Posted by: Kai_LeRai | September 22, 2009

Complete Editions go DOS

So far I have only dealt with Windows-only games. However, many popular franchises have roots that reach well into the DOS-era. Warcraft, Aquanox, Leisure Suit Larry, Duke Nukem, Doom, Wolfenstein, Lemmings, Worms – the list of franchises that span several operating system generations is too long to ignore all of these titles. While it’s easy enough for the oldschool DOS user to get those games to run, newer generations are confronted with ancient technology to which they can hardly relate. Even excellent emulators like DOSBox require knowledge about vintage hardware, at least when the game has problems. And if it doesn’t start at all, then the drama begins that all former DOS users just know too well. Makes me think about all those Windows haters that wanted to stick to DOS at the end of the 90s, when Microsoft abandoned it as a gaming platform. Gee, I wonder if history does repeat itself (looking at the XP-fanatics).

Anyway, I wanted to see what problems I would encounter if I started working on a Complete Edition that also included DOS-titles. So I checked out a DOS-game that I just had handy and turned it into a multi-compatible game. Being in a Lovecraftian phase right now, I chose Prisoner of Ice by Infogrames. The game has a native Windows version, but that doesn’t come with DOS-executables, so I couldn’t just throw the DOS-version away.

My goal was to make it as easy for the end user as possible. The game runs originally from CD so that was a challenge, too. All recent commercial re-releases of DOS-games use installers to my knowledge (or Steam), but none of them use a fixed environment such as a CD. On top of that I wanted to give the end user limited abilities to change emulation options. In the end I limited the user options to a resolution and fullscreen choice. Other technical aspects like video modes or sampling frequencies would have been interesting too, but the game doesn’t really profit from them. So I rather optimized gameplay by tweaking DOSBox settings manually.

Furthermore users can run the game in original DOS if they have a compatible Windows version. That was may be the most important aspect of the edition. It had to offer a vanilla version. DOS-emulation is nice and all, but what is it good for if the implementation breaks the game so that it doesn’t run on the original hardware any more? Well, no problems here and this is also the way that I want to pursue in future releases.

These and lots more can be downloaded once the forum is up. It’ll take a while, but I’ll give you a sneak preview by offering this release for download already:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=LLR15BVK

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