Author Topic: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)  (Read 2179 times)

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Offline phinix

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Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« on: Sat, 11 April 2020, 08:45:45 »
Hey guys!
I would like to buy some old PC to have a proper retro hardware to play some good old DOS games.
I need to refresh my memoery, so wanted to ask you for advice, all those old gits like me:)
I'm having a trouble remembering what hardware would be best for what kind of games requirements.

I'm looking to have a PC to play old DOS games, but also be able to install Windows 95/98 to play some more "modern" games.

I know I know, best way would be to have two PCs - one like Socket 7 Pentium (max 233 MMX) to play pure old DOS games, then something like socket370 Pentium III 733MHz + Voodoo3 to play some modern, Windows 98 games.
Would prefer to have ATX and not going AT.

But I'm trying to find one system, which could play both. Is it possible?
Trying to make sure that these games would work: Jazz JackRabbit (old DOS platform games), point&click adventure games, Master of Orion, Duke 3d, Warcraft 2, Hi-Octane, High Velocity, Descent 1 and 2, etc, then games like Star Wars Pod racer etc, so more like 3d SVGA games.


I know there are millions of topicesa like that over the net, but I thought I would ask here, so we all can have a chat about our good old times:)
« Last Edit: Sat, 11 April 2020, 08:50:57 by phinix »
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 11 April 2020, 09:07:23 »
Everything BEFORE sandybridge had decent dos functioning.

you can go as far as Athlon64/ C2D/ C2Q


But for the purist, you'd want a super slow machine, like maybe even pentium 75mhz.

Offline digi

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 11 April 2020, 10:06:50 »
Have you checked out the MiSTer project? I haven't used this specific 486 core but it's pretty fun for console fpga simulation.

https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/ao486_MiSTer
https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Main_MiSTer/wiki

Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 11 April 2020, 12:05:11 »
Have you checked out the MiSTer project? I haven't used this specific 486 core but it's pretty fun for console fpga simulation.

https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/ao486_MiSTer
https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Main_MiSTer/wiki

This is intersting - so you build this Pi size PC and emulate everything on it?
Well.. its not exactly retro computing, but is interesting.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 12 April 2020, 07:48:26 »
You want an emulator, it allows it to cover a lot more ground with just simple tweaks.

Dos doesn't run off an set time clock like modern games it ran off the actual system clock speed.
Because of this some games will run super fast, some not fast enough, this was a problem on 486 (hence turbo buttons) and became even worse when we went to 586/Pentiums, even a P75 can be too fast depending on the game. I once tried playing Wing Commander (1 or 2?) on a newer system (an Athon or C2D) and you basically just died instantly because what should have taken 5minutes happened in 2 seconds.
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Offline t8c

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 12 April 2020, 08:48:40 »
None of the titles you have specified have problems with being played on a Windows 9x except for Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis which is a bit picky when it comes to sound cards. Indy prefers an ISA sound card or a PCI sound card with high compatibility. My solution is to use a Yamaha YMF744 PCI Sound Card with a SB-Link connection. The latter requires a motherboard with a sb-link header, such as QDI Legend Platinix 2-A. Compability is not perfect but suitable for most games. This kind of hardware is not expensive compared to the most popular ISA sound cards.


Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 12 April 2020, 09:01:20 »
https://www.vogons.org has some members knowledgeable about building old PCs for retrogaming. You can also check 'the 8-bit guy' on Youtube, as he's pulled out a lot of hardware.

https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22/videos

See his videos on old Tandys and PC clones.

Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 12 April 2020, 10:56:41 »
You want an emulator, it allows it to cover a lot more ground with just simple tweaks.

Dos doesn't run off an set time clock like modern games it ran off the actual system clock speed.
Because of this some games will run super fast, some not fast enough, this was a problem on 486 (hence turbo buttons) and became even worse when we went to 586/Pentiums, even a P75 can be too fast depending on the game. I once tried playing Wing Commander (1 or 2?) on a newer system (an Athon or C2D) and you basically just died instantly because what should have taken 5minutes happened in 2 seconds.

Yes, I think I know what you mean.

I have huge problems playing dosbox on W10, so thought that I could have a Pentium3 pc with win98 and run most games on it, then if I wanted to play some Prince of Persia - play on it on dosbox.
I guess W98 won't have problems with dosbox?
9100 | 2070s | 2x 1TB SSD | Z390 Aorus Pro ITX | 16GB RAM | SFX 600W | Philips 40" 4K BDM4065UC | Sentry 1.1
Realforce R2 55g Novatouched+Deskeys #3 | Realforce 87U55 | Model M | Logitech MX518 Legend | X52 PRO
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Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 12 April 2020, 11:05:32 »
https://www.vogons.org has some members knowledgeable about building old PCs for retrogaming. You can also check 'the 8-bit guy' on Youtube, as he's pulled out a lot of hardware.

https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22/videos

See his videos on old Tandys and PC clones.

Never saw that forum, pretty cool for retro gaming, thanks.
9100 | 2070s | 2x 1TB SSD | Z390 Aorus Pro ITX | 16GB RAM | SFX 600W | Philips 40" 4K BDM4065UC | Sentry 1.1
Realforce R2 55g Novatouched+Deskeys #3 | Realforce 87U55 | Model M | Logitech MX518 Legend | X52 PRO
SA: Carbon, Penumbra, 7bit's Round6, Amber Screen Cherry: OG double shot XDA: Canvas MDA: Big Bone

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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 12 April 2020, 20:04:53 »
I have huge problems playing dosbox on W10, so thought that I could have a Pentium3 pc with win98 and run most games on it, then if I wanted to play some Prince of Persia - play on it on dosbox.
I guess W98 won't have problems with dosbox?
Dosbox I believe runs fine on anything prior to Win10 or Win8 or 8.1.

You want to use Win98 SE, not bare Win98, but I'd really recommend jumping to Win2k, it was so much more stable.
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Offline noisyturtle

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 12 April 2020, 23:51:23 »
DOSemu is 100% better than DOSbox anyways

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 13 April 2020, 07:38:53 »
Yeah, I'm not sure on the best emulator, haven't needed one in a while, just that it's better to use one than fight DOS itself.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | HMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 13 April 2020, 12:32:49 »
I have huge problems playing dosbox on W10, so thought that I could have a Pentium3 pc with win98 and run most games on it, then if I wanted to play some Prince of Persia - play on it on dosbox.
I guess W98 won't have problems with dosbox?
Dosbox I believe runs fine on anything prior to Win10 or Win8 or 8.1.

You want to use Win98 SE, not bare Win98, but I'd really recommend jumping to Win2k, it was so much more stable.
Yes, by w98 I meant Second edition with 3rd service pack of course.
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Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 13 April 2020, 12:33:17 »
DOSemu is 100% better than DOSbox anyways

Never tried DOSemu, need to look into it, thanks.
9100 | 2070s | 2x 1TB SSD | Z390 Aorus Pro ITX | 16GB RAM | SFX 600W | Philips 40" 4K BDM4065UC | Sentry 1.1
Realforce R2 55g Novatouched+Deskeys #3 | Realforce 87U55 | Model M | Logitech MX518 Legend | X52 PRO
SA: Carbon, Penumbra, 7bit's Round6, Amber Screen Cherry: OG double shot XDA: Canvas MDA: Big Bone

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Offline TacticalCoder

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 16 April 2020, 17:05:40 »
I think a Pentium 233 Mhz is a bit overpowered and kinda "not period correct" to run DOS only.  If it's to run DOS only stuff a high end 486 or a really low end Pentium would be more "period correct" IMHO.

Re- Warcraft 2: I think I was launching it from Windows and not DOS, but that's because I had Internet networking running from Windows and I'd simulate a LAN over the Internet using Kali (and I think Kali was launched from Windows).  This allowed to play Warcraft 2 with strangers, although the game only had LAN multiplayer..
After that Warcraft 2 phase I went full on crazy with the Counter Strike beta: if I recall correctly on a Celeron II 300 Mhz / Sony Trinitron screen (a beast) and some "low polygon" mod to bring the framerate to 99 fps (the max Counter Strike would support back then).

Good memories (it was a long time ago and my memory may be a bit fuzzy about the details)l

I much prefer to run on the real thing than inside an emulator. For example I just dug out the very Commodore C128 I was using 30+ years ago and it's still working and the feeling of using retro hardware is amazing. I much prefer that to run thing in, say, the Vice64 emulator (great emu btw, but I prefer the real thing).
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Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 16 April 2020, 20:40:36 »
As you pointed out, it's hard to find one PC that can play all of these old games well.

But you might want to consider narrowing down what exactly you want to play. Here's why: most of these games are very successfully emulated or ported.

Modern Emulation

Jazz Jackrabbit 1 can be emulated pretty well in DOS emulators, and Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is available commercially with modern fixes for modern computers.

Point+Click adventure games can usually be run perfectly in the ScummVM port.

Master of Orion 1 should run fine in DOS emulators.

Duke Nukem 3D has the excellent eDuke32 port, and many modernizations available. Terminal Velocity can be emulated. Descent has emulation and probably ports.

What to build?

So if you are going to build a PC to run old games, I think you would be best served by building a PC that runs those very few games that are hard to run at present.

There are two types of games that may be hard to run perfectly at present. The first are advanced DOS games like System Shock 1 and Fallout 1 [which had a DOS port!]. Some of the DOS games that called upon special memory functions can be tricky to emulate. Plus, some don't run quite right even today.

And what about TIE Fighter? Many ports / rereleases of that game changed the graphics, or lack essential features like the iMUSE engine. So build a 486 that can preserve that.

So, similar to suggestions on this thread, you might want to build something equivalent to a juiced 486 dx with 8 MB of RAM plus extended memory, CD-ROM drive, and all that.

I was lucky enough that my old Windows XP computer with a 4:3 LCD could somehow run System Shock [CD Edition] in XP's DOS mode. But if you want a pure experience with this stuff, you need something like a powerful 486 or an early Pentium I.

The other type, as you pointed out, are the early Windows games. With the early Voodoo cards that were so essential, and probably difficult to emulate today. [Seriously, we need a Windows 95/98 emulator with fake Voodoo support]. You could probably get away with a 233 MHZ-era build.

Then, you could play gems like "Hardwar" which is difficult to find, never mind run properly, on a modern computer. And SimCopter. And "The Sims (1)," the good one!

Master of Orion 2 is actually difficult to run today. There's a somewhat clunky DOS version [you have to emulate it], and a nicer [IMHO] Windows 95 version. Would a retro Win 95/98 build be perfect for this?

If you want to play authentic DOS Quake, or WinQuake [which doesn't run on many modern builds], this should work, right?

And, let's be honest, it would probably be just fine for the advanced DOS games that can be hard to emulate. You can use moslo programs if needed.

So, maybe just focus on those few games and experiences that are hard to reproduce today, and try to build for that, instead of a PC that handles a wide gamut of games? Maybe a 233 MHz with a Voodoo card, some kind of widely compatible sound card, and Windows 98 would suffice for everything?

Build 2 with networking, and you can have real Doom deathmatch, Warcraft 2 probably, etc... Imagine bringing back Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games multiplayer. Master of Orion 2!

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 16 April 2020, 20:58:59 »
BTW, a tidbit:

Quote
Tim Sweeney

So I busted out my IBM PC keyboard model M. I wrote ZZT and Unreal Engine 1 on this thing. With apologies to Moore's Law, I gotta say - 1984 was peak keyboard. The code just types out better with these keys.

https://twitter.com/timsweeneyepic/status/1246572517164187658?lang=en

LGR

Ideal keyboard for playing ZZT, too



Offline Leslieann

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 16 April 2020, 21:07:18 »
Build 2 with networking, and you can have real Doom deathmatch, Warcraft 2 probably, etc... Imagine bringing back Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games multiplayer. Master of Orion 2!

I feel bad for anyone who only has modern networking experience trying to network those old systems.

Look for HIGHLY compatible cards, 3com is a good one, make sure it's hardware based not software (look for a big wide processor, like an exposed GPU), otherwise drivers may be a problem. D-link and Netgear sold lots of the software based and it was always a hassle dealing with drivers.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | HMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline TacticalCoder

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 08:47:34 »
Look for HIGHLY compatible cards, 3com is a good one, make sure it's hardware based not software (look for a big wide processor, like an exposed GPU),

That's what we were running back then. Neighbour managed to score about ten used ISA 3-Com cards: we then had a coax cable going between our homes. Two computers at each home, so a little network of 4 computers. We'd play 2 vs 2 Warcraft 2 game day and night: switching home as we'd switch the teams (so that two in the same team could talk while being in the same room).  It was convenient to exchanges games files too.


And the "fun" when you'd forget a terminator at the end of a BNC connector: then we'd have to call the neighbour "my two computers here aren't networked anymore, didn't you forget to put the terminator?


Oh the memories this thread. Probably still have the 3-Com cards somewhere.
HHKB Pro JP (daily driver) -- HHKB Pro 2 -- Industrial IBM Model M 1395240-- NIB Cherry MX 5000 - IBM Model M 1391412 (Swiss QWERTZ) -- IBM Model M 1391403 (German QWERTZ) * 2 -- IBM Model M Ambra -- Black IBM Model M M13 -- IBM Model M 1391401 -- IBM Model M 139? ? ? *2 -- Dell AT102W -- Ergo (split) SmartBoard (white ALPS apparently)

Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 11:50:54 »
Look for HIGHLY compatible cards, 3com is a good one, make sure it's hardware based not software (look for a big wide processor, like an exposed GPU),

That's what we were running back then. Neighbour managed to score about ten used ISA 3-Com cards: we then had a coax cable going between our homes. Two computers at each home, so a little network of 4 computers. We'd play 2 vs 2 Warcraft 2 game day and night: switching home as we'd switch the teams (so that two in the same team could talk while being in the same room).  It was convenient to exchanges games files too.


And the "fun" when you'd forget a terminator at the end of a BNC connector: then we'd have to call the neighbour "my two computers here aren't networked anymore, didn't you forget to put the terminator?


Oh the memories this thread. Probably still have the 3-Com cards somewhere.

Oooh, remeber bnc cables, daim, those were breaking like glass...
9100 | 2070s | 2x 1TB SSD | Z390 Aorus Pro ITX | 16GB RAM | SFX 600W | Philips 40" 4K BDM4065UC | Sentry 1.1
Realforce R2 55g Novatouched+Deskeys #3 | Realforce 87U55 | Model M | Logitech MX518 Legend | X52 PRO
SA: Carbon, Penumbra, 7bit's Round6, Amber Screen Cherry: OG double shot XDA: Canvas MDA: Big Bone

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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 20:00:46 »
BNC?
We're trying to help him, not send him to an early death, RJ45 will be masochistic enough on an old OS if you aren't familiar with it.

Next thing you guys will suggest is scsi raid and a Zip drive for backups.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | HMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 20:10:52 »
Tp4 still owns an external iomega external zip drive. 250MB discs,    this was a huge expense back in the day.

Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 21 April 2020, 18:10:31 »
Well, I decide to go a bit lower in terms of CPU speed and generation.

Picked up Pentium MMX 233MHz and ss7 mobo.
Real dilemma is sound card.
I'm lurking around and found some nice ISA card with Yamaha YMF719E-S chip.
9100 | 2070s | 2x 1TB SSD | Z390 Aorus Pro ITX | 16GB RAM | SFX 600W | Philips 40" 4K BDM4065UC | Sentry 1.1
Realforce R2 55g Novatouched+Deskeys #3 | Realforce 87U55 | Model M | Logitech MX518 Legend | X52 PRO
SA: Carbon, Penumbra, 7bit's Round6, Amber Screen Cherry: OG double shot XDA: Canvas MDA: Big Bone

 ::: Phinix Cube ::: Phinix Nano Tower ::: Phinix Aurora ::: Phinix Chimera ::: Phinix Retro :::
star citizen :::  CMDR Phinix 325A LTI

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 21 April 2020, 19:00:11 »
Of this is a purely dos system make absolutely sure it's "Soundblaster compatible" otherwise you may be in for a hell of a time getting sound to work.

I'd If it's purely DOS, look for Soundblaster 16 (not the Audigy model, which was software based), better still, look for the Soundblaster AWE32. It was the king for a long time.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | HMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline JP

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #24 on: Wed, 22 April 2020, 08:39:57 »
Next thing you guys will suggest is scsi raid and a Zip drive for backups.
Show Image


Hah! This thread reminds me of that one time at work (3 years ago) that someone needed both an Iomega Zip drive and a printer with a parallel port. This was needed to recover and print some source code for an ancient PLC used to control the water cooling system for an entire factory. These are not things a modern IT department has in it's inventory or any knowledge of. I tracked down both, found drivers luckily and installed on a Windows XP machine.

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Therapy is expensive so I buy keyboards and bike parts.

Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #25 on: Wed, 22 April 2020, 11:33:51 »
Of this is a purely dos system make absolutely sure it's "Soundblaster compatible" otherwise you may be in for a hell of a time getting sound to work.

I'd If it's purely DOS, look for Soundblaster 16 (not the Audigy model, which was software based), better still, look for the Soundblaster AWE32. It was the king for a long time.

It says that this card is 100% compatible with SB Pro 2, so should be fine.
It uses some yamaha drivers, which are available, so should be fine.
In a week I should get all the guts and start building it.
I will show photos here of the whole process :)
9100 | 2070s | 2x 1TB SSD | Z390 Aorus Pro ITX | 16GB RAM | SFX 600W | Philips 40" 4K BDM4065UC | Sentry 1.1
Realforce R2 55g Novatouched+Deskeys #3 | Realforce 87U55 | Model M | Logitech MX518 Legend | X52 PRO
SA: Carbon, Penumbra, 7bit's Round6, Amber Screen Cherry: OG double shot XDA: Canvas MDA: Big Bone

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Offline TacticalCoder

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #26 on: Wed, 22 April 2020, 14:07:55 »
Hah! This thread reminds me of that one time at work (3 years ago) that someone needed both an Iomega Zip drive and a printer with a parallel port.

Ah ah, nice story!  In the retro computing world there are also many adapters, like say USB-to-1541 floppy disk drives (the ones used with the Commodore 4).  And for "serious stuff", most people in IT don't realize how much old tech is still used.  Both hardware and software.  There is for example a painful shortage of COBOL programmers and still billions of lines of COBOL in production (recently the story about COBOL programmers needed to work on the unemployment system, due to the high load due to the coronavirus, made the news).  Or say 8" floppy disks were used up until not that long ago for very critical military stuff (I think to launch nuclear missiles, if needed).  There are countless examples like this (even in the medical field).  Old tech was working, is still working but is now often getting really old.


There's at least one company out there buying as many 8", 5" 1/4 and 3"1/2 floppy disks (and maybe other sizes? Don't know about these), both used and new-old-stock and (re)formatting, (re)labelling them and selling them.  Main customers are various goverment arms, often running things on very, very, very old tech.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #27 on: Thu, 23 April 2020, 03:44:37 »
I think people would be surprised how much old tech is still used in most home and small offices.

5 years ago I had a realtor who had a Win95 machine that was being used as a rolodex. She refused all offers to move it, or do anything else, despite no plan for when it failed (note, money was not an issue, she had PLENTY). At least she kept it offline.

Less than a year ago I replaced a church computer (P3 450, floppy drive,winxp), then I turned around and they still had the computer it replaced a little over a year before... It still had a turbo button (486), 5 1/4in floppy and a 14in CRT. I have no idea the OS and I'm not even sure the CRT was color it looked that old. They asked if I could use or wanted any of it.  "No, I'm good thanks".
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Offline phinix

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Re: Old PC for DOS games - retro project :)
« Reply #28 on: Thu, 23 April 2020, 04:32:39 »
COBOL.. jeeez, I remember that from uni...
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