Running Frontier First Encounters with DOSBox

Frontier First Encounters was released in 1995 and was changed at the last minute to run under DOS rather than the recently introduced Windows 95. This has caused difficulties for people wishing to play FFE on their modern PCs, so here is a complete guide to getting the game running. The key is a freeware program called DOSBox

DOSBox sets up a DOS environment on your PC, with all memory issues etc addressed. The DOSBox website has all the details, including a list of all the games it will run, but for the basic purpose of getting FFE to run, all you need is here at FrontierAstro.
It can be done in three easy steps

Firstly, create a folder on your C drive called FFE
Then download Shareware FFE from FrontierAstro and extract the zip file to C:\FFE

Download the DOSBox 0.74 Installer to your desktop and run the program, installing the program to the default location as shown above

Download this zip file to your desktop and extract the contents to C:\FFE

Before you run the game for the first time, you will need to set up the sound. You will only need to do this once though.

• Double click the "setup_sound" batch file and using the cursor keys and Enter on your keyboard, go to "Select Digital" and choose a combination of settings which work for your machine. Often, Sound Blaster AWE32 with Port 220, DMA 1 and IRQ 5 will work.

• Use "Test Digital" and if you hear the voice select "OK". If you don't hear the voice try other settings.

• Use the same method with "Select MIDI". Usually MIDI Device set to MPU-401 and MIDI Port set to 330 works.

• Use "Test MIDI" and if you hear the music you're all set. If not, try other values.

• Select "OK" to exit the Setup program, select "OK" again to save your settings and then type "Exit" at the prompt to exit the DOS window.

Now double click the "run_ffe" batch file, press "Y" on the text screen and with a bit of luck, shareware FFE should load up and run. If it doesn't then its possible you didn't place the files exactly as specified above. If that's the case, move them as appropriate or amend the batch files so that they match up with the FFE and DOSBox locations.

The docs with the DOSBox program give more details on how to fine tune the game performance, but the easiest way to improve the framerate is to switch into windowed mode (Alt-Enter) and then press Ctrl-F12 up to a value of about 20000 (as shown in the title bar). Depending on your processor speed, FFE should now run very nicely.

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