The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

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The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Collector » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:32 am

Questions about the problems of the VU collections releases of the classic Sierra series were recently brought to my attention again, so I have decided to answer them here. Anyone that would like to add to this may reply in this thread, so excuse me while I step up onto my soapbox.
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There were many issues with the last release of the King's Quest Collection. This collection was assembled from a hodgepodge of several different sources, so much so that it almost appears to have been compiled by an abandonwares group. Much that should have remained was ripped out, like the install files which are necessary to change basic game settings and the settings that they chose were often far from optimal.

The DOSBox solution was a great idea, but its execution left much to be desired. It provided no reasonable DOSBox upgrade path for users. This was a serious flaw, as DOSBox is under very active development and is constantly being improved. Many of the issues that customers encountered were solved by simply upgrading DOSBox.

Other problems with the execution of how they used DOSBox included things such as the settings could not be changed, as the Launcher used internal settings and did not use the dosbox.conf. This caused less than optimal settings for the individual games. One of the settings was to start the game in full screen, with caused several issues with many users. "Alt+Enter"ing to switch to window mode or "Alt+Tab"ing would crash the game. It took so long to develop the collection that by the time that it was released DOSBox 0.65 had been released before the collection became available. (BTW, there was no reason why it should have taken so long. Ignoring the manual PDF creation and the packaging, I could have prepared a nearly ideal release in a matter of a few days, not the many months that they took. My Phantasmagoria installer has been far more complicated and involved)

Another huge issue with using such an old version of DOSBox is that it is not Vista friendly. UAC creates a huge headache with earlier versions. This is also a big issue with installing legacy games in the %ProgramFiles% directory, as these games often need to write to the hard drive. This is solved by not installing in a system folder as well as using a Vista compatible version of DOSBox like 0.73.

All of these issues caused a flood of help requests on the VU forums, as that was the only support that VU offered. There was a huge anticipation in the Sierra community awaiting the release of the new collections, but when word got out about all of the failings of the so called "XP compatible" collections, most that were planning to buy did not. Fixing the release would have been so easy and would have cost no more. If they had started from the 1997 Collection Series release, dumped the non KQ games and had installed DOSBox into a standard install location with using Windows shortcuts to DOSBox and individual conf files, it would have been ideal. It would have allowed an easy upgrade path for DOSBox

Individual game issues:

KQ1 AGI - Missing. A big mistake, as a large proportion of the potential customer base are Sierra fans that want the complete series. The game is tiny and could have been included at very little cost of disc space.

KQ1SCI - Install files missing, can only change game settings by manually editing the RESOURCE.CFG. DOSBox settings less than optimal, Aspect should be set to "true", output should be set to overlay to avoid pallet corruption when changing from full screen to windowed mode. Cycles should be set to somewhere between 6000 to 10000 for reasonable game speed.

KQ2 - DOSBox settings less than optimal. Under the [DOSBox] section machine type should be set to tandy, Aspect should be set to "true", output should be set to overlay to avoid pallet corruption when changing from full screen to windowed mode. Cycles should be set to somewhere between 6000 to 10000 for reasonable game speed.

KQ3 - DOSBox settings less than optimal. Under the [DOSBox] section machine type should be set to tandy, Aspect should be set to "true", output should be set to overlay to avoid pallet corruption when changing from full screen to windowed mode. Cycles should be set to somewhere between 6000 to 10000 for reasonable game speed.

KQ4 - Install files missing, can only change game settings by manually editing the RESOURCE.CFG. DOSBox settings less than optimal, Aspect should be set to "true", output should be set to overlay to avoid pallet corruption when changing from full screen to windowed mode. Cycles should be set to somewhere between 6000 to 10000 for reasonable game speed.

KQ5 - Install files missing, can only change game settings by manually editing the RESOURCE.CFG. DOSBox settings less than optimal, Aspect should be set to "true", output should be set to overlay to avoid pallet corruption when changing from full screen to windowed mode. Cycles should be set to somewhere between 6000 to 10000 for reasonable game speed.

KQ6 - Graphics driver included with the game cannot handle the opening sequence. Can easily be fixed by replacing driver from certain other early VGA SCI games. Install files missing, can only change game settings by manually editing the RESOURCE.CFG. DOSBox settings less than optimal, Aspect should be set to "true", output should be set to overlay to avoid pallet corruption when changing from full screen to windowed mode. Cycles should be set to somewhere between 6000 to 10000 for reasonable game speed. Most prefer the Windows version for the higher rez dialog images that are not used with the DOS version. It is possible to get the Windows version running on XP, but not without issues. The Windows version will install and run on Vista, but only 32 bit. The DOS version is the only option for 64 bit Windows users.

KQ7 - The show stopper. The version that shipped with the latest collection was version 1.4. Besides several bug fixes of later versions, it came with no DOS interpreter. It did not even include the official KQ7PAT patch from Sierra. The game suffers from a impassable speed bug - the infamous firecracker bug. This bug can easily be avoided by playing the DOS version in DOSBox. Only version 2 came with a DOS interpreter. Version 2 also addressed several other issues. NO 64 BIT USERS WILL BE ABLE TO PLAY THIS VERSION OF THE GAME, AS THE EXECUTABLE IS 16 BIT.

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Everyone here should know that my DOSBox patches fixes nearly all of these issues, but they are not what this post was about. They are, of course available here on SHP.

Note: the other collections had many of the same problems. If I get some time I will post in those game forums with series/game specific issues for those releases, too.
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Tawmis » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:21 am

Very awesome post, Collector. Thanks for taking the time to share it. Would like to see something like this for the other collections, when you have the time, just so there's a record of it. (Might want to sticky this too or something).
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby AndreaDraco » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:42 am

Thanks Collector. Invaluable as always ;)
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Akril » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:56 am

Wow. I knew the VU collections were pretty shabby, butI didn't realize just how problematic they really were. If there were something like a Classic Adventure Gaming Hall of Shame, the VU collections would be the central piece. I still can't get my brain around why on earth they didn't include the original versions of the first games in each series.

I might as well take this opportunity to thank Collector and all the others that are helping people run these old games, especially the ones included in these "new and improved" collections.
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Collector » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:51 am

Tawmis wrote:Might want to sticky this too or something.

It is already.
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby shellybee » Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:23 pm

The main problem i have is not being able to play KQ7 in full screen..the firecracker part I can get through..it's just very tedious and I have to keep retrying..but eventually I get to where I need to be...
When i was younger i had the DOS versions of the game but they were stolen cause I used to take them to work and play them when it was just me and someone broke in and took everything..so i just bought the windows capatable collection when it came out...
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Collector » Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:56 pm

shellybee wrote:The main problem i have is not being able to play KQ7 in full screen..the firecracker part I can get through..it's just very tedious and I have to keep retrying..but eventually I get to where I need to be...
When i was younger i had the DOS versions of the game but they were stolen cause I used to take them to work and play them when it was just me and someone broke in and took everything..so i just bought the windows capatable collection when it came out...

Good news for you:

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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby shellybee » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:34 pm

Why thank you very much... :)
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Kat » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:00 am

I have a question. I am considering upgrading to a 64-bit PC when I get a new one with Windows 7. A friend (who is a network administrator with a more advanced computer degree than I have) told me that as an emulator, DOSBox exempts software it runs from the 16-bit-doesn't-run-on-64-bit thing. I can't explain it but he basically said running an emulator isn't like running the software directly on your PC.

DOSBox does run in 64-bit. http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/Dosbox_and_Vista

So can you run KQ7 through DOSBox on a 64-bit machine? Has anyone tried?

I don't understand why the older games, which are surely 8-bit or 16-bit, would run in DOSBox on a 64-bit machine but not KQ7.
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Re: The Many problems with the last collection of the KQ series

Postby Collector » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:56 am

When you run DOS programs on 32-bit XP/Vista it uses a highly imperfect DOS emulator built into Windows, NTVDM. Additionally, even 16-bit Windows programs use a sort of 16-bit Windows emulator, Windows-on-Windows or WoW that gets called when the user starts a 16-bit Windows program, often requiring NTVDM, as well. NTVDM and WoW have been dropped from 64-bit Windows as 16-bit code will run on 64-bit Windows. They also need WoW64 to run 32-bit code.

All of this means that you will need an emulator like DOSBox or a virtualizer such as Virtual PC to run these programs on 64-bit Windows. The good news is that DOSBox runs perfectly on 64-bit Windows, as it is just a 32-bit program. For 16-bit Windows only games you can install Windows 3x in DOSBox, so 16-bit games can mostly be handled by DOSBox and a copy of Windows 3x.

The real problems are the 32-bit 9x games that refuse to run on modern Windows. Except for the 32-bit games that shipped with 16-bit installers (which might run on Win64, but cannot be installed) the problems are nearly the same between Win32 and Win64. Even the 16-bit installer problem can be worked around.

If the Win9x game will not run on modern Windows, 32 or 64, your options are more limited. While it is possible to install Windows 95 in DOSBox, it is unsupported and you will be hamstrung by the need to boot from an image, which causes DOSBox to loose access to physical drives. If you need a CD for your game you will need to mount an image of it in Windows 95. Some virtualizers are easier to use that it is to setup 95 in DOSBox, but forget about games requiring DirectX. Virtual PC 2007 no longer supports Windows 95, so if you want to run 95, you will need to use an older version of Virtual PC. But this is another topic.

Don't let any 16-bit favorites stop you from moving to 64-bit Windows. I have found Win64 to be significantly more stable and much less of a resource hog than its 32-bit brethren. It is newer code with a smaller memory foot print and carries far less legacy baggage than Win32. Be warned, though, you will need to get new peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.) if any of them are not new enough to have 64-bit drivers. As a closing note, don't forget that you can also setup a dual boot with two different versions of Windows, if you really need backwards compatibility.
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Kat » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:27 pm

I have a headache after reading that.

Can you give me the "for dummies" summary and just tell me yes or no? :D Can KQ7 run in DOSBox on 64-bit Win7?

I know that Win7 comes with XP mode (although if you buy anything less than the Professional version, it is not on the disc and you have to download it from MS separately). Could KQ7 run in DOSBox, on 64-bit Win7 that is running XP Mode in a virtual PC? Would having 64-bit Win7 installed essentially mean that running XP Mode would make XP 64-bit too?

I could dual-boot but it's a PITA to do it for just one game, lol. Yes, I've dual-booted before.

I know about needing 64-bit device drivers and since I don't own any old peripherals but would be buying them all new (yes, even a printer) I'm not concerned. I can check for drivers before I buy.
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Collector » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:21 pm

Kat wrote:Can you give me the "for dummies" summary and just tell me yes or no? :D Can KQ7 run in DOSBox on 64-bit Win7?

Absolutely. Just use the SHP installer for your version.
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby tassieboy » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:17 am

Very insigtful.
I recently purchases this collection as a download. I have managed to get all the games going good enough to enjoy playing them (although have to frequently alt+tab with 4,5 & 6 to avoid palette corruption.)
Nice to see I'm not the only one who experienced some of these issues.
Note: I found that with KQ7 if you set the compatability mode of the windows launcher to "run in 256 colour" it allowed me to play the game - but prevents all the others from running.
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Collector » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:08 pm

Many of the problems are because of the ancient version of DOSBox that ships with the game. More modern versions are not compatible with the launcher because the config file is hard coded in the launcher. All of the problems that you mention are fixed by the patches:

http://sierrahelp.com/Patches-Updates/N ... aters.html

You will need to use the patch for KQ7 as you will not be able to get past the firecracker bug without skipping the chapter. It upgrades the game to version 2.00b, which besides bug fixes, has a DOS interpreter that can be played in DOSBox.
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Re: The Many Problems with the 2006 VU KQ Collection

Postby Maxor127 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:53 pm

Sounds exactly like I expected from those Sierra collection releases. I'm glad I didn't buy them. I'll just keep relying on my own emulation skills. After playing the special editions of Monkey Island 1 and 2, I wish Sierra games would get the same treatment. Those are the kind of remakes I'd like to see. High resolution 3D graphics while retaining the style, spirit, and controls of the originals.
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