Building a SIERRA computer

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    • #28331 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      I hope I am posting this in the right place!

      Anyways, I recently got a very nice 486 DX2 66mhz PC and I am planning on fixing it up just for Sierra games. What would be some ideal upgrades for an old pc like this? Whats the best sound card, video card, amount of memory for playing Sierra games? I still have my PCjr but it can only play a few of the old games good, but switching disks didin’t bother me back in 1983, but no matter how nostalgic I get switching all those disks is unbearable these days!

      Anyways, It has a CD-Rom drive, 3.5 floppy, but no OS installed. I was thinking of getting DOS 6 off eBay or something but any suggestions would be very much appreciated!

    • #28332 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      I hope I am posting this in the right place!

      I recently got a very nice 486 DX2 66mhz PC and I am planning on fixing it up just for Sierra games. What would be some ideal upgrades for an old pc like this? Whats the best sound card, video card, amount of memory for playing Sierra games? I still have my PCjr but it can only play a few of the old games good. Switching disks didin’t bother me back in 1983, but no matter how nostalgic I get switching all those disks is unbearable these days!

      Anyways, It has a CD-Rom drive, 3.5 floppy, but no OS installed. I was thinking of getting DOS 6 off eBay or something but any suggestions would be very much appreciated!

    • #28333 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      Well really the only thing you need to do is get some sounds going. I would buy a Soundblaster 16 and (if you want to do it right) try to get ahold of a MPU-401 card and a Roland MT-32 and a Sound Canvas (SC-55 or SC-55MKII.) That will give you totally authentic, premium sound.

    • #28334 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      Thanks Daniel! Is there anywhere I can get boot disks for the games? Which DOS should I get? Windows 3.1?

      Thanks again!

    • #28335 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      Well my Sierra Computer aka Ye Olde Games Computer consists of the following:

      Pentium 166
      32 MB Ram
      1.6 GB HD
      2x 32 Speed CD-Rom drives
      Sound Blaster AWE32 (Digital sound + MT32/GM emulation or Native AWE32 support)
      Geforce 2 MX 32MB Video Card

      Operation System:
      Windows 95

      If you know this little trick you don’t need a DOS install. There should be a file on your computer called MSDOS.SYS if you installed Windows 95. You need to edit this file. Find the line: BootWIN=1 Now if you change the 1 into a 0 (BootWIN=0) then when you restart the computer you’ll boot from DOS 7.0 (included in Win95). If you need to play a game in Windows just type WIN and Windows 95 will boot.

      You’ll probably want to do multiple boot configs for different games. Before editing your config.sys file you’ll need to install a memory manager like QEMM386. If you don’t have just Google it. You’ll need to (auto)configer QEMM for your computer. If you don’t know how just let the program run it for you.

      I included my config.sys to give you an idea. My QEMM config leaves me with 621 KB free memory so I can play any memory hungry DOS game.

      Hope this helps 😉
      CONFIG.SYS

    • #28336 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      Quote:
      “… (by King Rygar) Thanks Daniel! Is there anywhere I can get boot disks for the games? Which DOS should I get? Windows 3.1?

      Thanks again!
      …”

      OS: If you can’t find a copy of DOS 6.22 (I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find the images on the ‘Net somewhere), there’s always freedos. I’d recommend a DOS/Win3.1 combo over Win95. I don’t recall any Sierra games requiring EMS, so you shouldn’t need to load anything fancy like QEMM on boot.

      CPU: That DX2 is fine

      Memory: Whatever you’ve got should work. If you are going to play Windows 3.1 based games though, have 4 megs or above.

      On sound: The sound card should be a Sound Blaster, MediaVision, or Gravis – the big players back then. If you want to play the first SCI games in all their glory, the early ones supported the Roland MT-32, and there are some of those things on eBay. Keep in mind that the Sound Blaster’s MIDI port wasn’t a true MPU-401, so Sierra games won’t recognize an MT32 hooked up to it. However, the patch provided in this post will fix that problem. I am not sure if the MediaVision or Gravis had MPU compliant interfaces, though. But all of those old sound cards also had a daughtercard port (for Roland Sound Canvas, et al), but those generally comply with the GM standard of MIDI, whereas most of Sierra’s old stuff was sequenced exclusively for the MT-32. Eventually GM support showed up in a lot of their games, but I’m sure KQ4 doesn’t have it.

      Sierra’s AGI games also had better music than what a PC speaker could provide, but they used a three-voice sound chip found in the Tandy and PCjr. I do not know of any program you can run on your legacy box to emulate that through the Sound Blaster. The only program I found that can do it is Dosbox when it’s in Tandy mode. Very slick, but I noticed that a few people here have complained about Dosbox being hard to set up. If you are somewhat technically inclined, though, I suggest you give it a spin.

      MT-32 Sound Blaster MIDI driver for SCI games

    • #28337 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      Hi!

      I mentioned QEMM because some DOS based Sierra games (without the DOS Extender DOS/4GW) need alot of free memory. I almost always use the GM/MT32 emulation driver for the SB AWE32. When I play a game like Betrayal at Krondor I need a little more than 600Kb free memory. I only seem to get that many free mem with QEMM 😉

      I also prefer WIN95 because of the fact that nowadays there are a lot of drivers/patches made by Sierra fans. These drivers/patches work better IMO (or only) with WIN95 or above.

      You should probably experiment a little with several setups to see what works best for you. If you decide not to build a computer for (old) Sierra games then you should definately check out DOSBOX…

      Grtz

    • #28338 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      Ok guys,

      I got a Packard Bell 204CD system, 24 Megs Ram, 486 Dx2 66Mhz, 500mg hard drive, etc.

      It came with Windows 95 installed. I formatted and installed DOS 6.22. I have jet to get Windows 3.1. I had to hunt down a replacement battery and actually buy and use a solder gun for the first time 🙂

      Anyways, it had some sort of Aztech brand sound card in it. The Cd-Rom Drive is connected to it! To make a long story short, I bought a Creative Labs CT1740 Soundblaster 16 with the Cd-Drive interface so I could replace this aztech thing and play my wonderful old Sierra collection in style!

      Problem is, The Soundblaster 16 didn’t come with the original disks, and the drivers I have found on the internet don’t install the Cd-interface, and thusly I cannot use my Cd-Rom drive.

      Is there any way around this? Should I buy a different model Soundblaster? Awe32, etc?

      Any help would greatly appreciated!

    • #28339 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      [Config.sys]
      Device=C:\SB16\DRV\SBCD.sys /D:MSCD001 /P:220

      [Autoexec.bat]
      c:\SB16\DRV\MSCDEX.EXE /D:MSCD001 /V /M:15

      I’m guessing these are the drivers I am missing 🙁

    • #28340 Reply
      Unknown,Unknown
      Participant

      Hi!

      I do think you should buy another SB soundcard. If you buy a Sound Blaster AWE32 you’ll be able to use the General Midi/Roland MT32 emulation tools which will greatly enchance the midi music quality in Sierra DOS based games (only a few have native AWE32 support under DOS). All Windows based games run great with the AWE32.

      If you don’t get/have/find drivers for the AWE32 I’ll send them to you! I have all original disks.

      Grtz

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