VOGONS


A question about speed

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Reply 20 of 38, by bestemor

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Ok, here's a surprise speed candidate:
System Shock 2.... 😲
Maybe not what you're looking for, but intriguing still... win98 territory

Granted, this is on regular winXP on a Pentium4 mobo, with a lowly Radeon X800 graphics card, but still....
(ok, so it's using a souped-up mobile M740 CPU, but way slower than a current C2D...)

Though, not too bad of a problem, at least not with that X800 card - but you run reaally fast, and when you bump into walls, you actually can get hurt!
Even worse if I plug in my HD3850 AGP card... ouch.

Also discovered: with a no-cd patch, and copying all installed files(+rest off the CD), you can actually get a portable/archivable retail version. 😁

Reply 21 of 38, by archsan

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bestemor wrote:

Also discovered: with a no-cd patch, and copying all installed files(+rest off the CD), you can actually get a portable/archivable retail version. 😁

Hey...😁

bestemor, that's what we (me at least 😀) 're looking for. So it's a 1999 game, DirectX 6, Pentium-class (300MHz recommended). I have not tried this game (screenshot with inventory shown seems inviting!). Want to try it along with SS1

Looks like a minor speed issue. And IMO it's your 3D card that 'overdo' it--more than the CPU. Have you tried these upgrade mods:

wikipedia wrote:

One graphical enhancement mod, entitled Rebirth, replaces many low-polygonal models with higher quality ones.[53] Another mod, the Shock Texture Upgrade Project (SHTUP), significantly increases the resolution of in-game textures

...? Those might give it a better match for your Radeons. I have P4 and a 7800 GS which compares well to your X800 (but have to assemble them first).

Reply 22 of 38, by retro games 100

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I've found a game which just gets faster and faster, the more you increase the CPU's power: Azrael's Tear, a VESA DOS game, (c) 1995. When it was released, it ran slowly on all 486s, and really required a decent Pentium, but it was still a bit too slow on them. If you run it on any P3, it runs too quickly, so in theory a slow P2 would probably be ideal, but I've not tried that yet.

Reply 24 of 38, by retro games 100

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archsan wrote:
retro games 100 wrote:

...so in theory a slow P2 would probably be ideal, but I've not tried that yet.

What P3 you're using? If the multiplier is low enough maybe you can use 66MHz bus?

I have some P2s I could try on the same board, as it can be reduced to 66Mhz, but I just haven't got the time ATM...

Reply 25 of 38, by archsan

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no one's rushing us... 😀

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."—Arthur C. Clarke
"No way. Installing the drivers on these things always gives me a headache."—Guybrush Threepwood (on cutting-edge voodoo technology)

Reply 26 of 38, by archsan

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I've tested the four titles i mentioned previously:

just found an old EA Games bonus CD-ROM from my old SB16 containing... PAGAN/Ultima VIII, Syndicate, Strike Commander, and WC2!!

This CD is a gem. Four CLASSICS in one!

The catch with these titles is that you have to properly setup your memory in DOS. EMM386.exe will give you trouble (crashes/hangs) with Syndicate and Ultima 8 but WC2 and SC require EMS to install and run. Also, optimizing memory until you have more than 600K conventional memory will help too. Of course this might be 'standard operational procedure' but i've forgotten about these DOS stuff! Now to speed issues...

My test PC is a P3-450, 128MB RAM, Voodoo3 2000 VGA.

Syndicate (386 req) (Plus version with American Revolt included) took me so long to 'testplay' because i felt i have to rule the world once more 😜
On the P3 at full-speed, you might lose a very little bit in the intro/menu (projection animation), but then it gives you faster menu transition which is fine. In-game speed is also fine. I tried running Syndicate with both caches disabled and the in-game stutter every one or two second. The game is said to be well-written so expect it to be playable on your GHz PC.
Fans should go to (and bookmark!) http://syndicate.lubie.org/ for updates/patches/tips to play it (also Syndicate Wars) on modern PC.

Ultima VIII (386 req), unexpectedly runs fine on a full-speed P3-450. Intro animation, speech, and music are all in sync. In-game character animation is also fine. Then i found an option in the menu which explained why: "Speed limiting". It works, but i don't know how it goes with a much higher clockspeed.

Strike Commander (386 req), i wasted my time testing it with both caches disabled, or just L1 or L2 enabled... since it runs just fine with both caches enabled. With both or any of the caches disabled, intro/animation runs fine, but with L1c off, gameplay became too slow, unplayable. L2c, when on, seems to smooth the transition between animation parts. With L1 or both caches enabled the gameplay is smooth, at the right speed and very playable.

I couldn't really play it however, since controlling the plane with keyboard is not practical (arrow keys seems to be assigned for "look-around" instead of plane control in cockpit mode), and i don't have a gameport joystick to test it atm.

Now the trickiest of the four,

Wing Commander II (286 req) let me quote our friends from neighbor thread "Why 486"...

Amigaz wrote:
retro games 100 wrote:

... Now I understand from Mr. Wing Commander himself (aka Amigaz) that the best hardware for WC is a 386DX-40. ... I tried this game on a 486 DX2-66. It ran much too fast. But then I put the BIOS in to "fail safe" mode, which disables various caches, etc. Honestly, the game then ran slightly too slowly. When I say the game, I mean the opening credits, and then the "flight sim" section.

A 386DX 40 without cache 😁

A 386DX25/33 with at least 64k cache is ideal

My result? Similar, P3-450 at full-speed, intro/story/dialogue/in-game animation playback is fast-forward (e.g., in dialogues, graphic is not in sync with speech), BUT the gameplay itself is fine (maybe a touch fast, but i prefer this).

Disabling L2 cache doesn't really affect the game as in SC. With L1 cache disabled, speed of intro/animation is a bit slow, and so is the gameplay. Mixed result here, but at least on my P3, it's playable. Now there is a few choices:

1) With L1 enabled, use a slowdown app to skip CPU cycles
2) With L1 disabled, go with a faster CPU clock, L2 cache and/or bus clock (unproven)
3) Fiddle with DOSbox
4) Go for the real 386, as recommended by "Mr. Wing Commander himself" 😁

Reply 27 of 38, by gerwin

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That is a nice syndicate website indeed. Good to see such websites are not all gone as the games grow older. I played the normal syndicate again last week and it seemed a bit easy, *spoiler warning:* as you can first do Colorado and Alaska to get all the advanced 'hardware' 😉 .
Syndicate American Revolt on the other hand is far from easy. I never really played that sequel before, but as I gave it a try last week: these ferocious AI attacks in the first map are insane 😵 .

archsan wrote:
Disabling L2 cache doesn't really affect the game as in SC. With L1 cache disabled, speed of intro/animation is a bit slow, and […]
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Disabling L2 cache doesn't really affect the game as in SC. With L1 cache disabled, speed of intro/animation is a bit slow, and so is the gameplay. Mixed result here, but at least on my P3, it's playable. Now there is a few choices:

1) With L1 enabled, use a slowdown app to skip CPU cycles
2) With L1 disabled, go with a faster CPU clock, L2 cache and/or bus clock (unproven)
3) Fiddle with DOSbox
4) Go for the real 386, as recommended by "Mr. Wing Commander himself" 😁

I found disabling the L1 cache has too much of a slowdown effect for most Dos games. Disabling the L2 cache on the other hand does not slowdown these games much. So neither seems useful, unless I do the same on a much faster system (disable L1), or much slower system (disable L2). Unfortunately my Athlon system seems unable to disable the L1 cache with the BIOS setting 'disable internal cache', as it remains way too fast.

gerwin wrote:

Today I disabled the L1 cache on my Pentium III-S system that currently runs at 1045MHz/110FSB. It gets benchmarks and game-performance a little faster then a 386DX-20+387.

Reply 28 of 38, by archsan

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::syndicate hijack start::

gerwin wrote:

That is a nice syndicate website indeed. Good to see such websites are not all gone as the games grow older.

Agreed. Best presentation i've seen so far from dedicated fans, of any title. And then rumour has it that EA is going to revive the franchise 😳 That--after Tales of Monkey Island--and the next Descent, please... Classics are bound to be revived 😁

gerwin wrote:

Syndicate American Revolt on the other hand is far from easy. I never really played that sequel before, but as I gave it a try last week: these ferocious AI attacks in the first map are insane 😵 .

Wait until you get further... 🤐 Contrary to the original, where you can mostly skip through the briefing, the AR missions demand much better preparation indeed. I can only imagine when Syndicate freaks are playing Synd/SWARS in multi--have you ever tried that?
::syndicate hijack end::

Reply 29 of 38, by archsan

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gerwin wrote:

Unfortunately my Athlon system seems unable to disable the L1 cache with the BIOS setting 'disable internal cache', as it remains way too fast.

Shame. I never tried it too with Athlon or P4. I also read that

MDGx wrote:

Intel Pentium II, III, IV, Celeron, Xeon + VIA C3 CPUs are factory programmed (locked) for L2 cacheability.

So in theory we can expect their L2 to do what the L1 is supposed to do, when it's turned off.

gerwin wrote:

Today I disabled the L1 cache on my Pentium III-S system that currently runs at 1045MHz/110FSB. It gets benchmarks and game-performance a little faster then a 386DX-20+387.

That's a bit more than i'm expecting, ~1GHz, makes me want to try a slower 133MHz-bus P3, had i own one. But WC2 is so inconsistent anyway, CPU-wise, that personally i don't think it's worth dedicating a system for.

I guess you know about MoSlo Deluxe's "CPU modeling" feature. I certainly think it would be great if DOSbox adopted this method (and for MoSlo too, to expand the options). You know, so it'd be like "... analyzing CPU and system... modeling speed for... 8088/8086... i286-16... i386DX-33... Am386DX-40... i486DX-66... P-100... P-166... P2-300... P3-500--Failed! ..."

Of course, that "Failed" error message would be for a 3GHz multicore CPU with DOSBox, not a 1GHz P3 with MoSlo on real DOS/Win9x 😉...

Reply 30 of 38, by HunterZ

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The problem with trying to mimic the speed of specific CPUs (as I'm sure has already been mentioned) is that some operations are faster than others on different CPUs, and DOSBox doesn't try to emulate that difference.

It would be nice to get some ballpark figures of different cycles= settings though for speed-sensitive games. For example, the EGA rewrite of Ultima I varies the pitch of its PC speaker sounds depending on what cycles= setting you're using, so it'd be nice to know what setting most closely mimics running on an original IBM PC.

Reply 31 of 38, by Miki Maus

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archsan wrote:

Looks like a minor speed issue. And IMO it's your 3D card that 'overdo' it--more than the CPU. Have you tried these upgrade mods:

wikipedia wrote:

One graphical enhancement mod, entitled Rebirth, replaces many low-polygonal models with higher quality ones.[53] Another mod, the Shock Texture Upgrade Project (SHTUP), significantly increases the resolution of in-game textures

...? Those might give it a better match for your Radeons. I have P4 and a 7800 GS which compares well to your X800 (but have to assemble them first).

You can further slow down System Shock 2 by using Timeslip's ddfix http://timeslip.chorrol.com/ddfix.html which forces the game to use 32bit rendering and adds support for higher resolutions.

Reply 32 of 38, by archsan

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HunterZ wrote:

The problem with trying to mimic the speed of specific CPUs (as I'm sure has already been mentioned) is that some operations are faster than others on different CPUs, and DOSBox doesn't try to emulate that difference.

Yes--i have not familiarized myself with the DOSBox way of emulation. And i acknowledge the difficulty with many CPU families and various models available in the market. And then video and sound subsystems too. However, as you said:

HunterZ wrote:

It would be nice to get some ballpark figures of different cycles= settings though for speed-sensitive games. For example, the EGA rewrite of Ultima I varies the pitch of its PC speaker sounds depending on what cycles= setting you're using, so it'd be nice to know what setting most closely mimics running on an original IBM PC.

I assume that the big-picture goal of DOSBox is still to provide an environment to run most (if not every single one) of DOS applications optimally. And i don't know if it's worth the hassle or not, but i think the best way to overcome the problem will eventually breakdown to these two:

1) CPU & system profiling (i.e., the user's system)
2) App profiling (app-specific target system)

And without going into detail (which i'm sure i can't as i have no clue about its depth 😅 ), it surely takes a lot of resource to accomplish, with the said reasons.

I'm sure there have been some approaches on both points, in the form of simple spec/config info sharing, speed tests, etc. Personally i will just let those speed-sensitive games forever be examples of not-so-good programming. And isn't it part of the fun to show the old bad things, as it is to show the good old things?

P.S., i just realized i should have thanked DOSBox authors in my first VOGONS post--isn't this forum built for DOSBox users, after all?
So, thank you guys and gals! And forum owners! And maintainers! 😀

Reply 33 of 38, by bestemor

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re: systemshock2....

Thanks for the tips, guys!

I've already considered adding further mods, but haven't bothered so far - played it to death as it is, so... taking a break for now.

And as for that ddfix thingy, when checking my archives, I notice I've already downloaded that, and lots of other stuff, for future experimentation.

BUT, given that I downloaded those 12 months ago.... it may take a little while longer before I actually DO something about it, heh... 😜

(sorta using the archived version for 'compatibily' testing (VGA cards etc, thief engine problems with newer cards/drivers and so on) when putting together 'newer' semi-retro machines)
http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx? … hreadid=2136118

And, works just fine speedwise on my P4 1,6@2,67 and Gforce4 Ti4400, so there's always that (speed) option 😎

Reply 35 of 38, by elfuego

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Al-Quadim: the genie's curse is another fine example of speed problems. The game runs in fact quite fine on modern hardware, however there is a spot in a game with a built-in animation where characters get stuck in a building because of moving too fast. Since the screen is following the main character, the whole game "freezes".

The problematic animation starts immediately after finishing the "tutorial" (the first quest) upon returning to the main island.

Reply 36 of 38, by gerwin

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gerwin wrote:

found disabling the L1 cache has too much of a slowdown effect for most Dos games. Disabling the L2 cache on the other hand does not slowdown these games much. So neither seems useful, unless I do the same on a much faster system (disable L1), or much slower system (disable L2). Unfortunately my Athlon system seems unable to disable the L1 cache with the BIOS setting 'disable internal cache', as it remains way too fast.

I just managed to disable the L1 cache on my AMD Athlon system with the attached Dos utility. Found it Here. Unlike some similar tools, this actually works on both my Athlon and Pentium III system. In benchmarks the Pentium scores like a 386DX-20/387, the Athlon scores like a 486DX-33. 😀. I haven't tried it in actual games yet.

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    CACHEOFF.ZIP
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    CacheOff Dos utility
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    Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 37 of 38, by Mike 01Hawk

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archsan wrote:

*re:WC1 & WC2. Supposedly non-speed-sensitive WC1 & WC2 release can be found in the Kilrathi Saga package, made to run on Windows 95. Has anyone tried this on a much faster machine than 486?

I have a PC Gamer July 2000 disk, it comes with the Kilrathi Saga version of WC1, and it works splendidly on my C2D 2.8ghz machine running windows XP... 🤣... dig that!

Reply 38 of 38, by ux-3

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I actually missed this discussion. Shame on me.

As a suggestion: If a "Cache Disable Program" crashes your PC, try running it in your autoexec prior to moving stuff into the UMBs ort try it first with emm386 without any options. I found that UMB active progs can crash the disablement program.

I found Wing Commander to do fine with a P3-800 without L1. The Athlon XP-M has the great advantage to be adjustable in speed - if you are lucky, you can do this in you bios. With cache off and a speed range from 300MHz to 2200MHz and more, you can hit the speed of basically any old machine you like. I have yet to find a Mobo, which supports the extended multipliers in bios and offers an Isa slot.

Edit: "Magic the Gathering" is a (great) Windows game that is speed sensitive on the strategic map of shandalar.

There is a fairly important qustion for retro PC design: If you make a win98 PC, what should it clock down to? Will 300MHz be slow enough? Or would you need 133MHz?

h-a-l-9000 wrote:

A lot of them can probably be fixed with a slow graphics card, too.

What options do we have to slow an AGP card down?