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220 6 article
From: [email protected] (John D. DeCuir)
Subject: Descent FAQ 0.6
Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 1994 08:46:27 GMT
Lines: 496

Version 0.6

Compiled by John D. DeCuir ([email protected]) and Seth Delackner
([email protected]).

This is an UNOFFICIAL Descent FAQ. It provides pointers/answers to the
most Frequently Asked and easily answered Questions about Descent that
often get posted.

This is NOT a substitution for the README.TXT that comes with Descent.
The README file contains vital information that every Descent-player
should read. This FAQ is intended as an up-to-date supplement, NOT
a substitution.

All specific names included herein are trademarks: Descent, Interplay
Productions, Parallax Software, FlightStick, Gravis GamePad, Pentium,
Intel, Cyrix, Id Software, Doom, Quake, Apogee, Wolfenstein 3D,
IBM, OS/2, OS/2 Warp, PC Gamer, CompuServe, America Online, GEnie,
Microsoft Windows, Smartdrive, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars, Death Star.
Any trademarks not mentioned here are hypothetically acknowledged.

This article is (C) Copyright 1994, 1995 by John D. DeCuir. All rights
reserved. You are welcome to make copies and redistribute this article,
as long as it is kept in its original form.


[1a] What is Descent?
[1b] But I already play Doom. Why would I like Descent?
[1c] Who created Descent?
[1c-2] How can I contact Interplay?
[1d] What are the differences between the different releases of Descent?
[1e] Wait, I read somewhere about something called Quake. Isn't this it?
[1f] Will a level editor be released?
[1g] What is needed to run Descent?
[1h] Can I play Descent under OS/2?
[1i] Where can I get Descent?
[1j] Is there a Descent newsgroup on Usenet?
[1k] Is there source code available?

[2a] Is there a list of the secrets in Descent?
[2b] What are the cheat codes?

[3a] Can I play with other people?
[3b] Does each computer require a distinct version of the software?
[3c] Why do different computers play differently on a net game?
[3d] Can I play over the Internet?

[4a] Help! I'm lost in the maze.
[4b] Why can't I save my game in the middle of a level?
[4c] I'm having trouble controlling my ship. Any suggestions?
[4d] I can't find places on the map.
[4e] I just died; where did all my stuff go?
[4f] How can I skip past all the dialogue in the beginning of the game?
[4g] How do I beat the big bad robot at the end of level 7?
[4h] I think Descent is too easy.
[4i] I think Descent is too hard.
[4j] How can I avoid motion sickness?
[4k] I'm having hallucinations when I look away from the monitor.
[4l] Descent and Cyrix CPUs
[4m] Advice for 4 MB memory setups


12/26/94 Descent 0.1 FAQ born by John DeCuir.
12/26/94 A distinct, "Descent 0.5 FAQ" written by Seth Delackner.
12/27/94 Merger takes place, including new information from
Adam Pletcher ([email protected]) from Parallax Software.
Thanks Adam! Descent FAQ 0.6 born.


Given that this is still a prototype FAQ and it's unofficial, you
won't find it on news.answers. Look for it in or e-mail [email protected] for a copy.



-- [1a] ---------- What is Descent?

"Descent is a heart-pounding, gun-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat experience."
-from the README.TXT file in Descent

"The sensation of speed is amazing, and the 3D, texture-mapped graphics
make this game a genuine joy to behold."
-PC Gamer

Descent is a new game from Interplay and Parallax Software. It immerses
you in a full 3D environment with 6 degrees of freedom -- you truly have
the experience of weightlessness and zero gravity.

You are a pilot who must rescue hostages and blow up the reactors of
certain enemy mines. However, there are many, many robot drones out to
destroy you before you destroy them. When the reactor blows, you have
45 seconds to get out of there before you go with it!

You are given an arsenal of different weapons, such as the Vulcan
chaingun-like gun. Also, you have finite energy and shield strength,
both of which may be replenished in the course of the game.

Descent boasts true heightmapping and light sourcing -- the textures
and feel of the game are absolutely real. And the light effects are
terrific -- try shooting a missile down a dark corridor and watch it
light the walls along its path.

-- [1b] ---------- But I already play Doom. Why would I want Descent?

Descent, unlike Doom, has a true 3-D environment with six degrees
of freedom. This means you have three axes of motion and three axes of

Descent also has 3D texture-mapped polygon enemies, and no flat bitmaps
like Doom has. As to which is better is a matter for debate. ๐Ÿ™‚

Descent boasts unrestricted level design -- it's not limited to 90 degree
walls or 2-dimensional layouts.

This is nothing against Doom, of course -- Doom was a revolutionary game
in its own right; but what Doom did for Wolfenstein 3D, Descent does for

-- [1c] ---------- Who created Descent?

Descent was created by Parallax Software, along with Interplay Productions.

-- [1c-2] How can I contact Interplay?

Interplay Technical Support can be reached 24 hours a day through their
Automated Customer Service system, with representatives available during
normal business hours. Their phone number is 714-553-6678.

Other ways to get help:

Interplay Productions Interplay BBS: 714-252-2822
attn: Customer Service America Online: keyword INTERPLAY
17922 Fitch Avenue email "IPTECH"
Irvine, CA 92714 GEnie: type "M805;1"
CompuServe: GO GAMBPUB
Prodigy: email to "PLAY99B"
Internet: email to [email protected]

-- [1d] ---------- What are the differences between the releases of Descent?

The shareware version of Descent was released in late December 1994,
and is available from many different sites (see below). It contains
the first 7 levels of the full game, and does not contain certain

The registered version of Descent should be available early January,
and contains the full 30 levels of the game. It also contains the
weapons and missiles that were missing in the shareware version.
To order the registered version, call 1-800-INTERPLAY.

There will be a retail version selling in stores, and according to
Interplay, there will be no differences between the registered version
and the retail version, aside from the cardboard box.

-- [1e] ---------- Wait, I read somewhere about something called Quake.
Isn't this it?

No. Quake is a game currently being designed by Id software, the makers
of Doom. Quake is promised to contain many of the features that Descent
carries, such as true 3D. But for now, Descent is wholly independent of
the Quake project, and there is no overlap between the two.

-- [1f] ---------- Will a level editor be released?

From Adam Pletcher at Parallax:

"Here's our unofficial stance on homebrew stuff: We're discussing it.
Due to the complexity of our segment structure, it's unlikely a useable
homebrew editor will be made in the foreseeable future. We're
considering several approaches from just seeing what people come up
with, to total release of our editor. The main fear in releasing
the editor we have is that it isn't bug-free and isn't the most
user-friendly thing. Neither of these things is a big deal, but we
don't want Interplay/Parallax to start getting tech support calls
for the thing. I'll tell you this, though: we didn't put in any
code to make homebrew levels hard to use."

-- [1g] ---------- What do I need to run Descent?

According to the README.TXT, the bare requirements for running Descent are:
- IBM PC compatible 386-33 or faster
- 4 MB RAM
- DOS 5.0 or greater

Strongly recommended are:
- 486 or Pentium processor
- 8 MB RAM
- stereo 16-bit soundcard with General MIDI support
- a quality joystick

-- [1h] ---------- Can I play Descent under OS/2?

Yes! Descent runs PERFECTLY under OS/2. All you need to do is to increase
your memory settings for a Descent object to 8 megs or more, and you can
run it fine. It even runs inside a PM window, although the frame rate
isn't great... ๐Ÿ™‚

-- [1i] ---------- Where can I get Descent?

You can download the shareware version of Descent from the following
sources: (two files: and

:: Interplay BBS: 714-252-2822, 24 hours, up to 28.8k baud, 8N1
:: Software Creations BBS: 508-368-4137, 24 hours, 8N1
or telnet to
:: CompuServe: "GO GAMBPUB", in the Interplay software libraries
:: America Online: keyword "INTERPLAY", in the software libraries
:: GEnie: type "M805;1", Category 13 under Interplay
:: FTP sites... in /pub/msdos_uploads/descent in /pub/incoming/games in /pub/msdos/games/interplay in /pub/games/descent in /pub/cs/csua/descent in /incoming OR /pub/ibmpc/games/misc

You can get the registered version of Descent directly from Interplay, or
you can buy it in retail stores starting in mid-January.

-- [1j] ---------- Is there a Descent newsgroup on Usenet?

It is currently being discussed, and there should be a
group very soon, if not by the time you read this document.

-- [1k] ---------- Is there source code available?

Descent is a commercial product, and hence, no source code of the game
is available.


-- [2a] ---------- Is there a list of secrets in Descent?

This section is under construction. If anyone is interested in writing
this section, please e-mail [email protected]

-- [2b] ---------- What are the cheat codes?

Type the following directly in the game, regardless of your current
keyboard mapping setup.

GABBAGABBAHEY = Cheats enabled!
SCOURGE = WowieZowie Weapons!
MITZI = All Keys!
RACERX = Invulnerability On/Off!
GUILE = Cloak On/Off!
TWILIGHT = Shields Recharged!
FARMERJOE = Warp to Which Level?

You might want to change your "bomb" key to something that won't conflict
with these codes, otherwise you might blow up before you finish typing
it. ๐Ÿ™‚


-- [3a] ---------- Can I play with other people?

Yes! Descent is a full multi-player game as well. You can
either link up with a fellow player via modem, serial cable, or

One of the advantages that Descent has over other similar games is
that any player can join or leave the game at any time on a network.

For modems, Descent's setup couldn't be easier. For the vast
majority of modems, a simple ATZ sets things up for Descent, and
you're ready to go. You can set this up in the multi-player setup
menu off the main menu.

-- [3b] ---------- Does each computer require a distinct version of the

No. Each computer on a net game can be running a copy of the Descent

-- [3c] ---------- Why do different computers play differently on a net game?

When a Pentium and a 386 are playing on a network, there is an element
of "unfairness" to the 386-user. In past games, such as Doom, the
system compensated by reducing the Pentium-user's display to match the
386 display.

However, Parallax and Interplay decided not to take this route, and
to have every computer play at the level it can play at.

-- [3d] ---------- Can I play Descent on the Internet?

One of Descent's shining points is that it can be played over the
Internet using IHHD (Internet Head to Head Daemon - a program
that allows modem games to work over the internet). It's almost
as fast, if not faster than a modem connection! In order to get
started, you need to get the IHHD software compiled for the unix
machine you have your shell account on (sorry slip users). On
IRC in the #descent channel, type /dcc chat descender. then type
/msg descender files. the rest is easy. Once you have the IHHD
Binary for your system, find someone to play. (there's almost
always someone on #descent in IRC who'd like to play). One of
you runs "tcpanswer", the other runs "tcpdialer
machine_name_of_other_player". Once you have connected, each of
you should exit your comm programs (leaving carrier up of
course), load Descent and select multiplayer game, then Establish
Null Modem Link. Presto! You've got a IHHDescent game going.


-- [4a] ---------- Help! I'm lost in the maze.

The transition from 2D to 3D is not an easy one. While it can be
challenging, once you're used to it, 2D worlds will just seem, well,

The best advice is to keep checking your map (hit TAB). How the maze is
oriented once you enter the map screen is a view from behind your ship,
with "up" going "up". You can rotate the map around after you realize
where you are to see where you want to go. To zoom in and out,
strafe up and down.

Also, look for landmarks -- i.e. a room full of monitors, a huge cavernous
room, or a room full of doors. Keep returning to these rooms until you've
explored every branch.

One technique that may or may not work is to simply barrel down tunnels,
not caring where you're going, just to kill enemies. This has two
advantages -- one, a lot of the enemies in the maze will be wiped out so
you don't have to deal with them when you start exploring, and a
substantial chunk of the maze will already be mapped on your automap.
Once you get a large portion of the map, you can start exploring and
looking for keys. Of course, your mileage may vary.

-- [4b] ---------- Why can't I save my game in the middle of a level?

Interplay and Parallax intentionally did not enable saving of games in the
middle of a level, much to the chagrin of Descent players. ๐Ÿ™‚

Their rationale is that if you could save anywhere, you could save before
every big battle and be done with the game much faster than if you had to
struggle through every level. While opinions vary on the subject,
Interplay's rationale is solid, in this viewer's opinion.

-- [4c] ---------- I'm having trouble controlling my ship. Any suggestions?

This is often the most brought up subject. Like I said earlier, the
transition to 3D is not an easy one.

The predominant opinion is that the best setup is with a fancy joystick,
such as the FlightStick. This has lots of buttons and switches on the
stick itself that will let you control the game.

Failing that, the next best option is to use a normal, ANALOG joystick
together with the keyboard. I personally use the joystick to point
where I want to go and to use Z and X to accelerate and decelerate,
respectively. I don't suggest a digital joystick, such as the Gravis
gamepad, because a large portion of that immersive experience is lost
when you can't control how fast or how slow you want to turn.

The least attractive solution is to use the keyboard by itself, although
it has been known that a lot of players have become quite adept at this
method. The best way is to use the keypad for pointing, strafing, etc.
and other keys (such as z and x) on the other side of the board for
accelerating and firing.

One suggestion that everyone should try, though -- have DEDICATED strafing
keys! For example, use W,A,S and D for strafe up, left, down, and right,
respectively. This lets you strafe while doing other things, such as
turning, and will improve your gameplay significantly.

-- [4d] ---------- I can't find places on the map.

Remember that when you enter the map screen, the view is from behind
your ship, with up pointing up. Use strafe up and down with the map to
zoom. (With defaults, use left alt + up or down.)

Undocumented feature: To pan across the map (make the map move, as
if you put your hand there and slid it over), hold down "S" while moving
the joystick/cursor keys. Your new center of rotation will be the
center of the screen, NOT your ship.

-- [4e] ---------- I just died; where did all my stuff go?

Your stuff (weapons, energy, etc.) remain where you died. Just fly back
where you died and gather all your stuff back.

-- [4f] ---------- How can I skip past all the dialog in the beginning of
the game?

Hit "Enter" to stop the scrolling, or hit "Esc" to stop the entire dialogue
and to bring you directly to the game.

-- [4g] ---------- How can I beat the big bad robot at the end of level 7?

Adam Pletcher of Parallax Software recommends:

"Stay tight against the inside pillar, and keep circling. This is the
best way to lose missiles that have lock. Take out the Vulcan
Guys, SuperMechs (the red guys), and the Boss, in that order. Get the
cloak in the alcove on the far side of the pillar. When attacking the
Boss, make passes, don't sit still. And make extra sure none of
those green missiles hit you in the face, they'll probably kill you."

-- [4h] ---------- I think Descent is too easy.

Try the following:

:: Don't use any cheat codes
:: Increase the difficulty level of your game
:: Use only one type of weapon, i.e. use only the normal guns

Descent has many difficulty levels, and should appeal to every gamer.

-- [4i] ---------- I think Descent is too hard.

It depends what you mean by "hard". If you're having trouble controlling
the ship, see the section above about controlling your ship. Otherwise,
try the following:

:: Decrease the difficulty level of your game
:: Try flying around an empty mine tunnel as fast as you can and
as fluidly as you can.
:: PRACTICE STRAFING!! This technique will save you many times over
when it comes to enemy fire.
:: Learn when to (and when not to) use the different kinds of weapons
you have.
:: Practice, practice, practice!

-- [4j] ---------- How can I avoid motion sickness?

Descent is a very immersive game, and you will likely still feel like
you're inside Descent's environment for a short time after playing. Many
people complain of motion sickness, or feeling ill after playing a while.
Try to follow the following advice if you're having problems.

:: Try different display sizes.
:: Try sitting closer/further from the display.
:: Try different machine speeds.
:: Try different input devices.
:: Play on your friend's computer, and see if it is better/worse.
:: If you have a sound card, try playing with/without the sound.

Of course, if you have any medical problems while playing this game,
stop playing IMMEDIATELY and call your doctor.

-- [4k] ---------- I'm having hallucinations when I look away from the

You've been playing far too long, and you need sleep. Go take a nap. ๐Ÿ™‚

-- [4l] ---------- Descent and Cyrix CPUs

If your game is locking up, try this:

"Set Windows to give DOS programs 100% of the time slicing, and run
Descent from there. The game will take longer to load, including
quite a bit of disk thrashing at one point...but will still be quite
-M J MacKenzie

-- [4m] ---------- Advice for 4 MB memory setups

"...the best setup seems to want emm386.exe with the RAM switch...
I still turn down the detail levels though because in combat it slows
down quite a bit. Also, use smartdrive, about 256K. Anything larger
eats into your RAM too much."
-Bradley Becker


Hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
As a disclaimer, I do not work for any software company, and I am
just a satisfied gamer who is extremely impressed with the Descent
game engine.

If you have any contributions or comments to this FAQ, please send
them to me at [email protected] on the Internet. You'll get full
credit. Thanks!

Happy Descenting!


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