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Thread: IBM Music Feature on SCI1 and SCI1.1 (Listen to Space Quest 4 CD with the IBM MFC!)

  1. #1

    Default IBM Music Feature on SCI1 and SCI1.1 (Listen to Space Quest 4 CD with the IBM MFC!)

    Hello there!

    So King's Quest V, Jones in the Fast Lane, Mixed Up Mother Goose and Quest for Glory 2 were the last 2 games with support for the IMFC. Well...oficially. The way the SCI engine works, IMFC support is absolutely intact for all games that use SCI1 and SCI 1.1 engines. All you need is the appropriate driver and a patch.002 or 2.pat file (renaming patch.002 to 2.pat works).

    The patch.002 file contains all the instruments the game will use in a certain order. So it seems to be possible that if instruments are arranged properly to each game soundtrack, IMFC support can be quite good. In fact you can use or extract any patch.002 from any Sierra game that officially supported the IMFC and try it out with any game without IMFC official support.

    As an example i made a quick video showing off Space Quest 4 CD with music playing on the IMFC + digital sound coming from my SB compatible card:

    https://youtu.be/6jhF-_io8iA

    In theory, if the patch file structure is understood and knowing which default instruments to choose on the IMFC it is possible to create/optimize a patch file for each SCI1 and SCI1.1 game without official support for the IMFC. This would increase the number of games with good IMFC support, in fact probably more than double that number.

    Another option would be developing a IMFC driver for AIL/MSS, which would further increase the number of games supported. I think tronix and Bristlehog from Vogons has developed a driver for the CMS/Game Blaster and Innovation SSI cards reapectively. Only problem is the limited availability of these cards, which could be somehow mitigated if in the future DOSBox gets IMFC support.

  2. #2

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    IIRC the IMFC is pretty close to exactly a Yamaha FB-01 on a card, right? I gather from a brief perusal of the SCI wiki that patch.nnn files have some structure of their own that you'd probably need to find out about, but I'd be very surprised if the core of the data wasn't FB-01 SysEx dumps. I'd start by opening one in a hex editor and scanning through until you find what look like intelligible patch names (Yamaha patch names are pretty much always in ASCII format, so this is easy) - then, from there, scan backwards until you find a SysEx header. The FB-01 service manual could be clearer, but it does have the SysEx specifications laid out; this document also helps clarify a bit.

    Though, honestly, the bigger challenge with such a project has less to do with the how and more to do with the what. The FB-01's factory patches pretty much uniformly suck, and (in contrast to their MT-32 work) Sierra's custom patches aren't much better. The FB-01 doesn't lay a finger on the pro-level FM synths, but it's still capable of a whole lot more than what most anybody did with it back when; someone really oughta roll up a decent patch set for it one of these days...
    Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
    Synthesizers: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Proteus/2, Moog Satellite, Oberheim SEM
    "'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling." - Bjarne Stroustrup

  3. #3

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    I don't think super duper awesome patches would be the goal, what we would need at least would be on short term goal, someone who knows the default IMFC/FB01 patches and select the most relevant ones to each game, to make the games sound at least pleasant. On Space Quest 4 on the video i posted above it sounds pretty good, i was using the patch.002 from Conquests of Camelot. On the other side of the Spectrum i couldn't find a patch.002 file from any game that would sound well with Leisure Suit Larry 1 VGA. So it's kind of a crapshoot, and these games really need some optimizing.

    One idea would be looking into what MT-32 sounds are used and then try to apply one IMFC/FB01 equivalent on the patch.002 file.

  4. #4

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    I remember playing around by mixing files from different Sierra games back when I got my imf card. Now I found it again and got it in a working ibm5170. But I am surprised how little music it was in the Sierra games (that I tried now).

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