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Getting Diablo 2 Working Under Dual-Core Vista x64

Getting a game as old as Diablo 2 to behave on a modern PC can be quite the chore; something I rediscovered today when my buddy and I got a hankering to play it again. Fortunately, I managed to get it working, so I figured I'd document my steps in case someone else runs into the problem and happens to find this, or, more likely, I forget how I got it working and need a place to look the next time the desire to play this game manifests itself.

The problem I encountered was one of massive framerate drops on a pretty regular basis. Not only was the framerate pretty poor to begin with, but it seemed to periodically encounter particularly long frames, drop to near nothing, and then quickly catch back up again, causing everything to zoom by at a stupid-high speed.

Ultimately I found that the only thing that fixed the problem was setting the game to run using DirectDraw rather than Direct3D in the Video Test application that installs itself with Diablo 2.

Diablo 2 Shortcut Compatibility Settings

Unfortunately, changing to DirectDraw caused the game to fail to load; it would just sit there after running the executable, without the game actually even opening a window, though I could see its process in Task Manager.

Ultimately, I was able to get the game to launch and run just fine using DirectDraw by setting the compatibility settings shown to the right on its shortcut.

I'm not sure if they're all necessary, and it may not even be necessary to run the game as Administrator, but since these settings worked out for me without any problems, they're what I'm sticking with for the time being.

I'm not sure why Diablo 2 chokes so stupendously when you try to run it in Direct3D mode. Perhaps the game tries to use some features of old Direct3D drivers so archaic and deprecated that modern hardware chokes and dies on it.

Alternately, it's possible that modern GPU optimizations for multi-core computers like mine cause synchronization issues on these old games that cause the kind of craziness I was seeing. I know my nVidia driver control panel has an option for "Threaded Optimization" that might not be playing nice with Diablo 2's expectations.

In any case, DirectDraw worked for me, and if you're having trouble getting Diablo 2 to run on a modern PC, I hope this helped you out in some way.

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