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View Full Version : why does wolf3d refuse to run on my 286 laptop...



Mike Chambers
July 15th, 2010, 11:26 PM
it's the weirdest thing. i've tried everything i could think of. it's a TRAC 201N, and it's either 8 or 10 mhz, i forget. it does have VGA. 640 KB of RAM. i tried my hacked wolf3d for 8086/8088 also, same problem.

this is crazy.. any ideas?? :(

Jorg
July 16th, 2010, 02:35 AM
If I remember correctly it needed quite some free conventional memory - even when it also uses EMS/XMS.
Is it really VGA or MCGA or something?

QuantumII
July 16th, 2010, 11:26 AM
I have ran Wolf3d standard edition on my Compaq SLT/286. It has 640 KB ram. At the time I did it, I was running it from a floppy as the internal HDD was borked.
I booted with a minimal DOS 6.22 boot diskette, with no autoexec.bat or config.sys. The Wolf3d shareware was on a separate floppy.

Make sure that you have no weird TSR (?) running.

Agent Orange
July 16th, 2010, 12:16 PM
This has nothing to do with the problem you are having but how about this: I just downloaded Wolf3D to my AMD 940/XFX 5850/W7 rig. Lo and behold, I clicked on the executable and it took off in a DOSBox. Sound was great too. Anyway, I'll try to get my 486 up and running tonight and see what that brings. Good luck!

Chuckster_in_Jax
July 16th, 2010, 01:33 PM
Some games needed a certain amount of available memory within the conventional 640K space. That required you to run the DOS utility "memmaker" to free enough up so it would run.

barythrin
July 16th, 2010, 01:36 PM
Does it give you any error message or output regarding why it doesn't want to run? Have you played around with the CLI arguments? (http://www.wiki4games.com/Wolfenstein_3D)

Mike Chambers
July 17th, 2010, 04:21 PM
If I remember correctly it needed quite some free conventional memory - even when it also uses EMS/XMS.
Is it really VGA or MCGA or something?

yep, it's not a memory problem. i always make sure i have enough free. i load himem.sys and command.com into the UMB, and load nothing else. it is geuine VGA as well. i've been inside it there are are cirrus logic chips on the motherboard that are clearly labelled VGA, and the video ROM is also labelled VGA.




Some games needed a certain amount of available memory within the conventional 640K space. That required you to run the DOS utility "memmaker" to free enough up so it would run.

yeah i always try to run the game with all the free memory i can give it. the lappy also has 384 KB of EMS. i've tried running the game with NOEMS on the command prompt, it doesn't make a difference either.




Does it give you any error message or output regarding why it doesn't want to run? Have you played around with the CLI arguments? (http://www.wiki4games.com/Wolfenstein_3D)

thanks for the link. i've tried every single one of those, including all of them at once in the same command line. it still won't do anything different.




here's a more detailed description of what it does.. i start wolf3d.exe, i can see the HD light blink rapidly while it loads the game into RAM. takes about a second, and then the screen clearly changes to 320x200 mode, but stays blank. caps lock/numlock/scroll lock all function, and so does ctrl+alt+delete. i had a look at the laptop's BIOS settings. it all looks good, and i've tried disabling all caching like VROM and BIOS ROM.

the machine actually has a full 1 MB of usable RAM, and not just 640 KB. there's an option in the BIOS for relocating that last 384 KB to begin at the 1024 KB offset, where it can be used as EMS. i've always kept it enabled, but i suppose i can try disabling it.. although i doubt it would matter since i've already tried running the game with the NOEMS option which should just completely ignore the state of any >1024 KB RAM.

edit: i've run memory testing software several times, and it all passes every single time. this really makes no sense to me, there is no reason that i can see that should stop this machine from running the game. it meets all the requirements just fine. it doesn't make any sense.


http://rubbermallet.org/headexplode.gif

Jorg
July 17th, 2010, 10:30 PM
Can you run Flightsimulator 1.0? :-P

Laptops are weird sometimes. Normally now I'd suggested to pull the soundcard but alas.
I'd really try turning off all mem shadowing, ems, and all advanced options.

Something is stirring at the back of my mind after you described what happened but I can't get to it. I might have had similar problems, but that must have been around 1992..

Mike Chambers
July 18th, 2010, 01:03 AM
Can you run Flightsimulator 1.0? :-P

Laptops are weird sometimes. Normally now I'd suggested to pull the soundcard but alas.
I'd really try turning off all mem shadowing, ems, and all advanced options.

Something is stirring at the back of my mind after you described what happened but I can't get to it. I might have had similar problems, but that must have been around 1992..

well, if by "flight simulator" you mean throwing this thing out the window i'm considering it yes. yep i've disabled all shadowing, no change. and btw my post earlier was a typo, i meant to say 384 KB of XMS rather than EMS.

i think maybe tomorrow if i find some time, i'm going to dig up the code from when i modded wolf3d to run an an 8086/8088 and just poke around with the initialization code. maybe disabling everything it does and hardcoding the info for this laptop to see if i can just get it going that way.

basman74
July 18th, 2010, 04:15 AM
Hey Mike,

Merely curious, but to what extent have you tested the VGA i.e. what other VGA-specc'd games have you tried on that beast? You could also try games like golden axe or jill of the jungle - both exercise the planar VGA modes similar to Wolf 3D..

Mike Chambers
July 18th, 2010, 11:17 AM
Hey Mike,

Merely curious, but to what extent have you tested the VGA i.e. what other VGA-specc'd games have you tried on that beast? You could also try games like golden axe or jill of the jungle - both exercise the planar VGA modes similar to Wolf 3D..

i haven't done much gaming on this laptop recently. my grandpa bought it new in 1988, and when i was younger i played a lot of stuff on it and don't really remember having any problems. although, last night i was playing ultima 6 on it for probably 2 hours. i'll get golden axe and jill of the jungle and see what happens. i don't have to worry about hard drive space anymore, since last night i removed the old (but still like new, it doesnt even rattle) 20 MB hard drive and replaced it with a 4 GB from an old toshiba satellite pentium laptop. made two 2 GB partitions. time to load it up with junk! :)

my jaw dropped when it actually recognized the drive. the original drive was 44-pin like any other recent 2.5" IDE drive, but the pins were spaced farther apart like a desktop IDE drive. i had a 2.5" to 3.5" IDE drive adapter that i used in reverse for it.

Mike Chambers
July 18th, 2010, 10:20 PM
basman, i have no trouble with golden axe using VGA mode. in fact, it works awesomely. i love this game too, i didn't even know it was available for the PC i only had it on my sega. :)

http://rubbermallet.org/286-goldenaxe.jpg




although..... this just makes me wonder more, wth is the deal with wolfenstein 3d.

headexploding.gif

basman74
July 19th, 2010, 12:48 AM
Say that's a sweet looking machine - who knows what your granddad would've shelled out for that when it was new?!

Good to see you got Golden Axe running - you did select the VGA option right? just checking.. :geek:

When you start Wolf3d and the screen goes (and stays) blank, wait for about ten seconds and then press any key, do you hear any intro music/sound effects come out of the speaker?

One of the things that I suspect might be happening, is the BIOS may have trouble with palette color table support via the int 10h handler or something, hence the blank screen - but this is only a wild half-educated guess? Perhaps a quick peek at the video init portion of the wolf3d source might provide some clues around this..

I would suggest you try a few other 256-color VGA games - preferably ones with an EGA option as well (but play with VGA selected, of course) to see how compatible the machine is..

In addition to what I've already suggested, also try:
Bananoid (Arkanoid clone)
Halloween Harry
Gods

Cheers,

Valentin

PS: My late granddad (on either side) wouldn't have even known what a computer was!

Agent Orange
July 19th, 2010, 10:41 AM
Mike:

Just got my 486 back together and the first thing I did was to get online and download "Wolf3d". It runs like a champ on my box. I know this will sound kind of silly, but do think there is any change that one or more of your 'Wolf3d' files might be borked? BTW, my 486 is running WINSE.

P.S. The intermittant blue screen problem was all about the POD - evidently it doesn't like my mobo BIOS or vice-versa. Crushing defeat - I had big plans for that POD setup and wanted to run Xp on a 486.

TheLazy1
July 19th, 2010, 10:49 AM
I was going to mention that later versions seemed to use 386 instructions or something that would prevent running on 286s but I see you tried your own version.
Did you try updating your data files to the ones found in v 1.4?

Chuck(G)
July 19th, 2010, 12:16 PM
Mike, have you tried running it on a 286 desktop?

Mike Chambers
July 23rd, 2010, 08:17 PM
Say that's a sweet looking machine - who knows what your granddad would've shelled out for that when it was new?!

Good to see you got Golden Axe running - you did select the VGA option right? just checking.. :geek:

When you start Wolf3d and the screen goes (and stays) blank, wait for about ten seconds and then press any key, do you hear any intro music/sound effects come out of the speaker?

One of the things that I suspect might be happening, is the BIOS may have trouble with palette color table support via the int 10h handler or something, hence the blank screen - but this is only a wild half-educated guess? Perhaps a quick peek at the video init portion of the wolf3d source might provide some clues around this..

I would suggest you try a few other 256-color VGA games - preferably ones with an EGA option as well (but play with VGA selected, of course) to see how compatible the machine is..

In addition to what I've already suggested, also try:
Bananoid (Arkanoid clone)
Halloween Harry
Gods

Cheers,

Valentin

PS: My late granddad (on either side) wouldn't have even known what a computer was!

lol. of course, i chose VGA mode. no, i dont get any sounds out of it in wolf 3d. i tried halloween harry (another great game i used to play when i was 10 or so). i didn't know it'd work on a 286, i thought it required protected mode but man i was surprised how well it runs on that laptop. i got 10-15 FPS the whole time. btw, the CPU in it is a 12 MHz Harris, not 8 or 10 like i said before.

Mike Chambers
July 23rd, 2010, 08:18 PM
i've been trying the 1.4 files the entire time actually.

basman74
July 24th, 2010, 05:43 AM
Mike, sounds like it's tripping on an illegal opcode to me then..

Well, for a start I can tell you that your version of Wolf3D_8086 runs with only a few hitches on my board, which meets the very minimal requirements of your version i.e. 8088 CPU, 640K conventional memory only and very basic VGA hardware. The only thing that truly stops it running on my board correctly, is the fact that my board only supports 'chunky' Mode 13h (actually lo-res MCGA) and so therefore the screen looks like this.. (http://members.optuszoo.com.au/pioneer10/wolf_3d.JPG)

Ok, two more wild guesses/speculation:

1.) Maybe it is falling over in the hunt for system RAM > 640K, though if you don't even see a title screen my gut feeling tells me it's more a video problem, which leads me to speculation point #2

2.) Is the CPU socketed? Just thinking maybe the 12MHz harris 286 is an upgrade for a slower 286 CPU? If the CPU clock is not decoupled from the ISA bus on the mainboard of that laptop then maybe VGA register accesses need NOP's padded-in or something similar to the source to slow port accesses down..? :-? Note this is only something i've read about, but not toyed with in practice..

Take the above speculation points with a grain of salt as these are merely guesses and also as I am not familiar with that machine..

Question: What version DOS are you running BTW?

Cheers,
Valentin

PS: Both Golden Axe and Haloween Harry sure bring back alot of memories ;)

Mike Chambers
July 24th, 2010, 10:52 PM
Mike, have you tried running it on a 286 desktop?

i played it frequently on a 10 MHz 286 desktop before the BIOS ROM chips fried. it ran very very well with a diamond speedstar. i took this video of it like a year and a half ago actually: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Gvz6PMtEuU

Mike Chambers
July 24th, 2010, 10:56 PM
Mike, sounds like it's tripping on an illegal opcode to me then..

Well, for a start I can tell you that your version of Wolf3D_8086 runs with only a few hitches on my board, which meets the very minimal requirements of your version i.e. 8088 CPU, 640K conventional memory only and very basic VGA hardware. The only thing that truly stops it running on my board correctly, is the fact that my board only supports 'chunky' Mode 13h (actually lo-res MCGA) and so therefore the screen looks like this.. (http://members.optuszoo.com.au/pioneer10/wolf_3d.JPG)

Ok, two more wild guesses/speculation:

1.) Maybe it is falling over in the hunt for system RAM > 640K, though if you don't even see a title screen my gut feeling tells me it's more a video problem, which leads me to speculation point #2

2.) Is the CPU socketed? Just thinking maybe the 12MHz harris 286 is an upgrade for a slower 286 CPU? If the CPU clock is not decoupled from the ISA bus on the mainboard of that laptop then maybe VGA register accesses need NOP's padded-in or something similar to the source to slow port accesses down..? :-? Note this is only something i've read about, but not toyed with in practice..

Take the above speculation points with a grain of salt as these are merely guesses and also as I am not familiar with that machine..

Question: What version DOS are you running BTW?

Cheers,
Valentin

PS: Both Golden Axe and Haloween Harry sure bring back alot of memories ;)

the CPU is soldered right onto the board. no upgrade, it came with it out of the box. i think harris chips seem to be some of the rarer 286s out there, but i've never heard of any problems with them. (granted, i haven't done any research on it)

you're right about your first point there. if it was a RAM search issue, i would still get the first loading screen. i think this might just be a case of having to tinker with the source code. maybe i can figure out what's causing it to go boom.

if you can get your hands on a diamond speedstar with the ET4000 chipset (they're the fastest ISA VGA cards i've ever used) to put in your 8088, you should give my hacked wolf 3d a try with it. on the other hand, don't go out of your way. it's not very fun to play at like 3 FPS with the smallest view size possible. :)

one of these days i might try to play around more with the code, and see what i can do to make it faster. my first thought is drop the horizontal res in half and just double-writing the pixels. not sure what else i could really do. i think they did a pretty good job optimizing the rendering routines from what i've seen. maybe trixter should take a look at it. if he can write that 8088 corruption player, i'm sure he could come up with a trick or two for wolf3d.

BradN
July 25th, 2010, 10:46 PM
Rumor has it the ET4000 has a massive 256 byte on-chip buffer that makes blitting small graphics crazy fast compared to most other chipsets.