03 Apr

Tex Murphy Under a Killing Moon – DOSBox Guide (No CDs)

When last we met our hero, he was struggling in vain to hear the sweet jazz stylings of James Earl Jones as the Great Detective in the Sky. “Why, oh, why aren’t DOS legacy sound drivers a requirement of WQHL certification?” he lamented…

uakm-box

I was working 3rd Shift (11:00pm to 7:00am) when I first saw Under a Killing Moon. And, as one might imagine, I had a great deal of spare time on my hands. A perfect situation for an adventure game that was fun, and most importantly, had serious plot-depth. I can even remember the PC Gaming articles, remarking that it was a game with chuztspa to recommend 4 CDROM drives and a 486DX/66 just to get the full experience. And really, it has only been out-paced by hardware in the last 4 or 5 years–which is frankly remarkable for a game that was released in 1994!

uakm01uakm02

This unique game was an instant classic, and should always be mentioned with the top-shelf of classic games that truly innovated the adventure genre. So, in my mind, Tex Murphy always keeps company with King’s Quest, Myst, and Zork. UAKM was the first game to take a fully navigable 3D environment and interweave it with full-motion video. This created a result that far beyond just a gimmick, but instead transformed itself into a new genre of gaming. Personally, I would trace the Thief games and System Shock II back to this early beginning.

But how do I play it today?

I’m here to help. This is the 3rd of my Tex Murphy Guide articles, here on the Fourth Law. I’ve dealt with the hardest to run of the series, Pandora Directive. We’ve seen Overseer running pretty well in XP. And now, I’ll swing around to the original, ground-breaking game, Under a Killing Moon. It runs extremely well on DOSBox with modern hardware, just like Pandora Directive. So, if you have read my article on PD, then you can probably quickly adapt the same techniques to UAKM and get going (don’t forget the patch).

gus1

But, I’m going to dig a little deeper and go for the ultimate retro experience (at least for me), and setup Under a Killing Moon to use the Advanced Gravis UltraSound 16 for audio and MIDI music. Just playing the demo MID files from the GUS install disks was such a nostalgic experience it almost physically disoriented me. Ah, HIDNSEEK.MID, how I loved thee…

I still have two GUS16s (1024K and 512K) at home, and an official GUS MIDI/Joystick breakout cable. Had to special order it from Gravis…I think the made them by hand or something 🙂

Just to be clear, here, this will actually take a chunk back from the performance of the game. Therefore, I will demonstrate how to just use the General MIDI interface as well, which I believe maps directly to the XP MIDI Mapper. The General MIDI interface in DOSBox will be much more efficient–so it should probably be used to play through UAKM. Anyway, we’ll do both–GM for performance, and GUS for old skool fun. However, due to the length of this post I am going to add the GUS guide as a Part 2.

First order of business, obtain a copy of the game. I suggest eBay for this one. Amazon will occasionally have a used copy, but they seem scarce there. So get one…and even a few scratches won’t be a big deal, as part of the process will be imaging the CDs to the hard drive–which usually mitigates those scratches that cause the optical reader fits. To do this, we’ll once again tap Alex Feinman’s ISO Recorder Power Toy. This free tool simply creates ISO files from CDs or DVDs. Place each disk into the drive, right-click on the drive and select Create Image from CD.

iso_1

Then store it someplace handy. I suggest creating an ISO directory using game name to keep them all separate. And just for simplicity’s sake, use director names without spaces in them. Spaces seem to bug DOSBox. For instance:

C:\archives\iso\disk1.iso

iso_2

Now that we have our ISO images, we can move onto DOSBox itself.

dosboxlogo1

Download the most current version. In this guide, I’ll be using 0.70, but the config files appear to be backward compatible. Let it install with all the defaults. I’ll do a little cut and paste from the PD guide: After it is installed, browse out to the folder C:\Program Files\DOSBox-0.70\ and look inside. It wouldn’t hurt to read the README.TXT, but we’ll skip it for now.

To follow my method, we’ll be creating a pair of text files. The first one is called tex_uakm.bat and will easily launch our DOSBox session with our choice of command-line switches. For the second file, copy the default dosbox.conf to a new file called tex_uakm.conf. This file will contain all the sound card, cpu, and memory settings required to run the game, and will also mount all of our ISO images as CD drives.

I have my ISO files in C:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\ so, obviously, the bit at the end may need to be changed to the proper location. Here are links to copies of my own files:

tex_uakm.conf
tex_uakm.bat

However, since you are probably here partly for the challenge of beating a DOS game into submission, let’s briefly go through the changes to the config. This will be helpful later should you decide to go on and setup the GUS MIDI or play another game entirely.

I’m going to start with the section called RENDER. This is a change from the previous guide, but after some testing with .070 there seems no need for some of the settings. Just set frameskip to 1 from the default of 0, which serves to smooth things out a bit.

[render]
frameskip=1

Now to one of the most critical spots. CPU core will default to auto, but I force it to stay in dynamic. Also, pay close attention to where the cycles setting is. This is the one we’ll have to tweak to get a good Tex experience. Is that a “Texperience”?

[cpu]
core=dynamic
cycles=14000

Let’s go ahead and address this here. Essentially this: Start at around 12000 or 14000 and move it up at 1000 cycle intervals until the game gets as fast as possible, but doesn’t cook the sound or tear the video. In other words, once the process of installing the game and setting up the sound is complete, this configuration file needs to be edited, this number changed, the file saved, and the game tested. It will take some time, but it is the only way the optimum performance can be dialed in for each individual computer system.

There are no changes to the Mixer section, but I wanted to point out the rate setting…this can be lowered if you really need the performance, but if that has to be done, you might be wasting your time on slow hardware. This shouldn’t make enough difference on a modern machine to be the sliver bullet that takes you from an unplayable choppy mess to silky smooth gaming delight. Oh, and the nosound may seem counter-intuitive: make sure it is false if you do, in fact, want sound.

[mixer]
nosound=false
rate=22050

Defaults are fine for the MIDI section. (If planning to GUS it up, keep a mental note on this section.)

[midi]
mpu401=intelligent
device=default
config=

Here’s some changes from the Pandora Directive Guide, turn off the Sound Blaster emulation:

[sblaster]
sbtype=none

And turn on the GUS! w00t!

[gus]
gus=true

gusrate=22050
gusbase=240
irq1=5
irq2=5
dma1=3
dma2=3
ultradir=C:\ULTRASND

Turn off the PC speaker, Disney Sound Source, Tandy, Joystick, and stuff:

[speaker]
pcspeaker=none
pcrate=22050
tandy=off
tandyrate=22050
disney=false[joystick]
joysticktype=none

The defaults are fine for all the rest, but let’s turn off Extended Memory (EMS):

[dos]
xms=true
ems=false
umb=true
keyboardlayout=none

Lastly, I’ll add a few lines to the Autoexec section to mount our ISO images. Change this to reflect the proper location, if needed:

[autoexec]
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount c c:\Archives\games -freesize 20
imgmount D “c:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\disk1.iso” -t iso
imgmount E “c:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\disk2.iso” -t iso
imgmount F “c:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\disk3.iso” -t iso
imgmount G “c:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\disk4.iso” -t iso
c:
cd\moon
#tex197

If you’re keeping score at home, you might notice that the last line has a # in front of it to comment it out–basically telling DOSBox to skip this line. We will want to take that out later after we complete the installation and patch. Save this file as tex_uakm.conf and then create a batch file with the following lines:

@echo off
dosbox -conf tex_uakm.conf -noconsole -fullscreen -exit

And save it as tex_uakm.bat. Now we’re ready to install Under a Killing Moon, so run the batch file. It should place us in the C:\MOON directory. Type in SETUP and hit enter. Edit:  I made a big mistake here–thanks to Detray for discovering it! Change to the D: drive (or whichever letter is mapped to the ISO of the first CD) and run SETUP.EXE.  In other words, at the C: prompt, type:

D: <enter>
SETUP <enter>

And the following screen should appear.

uakm01a1

Pretty obvious, click Install Software.

uakm02a

Click OK to accept the defaults. Notice all 4 of your virtual CD-ROM drives! 🙂

uakm03

Confirm the path.

uakm04

And now, we patch. Download this file and just unzip it into the game directory.

uakm05

Let’s setup the game!

uakm06

Click OK, and let it Autodetect.

uakm07

Click Auto Detect for the tenth time and one should see the following results–matching the DOSBox config. Port 240, IRQ 5, DMA 1.

uakm08

uakm09

Click the Sound Test to hear Tex say

“Prophecy is not in my job description. I’m just a humble P.I. trying to save the world as we know it.”

uakm10

Now to the MIDI setup:, click Continue:

uakm11

uakm12

Here is where we will use the General MIDI interface for performance reasons, and set the port to 330. Change the settings and test the sound. Some film noir jazz should be pounding from the speakers.

uakm13

Lastly, let’s take advantage of UAKM’s interface that allows us to use 4 CD drives.

If the goal is to get UAKM setup and running, this is where you can leave us. Click OK, select New Game, and save the world!

Stay tuned for the Ultimate DOSBox Gravis UltraSound 16 and Tex Murphy Under a Killing Moon installation guide!

Hope this helps–if it does, please comment or digg it!

23 thoughts on “Tex Murphy Under a Killing Moon – DOSBox Guide (No CDs)

  1. i loved this game bk in the day and it would be awsome to play again!…
    ive been trying to get it working using ur no cd method but all i get wen i run the batch file is a quick flas of the dos window and then nothing…
    ive copied ur config file info and added :

    mount c c:\games -freesize 20
    imgmount D “C:\iso\tex_uakm\tex_uakm_CD1.iso” -t iso
    imgmount E “C:\iso\tex_uakm\tex_uakm_CD2.iso” -t iso
    imgmount F “C:\iso\tex_uakm\tex_uakm_CD3.iso” -t iso
    imgmount G “C:\iso\tex_uakm\tex_uakm_CD4.iso” -t iso
    c:
    cd\moon
    #tex197

    in place of ur instruction as this is wher i wish to install it…

    what am i doing wrong?…plse help!…thank you..

    • Would you please outline your directory structure for UAKM? I have followed your instructions using my own directories and virtual CD drives. Everything works like a charm right up to the
      cd\moon line :(. I get the “cannot change to moon” message. All the .iso images are mounted and ready to work but………..
      Where is the MOON directory? It isn’t on our mounted C drive that I can see. I guess I just cant figure out how your [mount c c:\archives\games -freesize 20] line works.
      I know you must get lots of requests for help. I am at the end of my brain charge for today. Any help appreciated.

      • Yep. t_a_o had it right down below. I just put the game in any old folder, but where ever it is, just tell DOSBox to load that folder as it’s C: drive. That is the first line in the autoexec portion

        mount c [location where you want it] -freesize 20

        Hope this helps!

  2. Read this again, then change to what I put with capitalized letters 🙂

    [autoexec]
    # Lines in this section will be run at startup.
    mount c c:\Archives\games -freesize 20
    imgmount D “c:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\disk1.iso” -t iso
    imgmount E “c:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\disk2.iso” -t iso
    imgmount F “c:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\disk3.iso” -t iso
    imgmount G “c:\archives\iso\tex\uakm\disk4.iso” -t iso
    c:
    cd\moon (REMOVE THE \ SO IT JUST SAYS: cd moon (this should be the path where you installed the actual game to))
    #tex197 (REMOVE THE # AFTER INSTALLING THE PATCH)

    If you’re keeping score at home, you might notice that the last line has a # in front of it to comment it out–basically telling DOSBox to skip this line. We will want to take that out later after we complete the installation and patch. Save this file as tex_uakm.conf and then create a batch file with the following lines:

  3. Ohh forgot something!

    This line:
    mount c c:\Archives\games -freesize 20

    iI just means, that he installs all his games in that path – so if you install yours in D:\Games
    Then it should read:
    mount c d:\games

    AND, this is the reason why at the end we do this:
    c: (TO GO TO C DRIVE – DOSBOX ALWAYS START IN Z, BUT WE HAVE TO GO TO C, BECAUSE OF THE FIRST LINE)
    cd moon (IF YOU INSTALLED THE GAME IN: d:\games\Moon)

  4. Ok I’m getting the same issue here…”unable to chance to moon” I’ve tried everything mentioned here. I even mimiced Tanstaafl’s setup with the c:archives\games bit and the locations of the images (archives\iso\tex\uakm). Still get the same thing. From the instructions t_a_o it appears that you need to install it before doing all this when he says “cd moon (IF YOU INSTALLED THE GAME IN: d:\games\Moon)” above. There is no directory MOON in the mount of c:archives\games…is it supposed to read this from the mounted images? Those seem to be working as they say MSCDEX Installed. Drive F mounted as [location here]. SO…what do I need to do??

  5. I understand everything i just dont get how it can run C:moon in the emulated directory c:\archives\games…unless the folder MOON exists in there..and it doesnt. Im so confused.

    • Yes. Part of the process is to take ISO images of the Game CDs. I stored them in archivesisotexuakm, as you noted above. Once those are there, you still need to run the game’s installation program, which should create a C:MOON directory by default.

      In other words, one directory to hold the ISO files that we mount in the DOSBox setup, and then one directory is created by the game itself (which thinks it is just running on a DOS system). And then one ring to rule them. 🙂

      This help?

      I’ll check my process above and make sure that I didn’t skip the installation step–or do it out-of-order.

  6. I figured it out…i had to type D:INSTALL, I think maybe my discs are different from the ones you used…

    • WOW! Thanks, Detray! The problem was that I had a mistake in the article–I fixed it and gave you credit for pointing me to it! I really appreciate it and apologize for causing the confusion! 🙂

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  8. ANyone have memory issues when skipping from intro to start first scene…. tried to change dsbox mem to 32 without succes…. any ideas?

  9. I double-click on the bat file and a DOS window just flashes and exits immediately and nothing happens. HELP!!

  10. I have followed all of the instructions but when I get to the change from C:\oldgames… to D: setup I keep getting a line that says I have to mount D:. I am not from the DOS era so the commands are very confusing. It took forever for me to understand “run the batch file” then it was nothing more than a flash. Would it be possible to get a more descriptive step by step path? For example I created “oldgames” \ “iso” \ “tex” \ “uakm”\ “discX because I thought I would be putting all of my games in “oldgames” such as Pandora, Return to Zork etc maybe that is the problem. I really need some help!

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  13. In order to fix the sound choppiness, I also fiddled with the blocksize and prebuffer values under the [mixer] category.

    I set mine to:
    blocksize=1024
    prebuffer=30

  14. After years of wondering if I would ever play the Tex Murphy games again, last spring following your instructions voila I was in heaven. The last time I played was in July and everything worked seamlessly but when I booted up to play I have both sound and video issues. I first notices some popping at the intro video when they ended although no audio issues in the game itself. The video however is a mess. When I load a game it is slow to load but once it does the video window looks great but the control panel and inventory do not show up until I run the mouse cursor over it it’s like painting the screen on with the mouse. Once I start moving through the game even the video screen experiences the “paint by numbers” issue. Any suggestions?

    Thanks, CB

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