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Retro Gaming and Emulators


Red Shirt
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I have several questions that I'm just going to lump together here.

I used to love the old Commander Keen games and similar titles (Duke Nukem etc).  Another favorite was the Epic Pinball collection. I have tried using Dosbox in the past with little success. I do not know if the problems are emulator issues or my own lack of skill. I currently am using Windows 8.0 64 bit. 

Anyone have success with Dosbox in a similar setup?

Assuming it can work the other issue is even if I could find my old Gravis Pad, I'm pretty sure there was no USB versions. What type controller might work?

Moving on to Project64 emulator. How well does it work at running Nintendo64 games on PC? There was a racing game (Beetle Adventure Racing) that we always found fun but the battery died in the cartridge with no easy way to replace. Before looking into the legality (which is probably obvious - but maybe not) I want to see if this is even worth proceeding.

And why don't I just move on and play new games? Honestly, most of them give me major headaches after playing just a few minutes. Something in modern graphics doesn't work with my dos brain.

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raspberry pi has turned out to be a great little emulation platform. mostly 8 and 16 bit consoles and mame. there have even been a few ports of pc games, like descent (1 & 2), quake (all up to q3a), and doom to name a few. theres also minecraft but the pi version leaves something to be desired. they all run pretty well. i just need to design some controllers for my pi tablet. for now im just using a generic bluetooth gamepad. i havent looked into dos emulation but it probibly exists, raspi blows those old dos machines out of the water in terms of performance, but different architecture likely eats up performance. also havent checked out post 16-bit console emulation, but the only console i owned from that era was the sega saturn, and there were maybe 2 games for that which were good. i missed a lot of n64 and ps1 titles from that era because i joined the pc master race around that time. only one i went back to play was star fox 64. 

Edited by Nuke
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On 11/21/2017 at 12:17 AM, Red Shirt said:

Moving on to Project64 emulator. How well does it work at running Nintendo64 games on PC? There was a racing game (Beetle Adventure Racing) that we always found fun but the battery died in the cartridge with no easy way to replace.

Let's say N64 emulation in general is 'reasonable'.  I personally find it good enough for the most part, others would disagree.  The main issue imo is trying to replicate the N64's gamepad layout on a common (think xbox) controller - there's simply no way I've found to map those buttons in a way that feels good.  The common consensus seems to be to map the yellow buttons to the right analog stick, but that really feels off to me, but it does seem to be the way a lot of people do it.  How much this affects you will greatly depend on the game though.

As an aside, you may run into claims about Project 64 containing malware.  There was a kernel of truth to this at one point - the installer was bundled with adware once upon a time, but this is no longer the case.  You will however start to notice a nag screen asking you to register the program after running it a few times.  This is easily sorted by editing the configuration file, looking for a line that says 'run count' (or words to that effect) and setting the value to -1.

On 11/21/2017 at 12:17 AM, Red Shirt said:

Before looking into the legality (which is probably obvious - but maybe not) I want to see if this is even worth proceeding.

The legality is reasonably straightforward.  (Standard IANAL disclaimer applies.)

Emulation in principle and individual emulators themselves are legal.  This was established with the Sony vs Bleem lawsuit back in the 90's.  Downloading stuff off the internet and using it on an emulator is not.  There is no if and or but with that.  It doesn't matter if you own the cart, you are not making a backup by downloading stuff off the internet.  If you do own the cart or disk etc, you need to dump it yourself, which requires you to possess the means to do that, be it a rom dumper, modified console or whatever.  There is no shortcut to this.

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10 hours ago, pxi said:

It doesn't matter if you own the cart, you are not making a backup by downloading stuff off the internet. 

Duly noted. Was pretty sure of this being the case. 

10 hours ago, stibbons said:

Most of the Commander Keen titles are available from Steam for a dollar or two each.

That only works for me if I can play them offline (data restrictions). Thanks. I'll check into it.

9 hours ago, Kerbart said:

Your taste is too newfangled. :) I have no problems with playing Volcano Hunter or Penetrator that run in an emulator that runs in javascript.

The first computer game I played was a text based Star Trek game where you were battling Klingons with photon torpedoes. Great waster of paper.

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20 hours ago, pxi said:

Let's say N64 emulation in general is 'reasonable'.  I personally find it good enough for the most part, others would disagree.  The main issue imo is trying to replicate the N64's gamepad layout on a common (think xbox) controller - there's simply no way I've found to map those buttons in a way that feels good.  The common consensus seems to be to map the yellow buttons to the right analog stick, but that really feels off to me, but it does seem to be the way a lot of people do it.  How much this affects you will greatly depend on the game though.

As an aside, you may run into claims about Project 64 containing malware.  There was a kernel of truth to this at one point - the installer was bundled with adware once upon a time, but this is no longer the case.  You will however start to notice a nag screen asking you to register the program after running it a few times.  This is easily sorted by editing the configuration file, looking for a line that says 'run count' (or words to that effect) and setting the value to -1.

The legality is reasonably straightforward.  (Standard IANAL disclaimer applies.)

Emulation in principle and individual emulators themselves are legal.  This was established with the Sony vs Bleem lawsuit back in the 90's.  Downloading stuff off the internet and using it on an emulator is not.  There is no if and or but with that.  It doesn't matter if you own the cart, you are not making a backup by downloading stuff off the internet.  If you do own the cart or disk etc, you need to dump it yourself, which requires you to possess the means to do that, be it a rom dumper, modified console or whatever.  There is no shortcut to this.

being able to dump games is significantly easier with cd based consoles. rom dumpers are usually not that expensive if you have a large library of games to dump. many of my old pc games i still have the original media. i think its also legal to rip games that you cant buy anymore, as these are considered abandonware.

Edited by Nuke
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8 minutes ago, Nuke said:

being able to dump games is significantly easier with cd based consoles. rom dumpers are usually not that expensive if you have a large library of games to dump. 

Agreed, depending on the console some of it can be done with as little as your standard cd/dvd drive.  On the cart end, there are also options like the Retron 5 which allegedly can be modified to perform that function as well.

edit:

And even outside of the legality of the process, from a software preservation point of view there is good reason to encourage as many people to do it as possible, there are still previously-unknown revisions of games popping up regularly, and a huge swathe of games that have been dumped incorrectly.  I've come across five Wii European titles in my collection that are listed as missing in the redump databases in the short time that I've been looking into it.

Edited by pxi
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On 11/22/2017 at 8:35 PM, pxi said:

The main issue imo is trying to replicate the N64's gamepad layout on a common (think xbox) controller - there's simply no way I've found to map those buttons in a way that feels good.  The common consensus seems to be to map the yellow buttons to the right analog stick, but that really feels off to me, but it does seem to be the way a lot of people do it.  How much this affects you will greatly depend on the game though.

I've had good success with mapping up C up and down to the two leftover face buttons on the right side of a standard controller and then mapping C left and right to the two shoulder buttons. I map R to the right trigger and Z or L (because they're never both used as primary buttons) to the left trigger with the other one mapped to a "Select" style button or a stick press. I find this setup works really well for games that use the C buttons for additional actions (like Ocarina of Time) rather than as a directional input.

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4 hours ago, Nuke said:

i think its also legal to rip games that you cant buy anymore, as these are considered abandonware.

By rip i presume you mean download?

Outside of cases where the rights holders have actually given permission for their stuff to be distributed (which has happened fairly frequently as some of the 'abandonware' groups have made considerable efforts to clear things in this regard) I really don't think this is the case.  Copyright doesn't expire just because someone is not profiting off of something.  And let's not pretend in an era of ebay and a healthy second-hand sales market that it's impossible to buy many of these games, it's more an issue that the rights-holder will not see any of that money.

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15 minutes ago, pxi said:

By rip i presume you mean download?

Outside of cases where the rights holders have actually given permission for their stuff to be distributed (which has happened fairly frequently as some of the 'abandonware' groups have made considerable efforts to clear things in this regard) I really don't think this is the case.  Copyright doesn't expire just because someone is not profiting off of something.  And let's not pretend in an era of ebay and a healthy second-hand sales market that it's impossible to buy many of these games, it's more an issue that the rights-holder will not see any of that money.

i was under the impression that copywrite law actually required rights holders to actively defend those rights, where failure to do so results in defacto forfeiture. 

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Just now, Nuke said:

i was under the impression that copywrite law actually required rights holders to actively defend those rights, where failure to do so results in defacto forfeiture. 

It's at this point you'd have to be a copyright lawyer to answer that, but I was under the impression that what you're referring to actually involves trademarks, not copyright.

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