Civ IV – Problems and Play

Well, I got Civilization IV running on my system, so I have wasted a lot of time, this weekend. Getting it to run was insane, however. For reference, I have a Dell Inspiron 8500 with the ATI Radeon Mobility 9000 (32MB) graphics card and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. These are the steps I had to take to make it run (note that steps 3 and 5 turned out to be irrelevant and can, I think, be skipped):

STEP 1: I upgraded the video card driver using the latest driver from https://support.ati.com/ics/support/KBList.asp?folderID=301. ATI, however, can’t write a working driver; the installation will crash, saying “INF not found.” So…

STEP 2: I had to download and run the Driverheaven Mobility Modding Tool, available at http://www.driverheaven.net/patje/, following the instructions on that page. Once this program runs, the driver will install.
At this point, the game would start loading, then die with the following image:

This is where things get truly ridiculous. Clicking the link in that window gets you nowhere, since the page that comes up is little more than an ad. Apparently, the folks at 2kgames meant to link to this, explaining that their game was shipped with not only a faulty manual (telling players to put Disc 2 in to play, not Disc 1), but also with mislabeled disks, since some copies of Disk 2 are actually labeled as the play disk. It turns out they did some other dumb things, like shipping some English copies of the game with French tech trees. However, this was not the problem I had, since neither disk worked. No help from the 2kgames folks, so it was on to Google.
With Google, I found out that the problem is with the DRM software (securerom) on the disk; it’s designed to keep people from running copied disks, instead of legitimate ones. Apparently, it keeps lots of people from running it, legitimately or not. It sounded like I needed to update my CD-ROM firmware. So…

STEP 3 (you can probably skip this step): I updated my CD-ROM firmware, by searching the Dell site. Anybody trying to follow these directions would need to search the Dell site to find the right device, since there are several. If you’re not sure what drive you have, you can use the Device Manager, available from the System tool in the Windows Control Panel. You may also be able to click on the “safely remove hardware” icon in your system tray. It would look something like this, if it’s there:
At this point, the game would start loading, then die with the following image:

STEP 4: I installed the patch to v.1.52, available at http://www.2kgames.com/civ4/downloads.htm. This is strongly recommended, whether or not you have the CD-ROM problems.

STEP 5 (you can probably skip this step): I installed DAEMON Tools, from http://www.daemon-tools.cc/dtcc/announcements.php, which is supposed to be able to trick the system into ignoring the DRM. After installing and restarting, the game did, in fact, run. When I quit and tried to run it, again, though, no luck, even if I rebooted first. After much poking around, I came to:

STEP 6: I downloaded a no-DVD hack file. I don’t feel comfortable linking to the download, because this is a major step people would take in “cracking” the game. Google it; it’s there. I wasn’t very happy about having to do this, but this was the only way I could get the game to run. It does, in fact, run without any absurd glitches, now.

So, there you have it. A video card driver update, a fix for the video card driver, a CD-ROM firmware update, a game patch, a DRM hack, and a cracked version of the game launcher. This is to make the legitimate, paid-for version of the game run. That’s ridiculous. This is one of the problems with DRM – when applied poorly, as it usually is, it ends up encouraging the kind of behavior the software developers wanted to avoid in the first place. When a legitimate, paying customer has to download all of the software that would have been necessary to play an illegal, “cracked,” copy of the game, just to play it, it encourages them to do it for less honorable reasons. At the very least, it gives (by duress) users the necessary knowledge to hack the software and encourages the spread of information about the hacks.

It’s a real shame that Firaxis and Take Two put out one of the most popular video games of all time, without doing their homework, first. They screwed up the DRM software, the link to support info when the DRM fails, the tech tree on some games, the manual, the disk labeling… It’s kind of ridiculous. The good news is that the game is so immensely enjoyable and addictive, it was worth the hassle to make it work. It sure would have been nice, though, to just come home from the store, pop in a disk, and go.

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