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C&C First Decade: Windows 7

Command and Conquer First DecadeWell, Christmas time is nearly here, and as much as I hate all the adverts on telly, its a great time of year to get snowed in, crack out the old computer games and put your feet up on the computer for warmth. With this in mind, I’ve written a little guide for getting C&C The first Decade working on a modern Windows 7 system.

Command and Conquer; Tiberian Dawn came out in 1995 and was followed shortly after in 1996 with Red Alert. Hidden in the lounge at my friend Ian’s house with his mum upstairs asleep, his chronically underpowered 233mhz pentium computer wurring away I was absolutely amazed by the entire C&C experience. The installer was immensive and fell modern and damned cool, the video’s looked beautiful and like nothing else I’d experienced and the music track was fantastic. Many hours were lost.

So now, 15 years after the first game was released lets have a go at getting it all running in time for Christmas. After a couple of days of failure (and the need to multiplay with my brother) I gave up getting it running in WINE under Linux and cracked on with a Windows 7 install.

In 2006 Westwood packaged the first 8 years of gaming into one 8gb installer. Some of the games still work “out of the  box”, others (like Generals; ironically the latest games) are a bit of a pig to get going; but they all will work!

Ready, Commander?

I’m installing this on a Windows 7 Professional x64 system. It was a clean install of Windows with all of the Updates and the right drivers. I’ve then gone through and tried it on another Win7 Pro and a Win7 Ultimate; it seems to work, but as always please get in contact and let me know if you’ve had problems.

Stick the DVD in the drive (or mount your ISO) and start the installer. Personally I do a custom installation just to avoid installing Renegade; its awful.

Type in your serial numbers, make a cup of tea and try not to be too upset its missing all the fantastic original installers.

Once the install is done, download and install the unofficial (but officially endorsed) patch for The First Decade.

More information and download links for The First Decade v1.03-r4

When you install it, make sure to Run as Administrator.

Command and Conquer; Tiberian Dawn

There are two ways to do this, either set compatibility mode to Windows 95 and live through the corrupt videos (but 1024×760 in-game resolution) but you’ll also find that alt+tab breaks horribly and you get possibly slowdown and crashes on multi-core systems.

You can change the resolution by running ccsetup.exe in the install directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\EA Games\Command & Conquer The First Decade\Command & Conquer(tm))

The easy fix is to use the cnc-ddraw.dll fix. If you’re using ddraw then you need to disable compatibility mode.

Download the file and extract it into your game folder, then run the game as usual.

If you don’t run the game as Administrator, then it refuses to save the ddraw.ini configuration file and even if you create one manually it won’t read it; if you don’t want to enable full screen or change the mouse sensitivity then you should be OK.

Note 1: Make life easier for yourself and change the permissions on the ddraw.ini file; set it so Users have full control.

Note 2: I found that when I’d enabled full screen, it would give me a blank screen until I had alt+tabbed in and out of the program, after that it was fine.

Note 3: Control + Tab to release mouse capture!

Red Alert BoxArtRed Alert

Exactly the same information as for Tiberian Dawn, except use the rasetup.exe to change the resolution to 640×480.

You can then edit the ddraw.ini file (see note 1 above) to either run full screen, or change the resolution to upscale the video window to something better.

Red Alert 2 & Yuri’s Revenge

Delete the wrong shortcut

For some reason after all the patching is done we end up with two shortcuts to launch Red Alert II.

Click on the start menu and type in “red alert 2” to the “search for programs and files” box, notice the two shortcuts pop up.

Delete the one entitled “Command & Conquer™ Red Alert™ 2”; you should be left with “Red Alert 2”.

Just make it compatible

For both the Red Alert 2 and the Yuri’s Revenge shortcuts:

  1. Right hand click and select properties.
  2. On the Compatibility tab click “Change settings for all users” at the bottom.
  3. Tick the “Run this program in compatibility mode for” box and select “Windows XP (Service Pack 3)” from the dropdown list.
  4. Disabling Desktop Composition and Visual Themes doesn’t hurt either, though it doesn’t seem to be necessary.
  5. Click OK to close the property boxes (and then repeat the instructions for the other shortcut).

C&C Generals and Zero Hour

Trying to start either Generals or Zero Hour flashes the splash screen and then crashes out. If you’re really lucky then it might just freeze on the splash screen and not even have the decency to crash; it just sucks CPU cycles (and in one case) takes down the browser. So, lets get it running:

1) Crash the Game;

Yup, thats right; before we start you need to try and run both Generals and Zero hour. It will crash when you run it, but it will create the savegame folders in My Documents.

2) File Permissions

We need to change the file permissions on a few folders; you need to do this for the Data and UserData folder in both the C&C Generals and the C&C Generals Zero Hour folder.

Open Windows explorer and navigate to the install directory (“C:\Program Files (x86)\EA Games\Command & Conquer The First Decade\Command & Conquer(tm) Generals”).

Right Click on the Data (or UserData) folder and click Properties. On the Security tab click Edit.

Select the entry for Users (YourComputerName\Users) and tick the Allow: Full Control checkbox. OK to save. (Make sure you do this for all the folders).

3) Create An Options File

Open Notepad and then copy/paste the following:

AntiAliasing = 1

BuildingOcclusion = yes
DrawScrollAnchor =
DynamicLOD = no
ExtraAnimations = yes
GameSpyIPAddress =
Gamma = 50
IPAddress =
IdealStaticGameLOD = High
LanguageFilter = true
MaxParticleCount = 5000
MoveScrollAnchor =
MusicVolume = 55
Resolution = 1024 768
Retaliation = yes
SFX3DVolume = 79
SFXVolume = 71
ScrollFactor = 50
SendDelay = no
ShowSoftWaterEdge = yes
ShowTrees = yes
StaticGameLOD = Custom
TextureReduction = 0
UseAlternateMouse = no
UseCloudMap = yes
UseDoubleClickAttackMove = no
UseLightMap = yes
UseShadowDecals = yes
UseShadowVolumes = yes
VoiceVolume = 100

Save the file in your My Documents folder and call it options.ini. (Make sure you set the Save As type to All Files other wise you end up with options.ini.txt which doesn’t help)

Copy the file into both “My Documents\Command and Conquer Generals Data” and “My Documents\Command and Conquer Generals Zero Hour Data”: If these folders don’t exist then you need to start the game and let it crash first.

4) Set Compatibility Mode

In the install directories (once again, do this for both Generals and Zero Hour), right hand click on the generals.exe and select properies.

Compatibility Mode -> Change settings for all users -> Run this program in compatibility mode for: Windows XP SP3.

You should find both Generals and Zero Hour to now work and run fine :)

Battlefield Control Online…

So there you go. If you’re starting a LAN game then make sure the Windows Firewall isn’t blocking you and otherwise rock on.

No doubt I’ve forgotten to write down a vital step, but I’m sure people will complain when it doesn’t work.

Happy Christmas and Happy Gaming.

  1. levi
    December 23rd, 2010 at 13:25 | #1

    Absolutely brilliant :) GZ !!!!!!!!!


  2. Rob
    April 14th, 2011 at 14:23 | #2

    Hi, Im just trying to play C&C RA2 on Windows 7 Ultimate x64. Install and everything went well but when I try to run the game you get the sound and cursor but just a black screen, can you help please. Cheers

    Windows 7 Ultimate x64
    ATI Radeon HD 4870
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650
    4GB RAM

  3. May 3rd, 2011 at 22:54 | #3

    I’d suggest double checking the compatability settings and also make sure you’ve got the latest graphics drivers… I should probably re-check all my instructions using an AMD card; I used an nVidia :S

  4. fps-rpg-rts fan
    September 11th, 2011 at 15:41 | #4

    i hope when i get my high end pc that games work well its have windows 7

  5. johnp
    April 1st, 2012 at 17:14 | #5

    Doesn’t work. I only tried to play Generals. Did the install and everything as said. Just doesn’t work.

    My calculations say this works on 20% of Win7 64-bit computers.

  6. johnp
    April 1st, 2012 at 17:30 | #6

    Oh nevermind that. Just had an stupid mistake.

    My calculations now updated,

    works probably on 50 to 80 percent

  7. JM
    June 3rd, 2012 at 10:19 | #7

    Did everything on here and even tried some of my own tweakage, and nada. Drivers and all are up to date. Waste of $20 to try and relive my RA2 days.

  8. Brian
    August 19th, 2012 at 08:45 | #8

    I tried it, and followed everything you did to the best of my knowledge, but still doesn’t seem to work. I have encountered a serious error.

  9. freddy
    November 4th, 2012 at 18:40 | #9

    just follow all of the steps. and it should work. it did for me. thanks.

  10. wojtasR
    November 27th, 2012 at 21:56 | #10

    Thanks for the great howto!
    P.S. C&C Generals and Zero Hour at 3rd point I think You quoted wrong, it should include “AntiAliasing = 1” as well
    thanks again

  11. Daybreak
    February 1st, 2013 at 12:46 | #11

    So I bought my copy of First Decade from Amazon, but it turns out to be a UK version of the game. I decided to run it, but rght when I get to the installation procees, VERY LETTER IS CHANGED INTO “????????????”, which made me think it’s a region lock

    So I tried to set my DVR from Region1 (U.S) to Region2 (U.K) and I STILL GET THE DARN “????????” characters

    I’m on a Windows7 32-Bit laptop, and I have no idea what to do. Help out a fellow Commander please

  12. sean
    April 8th, 2013 at 05:31 | #12

    @Rob watch this youtube video it worked for me cheers. hoped it helped http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hojMNk93PoU

  13. Samuel
    July 2nd, 2013 at 12:55 | #13

    Hi, I did the exact ting for generals and zero hour and when I start the game it says the cd needs to be inserted but it already is! please help(not pirated or downloaded)

  14. July 17th, 2013 at 20:20 | #14

    easy answer: get a no-cd crack 😉

  15. tom carrillo
    September 14th, 2015 at 08:39 | #15

    Im trying to load the game here and having trouble.
    love the game can you help

  16. October 23rd, 2015 at 20:48 | #16

    Yeah, I’m sorry… I tried playing some of them recently over the lan when my brother was over and found it working fine on my second computer but refusing to launch on my main. I’d take a wild stab and say (as it doesn’t seem to be windows updates related) it might need the old version of directX reinstalling. It really is a wild stab, but as steam on my desktop seems to want to reinstall it before launching any game (and with semi good reasons [insert link to game dx dependencies and linking insanity]) I’d try that first. If it’s even possible.
    At some point I might try and update the article, but I’ve had no time to do anything recently and sadly C&C isn’t a priority any more (I moved on to BF2:PR).

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