DosBox Warnings in Reviews
July 1, 2020 at 9:04 pm #3523
Just curious if anyone has experience getting this gem to run smoothly on modern machines?
The game is pretty cheap on GOG, $6 US for both 1 and 2, but many of the reviews warn that the game has a lot of performance issues. Check out the “Most Helpful” review.
You can also purchase the first for $5 on Origin but I can’t tell if it uses DosBox or has similar performance issues.
Wing Commander on Origin
Could use any help or recommendations!
BTW maybe this should be a separate thread, but I assume we’re discussing the original, then 2 and 3 if you feel up to it?
rnlfKeymasterPodcasterJuly 2, 2020 at 6:25 am #3529
Might give me a reason to finally repair my 386. Hoping that one isn’t too fast. I guess I could get a 286 from storage or something instead.
PixParticipantPodcasterJuly 2, 2020 at 9:29 am #3531
These warnings are way overstated. I don’t know what GOG’s setup is like but I’ve played this on DOSBox loads of times without any real difficulty. Bottom line is run it at a fixed cycle count of around 3000-4000 and you will be fine. If you really need to, use ctrl-F11, Ctrl-F12 to change the speed a bit.
Wing Commander never ran at 60 fps. It simply wasn’t all that smooth in the first place. I think the main problem people have is that they crank up the cycles to get it running smoothly and it goes into fast forward.
With real hardware, it should run fine on a 486 or Pentium if you switch off the CPU caching. The ideal platform is something along the lines of a 386-25.
Whatever your platform, I would strongly advise playing this with a joystick. I suppose it should be playable with the analog stick on a controller either. I really don’t advise using keyboard or mouse.
TijnKeymasterPodcasterJuly 2, 2020 at 9:36 am #3532
Hmmm… I wonder if I could get my PS4 controller to work with Dosbox.
I don’t have any other joystick o_O
firefyteParticipantPodcasterJuly 2, 2020 at 9:40 am #3533
Just map the axes and everything in the keymapper, should be fine!July 2, 2020 at 1:18 pm #3534
@pix Do you mind elaborating why you don’t recommend mouse?
The reason I ask is because I never played Wing Commander but I did play Tie Fighter a lot and I could never get the joystick to properly do the really fine aiming required shoot down those pesky X-Wings. I have very vivid memories of switching from joystick to mouse and thinking “Wow, now this game is a lot of fun!”
PixParticipantPodcasterJuly 2, 2020 at 5:03 pm #3535
I’d have given the same advice for Tie Fighter so you may be ok with mouse here also if you are already used to it I suppose. It’s a standard notion among Wing Commander fans that you are better using a joystick, I expect everyone would give the same advice if you asked the question over at wcnews.com (the home on the web for Wing Commander fans).
The WC mouse controls are essentially emulating the joystick – they literally move a cursor around the screen which turns you faster the further you are from centre. Its a clear attempt to shoehorn a solution in my eyes. You’ll find Wing Commander to require far less precise aiming than Tie Fighter. The combat more or less ends up as chicken runs where you need to move as quickly as possible, aim quickly and then spin around again. You’ll probably end up swinging the mouse all over the place for this but I’m sure it’s doable with practice. It’s natural (to me at least) with an analog joystick.
Thinking way, way back to when I first played WC2 (before I had a joystick), I used keyboard in preference. Maybe mouse some of the time for more precise aiming but it didn’t work for me. I’d have been on a ball mouse back then mind you. If nothing else a joystick is more authentic. You wouldn’t be using a mouse to fly an F-15 after all.
Evil TacoParticipantJuly 4, 2020 at 10:12 am #3549
This is definitely a game I want to put on the 486 for playing. I’ve also been lucky enough to find a Gravis Analog Pro from a flea market for practically nothing. Looking forward to September, hope I have the time!
f2bnpParticipantAugust 2, 2020 at 11:27 am #3647
Sorry for the bump, but as others have stated, Wing Commander was never designed to run at 70, 60, 30 or probably even 20fps. The target was probably a fast 286 or one of the early 386 that were around at the time.
Performance is sluggish on those systems, but I personally quickly get accustomed to it, it just takes a bit of time. Running Wing Commander on newer systems, even 486 just a couple of years later, caused performance to speed up to obscene levels thanks to the lack of a frame limiter in the game. I believe Wing Commander 2 fixed that, but WC1 is definitely one of those games that people tweak their systems by disabling caches and adjusting frequencies just to get the right balance to play the game properly.
As such, people attempting to play the game nowadays through DOSBox might try to raise the cycles to get smoother performance, which in turn makes the game play way too fast and it becomes impossible to control your ship and hit Kilrathi crafts.
The situation is not unlike StarFox on the original SNES which ran pretty sluggishly, probably sub 10fps at times. When powerful emulators and systems came around, people tried to hack it so that the SuperFX chip hidden within the cartridge ran at a higher frequency. While this undoubtedly made the game run smoother, it also meant that it ran a lot faster making it very very hard to play. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!
I too recommend a joystick with this one, mouse doesn’t feel good at all for this one for me, it feels like they tried to map the mouse axes to joystick axes, so it’s just weird to control. Keyboard is better, but obviously not as good as a joystick.September 6, 2020 at 9:35 pm #3748
I finished the first game and would agree that the warnings are a bit overstated if you just expect slowdowns during larger battles. I’d have to imagine the same thing happened on original hardware, but I don’t know. Anyways the tweak guide I posted above was extremely helpful for fixing stretched graphics, allowing finer manual control over slow-down and speed-up using ctrl+f11 and ctrl+f12. And it sounds really good with roland-mt32 emulation.
I fully plan on using the same person’s guide for Wing Commander 2.
Wing Commander 2 Tweak Guide
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