VOGONS


First post, by retroboy87

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Motherboard: MSI 661FM3-V socket 775 SiS661FX / SiS964
CPU: Celeron D 351 Single Core Non-HT 3.2GHz
GPU: FX 5500 128MB AGP8x
RAM: still deciding on 512MB (ME) vs 2GB (2000) DDR PC3200 (I already have the RAM)
HDD: don't have yet; 120GB if I go with ME, 500GB if I go with 2000
PSU: GIGABYTE GP-P450B 450W ATX 12V v2.31 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified
Sound Card #1: AOPEN AW744L II - Yamaha XG YMF744 YMF724 OPL3 (For FM in DOS and XG in Windows)
Sound Cart #2: Audigy 4 if I go with 2000, various others if I go with ME

98SE is out because this board has no SB-Link and I've read that the SiS964 southbridge is not DDMA capable with PCI sound cards in DOS.
XP is out because this is an AGP only board, and I already have an overkill socket 1155 XP system.

Reply 1 of 17, by Jorpho

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retroboy87 wrote on 2021-05-30, 15:30:

and I already have an overkill socket 1155 XP system.

Seems that Windows ME would be the obvious choice, then.

But of course, the question is, always: what do you want to play? Because if you can't think of anything you'll actually use this system for, then you probably won't end up using it.

Reply 2 of 17, by BitWrangler

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If there's hardware issues on 98SE I don't think they'll improve much on ME. So I guess it's two thousand zero zero party overdrive out of sight... if the only reason you exclude XP is because you've got an XP system, XP was around several years before PCIe was, XP was designed to run on AGP.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 3 of 17, by retroboy87

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-05-30, 15:48:

But of course, the question is, always: what do you want to play? Because if you can't think of anything you'll actually use this system for, then you probably won't end up using it.

I want to play pre-DX9 games, so all Win32 games up until 2002 or so. I especially want to play Nightmare Creatures (1997), Final Fantasy VII (1998), and Severance: Blade of Darkness (2001).
I'd also like to be able to play some Win16 games, like Zombie Wars (1996; which will give a black screen on 32-bit Windows NT versions, and not work at all on 64-bit Windows).

Reply 4 of 17, by BitWrangler

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Right, so all windows games, so why are DOS sound problems a problem?

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 5 of 17, by Jorpho

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retroboy87 wrote on 2021-05-30, 16:11:

I want to play pre-DX9 games, so all Win32 games up until 2002 or so. I especially want to play Nightmare Creatures (1997), Final Fantasy VII (1998), and Severance: Blade of Darkness (2001).

Surely it is not particularly difficult to get those running on your XP machine, though?

I'd also like to be able to play some Win16 games, like Zombie Wars (1996; which will give a black screen on 32-bit Windows NT versions, and not work at all on 64-bit Windows).

If that's what you want to avoid, then you are aware that Windows 2000 would almost certainly be subject to the same problems as other 32-bit Windows NT versions, right..?

Reply 6 of 17, by retroboy87

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-05-30, 16:22:

Surely it is not particularly difficult to get those running on your XP machine, though?

If that's what you want to avoid, then you are aware that Windows 2000 would almost certainly be subject to the same problems as other 32-bit Windows NT versions, right..?

My XP machine is PCIe only (GTX 460); the Geforce FX series was the last to support 8-bit paletted textures (required for FF7) and table fog.
Nightmare Creatures runs too fast on multicore CPUs.

I'd like to have the benefits of Windows NT (support for NTFS and more than 512MB of RAM), but at the same time I want the Win16 compatibility of 9x.

Reply 7 of 17, by retroboy87

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-05-30, 16:20:

Right, so all windows games, so why are DOS sound problems a problem?

I was thinking of making this a 98SE/DOS machine, but after reading up on various south bridge chips and their support of PCI soundcards in DOS, I decided it would be too much of a hassle to attempt to run DOS on this machine.

Reply 8 of 17, by Joseph_Joestar

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If you plan on using the YMF744 card on Windows 2000, be warned that those drivers might be suboptimal. In particular, General MIDI playback can sometimes exhibit crackling on NT based operating systems.

I would give 98SE a shot, even if you don't have DDMA. The card should still work fine for Windows games. Since you mentioned Final Fantasy VII, here's how it sounds on my YMF744 using the Yamaha XG mode for music.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 Gold / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 9 of 17, by retroboy87

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-05-30, 16:39:

If you plan on using the YMF744 card on Windows 2000, be warned that those drivers might be suboptimal. In particular, General MIDI playback can have crackling on NT based operating systems.

I would give 98SE a shot, even if you don't have DDMA. The card should still work fine for Windows games. Since you mentioned Final Fantasy VII, here's how it sounds on my YMF744 using the Yamaha XG mode for music.

Is there any benefit of using 98SE over ME if I won't have proper sound in real mode DOS?
That sounds great.

Reply 10 of 17, by Joseph_Joestar

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retroboy87 wrote on 2021-05-30, 16:44:

Is there any benefit of using 98SE over ME if I won't have proper sound in real mode DOS?

WinME might not be as stable on certain systems, but your mileage may vary on that. I haven't used it extensively to give a fair assessment, but I remember it being pretty crashtastic on my Celeron rig back in the day.

Whatever Win9x variety you decide to use, stick with VxD drivers for that YMF744 card, specifically the 1040 version. Newer drivers introduce various issues as documented here: Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 Gold / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 11 of 17, by Jorpho

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retroboy87 wrote on 2021-05-30, 16:29:

My XP machine is PCIe only (GTX 460); the Geforce FX series was the last to support 8-bit paletted textures (required for FF7) and table fog.
Nightmare Creatures runs too fast on multicore CPUs.

Nightmare Creatures wouldn't be for sale on GOG if its technical issues were not insurmountable. And there are absolutely a pile of different patches for FF7, many of which surely do not change the experience substantially from what you would get in 1998. (You are almost inevitably going to require some patches for FF7, especially if you want to run it under 2K/XP.)

Reply 12 of 17, by retroboy87

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-05-30, 19:33:

Nightmare Creatures wouldn't be for sale on GOG if its technical issues were not insurmountable. And there are absolutely a pile of different patches for FF7, many of which surely do not change the experience substantially from what you would get in 1998. (You are almost inevitably going to require some patches for FF7, especially if you want to run it under 2K/XP.)

I think ME with 512MB of RAM and a 120GB FAT32 formatted hard drive would be my best bet then.
If I want a 98SE/DOS machine, I'll go for a KT133 board with ISA and a Duron Applebred.

Reply 13 of 17, by kjliew

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Since this is Marvin, experiencing build triumphs over playing games.

If you just wanted to play games, then you could have used VM on modern machine with Windows 10 or Linux. Nightmare Creatures works great on Win98 VM in pristine condition, fully 3D accelerated be it Direct3D or Glide. Can even be played on Apple M1 since the CPU requirement isn't that demanding once 3D acceleration was offloaded to pass-through. Severance was a machine-killer at time of release, but with today's virtualization it plays at 60 FPS all-time, max quality and any resolution on any modern PCs in the last 7 years.

FF7 is the only outlier due to its immature Direct3D implementation targeting only 3Dfx Voodoos, but it can be played with DOSBox SVN with Voodoo chip emulation. The only difference between Direct3D and software rendering is bilinear-filtered texture mapping. Software rendering works on any kind of VMs supporting virtualization. WineD3D on QEMU can in addition scale the software rendered 640x480 into any resolution with filtering. Here's the sample screenshot for comparison at 1024x768 from FF7 demo.

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With virtualization you can also use the bundled Yamaha XG Soft-Synthesizer MIDI for the game music. This may not be possible for mere PC emulation that hogs the CPU. Why even bother which OS was better? With proper VM setup by separating OS gold images and games installation, you can try all of them in the blink of an eye. Never again bother with sound cards, DOS support, IRQs, ebay parts hoarding and price inflation etc.

Reply 14 of 17, by Jorpho

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kjliew wrote on 2021-05-30, 23:16:

FF7 is the only outlier due to its immature Direct3D implementation targeting only 3Dfx Voodoos, but it can be played with DOSBox SVN with Voodoo chip emulation.

Why wouldn't you just use the official "Riva TNT patch" (which is in fact a generic Direct3D patch)? Or the unofficial Aali's Custom Graphics Driver? And prerecorded renditions of the Yamaha XG music?

I agree that virtualization can be an even more suitable replacement, but indeed, this is Marvin.

Reply 15 of 17, by kjliew

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-05-30, 23:35:

Why wouldn't you just use the official "Riva TNT patch" (which is in fact a generic Direct3D patch)? Or the unofficial Aali's Custom Graphics Driver?

I tried the RivaTNT patch which supposedly removed the need for 8-bit palettized texture requirement to enable Direct3D. It didn't work. I could also fix WineD3D to meet the game config probing for 8-bit palettized texture. It didn't work, too. I think it might not be generic, some Radeon 9xxx owners failed to get it working, too, on real machine.

I know about Aali's custom graphics driver, but its site and archives were long gone. I couldn't get a hold on a working copy. The installation procedure was also tricky, some steps didn't make sense to me which I followed through but it didn't work for me. If you had an archive that works for you, then I would appreciate that you could help me get to it. I am more than happy to try it again. It's using OpenGL and if it works, it would be so great.

Reply 16 of 17, by Jorpho

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kjliew wrote on 2021-05-30, 23:48:

If you had an archive that works for you, then I would appreciate that you could help me get to it. I am more than happy to try it again. It's using OpenGL and if it works, it would be so great.

Shoot, that's unfortunate that it is becoming so hard to find. (I heard the official Steam version uses it; I wonder if Square quietly tried to stop it from being distributed?)

Anyway, a little digging turns it up at https://archive.org/download/tifa-s-package-b … ated-11-24-2013 , specifically ff7_opengl-0.7.11b.zip .

But we might be getting off-topic.

Reply 17 of 17, by kjliew

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@Jorpho Cool, I already tried that version and even the last available 0.8.1b, but I gave another shot. This time it was a success!!! 😁

Now, I realize what my mistake was. Aali OpenGL plugin wasn't designed with legacy compatibility in mind even though the game was a masterpiece for the Windows 98 era. The OpenGL plugin requires at least Windows XP SP2 which it should not. Unfortunately, the author did not make the source code available, otherwise it could be quite simple to recompile the plugin to support Windows 98 and alleviate the need to keep period-correct, underpowered GPUs for Win98 retro PCs or running a more resource heavy WinXP SP3 VM.

Anyway, it is great to be able to restore another masterpiece with QEMU VM though not in pristine condition and Win98 playable as I always hope, OpenGL rendering frees up the CPU and makes the game playable anywhere from Windows 10 to modern Linux with VM, and on the macOS with Apple M1, too, in the game's highest quality and any resolution.