Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

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Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby K9-Cop » 2007-12-13 @ 00:27

I own the 1994 floppy versions of Star Wars: Tie Fighter and the expansion Defender of the Empire. I was able to install and play Tie Fighter with no issues under DosBox 0.72 on a WinXP SP2 computer.

However, when I try to play the Defender of the Empire combat chamber missions the game goes screwy. Specifically, if I start and then quit a Missile Boat mission, the game crashes. I can load up my pilot again, but as soon as I head to the combat chamber the game crashes again. The crash message is the usual "2000K EMS memory is recommended. set FILES=30 in your config.sys" sort of message.

What's silly is I think I remember an identical problem way back in 1996 when I loaded this for the first time on my old Dos computer. I think I even had to call tech support.

Anyone know what my issue is?
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Re: Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby wd » 2007-12-28 @ 14:47

Can anybody confirm that? Loadfix usage??
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Re: Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby Rwolf » 2018-5-09 @ 18:45

Yep, I have both the floppy & CD versions of Tie-fighter + DoE; the CD version works ok, but the floppy is buggy in DOSbox.
I verified the files against another game owner in the UK, he ran the floppy version on an actial old Pentium II PC, with real DOS, and he did not have the problem I saw about a year ago, when I was testing this game again.

There are two issues:

1. Non-crashing issue: there is an error in the tech-chamber where you look at the ships, if you use the left arrow, and scroll backwards in the list, the game keeps showing the tie fighter image for all objects.
(Scrolling forward, one can go through the list and it shows the correct images.)

2. Crashing issue: You can select the missile boat (anytime) in the training chamber, and play some of the tube-navigation ok.
(I think the training selection sets the default ship to use in the combat mission)

If you then go to the combat chamber, once the missile boat has been used, the game crashes in the opening scene.
The error indicates too little EMS memory, but that is not the case.

After this error, you need to select another ship in the training, to be able to enter the combat chamber without crashing.
(Any savegame made after using the Missile boat is corrupt and cannot be used further, so autosave should be turned off when testing this.)

Of note is that with the actual DOS and the old Pentium II, you cannot select the Missile boat at will, you need to go through the training for each ship in order.

This also does not happen in the CD version, only with the floppy version in DOSbox.
I haven't had time to fix my old Pentium to try the game in that environment again. (broken hard disk needs replacing)
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Re: Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby ripsaw8080 » 2018-5-09 @ 19:12

Quite the thread exhumation... but as wd suggested over a decade ago, try running LOADFIX before running the game, since it seems no has reported trying that. If that doesn't help then try a current source build of DOSBox.
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Re: Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby Rwolf » 2018-5-11 @ 12:03

Yes, I should have noted that the LOADFIX setting was tested, and did not change the problem.
The game crashed after ending a mission in the combat chamber using the Missile Boat.

(Also the 'Missile Boat' is using the wrong internal & external model in the combat missions, it is the 'Tie Advanced' - or what goes for that in this game, instead. The wookiepedia thinks it's another type: 'Tie Experimental / M3' but the details are not important)

I'm using DOSBox 0.74
Last edited by Rwolf on 2018-5-11 @ 12:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby Rwolf » 2018-5-11 @ 12:46

Thanks, I tried your X64 and X32 Windows builds, but they did not change anything, same result.
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Re: Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby ripsaw8080 » 2018-5-11 @ 22:08

After installing Tie Fighter and the DotE expansion in SVN using floppy images, the problems described occur for me as well. I noticed that executable files (TIE.EXE, FRONT.OVL, and FLIGHT.OVL) were not updated by the DotE installer despite those filenames being mentioned during installation, which I thought odd, so I did some investigating in the debugger.

The DotE installer checks the time/date stamps on certain existing files in the target directory and doesn't update them if the stamps aren't what it wants. If the base game was installed in DOSBox using a local drive mount then the stamps are probably not what the installer wants. Unfortunately, the installer proceeds without complaint when it skips updating files, leaving the user with a mistaken impression that the installation has gone fine.

So, the problems are the result of using the old (i.e. not updated) executables with new DotE content. A solution is to install the base game such that the date/time stamps on files are what the installer sets them to. Official DOSBox does not support changing file stamps on local drive mounts, but there are some unofficial builds that do.

BTW, it appears the Missile Boat must be unlocked, perhaps by reaching a certain point or rank in the game, because it does not initially appear in the Tech Room or Training Room, although other DotE ships do.
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Re: Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby Rwolf » 2018-5-12 @ 13:32

Very interesting, thanks for taking the effort of digging into this. I'll see if I can extract the proper files for the update from the DotE floppies and replace the older ones manually. Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, the Missile Boat should not be available without a proper career, which is one of the anomalies with this bug.

(The reason for my trying this floppy version again, is to take some screenshots for Mobygames from this addon, as it is slightly different from the CD version of the game.)

edit: It turned out you have to install the game to get the files, they are not in an easily accessible archive, so I had to find a suitable PC, which took awhile. After some wrestling with this old computer for a bit (bad memory, DMA issues etc) I installed and updated the game in plain DOS, then transferred the three mentioned files to my DOSBox installation, and the game now works as expected: the tech chamber shows the correct items, the missile boat requires doing the career well enough to earn it.

---

Thank you very much, ripsaw8080 & May the Force be with you!
/Rwolf :happy:
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Re: Tie Fighter: Defender of the Empire bug

Postby Rwolf » 2018-5-26 @ 15:51

It turns out the three mentioned files are not the only ones that were affected - it seems the addon installer compares the date of each file with whatever is in the update archive before copying over it, and there were other files like STRINGS.DAT and a mix of resource files also being updated this way.

Since the DOSBox installation date for the TIE base game was later than the files in the DotE addon archive, the existing files were considered later, and no update was done, but no alert was raised.

So...as an alternate to installing the game on an old DOS machine with FAT16 partition (which I did to verify), I tried using a Windows file date changer called 'Bulkfilechanger' by Nirsoft, setting all TIE file dates (creation & last modified - not sure which one DOSBox uses in this case, so I changed both) to the latest found in the base game installation from real DOS, which for the UK version was 1994-06-19. and then running the DotE addon installer again in DOSBox, and this worked out, updating also the files that got bypassed before.
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