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Laptops and older games:

So I'm looking to get a laptop, primarily for classwork related stuff, but also for some gaming. I'm not interested in playing anything fancy, just some older games - Fallout, Diablo, some Dos Box games, roguelikes and so on - certainly nothing new-ish.

I've done a bit of searching, but I can't find any info on how practical it would be to play those sorts of games on a non-gaming laptop, or what kind of gaming latop would be appropriate if it isn't.

You guys are a clever bunch, so could any of you laptop-savvy folks chime in if you have experience with this stuff? I'd rather appreciate it.

edited 27th May '11 2:16:55 AM by Talby

 2 Rocket Dude, Sun, 22nd May '11 12:54:45 AM from AZ, United States
This hat doesn't fit!
Well, I know next to jack about DOSBox, but Googling a bit might give you info on how to run post-DOS-era games on modern systems.

In fact, the DOSBox forums should have some helpful guides.

Mind you, I never really used laptops when it comes to gaming (I have played Raptor: Call of the Shadows and Stargunner on a laptop years ago, but I don't even think there were DOS emulators back then).

edited 22nd May '11 12:56:05 AM by RocketDude

Tumblr | "Hipsters: the most dangerous gang in the US." - Pacific Mackerel
 3 Noelemahc, Sun, 22nd May '11 2:06:11 AM from Moscow, Russia
As long as you're getting it with Win XP, any game made before 2007 will run flawlessly. Except maybe Buggerfall, because there's a reason it's got such a Fan Nickname, and System Shock in SVGA mode (because it is a whiny little bitch, even if it is a wonderful game). If it's got Win7 (I assume you are wise enough to avoid Vista like the plague it is), it will take some more effort, triply so if it's gonna be a 64-bit processor - a lot of games don't like that.

Dos Box is insanely easy to set up if you've ever touched an emulator and/or DOS (preferrably both) before. Anything that had a DOS version, will run flawlessly. Maybe even Buggerfall, but I haven't tried it in Dos Box in a longish while, so, yeah. As long as the processor in your laptop is stronger than 1, 5 G Hz and the memory is above 256 megs, you will have no palpable issues with running anything in Dos Box unless you fiddle with the graphical and sound enhancement controls (and Roland MT-32 emulation, because that thing eats even the strongest of computers for breakfast).

As for the actual gaming enjoyment... make sure the keys of the keyboard are ones you are comfortable with, hardy, indestructible and shaped well for your preferred layout of gaming controls (though with older games it is less of an issue of choice... so check WASD and be done with it) and that the mouse you will be getting is comfy too. Unless you're any good with the clitmouse or the touchpad, which most people aren't. Also make sure there are no keys obstructing the comfy use of arrows, because a lot of oldish games rely on these to be easily accessible and mashable and you don't want to be pressing other keys by accident.

Though, of course, I have to ask what sort of games you intend to play and to remember that it's next to impossible to get a 4:3 screen on a laptop these days and 99% of oldie-but-goodie games stretch out to fill those 16:9s and 16:10s because not all laptop manufacturers remember to retain the "keep aspect ratio" mode most modern video card contain to avoid that pesky stretching.

If you have SPECIFIC questions, I'll be glad to answer. Longtime abandonware/oldgame fanatic here =)

edited 22nd May '11 2:13:30 AM by Noelemahc

Thanks Noelemahc, that's very helpful. Naturally I'll be getting XP, because I don't have a blue screen of deathwish. tongue

Regarding aspect ratio, I actually don't mind that "stretched" look that you get when playing old games on a widescreen monitor, (my desktop monitor is 16:10) so no problem there.

Some games I hope to play; Baldur's Gate, Fallout, Diablo II, X-Com, Jagged Alliance 2, Ultima Underworld, Ultima IV-V-VI-VII, Ancient Domains of Mystery, Master of Orion II, Daggerfall, (maybe. I know how buggy it is, so we'll see!) SimCity 2000 and probably a bunch of other Dos Box/90's-era games.

 5 Noelemahc, Sun, 22nd May '11 2:45:04 AM from Moscow, Russia
You're in the clear then, almost all of these either function normally under XP on their own or with the help of Dos Box. Ultima 7 even has a source port, exUlt, it is called if I remember correctly. You might want to stick with the DOS versions of the first two X-CO Ms, though, as the Windows versions don't like modern video cards to the point of refusing to run on a machine with almost any Ge Force in it. There are unofficial patches for that, but it's not that big a problem =)

edited 22nd May '11 2:45:50 AM by Noelemahc

 6 thespacephantom, Sun, 22nd May '11 10:11:30 AM from white-hot pathos, a desecrated symphony
nervous fluff and apologies
Daggerfall isn't that buggy on my non-gaming laptop.
Come now, reach out - you must embrace reality! Rise up, young boy, and make yourself a legend!
Kagome, Kagome
^ Daggerfall is buggy no matter what. Bethesda, after all.
'twas brillig.
yeah, the game runs fine, but you take a step and fall through the universe.

Not a good result.

 
 9 del diablo, Sun, 22nd May '11 1:40:05 PM from Somewher in mid Norway
Den harde nordmann
I got a singlecore Atom netbook with Intel GPU.
A old laptop is several times more powerful.
My conclusion is this:
  • PSX emulators run just fine, the problem is to fetch a BIOS file in the first place
  • N64 emus was really slow, not a issue on a laptop
  • Anything weaker than those runs fine(SNES, NES, GBA, etc)
  • Most games that did not involve 3D transformation ran fine, but this is solved by the laptops superior GPU
  • I heard warcraft III runs on roughly anything
A guy called dvorak is tired. Tired of humanity not wanting to change to improve itself. Quite the sad tale.
 10 Yinyang 107, Sun, 22nd May '11 8:57:28 PM from the True North Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Warcraft 3 may run on anything, but on my fairly cheap, circa-2006 PC, it had irritating black boxes around a lot o' things.

Also, IIRC PSX BIOS files are as illegal to download as ISOs and ROMs are. You probably shouldn't discuss them here.
R.I.P. "Grammie" Ruth Watson, 1927-2014
 11 Rocket Dude, Sun, 22nd May '11 9:32:11 PM from AZ, United States
This hat doesn't fit!
I thought it was Doom that could run on anything. They have ported it to every system that can play games, it seems.

edited 22nd May '11 9:32:24 PM by RocketDude

Tumblr | "Hipsters: the most dangerous gang in the US." - Pacific Mackerel
 12 del diablo, Wed, 25th May '11 6:40:05 AM from Somewher in mid Norway
Den harde nordmann
Yinyang 107: Then don't start the discussion.
A guy called dvorak is tired. Tired of humanity not wanting to change to improve itself. Quite the sad tale.
 13 Moe Dantes, Wed, 25th May '11 7:04:14 AM from the Land of Classics
cuter, cuddlier Edmond
yeah, the game runs fine, but you take a step and fall through the universe.

Not a good result.

Unless you activate a parachute and a float spell one after another, then you get to walk on top of the mating octopi called "dungeons" and call yourself a Void Ranger!

I tell ya, that warped my mind when I was a wee young-un.

Anyway, I have a Toshiba I got for only $400 that plays practically any game fine as long as it runs in Dosbox, so really you shouldn't worry. I'm still looking for solutions for Windows games though (Compatibility Mode doesn't help at all).
 14 Noelemahc, Wed, 25th May '11 7:07:32 AM from Moscow, Russia
Moe, name specific games, I'll try to help you if I can =) Had to jump through a heckuvalotta hoops to get some stuff running under Win7, so this is still fresh in my memory =)

And Daggerfall's other failings include not-spawning-plot-important-NP Cs or spawning them past the expiration date for the story quests they are tied into, not making an effort to underscore that the storyline-related quests are storyline-related (which sometimes leads to them expiring, hello Unwinnable by Design), etc, etc. Unwinnable by Random Number Generator dungeons are the least of your worries - at least these can be dealt with via cheat codes.

 15 Moe Dantes, Wed, 25th May '11 11:07:55 PM from the Land of Classics
cuter, cuddlier Edmond
I think I'm beyond help in some cases, at least until Virtualization gets better. I did a topic on this subject over at digitpress and they couldn't help.

(BTW, feel like reviving the "MGS newbie" topic?)

edited 25th May '11 11:10:58 PM by MoeDantes

Lurking since December '98
Speaking of Roland MT-32 Emulation, this korean guy has modified the Dosbox to include MUNT. It does not emulate the music perfectly, but it is getting close and some games already sound good with it, like Wing Commander 1 & 2.

EDIT: You'll need Roland mt-32 control ROMs for it to work, but they are illegal to distribute.

edited 26th May '11 2:00:18 AM by Shinr

 17 Noelemahc, Thu, 26th May '11 2:59:13 AM from Moscow, Russia
[up]Yup, that's what I was referring to. Good thing I have enough crazy hardware collector buddies to know that while this emulation doesn't stand up to the real deal, it's a good enough option. Scumm VM also supports this natively, but Dos Box's custom builds have way better sound quality even if you use the same ROM dumps for both.

Sierra games benefit a lot from MT-32 because they carry truckloads of custom samples, also quite a few games out there did not have MPU-401 compatibility (which you need for wavetable emulation via your next-gen Sound Blaster cards or Dos Box) but did have MT-32 or LAPC-1 compatibility, which this emulation allows to use. Makes Twilight 2000 sound even better, because all that game HAD going for it was the music and the mind-bendingly awesome character generation engine. The game itself was pretty meh =)

And RE: The Thread in The Link. You really shouldn't use virtualization for 3d-accelerated games. System Shock 2 is patchable to work under Win7, works without significant problems in Win XP. Most Win95 games will work in Win7 unless they are 16-bit programs and you have a 64-bit processor, and then poof, you're SOL and better off virtualizing Win95. Or 98, because it's prettier and marginally comfier in use. I still worry every time my old Win 98 SE CD fails to read on the umpteenth reinstall of a virtual Win98. Which I virtualized for the simple reason that Win7 x64 is the only Windows which does not support over half of HP's laser printers. Fuckers.

If you could list specific games and specific problems in this thread, I could try to help =)

edited 26th May '11 3:05:32 AM by Noelemahc

So you're in the market for a notebook that can help with college work, but also run some older games on the side-mostly emulated stuff that relies on the CPU and barely touches the GPU? (In other words, an Intel IGP wouldn't hinder the games you'd be playing?)

Looks like you'd have plenty of options, then, though anything in particular that I would recommend would mostly appeal to those who want to go paperless. I suppose anything with a Core 2 Duo LV at the minimum would do the job for DOSBox and console emulation up to and including the Sega Saturn (which is much, much more difficult to emulate than the Nintendo 64, albeit easier than the 6th-gen consoles).

Fortunately, you could easily get something like that for just $250 shipped or so, maybe up to $400 shipped. Just depends on what model you want and how much your budget is.
 
Or if you can get an EDU buy, go up to 699 and get a free X-box!

 
 20 Moe Dantes, Fri, 27th May '11 1:45:39 AM from the Land of Classics
cuter, cuddlier Edmond
Thanks Noelemahc, but at the moment I have no questions. I've mostly given up on it and just use an actual Win98 computer for older games.
Thanks for the advice folks, you've been very helpful. I ended up getting a Fujitsu Lifebook T4020 - 1.73GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, 80GB harddisk space. Windows XP. It has an integrated touch screen for use with a stylus, and the screen can be folded over the keyboard so it's usable as a tablet. Pretty neat.

The one I got is second hand, refurbished by a computer repair store. Cost me about 200 bucks. (AU) Not bad.

^^ Tempting, but 700 was slightly out of my price range. Plus, Xbox? Ew.tongue

edited 27th May '11 2:20:41 AM by Talby

 22 Not-So-Badass Longcoat, Fri, 27th May '11 6:12:49 AM from Awsumgrad, Badassia
[up] That's a neat machine, and pretty cheap.

I got a singlecore Atom netbook with Intel GPU. A old laptop is several times more powerful. My conclusion is this:

  • PSX emulators run just fine, the problem is to fetch a BIOS file in the first place
  • N64 emus was really slow, not a issue on a laptop
  • Anything weaker than those runs fine(SNES, NES, GBA, etc)
  • Most games that did not involve 3D transformation ran fine, but this is solved by the laptops superior GPU
  • I heard warcraft III runs on roughly anything
Hmmm, that means gaming on a Chinese pocket netbook will be possible and maybe even comfortable...
"Hey don't underestimate the stopping power of The Coffee Mug." - Major Tom
The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.
Total posts: 22
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