Advice on rebuilding a classic - Adventure Forums
You are viewing an archived version of the site which is no longer maintained.
Go to the current live site or the Adventure Gamers forums
Adventure Gamers



 
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 09-04-2008, 11:09 PM   #1
Member
 
Daventry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 51
Default Advice on rebuilding a classic

Guys and Girls,

I need some advice and hopefully someone here can help me. I have decided that I am tired of playing games through emulators. I want to play the old classics and I want to play them the way they were originally intended to be played. I have a decent adventure collection but am about to embark on a journey of my own to build a hard core collection with sealed or mint boxes for any of the old classics I can find. Here is my question: I want to purchase a PC to play these games on. I am interested in whatever would have been considered top of the line for 1992-1993. (The peak of the adventure genre). Obviously it should be DOS based. I am thinking a 486 with a 266 mhz processor. Is this about right? How much ram should I be looking at to run the old games smoothly? Does anyone remember what the best sound system was at the time? SoundBlaster? Can I expand the hard drive size to have a multitude of games installed? Has anyone else out there done this? Any information you experts have would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

Daventry

"The spirit of adventure will never die!"
Daventry is offline  
Old 09-05-2008, 01:07 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Kurufinwe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 3,038
Default

A few pointers concerning sound : there were three main types of music devices around that time, and the best is to have all three:
  • A Soundblaster card for Adlib music – usually of inferior quality, but sometimes better than other options (Dune), or the only available option (most Infogrames and Coktel Vision games, for instance) – as well as digitised sound effets / voices / digital music. The best choice (most modern while still perfectly backward compatible) is a Soundblaster 16. Avoid anything later than that (AWE32) for backward compatibility reasons.
  • An MT-32 module for high quality music in earlier games (let's say KQIV –> Indy IV). Exists as both an external module (MT-32) and an ISA card (LAPC-1).
  • A General MIDI device for music in later games (QfG III/IV, KQVI, GK, etc.). There are many GM devices, but they all sound somewhat different, since each can have its own interpretation of how each instrument sounds. The device that was used by game composers at the time was a Sound Canvas 55. This is also an external module, and also exists as a card (SCC-1).
Note that the external Roland modules require a MIDI interface to be plugged into (MPU-401); the SB external MIDI port will not work for that. Note also that the ISA card versions of those modules also provide such an interface. So the best combination is probably to have one device as a card, and the other as an external device plugged into it (so either MT-32+SCC1 or LAPC-1+SC-55). Plus the SB16 in top of that, of course.

You'll also have to worry about memory management, which is horrible under DOS. You absolutely have to get your hands on a piece of software called QEMM, otherwise you'll be in a world of pain to run certain games. Also, you'll want to use DOS 6 multiboot capacities, especially for games using a DOS extender (DOS4GW).

In terms of CPU, I'd recommend getting an early Pentium (133 MHz); those usually have a turbo option which you can turn on or off in the BIOS, allowing you to get them to run at roughly the speed of a 486 if you want to play older games, but enabling you to play more demanding games, such as Under a Killing Moon, if you turn on the turbo option.

Finally, I suggest you give up on the entire idea. I built such an old PC a few years ago, with all the stuff I've mentioned, but now that DOSBox has made lots of progress, I end up using DOSBox on my newer computer all the time instead, while the old PC is just gathering dust. But, hey! it's your decision.
__________________
Currently reading: Dune (F. Herbert)
Recently finished: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J. K. Rowling) [++], La Nuit des Temps (R. Barjavel) [+++]
Currently playing: Skyrim
Recently finished: MCF: Escape from Ravenhearst [+], The Walking Dead, ep. 1 [+++], Gray Matter [++]

Last edited by Kurufinwe; 09-05-2008 at 01:28 AM. Reason: Tweaks
Kurufinwe is offline  
Old 09-05-2008, 01:42 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Collector's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 775
Default

I, too, once wanted a dinosaur to play my old classics on, but no longer. DOSBox has improved so much that I can get most DOS games to run in it with little trouble. I can get far more game to run in DOSBox than I could ever get to run on any one PC. There was always some games that refused to run on certain configurations or hardware. And let's not forget about speed and memory issues. There are earlier games that run too fast to play on newer machines or are prone to "speed bugs". You can have problems from games that choke with too much memory or won't start with too little, to games that refuse to run on certain hardware (i.e. some soundcards or graphics adapters).

DOSBox is like having an array of old PCs from an old "trash 80" to a high performance 486. You can easily and quickly configure it to match most game requirements or whether you want a Gravis Ultra Sound, AdLib or several different versions of SoundBlaster. There are various CVS builds that will let you choose between different graphics cards or using a Glide wrapper to emulate an old 3D FX card. With Munt you can emulate an MT-32 for optimal sound for the games that have MT-32 support. If you are lucky enough to own a real MT-32, DOSBox will pass the raw MIDI commands to your MT-32. You can even do the old Sierra work around for the infamous "Unable to initialize your audio hardware..." SoundBlaster driver error of starting the game with the Turbo button off and turning it back on after the driver has started to be able to play the game at full speed by changing CPU cycles with Ctrl+F11/F12.

Though it is easy to use once you become familiar with it, if you have a lot of games to configure or you are not comfortable with using DOSBox, I would suggest a frontend like DOSBox Game Launcher, written in Java so it will run on Windows, MacOSX and Linux. It also serves as a nifty database program for your old DOS games. It will let you create Windows shortcuts that you can use to launch your games automatically in DOSBox as if they were native Windows games.

There is a wealth of information and help to be found on the DOSBox boards at VOGONS. Some of the DOSBox devs have even been known to made special builds of DOSBox to address specific problems that some posters have encountered with their games in DOSBox.

On top of all that, you don't need to put up with having a door stop taking up room in your living room that it might have already seen the better part of its lifespan. Old electronics can become flaky and unstable.
Collector is offline  
Old 09-05-2008, 02:41 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
Davies's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Somewhere in England
Posts: 403
Default

I'm not technical enough to advise on specs, but I can tell you what I've got.

I bought a secondhand laptop on eBay running Windows XP. Also from eBay I bought Windows 98se. Uninstalled XP from the laptop and installed 98se.

Bingo, a fantastic old-school gaming machine. 98se is thrilled with what it reckons is a super high-spec machine (which was actually only mediocre for XP). Unlike basic Windows 98, the SE version is happy to handle USB, so it can run external hard and floppy drives, a USB joypad, etc. Drivers are generally necessary for USB devices, but not hard to find.

It's fine for running both DOS and Windows programs, pretty much anything made from the late '80s right up to the present day, as long as it's not XP/Vista only. I use it for gaming and also for most of my serious stuff, including DTP and programming.

Have never had any problems with graphics or sound. Sometimes the screen settings have to be changed manually before running a game, which is no big deal. I use the freeware program CPU Grabber to slow it down as required, although very early games (e.g. Might and Magic 1) can still end up being a bit pacey.
__________________
"You are amusing, in a 'what the hell is wrong with you' sort of way."
--Jaheira, Baldur's Gate
Davies is offline  
Old 09-05-2008, 04:07 AM   #5
3rd person fanatic :)
 
MoonBird's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Finland
Posts: 404
Default

My DOS hardware and software:

Hardware: Motherboard: Asus B5A-B, Processor, AMD K6-2 300MHz, Display Adapter: ATI Mach 64 PCI, Soundcard: Soundblaster 16, ISA, Memory: 1x64 DIMM.

Software: Caldera Opendos 7.01

I have made options in the config.sys wheter the EMS is loaded or not. Works beautifully with all games.

Plus: I also have 98 project and this Main computer, in which I have Win XP
__________________
~Flight Of The Amazon Queen - Best adventure ever~

Last edited by MoonBird; 09-05-2008 at 04:10 AM. Reason: additional info
MoonBird is offline  
Old 09-06-2008, 01:27 AM   #6
Member
 
Daventry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 51
Default

This is just the type of information I was looking for! Your anwers have all been great. Thanks for being specific in regards to hardware type and issues I need to look out for. Also, special thanks for those of you who suggested I run with DosBox. You've convinced me to give it another go! If anyone else has any info... I'm a sponge! Thanks all!

Daventry

"The spirit of adventure will never die!"
Daventry is offline  
Old 09-06-2008, 11:45 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Collector's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 775
Default

If it is the Sierra games that you are interested in, give a look at the stickied thread thread at the top of this forum about my Sierra game DOSBox installers.
Collector is offline  
Old 09-06-2008, 01:26 PM   #8
Red Bicycle Brake Unit
 
Harald B's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 177
Default

While I definitely recommend going with DOSBox instead of a physical dos computer, if you are going to the latter you may want to look into the Sound Blaster Live!. I had a Live! Value in the Windows 98/ME era and remember it coming with dos drivers letting it act as any earlier type of Sound Blaster as well as some other brands. It can do all three sound card types Kurufinwe mentions, and for some games you can even do music with one card and speech/sound effects with an "other". Very nifty.
__________________
"The golden age of mathematics - that was not the age of Euclid, it is ours." -Cassius Jackson Keyser
Harald B is offline  
Old 09-07-2008, 11:56 AM   #9
Member
 
Daventry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 51
Default

Okay, so does anyone here know the steps to get Dosbox to access the CD-Rom drive for games that require it? That would probably help me out a lot!

Daventry

"The spirit of adventure will never die!"
Daventry is offline  
Old 09-07-2008, 03:13 PM   #10
Caffein Queen
 
misslilo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Land of Hamlet
Posts: 712
Default

You have to mount the CD/DVD drive like this under the [autoexec] section at bottom:

Code:
mount d d:\ -t cdrom
This only work if you CD/DVD drive is D: - if it's E: then it should look like this:

Code:
mount d e:\ -t cdrom
__________________
"You cannot escape your past, but you can make your future" - Diana Melkumova


Now Playing: World Of Warcraft (US)
Recently Finished: Too many Casual games
Waiting for: Lost Horizon + Gray Matter
misslilo is offline  
Old 09-07-2008, 05:56 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Collector's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 775
Default

Check out a frontend like DOSBox Game Launcher to help you set up games in DOSBox. Could you list some of the DOS games that you are trying to play?
Collector is offline  
 



Thread Tools

 


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.