Book Suggestions

Home Forums DOS Talk DOS Development Book Suggestions

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)

  • tleilax

    Good morning all,

    On the subject of DOS development. Does anyone have any book suggestions please? Ideally these would be books from the 90s about game development, in C. However, other texts are also welcome.

    Very best wishes, and thank you



    Michael Abrash’s Graphics Programming Black Book is considered a landmark text of the era. A fascinating read even if you don’t use or need all the techniques described.


    Thanks very much Patrick.

    There’s a github for it over here:

    Some kind people out there have formatted it for .epub, .mobi and .pdf

    Time to put it on the Kindle!



    But seriously, I’m not sure what your level is with C, but I’ve found the Sam’s series of programming books usually quite good.


    Fantastic suggestion, I’ll take a look!

    I’m not an expert at C, but I know enough to write a small console utility and can understand referencing/dereferencing pointers.


    Hi @tleilax. It makes me happy to see others interested in DOS development too! I am a DOS dev newbie, but aspire to create a real game one day.

    Abrash’s Big Black Book is fantastic if you want to get into the nuts-and-bolts of the VGA machinery, but it reads very much like a technical manual, with a focus on assembly language. I found it a hard entry point into DOS programming. It’s on my reading list for the future, but until then I have to accumulate more experience.

    I have a copy of Jonathan S. Harbour’s “Game Programming All in One 2nd Edition”. The writing is easy to read, and follows a tutorial style of building a demo game, spanning the chapters. I should note that the book is tied to the Allegro DOS game library. Available Amazon.

    David Brackeen’s C VGA tutorial really helped get me started. It covers the basics in C – Entering video mode, drawing primitives and bitmaps, palette manipulation and double buffering.

    Then if you want to get into a little more advanced techniques, I can recommend Lode Vandevenne graphics tutorials – flood fills, plasmas, fires, raycasting, image filtering and procedural texture generation.

    I can also recommend Root42’s Let’s Code video tutorials. I find these a pleasure to watch.


    Here’s a selection from my collection!

    AndrĂ© LaMothe’s books aren’t going to turn you into an expert, super-optimising MSDOS game developer, but they are *fun* and are a journey through all the important topics. They’re a great introduction if you’re doing this as a hobby and want to enjoy the process. They use a mixture of assembly and C to build ‘engines’ and libraries from scratch.

    I wouldn’t recommend actually buying the physical copy of the allegro api (though I have a spare copy if someone wants it), but allegro 4.2 works on MSDOS and is a hugely featured library that can do just about anything you’d want. Definitely worth looking at if you’re more excited about making *games* than spending your life writing engines.

    OpenGL isn’t really a thing on MSDOS, but I include it because implementations, partial and otherwise, do exist, and to me it’s a good way to go if your interest is in portable 3D games. If you’re dreaming of 3dfx games, these can be helpful. Super dry though.

    Depending on where you’re at in your programming journey, you might want a textbook on collisions. It’s in no way DOS specific but ‘REALTIME COLLISION DETECTION’ is pretty much The Reference on the subject. Can definitely live without this.

    Finally I included ‘The Elements of Computing Systems’ because it’s a great lesson on the real low level hows and whys of computer architecture. Definitely not essential but really interesting if that’s your kink.

    Keep us (me) updated!



    Hey Wesbat and Voxel,

    Thank you both so much! These are excellent suggestions.

    I’ll try to keep you both posted, it’s going to be slow going however as I’m doing this purely for the joy of it.

    The LaMothe suggestion is great, I’ve actually got one of his books with Sam’s – Game Programming in 21 Days, but have heard great things about the Game Programming Guru’s.

    Going to check out the Brackeen tutorial and the Harbour book.

    Thanks again, I really appreciate everyone taking the time to give me a few pointers here.


Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Home Forums DOS Talk DOS Development Book Suggestions