This file contains all the last-minute information we weren't able to put in the instruction manual or Quick Start Guide. To make it easier to read, this file is divided into four parts.
I. Common Gameplay Questions and Answers
II. Game Changes Since We Wrote the Manual
III. Common Technical Questions and Answers
IV. Maxis Maxims (information on refunds, our current mailing address, etc.)
I - Common Gameplay Questions and Answers
What command-line parameters are available for SimCopter?
-w Run SimCopter in windowed mode. You can only run in windowed mode if you are in at least 800x600 resolution and are running in exactly 256 colors.
-f Run SimCopter in full-screen mode. This is the default mode and it is 640x480x256.
-b Allow the game to run while it is in the background. Normally, Copter pauses while another window is covering it or it is otherwise operating in the background.
-1 through -4 Sets the difficulty level for user games, with 4 being the hardest.
-l Run SimCopter in a different language. If your Copter CD has multiple language versions installed on it, then you will be able to use this command-line parameter to set the game to run in one of these languages. Note that once you set this parameter, the game will remember it for the next play and the only way to return the game to another language is to use -l again to reset it. To run SimCopter in German, you would run it like this: SimCopter.exe -lGerman
-mn Sets the display message count. Normally, the game displays a maximum of three messages at a time on the top of the screen. You can override this and set it to a value as large as 12. For example, to set it to 5, you would run it like this: SimCopter.exe -m5
-gn This sets 3D rendering cell size, from 1 - 4, with 4 being the default. What the heck? Basically, if you run with -g1, rendering will be better (fewer artifacts), but the game will use more much memory. You should have a 24MB or greater computer before you start messing with this.
-xccc... Allows you to enter cheat codes on the command line. Spaces in the cheat code must be replaced with underscores here. For example, to use the "Gas does grow on trees" cheat code on the command line, you would run it like this: SimCopter.exe -xGas_does_grow_on_trees
-t, -c, -h, -a These command-line parameters are present but not officially supported by Maxis. Try to guess what they do...
How do I increase the game speed?
On slower computers, the game's frame rate gets slow and chunky. On these slower machines, you may have to turn down some of the graphics detail. If you are running Copter on a Pentium-90 or slower, you'll most likely want to turn some of the graphics down. Here is a good general method for optimizing your graphics performance. First pick the options you want in the graphics settings screen. The major time-eaters here are object textures and ground textures, they can also be toggled on and off with Control-O and Control-G. Next, while back in the game use the Control-K and Control-L to adjust the fog distance (remember K for close and L for long) until the frame rate is most playable. The last setting to try is resolution. The Control-Q key will toggle through the 3 settings for this; always high-res, mixed high/low res, always low res. In general low res will give you a 30% higher frame rate. Another command that the game has is the Control-Alt-R command, which increases the application system priority to a high value. If you use this command, other applications will slow down considerably. This command only has a significant effect if there are background applications using up a lot of processor time. You use Control-Alt-R again to turn it off.
How can I change the joystick dead zone (threshold)?
You can edit sim3d.twk and go to the [Joystick] section. You should be able to set the threshold value by simply setting a new value from 0 to 50 before starting Copter. The joystick driver in Copter makes the joystick have a range of -100 to +100. Setting a value of 20 means that between -20 and +20, the joystick will act like it is at zero. Digital joysticks can usually have a much smaller (and thus more precise) dead zone. Try something like 5 for digital joysticks.
What joysticks and other input devices are supported?
SimCopter supports virtually any input device that can be configured under Windows 95. In the joystick configuration screen, you can assign game commands to the various joystick axes and buttons. Point-of-view control with the joystick hat is used if your view mode is from within the helicopter. Support for VR helmets such as the VFX1 is present but not officially supported in the first release, because this support was included late in the project. To set up a VR helmet, you assign the three view axes in the joystick setup screen to the three view axes of the VR helmet. You can use the "View Yaw Multiplier", "View Pitch Multiplier", and "View Multiplier Multiplier" tweaker setting in sim3d.twk to adjust the sign and magnitude of the axis. Normally, all you need is -1 or +1 for the axis. Note: You may need to turn off the view roll, due to the way Copter does rendering.
What is the Tweaker and how do use it?
The Tweaker is an program located in the "tweaker" directory that manipulates many game parameters stored in .twk files. Tweaker is not supported by Maxis and we cannot support SimCopter if any of the .twk file settings are changed by Tweaker or manually. The only .twk settings supported by Maxis are the joystick settings in the sim3d.twk file, which are described above.
Are there any "Easter Eggs" in SimCopter?
Heck, yeah! SimCopter may have the record to date for the game with the most Easter Eggs and spooks in it. Look for "Fire Divers," unusual auto behavior, and a cataclysmic nuclear destruction sequence, among many others. None of these eggs are harmful to your system in any way -- they just make the game do unusual and interesting things under certain conditions.
My config file (copter.cfg) is not saving my settings.
The game writes an update for the configuration file when you quit the game and when you leave one of the options screens (such as the "Sound Settings" screen). If you start a new instance of SimCopter immediately after quitting the previous instance of SimCopter, the new instance will read the old copter.cfg file before the old instance has finished writing it. Waiting one to two minutes before starting a new instance will ensure that this doesn't happen.
The game is stuck as an icon on the bottom of my screen and clicking on it won't bring it back.
There is some strange behavior in DirectDraw that sometimes causes this. To bring back the game, you can usually left- and right-click (or left/right double-click) at the same time on the icon at the bottom of the screen. This only seems to happen if the game was running full-screen.
Help, help, I am stuck on top of a building or in a wall.
Unfortunately, game objects are not as solid as real objects, and players are usually able to find ways to wriggle into tight places they can't get characters out of. If you happen to find one, and you get stuck, just save the game. When you reload it, you and your helicopter will be back at the hangar.
The sounds in the game are looping like a broken record and the dispatch messages aren't working.
This is because Windows is not a protected operating system, and some previous program crash messed up Windows in such a way that you must reboot the system to make the behavior go away.
Movies can be played on the drive-in movie theatre?
Like the SimRadio system described in the manual, you can also add your own movies to the drive-in movie theatres. Videos greater than 32K will only run on a computer with at least 24MB of RAM installed, However, you would need to be able to create small 32x32 pixel Smacker(tm) movies in the same palette that the game uses. Smacker is an 8-bit movie compression-decompression system made by RAD Game Tools(tm). As of this writing, they were giving away the compressor tools for free. However, their licencing agreement may prohibit unlicensed use of the compressor for making movies to add to games. Check with RAD at http://www.radvantage.com/.
In the small and large parks I see water, but why can't I fill my bucket?
The water depth is too shallow in parks to be able to drop a Bambi Bucket in it. You will be unable to get water from shores, marinas, and small pools of water, such as the water in parks.
The game won't let me run in windowed (non-full-screen) mode.
This is almost always because the original screen resolution is greater than 640x480 or is not in 256 (8 bit) color mode. Also, some video drivers have an option that lets you have a large "virtual desktop" that is bigger than the physical screen. You might not be able to run the game in windowed mode in this case.
What version of DirectX does SimCopter require?
SimCopter ships with DirectX 3, but in reality, only requires DirectX 1. However, Maxis will not provide technical support for the game under DirectX versions prior to version 3, simply because we didn't do our testing under DirectX 2 or 1.
Wow!--I entered a new city and I had a full tank of gas and a completely fixed copter!
Mayors of cities can be very generous in SimWorld, so when you leave a city they'll fill up your tank, and fix you up, for no charge. They are either very happy with your performance, or just want to get rid of you. Either way, it's a win-win situation.
Help. The help file won't come up.
If you are running in full-screen mode and you call up the help file (F1), the help file may open up behind the game. To view the help, just press alt+tab to task-switch to the help file reader.
Sometimes, the radio voices get cut off just before they finish what they are saying.
DirectSound currently has a bug that makes sounds cut a few milliseconds off the end under certain conditions. This may get fixed by Microsoft some day.
What are helicopter resale values based on?
These values are based on the flight time the airframe has. If the helicopter has a great deal of hours on it, it will have a lower resale value.
Autoplay is coming up after I uninstalled the game, and I can't reinstall!
If this happens, go into "Start", then "Run..." and type "regedit" and press . You will now see the Windows registry editor. In the window that comes up, click on "HKEY_CURRENT_USER", then "SOFTWARE", then "MAXIS". If the "SimCopter" entry is still there, delete it and these problems will go away, so that you can install again. Please be aware that the "Windows registry editor" is a highly sensitive confgiuration utility for Windows. Any changes that you make in here may adversely affect your system. Please consult a professional before making modifications with this program. Maxis cannot assume responsibility for any damage that may be done to your operating system due to the modifications that you make in the "Windows System Registry."
I hear the money sound effect, but I do not get a message on the screen.
If you do something that gives you only a little money, such as clearing a car in a traffic jam, you get the money but no text message telling you about it.
II - Game Changes Since We Wrote The Manual
On p. 17 of the manual, it says you can dispatch up to 10 of each type of emergency vehicle. April Fools! In reality, you can only dispatch 5 of each type of emergency vehicle.
Other changes to the Manual can be found in the "Help" Menu by hitting the key within the game. This is in the form of a hypertext HTML document, and contains all the other updates and corrections to the manual after it was printed.
III - Common Technical Questions and Answers
Helpful information about your computer
Several of the problems you may encounter while using SimCopter might be related to a setting in the computer. Below are common questions that the Technical Support department will ask you should you need to contact them for assistance. It is very helpful (and will make the phone call shorter, thus saving you money) if you know this information ahead of time. You may also figure out what is causing the problem while gathering this information, and be able to play your game without even waiting for Technical Support to help you.
Do you have Windows 95 or NT 4.0?
SimCopter is a Windows 95-native program. This means that you must be running Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0 (or later) in order to even have a chance of running SimCopter properly.
How much memory (RAM) do you have?
Go to a DOS prompt (Start, Run.., type in "command", and press ) and type in MEM . A chart with a bunch of numbers will appear. The number you want is on the left, next to the words "Total Memory" about halfway down the screen. Alternatively, pressing Control-V while playing SimCopter should bring up a box that gives you system memory information.
What type or brand of video card do you have?
Sometimes this is a tough one to find out. The only foolproof way is to ask the sales person when you buy your computer. Look through your computer documentation for possible answers as well.
Running in Windows 95, try these steps: Click on the Start button, select "Settings" and then "Control Panel." Double-click on "Display" and click on the "Settings" tab. Click on "Change Display Type" and write down the information in the box called "Adapter Type" at the top. (To exit this box, click "Cancel" to make sure you don't accidentally click something else. The buttons in this box can cause problems if they are set incorrectly.)
SimCopter requires that you have a PCI video card or at least a very fast VLB (local bus) video card. Otherwise, the game will play very slowly.
What type or brand of sound card do you have?
The only sure way to know is to ask the sales representative when you purchase the computer. Look through your computer documentation for possible answers as well.
Running in Windows 95, try these steps: Click on the Start button, select "Settings" and then "Control Panel." Double click on "Multimedia" and click on the "Audio" tab. The "Playback" and "Recording" Devices should be listed here. If you have an authentic Sound Blaster Card, the "Multimedia" Properties will specifically list your card as being a "Sound Blaster", rather than "16 Bit Audio" or something like that.
How much free hard drive space do you have?
Go to a DOS prompt (Start, Run.., type in "command", and press ) and type in DIR . Some information will fly up the screen and at the very bottom it should say "bytes free" and have a number next to it. That is your amount of available hard drive space. If you are familiar with the "Windows Explorer", you can also find out your available hard disk space by selecting the "C:\" from the directory list.
IV - Maxis Maxims
The Maxis Guarantee
We want you to be happy. We do our best to make software that is both fun and trouble-free, but if there is a problem, let us know. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, for any reason, you should first consult the return or exchange policy at the place of purchase. If all else fails, you may exchange it for a different Maxis catalog product of equal or lesser value. Just send back the program to the address below, with your dates sales receipt within 30 days of purchase and a check or money order for $5 to cover return freight, and specify your choice of product for exchange. If the exchange order amount is higher than your return credit please include the additional payment. Dealers and distributors are not eligible.
Maxis Technical Support
For technical questions dealing with hardware and software compatibility, startup problems, system errors, and other unexplained phenomena, refer to section III of this README document or to the Quick Start Guide. If the problem persists, follow these directions before contacting technical support:
* Gather all information that applies to the problem. Note or print out any onscreen error messages you get when the problem occurs.
* Write down all of the steps that you have taken to correct the problem.
* Be sure to know your hardware configuration, operating system version etc.
* When you call, please be in front of your computer with the power on. Have your manual, product disks and registration number available and contact Maxis Technical Support by calling the numbers below or by mail at:
Attn.: Technical Support
223-231 Pentonville Road
International Call Internal Call
MAIN SWITCHBD NO 0044 (171) 505 1500 0171 505 1500
MAIN FAX NO 0044 (171) 505 1600 0171 505 1600
SALES FAX NO 0044 (171) 505 1601 0171 505 1601
MARKETING FAX NO 0044 (171) 505 1602 0171 505 1602
TECH SUPP TEL NO 0044 (171) 505 1650 0171 505 1650
Darren Lenard, Daniel Burrell, Jamie Bushell
BBS NO 0044 (171) 505 1670 0171 505 1670
INTERNET ADDRESS email@example.com
24Technical support is available on-line with the following subscription services:
Keyword "Maxis"; E-mail "Maxis". AOL can be obtained by calling
1-800-827-6364 and asking for a FREE introductory sign-on kit. Five hours of free time
are provided with the first month.
Go "gambpub" and select "Maxis" (section 8); CompuServe can be obtained by
calling 800-524-3388 and asking operator #420 to receive a free introductory membership,
$15.00 usage credit, and a month's worth of basic service FREE.
We provide the following support services via Internet:
World Wide Web: www.maxis.com - Access the latest demos, patches, & support information.
File Transfer Protocol: ftp.maxis.com - Download the latest updates, demos, and Technical FAQs.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - Talk to a trained support professional.
The Maxis Bulletin Board Service (BBS)
Modem users can take advantage or our free BBS via modem at 0044 (171) 505 1670. It provides
on-line access to the latest software demos, updates, extra files, swap-able files, and
the Technical Support message base. There is no charge for Maxis BBS usage, and full
user access is granted upon completion of a brief questionnaire. We run at 28.8k and all
lower baud rates and require a setting of 8 data bits, no parity, and 1 stop bit (8-N-1).
If you have any further questions that this document didn't address, feel free to contact
Maxis at the phone numbers or address listed above. Thanks again and have fun!
Maxis Customer Support