This page offers a brief guide to configuring D2X-XL. D2X-XL may have a daunting amount of options and features, but with a few tricks you will be able to cut them down to the most important ones you need to get the game going, giving you time to learn the ins and outs of D2X-XL by and by.
You can use short commands usually referred to as 'command line switches' to configure those things in D2X-XL you will rarely want to change. The d2x.ini file coming with the Windows distribution files already contains the most common settings with short explanations. You can change that file to tailor D2X-XL to your needs. See the switches page for a complete list.
D2X-XL has an integrated help system to guide you through the menus and allow you to explore the program as you go. Press F1 to bring up a window explaining the currently highlighted menu option.
To access the more technical options of D2X-XL, enable expert options in the miscellaneous menu. On the other side, if you do not want to look that far under the hood of D2X-XL, simply disable expert options - D2X-XL will offer you sleek menus with only the stuff you really need to configure the program.
You can have D2X-XL chose an appropriate configuration for you by enabling 'use default values' in the miscellaneous options menu. If you check that option, a slider will appear below, allowing you to tell D2X-XL how powerful your computer is. D2X-XL will adjust various settings depending on what you chose here. When you're done, disable 'use default values'. That way you can further tweak one setting or the other to your likings.
To make setting up multiplayer games with D2X-XL really easy, all D2X-XL specific options can be found in a submenu of the multiplayer configuration dialog. Enable competition mode in the D2X-XL multiplayer options to select a healthy subset of D2X-XL features for multiplayer games. See my worklog, chapter "competition mode" for details.
Btw, if a player using D2X-XL joining a multiplayer game that is hosted by someone not using it, all D2X-XL specific extensions affecting gameplay are turned off. Even if you are hosting a game using D2X-XL, you need not be afraid that other D2X-XL users might turn on options that you prefer to be unavailable in your game: Most D2X-XL features are not available to any participant if you turn them off.
So you are one of those guys who just wants good old Descent without all the new fangled gadgetry? There is good news for you: You can turn D2X-XL into a legacy Descent look-alike with a single switch: Add '-pureD2' to d2x.ini, and you'll get what you want. If you want to keep some of the UI enhancements of D2X-XL because you find them useful, but do not want the graphical enhancements, you have a greater range of variation with the -nostalgia option (see the switches documentation).