setup-windowsxp-buildgames  Version 6-06-2014  Release 3  RTCM Corvin

Introduction | Pre Setup | WindowsNT Shortcut | Setup/Testing | VGA Fix | Sound Setup | Final Notes


/!\ Windows NT, 2000, XP users, void this document and use the new DOS Emulator; DOSBox instead /!\
Otherwise Continue...


This Document assumes that you have had your Build Game running on your current system (same hardware) with either Windows95,98 or ME at some point in time. Basically this will indicate that your hardware is compatible with your game. If you have not used the hardware in older windows, just continue on.

The following information is written in away to help you understand debugging procedures as well as providing setup support.

This document will also benefit anyone trying to get a DOS version of BUILD and any variation of the tool to work in XP. Although the variations don't always work to well.  EDITART or and variation of said program can also benefit from this document. Under most conditions EDITART has seemed to run at 100% without additional configuration, double clicking in Windows Explorer.


ALL Downloads for this page are located in the download section under "general-tools-dosxp"

Pre Setup

1 - Install your game as you normally would.(See RTCMs related document)

2 - Make the following folder. C:\bldgames

3 - Now cut and paste all your BUILD games into the C:\bldgames folder. (EX: C:\bldgames\DUKE3D or C:\bldgames\BLOOD )

4 - Make another folder within the C:\bldgames folder and call it C:\bldgames\blddos

5 - Copy the WindowsNT versions of AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS. These are located in the C:\WinNT\System32\ Folder. They are named AUTOEXEC.NT and CONFIG.NT. Copy these two files to the C:\bldgames\blddos folder.

6 - Goto your games folder and Right-click the its executable, select Properties and click on the Program tab. Now click on the Advanced button and type in the directory paths as you see them on the next line. Just replace whatever is there. C:\bldgames\blddos\AUTOEXEC.NT and C:\bldgames\blddos\CONFIG.NT

7 - Now setup your MS-DOS shortcut with the following instructions... Please note: If you prefer not to setup your MS-DOS shortcut manually, you can download them from RTCM and skip the entire step 7.

Configure your WindowsNT Shortcut - Cures stability of game response and speed.

Using a MS-DOS Shortcut provides the best environment for the game while it runs inside Windows. But there's a performance cost: other Window applications will run slowly. But in most cases you will not want to run a BUILD game and window applications at the same time. The most obvious time you would run any other applications is when you play Online and you may be using special connection software.

A Shortcut simply provides a link to a program you can customize. Normally, when you launch a DOS program, WindowsNT makes its best guess at running it. WindowsNT wasn't designed to run all DOS applications this way. With a Shortcut, you can manually help WindowsNT run the WinDos Box much better.

  • While running WindowsNT, right click anywhere on the desktop.
  • Select New then pick Shortcut.
  • When asked for the Command line, enter the game's path by using the Browse feature.
  • Then provide a name and pick an icon (many icons are available for Build games that you can download).
  • You now have a new Shortcut on your desktop!
  • Next, right click on it and choose Properties.
  • Set the Tabs as follows: (optimize)

Tab: General

  • Archive: Check this

Tab: Program

  • Command line: Points to your C:\DUKE3D\DUKE3D.EXE Tip: When asked for the Command line, you can enter "COMMAND.COM" in front of the path pointing to your game. This turns the Shortcut into a custom MS-DOS Prompt that won't automatically start Duke. Because you get a DOS prompt, you can use it to run any DOS game or application with the optimized settings of the WinBox, And your able to use command line switches.
  • Working: You MAY want to set this to your Duke3D folder C:\DUKE3D\
  • Batch File: This MAY point to your Duke.bat file (set the Batch file up with ONLY what you NEED to play Duke)
  • Shortcut Key: You MAY want a quick key to the game
  • Run: Use normal or maximized (Your game may run better at the maximized setting)
  • Close on exit: Check it (uncheck if you desire or require the last screen to display - possible usage: error checking)
  • Button : Advanced Autoexec filename: C:\DUKE3D\AUTOEXEC.NT Config filename: C:\DUKE3D\CONFIG.NT
  • Compatible timer hardware emulation: NOT Checked

Tab : Font

  • Bitmap Only: Check this

Tab : Memory

You'll see 4 memory sections. Usually, the "Auto" setting works fine for each but consider selecting the largest amount available on your machine.

  • Conventional Total: Set to Auto
  • Initial environment: Set to Auto
  • Protected: Checked +EMS: Auto (Alt: none)
  • XMS: Auto (Alt: none) Uses HMA: Checked
  • DPMI: Auto (Alt: 12288 on a 32mb system)

Tab : Screen

  • Full Screen: Checked
  • Initial Size: Default
  • Window: Unchecked
  • Restore Settings : Checked
  • Fast ROM: Checked
  • Dynamic memory allocation: Unchecked (if running an external program for use with Duke, and it performs poorly, try checking this box).

Tab : Misc.

  • Allow screen saver: NOT Checked
  • QuickEdit: NOT Checked
  • Exclusive mode: Check this
  • Background Suspend: Check this if you're NOT running a program to help Duke3D perform such as Scitech or another outside program
  • Warn if Still Active: Checked
  • Idle Sensitivity: Play with this. Try 25% (Alt:75) on the slidebar. (If you have like Scitech running 50% (Alt: 75) may be a good setting.) If you have NOTHING running such as Network cards/Internet connection try 10% (Alt: 100)
  • Clear "Fast Pasting" option
  • Shortcut Keys: ONLY Check the ones you'll need, Like ALT+TAB, ALT+ESC, CTR+ESC

Tab: Compatibility

  • Compatibility Mode: Disable Compatibility Layer: none

    Display settings (WinXP Only)
  • Run in 256 colors: Checked (Duke3D,NAM,WWIIGI is a 256 color game, some other Build Games have enhanced colors, so uncheck it for those games, Blood,Shadow Warrior...)
  • Run in 640 x 480 resolution: Unchecked
  • Disable visual themes: Checked

    Input(WinXP Only)
  • Turn off advanced text services: Checked

8 - Now make an identical Shortcut for SETUP.EXE re-using the instructions above.

Testing Phase

1 - Configure the games Setup Options (from setup.exe) 

  • Music Card - Set to no music/off
  • Sound Card - Set to no sound/off
  • Video Resolution - Set to 320x200 (non-Vesa)

2 - Now save settings and launch Duke from within setup.exe

3 - The game should load and run correctly with no sound. Play the game for awhile (at least 10mins) and if the game remains stable, quite and exit out of the game.

4 - Now RE-Configure the games Setup Options (from setup.exe)

  • Video Resolution - Set to 640x480 (Vesa)

5 - Now save settings and launch Duke from within setup.exe and Repeat step 3 above.

6 - If the game didn't run or drops out you may have a Vesa related problem. Ensure that your video card drivers contain the VESA 2.0/3.0 support. You may have to contact your video card company to request that full VESA 2.0 or 3.0 is added back in. You can also use older Video Drivers to obtain VESA support. If your uncertain at this point and you want to continue with this guide, move on to the following step. (If the game ran fine at 640x480 skip Step 7 and 8)

7 - We will now attempt to get VESA working (assuming your drivers support VESA). You will need Ken Silverman's ( patch workaround. This will fool your BUILD Game into thinking that VESA 2.0 is not available and forces the game to drop back to VESA 1.2 standards. Doing so disables the linear framebuffer mode, this will drop the FPS in the game. To install Ken's workaround, just unzip it and place the NOLFB.COM file in   C:\bldgames\blddos\  folder. Now goto the AUTOEXEC.NT file you copied earlier and add this line after the dosx line. C:\bldgames\blddos\NOLFB.COM

8 - Repeat step 1 above, then move on to step 2, 3 , etc

9 - You should now have Duke Running at High-Res and with Stable performance. If not then re-read the above steps and insure you have done each correctly.

Some systems can run the higher resolutions like 800x600 or even 1024x768. It all depends on your Hardware. The jump from 640x480 to 800x600 gives some improvement, Distant textures and sprites would appear clearer or form a better image, but don't expect to much. For all its worth there is not nearly enough of a difference in the games details jumping from 800x600 to 1024x768.  Refresh rate is normally limited to  60 Hz, some video card manufactures have fixed this however. If you have done everything right and want to try to get above 640x480 then read the next section below, "VGA FIX"


Higher Resolutions like 800 x 600: If you receive the error "Frequency out of Range" from your monitor or it shutsdown to sleep mode or if the game drops out. You can try the following workaround. It patch's the vga.sys file of Windows XP (upto SP2 Only, no patch for SP3) to allow higher resolutions by unlocking the I/O ports to your Video Cards BIOS.

You can uninstall the patch if it causes problems. Note: Its primarily for NVIDIA cards but works for others as well with different results. EX: you may not get the selection of resolution that you want.

 CAUTION: I Advise you to stick with 640x480 for now and get your sound setup first, then come back to these steps. I say this because the patch can effect the overall performance of your BUILD Game and can degrade the Sound. It will ultimately make the steps for setting up the sound to be inaccurate. EX: your sound maybe really fine but this patch can make it seem broken. So skip down to "Sound Setup" and come back when your running nice.

1 - Now RE-Configure the games Setup Options (from setup.exe)

  • Video Resolution - Set to 800x600(Vesa)  or 1024x768(Vesa)

2 - You'll need to download the VGAFIX program.(winxpfix.exe)

3 - Run it and follow the instructions provided for installation.

4 - Restart your system

5 - Run your game

6 - You should now be running your game at 800x600 with questionable performance. If your not running at the quality you prefer, re run winxpfix.exe to uninstall the patch and restart your system. Then stick with 640x480.

Resolution higher than 640 x 480 will have a noticeable drop and response to your game. We loose the vital linear framebuffer mode used for higher end DOS games such as your BUILD Game. This is the result of not having a completely compatible set of VESA 2.0/3.0 Drivers and the use of NOLFB.COM, Ken Silverman's TSR tool that needs to drop VESA support down to VESA v1.2 (in turn switching down to the old slower banked memory access). Early ATI cards and NVIDIA GeForce 2 and 3 cards have no problem with this since they have driver support.


Sound Setup

Setting up Standard Sound in Windows XP is much easier than say in Windows 95/98/ME. The reason being is that XP uses the old Sound Blaster Standard regardless of your Sound Card hardware or settings.

For information in configuring sound for Windows XP, see the RTCM document "setup-windowsxp-sound"


Final Notes

If you want graphics above the VGA-modes (EX: SVGA), your Video Card needs to have VBE (VESA BIOS Extension) built in. It's a graphics standard that is used by BUILD games that are written for the MS-DOS operating system. It allows MS-DOS BUILD games to support screen resolutions and color depths beyond those supported by the VGA standard. Unfortunately some cards only support a limited subset of VESA modes. Since VBE is normally implemented in the Video BIOS, no driver support is normally used under WinXP by the Video Card Manufacturer. However you can gain full VESA support if you have a cards specific VESA driver which most Video Cards do not have in XP. That's where the problem is with XP. Video Card Manufactures moved all VESA support to the BIOS rather than have a custom driver and let XP control those mode via it's faulty VGA.SYS...

Write to your Video Card Maker and tell them you need VESA 2.0 and/or 3.0 supported in there Windows XP Drivers. Tell them the exact Build Games you want to run. Give them as much detail as you can. In there eyes they are seeing VESA(2D) phasing out so why support it on modern systems.

If your Video card supports at least full VBE version; 2.0 (even 3.0), then linear framebuffer modes should be supported. This allows the use of full color and resolution for your protected mode DOS BUILD games and tools. In fact Windows XP will use VBE modes for display until your Graphics Driver is installed.

For running fullscreen DOS applications in VESA graphics modes. VGA.SYS controls it and in most cases it traps i/o ports and prevents VESA-based programs to run correctly. The VGA fix tool fixes a problem in the VGA.SYS driver supplied with Windows 2000/XP, that sends the monitors to sleep with several video cards while running DOS Games. It only supports up to WinXP Service Pack 2 and Windows 2003 Server SP1.