Paul Brett with the latest gaming news.
I left last issue's column with a small teaser; would I be able to tell you about what might well be the most important gaming release for RISC OS for some time? Well, somewhat regretfully I still can't, the information is still under NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement - ED) and until this NDA is lifted I am forbidden from saying anything. Let's instead move on to what I can tell you about in the world of RISC OS gaming.
Tom Cooper classics
On the 26th of February AcornArcade announced that they have now obtained permission to re-release a number of classic RISC OS games from Tom Cooper as freeware. Tom produced a number of real classic games before leaving the RISC OS world, or as it was known then the Acorn world. Many games players must remember his classic titles such as Hamsters, Dinosaw, Cycloids and Ixion. All of Toms games were published either by Software42 or latterly by Argo Interactive. As often happens the rights to these titles passed through a number of companies, including Argonet and Freedom2 before finally ending up with Imparo. The re-release of these games is due to Richard Goodwin, who had the the good sense to find out who owned the rights and to ask the right person.
So a number of these games will ba available from AcornArcade in the coming weeks, the first one to get a release is the ground breaking 3D adventure game Ixion.>
Ixion was written by Tom Cooper and Barry Clarkson, and was release commercially by Software 42 in 1992. Double-click !Ixion, and then click on the icon bar icon to start a game. The controls are:
Ixion in action
Clicking the mouse on the direction arrows at the bottom of the screen will move your character around. Choosing 'map' will display a map, 'inv' will list your inventory, etc. Some vehicles can be entered and thus driven round, likewise doors can be opened and lifts can be used to travel between floors of buildings. Apart from that, you're on your own!
You may well have heard of the Microsoft XBox, an all singing all dancing super powerful games console. Well DosBox is the same, only the complete opposite. It allows you to run old DOS games on a RISC OS computer. DOSBox requires RISC OS 3.6 or later, and needs to live in a filing system that supports long file names and unlimited files per directory, so users with RISC OS 3.7 need to keep it in an X-Files archive. Anyone with RISC OS 4 or higher can just install DOSBox to their hard drive. DOSBox requires the !UnixHome application and version 0.51 of the DigitalRenderer module which I have included.
Alan Buckley can be thanked for porting this to RISC OS as part of the Unix Porting Project. I have included a couple of ready set up games for you to try. All you have to do is double click on the particular game and it will be loaded into DOSBox. IF you want to hunt down some more games then I can recommend the DOS games archive. However before going mad you should have a look at the games compatibility database on the DOSBox website, as not all DOS games currently work.
You may be wondering what the point of DOSBox is. Well many of the DOS games of their time were as good as the console games from Nintendo and Sega. However unlike downloading "dodgy" console ROM images that are copyright, you can download lots of DOSgames with the copyright holders blessing.
If you do download some games you will need to set them up so that they work properly. This is quite easy to do:
| Run file for ActionGame Set ActionGame$Dir <Obey$Dir> Set ActionGame$Path <ActionGame$Dir>. <DosBox$Dir>.!Run "ActionGame:/ActionGame.exe"
Note that in the final line you should link to the file that you would run to load the game under DOS.
DOSBox does require a fast machine (preferably an Iyonix), you can also get more speed by increasing the frame skip with CTRL F8, and the CPU cycles with CTRL F12. Although I have provided a couple of VGA games, older EGA games will run much faster. For more details see the !Help file supplied with DOSBox.