DOOM II: Hell on Earth

DOOM II: Hell on Earth

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Fixing Classic Doom on Steam
By AmethystViper
Learn how to fix the problems of the Steam release of classic Doom by replacing the outdated version of DOSBox while using the proper settings to run Doom on PC from Windows XP and later instead of using a sourceport.
In this guide, I'll show you how to fix the problems caused by settings that came packaged in the Steam release of Doom while updating DOSBox. Although you could play these games on a sourceport like ZDoom, PrBoom, or Doomsday, and while there's nothing with that, but at the risk of sounding like a purist, the whole purpose of this guide is being to play Doom on DOSBox as provided on Steam along with some tweaks and changes so it runs smoothly. Hopefully this guide can alleviate the problems when attempting to play Doom games on DOSBox.
Updating DOSBox to v0.74
In the following steps I'll use Doom II: Hell on Earth as an example but the general idea should work for the other Doom games on Steam. For those that purchased any of the classic Doom games on Steam, there is a major problem with settings that was packaged with Doom -- especially for Windows 8 or 8.1 users -- and the version of DOSBox included is outdated. I don't get why Valve or id Software hasn't gotten around to fixing this issue by now, but I guess that's what I'm here for. The version of DOSBox that is included with the Doom games is v0.72. The version you need is, as of writing this guide, v0.74. The latest official version of DOSBox can be found at its homepage at the link below where you can download and install the program.

Download the Latest DOSBox:

Once you have downloaded and installed DOSBox v0.74, the files you need are "DOSBox.exe", "SDL.dll", and "SDL_net.dll", which can be commonly found under C:\Program Files\DOSBox-0.74 if you're on a 32-bit version of Windows and using the default install location; for 64-bit Windows users, DOSBox's installation should be found under Program Files (x86) instead. Take those three files and replace the outdated files provided with your Steam copy of Doom with the newer ones. You can quickly find your game's installation folder by right-clicking the game on your Steam Library, go "Properties", then go to "Browse Local Files..." under the Local Files tab. The outdated DOSBox files should be under the "base" folder for The Ultimate Doom's and Doom II: Hell on Earth's installation folder, while Master Levels of Doom II has its files stored in the root of its installation folder.

The next thing you should do update the *conf files bundled with your game. The "dosbox-v0.74.conf" file with the updated default settings can found under <Username>\Local Settings\Application Data\DOSBox\ for Windows XP or C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Local\DOSBox for Windows Vista or later. The quickest way to access your DOSBox's *conf file by going into your Start Menu → DOSBox v0.74 → Options, then run the DOSBox Options shortcut. Alternatively, you can quickly access your AppData's folder by pressing Windows Key+R to bring up the Run command, then type "appdata" in the dialogue box and press Enter. If one doesn't already exist in the locations I mentioned, run DOSBox v0.74 and close it so it generates a fresh one for you. Open the file "dosbox-v0.74.conf" with a text editor if you used the alternative method (e.g. Notepad, Notepad++, Edit Pad), copy all of its settings EXCEPT for the [autoexec] section since the that section runs commands in the DOS interface for you, then paste these settings into "doom2.conf" (which uses the original arrow key configuration), "doom2m.conf" (which uses a modern mouse and keyboard configuration), and "dosbox.conf" (which DOSBox normally reads from; optional) while leaving the [autoexec] section alone and the commands in taht section as is.

Now that you have an updated version of DOSBox with proper settings to run Doom, it should work on your computer just fine without using the not-so-helpful method of changing settings that didn't cause problems with playing Doom or setting DOSBox's compatibility mode Windows 95 since that didn't work for me and others using Windows 8. Now here is a basic rundown of some of DOSBox's settings. If you need help with understanding the settings, refer to the DOSBox Wiki's dosbox.conf article for detailed explanations for all of its settings.

Enable or disable full screen when launching DOSBox. It's normally set to false but the *bat files forces full screen anyway. I'll show you show you can change that later on in this guide.

This is one of the sources of the problems for Windows 8/8.1 users with Doom. This enables or disables double buffering when playing in full screen. It is advised keep this at false since it has been known to cause problems and slow down DOSBox. In the case of Doom, the start-up sequence gets slowed down, regardless of the CPU cycle settings, and DOSBox freezes when it gets to the title screen with DirectDraw or Surface rendering in full screen with double buffering. Therefore, keep this setting off.

This changes the resolution size when running in full screen. By default with the outdated version it was set to 800x600 instead of its default setting of original. You can set this to any resolution supported by your monitor or TV, but if want to the game to run in your native resolution in full screen mode, it's recommended to set this to either 0x0 or desktop.

Same as above but for windowed mode. original works fine but you can set this to any predefined resolution (e.g. 640x480) supported by your monitor or TV if you wish.

This changes the video output method of DOSBox. By default in the outdated version it is set to ddraw where it uses DirectDraw to render the game, or surface on v0.74. As stated in "fulldouble" above, DO NOT USE ddraw OR surface RENDERING WITH DOUBLE BUFFERING ENABLED OR EXPECT ISSUES IF YOU'RE ON WINDOWS 8/8.1. Personally, opengl and openglnb seems to work the best on DOSBox for non-ATI video cards, otherwise use overlay if that works better for you. More information about the output settings can be found here at VOGONS.

This tells DOSBox what IBM PC machine (mainly in terms of graphics) to emulate. The older version used vga as its default setting, but since v0.73, the new default is svga_s3. svga_s3 is recommended since not only is this is a higher end system, it is also mostly backwards compatible with games that uses older VGA graphics but not anything like the Hercules, Tandy, and or PCjr machines.

This tells DOSBox how many frames it should skip before drawing one. Generally should be left alone at 0.

Aspect-ratio correction. This is only works non-square pixel display modes like VGA Mode 13h, which ran in a 320x200 resolution that was commonplace for many DOS games, such as Doom. It is recommended that this setting is set to true if you wish to play in the intended 4:3 aspect-ratio.

Changes the scaling method for low resolution mode that DOSBox uses if the output setting is using something other than surface. normal2x or normal3x works fine, but other settings like hq2x seem to work better when ddraw rendering but it can may also make the game load a bit longer than usual with official builds of DOSBox. This also affects the screen size when the "windowresolution" setting is to original (e.g. original windowed resolution + normal2x + aspect-ratio correction enabled = 640x480). However this setting may not work well if "fullresolution" is set to original and the "scaler" is set to none.
Further Tweaks
Here are some other settings and things you can mess around with.

-Run DOSBox Without A Console-
NOTE: This only works on Windows operating systems. If you don't like seeing the console window that shows up when running DOSBox, open the "doom2.bat" and "doom2 + mouse.bat" files with a text editor then replace this into the *bat files.

.\base\dosbox -conf .\base\doom2.conf -noconsole -fullscreen -exit exit

doom2 + mouse.bat
.\base\dosbox -conf .\base\doom2m.conf -noconsole -fullscreen -exit exit

The "-noconsole" command will not display the console window that opens when running DOSBox and will instead put the debug information in stdout.txt. The "-fullscreen" part of this command was also the reason why DOSBox kept running in full screen despite disabling full screen start up in the *conf files. You can delete that part so it'll start in windowed mode if the "fullscreen" in the *conf files is set to false.

There is also a way to have the Windows command prompt window close itself when launching Doom by altering the commands in the *bat file, but since the Steam release of Doom wasn't packaged in a way where the game starts from DOSBox's own executable rather than a *bat file, Steam won't track your playtime if the command prompt window is closed.

-Disabling Vertical Mouse Movement in Doom-
A guide by rogeilor has been made for playing Doom with keyboard and mouse without vertical mouse movement interfering with player movement. This also works with the other classic Doom games as well as Heretic and Hexen since they use the same engine as Doom.
-Use Doom95's MIDI Music-
EDIT: The guide is gone for some reason, I might try to see if I can find an alternative on getting General MIDI working using a text editor.
I would like to the DOSBox team for this neat little DOS emulator that allows us to play many PC classics on today's modern computers, VOGONS forums for the info about DOSBox's video output settings, rogeilor and Alaan_ for their guides on tweaking classic Doom on DOS and allowing me to share them here, and of course those that took their time to read this guide I put together. If this guide helped those looking to play Doom on DOSBox with newer Windows systems, maybe I'll make a guide on how to up the MIDI playback quality by using soundfonts, play Doom on ZDoom with near-vanilla Doom settings, play PlayStation Doom on your PC with the PlayStation Doom Total Conversion, and play Batman Doom on ZDoom.
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Dragon Knight Sep 10, 2017 @ 4:45am 
I deleted the "-fullscreen" tags from every single .bat file and set "fullscreen" to "false" on every single .conf file. Also, I just tried running the games from the .bat files and they start in windowed mode, but running them from Steam's start menu/desktop shortcuts starts them in fullscreen.
AmethystViper  [author] Sep 10, 2017 @ 4:06am 
@ZeedMillenniummon89: Both of these have the fallscreen set to false from what I can tell and none of the settings are forcing start-up on fullscreen. The only guess that I have you may be running the game off the either one of the options (e.g. "Start Doom II: Hell on Earth" which starts it with keyboard and mouse settings in DOSBox) is calling on one of the *bat files that calls on one *conf file (the "doom2m.conf" file from what you've shown me) that may have the fullscreen setting if the option you chose may not have the change for starting in windowed. Have you tried both launch options — the original controls and keyboard + mouse versions — to see if they both run at fullscreen when starting the DOS version off Steam?
Dragon Knight Sep 10, 2017 @ 1:51am 
This is the .conf to Doom 2, they all have the exact same settings except for the autoexec: This is the dosbox.conf file: Once again, the settings are the exact same on all of the games.
AmethystViper  [author] Sep 9, 2017 @ 11:35pm 
@ZeedMillenniummon89: In that screenshot, that should be normal when starting on a clean DOSBox install since the [autoexec] section has nothing to execute. Mind sharing your *conf files somewhere I view their contents?
Dragon Knight Sep 9, 2017 @ 11:16pm 
@AmethystViper Well I should note that I didn't update the DOSBox version to 0.74 because I don't care for that. When I open the "dosbox.exe" file in the "base" folder, DOSBox opens up in windowed mode with these commands being automatically entered [].
AmethystViper  [author] Sep 9, 2017 @ 11:39am 
@ZeedMillenniummon89: Is DOSBox somehow reading the config file off your AppData folder? Try running DOSBox that came with the game by itself and see if it's reading the config file that current official DOSBox builds read from.
Dragon Knight Sep 9, 2017 @ 5:38am 
I've set "fullscreen" on the config files to "false" and deleted "-fullscreen" from the .bat files but the game is still fullscreen.
Doctor Omn Nom May 23, 2017 @ 7:36pm 
Works fine now thanks
Btagger May 18, 2017 @ 7:32am 
So I've found I'm having the same problem as p0int in that the program starts up fine but at least in the case of doom 2 it will not actually load the game and sit on the start-up screen, I noticed that in the original CONF file it directly mentioned doom 2.exe whilst the one copied from dos box 074 didn't have this mention. Did I screw something up or is there another problem I missed?
Snake Apr 11, 2017 @ 9:26am 
OK, I am good now TX.:steamhappy: