As is quite evident by the topics and articles on this blog, I am not a fan of Windows. Give me just about any *NIX system, and I’ll be happy, but not Windows. Everybody needs to relax, right? Well, every now and again, I enjoy a good video game, preferably strategy or card/board. So, I picked up Knights of Honor (KoH; I also enjoy Rome: Total War, but that won’t run under VMWare on my box due to the lack of hardware acceleration) and tried to install it on a VM running Windows XP Professional. So, what’s the big deal? You might ask. Nothing much–except that KoH uses some DRM which doesn’t always play nicely in its virtualization lockbox. Here, then, are the steps I took to get KoH installed and running:
1. I ripped Disc 1 to an iso (e.g. dd if=/dev/mycdrom of=myiso.iso). From the various boards and such that I have been reading, it appears that Disc 1 has no copy protection built in, whereas disc 2 does. Yet, I tried running disc 1 straight from the drive in VMWare and could not get around the “setup.exe is not a valid win32 application” exceptions. For some reason, of which I am not even sure, ripping the disc and running setup from the ISO works like a charm. Run the setup right up until the point where it asks for Disc 2.
2. Put Disc 2 in the physical drive. “Eject” the ISO and replace it with a reference straight to the physical drive. Make sure that “Enable legacy emulation” is checked. Once again, that last sentence was learned through trial and error. I assume the issues have something to do with the SecurROM DRM that relies on reading some sort of subchannel (no, I don’t remember the specifics).
3. Finish the install. If you have problems, ensure that your IDE adapter is set to use DMA whenever possible, rather than PIO, and continue.
4. To run the game, make sure that the IDE adapter is set to use DMA whenever possible, that the virtual CD drive is pointing to your physical one, and that legacy emulation is UNCHECKED.
Well, that’s what I did. Doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Well, if you knew how much time I spent trying random options and surfing DRM cracking boards to figure it out, you might just appreciate why it is that I am posting this (which is, in part, for my own memory and so that I have a record of the steps taken). In the end, this is a perfect example of what bugs me about DRM. I don’t mind that some kid in Bangladesh can’t get a quick and easy torrent to the studio’s work. What I mind is that I, a legal paying customer, have to resort to tricks and games use the software that I PAID for. When I bought KoH, I was buying software from Sunflower, not their hardware/software platform preferences.