s GeForce 8600M. And yes, I know that’s an oversimplification of what’s going on technically, but I did say it was a simple example.]


The ViDock/Radeon 5770 has two HDMI ports, one of which is connected to one of the four Onkyo SR508 HDMI input ports. The Onkyo has one HDMI output port, which connects to the HP 2511x monitor - which then provides a 1080p display resolution. The MBP’s system preferences are set so that the HP monitor is the primary display and I just set the laptop’s screen brightness to zero. I don’t mirror the two displays because I want to avoid the performance constraints of the internal graphics card. Note that in OS X’s System Preferences Display panel, you also need to set the arrangement of the screens so that the menu bar is associated with the HP monitor (making it the primary screen for booting up) and the laptop screen should be placed so that the displays only share the northeast/southwest corner of their screens, so the mouse doesn’t “disappear” off the HP monitor and onto the laptop screen. Because the Onkyo offers a wide range of role-playing-game special effects/music sound configurations not available through HDMI, I also connected the MBP’s optical digital sound out port to one of the Onkyo’s optical-in ports. The backplane of the Onkyo is designed so that front panel buttons (labeled as the blu-ray port, the game port, the DVD port, and the DVR port) all have their associated HDMI and optical ports - quite the flexible setup.


The Thunderbolt port of the Mac mini is (via a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI converter cable) also connected to an Onkyo HDMI-in port. The other two HDMI-in ports are used by a Sony Playstation 3 (with its blu-ray playing capability) and a Samsung VCR/DVD playback/converter deck. By using the front selection buttons on the Onkyo, the HP monitor flips between any of the four devices’ output (audio and video).


Why is any of this important to a BG1/ToSC mod setup? Well, I wanted to use ToSC in widescreen format, so I tried using the Widescreen v3.05 mod (with no other mods) just to see what it would look like, and I chose some strange non-standard x-y coordinates that would utilize most of the HP’s 25” screen. It worked, but the GUI buttons were tiny and shoved off to the lower left corner and BG1/ToSC’s GUI borders weren’t at the edge of the monitor screen so the mouse would visit the “regular” desktop and ignore the fact that I wanted to move the map display around to see the monsters coming “stage right” - messy on multiple levels.


Time for a GUI mod, right? Enter BG1 GUI 0.994 (were there really 993 alpha and beta versions before this one? .... just kidding - version control is an ugly thing). Reading the mod’s documentation, you have to choose x-y resolution coordinates that, not surprisingly, match the GUI border sizes crafted for the mod - not to mention the associated file patches. Without a single thought about whether or not the HP monitor (or the MBP for that matter) supported it, I chose 1280 x 768 on round two of using the Widescreen mod and then followed by BG1 GUI, simply because it was the largest screen size that BG1 GUI supported. Surprise, the weidu modification process works, but the ToSC instance does not, because the monitor does all kinds of creative things, then crashes to desktop. Note that BG1 GUI also supports 1024 x 768, a resolution that is supported natively by the MBP and the HP monitor, but I’m not giving up yet. I find a little application called SwitchResX that allows you to create almost any screen resolution. This actually works for the laptop display, and I’m able to run “ToSCmod” on the laptop screen. However, to pull this off, SwitchResX is pushing a video signal at 111 Hz re-fresh rate, and the HP engineers, apparently wise enough to realize that some idiot like me would try to wreck their 60 Hz monitor by melting its internal circuitry (and probably the graphics card as well), shows the image for about 20 seconds, long enough to put up an error message to the effect that the non-standard video signal wasn’t supported and fades to black. I swear there was a little HP engineer icon in the corner giving me the bird just before it faded out ...


This is where emulation software comes to the rescue. Up to this point, I’ve been running all of the PC DVD discs (and weidu modifications) inside Windows emulators and installing the software in the emulator’s pseudo-Windows world, but doing all of the hardware and monitor configuration on the OS X side of things. Enter CrossOver Games and their winxp “bottle”, where I’ve installed the ToSC mod instance discussed above. The bottle has a built in configuration tool that takes the place of Windows control panels, and when I set the emulated screen display to 1280 x 768, the magic happens. The emulated desktop opens filled corner to corner with the new BG1 GUI, and everything works (almost). The HP monitor is still in 1080p mode, so the emulated desktop shares a west and north border with the edge of the monitor, but the south and east border abuts the “regular” OS X desktop image. So when sliding the game map around, the arrow icon shows up when going west or north, but wants to visit the OS X desktop otherwise. Note that you can get the arrow to show up (and work) on the south and east borders, but your manual placement of the cursor has to be just about perfectly on the GUI border, not a particularly user friendly feature especially if Saravok is bearing down on you (time to hit the space bar ...). Nevertheless I played through the usual visit to FAI, Beregost and Nashkell. The widescreen is very nice and I got really good at cursor control. However, at this point, I’d really have to recommend only going with resolution choices that are natively supported by the monitor and computer. CrossOver Games does have a configuration choice that allows its Direct X drivers to keep the mouse movement inside the game window (the perfect choice), but alas, this setting did not stop the cursor from going south (literally and figuratively).


Of course, the drive to use CrossOver Games instead of say Parallels 7 is simple and two-fold. The winxp “bottle” of CrossOver is the only emulator that doesn’t require a Windows license/installation and the emulation performance overhead is very, very small. But if one really wants the biggest screen possible with the nicest GUI (for this non-tutu,BGT,BWP example anyway), one of the other emulators is almost certainly the better choice because you can set the emulated desktop to the exact resolution needed by BG1 GUI and it can be configured to take up the entire display space, thus avoiding the map movement cursor problem.


It should also be noted that certain mods really didn’t install well using the CrossOver Games environment by itself (see the final list of installed mods below - note that the original ToSC Baldurdash text and override files were installed first and don’t show on the weidu log). However, the winxp “bottle” sets up a standard C:/ drive configuration (in the Mac’s Library/Application Support folder). You can make that a shared drive on (for example) a VMWare Fusion desktop running XP or Win7, place the mods in the Baldur’s Gate folder and run the mods from the Fusion desktop, and shazzam, you have a happily modified bottle when you start up CrossOver Games.


For the sake of completeness, the following issues are noted in game play of the mods listed below:

  1. Some of the armor and robes now show up as fuzzy colored blobs in the inventory screen (they look fine in the game window)
  2. The gem bag you pick up from the assassin fight at FAI requires you to put it into a quick slot to use it. This works for gems, but it eats all rings and necklaces, never to be seen again.
  3. Most necklaces and rings are set to a value of 1 GP forever. Kind of a trade off considering you don’t get much for your jewelry, but stores are selling the Necklace of Protection for 1 GP. Interestingly enough the necklace that throws fireballs and the shield amulet have retained their normal pricing.
  4. Gems, missiles, potions and scrolls get a number in the inventory and stack properly, but rings and necklaces disappear when you try to stack them.
  5. When a character with the gem bag talks to some of the merchants (the one in Nashkell comes to mind), they do not respond at all. Sending the offending holder outside and having another one of your characters open trade negotiations then works fine. Not all merchants exhibit this problem. I must admit this bug made me laugh. If I could figure out how this is happening, the potential uses in mods would be legion (oooh ... the Necklace of Social Dismay).
  6. The PnP implementation of using magic items together does not appear to work. You get the usual message about not being able to wear rings and armor together.


The other modifications seem to be working and the overall game performance is very good. Despite missing some of the ease of use aspects of BG2, it was nice not having the simpler requirements of the BG1 storyline overwhelmed by increased capabilities. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the compatibility or sequencing of the mods used (other than support for vanilla BG1/ToSC), so a little tweaking and experimenting would probably make most of the above go away.


Pretty much all of the above also holds true for using a Mac mini with the sound/display setup described above and its graphics card is fast enough to not need the current ViDock setup used by the laptop. That’s good since the mini doesn’t have an ExpressCard/34 slot. Now Sonnet Technology makes a Thunderbolt to ExpressCard converter, but that’s just silly, both cost and performance-wise, for the purposes of this discussion. The desire to use external graphics cards on a Mac mini simply has to wait until a native Thunderbolt interface is available. It should be noted that the mini doesn’t have an internal DVD slot, so you either need to buy an external Apple SuperDrive for it, or (and what I do) setup CD/DVD drive sharing with a DVD drive equipped Mac that the mini can see via wireless/wired networking.



This list of mods used for testing with Widescreen and BG1 GUI:


// Log of Currently Installed WeiDU Mods

// The top of the file is the 'oldest' mod

// ~TP2_File~ #language_number #component_number // [subcomponent Name -> ] Component Name [ : Version]

~BG1VARFIX/SETUP-BG1VARFIX.TP2~ #0 #0 // Extending limit of GLOBAL variables in BG1 engine up to 4096

~BW_HERBS/SETUP-BW_HERBS.TP2~ #0 #0 // Herbs and Potions Add-in (BG1 / BG1Tutu / BGT) by Baronius: v1.0.3

~BGQE/SETUP-BGQE.TP2~ #0 #0 // Baldur's Gate Mini-Quests and Encounters Mod: 7

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #0 // Ice Island Level Two Restoration: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #1 // The Mysterious Vial: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #2 // Additional Elminster Encounter: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #3 // Angelo Notices Shar-teel: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #4 // Finishable Kagain Caravan Quest: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #5 // Coran and the Wyverns: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #6 // Kivan and Tazok: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #7 // Branwen and Tranzig: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #8 // Safana the Flirt: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #9 // Appropriate Albert and Rufie Reward: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #10 // Place Entar Silvershield in His Home: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #11 // Scar and the Sashenstar's Daughter: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #12 // Quoningar, the Cleric: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #13 // Shilo Chen and the Ogre-Magi: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #14 // Edie, the Merchant League Applicant: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #15 // Flaming Fist Mercenary Reinforcements: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #16 // Creature Corrections: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #17 // Creature Restorations: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #18 // Creature Name Restorations: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #19 // Minor Dialogue Restorations: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #20 // Audio Restorations: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #21 // Store, Tavern and Inn Fixes and Restorations: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #22 // Item Corrections and Restorations: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #23 // Area Corrections and Restorations: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #25 // Elven Charm and Sleep Racial Resistance: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #26 // The Original Saga Music Playlist Corrections: v13_120121

~BG1UB/SETUP-BG1UB.TP2~ #0 #27 // Sarevok's Diary Corrections: v13_120121

~SETUP-TGC1E.TP2~ #0 #0 // The Grey Clan Episode One: In Candlelight, BG edition v1.9 -> Normal edition

~SOA/SETUP-SOA.TP2~ #0 #0 // The Stone of Askavar: 1.7

~SETUP-DARKHORIZONS.TP2~ #0 #0 // "Dark Horizons" Mod (Requires Tales of the Sword Coast, TuTu or BGT): BG v207

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #10 // Remove Helmet Animations: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #20 // Weapon Animation Tweaks: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #50 // Icon Improvements: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #60 // Force All Dialogue to Pause Game: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #1010 // Make Cloakwood Areas Available Before Completing the Bandit Camp -> First Area Only: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #1040 // Send BioWare NPC's to an Inn (DavidW/Zed Nocear) (BETA): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #1050 // Reveal City Maps When Entering Area: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #1060 // Stores Sell Higher Stacks of Items: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #1070 // Gems, Jewelry and Potions Require Identification: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #1090 // Portable Containers (Zed Nocear) (BETA): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #1110 // Bardic Reputation Adjustment: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2030 // Change Experience Point Cap -> Remove Experience Cap: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2060 // Wear Multiple Protection Items -> P&P Restrictions: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2100 // Change Magically Created Weapons to Zero Weight: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2110 // Un-Nerfed THAC0 Table: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2121 // Alter Mage Spell Progression Table -> PnP Table: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2131 // Alter Bard Spell Progression Table -> PnP Table: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2141 // Alter Cleric/Druid Spell Progression Table -> PnP Table: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2150 // Druids Use Cleric Level Progression Table: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2160 // Paladins and Rangers Use Icewind Dale-Heart of Winter Spell Tables (grogerson): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #2180 // Loosen Equipment Restrictions for Cleric and Druid Multi-Classes: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #3000 // Higher HP on Level Up -> Maximum: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #3010 // Maximum HP for NPCs (the bigg): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #3031 // Easy Spell Learning -> 100% Learn Spells and No Maximum Cap: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #3040 // Remove "You Must Gather Your Party..." Sound (Weimer): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #3100 // Taerom Makes Additional Ankheg Armor (Icendoan/grogerson) (BETA): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #3120 // Neutral Characters Make Happy Comments at Mid-Range Reputation (Luiz): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #3160 // Sellable Staffs, Clubs, and Slings (Icelus): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #4000 // Adjust Evil joinable NPC reaction rolls (BETA): 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #4010 // Give Edwin His BG2 Stats -> BG2 Stats Only: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #4021 // Give Jaheira Her BG2 Stats -> BG2 Stats and Portrait: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #4040 // Give Minsc His BG2 Stats -> BG2 Stats Only: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #4051 // Give Viconia Her BG2 Stats -> BG2 Stats and Portrait: 3

~BG1TWEAKS/SETUP-BG1TWEAKS.TP2~ #0 #4060 // Give Imoen Her BG2 Portrait: 3


~MIXMOD/MIXMOD.TP2~ #0 #4 // Increased Ammo Stacks -> Increase Ammo by 200%

~MIXMOD/MIXMOD.TP2~ #0 #12 // Increased Gem and Jewelry Stacking -> Increase Gem and Jewelry by 300%

~MIXMOD/MIXMOD.TP2~ #0 #17 // Increased Potion Stacking -> Increase Potion by 100%

~MIXMOD/MIXMOD.TP2~ #0 #24 // Increased Scroll Stacking -> Increase Scroll by 100%

~IMPROVEDBAMS/IMPROVEDBAMS.TP2~ #0 #0 // Improved Inventory BAMs

~WIDESCREEN/WIDESCREEN.TP2~ #0 #0 // Widescreen Mod -> for the original Infinity Engine (CHOOSE THIS!): Widescreen Mod v3.02

~TWM_GUI/SETUP-TWM_GUI.TP2~ #0 #97 // Better GUI for BG1 with WideScreen Mod in higher resolutions: v0,994

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CrossOver Games does have a configuration choice that allows its Direct X drivers to keep the mouse movement inside the game window (the perfect choice), but alas, this setting did not stop the cursor from going south (literally and figuratively).


What I am referring to in this line of my post is in fact, the wine configuration tool to capture the mouse. Doesn't work.

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