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:\dos.games, 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.