DosBox

Emulation of old PCs, PC hardware, or PC peripherals.

DosBox

Postby Xorcist » 2002-7-01 @ 05:12

DosBox is a great DOS emulator. It's only at version .40, but it's coming along well and supports a good deal of emulated audio and video hardware (and runs both under Windows as well as Linux). It even has joystick support! I was able to get some of my old time favorites up and running under DosBox with little to no trouble (ones that I had a tough time getting to run under Windows 98 and 2000). Check it out, it's worth the look, trust me.
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Postby Snover » 2002-7-02 @ 21:28

I love the idea that DOSBox has, but it hasn't worked nearly as successfully for me. I think this should improve a LOT when they implement protected mode and finish 386 instructions. (I know I can't wait!)

What games DO run well in DOSBox? (ie. What games did you play on it? --I'd like to try them.)
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2002-7-06 @ 18:35

Start with the most ancient you can find and work your way forward.
Early 386 games seem to be the upper limit. Most old Sierra titles are a no-go, but the age-old Disney/Westwood titles work quite well (Mickey's 123's/ABC's, etc...).

DosBox is (so far) the only way I've seen to run those titles on new machines (they die instantly on new machines due to processor speed).
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Postby Snover » 2002-7-07 @ 00:06

Yeah...I dunno... I've found games that old aren't games I really want to play. Probably just because I'm not really old, so I don't remember games before, like, 1990.
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2002-7-07 @ 00:41

Actually, about the only ones I'll touch from that era are "special interest" items, which usually translates to: good game not available on any other format.

"WASTELAND" is in a kind of "grey area". It's one of the "all-time greatest RPG's". Was available on the PC and C64 only. Kind of a toss-up as to which would be better to play. The C64 has sound (PC is speaker only), but the PC has a slight edge on graphics.

"Bandit Kings of Ancient China" would be better played on an Amiga emulator. (PC was CGA & Speaker only)

"Sword of the Samurai" (Microprose) is best on the PC because it was PC only.

A lot of PC games from the late 80's and early 90's were ports from other systems and quite frequently were inferior. So, checking for versions on "alternate systems" is a good thing.

Whatever works best, I say...
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Postby Snover » 2002-7-07 @ 06:55

WASTELAND... A game that's that old ... on a PC that old ... having an edge on graphics? I mean, call me nuts, but wouldn't the graphics most likely have been EGA or CGA?
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2002-7-07 @ 20:32

Administrator wrote:WASTELAND... A game that's that old ... on a PC that old ... having an edge on graphics? I mean, call me nuts, ...


Ok. You are nuts.

[B]but wouldn't the graphics most likely have been EGA or CGA?


Correct, WASTELAND is EGA, 16 colors from a palette of 64 (with some poorly chosen colors in there). The Commodore 64 had 16 colors from a palette of 16 (only 16, but better selection).

So both had a palette of 16 colors with a screen resolution of 320x200. However, the way the C64 displayed 16 colors was _not_ a straight-forward method. This meant you had a color limitation (if I remember correctly) of no more than 3 colors within a nine-pixel grid (or something very close to that). I discovered this when using a Koala Pad (a graphics tablet) with a C64.

Whenever I tried to introduce a new color beyond the specs, it would change other pixel colors around the area that I was drawing. The end result was that you couldn't simply take a 320x200x16 color image from another computer and convert it to C64 format. You would have spurious color pixels sprayed all over the screen. Every image converted to the C64 had to be "massaged", arranging different color pixels so that they wouldn't violate the color limitations.

So if you look at WASTELAND on both, I think you'll find that while the PC version had a few poor color choices, the overall image quality was better.
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Postby Snover » 2002-7-07 @ 20:36

Ok. You are nuts.

Yeah, probably, but you don't have to go around flaunting it! *sniff* ;)


[B]This meant you had a color limitation (if I remember correctly) of no more than 3 colors within a nine-pixel grid (or something very close to that)...The end result was that you couldn't simply take a 320x200x16 color image from another computer and convert it to C64 format. You would have spurious color pixels sprayed all over the screen.

That is, beyond a doubt, the most fucked up thing I've [b]ever
heard. Any articles or information on WHY the C64 developers did that?
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Postby Harekiet » 2002-7-07 @ 22:57

Well it's pretty simple if you look at how the VIC chip of the c64 generates the screen :) Since the graphics mode is basically a bit freaked up standard character mode with 8x8 pixel characters, with all characters spread out evenly through video memory. But still with the color functionality of the original character mode.

As far as i know 320x200 has 2 colors per 8x8 pixel block and you can also switch to 160x200 so you have 4 colors per 8x8 block.

Ah well better stick to 16 color ega mode with 64 colors. Although a lot of games only use the first 16 and don't use the full range. Not many good colors you can make with 2 shades of red/blue/green anyway :P Better use 16 color vga modes so you can use the vga palette, great example of this in the crystal dreams demo :)
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2002-7-08 @ 04:30

Administrator wrote:
Yeah, probably, but you don't have to go around flaunting it! *sniff* ;)

Hey, you asked...*shrug*

That is, beyond a doubt, the most exuberate thing I've [b]ever
heard.

Actually, there's plenty more where that came from...
[B]
Any articles or information on WHY the C64 developers did that?

I think it would fall under the category of "It's 1981 and we have limited technology and a limited budget". There were many other weird things with the classics. You usually didn't find out about them until well after you invested a lot of cash.

The Atari 8-bit computers (400/600/800/1200/1300 XE/XL,etc...) had a palette of 256 colors. You could have all 256 on-screen at once, but only _4 colors_ were allowed per scanline.

Colecovision game consoles had 32 sprites. You could have all 32 onscreen, but only 4 were allowed to be on the same horizontal position (Otherwise, you got flickering, sometimes _blinking_ sprites).

But the C64 was the "King of Bizarre Things". From the power supplies that were filled with goo (which had the double-impact of making them overheat _way_ too much and also made them impossible to repair) to the way Commodore would contract out some of the C64 manufacturing to the lowest bidder.

I think the ultimate was this:
Customer: I'm trying to type on my word processor, but my keyboard's not working right. I'm getting garbage characters and other characters are missing.
Me: Do you have a joystick connected to port 1 sir?
Customer: Well, yes. But what's that got to do with...
Me: Remove it sir.
Customer: You're kidding.
Me: Nope.
Customer: (slight delay) What the...!? That did it!

That's why port 2 was almost always used for 1-player stick games and not port 1. You can actually connect a stick to port 1, move it around and watch it type garbage characters across the screen.
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2002-7-08 @ 04:43

Harekiet wrote: freaked up standard character mode with 8x8 pixel characters,


You know, I was thinking that it was 8x8 but somehow it didn't seem right. That makes it all the more amazing that they could do what they did. Arbitrary color limitations like that could drive an artist nuts.

[B]
Ah well better stick to 16 color ega mode with 64 colors.


All depends. That "speaker" audio alone could push me toward a C64 version. And if there was an Amiga version, I don't think I'll even consider the PC version.
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Postby Snover » 2002-7-08 @ 16:34

[B]
That is, beyond a doubt, the most exuberate thing I've ever heard.

Actually, there's plenty more where that came from...

Nice job of, err, neutering my profanity. :p

[B]As far as i know 320x200 has 2 colors per 8x8 pixel block and you can also switch to 160x200 so you have 4 colors per 8x8 block.

Wow, this reminds me of programming games in ASCII (like Megazeux and ZZT). If you can have four colours in an 8x8 block, but with half horizontal resolution, what's the benefit? Sounds like it just renders with 2 colours per 8x8 at 320x200, then downsizes to 160x200, rather than making any changes at all to display mode other than horizontal resolution.

[B]The Atari 8-bit computers (400/600/800/1200/1300 XE/XL,etc...) had a palette of 256 colors. You could have all 256 on-screen at once, but only 4 colors were allowed per scanline.

Weird hardware. What caused THIS limitation? And, in any case, 2 colours per 8x8 block is still much worse, hands-down, IMO.

[B]From the power supplies that were filled with goo (which had the double-impact of making them overheat _way_ too much and also made them impossible to repair) to the way Commodore would contract out some of the C64 manufacturing to the lowest bidder.

Ah, I love it!! :D

[B]I think the ultimate was this:
Customer: I'm trying to type on my word processor, but my keyboard's not working right. I'm getting garbage characters and other characters are missing.
Me: Do you have a joystick connected to port 1 sir?
Customer: Well, yes. But what's that got to do with...
Me: Remove it sir.
Customer: You're kidding.
Me: Nope.
Customer: (slight delay) What the...!? That did it!

I take it you worked for Commodore, then? What other juicy tidbits have you? (I just loooove juicy bits. [IMG=http://www.vogons.org/images/smilies/rolleyes.gif]Sly[/IMG])

[B]All depends. That "speaker" audio alone could push me toward a C64 version. And if there was an Amiga version, I don't think I'll even consider the PC version.


Ah, the Amiga. Now THERE'S a breakfast--err, I mean, COMPUTER of champions. Or, at least, it was...(never actually owned one, never could really figure out how to use Workbench, but hey. Still a great machine. Maybe I should buy this...or maybe not, since I'm broke.)
In any case, I know I can't stand PC speaker sound (especially since it comes through the PC speaker and not my sound card, making it virtually impossible to hear over my 4(!) case fans) and that if any game offers ANY alternative, I'll jump at the chance, even if it is with some exceptionally bad graphics.

<reminiscing>(I remember that there were two C64s that my third-grade teacher owned and had in the classroom for us to play on during breaks. Ah, those were the days. Used to play this maze game that took about 5 minutes to load that reminded me of the maze game on the old Prodigy service. Ah, to be six again.)</reminiscing>

Toodles.
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2002-7-08 @ 19:50

Administrator wrote:Wow, this reminds me of programming games in ASCII (like Megazeux and ZZT). If you can have four colours in an 8x8 block, but with half horizontal resolution, what's the benefit? Sounds like it just renders with 2 colours per 8x8 at 320x200, then downsizes to 160x200, rather than making any changes at all to display mode other than horizontal resolution.

*gack* ungh...having flashbacks...basic...arrays...flowcharting...COBOL
NO! NO COBOL! COBOL BAD! GO AWAY!

*ERROR. FAIL-SAFE EXECUTED. COBOL MEMORY REPRESSED AND RELOCATED AT BOTTOM OF BASE MEMORY*

there...feel better now...headache easing...
[B]
Weird hardware. What caused THIS limitation? And, in any case, 2 colours per 8x8 block is still much worse, hands-down, IMO.

I think this was one of the main problems for the Atari hardware. No idea why there was a 4-color-per-scanline limitation, but it made multi-color images on the Atari's a massive pain. The scanline limitation wasn't that big a deal for still images (like in an adventure), but it made moving objects a major pain.

Also, the commodore multi-color "sprites" had advantages over the single-color Atari "player/missle graphics".
[B]I take it you worked for Commodore, then?

Only for a short time as a rep, I spent more time as a general "computer salesman". Allowed me tinker with a lot of the old hardware that I couldn't actually afford to buy (SX-64, really early PC-clones, Apple IIc's, Atari ST, etc...).

No real "insider" info here, most of these things were commonly known by C64 owners back then. The contracting issue is why there were minor variations of the C64 even though the actual design had not changed. Commodore was trying to make the C64 as cheap as possible and they succeeded. One side-effect of this was that the number of defective C64's skyrocketed. I still remember the stack of dead C64's that reached to the ceiling in our store. Helped sell a few "protection" programs.
[B]Ah, the Amiga. Now THERE'S a breakfast--err, I mean, COMPUTER of champions.

Indeed, a fine lass she was...*sigh*

Like other greats, it was never treated properly. American programmers usually treated it like a "weird PC", 16-color displays...ignoring the 4096 color palette, the stereo audio, the speech synthesizer,etc...
(IE: King's Quest I)
The Europeans treated it like a game console. Trashing the OS and directly hitting the hardware, which meant boatloads of compatibility issues. A lot of times they even treated it as an Atari-ST emulator (IE:AD&D Dragons of Flame, was coded on the ST then ported to the Amiga. The ST version could be installed to a hard drive because it was OS-compatible code. The port was "dumped" onto the Amiga with only the minimal changes needed to make it work. Since the Amiga had basically all the basic hardware that the ST had, no attempt was made to make it OS-friendly. They just made minor changes to make it "hit the hardware" on the Amiga.)

The combined effect was that few titles really show what the Amiga was capable of...they usually scaled things back so a port would be easier to make.

There were exceptions. The Amiga version of "Conquest of Camelot" played the Roland music from the PC version, for example. BTW, ignore most of the early PC Sierra titles and play the Amiga versions. It fixes speed issues, better palette for some games, etc...)
[B]Or, at least, it was...(never actually owned one, never could really figure out how to use Workbench, but hey. Still a great machine.

Workbench didn't always have the most logical setup ("Initialize" vs
"Format Disk") but it was still a dream compared to Windows v1 & 2 and to an extent v3.
[B]Maybe I should buy this[/url]...or maybe not, since I'm broke.)

Already gone by the time I saw it.
[B]In any case, I know I can't stand PC speaker sound

For basic blips and beeps, it works. Nothing beyond that. I'm amazed at some of the things programmers were able to make it do, but even an Atari 2600 beats it handily.
[B] and that if any game offers ANY alternative, I'll jump at the chance, even if it is with some exceptionally bad graphics.

Sometimes it's a trade-off.

WinUAE is quite useable as an emulator and plays most all the classics. Someday, I'll figure how to make it run my "Defender of the Crown II" CD.
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Postby Harekiet » 2002-7-09 @ 05:38

I think this was one of the main problems for the Atari hardware. No idea why there was a 4-color- per-scanline limitation, but it made multi-color images on the Atari's a massive pain. The scanline limitation wasn't that big a deal for still images (like in an adventure), but it made moving objects a major pain.


Yeah i'd rather have the c64 hardware if you can at least have multicolor sprites and 4 colors per scan line is horrible. Probably has to do with the hardware loading 4 colors into some registers at the beginning of each scanline and use that for bitdata. Requires some tricky programming to change it for each line too i think :)


For basic blips and beeps, it works. Nothing beyond that. I'm amazed at some of the things programmers were able to make it do, but even an Atari 2600 beats it handily.


Ah well there have been some games that used "realsound" to actually make pretty nice sound. You could use the pc-speaker as wave sound-output device. Still have to get that correctly emulated though, since the games setup an insanely high timer interval. Too bad there are so few games that used the tandy 3-sound that actually doesn't so that bad.
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Postby Snover » 2002-7-09 @ 07:01

Yeah, RealSound was pretty good, but it was a bad hardware hack that wreaks havoc on anything other than pure-DOS mode. (And it was in mono, which meant it was still worse than the Amiga.)

And UGH! You'd think that AdLib's manufacturers would have gone with sampled modules like the Amiga, but noooo...crappy synthesized crap. *grumble*
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Postby DosFreak » 2002-9-03 @ 14:58

Realsound support would be AWESOME. I want my Mean Streets to work!
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2002-9-03 @ 16:16

Myself, as well. And DosBox is about the only way it would run at the proper speed.
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Postby Snover » 2002-9-03 @ 23:47

Well, yeah, I mean, it's pretty rocking when it works, but it's still a cheap hack.
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2002-9-04 @ 01:02

Snover wrote:Well, yeah, I mean, it's pretty rocking when it works, but it's still a cheap hack.
You're talking to the guy who's still looking for a way to run "Mickey's ABC's" with the "Disney SoundSource" in emulation. ;p
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Postby Snover » 2002-9-04 @ 02:19

Dude, you should at LEAST be trying to get Coaster running. I mean, jesus, edutainment!? What a shitty idea.
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