Fixing KotOR in 2021 with AMD GFX in FullHD on Win10 – STAR WARS™: Knights of the Old Republic™

Fixing KotOR in 2021 with AMD GFX in FullHD on Win10 – STAR WARS™: Knights of the Old Republic™ 1 -
Fixing KotOR in 2021 with AMD GFX in FullHD on Win10 – STAR WARS™: Knights of the Old Republic™ 1 -

Here is how I fixed some of the major headaches the game gives us these days.
Not a detailed guide, just something I can confirm works on my platform right now, including widescreen and gra*s.

Jedi Trial Number Zero

Unfortunately, if you want to play KotOR these days you may find that it’s a sorry mess, plagued by all sorts of technical obsolescence.
I like my games click-install-play style as much as the next guy. If you do that with KotOR, you might get something like a 800×600 screen resolution and find yourself in a position where you have to turn off some graphics options for the game to run at all.
Thankfully there is a plethora of guides telling us how to fix things — but I found myself often more confused by the number of options and differing opinions. I would like to give back some of this confusion, that’s why I am leaving this guide here. Also, it might help someone.
While it is not fun to go down all these rabbit holes, a Jedi should look at it with serenity. Getting KotOR to run nicely is your first and foremost Jedi Trial. You will not get to the other ones, if you fail.
A general problem is, there will never be a “correct” guide for the PC platform. While guide authors may think they have found the ultimate solution, it may only apply to their specific environment.
I just did a reinstall after breaking things through modding, so here is what I fixed.
My platform is Windows 10 and I am using Radeon graphics. There is an infamous issue with gra*s transparency — I am happy I found a fix for that this time.
With KotOR patches the order in which you apply them often matters. Mod the executable and you’re cut off from wide screen fixes for example.
Do not fall into the “will fix later” trap. Some KotOR mods and fixes require an early save game or will not take effect once you have pa*sed a certain point in the game.
I am not linking anything, just describing what you may want to look for. Consider it a part of your trial. You will be better equipped to help yourself in the future. Do not rush into seemingly easy solutions. Those may start you on a path to the dark side.

Community Patch

Category: patches, plenty
Revertability: would not even try

The first thing you might want to apply after installation is the “community patch”.
Search for something like “kotor community patch”. This does not alter the executable I believe, but it does alter plenty of issues the original game shipped with, like story and dialogue options.
It is a compilation of bug fixes by many authors. The readme suggests to apply it before anything else since it is quite complicated.
The patches are plenty and take a while to install.

Gain Dark Side Points

Category: replace original file
Revertability: easy if you make a backup

In order to apply other patches, you need a patchable EXE.
The one that comes with the steam version is not patchable.
Look for “kotor patchable executable” and judge your source before executing some program you downloaded somewhere from the internet.
In my case the location of the EXE is
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\swkotor\swkotor.exe
which should be the standard location for most people.
You need to replace the original one with the one you acquired somehow. In my opinion there is no point making a backup of the original. You can always do a reinstall if you want to experience the broken mess vanilla KotOR is.

Widescreen Fix — uniws

Category: patch, fix for modern hardware
Revertability: if you’re lucky

The most important thing is to make use of today’s screen real estate. I always found uniws to do the job for me.
Look for something like “uniws kotor”.
There are two parts to this:

  • Set the desired screen resolution.
  • Fix the HUD.

At first start uniws, select “KoTOR 1024×768”, locate your KotOR folder or let it find it for you. Then, and only then, you can enter your desired resolution (width: 1920, height: 1080).
If this was successful, download the HUD fix (in my case the “kotor-1920x1080_updated” one) and extract its contents in the “Override” folder within your KotOR folder.
To set the game’s resolution you can try to do this via the game menu. I have seen both bahaviors: sometimes it works, sometimes it fails. You can always fall back to editing the “kotor.ini” directly and type the width and height in the graphics section — note this alone is not sufficient. You need the patch.
Some guide somewhere recomended to keep the game on a 60 Hz refresh rate. I did try 75 Hz and it seemed to work. Out of caution I am now on 60 Hz. For KotOR it does not matter unless you play on a CRT, which in most cases implies you do not need a wide screen fix. Also, congrats when you do this, you’re somehow special, not neccessarily in a bad way.
The HUD fix seems to be a little touchy. In a former more modded state of the game the fix did not work at all. That’s why I reinstalled, and why you should care about the order in which to apply patches.

Fixing The “Gra*s”

Category: alternative DLL, bugfix
Revertability: easy


The Issue

This is an OpenGL and transparency issue. A few years ago on my last playthrough this one bugged me the most — the game I remembered, the wide fields of Dantooine, no longer allowed me to experience transparent gra*s textures. People often suggest to turn it off, which really is not a solution since it makes the game look so much more dull, empty and nineties-like.
Actually it runs fine with gra*s enabled, it just becomes unplayable since the transparency of the gra*s texture will always be rendered in front of player models or npcs, making them partially invisible.
Even if you turn off gra*s, there are other partial transparent textures in the game, like the trees on Dantooine for example. While they are not reachable by your character, this does not interfere with gameplay as much — but there are rays swimming in the sky. If you wait for the right moment, you’ll catch them disappearing behind the not-leaves.

The Fix

If you look for “GLOverride KotOR” you will find something that’s not a patch but two files:

  • opengl32.dll — a DLL (dynamic link library).
  • opengl32.ini — a configuration file

Extract these files directly in your KotOR folder where the executable lives. Once you run the game, it will see the DLL and use this one instead of the standard windows one.
To fix the transparency issue open the ini-file and change the option “ForceAlphaToCoverage” to “1”.
I wish someone would have told me about this years ago.

Touch The Sky

Category: override, cosmetic
Revertability: easy

The “KotOR High Quality Skyboxes II” Mod is a non-intrusive fix, cosmetic in nature and a marvel to look at.
I did not look into “hd texture” mods, but the skyboxes are kind of bothersome, since the original skyboxes are really low resulotion and terrible to look at.
The high quality skyboxes mod replaces the originals. Just copy them in the Override folder and you’re good to go. The replacements are sticking true to the originals while making the game world much more believable. I highly recomend this.

What’s Left

As a Padawan myself I do not have all the answers. There are things that still bother me.
The major issue is I had to disable Frame Buffer Effects in the advanced graphics options. This is especially bad when you use Force Speed. The blurring effect makes a nice indicator for the player to know when it expires. Also, the other stuff is nice, visually.
Unfortunately I did not come across anything resembling a solution.
The other issue is about the movie sequences in the game. I am unsure about this. While the opening credits do not seem to work, there’s a hit and miss kind of situation with the other sequences in the game. “Force Visions” or “shared dreams” with Bastila sometimes work, sometimes it’s audio only.
All in all it’s a shame the game does not just work these days. I am totally blaming the publisher, the industry and capitalism in general for that.
KotOR is a foundational piece of Star Wars lore. The creators of today are heavily influenced by the game they experienced as players back in the day. It takes something from contemporary players, not letting them experience the game how it should be experienced, and, I might add, a remake will not fix this.
There is precedent how to deal with the issue of technical obsolescence. If I want to play the original Quake 3 Arena these days, I can do this. The engine has been open sourced forever, there are decently modernized versions available. The original Doom runs on any platform it was never intended to, from esp32 microcontrollers to the smart fridge noone ever asked for.
Given the state of KotOR these days, it’s borderlining they charge money for it at all.
Good luck, Padawan. May the force be with you, you’ll need it.
I may not be around to read comments. Leave them anyway.

Written by handtuch

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