So I was kind of tired of seeing people ask about this and not get any real answers. And I happened to know about a little program called ASTray Plus which I thought just might work. I really wanted to get my netbook up and running for modding (or playing a game) when I wasn't at my desktop. So, I did it, and here's how you can too. This was tested on a Samsung NC10 with 1GB of RAM: 2GB may be better, especially if your netbook has a BIOS upgrade that increases available shared memory. This will work on technically any resolution, so if you have a higher res netbook or a really tiny one like the EEE 700, you can give this a shot too.
0. Install AsTray Plus from here.
1. Add the following lines to AsTray.ini, (Right click tray icon -> Settings -> Configuration) under [QuickSwitch]:
There is an "Appwatch" thing but it never works right. Make sure BaseMode is set to your netbook's native res. Mine is 1024x600, modify the first two if yours isn't.
2. There are two ways to run Sins from here.
- Use scrolling res. Right click Astray, click QuickSwitch -> Sins. Make sure Downscaling is off in Settings. The desktop will now be at 1024x768, scrollable by moving the mouse to the corners of the window. Start Sins. This is recommended for all netbooks with a Intel GMA integrated graphics controller. Recommended settings are everything on lowest, all left side effects on except the Planet stuff, exhaust trails at minimum detail. This should get you around 40-50fps starting a game, depending on how big your games get you may be able to squeeze some more graphics out by checking some more settings or increasing the detail with the buttons.
- Use downscaling. Right click astray, hit Settings then check Downscaling, or set Downscaling to 1 in Astray.ini. Then right click, go to Quick Switch, and hit Sins. Start Sins - everything will be compressed to 1024x600. This is recommended for high end netbooks with better graphics, just a lower-res screen. There is a substantial performance penalty on integrated making the game pretty much unplayable. It looks pretty good though and it would be my choice if I had better graphics. I'd take a screenshot but unfortunately it's shown as 1024x768 anyway so I can't - suffice to say it's a better option if you have the power to run it.
It's a pretty poor move for Stardock/IC not to implement this natively: the game was designed for laptops with the same IGP as the netbooks have, and netbooks are even going to have better integrated video if Ion ever comes out. Suggesting that shoveling continued support for your game onto the modding community so that you can sell more copies or at least support users that have the game already is somehow okay is kind of a slap in the face to a mod community that already runs into a lot of arbitrary problems as it is. Thankfully this could be done by an existing program without wasting some volunteer's time trying to support an entire market segment.
Kryo noted that raster downscaling would look horrible but horrible beats nothing and if you actually try it out, it looks pretty great and the hardware overhead is just because ASTray's doing it instead of the game itself. But anyway, it's possible, that's how to do it without any UI tweaks, happy gaming.