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New MS-DOS Games Launcher / Menu System App

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Reply 60 of 74, by overload86

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HandOfFate wrote on 2020-10-12, 17:26:

I made a Python script to populate the Launchbox.txt file. I can polish it a bit and share it.

I would appreciate that very much. In my instance I would want the program to go through a single folder, make an entry for every BAT file it finds in there and ask for a title on games it cannot find in the xml. Possibly appending "SETUP" to every bat file as the "configuration entry", since all my .bat files are set up with a small utility I wrote a few years ago.
I basically went into every game folder and configured the game, looked at the executables (I use a 4dos alias named "dire" for dir "executables" that is just "dir /p *.exe *.com *.bat >&>nul")
and call "mkbat <BATCH NAME> <RUN_FILE> [optional: <SETUP_FILE>"
and my tool places the batch file in the right place.

That is exactly why I would love to not do everything manually again. But the menu system would be so much easier for my 60 year old mother to navigate than having a list of 8-char file names that she has to input in a cmd prompt xD

Haven't even thought about your approach of writing my own program to look at the stuff and parsing the xml file... But I also would have no idea how to parse a file and would have to learn that, the last time I had to do it the programming language thankfully had a method that handled the parsing and even that took me 4 nights xD

My tools I actually wrote in Quick Basic directly in dosbox haha.

Reply 63 of 74, by HandOfFate

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It seems DBGL uses a '100% Java' database engine called hsqldb. Making an external conversion tool for it shouldn't be difficult, but integrating it into a Visual Basic for DOS program would be... challenging.

I'll try to wrap up the tool I made somewhere this week, so you can use it or use it as a basis for your own wishes 😀

Am486 DX4 120MHz, no L2, 16MB, Tseng ET4000/W32 1MB VLB, ESS ES1869 + Yucatan FX /// 5x86 133MHz, 256kb L2, 64MB, S3 Virge/DX 4MB PCI, SB16 /// Pentium III 1GHz, 512MB, Asus V7700 64MB AGP, SB Live!

Reply 64 of 74, by HandOfFate

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As promised, the Python script that I made for updating the LAUNCHBX.TXT database.

I'm happy with how much it is finding but it has been completely designed for my purposes, so I wouldn't be surprised if you run into a dozen problems. But I will see what I can do in that case 😀

What's required:

* Linux or something similar (maybe it will even work under Windows 10's bash, who knows)
* Python 3.6+ (it's possible it will work with 3.5)

How to use it:

* Make a backup of your current LAUNCHBX.TXT
* Unpack the archive
* Run download_metadata.sh to get Launchbox's XML with game metadata
* Run

python3 import_games_dir.py LOCAL_GAME_DIR:SAME_PATH_IN_DOS Metadata.xml PATH_TO_LAUNCHBX.TXT

(don't forget to escape the '\' characters)

For example:

python3 import_games_dir.py ~/DOS/Games:C:\\GAMES Metadata.xml ~/DOS/LAUNCHBX/LAUNCHBX.TXT

In case it isn't updating existing entries in your LAUNCHBX.TXT with metadata, rename the entry by hand to the exact name in the Metadata.xml. After the entry is enriched, you can rename it back to whatever you want.

Also, don't forget to download a new Metadata.xml once in a while, because even DOS games are still being updated in there.

I hope it will be somewhat of use to anyone 😀

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Am486 DX4 120MHz, no L2, 16MB, Tseng ET4000/W32 1MB VLB, ESS ES1869 + Yucatan FX /// 5x86 133MHz, 256kb L2, 64MB, S3 Virge/DX 4MB PCI, SB16 /// Pentium III 1GHz, 512MB, Asus V7700 64MB AGP, SB Live!

Reply 65 of 74, by theelf

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Hi, i love this DOS launcher, *but* I use in my Windows XP laptop, to launch win32 ports of DOS games (prboom, etc)

I will love to do a native console windows port, anyone knows if the source code is public?

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Reply 68 of 74, by overload86

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dr_st wrote on 2020-10-26, 13:11:

What's the point of a text-based launcher for Windows, when you have a built-in, feature-rich GUI?

That's like asking "What's the point of Dosbox, when you can play Doom Eternal and Horizon Zero Dawn?"

Have you seen his setup? He is blending Windows 95 and 3.11 aesthetics and it looks very clean. I would honestly prefer a DOS interface for my DOS gaming, too.

Reply 69 of 74, by dr_st

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overload86 wrote on 2020-10-28, 11:49:

That's like asking "What's the point of Dosbox, when you can play Doom Eternal and Horizon Zero Dawn?"

Sorry, that's a flawed analogy. Your example is about playing different games. Here we are talking about using a text-based launcher to run the same Win32-native applications that you can run using the built-in shortcut (.LNK) feature of Windows. To this I don't see the point, other than, well, aesthetics. And when it comes to aesthetics - to each his own. 😀

overload86 wrote on 2020-10-28, 11:49:

Have you seen his setup? He is blending Windows 95 and 3.11 aesthetics and it looks very clean. I would honestly prefer a DOS interface for my DOS gaming, too.

My understanding was that theelf's question was not about a DOS interface for DOS games (which I prefer too, although I use a different menu myself), but a DOS-style launcher for Windows games.

https://cloakedthargoid.wordpress.com/ - Random content on hardware, software, games and toys

Reply 70 of 74, by overload86

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dr_st wrote on 2020-10-28, 13:09:
Sorry, that's a flawed analogy. Your example is about playing different games. Here we are talking about using a text-based laun […]
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overload86 wrote on 2020-10-28, 11:49:

That's like asking "What's the point of Dosbox, when you can play Doom Eternal and Horizon Zero Dawn?"

Sorry, that's a flawed analogy. Your example is about playing different games. Here we are talking about using a text-based launcher to run the same Win32-native applications that you can run using the built-in shortcut (.LNK) feature of Windows. To this I don't see the point, other than, well, aesthetics. And when it comes to aesthetics - to each his own. 😀

overload86 wrote on 2020-10-28, 11:49:

Have you seen his setup? He is blending Windows 95 and 3.11 aesthetics and it looks very clean. I would honestly prefer a DOS interface for my DOS gaming, too.

My understanding was that theelf's question was not about a DOS interface for DOS games (which I prefer too, although I use a different menu myself), but a DOS-style launcher for Windows games.

Yeah, but again: have you looked at his screenshot? Having a DOS style launcher makes perfect sense in that context and compiling that one to run on Windows XP natively might be a real possibility, so him asking is not unreasonable, I think.
But if that is not possible you can always simply start your dosbox from a shortcut and autoexec the DOS Launcher there.

Reply 71 of 74, by MrD

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I'm using this a lot on my DOS computer now. 😀 I used to use Glance but requiring the mouse to edit items and too many fiddly stages and being unable to sort/move buttons made me put Glance away for the first time in 25 years.

I've noticed a bug, though: If you're on the main game list, say ABCDEF, then delete item B, then move to item D and try to delete it, it'll ask if you want to delete item E despite the cursor being on D. It's a bit concerning. 😀

Also, when you have a game with an ampersand in the title, it's treated as an accelerator for captions, so it'll ask if you want to delete 'Amulets Armor' instead of 'Amulets & Armor'.

Edit - Hehe just noticed that you put CD required or CD music in brackets in the title as well. 😀 I also use the Status for this.

Reply 72 of 74, by MisterEd

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Thanks for an awesome DOS menu. Recently acquired a 486 DX4 100 and wanted to have it run DOS and Windows 3.11 but also be easy for people to use at an upcoming retro gaming party.

One issue I did encounter was returning to the launcher from Alley Cat - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alley_Cat_(video_game). It is the only old CGA game I have tried to run so far. The game launches without issues and when returning to the launcher it complains about an invalid video mode and the screen is filled with bright coloured text blocks.

Typing in CLS and then LAUNCHER gets me back to the menu but something about the video mode doesn't allow it to return automatically. I have an ET4000 graphics card.

Reply 73 of 74, by msaraiva

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MisterEd wrote on 2020-11-25, 03:42:

Thanks for an awesome DOS menu. Recently acquired a 486 DX4 100 and wanted to have it run DOS and Windows 3.11 but also be easy for people to use at an upcoming retro gaming party.

One issue I did encounter was returning to the launcher from Alley Cat - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alley_Cat_(video_game). It is the only old CGA game I have tried to run so far. The game launches without issues and when returning to the launcher it complains about an invalid video mode and the screen is filled with bright coloured text blocks.

Typing in CLS and then LAUNCHER gets me back to the menu but something about the video mode doesn't allow it to return automatically. I have an ET4000 graphics card.

Try running Alley Cat from a batch file and executing the attached program after the main game. If you don't wanna use an executable from some random dude on the internet, here's the source:

MOV AX,0003h
INT 10h
MOV AX,4C00h
INT 21h

You can compile the code above with NASM, for example All it does is set the video mode to the default MS-DOS one, which is 80x25 16 color (last two digits of the first line - 03, in this case). Here's a list of all the possible modes:

00: 40x25 Black and White text (CGA,EGA,MCGA,VGA)
01: 40x25 16 color text (CGA,EGA,MCGA,VGA)
02: 80x25 16 shades of gray text (CGA,EGA,MCGA,VGA)
03: 80x25 16 color text (CGA,EGA,MCGA,VGA)
04: 320x200 4 color graphics (CGA,EGA,MCGA,VGA)
05: 320x200 4 color graphics (CGA,EGA,MCGA,VGA)
06: 640x200 B/W graphics (CGA,EGA,MCGA,VGA)
07: 80x25 Monochrome text (MDA,HERC,EGA,VGA)
08: 160x200 16 color graphics (PCjr)
09: 320x200 16 color graphics (PCjr)
0A: 640x200 4 color graphics (PCjr)
0D: 320x200 16 color graphics (EGA,VGA)
0E: 640x200 16 color graphics (EGA,VGA)
0F: 640x350 Monochrome graphics (EGA,VGA)
10: 640x350 16 color graphics (EGA or VGA with 128K)
640x350 4 color graphics (64K EGA)
11: 640x480 B/W graphics (MCGA,VGA)
12: 640x480 16 color graphics (VGA)
13: 320x200 256 color graphics (MCGA,VGA)

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