ramblings from a body of somekind

Old EA Classics on Linux/Steam deck

March 11, 2024

  • games
  • ea
  • classics
  • linux
  • steamdeck
  • steam
  • proton
  • valve

If you have seen EA’s Classic Games sale, you may have noticed that there are a few classic gems in the bundle, such as:

  • Command and Conquer 2: Red Alert
  • Dungeon Keeper Gold
  • Dungeon Keeper 2
  • Populous: The Beginning
  • SimCity 3000

I would say that the bonus of getting these on Steam vs GOG is that there is better support for Linux (just barely), but also the cloud saving is genuinely an incredible gift.

So many times I have created a new Populous The Beginning savegame, only to abandon it to time on a different machine. No more - I can just pick up and play across my Steam Deck and my laptop!

This blog post will be a single blog post talking about my efforts on getting them working on Linux/Steam Deck (sorry Windows/Mac users).

If you have a Linux machine (i.e. non Steam Deck) and have Steam freshly installed, please do the following:

  • Click on Steam icon in the top left corner, then press “Settings”
  • Click on “Compatibility” on the left hand side
  • Ensure that both are ticked/enabled:

    • Enable Steam Play for supported titles
    • Enable Steam Play for all other titles

This should immediately get you a full Steam library of Windows games that run using Steam’s excellent Proton compatibility layer.

Now, onto the games!

SimCity 3000

So this is a real doozy. If you’ve tried playing this on Linux (any device), you will see the intro video appear, and then you can enter the menu. You select a map, change the settings (mayor name, etc), and then it loads and freezes…

… yeah. Not a good start. And a quick cursory glance shows that there isn’t much in the way of good instructions. Luckily, I think I have the recipe (for now, until something else breaks!)

If you have a Steam Deck:

  • Go to the desktop mode
  • Open the “Discover” app - the one that allows you to download new apps as well as update existing ones
  • Look for Protontricks - it should be an app, and it should be available to install. If you have installed it, you can just skip to the step after the next step
  • Download the Protontricks app
  • Go to Utilities -> Protontricks
  • You may get an error message. I suggest doing as it says, although I still keep getting the error message
  • Choose SimCity 3000 from the list
  • Choose “Select the default wineprefix”
  • Choose “Change settings”
  • From the list, check two things:

    • renderer=gdi
    • vd=1024x768
  • You’ll get a weird warning. Just ignore it, then cancel out of the app.
  • Open Steam, right click on SimCity 3000, choose Properties, and make sure the launch options has the following:
%command% -r1024x768
  • Return to gaming mode, then play SimCity 3000

If you have a Linux machine, the steps to install Protontricks may not be exactly the same, but it should be easy enough. It’s a Flatpak app, you can download and install.

… And there you go! SimCity 3000 working on your Linux device!

If you wish to get the widescreen version working on your machine, then do the following:

  • Go to Steam
  • Right click on SimCity 3000 > “Manage” > “Browse local files”
  • In your browser, download the GOG widescreen fix and extract the zip file
  • In the SimCity 3000 directory, navigate to the Apps folder, and copy the extracted S3CU.exe from the zip file into the Apps folder.
  • Open Steam, right click on SimCity 3000, choose Properties, and make sure the launch options has the following:
%command% -r<your resolution>

For example, for Steam Deck, it should be

%command% -r1280x800

And as an example, for most Linux machines, it might be

%command% -r1920x1080

(check your monitor resolution though!)

Populous The Beginning

Amazingly, this worked first time without any flaws. You can even change the resolution (although the resolution doesn’t seem to stick - I’ll investigate this in the future).

Right now I am stunned PopTB works as well as it does.

Command and Conquer 2: Red Alert

Going by a Steam community discussion post, the bundled ddraw.dll hook crashes with Proton, but you can fix this by

  • Enter Steam Desktop mode if you are using Steam Deck
  • Go here and download one of the releases
  • Go to Steam (desktop app), find “Command and Conquer 2: Red Alert”
  • Right click on the CnC2:RA, select “Manage” and select “Browse Files” from the menu. Your file browser should launch
  • Unpack the zip file and copy the contents into the CnC:RA folder
  • Go back to the Steam desktop app and set the launcher to:
WINEDLLOVERRIDES="ddraw=n" %command%

If you’ve seen some of the reviews, they mention editing ra2.ini and ra2md.ini, overwriting two entries with below:


Or whatever your screen width/height may be.

Dungeon Keeper Gold

This one is OK - you will need to use the STEAM button + X key at the start to select Dungeon Keeper Gold, but it does work.

I wouldn’t recommend it for handheld use of Steam Deck - if you use the Steam Deck as a PC with a keyboard and mouse, it may be a bit more easier to play. But that is my personal opinion after a few mins of playing.

Of course, I’ll update this with any tips and tricks to get it behaving more smoothly.

Dungeon Keeper 2

As of writing, it does start with no changes, but the framerate is awful.

To fix this:

  • Go to the Settings/cog icon in Steam Deck
  • Select “Properties”
  • Select the “Compatibility” tab on the left hand side
  • Tick “Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool”
  • Choose “Proton Experimental”

And your framerate should be golden.

A blog by rootfs.ext2.gz. He has opinions on things.
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