Dosbox .65 released

Justice

Rear Admiral
I posted this in the tech support forum dosbox thread as well, but here...
Dosbox 0.65 works better than 0.63 for:

WC2 (smoother at same # of cycles, able to turn cycles up higher. DosBox's joystick support is also improved. Game speed was consistent during fights, instead of speeding up/slowing down depending on the # of objects on screen like I was used to)

WC3 (smoother at same # of cycles, able to turn cycles up higher, smooth on my system in high detail now (at least for the first mission))

WC:priv (WAY better than 0.63. Loading time between dialogue sections COMPLETELY eliminated at full speed on my system. Intro cutscene absolutely perfect - even better than on my P133 running DOS. Space is smooth as silk)

WC:Armada (smoother at same # of cycles, able to turn cycles up higher. I went from 19000 cycles in 0.63 to 22000 cycles in 0.65. At first I thought the frame limiter must be broken, but then I found out in #wingnut it really was supposed to be that fast. Lasers fire 8 shots per second, who knew?)
Of course, HCl hasn't made a NetBios version of 0.65, so the NetBios multiplayer modes won't work. I didn't have any success with pg in two instances of dosbox on the same machine (after the game starts, the two immediately have an unrecoverable sync error), but supposedly they improved IPX support so maybe it would work correctly if they were on separate machines.
Actually, there's something I haven't tried yet... I'm going to have to do a little experiment when I get home today...


(These are the only games I've tried so far. And this was on back on Saturday, so I don't remember what I set the cycles to for most of the games.)

Also, I have a fairly powerful machine (3.4 GHz P4). I would actually expect bigger improvements in lower end systems, since the extended update notes mention some significant optimizations to the drawing code, which seems to be a bigger chunk of the cpu load on slower systems, in my experience.

One last thing. I forget whether it was Privateer or Armada, but one of those used to complain about ems unless you set ems=false in the .conf file. No longer.

Also, I played with the ctrl-alt-F5 video recording feature this morning, and it works extrodinarily well. I didn't notice a performance hit at all in WC2 or Armada, and Armada I run at 22k cycles which pretty much maxes out my cpu normally. I would imagine higher res games (like wc3) would be harder on it though. It even recorded sound with Armada (I would theorize that it didn't with WC2 because I was using GUS instead of SB, but it didn't occur to me in time to check). Now, if only someone would point me to some free (as in beer) video tools to compress the video better... and someplace I could upload files for cheap/free, like imageshack but for videos/misc files.
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
Putfile looks good, I'll have to try it when I get home and finish fixing my 0.65 build with HCl's NetBios stuff.
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
Ok, here's a sample video. Note that you need a special codec, zmbv (included with DosBox 0.65), to view it. The compression isn't great, but it is meant to be fast and lossless, and you can always recompress it later. WC2 videos are actually pretty small because of the low resolution, and the zip up smaller yet.

Click here to watch Quick-gauntlet-Armada-sample---10-megs

Weird... the sound is way out of sync when I play it on their site. Maybe because it is 70fps, and it gets played back at 60 or something. Actually, setting my screen refresh rate to 70 (which it what I normally have it at - not sure why it wasn't) made it play correctly... bad coding, that.

It is kinda large (10 megs), so it will stay on "Connecting" for quite a while.

Oh, and I finished integrating HCl's NetBios changes into my own DosBox 0.65, although my MingW build doesn't seem to run quite as fast as the 0.65 main release. So perhaps we can get some nice multiplayer recordings at some point.

And yes, my joystick was giving me some trouble.
 

HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
I will be able to compile a new version of DosBox 0.65 with my NetBIOS code soon. That will also give me the excuse to release a slightly improved version of the code, which has been sitting on my hard drive forgotten for a while.
 

Edfilho

Cry some more!
wow, great.
Why don't the resident WC aces tape a few WC2 videos for us plebes to watch and learn?
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
My WC2 skills are kinda rusty, but I'll see what I can do. And I'll try to compress this one more.

Note that WC2 music and most sound fx don't get recorded if using MT-32. Works fine with soundblaster though.
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
Yep, I'm rusty all right...

Full quality (around 20 megs)

Click here to watch WC2-Mission-3---wow-am-I-rusty


I also made a version compressed with ffmpeg to DivX. I think I might have compressed it a little too much though! It looks pretty blurry, even with the framerate halved. If anyone knows a good codec ffmpeg supports for this type of video, let me know. It clocks in at around 6 megs.

I'm still uploading it, but you should be able to get to it from here when it finishes
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
Hmm, I had meant to edit that post with a more direct link when I got to work, but I guess I'm too late, so... here

This is about 6 megs, looks really crappy, and uses DivX, so you can view it without the zmbv codec.

I wonder if this should actually be in the "General Wing Commander" forum?
 

HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
I took a couple of hours today to look into DosBox 0.65 and see for myself what changed. Indeed, 0.65 is nothing but good news for WC fans. Justice already made a good summary of the updates introduced in 0.65, so i only have a couple of things to add regarding Armada.

First of all, the dynamic core is now stable enough so that you can play Armada with it, so even if you don't have a bleeding fast system, you may still want to give DosBox a try. Also, improvements made on 0.65 no longer prevent Armada from loading when IPX is enabled, which makes my old IPX patch for dosbox unnecessary.

Furthermore, although not part of the 0.65 release, a patch that fixes a timer flaw was released recently (today!) by a DosBox programmer (h-a-l-9000). This means three things for Armada: the game now works at the correct speed (no, lasers don't fire that fast ;-) ) , the joystick now calibrates properly without the help of my armadadb patch and there is increased stability in multiplayer games.

In order to make these improvements available to WC players eager to play Armada online, i combined the DosBox 0.65 codebase with a new version of my NetBIOS code and added hal's timer code into it. The result is available here. Give it a try, it should make online Armada matches a bit more pleasant :)
 
I tried using DosBox a few months ago to play Wing Commander IV and a game I never got to finish from back in the day, Realms of the Haunting. Great game that, also using the whole real actors on blue screen thing, but to amazing effect. It was just so jittery it was impossible to watch the company logos let alone the title sequence. Think it's too demanding on my PC :(
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
cyberkitten01 said:
I tried using DosBox a few months ago to play Wing Commander IV and a game I never got to finish from back in the day, Realms of the Haunting. Great game that, also using the whole real actors on blue screen thing, but to amazing effect. It was just so jittery it was impossible to watch the company logos let alone the title sequence. Think it's too demanding on my PC :(

What is your PC? (specs) Have you tried ).65 yet with dynamic core enabled?
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
Bonus fix in HCl's dosbox patch!

My joystick behaves much, much better while using HCl's version (no jumping around in game or in the calibration screen). If I had to guess, I would imagine it had something to do with HAL's timing fix. In any case, it is a welcome improvement. Now, I just have to figure out why the calibration program (and game) drifts when you adjust the cycles up and down. Its a real problem, because when you get over a certain threshold, the range of values reported gets very small, and the calibration program and game only scale down, not up, so you can't turn as fast as you should be able to when you crank the cycles up much over 22k (and I like to run at 40k or higher, which gimps my turn rate badly with a joystick).

Edit: I just merged in HAL's timing fix into my own custom build, and that is definately is what fixed the jumpiness problem. I also figured out how to fix the other WC3 joystick problem (sensitivity loss at high cycle count), but the fix (by nature) involves a performance hit, so I hesitate to distribute an executable with that fix in it. If someone (*cough HCl cough*) with a little more experience working with dosbox has any thoughts on that, please PM me or query me in #wingnut.
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
Qbix over on the Vogons DosBox forums confirmed my diagnosis. I'll try to whip up a correct fix by sometime this weekend.
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
Ok, I've got it fixed, but the fix is (so far) incompatible with HCl's hacked Armada. There are a number of things I can do to deal with this though, and it works fine for WC2, Privateer, and of course WC3. Tonight and tomorrow I'm going to test it with more dos games, make it configurable in the config file, and possibly put the old method back in there (so that it can be enabled from the config) to ensure that it works with everything that did before.
 

Justice

Rear Admiral
I think I'm basically done now. I've sent HCl a .diff to integrate into his build if he wants and posted it on Vogons. It works with Armada (using AJ.exe to calibrate your joystick) and doesn't have any of the data loss or drifting problems I initially had.

And fighting Vakoths with a Thunderbolt is a LOT easier when your turning rate isn't halved.
 
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