Author Topic: Is there a dat for DOS exe games?  (Read 96 times)

Offline Kodoichi

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Is there a dat for DOS exe games?
« on: October 31, 2018, 12:52:02 PM »
I found some ZIP files of (MS-)DOS games on my hard drive. They're exe/com/bat files with additional data files for the graphics/music. Is there a dat for these games in Tosec? I used the IBM RAW and IMG dats, but they didn't recognize any of these ZIPs and the other IBM dats don't work with RomCenter due to an error.



Offline tomse

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Re: Is there a dat for DOS exe games?
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2018, 02:52:22 PM »
No there are no dats for executables.

I can see there may be a need for it with games/programs that never were published on any original media I'm thinking very early IBM PC programs.
A title like "Kaptajn Kaper" is one such title that needs to be stored in an [EXE] section.



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Offline mictlantecuhtle

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Re: Is there a dat for DOS exe games?
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2018, 05:16:33 PM »
Our focus has traditionally been on titles that have been dumped / imaged from physical media in some format. I agree with tomse that we may need to look at a dat for files which were "born digital", or where there is no extant physical media, but that has always been quite a tricky proposition.

1) How do you verify that the files are "as released"? I realise that this is also an issue for physical media, but particularly where the original source of release has disappeared it's arguably harder to verify the integrity of archives of executables + data

2) How do you pick which files "should" be included. Do you keep everything that's in the archive you downloaded, or just the files necessary to run the software? This is also fed into by (1), as many BBSes, FTPs, abandonware sites, etc. add their own little identifiers, some files might change on first run (or every run), operating systems themselves might create hidden files as part of their regular operation, etc.

3) Similarly, do you keep every version of every file, even where the changes are essentially meaningless? Or do you pick the best / cleanest version and keep only that?

Realise this is quite a negative response, and I agree we probably need to look at addressing this problem at some point.

In the interim, archive.org has a massive collection of DOS games, so it may be best uploading these files there and then contacting someone so they can be moved into the appropriate section.

Offline Kodoichi

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Re: Is there a dat for DOS exe games?
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2018, 05:50:45 PM »
I was thinking of a dat similar to MAME with its ROMs, where all the required files for a game are in their own archive. Any additional files like file_id.diz could be deleted like RomCenter does it with unneeded files in MAME games.

Considering the Amiga dats are full of modified ADFs, same flags would have to be used for the ZIP files holding those DOS games: [cr best_crew_ever], [m savestate], [a missing soundfile] and so on.

Also, how do legal websites like GOG.com offer some of these old games as a download? Is it a disk image file or an archive? Is it the original files to be used with DOSBox or are they modified to work with Windows 10?
« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 05:52:37 PM by Kodoichi »

Offline mictlantecuhtle

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Re: Is there a dat for DOS exe games?
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2018, 10:01:51 PM »
I completely understand what you're saying, and I'm in no way against trying to preserve this kind of thing. I'm just not sure we're quite set up to do it right now.

To try and give a bit of context, IBM PC dats is basically me at the moment, and I have my hands more than full just trying to deal with disk images. To an extent, IBM compatible is an impossible target - we're in theory talking about most software released from August 1981 right up to present day and beyond. If I ever start looking at ISO dats, that's going to run into potentially petabytes of software.

I'm really sympathetic to the need to preserve stuff that doesn't exist on some form of physical media. I just have no idea as to how we do it right now. There are all sorts of potential problems that, to be honest, the clrmame / romcentre / romvault system just isn't set up to deal with.

To answer your question about GOG.com, it's a bit of a mix. As I understand it, they try to get the original files as far as reasonably possible (bearing in mind that preservation was not foremost in mind for developers / publishers). However, these are then often modified to make running on modern OSes more possible. I believe sometimes that's something like a custom DOSbox setup to basically launch and run the original seamlessly, but often it involves applying fan-made or custom patches to make things work properly.

Honestly, as I said, I think uploading this stuff to archive.org is the best way to ensure it's preserved right now. I'm interested in seeing it DATted and included in TOSEC or similar at some point, but I don't think we have the resources to do it properly at this point in time.