UPDATE: According to the comments of HellRazor, it is possible to play Rising Lands successfully with DOSbox. I added a new section explaining the method.
After reading the StarCraft II novels Heaven’s Devils and Flashpoint, I got back to playing StarCraft 2. I’m an awful player, but remembering the original StarCraft (and its expansion set, Brood War) made me think about games that impressed me when I was young. One of them was Rising Lands, a RTS set in a post-apocalyptic future in which Earth was devastated by a meteor collision and most technological knowledge was lost. (yes, cheesy, but trust me on this — it is good)
There are several interesting features, considering the game was published in 1997. Persistent diplomatic relationships between missions, so you can avoid conflicts if you want to rush the campaign. The units become hungry over time, so you can’t move soldiers, builders and farmers across the map mindlessly. You can get extra technology by sending an Archer to spy on another clan’s Science Labs, opening up tech trees faster. There are four (initially three) areas of research that you can choose at the start of each mission – Farming, Military, Engineering, and Magic – allowing you to build new kinds of vehicles and units for getting food or destroying enemies faster.
There are a lot of details that are reminiscent of the game, for example the voicing of the units (which is usually funny and well-made) and the cutscenes that appear when your researchers create something new. It can be hard to find good reviews, but the site old-games.com has written some interesting points about it:
With a great premise and very intriguing blend of empire/micro- management (think The Settlers), real-time strategy fare, and historical context of Ultimate Domain, it is a pity that the interface in Rising Lands is not as user-friendly as Warcraft or other classics. You need to make a lot of left-clicks to order the units to do your bidding, and sometimes there is simply not enough time to do that when the enemy’s armies are approaching. However, unlike most game reviewers, I feel the game’s strong points more than outweigh the cumbersome interface. There are simply too many good ideas here, even if not all of them are implemented well. For instance, you have to make sure your units have access to enough food, or they will die. Hunger will also drive your units to abandon their post to find something to eat – a very nice nod to realism that adds a whole new layer to gameplay. You can also trade resources or people with other tribes by the use of markets and special “exchange” buildings, and you need to train messengers to initiate trades and pacts. Like all good 4X games, research is very important in Rising Lands: you get access to balloons and other cool units with enough research.
It’s been a long time since I looked through newer RTS games (apart from StarCraft), so I’m not sure if these ideas aren’t commonplace by now. I’d totally play a game that implemented them in a nicer way, though.
Where do I download it?
First of all: Rising Lands is abandonware. This means it can be downloaded and shared freely (as far as I know) over the Internet, thus the following links don’t count as piracy. I found torrents for the english and french versions of the game, and a download link for the portuguese one as well (on Mega):
- English – https://thepiratebay.gd
- French – https://thepiratebay.gd
- Brazilian portuguese – https://mega.co.nz
However, be aware that you will need to download the english version anyway, as it contains a patch to fix the game speed (more on this later).
How to run it?
First of all, you need to be able to load an IMG file. You can probably get by using something like Daemon Tools. This should mount the IMAGE.img as a CD, thus allowing you to access it.
You don’t need to properly install the game nor anything, just copy the INSTALLHD directory to somewhere else (e.g. your Desktop) and play by running the RISING.EXE executable in that directory.
If you downloaded the portuguese version, you need to load the RisingLands.cue and RisingLands.BIN files in Daemon Tools, which will allow you to get the INSTALLHD directory.
Problems found so far (and possible fixes)
Rising Lands is 1997 game, made to run on Windows 95. We’re practicing necromancy here, and it is not cheap: there are several bugs when running such old software on modern hardware. I collected this from my research so far:
- “The game is too fast for playing” – You need to download the torrent for the english version (see previous sections). There will be a directory named Patch with a patched RISING.EXE executable. Just copy that one to your INSTALLHD directory and the game should play at a reasonable speed.
- “The game crashes when I try to save” – You need to provide an empty SAV file first. There’s a very simple trick to do this: disable the option to hide common extensions, create an empty text file and rename it to Save1.SAV (or anything else with extension “SAV”).If you don’t disable the option to show file extensions, you will probably create a file Save1.SAV.txt, so follow the instructions in this link first. The process is similar for Windows 8 and 8.1, simply press Windows Key and q to open a menu, write “Control Panel” and you should be able to follow the rest of the tutorial.
- “The unknown regions of the map are green and other graphical glitches” – You can fix this by opening the list of processes with Ctrl + Alt + Del and stopping explorer.exe, as can be seen in this video.
- “The game is crashing randomly” – This one I can’t find a way to fix. Apparently, if you start a mission and it crashes in a specific moment, it will always crash at that moment, independent of the game settings, your units, etc. The only way to “fix” this situation is by restarting the mission and hoping it won’t crash again.From the error message, it is trying to do some forbidden memory access. It is probably debuggable, but I don’t know enough about patching old games to be of any help here.
I’m playing on Windows 8.1 and I can’t finish mission 1 because of the random crashes. The guy who uploaded gameplay videos to YouTube (see below) says he’s using Windows 7, so I’ll open a Virtual Machine and try it someday. I’ll update this post accordingly.
GeneralTobbe generously posted videos of each mission on YouTube. Look at the first one:
Some more information and next steps
Some folks reported being able to run correctly on a Windows 98 Virtual Machine, but I don’t have a copy of Win98 with me. If you have any other tips on running this game, please comment on this post!
I would really love to build a RTS game someday. If you are a game developer and want to chat about ideas regarding this genre, please contact me.
You can find more information about units on the Wiki. (yes, there is a Wiki!)