Wing Commander 4's release on GOG has been a resounding success. Yet while most people have been happily playing away at this great game a few have been struggling with various technical issues. While we wish there wasn't any issues at all, it's still pretty amazing that the team was able to put together a release for GOG that runs on modern machines with minimal hiccups given the finicky nature of the original DVD release needing specific hardware to run.
So with that, we wanted to help out those of you that are having issues by running through the basic dos and don'ts of getting WC4 GOG to run on your modern machines. Below you will find a list of the most common issues with the game and their solutions:
Probably the most common issue people are having is that the game and video plays but they get no sound in the cutscenes. To fix this download and install AC3filter.
If you get audio and no picture, then you likely need an mpeg 2 decoder. Please note that Windows Vista and 7 Home and Starter editions *DO NOT* come with DVD software pre-installed. To fix this you can simply download and unzip mpeg2dec into your WC4 directory. Then run register.bat (as administrator).
In some cases people with the "sound but no picture" problem were running multiple monitors. Disabling your secondary monitor may also fix this issue.
In the event you have neither picture nor audio, or the "missing movie" error, you can apply both of the above solutions, or if you want a one-step solution, codec packs such as K-lite and CCCP will work. Most of the codec packs include an AC3 decoder, so you don't need to install AC3 filter as well. The advantage of K-lite over CCCP is that it should make it easier to diagnose codec issues. The K-Lite Codec Tweak Tool shows all codecs available in the system and allows you to enable / disable individual codecs.
In some cases, players have been unable to get the game running no matter what codecs they install (the game simply will not initialize). In these instances the likely culprit is your firewall software. Either disable your firewall and antivirus while first running the game or create an exception for WC4DVD.exe to solve this issue. Some player have noted that they had to even go so far as to completely remove their firewall program before it would let them install the game correctly.
There have been a few instances of people running Windows 8 getting the 'Virtual Protect' error on start-up. In this case, this should be solved by setting the compatibility mode of WC4DVD.exe to Windows 95 or 98.
Some people have experienced frame rate issues. This may be due to CPU affinity. Basically the game wants to use a specific core. In our tests this was only an issue on a EEEPC laptop running a multi-core ATOM processor. In any case, the GOG version of the game was created prepared to read an "affinity.cfg" file. Setting affinity to CPU 1 helps achieve a higher frame rate (from 21fps to 24fps, which is WC4's hardcoded maximum). To do this, create a text file in your WC4 directory and name it 'affinity.cfg'. Simply enter into the file the number of the core that should be assigned to the game. For example, if you have a dual core processor values 0 and 1 are valid, other values are ignored.
Other generic troubleshooting suggestions: Make sure your video driver version and DirectX version are up to date.
Please note that the DVD version did not have subtitles in the cinematics. This is a product of the original encoding and isn't a "bug" per se. Someday intrepid Wing Commander fans will figure out how to implement the subs from the CD version - and maybe the audio from the Lexington transitions while their at it - but for now, there are no subtitles during the cutscenes. Subtitles should still work fine during spaceflight comm videos and on-ship gameflow screens.
And now, the don'ts: *DO NOT* overwrite mpeg2.dll or dxmci.dll in your WC4 folder with older ones from Gulikoza's esteemed patches. Some people on other message boards have been suggesting this. Do not do it. You will break your install. GOG's version is built with the original dxmci patch as a starting point, but it has been heavily modified. Overwriting these files will require you to do a fresh install of the game.
Finally, if you cannot resolve your WC4 GOG issues, please post a message in the tech support section of the CIC Forums. We'll try and help you resolve anything not addressed by these steps. Please make sure to mention any error messages you may get and any other debug logs created by the crash. Please also tell us as much as you can about your system and what steps you have tried to get the game running.
The price of gaming-bug freedom is eternal vigilance!