General:Playing DOS Installments under DOSBox

The Elder Scrolls series' earlier installments–Arena, Daggerfall, Battlespire and Redguard–were developed for DOS and consequently do not run under modern Windows (nor non-Windows systems, for that matter). This page deals specifically with running these games in DOSBox, and is applicable to all of them.

Note
• Prospective players of DOS Elder Scrolls games may wish to try the UESP DOSBox helper, as it significantly simplifies the installation and playing of DOS games in Windows and also addresses many pitfalls not currently covered in this guide.
• Pre-configured packages of Arena and Daggerfall are also available; these unofficial packages are Windows executables that will install a copy of a game quickly onto a modern Windows system using a pre-configured DOSBox. They have the latest respective patches and provide the option to install a number of unofficial bug fixes, quests and translations. It should be noted however, that these copies of the games provided are NOT identical to the free versions Bethesda posted on the Elder Scrolls Website prior to late 2010 (There are Original CD versions).
Free Versions

Free Version and free release refer respectively to the free licensed versions of Arena and Daggerfall that are available directly from Bethedsa's official Elder Scrolls website.

Assumptions and general knowledge

As everyone's computer is different, this guide must make certain assumptions which may not hold true for you. In particular, this guide will assume that you are running Windows, that your CD/DVD drive is D: and that you will create a directory for storing DOS games files, denoted in this guide by the placeholder C:\Documents\DOS for convenience. These are assumptions made simply for convenience, and you should therefore read these instructions carefully and substitute where appropriate, especially if you are running a system other than Windows. For example, Linux and Mac OS X users will want to substitute a directory such as ~/Documents/DOS for C:\Documents\DOS, and mount eg. /media/cdrom instead of D: as their CD-ROM drive.

When asked to change to a directory (eg. "ARENA") in DOSBox, the command is cd \ARENA; when asked to switch to another drive (eg. D:), simply type its letter followed by a colon and press enter: D:. The command exit quits DOSBox when at the prompt.

The current version of DOSBox as of this writing is 0.74, and the instructions reflect this. Some paths or file names are likely to change with subsequent versions. For further help on using DOSBox, there is an official wiki maintained at the DOSBox Web site which can provide guidance for using and tweaking settings beyond the scope of this wiki.

The Elder Scrolls Anthology

In The Elder Scrolls Anthology, the games Arena and Daggerfall have DOSBox on the game disk, and a routine to launch the respective game in DOSBox so there is no required use of DOSBox, just run the Windows Batch File and the game should launch automatically.

Configuring DOSBox

• Create the directory which will store your DOS game files.
• Open DOSBox's configuration file:
• In Windows navigate to Start > Programs > DOSBox 0.74 > Configuration > Edit configuration -or- Start > Programs > DOSBox 0.74 > Options > DOSBox 0.74 Options.
• In Linux run the following in a terminal: dosbox -editconf xdg-open.
• In Mac OS X run the following in a terminal: open -a TextEdit ~/Library/Preferences/DOSBox\ 0.74\ Preferences.
• Make the following changes changes to the configuration:
• Under [dosbox], change memsize=16 to memsize=32.
• When you want to play Battlespire or Redguard set memsize=63.
• Under [cpu], set cycles=50000
• Can be lower if your computer can't handle that, but should never be higher, as it will cause glitches (breaking levitation, swimming, and slowfalling, for instance)
• Scroll to the bottom and add the following lines after [autoexec]:
@echo off
mount c "C:\Documents\DOS" -freesize 1000
mount d D:\ -t cdrom -ioctl
c:

• If you have an LCD monitor, you may wish to scroll up to [render] and change aspect=false to aspect=true.
• If desired, change fullscreen=false to fullscreen=true under [sdl].
• Save the file and run DOSBox.

Configuring DOSEmu

Note: DOSEmu works much like DOSBox, but much faster–without the overhead of emulating each and every crazy glitch of the PC's hardware.

• Install DOSEmu on your *NIX system in any preferable way (make, emerge, apt-get, ...);
• Under Linux with recent kernels you may need to set-off low memory protection, if dosemu is unable to start and complains about (low) memory protection. Then you have to upgrade dosemu to 1.4.0.1, downgrade you kernel, or execute as root (or via sudo) sysctl -w vm.mmap_min_addr=0, or add to /etc/sysctl.conf line vm.mmap_min_addr = 0 and reboot. Anyway, dosemu 1.4.0.1 can cope with this, giving useful advice.
• /etc/dosemu/dosemu.conf may be left as-is, it's works well, but some aesthetic tweak to enlarge screen is $_X_mode13fact = (N), where N is natural number (in this case: 4); • In some cases, in ~/.dosemu/drive_c/config.sys you may need to change files=40 up to 255 (DF may sometimes fall out or even not work at all with several cryptic error about 'not enough file handles'); • Of course, the DF directory should be accessible from the DOS shell. For the sake of speed of access, use soft-link to your /usr/share/games/dos/ directly in ~/.dosemu/drive_c/. • Installing DOS32A is very helpful. • Configure digital sound output (with setup.exe) to sound blaster 0x220 irq 5 dma 1 (usual defaults of dosemu). • Writing right z.cfg is discussed somewhere near. • Finally, start.but contains: set dos4gvm=@dagger.vmc ..\dos32a\dos32a.exe fall.exe z.cfg  • If you have problems with hearing the sound or music (i.e. access to hardware (emulation)), several possibilities exist. First, use the new experimental sound system of dosemu via SDL layer by setting $_sound = (2) in /etc/dosemu/dosemu.conf. Second, disable low memory protection as a root with sysctl -w vm.mmap_min_addr=0.

Configuring Boxer

Boxer is a DOSBox frontend developed for Mac OS X. It was created to help ease the installation process and management of games that use DOSBox. It also maintains a library of installed games, so you can start your games with one click. Installation requires you to just drag and drop the downloaded folder which contains the install.exe file. All instructions below are applicable to a Boxer installation, although Boxer will do most of the steps for you (at least, anything requiring Terminal).

Note: All patches and executed files for an installed game must be in the game directory, i.e. ~/Applications/DOS Games/Daggerfall/C.harddisk/Dagger, in order to be used correctly.

Mac OS X Wrapper

Pre-configured packages of Arena and Daggerfall are also available. These unofficial packages are Mac OS X executables that will run with a single mouse click using a per-configured DOSBox wrapper.

Installing

Arena (free version)

• In Windows, extract arena106.exe to C:\Documents\DOS.
• In DOSBox, change to the arena directory and type install.
• Choose "Configure game", followed by "Select music card". Choose "General MIDI or MPU-401"
• Choose "Done", followed by "Exit".
• Run Arena by typing arena.

Arena (CD version)

• Switch to drive D: and type install.
• Accept the data directory (or change it according to your preference).
• Choose "Configure game".
• Choose "Select sound card", followed by "SoundBlaster Pro or 16".
• Choose "Select music card", followed by "General MIDI or MPU-401".
• Choose "Done".
• Choose "Exit".
• Run Arena by typing C:\arena_cd\arena.

Daggerfall (free release)

• In Windows, extract DFInstall.zip to C:\Documents\DOS.
• In DOSBox, start the installer: C:\dfcd\install.
• Agree to the license.
• Choose "Install the game to your hard drive".
• Accept the install size.
• Accept the installation directory.
• Install. Wait.
• Configure sound:
• Choose "Select digital" and choose "SoundBlaster 16/AWE32"; set port to 220, DMA to 1 and IRQ to 7. Test if desired, then choose "OK".
• Choose "Select MIDI" and choose "MPU-401" at port 330. Test if desired, then choose "OK".
• Choose "OK" to quit the sound configuration utility.
• Still in DOSBox, run dag213.exe to apply the patch; answer yes to both prompts.
• Contrary to the installer's instructions, run Daggerfall by typing fall z.cfg.

Annotation: Note that the default keyboard mapper of DOSBox interferes with the key-combinations that are used by the game cheats. If you want to use this cheats, you must re-map these keys by pressing CTRL + F1 during a DOSBox session.

Daggerfall (original release)

• Download the Daggerfall patch (DAG213.EXE) and save it for later.
• Start the installer: D:\install.
• Accept the license.
• Choose "Install the game to your hard drive".
• (Recommended) Change the installation size to "huge".
• Accept the installation directory (or change it according to your preference).
• Install. Wait.
• Configure sound:
• Choose "Select digital" and choose "SoundBlaster 16/AWE32"; set port to 220, DMA to 1 and IRQ to 7. Test if desired, then choose "OK".
• Choose "Select MIDI" and choose "MPU-401" at port 330. Test if desired, then choose "OK".
• Choose "OK" to quit the sound configuration utility.
• Quit the Daggerfall installer.
• (Recommended) Apply the Daggerfall patch:
• In Windows, extract the patch (dag213.exe) to C:\Documents\DOS\dagger.
• In DOSBox, switch to Daggerfall's directory (default "dagger") and run dag213.exe. Answer yes to any prompts.
• Contrary to the installer's instructions, run Daggerfall by typing fall z.cfg.

Improving Game Speed

These tips were originally for those with the absolute minimum system requirements. While it's unlikely anyone is using such a computer setup any more, these tips will still help speed up DOSBox emulation on weaker machines.

1. Don't keep much in your ship, house, wagon, inventory. All these things are kept in the game memory and, as such, reduce memory and slow down the game.
2. Set detail levels to about 1/2 in dungeons and outside in the wilderness; this allows you to see things. In the town, however, set detail levels to minimum as towns can be particularly slow.
3. Install the largest possible game size on your computer. More game on your hard disk means fewer CD-ROM accesses which will improve speed.
4. The *.ATF files in the each save directory are the town maps. If you're familiar with some towns and store locations you can delete these. You can also back-up them up and copy them back into any save game if you wish.
5. The *.AMF files are the dungeon maps. If you aren't in a dungeon you can delete all of these as well. Deleting all the map files greatly speeds up the loading of a game. If you do delete a dungeon map while in a dungeon your automap will be blank when you load the game.

Battlespire

• Download the Battlespire patch (BATPAT15.EXE) and save for later.
• Before you start DOSBox, use a text-editor and set fullresolution=640x480 in the dosbox.conf file to properly enable full-screen mode for the game.
• Start DOSBox, switch to drive D: and type install.
• Choose "Install Battlespire".
• Accept the installation directory (or change it according to your preference).
• Wait.
• Select "Bypass".
• Configure sound:
• Choose "Select and configure digital audio driver".
• Choose "Creative Labs SoundBlaster 16 or AWE32".
• Choose "Attempt to configure sound driver automatically".
• Choose "Done".
• Enable captions and childguard at your discretion.
• Quit the installer.
• (Recommended) In Windows, apply the Battlespire patch by extracting batpat15.zip to C:\Documents\DOS\batspire.
• Run Battlespire by typing spire.

Fix DPMI warning

you can ignore the DPMI warning, but it's better to fix it:

• Use a text-editor and set memsize=63 in the dosbox.conf file.
• Use a text-editor and edit "SPIRE.BAT" and change:
set causeway=MAXMEM:40;PRE:40;NAME:spire.swp


for

set causeway=MAXMEM:72;PRE:40;NAME:spire.swp


Keep in mind that DPMI is not specifically needed to run the game, but results in a very significant performance boost when properly enabled.

Fix "unable to allocate OBJECT memory" error

Use a text-editor and edit "SPIRE.CFG" for add this line before the "video" line[1]:

OBJMEMSIZE          9000


Redguard

NOTE: While Redguard was technologically a DOS game, it was distributed only with a Windows-based InstallShield installer. Help is available for those unable or unwilling to use the original installer.

IMPORTANT: While it is possible to run Redguard under DosBox more or less if you play with the configurations long enough, the game will crash for sure if you enter Clavicus Vile's realm. This crash is caused by the core DosBox is emulating. None of the various emulated core-types can prevent this (verified for DosBox v0.73 and 0.74). At the latest at this point you won't be able to proceed with the game. If you don't have access to a true DOS or Windows 95/98 machine there is nothing you can do about this. However with the program Glidos this is possible although it is not free.

Software renderer

• In Windows, install Redguard:
• Choose XnGine version.
• Install to C:\Documents\DOS\Redguard.
• Skip sound configuration.
• Run DOSBox.
• Change to the redguard\sound directory and type setsound.
• Choose "Select and configure MIDI music driver"; choose "General MIDI" and configure automatically.
• Choose "Select and configure digital audio driver"; choose "Creative Labs SoundBlaster 16 or AWE32" and configure automatically.
• Choose "Done".
• Change to the redguard directory and run Redguard by typing rg.

Glide renderer

Note: Glide emulation in DOSBox is, as of this writing, experimental and still rough around the edges; it may work badly or not at all. Use at your own risk.

• Download the custom Glide-enabled DOSBox version from DOSBox Daum Cafe.
• Configure custom DOSBox as above and under [glide] change glide=false to glide=true.
• Install Redguard and configure sound as with software renderer, choosing the 3Dfx version instead of XnGine.
• Change to the redguard directory and run Redguard by typing rgfx.

Playing

For reference, below is a straightforward list of DOS commands necessary for starting each game during subsequent DOSBox sessions after the game or games in question have been installed. It assumes DOSBox has been configured as outlined above (eg. with drives already mounted and drive switched to C:), and that the games have been installed in their default directories.

Game Release Command
Arena Free cd\arena
arena
CD cd\arena_cd
arena
Daggerfall Original cd\dagger
fall z.cfg
Free cd\dagger
dagger
Battlespire* cd\batspire
spire
Redguard Software renderer cd\redguard
rg
Glide renderer cd\redguard
rgfx

*The DPMI warning can be ignored, but should be fixed if the game runs slowly.

Performance tuning

The Elder Scrolls games were notorious for their high system requirements at the time. As emulation is always considerably slower than the real thing, a very fast computer is definitely recommended---especially for Battlespire and Redguard, as they were high-resolution games.

For those for whom DOSBox is not running as fast as it perhaps should, below are various tips on how to speed up DOSBox or the relevant game, many through edits to dosbox.conf. Said tips become progressively more extreme in terms of compromise for those who really need the extra speed boost.

In the Elder Scrolls anthology the DOSbox settings are stored in custom text files(e.g. arena.conf, dagerfall.conf) these are stored within the DOSbox folders. If you wish to change the settings with anthology you will have to edit these files and not the default DOSbox settings file.

• Enable the dynamic core explicitly by changing core=auto to core=dynamic.
• Close as much software running in background as possible so that DOSBox has at its disposal as much processing power as possible.
• Play in full-screen. DOSBox performs various optimizations in full-screen mode which are impossible in a window.
• Enable full-screen double buffering (Not for Battlespire). Change fulldouble=false to fulldouble=true.
• Play from CD images instead of physical discs if experiencing periodic hanging. DOS games would often rely upon the slower speeds and trivial spin-up times of the drives of the day, accessing game data from disc more often than modern drives are designed to cope with.
• Arena and Daggerfall both include a detail slider which decreases the draw distance. Turning detail down to its lowest will have a considerable impact on performance.
• You may wish to manually tweak the cycles (processing power) which DOSBox attempts to emulate. Start with cycles at a fairly high number (eg. cycles=8000) and press Ctrl-F12 to increase the number of cycles, repeating until either the game runs sufficiently smoothly or DOSBox starts to use 100% CPU in the Windows Task Manager processes tab. Ctrl-F11 can also be used to decrease the cycle count if necessary. On particularly slow machines, cycles=max may yield best results.
• Daggerfall may not work properly if the cycles setting is too high. Anything higher than approximately 50000 cycles will cause problems with the control scheme, most notably making it so that slowfalling, levitating, and swimming don't work.
• Enable frame skipping: change frameskip=0 to a higher value, starting low. More skipped frames equates to much less work for DOSBox, at the cost of jerkier video.
• In extreme cases you can reconfigure the game to play without sound or music and disable SoundBlaster emulation in DOSBox (sbtype=none).

Battlespire Configuration

There are some configuration tweaks that can be enabled in the Dosbox conf file. It is recommended to have a conf specifically for Battlespire so your settings do not interfere with your other games. Some of these tweaks include:

• Turn off MIDI card emulation. Battlespire uses wave sound for music, so this is not needed.
• Turn off the emulation of any unused input devices (Joysticks).
• Turn off emulation of the PC speaker and Serial ports as these are totally irrelevant to running Battlespire.
• Set the rendering type to opengl and set scaler=none.

Troubleshooting

Unresponsive mouse

Depending on your hardware (or your personal preferences), DOSBox's preset mouse sensitivity may not be sensitive enough for you. The sensitivity can be increased by changing sensitivity=100 to something higher.

Garbled graphics

If the screen does not update properly leaving "dirty" areas behind, try changing the output driver: replace output=surface with output=overlay (or ddraw). Note that the mouse pointer can under certain circumstances leave dirty areas until it is locked; this is normal.

Inaccessible keyboard keys

Some keyboards and keyboard layouts are problematic in DOSBox and prevent the user from typing such characters as the backslash or colon. This problem can be rectified by rebinding keys with DOSBox's built-in keymapper, accessible via Ctrl-F1. Help on how to use the keymapper is available at the DOSBox wiki.

references

1. ^ "PATCH.TXT" from path 1.5, "Object Memory Crashes" chapter