Space flying simulator games

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MrFlibble
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Space flying simulator games

Post by MrFlibble » November 17th, 2012, 11:56 am

Although I'm quite a fan of old-school aircraft flight simulators, I've never played space flying sims that much. However, I've taken some interest in those recently, and perhaps some of those will eventually find their way into RGB Classic Games database.

Frontier: Elite II
This instalment in the Elite series enjoys quite a huge popularity. The game itself had been released first as shareware and then as freeware, according to Wikipedia and Elite Wiki. I have not yet found the original shareware package (if it were ever released online that is), but the freeware release (which is shareware with included activation codes) can be found at numerous places, including FilePlanet, FrontierAstro and Frontierverse. There's also an early non-playable DOS demo: FRONTIER.ZIP

Frontier: First Encounters
A sequel to Elite II, which had also been released as shareware. The details about the freeware release are rather sketchy (with the archive.org's servers that host the old pages of eliteclub.co.uk and frontier.co.uk down not helping matters), but the shareware version can be found here. Note that both shareware versions of Elite II and First Encounters include the following clause in the license file:
5. DISTRIBUTION.
Limited Distribution License for Redistribution of Evaluation Copy.
You may without making any payment to AUTHOR make copies of the evaluation SOFTWARE as
you wish; give exact copies of the original evaluation SOFTWARE to anyone; and distribute the
evaluation SOFTWARE in its unmodified form via electronic means (either directly or through the
posting of a copy of the SOFTWARE on the Internet, BBS's, Shareware distribution libraries, CD-
ROMs, etc.) to third parties who are interested in evaluating the SOFTWARE except for the
purpose of extending their evaluation period
Star Crusader
Like Frontier games above, this game had been published by GameTek. The game is not free but a playable demo version is available: STARCRDE.ZIP

Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger
A playable demo is available either as a single file or split into smaller parts.
Single archive: wc3demo.zip
Split version: wc3demo (folder)

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom
This game has two versions of the playable demo, one of which is smaller in size.
Smaller online demo: wc4demo.zip
Large demo: wc4demofull.zip

Wing Commander: Prophecy
Playable demo: demowc.exe
Demo movies: movies.exe

Wing Commander: Secret Ops
A stand-alone add-on to Prophecy, this game has been released as freeware over the Internet, with additional episodes released as separate downloads.
Main installer: secretopsfull.exe
Episode 2: episode2.exe
Episode 3: episode3.exe
Episode 4: episode4.exe
Episode 5: episode5.exe
Episode 6: episode6.exe
Episode 7: episode7.exe

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MrFlibble
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Re: Space flying simulator games

Post by MrFlibble » November 18th, 2012, 6:33 pm

Oh, and I nearly forgot Star Quest I in the 27th Century I've mentioned in another thread. Haven't been able to make it work yet though.

[Edit] Regarding the status of Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters, I've just checked the archived copy of the Elite Club downloads page from 2001 (it's working now), and it says that
We have now released Frontier and First Encounters as shareware. There is a £5 registration fee which applies if you continue to play either game for more than 30 days. We strongly recommend reading the readme.txt file included with each game before playing.
Which is basically the same thing as what is said in the readme file. The files are identical to the ones available at FrontierAstro.

However, I've checked various copies of the downloads page across the years, and nowhere does it say that any game had been released as true freeware. It's just that the shareware versions, unlike the Scott Miller model, are just full versions of games which you're expected to pay for if you intend to keep playing after the trial period.

The license though states clearly that these shareware packages may be distributed in their unmodified form and for no charge, marked as "shareware".

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MrFlibble
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Re: Space flying simulator games

Post by MrFlibble » November 19th, 2012, 10:17 am

I have actually managed to run Star Quest I (it runs fine in DOSBox 0.74, but I use Taewoong's build v0.71 most of the time, so I had those problems), it's a fun game, so I really suggest to check it out :) It's also of more than decent quality, so I have to wonder why it had not become popular at all, even in spite of being shareware.

BTW, the company that made this game, Virtual Adventures Inc., still exists, and they are working on a sequel to Star Quest too :)

Here's the original shareware version 1.0 for anyone interested: SQ1.ZIP

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leilei
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Re: Space flying simulator games

Post by leilei » November 20th, 2012, 6:26 pm

Nomad had a demo.

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Re: Space flying simulator games

Post by DOSGuy » November 20th, 2012, 8:08 pm

I've tried wc3demo.zip with DOSBox 0.74 and ykhwong's 20121110 build, and about 10 seconds in I get "Exception 0 happened" whether I use the -v argument or not. I've tried mounting the folder as a CD-ROM just in case the game is expecting to be played from a CD, but that changes nothing. Have you gotten it working in DOSBox?

I'm also having a frustrating time with wc4demo.zip. After a good deal of screwing around -- in which I mounted a FreeDOS bootdisk and set "path a:\" to allow inst2hd.bat to run xcopy, only to find that it created a folder with the exact same files that were already there -- I eventually just mounted the same folder as both an HDD and CD-ROM drive to satisfy the game's need for a "Disc 1". That gets rid of the error message about not finding Disc 1, but absolutely nothing happens when I try to run wc4.bat or wc4demo.exe. They just quietly return to the command prompt.

Things work better in wc4demofull.zip, using the same procedure of mounting the same folder as HDD and CD-ROM drive, this time without using inst2hd.bat. With a CD-ROM to use as Disc 1, the game happily loads up a black screen and then does absolutely nothing. I can reduce the size of the black screen using the -v argument, so I can produce either an SVGA black screen or a VGA black screen.

I'm going to need some instructions on how to run these demos before they can go on the site.
Today entirely the maniac there is no excuse with the article.

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MrFlibble
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Re: Space flying simulator games

Post by MrFlibble » November 23rd, 2012, 8:28 am

TBH I haven't yet tried the Wing Commander demos yet, so I have no idea why they wouldn't work...
leilei wrote:Nomad had a demo.
Thanks! (Not that I knew about this game before ;)) Looks like it's this one: NOMADE.ZIP

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MrFlibble
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Re: Space flying simulator games

Post by MrFlibble » January 13th, 2013, 12:13 pm

DOSGuy wrote:I'm also having a frustrating time with wc4demo.zip. After a good deal of screwing around -- in which I mounted a FreeDOS bootdisk and set "path a:\" to allow inst2hd.bat to run xcopy, only to find that it created a folder with the exact same files that were already there -- I eventually just mounted the same folder as both an HDD and CD-ROM drive to satisfy the game's need for a "Disc 1". That gets rid of the error message about not finding Disc 1, but absolutely nothing happens when I try to run wc4.bat or wc4demo.exe. They just quietly return to the command prompt.
I've figured out how to run the small demo, haven't tried the full one though.

First off, you need to put the WC4DEMO folder onto a mounted CD-ROM drive. You don't need to double-mount it as a folder on HDD and as a virtual CD-ROM drive, as it seems to be supposed to run from a CD (it'll create necessary setup and save files on the HDD anyway).

After that, you just run INSTALL.BAT for the first run to configure the game, and WC4.BAT to start it normally once it is configured. However, the tricky thing is that you must disable EMS in DOSBox, or it won't work (I've tested this with the official build of DOSBox v0.74).

In fact, many games may act weirdly if EMS is enabled, and some refuse to work outright (I've noticed that only a fraction of games from the later DOS era actually need EMS to run). In case with the Wing Commander IV demo, it is even hinted at in the readme file that EMS should be disabled:
[3.0 ] Boot Disk Configuration

Almost all problems can be solved by making a boot disk for Wing
Commander IV. Regardless of the total amount of RAM and/or conventional
memory, processor speed/power, etc., the boot disk will set up your
computer specifically to run Wing Commander IV. Expanded Memory
Managers (EMM386, QEMM386, 386MAX, NETROOM, etc.) are not needed and if
configured incorrectly, will often conflict with our own protected mode
memory manager.


[...]

Lines to make sure you want to remove from the CONFIG.SYS of the
boot disk :

DEVICE=C:\DOS\EMM386.EXE ...

DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\IFSHLP.SYS
DEVICE=C:\DOS\SMARTDRV.EXE ...
(emphasis added)

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MrFlibble
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Re: Space flying simulator games

Post by MrFlibble » February 12th, 2013, 7:54 am

Playable demo of Star Rangers: SRDEMO.ZIP

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Re: Space flying simulator games

Post by MrFlibble » October 11th, 2017, 12:08 pm

It appears that the Wing Commander III demo, which tends to crash during the start-up machine speed test, can be made to work by running the test at below 8,000 cycles, as described here.

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