First post, by Nitrosparxx
Hello, hello! So very recently, I decided to try my hand at doing some good old DOS exploration. After spending years being more a retro console guy. DOS is something I never got to grow up with back in the day, and it's something I'm very interested in exploring a bit.
So for starters, a little context (I apologize, this going to be quite long); I have a GOG account and have been exploring a few DOS games on that platform (most notably Jazz Jackrabbit, the first Elder Scrolls games and Doom). Now at first I was doing fine with the vanilla version of DOS Box that came packaged with the games. But I started to lose patience when it came to applying filters at full screen resolutions. For whatever reason I could never get it to work properly. So exploring options, I discovered a method of replacing the vanilla DOS Box with DOS Box Staging (I think I learned how to do that via reading this board actually). And since then, I've been enjoying that much better. Though having said that, it's clear there's some kinks to it that I'm entirely sure on how to fix or address properly. So before I get into what problems I'm having, here's how I have my system of DOS set up;
1) my DOS games are split two ways: one half are from GOG.com (via GOG Galaxy). The others are in their separate folders (basically, each game has it's own folder on the drive. And in each of those folders is a DOSBOX folder with DOS Box staging in it. I know that's not the most...elegant solution, but it's the only way (currently) I know of how to make it work). Regardless of where they are, I have each game linked with GOG Galaxy, and run each one from there.
2) I do not have GOG Galaxy or the DOS games on my actual C:\ drive. My C:\ drive is short on space, so I have my games and things running on a second M.2 stick (labeled as E:\)
3) I do not have a proper PC monitor; I'm using a Samsung Series 5, 40" 1080p LED (smart) TV running at a max 60hz...or at least I THINK it maxes out at 60hz. my PC doesn't allow me to set the refresh rate higher than that. And I haven't seen any settings in the TV menu to change the refresh rate either.
4) I default to having each game run at fullscreen with the crt/mattias filter applied (my favorite filter!). Fullresolution is set to, "desktop." Viewport_Resolution is set to, "fit." And vsync is turned on (can't stand screen tearing). Most other things are left on their default settings.
5) I sometimes run Anti-Micro when I'm using a gamepad with certain titles. I know DOS Box Staging can remap things on the fly, but I've found Anti-Micro easier to use.
So here's a run down of what's been happening in a few of the games;
1) Epic Pinball (GOG.com version)
This one runs at full frame rate, but sometimes (notably during the menus, when the letters get, "blown" apart during transitions) it will suddenly slow way down. Like to the point of single digits. If not just hanging. It's gotten a lot less common after messing with some settings (ie, disabling Nvidia overlay), but it happens occasionally.
2) Duke Nukem 3D
This game will suddenly chug like five or so minutes into the game. It starts out at full frame rate and runs pretty smoothy. But after like five minutes, it will just suddenly drop into the 30 ~ 20 fps range. It eventually gets back up to full frame rate, but it will inevitably drop again about five minutes later. I should point out that I'm running this with the b4mouse mod for smoother mouse control, so I don't know how much that is affecting things.
3) Jazz Jackrabbit (GOG.com version)
Jazz's sprite seems to flicker pretty often (though from what I understand, this is something on the game's side, not the emulation?). Also- though rare- there's times when the game will suddenly slow down quite a bit (usually in cramped cave sections of the levels). The game seems to chug when exiting. The two splash screens (the credits page and the order info screen) seem to be rather, "sticky." Or just dropping into single digit frames. Not major, but it's very odd behavior
4) Happyland Adventures.
This beast is the bane of my existence. I've spent countless hours trying to optimize it. I THINK it's finally at the best it will be, but still. The biggest issue with this game is the frame rate. WIth DOS_rate set to default, the frame rate was not smooth at all. It felt jerky and unpleasant. At current, I've set the DOS_Rate to 60.000. And it's sorta worked...there's still a tiny bit of, "twitching" every now and then. Where it feels like the game is skipping a frame here and there on occasion. Another oddity is the music. No matter what I've done with the config file, the music uses this awful, and very strange FM synth music. I've been trying to get it to run general midi (like it was in LGR's christmas version video), but nothing's worked so far.
5) Wolfenstein 3D (GOG.com version)
Works fine...except upon starting. For whatever reason, the game loads up, shows the choose screen (choosing the main game or spear of destiny), then cuts to black. Pressing enter still works, and the screen comes back and stays on for the rest of the game. Just...no idea what's up with that screen blacking out.
6) Star Wars: Dark Forces (GOG.com version)
Seems to run okay, though it can be quite choppy at times. Some times running at full frame rate, but then suddenly dropping frames when in combat. Now, initially, this game had a bug with the ice in mission 8. Where stopping on the ice would make it virtually impossible to move at all. Reading up on it, seems this is a quirk that was solved by setting the cycles to 40000 or 50000. That's definitely fixed the bug at least.
As mentioned before, I have been mostly a retro console geek. So I'm quite weak when it comes to understanding more technical things. I've been able to open .conf files to edit things (even making a custom menu for episodic games) with notepad++. But that's about it. I know a lot of these DOS games typically ran at 70hz or thereabouts (and not all DOS games ran at that smooth 60fps). But I can't help but feeling like I'm not optimizing something or using the right settings for these games. Any help or some tips would be greatly appreciated!
Below here are the specs of the PC I'm using;
-Motherboard: MPG X570 Gaming Plus (MS-7C37)
-Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core Processor 3.60Ghz
-32gb of physical RAM
-36.7gb of virtual memory
-GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super
-Display: Samsung Series 5 40" 1080p LED Smart TV - 60Hz - Connected via HDMI
-Operating System: Windows 10 Home edition
-Using DOS Box Staging version 0.80.1.0