Fan made “The Force Engine” seeks to revive Star Wars: Dark Forces

Reverse engineering is paving the way for an open-source game preservation effort

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Star Wars: Dark Forces was a game that, back in 1995, did what dozens of successful Star Wars games have done. They took a game style or genre that is popular at the time (in this case pioneering first-person shooter Doom), and reimagined it in a Star Wars setting. Dark Forces was a shooter that had you taking on squads of Storm Troopers on missions for the Rebel Alliance. It also introduced players to Kyle Katarn, who would go on to star in a series of subsequent games, with the Jedi Knight games spinning off from Dark Forces.

It’s a fairly quaint game now, but it is of some historical interest, and it’s still a fun if basic game. It’s a little tricky to get it running properly on modern computer systems and with modern controls. There are a host of mods already available to improve the experience, but there’s a new project on the horizon that hopes to go much further.

DarkXL, by a modder who goes by the name “lucius”, has been a popular mod with Dark Forces players to get the game running smoother on modern systems, and provide a few enhancements. By the creator’s own admission, it was “incomplete and inaccurate in many ways”. This is largely due to not having fully decompiled the original game code.

After years of the project having gone dormant, lucius is back with a complete overhaul of the project. This time around, they are aiming for complete accuracy to the original game, and the project has been relaunched as “The Force Engine”. The idea is to make the game run accurately on modern systems and to add a whole bunch of new features never originally supported. These include a built-in level editor, expanded support for additional mods, and support for higher resolutions.

lucius has also committed to releasing this work as fully open source, so the possibilities for what else could be added down the line are endless. Currently, it’s scheduled to release on November 1, and there’s a roadmap for different features laid out on a roadmap here.More details of the plans for The Force Engine can be found on the announcement post here, and the original game is available for purchase on Steam or GOG.