AFE FAQ5

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5) Technical Information

5.1) Slowing down old games on a PC

5.2) Getting the various Elites

5.3) Problems running First Encounters

5.4) Trouble with Win95

  • 5.4.1) Frontier Elite II
  • 5.4.2) First Encounters


5.1) Slowing down old games on a PC

There is an excellent software utility called Mo'Slo which allows you to reduce your PC processor speed to a specified percentage of its maximum. It is available from http://www.hpaa.com/moslo/moslotry.htm It works a treat. Note that it has recently been updated to use less memory and produce slightly more slowdown per percentage.

5.2) Getting the Various Elites

A vast number of classical Elites can be downloaded from Ian Bell's WWW page.

Emulators are recommended for all except ArcElite. Note then that there is an Archimedes (ARM2 - ie a fairly slow one) emulator somewhere on http://www.nvg.unit.no/bbc/emulators.html#ARM2 It runs Archimedes Linux, very slowly, and no-one has got it to run ArcElite yet. Solution: Buy an Archimedes.

Commander Jades (aka Graham Thurlwell) has a good guide as to obtaining Frontier Elite II and First Encounters on his WWW site. http://www.jades.org/getffe.htm The patches are on the download page - http://www.jades.org/download.htm which is worth a look even if you haven't got FFE yet.

As for any other version, I'm afraid you're on your own.

5.3) Problems Running First Encounters

If you just can't load a commander file, I'm afraid that's tough. There's a bug that means every now and again a commander is generated that won't load. Always use the incremental filenames so you have a backup.

If you can't run the actual game, here's a list of things to consider:

i) FirstEnc will not run in Win95 or under QEMM.EXE or other protected mode memory managers because it uses its own, somewhat argumentative one. This was fine at the time because Win95 wasn't out then, but now it's a problem. Either select 'shutdown' then 'restart the computer in MS-DOS mode' or run it in pure MS-DOS mode by selecting this from the F8 menu at startup or from a boot disk with minimal drivers (try just HIMEM.SYS and your mouse driver, and CD-ROM driver if you use the CD version).

ii) Do you have the latest patch version? V1.06 is now available from http://www.jades.org/getffe.htm http://www.stratec.ca/FFE3/jffes/download.htm Note that this patch disables videos in the CD-ROM due to incompatibility with some video cards.

iii) Are you using the CD-ROM version? If so, you should really think about trying the floppy version. Having payed for the game, you are entitled to have a working version, after all. Check out http://www.jades.org/getffe.htm

5.4) Trouble with Win95

First, a few terms. Back in the dim and distant past of MS DOS, memory was divided into 2 main regions: Base and upper. Frontier Elite II uses only base memory and requires rather a lot of it. First Encounters is capable of using upper memory - programs that do this utilise what is known as "a DPMI handler". Win95 contains one of these, built in. So does First Encounters. They are not happy cohabiters.

5.4.1) Frontier Elite II

When you run a DOS game under Win95 it creates an environment the program cannot tell from a genuine DOS boot-up. Unfortunately, this means including the device drivers (which enable your computer to do things like use the CD ROM drive or mouse in DOS). These take up some base memory. If you have too many drivers, there will not be enough base memory for Frontier to run.

First, if you've been messing around with the memory settings in the MS-DOS shortcut, delete it. Then read on:

There are 2 solutions:

1) Remove some DOS drivers. Under Win95, there is no need to have any of these loaded to utilise your devices, except if you boot the computer to the command line or shut down and restart in DOS mode. If you work exclusively in the Windows environment, you can edit your config.sys and autoexec.bat files and comment out (prefix with "rem ") any lines that appear to load code for hardware (and some software - e.g. do you really need that Display Doctor power management system? Win95 can turn off the monitor too...). This will free up more base memory.

To check how much you actually have available, go to a DOS box and type "mem". The figure we are concerned with is the largest executable program size. Typing "mem/c/p" lists drivers and the amounts of base and upper memory they are using.

If you have troubles with your system, remove some or all rems.

For more confident users, consider prefixing lines which run programs from autoexec.bat with "lh " to reduce the amount of base memory they take.


2) Create a boot disk This is better for those not willing to perform surgery on their boot files and for those who regularly use a pure DOS environment. Format a floppy disk, flagging the "copy system files" box (or from DOS type "format a: /s"). Create the following files on it using edit or notepad:

Config.sys

   DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.SYS
   DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\EMM386.EXE RAM
   DOS=HIGH,UMB

Autoexec.bat

   lh c:\mouse\mouse   (or whatever the command for your DOS mouse
                         driver is -you'll find it by loading either
                         c:\autoexec.bat or c:\windows\dosstart.bat
                         into notepad or edit)

Reboot the computer with this floppy in drive A: and run Frontier from DOS.

5.4.2) First Encounters

This game can not in any way be run from the Windows environment. You must either "shut down and restart the computer in MS-DOS mode" (the option off the shutdown menu) or create a boot disk as detailed above.

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