Saturday, November 17, 2012

GoG and Abandoware

The other day, I left a post about how to use DOSBox. But why use it when we don't have any of those old games? I can point you to some sites where it's possible to get games considered abandonware or freeware. 

Besides that allow me to introduce to some the wonderful site that is Good Old Games (GoG to friends). This site was created a few years ago, with the idea to create free DRM games based on older titles. The is the main particularity of this site. You can buy old titles, like Settlers 2, any Ultima game, any old Might and Magic game, or others, for a fraction of price, and with the advantage that this games come ready to play on your current system (all thanks to DOSBox for many games). They also sell recent indie games (some of which are really good, Legend of Grimrock for instance). For the time being they have nearly 500 games on the list, and I bet some of these games will make you smile. Also, when you create an account, you will be entitled to 10 free games like Beneath a Steel Sky or Ultima 4, so there is no loss of just go there and create an account. Besides that, every week they do some sales over some games, so it's not uncommon to see the game you really want, for half the price. This site been on my favorite list since almost I know it, and everyday I like it even more.

About Abandonware  Well personally I only follow a couple of them, but I can name one or two that should be OK to use. One is Abandonware Ring. It's an group of sites that are devoted on supporting and distributing Abandonware. You can find there a long list of available sites that host some abandonware games.
Another site, and this one I use it much longer the the above mentioned, is Home of the Underdogs. It hosts a kinda big list of abandoware games. You can find games there like Al-Qadim: Genie's Curse, Albion  or Alien Legacy, to name very few of the possibles games found there. These games, you will need to use DOSBox, and will have to configure it manually. Just read my previous post.
These Abandoware sites, are the best option you can get to get those old titles. Just be sure, you don't end up on some site that also boast warez. Abandoware Ring will point you to safe sites.

In another news, I'm currently playing on 2 games i got from GoG. Total Annihilation Kingdoms (medieval version of Total Annihilation) and Divine Divinity, a game that i always wanted to play and never got a chance. I will post something about these games soon.

Happy gaming!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to play those old games?

A common issue with most, if not all, more ancient games is the fact that they aren't compatible with our current systems. It's very normal to have a old game just wont refuse to run on Windows 7, because either it's an DOS game or there are other issues. 
Thankfully there is DOSBox. This tool been around for a few years now, and it's been quite handy to allow me to run all those old titles I have here at home. Basically what DOSBox does is emulate an DOS system, that allows most DOS based games run in your system. With this emulator, i can run titles like Elder Scrolls Arena (or Daggerfall), Theme Hospital or others.

I'm gonna post here some fast tutorials that will show users how to do a basic setup of DOSBox. For that I'll use two examples, a non cd version Elder Scrolls Arena (which everyone can pick here, since it's free) and a cd version of Dungeon Keeper (to see how easy it is to setup and install a game from a cd).

So first things first, go to DOSBox main website and download the latest version of it. Install should be straight forward, I don't recall doing something special to it.

So let's start with the Elder Scrolls Arena game. (Note that this applies to most non cd games.)
After you download it, have the file extracted to anywhere you would like it to go. Personally i have a specific directory where all my DOS games go to.
After that, start running DOSBox and you should end up with something like this:

This is the normal DOSBox screen. Reminds of the old DOS screen (good old DOS!).

First thing to do, is mount a directory or drive to be your new C: in DOSBox. You can define either a drive or a single directory, doesn't matter what. My usual command is mount c d:\, since this is the directory in D: where all my DOSBox games go to. After that just basically do C: and you will be placed on your new created drive. If you do dir you will see something like this:

All going good until here. Nothing complicated.

After this, it's just going inside the folder with cd arena and type arena and you are playing it!

I would say, this is a game that will eat lots of hours if you get into it.

If for any reason you wish to play it full screen, just press alt+return and it will go full screen. Do it again will throw you back at window mode. To exist, can either exit the game, and type exit at DOSBox window or just close the window at the top right.

Now, Dungeon Keeper, cd version. The process is all the same, with except one small difference. In this case, you will have to mount both your disk drive where you want to install the game, plus the drive where the cd is located. So if you follow the first part of the Arena installation, you should mount your C: drive and also the D: with the command mount d H:\ -t cdrom (note that in my machine my cd rom drive is H:). 

After this you will need to go to your now new cd drive D: and run the installation process of the game. After that, just go back to C: where you installed the game and run it.

Here it is, running!

Process is really simple and should be the same to all cd based games. Of course there will be some that will offer some issues like cd verification. Will cover that on another post.

Using DOSBox for this, isn't really complicated, and personally I haven't tried harder configurations. The only things I've tweaked about, is games that tend to run very fast, and there is ways to slow them down. Even Dungeon Keeper runs a bit fast. But will look at it on another post.