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First post, by Jiri

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I've spent several hours testing Fable (a point and click 2D adventure game from 1996) on a modern computer and have run into problems that might interest some tech-savvy Vogons visitors.
The game is not currently for sale on any digital platform, and has a CD version that allows both DOS and Windows (it was originally intended for Windows 95) installation.
The Windows version reports an installation problem on Windows 10, but this can be quite easily circumvented by manually entering the Windows registry entry or by using an alternative installer that I found online.
Then the game can be run in Windows or the DOS version can be installed and run in DOSBox.
But the problem is that the Windows version has an annoying blinking cursor, which makes the game hard to play.
I thought I would just use some DDraw wrapper and the problem would be solved. Unfortunately, I have not succeeded with any of the wrappers I have tried.
The author of the DxWnd utility is aware of the problem and has come up with some ideas as to why it occurs, but has been unable to fix it. An interesting discussion is available here:
https://sourceforge.net/p/dxwnd/discussion/ge … ead/2a22287605/

I also tried to install the game on Windows 95 in the PCem emulator, but the cursor was flickering even there.
I don't remember encountering this problem when I ran the game natively in Windows 95 years ago, and it's not clear to me why everything fails now.
So I tried the DOS version in DOSBox and here I ran into a sound problem for a change. Sound is considerably worse than the Windows version, especially when the characters are speaking.
The game lets you select several variations of SB soundcard and GUS, but with all of them sounding equally bad, I don't notice any difference at all.
So today's gamer has a choice with this game (which has no support in ScummVM) on a modern PC:
a) the Windows version, which has a visually annoying flickering cursor
b) the DOS version in DOSBox, which has bad sound
Would anyone like to test the game and try to find a solution to at least some of these problems?

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Here's how to install the Windows version on a modern computer:
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Install the game using the installer on the CD, then paste this code into the registry:
https://www.mediafire.com/file/5p4t00g3ia0ycm … 96_reg.zip/file
You may still need to edit the registry in: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Telstar\Fable] line to change the path to the choosen game location.

Or you can just use this installer:
https://www.mediafire.com/file/b87riyydsw3gdy … b_1996.zip/file

Reply 1 of 23, by Meatball

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If you look on [b[]REMOVED[/b], there is a preconfigured zip file for this game (or you can run it from REMOVED, even). If you go the download route, you still need to integrate it into your own DOSBox setup (which is not included in the zip). It sounds like you know how to use DOSBOX, so I'll spare you the details. If you have any trouble, you can look at the IAFIX.BAT file the author setup within the FABLE directory. If you need, there are Sound Blaster settings in a preconfigured DOSBOX.conf file also within the FABLE directory and set your existing installation to match. It wasn't necessary for me. I just unzipped the files locally, mounted C and D (as iso), and ran FABLE.EXE.

I didn't have any mouse flicker or sound problems, and it ran very smoothly during my testing.

Last edited by DosFreak on 2023-09-12, 10:17. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 23, by Jiri

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Yes, I know how to use DOSBox, and I described a different problem than not being able to run the game.
I've recorded two short videos for comparison - one is from the Windows version and the other from the DOS version in DOSBox. In the first one you can see the cursor flickering, but the sound is clear and distinct.
In the second one the cursor is fine, but the sound is muffled with lots of hissing (it is especially noticeable when saying the letter s). A big difference on any at least somewhat decent speakers.
The DOSBox audio seems as heavily compressed compared to the Windows version, even though the game uses the same speech.dat file on both versions.

Here are the videos:
https://www.mediafire.com/file/qat4th6qd8840r … DOSBox.zip/file

Reply 3 of 23, by feda

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The cursor flicker is related to CPU speed. Running in PCem W98, the flicker is less noticeable since the emulated CPU is slower. It's very playable, not a big deal IMO. On native W10 it goes a little crazy. Not much can be done when the game is programmed like that. The sound is certainly nicer in the Win version. In DOS it's probably conserving resources by using low quality files that are all in the same speech.dat.

Reply 5 of 23, by feda

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Jiri wrote on 2023-09-12, 02:06:

I don't think it's the processor speed, I slowed down my computer a lot with CPU Killer utility I don't see a significant difference.

No, it's definitely the processor clock speed. The difference between emulating a Pentium 75 and running natively is huge. There is almost no cursor flicker in PCem.
Running these slowdown utilities doesn't really have the same effect.

Reply 6 of 23, by Duffman

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Try DOSBox-X it might be able to run the game better.

MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 7 of 23, by Jiri

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feda wrote on 2023-09-12, 02:20:

No, it's definitely the processor clock speed. The difference between emulating a Pentium 75 and running natively is huge. There is almost no cursor flicker in PCem.

I would be cautious about definitive conclusions in this case. If you read the discussion on the DxWnd site I linked to, the author of DxWnd ghotik talks about the game behaving non-standardly when rendering the cursor. So it's more of a question for some developer, who would be able to solve this problem.
By the way, even DxWnd allows to limit the CPU speed and it didn't help. And in PCem I get cursor flickering similar to when I run the game natively in Windows 10. Here is a video from PCem.
https://www.mediafire.com/file/2lnvaq8arpe64b … m_test.zip/file

Duffman wrote on 2023-09-12, 04:55:

Try DOSBox-X it might be able to run the game better.

I tried DOSBox-X and the game still plays the sound with all the cards it detects (SB, GUS) equally badly. I was hoping that maybe playing sound with the Ronald RAP-10 might help. The game auto-detects this card too, but then it is freezing on the start when I choose it. Has anyone had success with it in DOSBox or DOSBox-X?

Reply 8 of 23, by Duffman

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Sounds like the DOS version used a lower sample rate for the audio.
The blinking cursor seems to not be blinking all that much.

How does the version on REMOVED compare?

Last edited by DosFreak on 2023-09-12, 10:18. Edited 1 time in total.

MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 9 of 23, by Jiri

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Duffman wrote on 2023-09-12, 09:11:

The blinking cursor seems to not be blinking all that much.

It's quite distracting, especially when the arrow cursor switches to other indicators while playing and they all flicker.

Duffman wrote on 2023-09-12, 09:11:

How does the version on REMOVED compare?

It seems the same to me. The cursor is fine here too, but the audio is again of lower quality.

Reply 12 of 23, by feda

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Jiri wrote on 2023-09-12, 08:38:

By the way, even DxWnd allows to limit the CPU speed and it didn't help. And in PCem I get cursor flickering similar to when I run the game natively in Windows 10. Here is a video from PCem.
https://www.mediafire.com/file/2lnvaq8arpe64b … m_test.zip/file

You still misunderstand the difference between cycle-accurate emulation and hacky slowdown methods that don't work on multicore CPUs the way they used to on old single core processors.
Anyway, there is very little flicker in PCem W98 on my end. I've compared and saw the difference with my own eyes. Your video looks worse maybe because you chose a faster emulated CPU or something.
You won't find any developers here willing to hack a 30 year old game for you just to fix a little bug.

Reply 13 of 23, by Jiri

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feda wrote on 2023-09-12, 12:41:
You still misunderstand the difference between cycle-accurate emulation and hacky slowdown methods that don't work on multicore […]
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Jiri wrote on 2023-09-12, 08:38:

By the way, even DxWnd allows to limit the CPU speed and it didn't help. And in PCem I get cursor flickering similar to when I run the game natively in Windows 10. Here is a video from PCem.
https://www.mediafire.com/file/2lnvaq8arpe64b … m_test.zip/file

You still misunderstand the difference between cycle-accurate emulation and hacky slowdown methods that don't work on multicore CPUs the way they used to on old single core processors.
Anyway, there is very little flicker in PCem W98 on my end. I've compared and saw the difference with my own eyes. Your video looks worse maybe because you chose a faster emulated CPU or something.
You won't find any developers here willing to hack a 30 year old game for you just to fix a little bug.

Frankly, I do not care about your opinion on the severity of this issue. Likewise, I don't care what your opinion is on whether or not anyone else will deal with it. It would be better if you spoke for yourself instead for everyone.

Reply 14 of 23, by BEEN_Nath_58

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Was the blinking cursor a problem even? I think other RTS games had such an effect.

Jiri wrote on 2023-09-11, 17:43:

The Windows version reports an installation problem on Windows 10, but this can be quite easily circumvented by manually entering the Windows registry entry or by using an alternative installer that I found online.

Interesting. I had to do nothing special. Just inserrt the CD and go forward with what it asked, on Windows 11. Back in 2020, Windows 10 didn't have any problems either.

previously known as Discrete_BOB_058

Reply 15 of 23, by Jiri

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BEEN_Nath_58 wrote on 2023-09-12, 13:04:

Was the blinking cursor a problem even? I think other RTS games had such an effect.

I remember seeing some discussions about a similar problem in some other games, but I first encountered it with this point and click adventure. Of course there are worse technical issues, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be mentioned on a forum dedicated to old games.

BEEN_Nath_58 wrote on 2023-09-12, 13:04:

Interesting. I had to do nothing special. Just inserrt the CD and go forward with what it asked, on Windows 11. Back in 2020, Windows 10 didn't have any problems either.

As for installation problems, I ran into them even back when I had Windows XP. And I found complaints about the same issue from multiple people when I was looking for a fix.

Last edited by Jiri on 2023-09-12, 13:27. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 16 of 23, by BEEN_Nath_58

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Jiri wrote on 2023-09-12, 13:18:
BEEN_Nath_58 wrote on 2023-09-12, 13:04:

Was the blinking cursor a problem even? I think other RTS games had such an effect.

I remember seeing some discussions about a similar problem in some other games, but I first encountered it with this point and click adventure. Of course there are worse technical issues, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be mentioned on a forum dedicated to old games.

After writing the message I went back to the game and for some reason, the blinking increased significantly. It was lesser than described in the video and now its even more.

previously known as Discrete_BOB_058

Reply 17 of 23, by BEEN_Nath_58

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The problem seems fixed for me with this profile?

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previously known as Discrete_BOB_058

Reply 18 of 23, by Jiri

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BEEN_Nath_58 wrote on 2023-09-12, 13:24:
Jiri wrote on 2023-09-12, 13:18:
BEEN_Nath_58 wrote on 2023-09-12, 13:04:

Was the blinking cursor a problem even? I think other RTS games had such an effect.

I remember seeing some discussions about a similar problem in some other games, but I first encountered it with this point and click adventure. Of course there are worse technical issues, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be mentioned on a forum dedicated to old games.

After writing the message I went back to the game and for some reason, the blinking increased significantly. It was lesser than described in the video and now its even more.

It's not constant for me either. Sometimes it's almost invisible, but other times it's very pronounced. It seems to also depend on what part of the screen the cursor is in.

Reply 19 of 23, by Jiri

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BEEN_Nath_58 wrote on 2023-09-12, 13:27:

The problem seems fixed for me with this profile?

Great, I've only tested it briefly, but it really does look like it's fixed. Did you edit the profile somehow or just use one of the ones ghotic posted for this game?

Last edited by Jiri on 2023-09-12, 14:15. Edited 1 time in total.