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InDOOMnesia

Questioning the stigma towards DOSBox

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I've noticed that a lot, I mean, a lot of fellow Doomworld users here seem to dislike DOSBox. I know there exist a myriad of reasons, but it just seems like DOSBox is nearly seen as retro PC gaming antagonist here. I made this thread to discuss about the state of DOSBox on Doomworld in general.

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It doesn't help that most people's first exposure to DosBox was through the Steam release of Doom which was not only out of date but not configured particularly well.

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DOSBox is great in general, but for Doom specifically, source-ports are a much easier and better to use option.

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Bad usage of it on Steam games, the DOS id games are notorious for this with their flawed cfg files. Also many games still have outdated versions (.71, .72) which didn't emulate sound as good as the more recent versions.

 

Another reason is some people blame it for things that have nothing to do with it. E. g. "Why can't I change the controls? DOSBox is shit!". When in reality is just the company that fucked up by not providing the setup file or a way to access it without going to the folders (people shouldn't have to do that to configure their game).

 

I think nowadays it's great. I use it for playing all Doom engine games actually (output: openglnb looks pretty crisp).

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About 1/3rd of my Dooming is done in DosBox these days, something about it just sits right with me, especially after having it configured to the point where everything about it just feels really smooth and reactive. Course, I still advocate for Chocolate if someone wants an easier solution for oldschool-style Dooming. It makes sense that playing vanilla Doom is a rarity these days for most people with all the source ports that are ultimately easier to set up and have expanded features and all that stuff.

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1 hour ago, Rathori said:

DOSBox is great in general, but for Doom specifically, source-ports are a much easier and better to use option.


Exactly this. Classic Doom players are spoilt for choice in terms of source ports. Compare the source ports available for Rise of the Triad.

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Well, there was a moment when DosBox run really bad in my PC, like frezzeng at some times, but with stable 35 FPS.
Sound also was weird, and it's was just better for me at that time to Play with ZDOOM.

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DOSbox is awesome. It allowed me to play games that I thought I'd never be able to play, and I still use it on a weekly basis. While everyone I knew in high school was getting the new next-gen consoles, xb1/ps4, new desktops, and everything else in between. I was that one dude who was on an old pc, using DOSbox to play Blood. Elder Scrolls Daggerfall. Carmageddon. Warcraft 2, all kinds of neat older games that I had never discovered before, or heard of. (and of course, DOOM!)

DOSbox opened a window of opportunities.

 

As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago I successfully ran Windows 3.1 on DOSbox, and I gotta say, that was interesting. Experiencing something before your time. How something has changed so drastically from then to now. (comparing win 3.1 and win 10.)  

 

But anyways: "To each his own." Playing Doom on DOSbox is a neat, authentic experience. It's vanilla. it doesn't have to be liked, but it should be respected.

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I think some of it has to do with a lack of DOS experience, while others have become spoiled with the all-in-one styled stuff everyone is used to these days and don’t want to have to write their own shortcuts and whatnot.  I also think that source ports have made a lot of people think there’s no reason for DOSBox, but that is something I don’t agree with personally.  People might not know that you can change the speed of DOSBox with CTRL+F11 and CTRL+F12, so these people ran a game and it either went too slow or fast and instead of troubleshooting, they dismissed DOSBox altogether. Instead of learning a few DOS commands, once again they choose to dismiss it. DOSBox and DOS in general isn’t for everybody, and many people will be just fine never understanding it or using it, but I’ve had enough of the ignorance that’s led to dislike of the app. It’s a good app and does what it says it will do, so user error shouldn’t be the deciding factor on if it’s good or not. 
 

I use DOSBox for a lot of games, but in my opinion, in Doom’s case at least, Chocolate Doom has pretty much replaced it as a requirement to play the vanilla game. So I just use Chocolate Doom if I want to test vanilla compatibility because it’s quicker in the long run for me.  

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DOSbox is also much more friendly to use if you have a good frontend to go with it. I never use DOSbox without also using D-Fend Reloaded.

Maybe the people shitting on DOSbox are unaware that there's an easier way to get things working with it?

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DOSBox is a rabbit hole, make no mistake. I once spent more than four hours trying to emulate a Roland MT-32 for the ultimate Ultima (hehe) VII sound on Arch Linux. You have to be, at least, seemingly comfortable at staring at errors for hours.

 

But many don't want that, they want something plug-and-play. However, as there're lots of older games where the answer to "How do I play this on Windows X" is always "DOSBox," people may think of the latter as the only way to play DOOM. In that case, the best thing is to point them towards the source ports, which ARE plug-and-play, so they can start playing as quickly as possible.

 

Edited by Antkibo

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11 hours ago, InDOOMnesia said:

I've noticed that a lot, I mean, a lot of fellow Doomworld users here seem to dislike DOSBox. I know there exist a myriad of reasons, but it just seems like DOSBox is nearly seen as retro PC gaming antagonist here. I made this thread to discuss about the state of DOSBox on Doomworld in general.

I assume this is a reaction to the posts in that thread about the "purist way to play Doom"?

 

Anyway I don't think anyone dislikes it, and certainly no one sees it as a "retro game antagonist," especially since for many less popular DOS era games it's pretty much your only choice. It's just that it can be a pain in the ass sometimes, especially compared to a modern source port, and given that lots of popular modern source ports have vanilla compatibility anyway there's not usually a point to using it for Doom besides the aesthetic.

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DOSBox doesn't have a "stigma", people just don't prefer it. Unless you're super oldschool, you'd just use Chocolate or something if you want the vanilla experience. For some people, PrBoom is vanilla enough for them. Other people just don't care about any of that, and just want to mod or have the game look all nice, and those people use GZDoom. Having a "stigma" implies that people will make fun of you or whatever if you play the game in DOSBox. That's not the case. There's still a decent-sized community of people who use DOSBox to play Doom. A lot of people make do with the Steam version, even.

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Maybe not in relation to Doom would I say DOSBox has a stigma here on DW, but it sure does with Wolfenstein 3D in my experience. There are still DOS mods being made and many won’t even bother with them unless it’s on LZ/ECWolf, hell, they won’t even bother with SDL mods despite those not needing DOSBox to run. It’s strange. 

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Whenever I can, I play Doom engine games via DOSBox. However, I prefer @entryway's hacks (Doom+, Heretic+; you can Google them with literal "plus" to find them) to the original executables, as they extend the limits, because the originals are crippled by the visplane and savegame limits if trying to play any classic user-made PWAD, even by accident. This leaves out @fraggle's Chocolate ports, because they still have limits. And I can't use @fabian's Crispy ports in other games than Doom. So yeah, DOSBox is essential.

 

I find it strange that people don't want to use the command-line interface, main part of DOSBox, to play Doom. Or did they grow up with GUI like Norton Commander? Still, you needed the command-line for loading WADs...

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Some people don't like commmand-line interfaces or can't get around the antiquity of older games. In the past I disliked using DOSBox for my games because they would not display at my full desktop resolution among other minor non-issues. As I have grown older I eventually outgrew this mindset and began to find myself enjoying plenty of games I otherwise would of overlooked just a few years ago. If you want to try some DOS games I recommend using a launcher such as DOSBox Game Launcher, lets you easily configure any game you want with minimal DOS knowledge. 

Edited by Denim Destroyer

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I guess I'll be the villain here then.

 

I utterly despise using DOSBox, even when properly configured the performance just isn't as good as it is with native ports, and it takes a lot of time and trial-and-error to configure it, especially music sometimes. Maybe it's good for people well versed in command lines, or grew up with DOS, or just hardcore purists in general, but I'm neither of those.

 

It's a godsend for games that never received good ports, but I would never use it willingly if I have better alternatives. Why should I complicate myself with it when I have far better alternatives? I shouldn't.

Edited by seed

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I prefer using source ports. The vanilla exe has too many bugs and limitations that I find extremely annoying rather than charming. Especially in big maps with infinite height fliers. 

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It would be better if DOSBox was treated more as a source port, so that it includes a menu to change parameters, WAD loading, etc al. DOSBox, especially the modified builds, have a lot of interesting filters that can improve vanilla experience in my opinion. Its just that nobody has worked up a proper GUI exclusively for Doom in that regard.

 

@InDOOMnesia Something like VanillaDM but for single player. This launcher effectively gives DOSBox source port like parameters and it allows for extra flexibility.

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2 hours ago, Redneckerz said:

It would be better if DOSBox was treated more as a source port, so that it includes a menu to change parameters, WAD loading, etc al. DOSBox, especially the modified builds, have a lot of interesting filters that can improve vanilla experience in my opinion. Its just that nobody has worked up a proper GUI exclusively for Doom in that regard.

 

I think the reason why no one has done something like that is because it is simply more useful to put such kind of effort on a source port rather than on DOSBox.

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9 hours ago, printz said:

And I can't use @fabian's Crispy ports in other games than Doom.

Crispy Heretic is back for quite some time. 

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I dont like DosBox because its generally unwieldly, archaic and not very fun to use, just like DOS itself. It feels like its designed by special enthusiasts FOR special enthusiasts, much like Chocolate Doom. I like my programs user-friendly, simple to understand, with a minimum of tedium to run. Its why I prefer GZDoom to any other Doom port, its simply the easiest to use and runs most everything. Eternity is similar in user-friendly status, and I'd use that too, if...there was anything exclusive to run on it :p the eternal Eternity problem, heh.

 

DosBox is a DOS emulator right? Why cant I have it with the kind of menus all my video game emulators have, with controller support and all that kind of goodness, right out of the, ahem, box? I cant get ANY of my friends to play some of my neat games off GoG if they run on DosBox, except the one girl thats a hardware collector of vintage gaming; I gave her a copy of Jazz Jackrabbit, and she went down and bought the gamepad it was designed to be played with >.>

 

In summary, I dont want to fiddle with command lines, cfgs, hidden shortcuts and commands etc to get a game running nicely.

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Generally I use sourceports whenever I can, I used to use Dosbox quite a bit for checking out sharewares and demos of obscure shooters a couple years ago with DBGL.

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4 hours ago, ReaperAA said:

 

I think the reason why no one has done something like that is because it is simply more useful to put such kind of effort on a source port rather than on DOSBox.

You would think that due to DOSBox's omnipresence on GOG/Steam as official ways to start a game, such a tool would be made. Because, how often don't we read users who use this method of playing Doom, first and formost? Some never heard of a source port in the first place and requires additional steps to undertake (That are minor, but still).

Barring the Unity as a far superior (official) way of playing Doom, its odd that it never was attempted. I do recall a user here who tried to do just that, though.

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There's something very satisfying about booting up Doom in DosBox. Running different tools to get certain mods to run and using Dehacked are as fun as messing with the GZDoom menus (which I do consider fun). It's also the little things like all the DOS references in the quit messages that suddenly make more sense, seeing the endoom screen with a polite prompt asking what I want to do next, or something like the Hexen loading bar in full screen. Even adding "cls" to the autoexec section of the DosBox conf file to remove the blue startup screen is a fun touch to feel more authentic. I didn't have a computer when DOS was the norm so DosBox lets me live out my retro computing fantasy in the comfort of a modern OS. I wouldn't say that I use it more or less than any source port, but it's a fun option when I'm in the mood.

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DOSBox itself is fine, but for the purpose of playing Doom it's obsolete, especially for a layman. Chocolate Doom can emulate the same experience (bugs, limits and crashes included), but it also can be hooked up to some sort of front-end launcher so you can get started in a couple of clicks instead of bringing up command prompt and typing out everything.

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Let's not forget that certain DOSBox forks allow you to play around with various shaders like those imitating a CRT screen (with a varying degree of accuracy).

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I grew up on Windows as a kid, especially at a time I was running the DOS version of Doom on Windows XP (NTVDM) using a Pentium III Dell PC. As time went on, I ended up getting a hobby of using vintage computers and even play DOS games and Windows 9x games from there.

 

As for DOSBox though I don't see it as a bad thing at all, not only it allowed me to emulate most of those games on modern hardware, it also taught me some basic DOS knowledge. Also as a person who played Blood multiplayer before BloodGDX (BuildGDX) and NBlood was a thing, it was the only way to play Blood was by using DOSBox and same can be said for those games who haven't gotten a source port.

 

As for Doom on DOSBox, I only see use of it for testing or nostalgia purposes, I do suggest Chocolate Doom if you don't want to go through DOS commands and other hassles to get it running. For multiplayer games I do prefer Chocolate Doom if you want authentic Doom II Deathmatches although DOSBox Doom II via IPX was a rarity to me.

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