Tag Archives: DOSBox

AGFV: 20 years of Star Trek 25th Anniversary

One of the first games I ever played was Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, one of the many gems on the Interplay 10th Anniversary CD that came bundled with my dads Compaq (remember the days when games were bundled?). 25th Anniversary was special in that it combined a “Wing Commander” style combat sim with away missions and mini “episodes” of the original series, kind of like a fourth season. This game and its sequel “Judgment Rites” remain my favorite games of all time and have always found a place on whatever new computer I buy.

Star Trek 25th Disks

Through the magic of Amazon I recently acquired an original floppy copy of the game (8-3.25 inch disks) and in today’s edition of AGFV I’ll show you how to install and run this fine game, even if you’re working with twenty year old floppies like me.

Step One: The first step is easy, but a little tedious. Copy the contents of each floppy disk into a separate folder (Disk 1-8). This process will remind you of the joys of how long it used to take to write files to and from a disk (and these are only about half full!). Unfortunately you need to use separate folders since most of the installation files are a compressed archive that has the same name on each floppy.

Step Two: When you’re done, create a ninth folder called INSTALL and copy the contents of Disk 1 into this folder. Copy all nine disk folders into a folder called “TREK25” and copy this folder to “DBGL\dosroot”.

Step Three: Open up DBGL and click “Add Profile”. The first thing you’ll see is a field for title. You should only need to type “Star Trek 25th” then click the “Consult Moby Games” button. A list of possible matches will appear. Select “Star Trek: 25th Anniversary” and click OK.

First Screen

Step Four: Next Step is configuring the machine specs. Click the “Machine Tab” and look at the cycles field. Usually “Auto” is okay here, but 25th Anniversary can be a little fussy if things run to fast or too slow, so 10000 cycles is best. Everything else can be left at the defaults.

Step Five: Click the “Mounting” tab. This is where we’ll point to our “TREK25” install folder we placed inside the dosroot. All programs by default need at least one drive mounted, the “C:\” drive. Click add. C should be the first drive to come up. In the “as” field, select “dir” and click OK. Click add again and select “A” from the drop down. This will be our simulated floppy drive which we’ll use to install the program. Browse to TREK25\INSTALL and select “floppy” from the “as” field. When you’re finished the mounting portion of your screen will look like this (Click to enlarge):

Second Shot

Step Six: Before clicking OK at the bottom left, Browse to TREK25\INSTALL\INSTALL.EXE for both main and the setup fields. DBGL always requires a program file of some kind to be in the main line before the profile can be created. Click OK to create your profile.

Step Seven: Click Run Setup. This will start the original installation program. By default the program will save to C:\STARTREK, or in reality DOSROOT\STARTREK. Select VGA, Mouse and Keyboard and Soundblaster for the setup questions, then hit enter to begin installation.

Install begins

Step Eight: Installation will run for a minute or two then ask for the next disk. Copy the contents of the corresponding disk into the TREK25\INSTALL folder and press enter to continue. Because we’re mounting this folder as a floppy, changing its contents effectively is like swapping a disk. Typically I just do a CTRL-A to get all the contents of the request disk folder, and then past and overwrite in the INSTALL disk folder. Say yes to an overwrite requests. Repeat for all eight disks (this’ll take 15-20 minutes).

Insert new Floppy

Step Nine: Once installation has completed  DOSBox will close. Click “Edit Profile” and click on the mounting tab. Select the floppy mount statement and click remove. Browse to STARTREK\STARTREK.EXE for the main, and STARTREK\SETUP.EXE for the setup. Your screen should look like this when you’re finished (click to enlarge). Click OK to save changes.

Final Mounting

Step Ten: Click “Run Profile” to start the game (Alt-Enter toggles fullscreen).

Game Running

Below is some gameplay from the CDROM enhanced edition featuring the original voices of the cast. Enjoy!

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AGFV: DBGL, a friendlier way to play in the DOSBox (+150 free games)

Our first post introduced you to ScummVM, a virtual machine or emulator for running LucasArts and other 2D adventure games. Today we’ll looking at another emulator, DOSBox, and one of the friendlier ways to interact with it, the DBGL front-end.

What is DOSBox?

DOSBox is an emulator which simply put allows you to run games and programs that were designed to work in the DOS operating system common on computers in the late 80s and early 90s. DOSBox can simulate a wide variety of hardware configurations and has been tested with 1000s of games. It can even be used to create virtual machines of DOS based Windows operating systems like Windows 3.1, 95, 98, etc.

Interacting with DOSBox directly is not for the faint of heart. DOSBox starts with no knowledge of the computer it’s running on, or the programs and files it can access. It does not even know where the CD drive is. This is similar in many ways to linux, in which peripheral drives need to be “mounted” before they can be used. Mounting a hard drive or CD drive is just another way of telling DOSBox where to look for programs and how to treat them. Still for building up a library of games to play, typing in a bunch of commands up front can be tedious and time consuming.

Front-End to the Rescue

A front-end is another interface designed to run another program with a specific set of commands. In this case we’re using DBGL, or DOSBox Game Launcher. DBGL has access to all of the machine settings and configurations of DOSBox, but also has the capability to store these configurations for future use. After a program is initially configured, playing it is as simple as selected the game title and pressing play.

We’ll be using DBGL a lot for configuring and cataloging games in the future, but today I’ll just give you the quick tour, and show you how to install 150 games for free.

The Elder Scrolls Running

The Elder Scrolls Running

Installing DBGL

Installing DBGL is pretty simple. Both DBGL and DOSBox are cross-platform and should run in most major operating systems. Most of the screenshots for today are from my Windows 7 machine, though I’ve also provided some material from Ubuntu 12.04 for reference.

For Windows users simply download the program from here and extract the files to a folder (typically DBGL or dbgl073). To start DBGL double-click the launch program.

Linux Users have a couple of extra steps. Download the tar.gz from here and extract wherever you have read/write/execute permission (I just did it in my documents folder).

You’ll need to make sure several packages are installed for Java Runtime and for various sound and visual libraries. To install bring up a terminal window and run these three instructions (typing yes after any prompts)

sudo apt-get install libsdl-sound1.2

sudo apt-get install libsdl-net1.2

sudo apt-get install openjdk-6-jre

apt-get installs

apt-get installs

Double clicking on the DBGL file in the directory will launch a terminal window and run the program.

Launch DBGL

Launch DBGL

Run DBGL (Terminal Prompt)

Run DBGL (Terminal Prompt)

DBGL Running

DBGL Running

Importing Packages

As of this writing DBGL has downloads for nine different game packages, containing 154 freeware/shareware games in total. Among the more notable titles are shareware copies of Doom 1+2, Duke Nukem 1-3D, System Shock, Dark Forces, Magic Carpet and more. Commander Keens 1,4 and 6 are here in their entirety as well as full versions of the first two Elder Scrolls Games (if you want to see what came before Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim). A number of lesser known titles are here as well, including a number of Risk like games put about by Soleau Games (I used to spend a lot of time playing these), and newer Indie titles. The games included span from 1984 to 2004 and cover all basic genres (shooters, RPG, puzzle, text adventure).

You can download the packages here.

To import a package click on the “File” menu at the top left and selection”Import”.

File-->Import

File–>Import

You’ll see a browse window. Click on the package you wish to import and click “Open”.

Open GamePak

Open GamePak

Once you’ve opened the Pak you’ll see a basic description of the contents, author, and any other pertinent information. Click “Next” to continue import.

GamePak Description

GamePak Description

The next screen will give you some options as to what to import. For now, leave everything at defaults and click “Next”.

Import Options

Import Options

The next screen will give you a list of games including in the Pak. All games with a check mark next to them will be import. Uncheck any games you do not wish to import.

Games List

Games List

NOTE: Almost all games from these Paks install without any naming collisions except for “The Thor Trilogy” and “Thor’s Hammer” which both try to save to a folder “THOR”. To avoid this collision select the game and click “Add game title to BaseDir” for either game, then proceed with import by clicking “Next”.

Thor Import

Thor Import

Our last screen before importing will have any other versions of DOSBox that are being imported. DBGL comes with the latest version of DOSBox (as of this writing 0.74), but supports any of the previous versions. DOSBox is open-source and sometimes updates and fixes to one game breaks another. 95% of all DOS games and programs will run in the latest version. The rest may not be supported, or may be able to be run in a previous version. DOSBox’s website provides detailed compatibility charts for every program and game imaginable on its website.

For now, click any versions other than DOSBox 0.74 and import them. Click “Next” to bring up the last step before import.

DOSBox Alt Versions

DOSBox Alt Versions

Click “Start” to begin the import. Click “OK” and “Finish” when all games are installed.

Games Installing

Games Installing

Select a game and click “Play” to run!

Install Finished

Install Finished

All games in the Paks are pre-configured with all of the settings necessary for DOSBox. DBGL supports importing MobyGames descriptions of games, and all games in the Paks will have this information already downloaded, as well as screenshots of the game.

We’ll be playing with DBGL a lot and will explore it’s features in detail in future posts. For now, enjoy some vintage gaming and your upcoming weekend!

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