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Best DOS Games 1980-1990?

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Arcade Volleyball was lots of fun.

 

 

Edited by Zap!

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2 minutes ago, Zap! said:

There are so many, but one that I was just thinking about was One Must Fall 2097. Boy, I loved that game...

 

 

That came out later than 1990 which was the point of this thread for only 80s DOS games...

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3 minutes ago, DragonGrafx-16 said:

That came out later than 1990 which was the point of this thread for only 80s DOS games...

You are totally right, I misread the title. lemme edit it with something else.

Edited by Zap!

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After OMF 2097 I knew of the "prequel" but that's dated 1993.

 

When my Dad got an 8088 machine from a local video rental business that was updating their hardware, he got his hands on a few titles that were mentioned. When I got mine and updated it to VGA, I got into a LOT of EGA Trek.

 

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I think 1989's "Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail" is massively underrated. IMO, it rivals the very best of the Sierra games.

 

 

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On 8/19/2016 at 12:11 PM, Elizabeth1701 said:

They can played in Dosbox, if you set it to run at 4.77mhz and configure the joystick.

Exactly how does one set DosBox to 4.77MHz?

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6 hours ago, Keatah said:

Exactly how does one set DosBox to 4.77MHz?

Use Dosbox-X instead of vanilla.  It allows you to chose a particular CPU type and speed

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On 8/19/2016 at 3:25 PM, mr_me said:

According to Wikipedia PC games first started supporting sound cards like AdLib and Roland and possibly Tandy audio in 1988. Older games aren't going to sound too good. Most sound cards had an input for PC speaker so like you say providing volume control.

Even AdLib was a music card and not so great for sound effects.  Soundblaster a year or so later was when PC games started coming into their own.

 

I don't really like 80's PC games that much.  Even the best PC games toward the end of the decade were usually done better on Amiga or ST-  even if it's only due to sound.

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Yes DosBox-X. I was somehow tediously thinking there was a way to make DosBox (not X) do that. Because it said DosBox. ahh well..

 

8 hours ago, zzip said:

Even AdLib was a music card and not so great for sound effects.  Soundblaster a year or so later was when PC games started coming into their own.

I wonder which,  SoundBlaster or 3D cards, were more influential in making changes to PC gaming.

 

8 hours ago, zzip said:

I don't really like 80's PC games that much.  Even the best PC games toward the end of the decade were usually done better on Amiga or ST-  even if it's only due to sound.

IDK. I was eying PC games around that time with envy over what the 16-bit was offering. I believe Carrier Command was the last 16-bit game I really got into.

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You cant get cycle exact timing with stock dosbox, but you can just drop a 'CYCLES=XXXX' on the command line.

 

If you do some testing you can derive what the right cycles number is for that ballpark.

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14 hours ago, Keatah said:

I wonder which,  SoundBlaster or 3D cards, were more influential in making changes to PC gaming.

Soundblaster was a key component to the golden age of DOS gaming in the early 90s,  3D cards built off that momentum

14 hours ago, Keatah said:

IDK. I was eying PC games around that time with envy over what the 16-bit was offering. I believe Carrier Command was the last 16-bit game I really got into.

There was some point in time when DOS gaming overtook the 16-bit systems.    But for the most part when I look at 80s-era DOS games,  at best post-VGA they looked visually identical to ST/Amiga version but with inferior sound.  EGA games often came close visually but the limited palette made the colors look off, and sound was usually PC-speaker.  And CGA forget about it.

 

Early 90s generally was when VGA/SVGA went mainstream, as well as soundblaster and CD-ROM and PC's could produce games that could make even Amiga owners jealous.   Some games may have jumped on the technology early, but for the most part games were ports to multiple platforms and the easiest thing was to make the game look and play the same on all platforms to the extent possible

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Yes. Apple II screech-like sound from the shitbox PC speaker simply wouldn't do.

 

Personally (for me) soundcards stopped evolving after around 2006'ish. What we had at that point would seem to be sufficient for years to come. The only major features that continued to be refined, which were valuable IMHO, would be multi-channel output, optical output, and better sampling & playback via higher quality DAC/ADC components.

 

Baggie-chasing after "soundcard manufacturer standards" like Creative's EAX and stuff were simply filler material. Never played my games with that Sewer setting! Seems every game has its own sound system - tailored to what the game requires. And that's fine.

 

With graphics cards too much was never enough and we always anticipated the next iteration. Today we have SuperComputer style GPUs with 10-billion transistors, or more. Somehow we knew graphics would be forever evolving. Got that idea right after CGA turned into EGA then VGA..

 

Throughout the PC's first 10 years it wasn't the games that got me interested - but, instead, scientific visualization, fractals, and star charting planetarium programs in 640x480 and up. 16-bit computers weren't doing that and there was no sign they were evolving.

 

Though I played some PC games prior to 1990, my scene wouldn't take off in earnest till 1992-1993. Part of that because the press and crowd in my area always criticized PC hardware as being inferior. The 16-bit gangs were too loud still. What was being overlooked was the constant evolution PCs were doing. A very confusing time.

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30 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Personally (for me) soundcards stopped evolving after around 2006'ish. What we had at that point would seem to be sufficient for years to come. The only major features that continued to be refined, which were valuable IMHO, would be multi-channel output, optical output, and better sampling & playback via higher quality DAC/ADC components.

Not only did they stop evolving, they devolved in some ways.  For instance, they don't have wavetable and they don't have Adlib/OPL3 anymore.   The argument is "CPUs are fast enough to emulate that stuff in software if you really need it".   True, but there's something cool to us old-school guys about having hardware take a load off the CPU I think.

 

34 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Though I played some PC games prior to 1990, my scene wouldn't take off in earnest till 1992-1993. Part of that because the press and crowd in my area always criticized PC hardware as being inferior. The 16-bit gangs were too loud still. What was being overlooked was the constant evolution PCs were doing. A very confusing time.

Even in the 80's it was obvious the PC hardware was evolving.  Everytime I saw PC ads in computer magazines, the clock speed was increasing in the latest models, to 8mhz, then 10, 12, 16 and so on.  IBM introduced VGA and MCGA standards in 87 that on paper seemed to give Amiga and ST a run for their money.   It just took awhile for the average PC user to catch up with all these tech, and a new breed of Developers to start making games like Doom and the like for those of us still in the 16-bit crowd to decide the PC couldn't be ignored any longer.

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10 hours ago, Keatah said:

But better than Motorola’s 16-bits!

eh- no!   The 16-bit Intel "Real Mode" had the segmented memory model that was a pain in the ass to code for.   Dos gaming really took off in the 32-bit era (post 386) which removed this limitation when using "Protected mode".   Any DOS game that flashes that "DOS4GW" message when launching is entering 32-bit Protected mode, and it was pretty common to see.   There were games that used protected mode without DOS4GW too.

 

The 68000 had a flat memory model that was much easier to code for than Intel real mode, and a nicer assembly language to boot!

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On 7/8/2021 at 2:23 PM, zzip said:

Not only did they stop evolving, they devolved in some ways.  For instance, they don't have wavetable and they don't have Adlib/OPL3 anymore.   The argument is "CPUs are fast enough to emulate that stuff in software if you really need it".   True, but there's something cool to us old-school guys about having hardware take a load off the CPU I think.

CPU load for sound and OPL3 and MIDI was never an issue. It was all beyond what the stock hardware of the era was capable of anyways. Back then the only practical way to get new functionality and capability was to build new hardware. Sure it was an artform. And an adventurous evening disassembling a computer and installing new circuit boards.

 

Naturally, today, I couldn't imagine a vintage PC (Pentium III or lesser) without an SB16 or AWE64 ISA soundcard.

 

Same thing with upgrades on the Apple II.

 

The 16K Microsoft RamCard was near monumental. Right up there with the addition of a DISK II drive. It opened up more capabilities in a variety of ways. Bigger BASIC programs by moving DOS out of the way. It allowed for more languages like FORTRAN and PASCAL. It allowed for additional space on my AE Line. Even found ways to store number arrays for Bessel plot animations.

 

On 7/8/2021 at 2:23 PM, zzip said:

Even in the 80's it was obvious the PC hardware was evolving.  Everytime I saw PC ads in computer magazines, the clock speed was increasing in the latest models, to 8mhz, then 10, 12, 16 and so on.

I took casual note of it in the 8086 to late 386 era. It didn't develop meaning to me till the 386 turned into the 486. I mean I saw it all happening but it didn't phase me till clock speeds were exceeding what I read about on the Amiga.

 

Put it this way. I was "stuck" with the Amiga 500 for most of the 16-bit era. Not exactly a death sentence. But definitely a trap. And I always had my eye on a CPU speed upgrade. Some sort of 25MHz 68040 or whatever was the big stink at the time.

 

I got tired of waiting for such products to come to the store across the street. Seemed like unobtainium because of price and actually having something on-hand to sell. OTH PC clones where everywhere, with performance increases arriving every 6 months.

 

On 7/8/2021 at 2:23 PM, zzip said:

IBM introduced VGA and MCGA standards in 87 that on paper seemed to give Amiga and ST a run for their money. It just took awhile for the average PC user to catch up with all these tech, and a new breed of Developers to start making games like Doom and the like for those of us still in the 16-bit crowd to decide the PC couldn't be ignored any longer.

Yes. Like I just said it happened around the late 386 era.

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I thought the '40 ran at 40mhz, but after reading more, I see that Motorola used binned part numbers.  Apparently, only SOME of the '40s could run at 40mhz, and most ran at 25 to 30mhz.

 

The more you know.

 

 

Still, I never got involved with the Amiga until well after its obsolescence.  I DO remember that I viewed Apple's products with disdain, due to the "Mittens Mode" aspects of the platform. (If Apple did not want you doing something, your options for getting around it were pretty starkly limited on the stock OS and platform; you would have to get tools specifically to take the mittens OFF, and even then, there was not much to tweak underneath.  Compared to the PC, with all its obscura and odd quirks, it just seemed.... Boring.  Apparently I loved fiddling back then, and liked seeing hardware do things the creators did not envision. The "White Plastic Utopia" (ahem) of Apple Computer just did not appeal to me; It seemed officiously dystopian.) 

 

 

The 386 is indeed when the PC started to get really interesting, as it allowed 32bit flat mode, with the ability to switch back to real mode, and also introduced v86 mode. This allowed pseudo-multitasking of 16bit applications (as each could be given a virtual 1mb memory space, and live in v86 mode), and really opened the platform up. Virtual addressing allowed the use of DPMI and other such "Dos Extenders" also, which allowed some very ambitious games to be made, but that really only game into its own in the 486 and later eras.

 

Modern PCs are skirting dangerously close to the afore-mentioned "White plastic utopia" aesthetic, and as pointed out, I am not a fan.  At least I still have options in what OS I can use, which keep those cursed mittens off my system, but yeah.  Not a fan of "Simplification to the point of sterility" coupled with "Officious top-down dictated accepted uses/practices" and "Friendliness conflated with lack of options."

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 hours ago, zzip said:

eh- no!   The 16-bit Intel "Real Mode" had the segmented memory model that was a pain in the ass to code for.

 

The 68000 had a flat memory model that was much easier to code for than Intel real mode, and a nicer assembly language to boot!

Sure. The segmented memory was (and is) ridiculous. And despite 68K having better tools and programming (from the opinions of many), I'm still slap-happy the Intel parts became widespread. For reasons going way beyond the scope of this thread. Most having to do with support and personal bias.

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2 hours ago, wierd_w said:

Still, I never got involved with the Amiga until well after its obsolescence.

I had an Amiga 1000 when it was barely out of diapers. Zero-day purchaser.

 

2 hours ago, wierd_w said:

I DO remember that I viewed Apple's products with disdain, due to the "Mittens Mode" aspects of the platform. (If Apple did not want you doing something, your options for getting around it were pretty starkly limited on the stock OS and platform; you would have to get tools specifically to take the mittens OFF, and even then, there was not much to tweak underneath.

True enough.

 

2 hours ago, wierd_w said:

Compared to the PC, with all its obscura and odd quirks, it just seemed.... Boring.  Apparently I loved fiddling back then, and liked seeing hardware do things the creators did not envision. The "White Plastic Utopia" (ahem) of Apple Computer just did not appeal to me; It seemed officiously dystopian.) 

The PC's odd quirks engaged the problem-solving minds. "What can we do to work around this." These minds were smart and bought many innovations and standards to the PC.

 

This white plastic utopia you speak of can sometimes be a blessing. Like with early MP3 players and the whole Napster and digital music ecosphere. Anything from Microsoft and others was tedious. Players, software, music organization, all a general mess. With "sync" operations and various DRM schemes being intertwined enough

 

Apple with early iTunes and iPod brought a stabilizing medicine to the burgeoning industry. For the first time mp3 players seemed to just work. Till this very day we continue to use iTunes 9.2.1.4 (circa 2010) to organize our music. All our guests have no trouble operating it despite it being a mouse and keyboard interface.

 

I intend to use this for years to come.

 

2 hours ago, wierd_w said:

Not a fan of "Simplification to the point of sterility" coupled with "Officious top-down dictated accepted uses/practices" and "Friendliness conflated with lack of options."

One of the things is the push to obscure your personal files. Store some locally. Others in the cloud. And no clear, concise, or consistent manner for determining what goes where and when.

 

Another example might be that MS removed the ability for you to organize the icons in a folder in your own way. Citing that it could be possible to "hide" them off-screen, thus "losing" them. So they forced Auto Arrange to always be active. You can still sort by 30 or 40 different criteria, but not your own arbitrary layout.

 

Additionally individual window positions and sizings aren't stored. All explorer windows open to either the previous setting or a default.

 

Furthermore the Explorer seems overtly tedious with tons of new useless options and arrangements. Explorer started devolving during Win7's reign. With XP likely having the best.

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from the 80s, if I need to pick up 3 DOS games, they are actually ports from Amiga and AppleII, but I played first on DOS and spent *many* delightful hours on my dad’s 286 SX 25MHz (on CGA) and later on my own 386 DX 40MHz with SVGA monitor, Trident video card and Creative Sound Blaster (what a difference):

 

Battle Chess
Maniac Mansion

Prince of Persia

 

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On 7/9/2021 at 10:24 PM, Keatah said:

CPU load for sound and OPL3 and MIDI was never an issue. It was all beyond what the stock hardware of the era was capable of anyways. Back then the only practical way to get new functionality and capability was to build new hardware. Sure it was an artform. And an adventurous evening disassembling a computer and installing new circuit boards.

Yeah, because you had hardware capable of playing independent channels of music and it didn't require many CPU cycles to operate.   But even back then we had the TiMIDIty wave-table emulator which could play back wave-table MIDI even on a plain old Soundblaster card,   but it had a stiff CPU penalty in those days because of all the mixing it had to do to simulate all those hardware channels.  Today computers typically don't have any kind of music chips, just digital output, so if you want Wavetable MIDI, or OPL3 or any other Chiptune kind of sound, you need to emulate it.

 

On 7/9/2021 at 10:24 PM, Keatah said:

Put it this way. I was "stuck" with the Amiga 500 for most of the 16-bit era. Not exactly a death sentence. But definitely a trap. And I always had my eye on a CPU speed upgrade. Some sort of 25MHz 68040 or whatever was the big stink at the time.

 

I got tired of waiting for such products to come to the store across the street. Seemed like unobtainium because of price and actually having something on-hand to sell. OTH PC clones where everywhere, with performance increases arriving every 6 months.

I saw upgrades for the ST to 16Mhz, but I never saw one in real life.  I don't think you could put a '030 or '040 into a stock ST, you needed to buy a TT or Falcon instead,  so for me, the rapidly-increasing clock speeds of the PC world gave me the feeling of being left behind.  Even though I knww that the 286 did less work per clock cycle than a 68000, did so it wasn't Apples to Apples, but by the 386 (I believe) Intel reached clock-cycle parity with Motorola.

 

On 7/10/2021 at 2:00 AM, Keatah said:

Sure. The segmented memory was (and is) ridiculous. And despite 68K having better tools and programming (from the opinions of many), I'm still slap-happy the Intel parts became widespread. For reasons going way beyond the scope of this thread. Most having to do with support and personal bias.

These days I still don't think very highly of the 8086/8088 or 286.   More trouble than they are worth IMO.   Yeah they had to start from somewhere, I guess.  But the competitors were running circles around them.   From what I've read, the main reason they got selected for the PC in the first place was that they could reliably supply the quantities IBM was looking for and not because of any technical advantage of the hardware.

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On 8/30/2016 at 10:25 PM, Asaki said:

First off, some great RPGs like Ultima I-VI, Wizardry I-VI, Might & Magic I-II, Wasteland, the AD&D Forgotten Realms series...hours and hours of stuff...

100% agree.  1980-1990 was the golden age for RPGs and DOS increasingly became the greatest platform for this genre as the decade went on.  Even once you've played the greats, there are still tons of hidden gems and minor classics to play, like Demon's Winter, the Realms of Arkania series, Dragon Wars, and The Dark Heart of Uukrul.

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On 7/8/2021 at 9:44 AM, zzip said:

Early 90s generally was when VGA/SVGA went mainstream, as well as soundblaster and CD-ROM and PC's could produce games that could make even Amiga owners jealous.   Some games may have jumped on the technology early, but for the most part games were ports to multiple platforms and the easiest thing was to make the game look and play the same on all platforms to the extent possible

That's my feeling as well.  Once VGA+Soundblaster were standard, and 386 was "min bar," the PC started really taking off for games.  The first half of the 90s was magical for PC games.  Before then, the Amiga's custom hardware was a big step ahead of CGA/EGA and PC speaker with a 8086/286.  Of course there were great PC games in the late 80s, but often they just weren't as good as the Amiga version.

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The Amiga suffered from the US's corporate leadership being delusional/lack of vision for the platform.  It was an explosive hit in Europe, because the EU leadership knew what it was really good for. (and it wasn't business applications.)

 

If it has been better marketed in the US, we might have seen Workbench be the standard GUI instead of Microsoft Windows.

 

However, the PC finally came into its own with 32bit flat addressing, (and instructions to get back out of it again-- very important difference in the 386 vs the 286), 256+ color video without novelty hacks, and stereo PCM audio with hardware assisted music/tone generator. (OPL2/3).  That was still behind what Amiga was doing (with 64k color being trivial, and hardware mixing audio for ages, along with pointing device support out of the box, et al.), but IBM (and more importantly, the clones!) were much better at marketing product, and getting it on and off shelves.

 

 

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