This page contains game information, requirements, patches, game downloads, and links to the community. On this page:
2.1 What is Hardwar?
Hardwar is a futuristic combat flight simulator. It is set in ‘Misplaced Optimism’, a series of craters on a neglected corporate mining moon, Titan. Players fly moths, which are tiny craft capable of flying at low altitude. The game features a complete economy, and can be played as a trading game. The combination of flight combat, trade and a futuristic setting led many players to draw similarities with the Elite series of games. Hardwar is sometimes written Hardw[a]r – this reflects the design of the name on the game box.
2.2 Who made and published Hardwar?
The game was developed by The Software Refinery Ltd, formerly based in Leeds, England. Development was led by Mark Griffiths, Ciaran Gultnieks and Ian Martin. Ade Carless designed the game. Warp Records provided the sound track, with additional design by the Designers’ Republic. The game was published in Europe and Asia by Gremlin Interactive Ltd and released in September 1998. Interplay subsequently published the game in North America.
2.3 Where did the Software Refinery go?
The Software Refinery was formed in September 1993, by three people that had previously worked at Vektor Grafix in Leeds (from Ciaran Gultnieks). The Software Refinery were actively developing patches for Hardwar until mid-2002. Things then went very quiet. In December 2002 the content of their website disappeared, leading to further speculation. In January 2003, Zedo received a credible message that “The Software Refinery Ltd went into voluntary liquidation in December 2002.” Fortunately that wasn’t the end of the individuals behind Software Refinery – see Upgrade IM below.
2.4 What are the minimum system requirements to run the game?
Microsoft Windows 95 or greater (if using Windows 2000 or XP you may have difficulty installing – see When installing the game on Windows 2000 or XP I get a message “not enough free space on target drive” – how do I install? below; it is also highly recommended that you patch to at least U2.04 to avoid problems during play with these operating systems); Intel Pentium 166 (or equivalent); 16Mb memory or greater; 1Mb DirectX 5 compatible video card; DirectX 5 compatible soundcard; 2X CD-ROM; hard disk with approx 35Mb free space. It will probably play on a slightly slower processor. Patched versions U1.0 and U2.0x require Direct X 6 or greater. Certain patch video setting require video cards with more onboard memory, perhaps as much as 8-16Mb. Upgrade IM may require considerably better hardware if all new features are used, plus at least DirectX 9.
2.5 Can I run Hardwar on Linux, BeOS or MacOS?
No. The game relies too heavily on DirectX to handle network play, sound, and in most cases, graphics. Although having said that, people seem to be having more success at _almost_ getting Hardwar to run on Linux using WINE, so perhaps it will eventually be possible.
2.6 What versions/patches are there and what features do they add?
The release version of Hardwar was almost bug-free. The worst bugs related to 3DFX support. Subsequent patches have tended to add further features, and improve video or multiplayer support. Ian Martin attributes the existence of these patches to fans: “Without fan sites, without evidence of fan interest, there would have been NO SR updates.” Only a brief summary is given below of the important changes:
- D1.6: 1998 : Demo version – 20 minutes play in Alpha Crater only (including the “Dibsey” mission).
- F2.0: 1998 : European release version.
- F2.1: 1998 : North America release version.
- U1.0: 2000 : Added clones; new starter options; improved video performance and options, although some 3DFX and DirectX support was buggy.
- U2.01: 2001 : Added swallows; further video improvements and bug fixes.
- U2.02: 2001 : Opened the monorail to the public; greatly improved online multiplayer; added custom moth skins; added Trojan; added ‘Dealer’ starting option.
- U2.03: 2001 : Bug fixes from previous patch.
- U2.04: 2001 : Bug fixes from previous patches.
There is no ‘Hardwar 3’ – sites advertising it are thought to be selling a standard release version. There was however a U3 under development – see What happened to U3? below. With the help of a former developer, U3 evolved into Upgrade IM.
2.7 Where do I get official patches?
Download the latest U2.04 patch from http://zedo.hardwar.org.uk/dexdown.htm . You do not need to apply older patches first. For the latest unofficial/almost official patch, see Where can I get U3? and Where can I get UIM? below.
2.8 Are there patches in other languages?
No. However non-English versions of the game can be patched, patching apparently turns most of the text to English.
2.9 All these different patch versions are confusing. Which is best?
The UIM patches are widely regarded as the best balance of features and stability. Almost all online games now use UIM. If you want to try only one patch, I suggest you try UIM (see Upgrade IM below). Once you’ve got UIM, try adding UIM Enhanced (see What is UIM Enhanced? below). The last official patch, U2.04, is perfectly good, however it omits several years worth of subsequent development. U3 beta 5 combined with HardwarE will add some interesting features which are not present in UIM or U2.04, however there are stability and compatibility problems for some users.
2.10 Where can I download the demo?
Try http://www.demo.hardwar.info/ or http://david.hedbor.org/hardwar/downloads.html .
2.11 Where can I get the game?
The most reliable source of copies is probably eBay, which normally has new boxed or jewel-cased US release versions available for around $5. The full game CD ISOs can sometimes found on fan sites – look on the forums at http://hardwar.proboards.com/ for links. These ISOs can either be burnt to CDs, or extracted to your hard drive using utilities such as WinISO or WinImage (from kazymyr). Alternatively CD copies can be burnt straight from the original disks – there is no encryption or copy protection.
A lite version of the full game is available at the Underdogs, http://www.the-underdogs.info/game.php?id=4234 or http://www.downloads.hardwar.info/ . This version has been created by patching the demo and adding missing files to hardwar.res – videos and music are omitted, but the game is playable. The only real limitation is the difficulty in following the plot, which relies on videos to introduce most missions.
2.12 Where can I find the manual?
A PDF version of the original manual can be found at http://www.the-underdogs.info/game.php?id=4234 . Note that many aspects of the (patched) game have changed since this manual was produced; so keep reading…
2.13 Will there be a re-release?
Gremlin Interactive’s ownership of the name and game transferred to Infogrames, although sources within Infogrames suggested they no longer owned it and that nobody did. Infogrames has since reappeared as Atari. Interplay had marketing and distribution rights in North America. Neither has shown any interest in re-releasing the game. The developers retained technology copyright until they went into liquidation – see Where did the Software Refinery go? above.
2.14 Will there be a Hardwar 2?
It was always unlikely that there would be a Hardwar 2 because the developers did not own the rights to the name, they only owned the technology. And since the original game had not been a commercial success, the name itself had little value. The developers had actively continued to add features to Hardwar in the form of upgrade patches. They had stated that, “the long term goal for the game is to have a permanent online internet game running. It won’t be ‘Hardwar’ … but it will use the Hardwar engine.” This aspiration now looks unlikely – see Where did the Software Refinery go?.
From Anon: “According to one beta tester, there was a concept for subsequent Hardwar games. The aliens would drop you off on another planet. This would be a new game using the same basic 3D engine and gameplay, but different ships, weapons, economics, and politics. And, of course, new places to go. You would be able to escape this new planet as well and continue to Hardwar 3 and so forth. The final game would return you to Earth.” Ian Martin writes: “We did have a design for Hardwar2 which was never really pursued. … it was a prequel I recall, before the society collapsed.”
Luke Warhurst (former Gremlin QA) writes: “During the development of Hardwar, we actually completed a design document for Hardwar 2 (called Hardwar: Legacy). The design document was 100% completed and included comprehensive concept art. … I still have the complete design document in a dusty drawer somewhere. … I don’t think that I could share it with anyone because, technically, it must still be owned by Atari. Besides … I might want to do something with it myself in the future. … All I can say about it is that it was set on Europa. There were two environments, the watery environment below the icy surface of the moon and the industrial, lava-filled caverns below that. Gates provided access between the two. In the watery environment, the Subs handled like submarines and in the industrial environment they handled like jet planes. The subs were mostly named after aquatic creatures. There were a handful of factions. Lazarus and Klamp-G had both collapsed as a result of the events in Hardwar and amalgamated into one powerful corporation to survive. I can’t remember what the corporation was called now, something like Laz-G. There were many improvements, such as the ability to hire wingmen/mercenaries to help you and a variety of new drone-types, such as attack drones and defence drones which you could set to defend your property. Ship-to-ship communication was greatly improved too. Basically, the gameplay way expanded and enhanced in every way.”
2.15 What happened to the PlayStation release?
A Sony PlayStation version was originally thought to be in development during 1996. Early in 1997 Gremlin (?) decided to make the game PC only, citing lack of PlayStation gamer interest.
2.16 Where did everyone go?
The most popular community board remains Captain Zedo’s, here: http://hardwar.proboards.com/ . On Internet Relay Chat (IRC): irc.cocytusuk.org:6667 #hardwar .