Beginner's guide to VDMSound v2.10

General information and assistance with VDMSound.

Beginner's guide to VDMSound v2.10

Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-27 @ 00:58

First things first. VDMSound is a soundcard emulator with some additional features to enhance gameplay for DOS programs being run on a NT Operating system.

It is NOT a PC emulator like DosBox or Bochs. If your program can't run at all without VDMSound, don't count on that program to start working when you run it with VDMSound. The exceptions to this would be programs that require a stick controller, a sound card, or EMS memory to be present for the program to start up. If the program causes 16-Bit subsystem errors or similar problems, those can only be cure by emulation or running them in a DOS-based OS.

Also, you will need to understand a few basics of DOS. You don't need to be an expert, but you may need to do some basic editing or testing using the command prompt. You will need to understand common Windows terminology like "Right-click", "Drag'N'Drop", etc... If you're not familiar with these, check the documentation of your OS (Operating System) and learn about them.

Insert link for basic DOS commands.

Remember, VDMSound is an audio emulator for DOS programs
...ONLY for DOS programs
Do NOT attempt to run VDMSound with Windows programs. It is not MADE for Windows programs, it is not NEEDED with Windows programs.
Do NOT run VDMSound with Windows programs. Enough said.

One more note: when possible, try installing the game and running it without sound. While many games run adequately in NT (Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP are all NT Operating Systems), there are many others that simply will not run properly. Sometimes it can be fixed, sometimes it cannot.

Many people have pointed the "finger of failure" at VDMSound, when the problem was the operating system.

Now...What OS are you running?
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If you are running Windows 95, 98, 98SE, or ME...

Unfortunately, these operating systems are based on DOS and aren't exactly the most stable environment to run hardware emulation.

There is an Alpha version, created for the purpose of testing out the viability of running VDMSound within these operating systems.
It's complicated and it's an Alpha...so don't expect anywhere near the performance of the NT version of VDMSound and support is near non-existant (due in no small part to the OS in which it is run). This guide will not deal with Alpha version.

If you wish to give it a try, go here.
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If you are running Windows NT 4.0:
For now, just install VDMSound 2.04...

Do NOT install or use VDMSound 2.10 on Win NT 4 yet!
(Attempts at a fix are in the works...)
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If you are running Windows 2000, or XP:

NOTE: If you already haven't done so, enable your OS to display the three-character extensions for filenames.

START --> Folder Options

Start with installing VDMSound 2.10. Make sure you have "Administrator’s Rights" before you attempt to install. In other words, make sure you have complete access to all the features of the OS. Unless someone else has set up your access, you should have these rights by default. When you start it will give you the option to add some utilities along with VDMSound. They are handy for a number of situations, I recommend installing them (although the source code isn't needed).

When it gets to the part about rebooting....DO IT. It doesn't have to happen at that moment, but it does have to happen before you attempt to use VDMSound. Do NOT skip this step.
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-27 @ 01:00

After the reboot, go to the directory where your DOS program is located. You need to find the executable or batch file needed to start the game program. You need to also need to find the executable or batch file needed to configure the game program.

Executables will always end with .COM or .EXE
Batch files will end with .BAT

The names of these programs will frequently be different from other DOS programs, there is no single naming standard. You will need to consult your game's documentation to be sure which is which. Many times a game will combine the installer and the configuration programs together. Sometimes a game will place the configuration program inside the game program together. Some games will automatically configure themselves and have no program configuration option. As said before, there is no single standard.


Common names for INSTALLING programs are SETUP and INSTALL.
Common names for CONFIGURING programs are CONFIG and (also) SETUP and INSTALL.

You Right-click on the configuration program , choose the appropriate options, save the settings, then quit. You then right-click the program and choose "Run with VDMS" to start the game and play. When you quit, you will find that VDMSound has created a shortcut for your startup program
It will have a VLP extension on it's filename (which may or may not be visible) and it will have a "Command Prompt" icon like the one in this image:

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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-27 @ 01:01

When you use that shortcut, it will automatically start the game and apply VDMSound settings to the game program. Not that each shortcut can be customized for each program.

Here is an example of a common game installation and how it would be run with VDMSound:
GAME.EXE is what is used to start the game.
GO.BAT is the customized batch file used to start the game with special settings.
INSTALL.EXE is what is used to install the game program.
SOUND.BAT is what is used to configure the game program.

If possible, run the INSTALL.EXE without using VDMSound first.
If it won't run without VDMSound, right-click on the installer (in this example: INSTALL.EXE) and choose "Run with VDMS"

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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-27 @ 01:03

Click NEXT on the window that appears (you can create custom configurations after you become comfortable with this process).
If you are running the INSTALL program from a write-protected floppy or a CD-ROM, remove the checkmark by Remember my settings.

Click FINISH. The install program should start up. Install the program as normal.

I go to the directory where the DOS program is located. Right-click on the configuration program (in this example: SETUP.EXE) and choose "Run with VDMS"

First, I choose what to use for sound effects, since the "SoundBlaster 16" option is the highest quality option (and is supported by VDMSound), I choose the "SoundBlaster 16" ("SB16" for short). Next, I choose the default settings of VDMSound (In other words, I use the setup program to match the game's sound settings to match the VDMSound settings).

The default VDMSound settings are:

Address = 0x220 (Sometimes just displayed as "220")
The type of SoundBlaster (any SoundBlaster except the AWE cards)
IRQ = 7 (Also known as the "Interrupt")
8-bit DMA = 1 (Also known as the "Low DMA", or just plain "DMA")
(especially when there is no 16-bit setting being used)
16-bit DMA = 5 (Also known as the "High DMA")

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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-27 @ 01:07

After I choose those settings, I choose my music options. I could choose AdLib, SoundBlaster, or General MIDI (when it comes to music, AdLib and SoundBlaster music are effectively the same thing).

Again, I choose the settings of which match the VDMSound settings.

For AdLib or SoundBlaster music:
Base port = 0x388 (...or sometimes just 388. NOTE: many configuration programs don't need this address)

For General MIDI music:
Base port = 0x330 (or sometimes just 330)
IRQ = 2 (Many configuration programs don't need this)

In this case, I choose General MIDI. I save my settings and quit.

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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-27 @ 01:11

Now I want to start the game, so I Right-click on the game's startup program (in this example: GAME.EXE) and choose "Run with VDMS". The game starts up and should run with sound and music. When I quit, there is a VDMSound shortcut (GAME.VLP) I can use to start the game with VDMSound in the future.

These are the basic steps for general VDMSound operation. The next post is an example of using a custom batch file and the only "Advanced" option that will be explained here. It is to be used only as an example, and only when necessary.
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Postby Nicht Sehr Gut » 2003-9-27 @ 01:12

An example where a BATCH file might be necessary.

Let's say I want to run the previous example game in a higher video resolution (only available in the games that support such a thing).
I choose 640x480 resolution, save the video settings and run it...only to find the game quits on me immediately. I post a detailed question with my system specifications (*cough*hint*cough*) and ask for help. I find out that my particular computer's configuration requires that I run a program called NOLFB.COM before starting the game program.

So I need to create a batch file. I right-click inside the game's directory (not on an icon, do it over an empty space in the directory), choose New, then choose New Text Document. I open the file (New Text Document.txt), I type in NOLFB's name and into the text file and press the Enter key. Then I type the name of the game's startup program and press the Enter key so it appears like this:
NOLFB.COM
GAME.EXE


I save the file and quit the Notepad program. I right-click the [b]New Text Document.txt
, choose Rename, then change it's name to GO.BAT. The OS will ask if I'm sure I want to change it and I click YES (OS doesn't like you changing file extensions). Now I treat this batch file as if it were the game's executable, so I right-click on the GO.BAT and choose "Run with VDMS". The batch file runs NOLFB.COM (which fixes my video problem) then starts up my game and applies the VDMSound settings to it. When I quit, there is a VDMSound shortcut (GO.VLP) I can use to start the game with VDMSound in the future.

This might sound complicated, but actually it's quite easy. After doing it a few times, it becomes second-nature. And if people ask you to create a step-by-step guide on how to use it, you might then understand why we feel like this is asking for a step-by-step guide on how to open a refrigerator, get a sandwich, and then explain how to eat it.
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