X-Wing and Tie Fighter... Demo playback at warp speed

Getting old software/games running on older hardware.

X-Wing and Tie Fighter... Demo playback at warp speed

Postby Danfun64 » 2017-12-23 @ 07:29

The DOS versions of X-Wing and Tie Fighter have known bugs involving cycles, as stated here and here. However, a problem discussed by seemingly no one (though perhaps hinted at here) is the effects it has on "Flight recordings", or as they're known in the realm of various First Person Shooters... demo recordings. When playing back a recorded demo, it plays back normally at first... but then suddenly go fast with seemingly nothing happening. Here is a video I recorded of me playing the second historical A-Wing mission in X-Wing Floppy: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1udcO76 ... sp=sharing . The only edits to the video are the removal of irrelevant footage and the upscaling to 1600x1200, aside from that, the video has not been edited at all. I can provide raw DOSbox .avi files if requested.

Here is my DOSbox config: http://paste.debian.net/hidden/88f9e264/

I know, I know, DOSbox is not the most accurate emulator of its kind. However, I have been able to reproduce similar results with 86Box and a Pentium II Win98SE laptop. In fact, when testing demo playback on TIE CD using the laptop the game flat out crashed instead of the warp speed bug.

From what I gathered, the DOS X-Wing games seem to require exact timing in order for demo playback to work 100%... apparently. The bug seems to have been fixed in the Windows port, and possibly the Mac port as well (I don't have a real Mac for testing... so the best I could manage is WinUAE running Shapeshifter, as native Mac emulators run the game too slowly to even be considered playable... and even then I never could figure out how to get Joystick support working) Of course the Windows and Mac ports have their own problems. For one thing, 320x200 cutscenes are either rendered as 640x400 and flattened to 16:10 ratio or literally windowboxed as 320x200 in 640x480 respectively. Also, whenever 320x200 elements are used in the "enhanced" 640x480 cutscenes, it uses an ugly blur effect... and in some cases showing distorted scaling. On a lesser note, I feel like the MIDI samples the Mac ports use sound worse than the lo-fi mono recordings from the MT-32 and AWE32 families that the Windows ports used. Ignoring the high res advantage, as well as X-Wing custom missions that take advantage of the extra text space in the 640x480 briefing screen (like Rebel Squadrons did), I would have prefered using the DOS versions of X-Wing and Tie Fighter... but the demo playback bug hurts them big time.
Danfun64
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