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README.md

RBXIT - Really Basic sÍerra Tools

(the X is x'd out)

Welcome to my collection of utilities and patches for Sierra and Dynamix games from early versions of Windows--particularly, Windows 95. I am trying to fix the games up nice and shiny to run on Windows 7 through 10 and beyond. For the full story, please see my blog post on the subject: Fixing Up Old (Sierra) Computer Games.

Game Patches to Make Your Games Shiny Again

RBXIT Win7 game patches! First section!.. because that is why you are here, right? Not the tools??

Please do not steal these game patches by hosting them on your own site :trollface:. Link here instead or, more preferably, to my blog post. If I can't determine how popular they might be by the traffic, then why should I make more?

➡️ Click here to see the RBXIT wiki for game installation instructions and patches.

For the geeks who don't need no sleepy wiki, here are shortcuts to the RBXIT Win7 patch files (but, really, read the wiki before you ping me about problems):

In brief, most of what these patches do is replace the Sierra ADPCM audio data with standard 16-bit PCM audio data of the same sample rate, as well as adjusting the WAX header info so that the game knows what kind of audio data it is reading. If you read through the patch's batch file, you will see that no EXE files are harmed during this production (thus far) and so there should be little threat of misconduct here.

In hindsight, this fix seems rather simple and, well, it kind of is... in hindsight. It took a decent amount of research and testing to get here.

"More?"

Feel free to sumbit pull requests for patches you create on your own. It's not hard (just a process now that I've wrestled it out) and my immediate time is limited. (Maybe if I can find a better gig......)

I'm also no expert on the Sierra/Dynamix collection so I need help finding the games that need fixing (and are fixable) with the RBXIT tools. Basically, 90's games with RBX files in their folders. Help me... but don't overload me with vague requests of "can you fix this or that" random game. Be smart and look for the RBX files and have a reason to suspect the sound effects in the game.

There could possibly be non-Sierra titles as well if they borrowed ADPCM logic from each other. Thus, anything with the following IMA ADPCM index table in the game's EXE file is a likely candidate. Therefore, if you know how to use a hex editor, look for this sequence of bytes (yes, the same sequence of 16 bytes twice in a row):

    FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF 02 00 04 00 06 00 08 00
    FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF 02 00 04 00 06 00 08 00

The Tools

My original intent was to EXEfy these but, the more I looked at and tested some of the compilers/packagers, the more I realized it simply wasn't worth my time at the moment to push it through. I mean, why put too much into an execute-once-in-your-lifetime tool? Besides, anyone who is bound to make use of these is surely adept enough to also install the Python Launcher for Windows and maybe even wrap these scripts up into batch files in their path somewhere.

Personally, I use the absolutely fabtabulous Babun shell that makes it stoopidly easy to get a Cygwin and oh-my-zsh environment up and running on Windows! Complete with package installers as well. [Hushhh. Don't tell anyone but Babun just killed the only thing I like better about a Mac.] Anyway...

The Python scripts are what they are and more detailed descriptions are best found in the files instead of repeated here. I added wax2wav.py to the set, not because I use it, but because I knew someone would eventually bug me for it and it was easiest to just do it now. If you write audio codec stuff, feel free to steal the logic from it and add it to audio tools.

rbx.py and unrbx.py are pretty self explanatory--they pack and unpack Sierra's Really Basic arXives. (My own name for them.)

wax421.py (WAX 4 to 1) is where all the work is really done in these rather basic game repairs and, even then, SoX (Sound eXchange) does all the hard work. wax421.py re-encodes WAX type 4 as WAX type 1 (as well as spitting out WAV test files).

💥 If anyone wants to EXEfy these for me, or get fancy and friendly with the command line arguments, feel free. Submit a pull request and I'll likely pull it in. Although, really, I can't imagine these tools getting much use and needing this attention. After I or someone else patches all the games that can be patched, they will likely fade away. Unless, of course, I (or someone) gets around to decoding the BMX and other files for custom modding.

Other Things for Beating Games Into Shape

InstallSHIELD Tools for unpacking old installers that don't run on modern Windows. This read also helps.

help-info.de for lots of helpful information on converting HLP to CHM help files.

WinHelp Decompiler "HELPDECO" for unpacking those old Windows HLP files (and MVB files).

HTML Help Workshop for converting HLP source files to CHM help.

HHPMod for restoring context-sensitive sanity to the output of HTML Help Workshop.

Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) in case you are running a Windows version that is still supported for reading HLP files but does not come with the program built in (Vista through 8.1). It is looking likely that Windows 8.1 will be the last. For Windows 10, some are finding luck with this resource from Komeil Bahmanpour.

ODA - The Online Disassembler helps a great deal when rewriting machine code.

Retargetable Decompiler is a fairly good online disassembler and decompiler in spite of its bugs. Free version limited to 5-minute jobs.

DirectX 9. I had DX9 already installed before I began work on RBXIT because of sound problems with Worms Crazy Golf. Therefore, I list it here just in case it is discovered this somehow affects the solutions here.

dgVoodoo 2 is a graphics wrapper for running old Glide and old DirectX games.

cnc-ddraw is a graphics wrapper for running a few old DirectDraw games as OpenGL.

DDrawCompat is a graphics wrapper for running old DirectDraw games as more compatible DirectDraw.

IPXWrapper in case you have an old game that requires the IPX network protocol.

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 10 for more rapidly testing hidden compatiblity settings. This is what ultimately rescued CyberStorm from it's crippling file-dialog issue. The ADK is a superset of the older Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.6

DxWnd is a bit like the Microsoft ADK but is more ad-hoc, more friendly, and does more than just give access to some of those hidden compatibility shims.

DxWrapper yet another graphics wrapper that appears to be trying to bring all the good stuff of DDrawCompat, DxWnd, and other tools under one roof. 😱

MultiRes for setting and restoring the display resolution from the system tray or the command line. A PowerShell script alternative can be found here and in our wiki here.

InstalledCodec for controlling what codecs are in play when testing video and audio problems.

MP3Gain for adjusting volume in MP3 files without rewriting the audio data.

MIDIVOL for adjusting volume in MIDI files. 16-bit DOS program. Thus, this will not run in a modern Windows Command shell. Might run in DOSBox. I haven't tried this tool yet (at least, not in recent memory). If anyone has a suggested replacement, I would like to hear it. It should to be a simple tool like this one and not a multi-tool or sequencer.

xdelta is a binary diff tool that works far better with what I do to the RBX files than any other diff/patcher I tried/read about. It is designed for a different type of diff and isn't really "better" than the others. The others were giving me 10% compression at most when I should have been getting 90%.

Looking for old files?

Looking for hope with other games?

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