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Blake Stone - help!
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serpens
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:12 am
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No, I didn't get lost in any of the levels. I simply find it really difficult to play efficiently.

So... I have already beaten Episode 1, but accidentally started playing it on the second difficulty level, "Skilled Agent". It went rather well. Then, for Episode 2, I chose the fourth difficulty level, "Veteran Agent", like I always do in Wolfenstein. Here's where the problems started.

You see, most enemies deal a lot of damage and can endure a lot of shots. Also they rarely seem to flinch. This means that if I get into a close fight with anything stronger than the basic Sector Patrol, even if I use Dual Neutron Disrupter and flood the enemy with ammunition, the enemy usually manages to get in a shot or two - and it hurts. On the other hand, if I keep distance and safely kill them from far away, I lose a lot of ammo, and there are too few Energy Packs to compensate. It was already too much on Episode 2 Level 2, where I went through several difficult areas, had to kill several tough aliens with my Auto-Charge Pistol (each one took about 10 shots to kill!), then started looking for secret areas with ammo and what did I find? Two Star Troopers right into my face!

Now, I realize that I could simply take a lower difficulty level, but this would be a last resort. Maybe I'm doing something wrong? Some of you certainly managed to beat this game on the highest difficulty. If so, please tell me how did you manage ammo and what are your tips for me.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:28 pm
   Subject: Re: Blake Stone - help!
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The top difficulty is indeed rough. I remember slaving on Level 1 of Episode 1 for several months before finally getting past it. The hints below will make difficulties below Four seem far too easy, and knowing these tips may rob a lot of the game's mystery as well as the (previously) unpredictable structure of its maps. But for those seeking the same goal as Serpens, read on. Smile
As far as Episode One is concerned, things like Weapon #5 are hidden in certain areas, and without finding these areas, you won't get far. Weapon #5 is needed in areas like Key #1 (which Informants are correct in saying it's heavily guarded). Extra ammo is found in at least one place - behind a Pushwall in the very hall you start out in (It'll be guarded by at least one enemy sphere). There's a large group of brown aliens that you can toast simply with Weapon #1, as they're behind columns (and their shots blocked) until you use the Pushwall that goes into their area.

Remember that the rooms in each map have to be completed in a certain order. You won't get very far without good accuracy, but if you're running out of ammo in the same place consistently, chances are you've missed an important Pushwall some place, or you've gone into one or more rooms sooner than you should have. Try to keep track of where you've found ammo before, and try to restock on it before going through 1-way doors. This will save you much frustration. Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:00 pm
   Subject: Re: Blake Stone - help!
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This is old I know but here's a clever tactic involving using the electric force fields to deadly effect as I've recently found out, flip them on and off rapidly as enemies approach, they'll instantly die if they get caught in the arc and it'll save you a lot of ammo.

I beat BS a couple years ago for the first time and on the second hardest difficulty 'Expert Agent', which was pretty hard, certainly tougher than Wolf3D on I am Death incarnate! at times. Episode 4's start is the toughest and you'll want to use the auto charge pistol as much as possible, not only for saving ammo but not alerting all the enemies to your position. And the usual duck and shoot method when fighting bosses in Wolf applies to virtually every encounter above Sector Patrol, though really that just slows the pace of the game's action down, as one of my biggest pet peeves is the lack of a pain chance (well, it's there, but it rarely executes) for enemies and the increased hit points on harder settings that can make things artificially harder than they should be.

And I just don't find the weapons in BS below the Plasma Discharge Unit to be as useful on higher settings as a result, with exception to the Dual Neutron Disrupter, the game's chaingun equivalent. You've no excuse to use the game's machine gun when acquiring the DND, it's flat out suicide. And once you've got a steady supply of ammo in the latter three episodes mid to late levels you might as well PDU everything to hell because of how much crap they throw at you. The enemies also have Officer/Mutant reflexes, firing at you as soon as they look at you, so it becomes a bum rush to see who can deal the most damage first wins.

Finally, the god awful controls, it's just me I'm sure but it really bothers me that you can't WASD because they bind the W key to a 180 degree turn, E to a fast 90 degree left turn and S to toggling sound effects. I'm not sure how I did this with the cursor keys before but it just hurts my hand now. It might be the arrangement of the keys on my laptop keyboard that makes it feel uncomfortable but I certainly am not a fan of it either way. I'll be glad when BS/PS gets a SDL version and/or ECWolf compatibility with full control customization.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:12 am
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Wow, I forgot about this thread completely. Thanks for the hints! Even after all this time I'm still planning on beating Blake Stone on the highest difficulty level... eventually. Currently I'm just thinking what is the best way to play Blake Stone in this day and age. Well, my old computer dedicated to this kind of games is one way, but I'm looking for alternatives for my Windows 7 laptop in case I wanted to record the gameplay or something. Your (Cyanosis) post seems to imply there's no proper source port around. DOSBox is the obvious solution, but I'm having framerate problems: even with the CPU core set to Dynamic and cycles to Max, the game still becomes choppy whenever I pick anything up, get hit, or when there's too much action on the screen.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:03 pm
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You too? I get that as well, the screen flash causes a lag hit every time and I don't know why, Wolf doesn't do that.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:17 pm
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Awww, darn, I was hoping that maybe you'd know the solution. I've tried changing various settings (mostly graphics and CPU) and trying an older DOSBox version, but that lag still persists.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:31 pm
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serpens wrote:
Awww, darn, I was hoping that maybe you'd know the solution. I've tried changing various settings (mostly graphics and CPU) and trying an older DOSBox version, but that lag still persists.


What are your PC's specs?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:34 pm
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Cyanosis wrote:
You too? I get that as well, the screen flash causes a lag hit every time and I don't know why, Wolf doesn't do that.
As far as the "hit by enemy" lag is concerned, what's going on is that it's constantly drawing an animated enemy sprite on the statusbar *and* it's drawing text about the enemy on the statusbar, too. I know that doesn't sound like much, but keep in mind that the code to draw graphics to the statusbar isn't streamlined for efficiency. Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:53 pm
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AlumiuN wrote:
What are your PC's specs?


Intel Core i3-3110M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE, 4GB RAM. I don't know, maybe that's just not enough.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:00 pm
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serpens wrote:
AlumiuN wrote:
What are your PC's specs?


Intel Core i3-3110M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE, 4GB RAM. I don't know, maybe that's just not enough.


That should definitely be enough. The default config worked fine for me and I haven't got much more power than you, so I'm not sure where the problem lies.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:32 am
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I have finally had the chance to try Blake Stone on a much older computer today (Celeron 366, 128MB RAM, S3 Savage4, Sound Blaster 16 or at least some compatible clone) and guess what, the same lag spike when picking up items etc. was there as well. But AlumiuN said he hasn't experienced any problems at all even with the default DOSBox config! At this point I don't know what to think. Is it actually a problem with the game itself, or am I just imagining things, or...?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:02 am
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I tried Blake Stone in both DOSBox and on my Win98 machine (1.0 GHz) and I get no lag in either case.

The only thing I can think of is you might have an older version of Blake Stone. The latest one should say 3.00R on the title screen at the top right. I know that the earlier versions had a massive conventional memory footprint, causing us DOS gamers to knock ourselves out tweaking our config.sys and autoexec.bat files to push as many TSRs as we could into upper memory...good times..., uh, but I don't recall if there was any lag in the earlier version.

Anyway, I'm not sure where to find an official patch for upgrading to 3.0, but ECWolf's patch utility claims it can do it: http://maniacsvault.net/ecwolf/download.php Maybe blzut3 knows where to get the official patch, separate from ECWolf.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:25 am
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Re: patches. You might try here.

Edit: The link posted above is having problems. Try these instead:

ftp://nic.funet.fi/pub/msdos/games/apogee/00-index.txt
ftp://nic.funet.fi/pub/msdos/games/apogee/


Last edited by Tricob on Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:20 am
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I have used the patch utility to get the game up to 3.0, but sadly the issue still persists. I've seen some Youtube gameplay videos with no signs of any lag when picking up items, so I know it's possible to do. But how? It's driving me nuts. I'll try another, completely different computer later on today.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:47 am
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Try posting a video of it, and make requests as to how to fix it. Maybe some YouTubers may have answers.

EDIT: did you try turning off sounds?
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:08 pm
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Andy_Nonymous wrote:

EDIT: did you try turning off sounds?

Sure did, no luck. Even people over at vogons.org don't seem to have any answers. I know Cyanosis and me aren't alone though. There's at least two other people with the same problem:
http://steamcommunity.com/app/238050/discussions/0/864972621170334070/
http://www.gog.com/forum/blake_stone_series/stutter_when_collecting_items

Currently I'm hell bent on fixing this, but nothing works. I guess I'll record the video and go asking people for help eventually, because I can't believe there's no way to eliminate the stutter.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:32 pm
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I know when I played it on my 98 two years ago I didn't have the stutter problem.

Out of curiosity I tried an illegitimate copy, just in case there was something wrong with the GOG or Steam copies, and same stutter problem persists, even with the final version of the game.

I wonder if it's the sound settings in the DOSBox config or the cycles are too high?
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 4:03 pm
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Cyanosis wrote:
I know when I played it on my 98 two years ago I didn't have the stutter problem.

Out of curiosity I tried an illegitimate copy, just in case there was something wrong with the GOG or Steam copies, and same stutter problem persists, even with the final version of the game.

I wonder if it's the sound settings in the DOSBox config or the cycles are too high?

The shareware version has the same stuttering problem, too. I also tried setting the cycles (with core on Dynamic) to Auto, 15000, 30000, or max, as well as turning the sound off completely, all to no avail.

I don't know anything about coding, so excuse me if this is a stupid idea, but does anyone know if there's a way to disable the screen flashing when picking up items? Maybe through hex editing or something?

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 4:59 pm
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Did you try setting core to Auto?
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:55 pm
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I've provided Serpens with the CONF file I use for Blake Stone. There might be a setting in my CONF file that he doesn't have in his.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:59 am
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Neither AlumiuN's advice nor Tricob's config file worked. The issue still persists.

In other news, I'm not sure if that's placebo effect or if I've actually found something, but it looks like using DOSBox version 0.65 either eliminates the lag, or reduces it greatly. Could someone test this and see if they're able to get the game to work smoothly in this version of DOSBox?

EDIT: I seem to be getting best results with DOSBox 0.65 set as follows:

output:surface
core:dynamic
cycles: I've tried setting values as high as 75000 here, but the game seems to slow down when the screen is too busy, like when I'm firing the PDU at multiple enemies...

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:47 am
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Does this also happen in the Shareware version or in Planet Strike?
It's pretty easy to remove the flash in Planet Strike, just comment out this and/or this in 3D_AGENT.C.

I don't notice any special lag in DosBox 0.74 when picking up items though, even at 3000 cycles, and could not replicate your issue by changing any settings in DosBox or in the game. I'm using Linux though. What OS are you and Cyanosis using?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:57 am
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Planet Strike as well.

Win 7 Pro 32-bit, Core 2 Duo processor with 2 gigs of RAM and a bog standard video card with 256 megs of memory.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:04 am
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Using Windows 7 64 bit. Both AoG shareware and Planet Strike exhibit the same issue.

Still working on the best settings in DOSBox 0.65. Looks like setting the cycles too high will make the game blazing fast in some areas, but very choppy in others. Also trying to play fullscreen with scaler=none always makes the graphics glitch out.

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Last edited by serpens on Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:12 pm
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I tried out serpen's solution, there's no stutter from picking up things or getting hit but there's the described odd choppiness in places that wasn't present before. It also seems to running way too fast, especially noticeable when starting up to skip intros to get to the menu and navigating it. I use the original window resolution, full screen and overlay for output.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:15 pm
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Cyanosis wrote:
I tried out serpen's solution, there's no stutter from picking up things or getting hit but there's the described odd choppiness in places that wasn't present before. It also seems to running way too fast, especially noticeable when starting up to skip intros to get to the menu and navigating it. I use the original window resolution, full screen and overlay for output.

That's weird, because the config that I sent you allowed me to eliminate both the stutter and the choppiness. Maybe try another output mode? Surface seems to work best for me. And have you changed anything in the core and cycles settings?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:21 pm
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Nope, I tried surface just now, I get the same results technically, it's just on my end with this cheap laptop running in surface mode on some games results in really washed out brightness and colors (and using overlay on some other games results in them being too dark).
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:33 pm
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Huh. I don't know what to do then. Here's what I know: according to various sources all over the Internet, games like Wolfenstein or Blake Stone work best with core=dynamic and cycles=max. The problem with DOSBox 0.65 is, there was no cycles=max setting available. What I've sent you is an unofficial DOSBox build which both allows the cycles=max setting and does not exhibit the stutter.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:42 pm
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Yeah, until I knew about the core and cycles being at their highest it used to boggle my mind how a game like Blood would run fine in DOSBox on my old XP with some negligible choppiness yet a game as simple looking as Wolf3D ran at a couple frames a second with the default config, and it was even worse with addons that had floor/ceiling textures.

I wonder though, is there a 'proper' cycles one plays Wolf at? I've seen a number of Balames' videos and his game seems to run less fluid looking but still fast (unless that's the playback of the video FPS) and enemies like Mutants seem a little less aggressive, possibly due to reliance on the CPU speed. Then I had learned the Hitler Ghost's projectiles are also suppose to be faster, but a faster CPU actually slows them down. And then there's the odd couple of CPU sensitive pushwalls in Ep6 that are suppose to move 2 spaces but instead move 3 unless you set cycles to auto.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:52 pm
   Subject: Re: Blake Stone - help!
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I guess you could try setting cycles to something between 30000 and 40000, and core to dynamic or simple. The game wasn't perfectly smooth with such settings, but at least framerate was somewhat consistent. Other than that, I'm out of ideas.

The bit about Hitler Ghost's fireballs sounds probable, though... I do remember them being faster when I used to play Wolfenstein as a kid on my 486. And mutants being less aggressive would be one heck of an exploit for speedruns or other challenge runs.

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