Compiling ScummVM/Visual Studio

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Installing the needed software and libraries

In this page, we guide you through the steps to compile ScummVM with Visual Studio.

Visual Studio

You can get the free Community version of Visual Studio here. Professional Visual Studio versions are working fine too.

When installing Visual Studio 2017 or later, make sure to select the "Desktop Development with C++" workload.

Building ScummVM with Visual Studio versions older than 2015 is not supported anymore.

Needed Libraries

ScummVM relies on third-party libraries for common features, such as MP3 decoding. Some of these libraries, like SDL, are required, whereas others like libtheora are optional.

We supply a set of prebuilt libraries for Visual Studio 2015 and later, which can be found here.

These libraries have been built on Windows 8.1 using the Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition.

If you want to build libraries for use with Visual Studio yourself, please refer to the instructions for compiling the libraries yourself.

Installing Libraries

The easiest way to make Visual Studio find the supplied libraries is by using the environment variable SCUMMVM_LIBS. You can set it by performing the following steps:

  • Unzip the library zip to a directory of your choice, for example C:\Users\YourUsername\Documents\scummvm_libs_2015.
  • Go to Start Menu > Control Panel > System > Advanced Settings > Environment Variables (or Win+R and then SystemPropertiesAdvanced.exe) and add a new variable SCUMMVM_LIBS with a value of the path you extracted the zip in. It is important that you do point the variable to the folder containing the bin\, include\, and lib\ directories.

Preparing the Project Files

Building create_project

ScummVM uses a configure/Make based build system. We have a tool to generate Visual Studio project files from this build system. The first step you need to take is building this tool called create_project.exe.

First, open the solution file devtools\create_project\msvc\create_project.sln (either from the File Explorer or from the File > Open project/solution menu). Then simply build the solution, with Build > Build solution. If this doesn't work, make sure that the Visual Studio C++ tools have been properly set up, as explained above.

The project file should automatically assure that the resulting create_project.exe is copied to dists\msvc\.

Generating the Project Files

Simply run the batch script dists/msvc/create_msvc.bat. It will guide you through configuring ScummVM.

IMPORTANT: You will have to re-generate the project files whenever new source files have been added to or removed from the configure/Make based build system. When you add new files to ScummVM, you will have to add them to the respective file to assure ScummVM still builds fine with the configure/Make based build system.

Compiling ScummVM

If you followed all the steps, you are now ready to compile ScummVM with Visual Studio. Congratulations!

Simply open the generated solution file in dists\msvc\scummvm.sln. Now you can ask it to build the desired configuration. By default it will build a debug configuration which is ideal to hack on ScummVM.

IMPORTANT: If you get errors about missing DLLs, you'll need to copy them to a location Windows picks up to run the resulting binary. The easiest way to do this is to place the DLL files in the directory where scummvm.exe is. There are multiple folders to choose from, depending on your build configuration. For example, if you build a Win32 Debug configuration, you will need to copy them from SCUMMVM_LIBS\lib\x86\Debug\ to dists\msvc\Debugx86\.

NOTE: Several people have had errors about structure packing under Visual Studio 2019. In such cases, you need to update SDL2 with the latest version.

Compiling with Console/Text Output

By default ScummVM is compiled as a Windows subsystem application with no console output. If you need the console, you can do one of the following:

  • In the create_project command, add --enable-text-console.
  • In the Project Options for the ScummVM project, go to the Linker | System | SubSystem line, and change the /SUBSYSTEM:WINDOWS option to /SUBSYSTEM:CONSOLE