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Steam Overlay + Higher Resolution Game engine upgrade
By Big Trov
Graphical enhancements & overlay for Steam! Option to launch DOSBOX!
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Intro
Note: Guide updated April 2020

Are you disappointed by the Steam release?

The Steam version of Descent runs the game inside an emulator, called DOSBOX.
It means that performance can be inconsistent, and the game is limited to a very low resolution.
However, as the game is open source, many improvements have been added to the game such as support for widescreen and higher resolutions. Among other things, it will also allow Steam Overlay to work.

Were you expecting Descent to look less like THIS

and more like THIS?

Want to be able to take Steam screenshots?

Follow this guide!
Patching to Install D1X-Rebirth
One such upgrade is called D1X-Rebirth. The goal of the D1X-Rebirth project is to upgrade the game for modern computers while striving to leave the feel of the original game intact. Thus, it is a very conservative and faithful update while improving quality-of-life aspects.

Get D1X Rebirth HERE![www.dxx-rebirth.com]
Instructions:
  1. Download the Windows binary package from the above link
  2. Extract all files inside the "D1X-Rebirth" folder in the downloaded .zip to Steam's Descent folder (Steam\steamapps\common\Descent\),
  3. Launch the updated game by running d1x-rebirth.exe
  4. Your pilot configs and savegames will be read by the new engine!

Why do this?

It's an upgrade for Descent, without changing the underlying game.
Here are its features:
  • Play at any resolution, including Hor+ Widescreen
  • Higher resolution UI assets
  • In-game online multiplayer server browser
  • Support for music replacement packs emulating old-school soundcards or remastered music:
    Classic Sound Blaster/Adlib OPL Recordings: here![www.dxx-rebirth.com]
    Classic Sound Canvas 55/High Quality MIDI Recordings: here![www.dxx-rebirth.com]
    Remastered "Redbook" CD Soundtrack from Playstation/Mac release: here![www.dropbox.com]
    Save either of these .DXA files into the game folder. Only one at a time can be used
  • High resolution cockpit graphics: You need the game data files from the Mac version of the game. namely, DESCENT.HOG, DESCENT.PIG, and a package of the DOS version sounds. I cannot legally link to them but they are out there around the Internet.

But that's not all...the next section will allow you to launch D1X-Rebirth directly by running the game in Steam!
Launching D1X-Rebirth from Steam "Descent" entry
Even though you've installed D1X-Rebirth, the Steam overlay still won't work. This is because to launch the game, Steam launches a .bat file, which doesn't properly tell Steam what program the game has just launched.

So, to fix this, it is possible to modify Steam's configuration to change what Steam does to launch Descent.

Using SteamEdit
You will need to install a tool called SteamEdit: here.[steamedit.tg-software.com]

Modifying Descent entry
  • In the drop-down, select Descent.
  • Press the Edit Launch button in the bottom left corner.
  • Replace "launch descent.bat" in the Executable field with the text "d1x-rebirth.exe"
  • Press OK
  • This will tell Steam to launch the game using D1X Rebirth instead of the original DOSBOX batch file.
  • In the SteamEdit window, hit Save & refresh to relaunch Steam.
  • Launch the game!

Periodically Steam may reset your changes when it updates. You can just do it again if that happens, or add it as a Non-Steam Game to keep it forever.

Have fun!
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24 Comments
Kringe702 Aug 18, 2022 @ 8:53pm 
I cant seem to find the appropriate files to upgrade the cockpit graphics. Where would they be located in the Mac files?
SamboNZ Jun 27, 2022 @ 11:17am 
Thanks for this! Works great and plays wonderfully. Great nostalgic memories. :p4g_love:
Chaz706 Jan 24, 2022 @ 8:41pm 
Hey... how do I get the music packs working?
Nizotro Jan 5, 2022 @ 8:21am 
Legit works.
Installs quickly and greatly improves graphics quality.
Only problem it says to install into common/Descent. Have to install it into common/Descent/descent AND THEN run d1x-Rebirth.

Was not happy that the original Steam version didn't look like I remembered, thanks for the fix!
HerLegz Dec 11, 2021 @ 11:55am 
Look forward to playing this again with the upgrades!