VOGONS


Rules of Engagement 2 IGS

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First post, by RobAllen

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A long time ago I managed to get Rules of Engagement 2, Breach 3, and Breach 2 all working together under the IGS (Interlocking Game System) the games came with. This allowed the three games to link between each other in specially-designed campaigns, turning them into a sort of large-scale multigenre strategy game.

I then started building a massive branching campaign that would make use of the IGS. Every so often I'd come back to it (I have the whole thing installed on my old Windows 95 laptop) and I'd build a little more of the campaign. It's gotten quite large. It's not finished yet, but it's getting to the point where I think others might enjoy it. I recently had the idea to try transferring this monster (actually it's quite small compared to amount of space games use these days) to my main computer and see if I could run it under DOSBox. Turns out, the games do work under DOSBox, but not with the 1.08 patch that enables Rules of Engagement 2's IGS to link to Breach 3. For some reason, that patch breaks DOSBox compatibility.

Now I'm trying to find a way to fix it. It's possible some setting in DOSBox will fix it, but I'm not sure. I don't know that much about DOSBox, so I'm not really sure what might do the trick - if it's even possible at all. At least the build I have will work just fine in Windows 95, and probably 98 too, and certainly in a real DOS environment, but it'd be nice if I could get it running on my main computer since my 95 laptop only has a floppy drive and apparently no network support aside from a dialup port. It was quite the chore to move all those files over via floppies. I'd like to share my campaign with other fans of these games, and of course it'd be nice if others could see this IGS system for themselves. I think it's pretty neat, and a bit surprised it hasn't been done again since.

This is the error I get:
ROE2error.png

Others have encountered this issue in the past, in various places around the net, and it appears no-one has come to a solution yet. So far I've tried increasing the amount of memory available to DOSBox, turning off sound, changing cycles, and disabling/enabling XMS, EMS, and UMB. None of these seem to have any effect.

I've thought about options other than DOSBox. The game will not run under Windows 7 in Windows 95 compatibility mode, even though it runs fine on my Windows 95 laptop. Any other ideas? I'm tentatively considering looking for some kind of Windows 95 emulator.

If you are interested, here is the 0.4 alpha version of my campaign. Again, it's not finished, but there's enough there for a few hours of gameplay at least - provided you have a properly IGS'ed version of the game and an environment you can run it in: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/40870714/ … Frontier0.4.zip

I might be willing to put up a copy of my merged IGS build. It's probably legal since all the games are abandonware by now. But for now, here is a link to the 1.08 patch for Rules of Engagement 2 (the patch that enables the 3 games to work together): https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/40870714/ROE2_108.zip

Last edited by RobAllen on 2015-08-08, 15:22. Edited 3 times in total.

Check out my Rules of Engagement 2 Scenario Repository: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5VSO … WDQ&usp=sharing

Reply 1 of 22, by Jorpho

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RobAllen wrote:

The game will not run under Windows 7 in Windows 95 compatibility mode, even though it runs fine on my Windows 95 laptop.

If your Windows 7 installation is 64-bit, then running DOS games would be quite impossible.

Any other ideas? I'm tentatively considering looking for some kind of Windows 95 emulator.

People have long hoped for such a thing. Wine is as close as you can get, but Wine really only runs under Linux. (A virtual machine running Linux under Windows is always a possibility.) I would suggest trying Bochs or PCem.

Ideally, you could create an installer that people could direct to their pre-existing copies of each of the three games and copy over the necessary files to a disk image with an installation of FreeDOS. That's something you could probably redistribute as much as you wanted.

It's probably legal since all the games are abandonware by now.

I applaud your ambition, but on at least these forums such talk is greatly discouraged. Even if the company that created the games no longer exists and no one involved in their creation or publication even cares anymore, the games are still under copyright and their distribution is illegal by the letter of the law.

You could always try to track down the original developers and see if they can put you in touch with whoever owns the rights, and ask if they'd be willing to officially release it as freeware. (If nothing else, they'd probably be intrigued by your efforts.) A quick look suggests the publisher got buried in the depths of Vivendi, but Omnitrend is apparently still around – maybe they held onto the rights.

Reply 2 of 22, by RobAllen

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Jorpho wrote:

I applaud your ambition, but on at least these forums such talk is greatly discouraged. Even if the company that created the games no longer exists and no one involved in their creation or publication even cares anymore, the games are still under copyright and their distribution is illegal by the letter of the law.

You could always try to track down the original developers and see if they can put you in touch with whoever owns the rights, and ask if they'd be willing to officially release it as freeware. (If nothing else, they'd probably be intrigued by your efforts.) A quick look suggests the publisher got buried in the depths of Vivendi, but Omnitrend is apparently still around – maybe they held onto the rights.

This is why I opted instead to simply make the patch available. I would be reluctant to release any copyrighted software anywhere regardless of legality (unless I own the rights), but I figure people can put together their own IGS version if they already have the games. I've gathered in my searches on the net that the missing piece is the 1.08 patch, which seems to be very hard to find. Well, not anymore.

It is looking more and more like the only way to run this digital concoction is by doing so in a natively compatible environment. Emulators seem to have issues with it. I suppose for now I can at least cater to those like myself who have a dedicated vintage computer. In fact, if you're into these old games, it's probably not a bad idea to invest in one. There are places where one can easily find cheap laptops in good condition powerful enough to run DOS, windows 95, or 98, and copies of those OS'es aren't too hard to find cheaply either. I suppose the trick is to get that vintage computer to cooperate with a modern network. At least, that's a trick in my case. I probably should have invested in a vintage laptop with an actual ethernet port. Windows 95 is quite lacking in driver support for addon devices it seems. Oh well, this is nothing I need to be discussing here.

Perhaps after these revelations this thread would fit better in another part of the forum, since we've more or less ruled out DOSBox as a possibility. I am still somewhat curious about interest in ROE2/Breach3 campaigns. It might be rather whimsical to get a little campaign building scene going, if there is any interest in such a thing. I can't be the only one who still enjoys making these things.

Check out my Rules of Engagement 2 Scenario Repository: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5VSO … WDQ&usp=sharing

Reply 3 of 22, by ripsaw8080

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I can run RoE2 1.08 successfully in DOSBox 0.74 and SVN with default settings by starting it with: loadfix -15 rules2

However, it can crash depending on cycles. Using cycles=max seems to prevent the crashing most of the time on my system, but it may work with different amounts of fixed cycles. Perhaps disabling sound can prevent the sensitivity to cycles, but that would not be a preferred solution.

Reply 4 of 22, by Jorpho

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RobAllen wrote:

Emulators seem to have issues with it.

Isn't DOSBox the only one you've tried so far..?

since we've more or less ruled out DOSBox as a possibility.

I neglected to mention that sometimes booting a version of DOS in DOSBox can help. (It gets slightly tricky since afterwards DOSBox can only work with disk images and not mounted folders.) If that still doesn't work, I'd be inclined to additionally throw in HIMEMX, a replacement for the standard HIMEM.SYS.

Reply 5 of 22, by collector

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The rights were bought by Impressions, which is why it ended up under Vivendi. Impressions bought it to get Interlocking Game System and they were the developer for Breach 3. Of course Impressions no longer exists, so IP rights would fall to the parent company.

The Sierra Help Pages -- New Sierra Game Installers -- Sierra Game Patches -- New Non-Sierra Game Installers

Reply 6 of 22, by RobAllen

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ripsaw8080 wrote:

I can run RoE2 1.08 successfully in DOSBox 0.74 and SVN with default settings by starting it with: loadfix -15 rules2

However, it can crash depending on cycles. Using cycles=max seems to prevent the crashing most of the time on my system, but it may work with different amounts of fixed cycles. Perhaps disabling sound can prevent the sensitivity to cycles, but that would not be a preferred solution.

This is good to know. I didn't even know about command line options in DOSBox. I guess we haven't ruled it out after all.

Jorpho wrote:
RobAllen wrote:

Emulators seem to have issues with it.

Isn't DOSBox the only one you've tried so far..?

It is, but I've seen posts in other places on the net where people appear to have had issues with it in Wine and a few other emulators.

Jorpho wrote:

since we've more or less ruled out DOSBox as a possibility.

I neglected to mention that sometimes booting a version of DOS in DOSBox can help. (It gets slightly tricky since afterwards DOSBox can only work with disk images and not mounted folders.) If that still doesn't work, I'd be inclined to additionally throw in HIMEMX, a replacement for the standard HIMEM.SYS.

That's interesting. It may be tricky but it's an option at least.

I'll experiment with these options and see how the IGS performs, assuming I can get the game to run. In the meantime I've set up a little Google Drive repository for campaigns. I'm not entirely sure what to do with it, but if there is enough interest and people want to submit campaigns, there is a place for them to go where people can download them and try them out. For convenience, I've also put the 1.08 patch up there too.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5VSO … WDQ&usp=sharing

Check out my Rules of Engagement 2 Scenario Repository: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5VSO … WDQ&usp=sharing

Reply 7 of 22, by ripsaw8080

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I've found that the 1.08 version runs far more stable in DOSBox with sound disabled, and loadfix is also not needed in that case. Choosing any of the various SoundBlaster options or AdLib in the game's configuration doesn't seem to make a difference. I ran R2SETUP.EXE to select SoundBlaster for sound, but then changed the DOSBox setttings to sbtype=none so no sound drivers are loaded by the game.

When you say you are able to run the game okay on your Win95 laptop, is that with or without sound?

Reply 8 of 22, by RobAllen

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I can run it on my Win95 laptop with sound, though it doesn't appear to have enough memory for voice synth, which tbh i dont care much about. Sound and music works just fine.

I tried turning the sound in DOSBox off via the config but I didnt set the emulation to none. Also switching to PC Speaker didn't help. I'll try this and see if it's more stable. The loadfix thing did help to a point but it still freezes and crashes far too frequently to be useful.

UPDATE: I can confirm that the game is MUCH more stable with sound disabled, in fact I've been running my campaign for about an hour so far, including at least one Breach 3 IGS transition, and no crashes or lockups at all yet. Though playing without sound is not ideal, it won't be a problem for campaign building since you don't use sound in that anyway. Sound isn't critical to this game either, though if we can find a way to make it work it'll be great.

UPDATE 2: I had one lockup after about 45 mins in a Breach 3 mission, prior to the lockup the game was getting sluggish and acting strangely. Fortunately I was able to restart DOSBox and resume my save without losing anything. Highly recommend you save frequently while playing. Other than that, there was a crash after clearing the mission and transitioning back to ROE2. But simply reloading the save fixed that. Nothing gamebreaking yet, just remember to save often. Come to think of it, I think the original games did have the occasional crash/freeze issue from time to time so this may not even be a DOSBox issue. Still would be nice to have sound, but otherwise this is a working solution.

Check out my Rules of Engagement 2 Scenario Repository: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5VSO … WDQ&usp=sharing

Reply 9 of 22, by Rekrul

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Jorpho wrote:

I applaud your ambition, but on at least these forums such talk is greatly discouraged. Even if the company that created the games no longer exists and no one involved in their creation or publication even cares anymore, the games are still under copyright and their distribution is illegal by the letter of the law.

You could always try to track down the original developers and see if they can put you in touch with whoever owns the rights, and ask if they'd be willing to officially release it as freeware. (If nothing else, they'd probably be intrigued by your efforts.) A quick look suggests the publisher got buried in the depths of Vivendi, but Omnitrend is apparently still around – maybe they held onto the rights.

In a sane world where the governments aren't just puppets of the multinational corporations, copyrights would expire 5-10 years after a product is no longer offered for sale by the parent company. If it's not worth the time and trouble for them to continue selling it, they shouldn't get to hang onto the rights for another century.

Reply 10 of 22, by epcdaddy

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Thank you Rob and Jorpho and Ripsaw for your insight. I have been trying to get this running for a long time. I am getting the same results as Rob. So I gather that 1) we need 1.08 patch to work and 2) 1.08 is not stable due to some level of memory issue. It seems to need more memory. Jorpho mentioned Himemx.exe may be a solution. How do you use it. I tried to put it in autoexec as device=himemx.exe but dosbox does not recognize it. I also tried different SVN dosbox, hoping some version may be more tight in the memory management. I tried Dosbox-x 0.82.24, 0.74, 0.74-3, 0.73, SVN-r4134, none of them work.

I think getting more memory is the key. Do you know how to get himemx working? Anyone care to elaborate?

Rob - special thanks to put your files in google drive... I have been searching for it for a long time! Thank you!

Also does anyone know of the Rules Of Engagement 2 Developer's Kit? Rob, do you by any chance have one? Thanks

Reply 11 of 22, by ripsaw8080

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ROE2 1.08 is unstable with sound enabled; more memory will not help, and there is no known workaround. However, 1.07 works fine with sound enabled.

I spent some time investigating it awhile ago, and both 1.07 and 1.08 use the RTLink/Plus linker, but only 1.08 has any reference to "smart vectoring" in the executable. This suggests that a different version of the linker was used for 1.08, or different options were used when linking, and I believe that is the source of the instability when sound is enabled.

Reply 12 of 22, by epcdaddy

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Thanks for your reply ripsaw. Hmm... that's too bad, I thought more memory may be able to help. I think a couple post up Jorpho mentioned HIMemx. I am very curious about its application. Do you know how to apply it? If so, can you share your insight?

I was able to get sound and digitized speech to run, but no music. I was also able to get it to run in v.108 which it also opened a Breach 3 IGS module. I just needed to test a couple of things to confirm. Your insight is appreciated. Thanks.

Reply 13 of 22, by ripsaw8080

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Device drivers, such as HIMEM and HIMEMX, only work properly in DOSBox if you boot real DOS with a disk image (i.e. the BOOT command). As part of my prior investigation I tried ROE2 1.08 with MS-DOS 5.0 and 6.22, which did not make the program any more stable when sound is enabled.

HIMEMX is part of FreeDOS, and it is a replacement for HIMEM which is part of MS-DOS. I can only guess that Jorpho mentioned HIMEMX because FreeDOS is free, whereas MS-DOS is typically licensed at a cost from Microsoft. MS-DOS is the "reference standard", with FreeDOS trying to be compatible with MS-DOS for the most part, and maybe adding some functionality as well. Anyway, I don't think HIMEMX is going to be helpful in this case, other than being free.

My suggestion is to use 1.07 instead of 1.08, as I imagine there is not much difference. However, I don't really know that much about the software, so there might be some feature of 1.08 that you just gotta have. 😉

Reply 14 of 22, by Jorpho

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ripsaw8080 wrote:

I can only guess that Jorpho mentioned HIMEMX because FreeDOS is free, whereas MS-DOS is typically licensed at a cost from Microsoft. MS-DOS is the "reference standard", with FreeDOS trying to be compatible with MS-DOS for the most part, and maybe adding some functionality as well. Anyway, I don't think HIMEMX is going to be helpful in this case, other than being free.

I had some vague impression that HIMEMX somehow improves on the original HIMEM in terms of stability, though I can't seem to find corroborating documentation at the moment. That may be wishful thinking.

Reply 15 of 22, by epcdaddy

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ripsaw8080 wrote:

My suggestion is to use 1.07 instead of 1.08, as I imagine there is not much difference. However, I don't really know that much about the software, so there might be some feature of 1.08 that you just gotta have. 😉

Thank you both. The problem I faced is that while 1.07 is playable, it does not link the Breach 3 (or may be even Breach 2 as well) properly through IGS. Only 1.08 can do it properly with IGS, as Rob Allen stated. I have success using v.108 linking Breach 3, with digital sound and speech, without music. While no big deal without music, I am curious as it seems (at first glance) the component missing (or so I thought) was more memory but it may not be the case. Just a little obsessive about solving it as this has plagued for over a decade now, however, I am slightly ahead than before now that I can actually play a game that linked Breach 2 and Breach 3 which I can not do before!

Thank you for looking into it!

Reply 16 of 22, by DosFreak

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You can try pcem. That's the other alternative to DOSBox that is the closest to DOS game compatibility. Next would be QEMU or DOSEMU (linux).

If it works on one of those and not on DOSBox then that may help narrow things down.

When you mentioned it running on your Windows 95 laptop was in in real DOS or the command prompt?

DOSBox Compilation Guides
DosBox Feature Request Thread
PC Game Compatibility List
How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
Running DRM games offline

Reply 17 of 22, by epcdaddy

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Hi Dosfreak, I think Rob Allen originally was able to run it on a Win95 laptop per his post, but his laptop was without any connectivity. So he tried to transfer it to his main computer and tried to run it using dosbox which is where he ran into problem with v 1.08, which is needed for RoE2 interlocking with Breach 3 (and may be 2). He started this post about dosbox and assuming dosbox itself may not be compatible. Ripsaw got it to work with loadfix (or at least loaded but still crash and unplayable). Both Rob Allen and Ripsaw turned off sound within dosbox and it runs, *and playable*, without sound (or music).

Incidentally, I started this inquiry about 11 years about under a different user name on this very board and qbix helped a little bit but I never got any further ahead. Rob's observation and Ripsaw's allowed me to get a little ahead now that is playable with the interlocking game system (IGS referenced above) which specifically uses version 1.08 of the game. I think most of the comments by many season veteran in the current or previous post thought the game ran but I suspected they were referring to version 1.07. Ripsaw was one of the first that seem to have done more detailed testing on v1.08.

Sorry for the long recap but to answer your question, I use Dosbox, as I kept a library under DFend Reloaded. I did not have a win 95 or real dos environment. Rob Allen did have Win 95 and judging by his earlier post, it seemed to work with all the bells and whistles with sound, music, IGS at v1.08. He suspected it will likely to work in Win 98 and real dos environment. It is something within dosbox that have some issue with v1.08, or so it seems how he may have referred to it. Thanks

Reply 18 of 22, by ripsaw8080

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Might be useful to find the documentation for RTLink, as it could reveal clues. My recollection is that overlay linkers (PLink86, ALink, BLinker, etc.) where more commonly used for real-mode DOS application development, such as with Clipper, than for games; although the software here could be considered more app than game. In any case, I'd be interested to learn what exactly "smart vectoring" is, what it's supposed to do, and maybe a way to disable it at runtime. I snooped around in the ROE2 1.08 executable for a command line switch or environment variable that could disable the smart vectoring, but found nothing promising. Again, I suspect the smart vectoring feature because the error message at termination mentions it, and 1.07 did not have any reference to it.

Reply 19 of 22, by epcdaddy

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Hi Ripsaw, with you lead, I search Scribd and found this. Would it help? It is beyond my technical expertise but hope this would help you solving this decade old mystery!

PS. I need to chop the file into 3 parts as it only allows uploading a 5M file. Thanks

Edit: attachment removed