Play Tie Fighter in Windows

2010/03/27 by Lassi A. Liikkanen

How to Play Tie Fighter Collector's Edition on Windows

Old Lucas Arts games still can conjure up some gaming experience in addition to nostalgy, but they require some tweaking as they don't work right away in a ”modern” PC. This guide gives an idea how to get Tie Fighter CD version running on a Windows XP (Vista and Windows 7 have not been tested). I am using Tie with a USB gamepad, Xbox 360 wired controller and DOSBox 0.72. I will first tell you how to get the pad working before going to the game

Joystick operation

The possible issues with Xbox 360 controller is that hte default driver provided by Microsoft for the device is lousy. It has no configurability and will not work as such with Lucas games. Luckily there are alternatives, particularly XBCD - XBox(360) Controller Driver.

Now, a word of warning, Xbox360 controller IS NOT the same as the old Xbox controller. The same 3rd party driver will not work for both! Several people have stumbled upon the same issue and downloaded outdated drivers for Xbox controller.

The right software is located over here: http://www.peteandmegan.com/?p=64 and is called All Digital Buttons Version 0.2.6. I use this package: http://www.peteandmegan.com/files/xbcd/xbcd360-win2k-0.2.5.zip (that is outdated, 0.2.6 can be found here and 0.2.7 is rumored ).

DO NOT DOWNLOAD Basic XBCD http://www.redcl0ud.com/xbcd.html#download which has versions from 0.35 to 1.07. It will not work with Xbox 360 controller.

Installing the right driver is pretty straight forward. First, the setup installs the driver and then, if you wish, assings it to the attached Xbox360. The controller and possibly existing Microsoft driver can be installed at the time being. Installing the alternative driver requres you to accept the unsigned driver. After the software installation, plug out and plug in you controller and it should be ready rock. It should show in the XBCD setup utility.

Playing The Game

To get old DOS games running in Windows XP doesn't really work that simple. For instance, I could get the game installed in the command prompt from the CD, but game would really run (sound, VESA and many other issues) never mind how I tried to tweak the XP DOS environment.

The working solution is to use a DOS emulator DOSBox which provides both sound and input device interfaces for the old games. Good part is that you can enjoy the old games in full, the bad part is that it is amazingly resource intensive. This means that you need a 10 years newer computer to run the old games in full resolution. It is all up to your CPU as there is no 3d acceleration here.

So, go on download DOSBox from http://www.dosbox.com/

Now, next get your Tie Fighter installation CD ready in hand and start DOSBox. You can't really succeed in the installation without running the installation through DOSBox. Some people say that you should always install the game to C drive. If you don't want to take your chances, do so.

After the installation, you are free to try your luck with the game. However, it is very likely that you need to tweak the dosbox configuration file (dosbox.conf no autoexec anything anyomre). It will reside in the dosbox installation directory. I have made the following changes:

[autoexec]
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount C C:
# F is my Windows CD/DVD/BluRay drive
mount D F: -t cdrom -usecd 0
c:
cd tiecd
tie

# DOSBox authors do not recommend mounting your root C: To prevent this from happening, you should install the game within DOSbox to some subfolder of your real C: drive. I ended up installing to default location c:tiecd outside DOSBox which resulted in the present setup.

I warmly recommend that you create a disk image (ISO, NRG, etc.) file from the CD-ROM and use DAEMONTools Lite or similar virtual drive software to fake your CD for the game. Loading of the dialogues will become much smoother and you don't have to worry about the physical medium.

This automatically launches Tie once you start DOSBox and enables joystick. Next thing you'll notice is that the joystick is probably not working as you'd like it to work. Particularly the old school pad cross hair (point of view in XBOX) is not mapping to natural up and down but the left stick is. So you have to use the wonderful XBCD configuration tool to tweak the controls AND also run the DOSBox mapper utility (press CTRL + F1 in the console view). Basically, map POV hat to Axis1 and then all Xbox controller buttons to keyboard commands. After you do that, you'll be amazed what the game can do!

Troubleshooting, gotchas

Playing the game in full screen upscaled to FullHD/WUXGA did not work for me. Instead I have to set a lower resolution (640x480 would be nominal) before starting the game (tried on ATI Radeon X1200 series integrated adapter).

XBCD and DOSBox key mappings are not very clear. Particular XBCD remapping is very inconvenient. I recommend deciding your mappings in XBCD so that you have minimal tweaking for the DOSBox as that will be a pain in the ass.

Before you start, check you DON'T have any mapper.txt file in DOSBox directory and that you have set the buttonwrap=false in the config.

I have made availabe the XBCD config file (.xgi), DOSbox.conf and mapper.txt I have used for playing TIE Fighter here: http://iki.fi/lassial/files/misc/100131-Tie_fighter_example_conf.zip

Post Scriptum

I actually got badly hooked to the game and spend some time going it through. Finishing off as a general, emperor's voice and 1990415 points, I can't believe I really spend the time busting through the 74 missions! Still fun after ages. If you're doing the same I recommed :
http://www.gamefaqs.com/computer/doswin/file/199007/24165
http://www.starbase01.com/site/index.php?id=13,0,0,1,0,0
Using DOSBox, I had some pretty strange issues with screen refreshing and sudden crashes (ATI X1200 on Win XP). For instance, extended desktop was completely bugger for game play. Neither did I enjoy all the mission in B9, B12 and B13, but you can always decrease the challenge by going Easy. Generally I think that the extra's are not really so well written battles as the six original ones, but what the heck. Blast'em away and let Emperor sort 'em out!

Miscellanous references

DOSBox conversations:

http://vogons.zetafleet.com/viewtopic.php?t=18287&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0&sid=99550531adfc98c34f01eddbef492d60

http://vogons.zetafleet.com/viewtopic.php?p=161640 Tweaking performance

This how it looks when it runs in a DOSBox window :

Keywords: [computers] Document's status: Ok (Document dates explained)

This document created: 2010/01/31
Modified: 2010/03/27
Published: 2010/02/28


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