CGA Composite Mode under DOSBOX (Commited r3804)

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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby FeedingDragon » 2009-7-11 @ 09:39

wd wrote:Well then "fix" composite emulation and you may get a switch. Or not because nobody cares.


Um, as an avid Ultima fan, I care :( Don't have the knowledge/skill to do anything about it, but I would very much like it to be on your list of "Things we intend to do eventually" if it is at all possable. Thank you :)
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby pbblair » 2010-2-16 @ 23:12

Wow, this is the best thread on this topic, ever.

I have a challenge for y'all, though. It's called TROLL'S TALE.

I use this game as one tool for teaching English to Deaf children in Kenya... it's a good game because it's multiple choice. The kids just get turned off by the bad colors.

It's a CGA composite title, and it looks nice in DOSBox when I set it to emulate CGA. The problem is that I want it to look good even if DOSBox is set to VGA (because I have a DOS-based game launcher, and I'd prefer to mix VGA and CGA titles within it), or when I'm in "real" DOS on a VGA system, like an old Pentium box.

I'm under the impression that the TSRs being posted in this thread might be what I need, but they don't seem to do anything. Maybe the problem is that Troll's Tale takes over the keyboard so Alt-P doesn't work, or maybe I just need a better understanding of what these TSRs are supposed to do, but I REALLY want them to do what I think they do (magic).

Check out Retrograde Station to get the Troll's Tale CGA EXE:

http://web.archive.org/web/200805290347 ... sierra.htm

They also have a "patch" on that page (which I use) to make it work on VGA displays, but it only fixes the resolution, not the chroma, so the scale is right but the colors look terrible. You can see pics here of the ugly "patched" version, as well as the nice original CGA composite version:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/pc-booter ... creenshots

My aplogies for tacking onto this thread, but all the right minds seem to be here, and despite the earlier suggestion, I couldn't find another thread that just focused on the TSRs.

Thanks... any feedback would mean a lot.

-Paul
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby Jorpho » 2010-2-16 @ 23:31

pbblair wrote:The problem is that I want it to look good even if DOSBox is set to VGA (because I have a DOS-based game launcher, and I'd prefer to mix VGA and CGA titles within it)
Configure your game launcher to use the "-machine cga" command-line argument, as described in the DOSBox readme. All done.

or when I'm in "real" DOS on a VGA system, like an old Pentium box.
I don't think that's possible.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby pbblair » 2010-2-17 @ 04:35

Configure your game launcher to use the "-machine cga" command-line argument, as described in the DOSBox readme. All done.

Sorry, probably my fault for being vague. I have a DOS menu that I want to use inside of DOSBox, which in turn launches mostly VGA/EGA games, and this one CGA game. I don't want to run DOSBox in CGA mode, since I'm not using a DOSBox front-end. THe reason? Consistent user experience between the real DOS machines and the DOSBox machines.

I don't think that's possible.

What are all these TSRs for? For use in DOSBox only?
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby ripsaw8080 » 2010-2-17 @ 04:46

Yes, the TSRs are designed for DOSBox, and for machine=cga; they don't apply to what you're trying to do because the game already works with the composite color emulation.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby pbblair » 2010-2-17 @ 06:52

I see. Is there anything that resembles what I'm looking for? All I've found are TSRs that allow you to use CGA on Hercules cards.

Would it be possible to pull out the code from DOSBox to make a composite emulator TSR for real DOS? How big would such a thing be? Maybe if someone got it started it could be handed over to FreeDOS for maintenance.

Seems like there'd be a market for it. Googling "CGA Composite Emulate" brings up other forums with people making complicated converter boxes to achieve the same purpose within real DOS.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby robertmo » 2010-2-17 @ 08:10

pbblair wrote:THe reason? Consistent user experience between the real DOS machines and the DOSBox machines.


Could you elaborate a bit as I totally don't understand what you mean?
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby pbblair » 2010-2-17 @ 09:32

Meaning that in the same room, I have a 486 machines with 8MB RAM as well as P4 machines. The 486s boot into DOS, then into a graphical menu. I want the new machines to work the same way-more-or-less, except that they boot to Windows/Linux/whatever, and then they start DOSBox, which loads the exact same menu that they're used to. So to the kids, except for the couple extra steps at the beginning for the new machines, all the computers are the same.

I don't want to have to explain that there's a special step for Troll's Tale to get the colors to look right, and that it only works on the new machines... it would be too much information. So for now, I'm using the "patched" Troll's Tale that works on VGA but looks terrible. I just know that if it looked better, they'd play it more which would help their English.

So if I could find a TSR that emulates CGA Composite, or even one that just eliminates the ugly vertical banding, that would solve everything.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby robertmo » 2010-2-17 @ 10:47

for new machines you can start dosbox from a .bat file that has got a lot of dosbox.exe lines:
dosbox.exe
dosbox.exe
dosbox.exe
dosbox.exe
etc.

and make your dos menu swap dosbox.conf files when you want to run trolls, and exits dosbox. new dosbox will be run automatically with dosbox.conf prepared specially for trolls. (it has to swap dosbox.conf files back before running the game, so that it will work properly with other games when you closes dosbox again)


For old machines just remove trolls from there. So if anyone would like to play trolls he can swap computers with the other that wants to play some other game.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby Luchsen » 2010-2-24 @ 18:35

I use those nice little programs since a few months, and since the discussion came to Troll's Tale I wanted to add some screenshots.

The same scenes as in the attachments on genuine composite (MobyGames):
#1
#2

The only thing that annoys me is that the change is permanent. Even when I restart DOSBox, it gives me the composite mode.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby robertmo » 2010-2-24 @ 18:46

you can set machine type in dosbox configuration
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby Luchsen » 2010-2-24 @ 19:47

Setting the machine type back and forth doesn't change it.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby robertmo » 2010-2-24 @ 19:55

this game was written for cga composite only so dosbox uses composite. You cannot force dosbox to use rgb if the game is for composite only.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby Luchsen » 2010-2-24 @ 20:35

DOSBox normally uses RGB (why should I post the screenshots if they were the standard output?). Therefore this thread and the auxiliary help programs.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but all composite CGA games are for RGB CGA too.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby robertmo » 2010-2-24 @ 20:41

some games are for cga composite (so they look not properly on rgb), some games are for cga rgb (so they look not properly on composite), some games have a switch to choose between rgb or composite. some games look the same on both

dosbox can display some resolutions in composite.

some resolutions are still not supported in dosbox in composite so they are displayed in rgb
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby kiyote » 2010-2-25 @ 04:59

@pbblair

I am going to attempt to go back to your original post.

If I were you I'd switch on the TANDY mode. It looks like it supports the TANDY 16 color graphics.

VGA supports standard CGA graphics modes, because it is REALLY backwards compatible by nature. The TSR's will not work in VGA mode, because after you enable VGA, DOSBOX is only going to show CGA as those four colors. In CGA mode however, it buffers the video and waits to see if the user is mimicking the actions of using a NTSC video monitor.

What I would do is use the DOS menu outside of DOSBOX, and create batch files which invoke instances of DOSBOX with the various configurations. You need to use the menu outside of DOSBOX, because it is issuing a command to Windows to start the executables.

You can take an entire CONF file and stuff it into the command line after DOSBOX.EXE, figuratively speaking, you just rewrite the same switches like DOSBOX expects, all in the DOSBOX manual.

Those TSR programs don't do much, except enable DOSBOX in an assistive way to catch the attempt to turn on CGA COMPOSITE mode, and trigger it properly. The EXE one, that I made, just triggers the color burst, which will take some games and make them start to bleed color, if in the right CGA mode in the first place. The COM TSR, that the other thread postee created (quite skillfully I might add), watches constantly for a certain request of screen mode, and eliminates the accidental junk that stops the COMPOSITE CGA to not work for various reasons.

They play on DOSBOX's triggers to start COMPOSITE emulation, and don't fully emulate COMPOSITE CGA, not even a bit. They help it act more like an actual CGA card would act.

To re-write an entire CGA COMPOSITE emulation TSR, just for DOS, would take a wizard in assembly language for one, and lots of time to debug, and someone with the passion and desire to see it even attempted, plus the coding skills.

"there's a special step for Troll's Tale to get the colors to look right" -
What do you mean by this? Are you using one of the TSR programs to get the colors right?

Also, I can rewrite my TSR so it does it's thing without needing to press ALT-P.



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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby kiyote » 2010-2-25 @ 05:02

BTW, I have this thread favorited.

I am going to attempt a remake of an unfinished Apple game that I was working on a LONG time ago, using DOSBOX as the "Apple" computer platform again, and in DOS.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby BdR » 2010-9-05 @ 15:23

This composite mode is pretty interesting. I've downloaded the COMPCGA3.EXE program and tried some stuff. Here is a GW-BASIC program to print 15 patterns in screen mode 640*200*2, see screenshots below for the results.

Code: Select all
10 SCREEN 2:CLS
20 Y = 0: YSIZE = 8
30 FOR COUNT = 0 TO 15
40 LOCATE COUNT+1, 1
50 PRINT COUNT
60 GOSUB 100
70 Y = Y + YSIZE
80 NEXT COUNT
90 END
100 FOR X = 40 TO 320 STEP 4
110 IF ((COUNT AND 1) <> 0)  THEN LINE (X+0, Y)-(X+0, Y+YSIZE-1)
120 IF ((COUNT AND 2) <> 0) THEN LINE (X+1, Y)-(X+1, Y+YSIZE-1)
130 IF ((COUNT AND 4) <> 0) THEN LINE (X+2, Y)-(X+2, Y+YSIZE-1)
140 IF ((COUNT AND 8) <> 0) THEN LINE (X+3, Y)-(X+3, Y+YSIZE-1)
150 NEXT X
160 RETURN
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby BdR » 2010-9-05 @ 15:28

I also used the resulting colors as a color palette in Paint Shop Pro in windows. I converted 2 pictures to use these CGA composite colors, and load them in PC-Paint in dosbox. See conveted gif files, and screenshots in attachement.
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Re: How do you switch to CGA Composite Mode? (Fooblitzky)

Postby VileRancour » 2010-9-07 @ 13:08

Hey BdR, that looks awesome. I like the idea of creating new CGA composite art

Might try a few myself when I find the time, stay tuned....
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