Dark Forces in DOSBox
1. install DOSBox. The following description is for the version 0.74.
2. create a directory where you want to store DOS applications. Personally, I create it as a subdirectory of DOSBox directory, but from a long time point of view, it could be better to create it elsewhere, it should be easier to upgrade DOSBox. So be it
3. extract the game to this folder. Now, it depends on the form you have the game available in. This is one of the few Star Wars games I did not buy - I even did not have a computer when the game was released. So I have a zip file. I extract the game from the archive and after this step, I have a
df folder inside
4. Now, it is the time to set up DOSBox - open
dosbox.conf in a text editor. The config file location is displayed when you start DOSBox, so start it and look at the window with messages. In my case, I see
C:\Users\Belenor\AppData\Local\DOSBox\dosbox-0.74.conf. The most important thing in the setup is an automounting of the game directory. At the end of the config, there is a section named
[autoexec]. It should contain something like this:
mount c D:\Games\DOSBoxDrive
If you want to launch the game immediately, you can also add:
The drawback is that you will not be able to run the game setup before the game launches, so maybe add these lines after you finish the setup. Game works well enough with the default DOSBox config, so I'm not going deeper to details.
Setup of Dark Forces
5. start DOSBox and type
cd df and press Enter - this will switch to the game's directory, then type
setup and again, press Enter. This will launch the game setup. You can configure a sound (Change Sound Setup) and controls (Configure Controller Setup). You can also do some System Speed setup, but I did not experiment with this.
Sound: you can select an express (E) or a custom (C) setup. The Express setup tries to detect the sound setup. First, it selects a sound card and then, it does sound tests: music, effects, stereo: If all is ok and you press Y everytime, then you're done. It selected FM synthesis so then, I went to manual setup, selected Advanced Menu and changed the music setup from FM to General MIDI with the port set to 330. Make sure, that you have MIDI enabled in Windows. MIDI music should be a bit better than FM.
Controller setup: you will probably want to visit it, because old games use different defaults than current games. I was not able to set the mouse to look up and down, so I had to use two keys for this.
Running the game
6. exit the setup and type
dark and press Enter. Intro starts to run and then you will get to the main menu of the game. You can selet an existing Agent or create a new one. Begin Mission starts the game with the selected Agent and DOS button leaves the game.
While in the game, ESC displays in-game menu - this menu gives access to some setup, for example screen size or mouse sensitivity. Sensitivity can be also modified in DOSBox config (
- You can switch to fullscreen by pressing Alt+Enter
- Performance problems: you can modify Frameskip value (press Ctrl+F7 or Ctrl+F8) and Cycles (Ctrl+F11 or Ctrl+F12). You can also modify some graphics related properties of DOSBox, for example output could be switched from surface to ddraw. I think performance tuning of DOSBox is beyond the scope of this article, so I will not go deeper.