View Full Version : Problems running DOS games on Win XP

Loony BoB
09-01-2002, 01:29 AM

That's the game I downloaded, but I can't get a decent window on it. If I use the full screen version, it's all squashed up at the top and the lines are only half there (literally, only the top half of each line is shown), or else I can Shift+Enter (or alt+enter, I forget) and have a smaller window that doesn't work once you start playing the game coz it's sheehite. Y'no.

Anyone know if there are any ways around the DOS thingy that makes old games not work on later versions of windows (XP for me)?

Dr Unne
09-01-2002, 01:36 AM
Try compatibility mode, or else just give up. WinXP isn't compatible with anything. Yay for Microsoft.

There's a freeware non-MS version of DOS called FreeDOS, you might try getting it to work or something. I've never tried though.

EDIT: Actually I'm trying right now.

EDIT: It requires its own FAT partition. Darn it.

09-01-2002, 01:43 AM
Yes try the compatibility thing(right click and go to compatibility and select Windows 2000). I've never tried that free dos program, might want to look into that. XP would be "alright" if they made it a little more compatible and if they included DOS because programs running on DOS are going to be around a while.:D

Loony BoB
09-01-2002, 01:53 AM
Originally posted by Dr Unne
EDIT: It requires its own FAT partition. Darn it.

>_< I'm kinda dumb, can you tell me what that means?

Dr Unne
09-01-2002, 01:58 AM
It means you'd have to do some major low-level altering to your hard drive possibly resulting in the loss of all your data. You probably wouldn't want to do that.

Loony BoB
09-01-2002, 02:00 AM
Sounds like it requires effort and results in calling Compaq out to repair the thing. I'm going with your suggestion of not wanting to do that.

EDIT: Tried some compatibility stuff. No luck. Meh.

Citizen Bleys
09-01-2002, 02:03 AM
Yeah, if all of your partitions are NTFS (or you only have one partition and it's NTFS), you're pretty much hosed.

If, however, you have a FAT partition (even if it's FAT32, I think), you could always pop your old DOS games on that partition and then make a boot disk for an old version of DOS...The OS could run on the floppy, and you'd just call the game from your hard drive.

But yeah, it's almost impossible to play old games in XP.

Loony BoB
09-01-2002, 02:07 AM
How do you find out what kinda partition you have?

Citizen Bleys
09-01-2002, 02:13 AM
I'm going with a dead simple explanation so anyone else with the same question will understand it no matter their level of expertise, so please don't think I'm assuming you're dumb or computer illiterate :p

1) Hold the WIN key and hit "E" to bring up Windows Explorer
2) Click once on the drive you want to check in the left pane of Explorer to hilight it.
3) Click with the right mouse button to bring up the context menu, and select "Properties" from the bottom.
4) Read the partition type *dies*

Loony BoB
09-01-2002, 02:18 AM
Dang, I got a NTFS. =/ Say... is there any way to emulate these games, or have someone fix it up to fit onto NTFS?

Dr Unne
09-01-2002, 03:00 AM
Don't know, but if you find a way, I'd love to know how you do it too.

EDIT: Actually I do know one way.

1) Buy an old computer.
2) Install DOS.
3) Enjoy.

Loony BoB
09-01-2002, 03:14 AM
xD Thanks for the help.

Dr Unne
09-01-2002, 03:37 AM
Seriously, look at this. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2049320091 $20 for a 486 DX computer with keyboard, mouse, etc. All you need is a monitor.

Loony BoB
09-01-2002, 03:43 AM
And a place to put it =/ You haven't seen how cramped up my room is. My PC base is on the floor at the end of my bed.

Ace Protorney
09-01-2002, 03:51 AM
<b>DOS Games, Meet Windows XP (http://www.cgonline.com/features/020226-f1-f1-pg1.html)</b>

Can DOS games endure in a Windows XP world?
by Todd Brakke

When Microsoft released Windows XP in October 2001, it marked the first consumer operating system birthed from the bowels of "The Beast of Redmond" that was not based, in any way, on legacy DOS code. For most users, this means a more stable and user-friendly operating system.

With Windows XP removing the last ties to a decaying DOS age, what hope is there for the old gaming coot looking for just one more adventure across Daventry in the original King's Quest? In a Windows XP world, are the doors to these moments of DOS gaming nostalgia officially closed? The answer to that question is a murky one. Perhaps it's that fuzzy math that's so popular with kids and presidents these days, but the best conclusion you can draw is: not necessarily.

In most cases, if a DOS game is going to work in Windows XP, you just need to install it and double-click its launch icon from inside My Computer. However, if the first shot out of the box doesn't work, don't hit the panic button just yet. Microsoft has provided several tools to help you get some—though not all—DOS games up and running.

Do you hear what I hear?
While other odd problems abound, configuring audio will be your most frequent source of migraines. It's the equivalent of throwing a snowball at a mountain and expecting it to cause an avalanche. Even if it actually works, the results are unpredictable. Since many DOS games treat music and sound effects as separate issues, this also leads to the PC equivalent of Double Jeopardy, since getting both to work properly at the same time is often the exception rather than the rule.

In a test system, which used a Soundblaster Live 5.1, most games either failed to properly identify the sound card, or if they did, the aural results were varied. For music, this is generally an all or nothing proposition. Various titles could play music properly using the General MIDI setting, or if available, MT-32/LAPC-1 (though sound quality is a factor with the latter). However, other titles (while using the same General MIDI/MT-32 option) failed to generate even one note. The picture for sound effects is even murkier. Some titles work just as they should, but for most the end result is likely to be no sound at all or something akin to a distant FM radio station: you can hear the audio, but it's full of noise and in some cases there is a noticeable degradation in game performance. Since audio is almost entirely dependant on how the game itself accesses the sound card, you'll be at the mercy of the options available in its setup program.

Managing your properties
If a DOS game doesn't launch properly when you double-click its executable, odds are its program window will open and close so quickly you can't even see its contents. Since you can't troubleshoot a program without seeing the error it's giving you, you need to access the MS-DOS shortcut for it so you can modify its run parameters. To do so, right-click the game's executable, choose Properties and disable the Close on Exit checkbox found on the Programs tab.

Once you've set this option, try opening your DOS game's executable again. This time the DOS window should remain open after the program bombs out, allowing you to see the error. Sometimes this error will be something that Windows XP can't get around. Other problems, however, are correctible. If it's a memory problem, usually having to do with not enough XMS or EMS memory, there's a simple fix.

Memory management purgatory
Since many DOS games required a lot of memory (for the time), and DOS could only maintain a base memory count of 640k (conventional memory), you had to use commands like HIMEM.SYS and EMM386.EXE to give your games use of extended and expanded memory. The problem was that even though games could make use of these higher memory areas, they also required a certain amount of conventional memory just to get going.

In Windows XP the issue of memory requirements more or less goes out the window (no pun intended). If a game is going to have memory problems, you'll typically get some form of no expanded/extended memory error when you double-click its executable.

To try to fix this problem, right-click the program's launch file and, once again, select Properties. This time, choose the Memory tab. On this tab are sections for configuring Conventional, Expanded, Extended, and Protected memory. By default, you should find that the drop-down list in the Total field of the Conventional memory area is set to Auto. This should ensure that you're never short on conventional memory when launching a DOS game. However, what you'll also find is that the drop-down lists for Expanded and Extended memory are set to None and 0, respectively. To keep all your bases covered, choose Auto for both of these options and click OK to close out of the Properties window.

Now when you double-click your program's executable you should no longer experience any memory hassles. Hopefully this means that the program launches successfully and you can start playing. Just don't be surprised if you do little more than uncover other problems, such as the aforementioned audio troubles or some other, less-definable program crash. If this doesn't solve your memory problems, there's still one more trick worth trying.

An important thing to understand about DOS compatibility in Windows XP is that the old config.sys and autoexec.bat files haven't completely gone away. They've just taken on new, secret identities. If you open My Computer and go to your Windows\System32 folder, you'll find these two stowaways masquerading as config.nt and autoexec.nt. Because you can set up as many individual config and autoexec files as you have a need for, and because it's safer than doing irreparable damage to the originals, copy these files into your DOS games directory before making changes to them.

To make a DOS game use a new set of config and autoexec files, right-click its executable file and choose Properties. This time, return to the Program tab and click the Advanced button. This opens a dialog box labeled Windows PIF Settings, which contains two fields: one for an autoexec filename and one for config. By default these two fields point to your %SystemRoot%\System32 directory, where SystemRoot is the directory in which you installed Windows. You can change these fields to any valid drive path on your system. If you put copies of your config and autoexec files in a "DOS" directory on your primary hard drive then you would type c:\dos\autoexec.nt and c:\dos\config.nt in these two fields. If you find when playing a DOS game that its play speed is all out of whack, you can also trying enabling the Compatible Timer Hardware Emulation checkbox that appears beneath these two fields. More likely, though, you'll need an up to date version of a utility like MoSlo to peel some speed off your PC.

To get at the insides of config.nt or autoexec.nt you can use any word processing tool capable of opening text files (like Notepad). Unfortunately, while there is some tweaking you can attempt using these files, the impact of doing so is limited. Windows XP handles most of the configuration chores itself (including mouse support) and, as discussed earlier, you can use the game's Properties to configure memory usage. The big exception, though, is adding the command, "EMM=RAM" to your config.nt file. You will find that some titles require this option to be set before they'll recognize your expanded memory. If you're experiencing audio problems, you can also try to alternate settings for the existing SET BLASTER command. This command tells a DOS game at what address your audio card is located, which IRQ and DMA setting it uses and which type of card it is (the format for these settings and a list of SoundBlaster card types are included in the file). Really, the default settings should serve you as well as any you can make up. Trying various IRQ and DMA settings for DOS games with audio problems yielded no beneficial results.

Does XP make a reliable DOS platform?
The irony of playing DOS games in Windows XP is that the older the game is, the more likely you are to succeed in getting it running. Titles that make use of your PC's internal speaker rather than an add-in sound card have a much better chance of booting up successfully. Titles that have very specific memory needs, or those that require the use of an add-in audio board stand a much lower chance of making the cut.

The only conclusion you can draw is that Windows XP is not the OS of choice for those few with a serious interest in playing DOS games. It's clear Microsoft tried to throw DOS gamers a bone with the configuration options, but their effectiveness is clearly limited. This is okay. Like it or not, it's no longer a DOS world, nor has it been for several years. Windows XP gamers who still want to tackle the post-apocalyptic deserts of Wasteland or take Falcon 3.0 for the occasional test flight should consider dropping $50-$75 for an old 486 or first generation Pentium running DOS 6.x (try checking the classifieds of your local paper, a PC retread shop like Computer Renaissance, or EBay). If that's not an option, you can always try multi-booting your PC with both Windows XP and DOS operating systems or creating a DOS boot disk and hard drive partition. Failing that, it may be time to let your DOS games fade into the realm of sweet memory. After all, the Windows games of today aren't half bad either.

QuickTips for Running DOS Games:

Keep the names of folder containing DOS games under nine characters, as DOS doesn't support long file names.
Windows XP cannot make DOS shortcuts from batch files or other non-executables. If your game runs from a CD and uses a batch file on the hard drive to launch, your configuration options (including memory management) are going to be very limited.
For clean audio, using General MIDI or your PC's internal speaker is your best bet. Even with a SoundBlaster card, choosing "SoundBlaster" seldom results in flawless functionality.
If you have the option, enable as few separate audio streams as possible (preferably just one). This helps avoid some of the slow-downs that occur in some titles (like Doom II) when using SoundBlaster for sound effects.
Typical audio card settings that most DOS games look for are address 220, IRQ 5 or 7, DMA 1 and Type 3 (SoundBlaster 2.0). This means the SET BLASTER command in your autoexec file should be: SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 T3. General MIDI support defaults to an address of 330.

How They Fared: A few DOS games under Windows XP

1-on-1: Jordan vs. Bird
AD&D Goldbox Series1
Ancient Art of War & Ancient Art of War at Sea2
Bard's Tale 1-3
Betrayal at Krondor3 4 5
Beyond Zork
Dark Forces
Doom II 4 6
Duke Nukem 3D 4 6 7
Dune II4
Dungeon Hack2 3 4
Elite Plus 4
Eye of the Beholder 32 3 4
Falcon 3.08
Full Throttle
King's Quest I-IV
King's Quest V 4
King's Quest VI
Leisure Suit Larry 1-3, 5-68
Monkey Island 28
Red Baron4
Sam and Max Hit the Road9
Space Quest 1-2
Space Quest 38
Space Quest 4-54
Terminator: Future Shock4 6
Test Drive 1-2
Ultima I-V2
Ultima VI9
Wing Commander I-II8
Wing Commander III-IV
Wolfenstein 3D
Zork 0-3
Zork Quest 1-22

1Use PC Speaker when there's a choice
2Requires the use of MoSlo or other utility
3Set Expanded memory to Auto on Properties sheet
4Set Music to General MIDI or Roland LAPC-1, MT-32 or MPU401
5Add emm=RAM to config.nt
6Set Sound FX Card to PC Speaker or SoundBlaster
7Set Screen resolution to 320x200
8Set Sound and Music to PC Speaker
9Set game to use no sound

Failures: Command and Conquer, Crusader: No Remorse and No Regret, Doom, The Elder Scrolls: Arena and Daggerfall, The Secret of Monkey Island, Privateer, System Shock, TIE Fighter, Ultima VII, Ultima VIII, Ultima Underworld I-II, WarCraft II

In case you skipped all that and didn't bother reading, or want a brief explanation of what was just typed.
DOS games DO NOT work on XP.

Citizen Bleys
09-01-2002, 02:01 PM
I dunno HOW the hell they got Wing Commander III working in XP. I couldn't get it working in 98.

Loony BoB
09-01-2002, 11:24 PM
After all that trouble, I found that some other site (http://www.nwlink.com/~dberke/) had it available and that one works. Neato stuff. I so, so, SO love this game.