How to Add Command Line Parameters to Video Game Shortcuts

A Handy Guide on Adding Various Parameters to Video Games

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Cheat codes are awesome, but sometimes they're a little bit of a pain to work with. Here's how you can learn to enter them for PC gaming fun!

What Is a Command Line Parameter?

A command line parameter isn't that difficult to understand. It's simply a command that enables or disables certain features of the game while the program begins. The most common command line parameter is -console. On many PC video games, this will enable the console, where cheats are entered. This is an essential part of getting cheat codes to work correctly -- if you can't get to the console in many cases you won't be able to enter any cheats!

How to Add a Command Line Parameter to a Shortcut

The easiest way to enable cheats in a video game is to add a command line parameter to the video game's shortcut icon on your desktop. If there is no icon for the game on your desktop you can also add the parameter to another 'link' to the game, such as within the game's folder.

Here is how you add a command line parameter to a video game's shortcut icon on your PC desktop:

  • Locate the shortcut to the video game on your desktop.
  • Right-click the file and select Properties.
  • Under the shortcut tab, you will see an area that says Target, this will list the exact location of the file within quotation marks.
  • Modify the Target adding the command line variables after the last quotation mark.
  • Press apply and start your game via the shortcut.

Example Shortcuts

Here is an example of a shortcut target with and without a command line parameter added to it:

Shortcut for Half-Life without a command line parameter:

"C:\Program Files\Sierra\Half-Life\hl.exe"

Shortcut for Half-Life with a command line parameter added to it:

"C:\Program Files\Sierra\Half-Life\hl.exe" -console

If there is more than one command line parameter to be added, they are added in the same fashion one after another with a leading space. Like this:

"C:\Program Files\Sierra\Half-Life\hl.exe" -console -dev -debug

A more advanced method of beginning a game with command line parameters is to begin the game via the command prompt. However, this method is more difficult to do, and the process must be done each time the game is started. So for all intents and purposes, there would be no reason to begin a game this way, unless otherwise noted on the cheat page. Here is the process:

Go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt

type in C:\Program Files\Sierra\Half-Life\hl.exe -console

Other Ways to Add Codes

Using the command console or shortcut isn't the only way you can implement cheats, however. These are important tips to keep in mind, but you'll want to make sure you know that some games require you to sit at the main menu, much like games in the Konami series. You might have to start a game completely and sit at the start menu or specific sub-menu and then enter a series of button presses. This is a much simpler, much more streamlined way to ensure you're able to alter your game to your liking. 

What makes PC gaming so much more complicated than PC gaming in many instances are examples like these, where you've got to go to a lot more trouble in order to get these kinds of things going. It's a little silly, but if you routinely game on both kinds of devices it'll make perfect sense after a while.