Fun with iDos

You can’t beat a bit of classic PC DOS gaming from time to time and thanks to amazing programs like DOSbox and FreeDOS you replay those fondly remembered games on a variety of modern platforms.

I still fire up the occasional game of Wing Commander, Doom, Duke Nuke’em and the Sierra adventure games from time to time on my netbook. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a portable DOS emulator for tablets?…Well, if your an Android user that theres a damn find port of Dosbox available. For iOS owners like myself there’s iDOS.

One snag though, iDOS has been pulled off the app store so many times and it looks to be permanently out for the count as far as this store is concerned. There is another (limited) DOS emulator out there but the In App store doesn’t contain many titles…Commander Keen makes an appearance though!

If you were lucky enough to install iDos when it first appeared then I bet you’ve already been enjoying the delights of this great app. For me who missed it the first time around, i’ve had to wait for the Absinthe Jailbreak and a visit to the wonderful Cydia store.

iDOS purchased and ready to rock. The app is shipped with six classic games with more coming available – although the app’s been out for a while now and nothing new has be released 😦

But the big question is, can you add your own games?…well the answer to that is a big fat Yes.

There’s two ways you can do this and both will require iExplorer http://www.macroplant.com/iexplorer/

If you’ve read some of my previous posts regarding the ios Commodore C64 and ZX Spectrum emulator then you’ll probably know your way around this great little app. If not, check out the iExplorer site and have a read through the documentation, it really is a simple app to use.

Right, we need a game. For this it’s a visit to my favourite DOS game emporium – Abandonia

http://www.abandonia.com/

This site has a huge collection of freely available old DOS games were the original publishers/IP owners given the software as free to distribute on public domain. Not all games are free (such as those IP’s that are still in circulation…for example, Lucasarts games).

For my example i’m going to use one of my favourites games from the Amiga days – Geoff Crammond’s Stunt Car Racer.

First method –

Download the folder/files and with your iDevice connected to your PC, use iExplorer to copy the files to /apps/idos/documents

If you already have the iDOS app running on your iDevice, you need to restart it for it to detect the new fles.

Start the app and go into DOS command mode by pressing the ‘C:’ icon.

Now you just need to browse and run the game .exe just like you did back in the of DOS. You do remember the old commands don’t you? πŸ™‚

20120227-151018.jpgNow

o.k so that’s the old fashioned way of launching a game and after all, it’s a DOS emulator and so it’s fun to play around with the the old commands again.

Second method.

The games library within iDOS shows a mock bookshelf with nice box art covers for the games that are shipped with the app. No messing around with DOS commands, just click and play. Well, we can also add our own games to this library.

Download the game file (again, i’m going to use Stunt Car Racer).

Unzip the contents, if the original download was a .zip file.

Place all of the unzipped files/folders into one folder. For my example i’ve named this folder ‘SRC’

Using a suitable program (i’m using 7zip) rezip the folder SRC but change the extension name to .PKG. Your zipped file should now be called SRC.PKG. If it’s called SRC.PKG.zip then something isn’t right. I’m not sure if any other programs like Tugzip, Winzip allow you to change the archive extension type. If not, try 7Zip.

Next we need some boxart. One you have a suitable image downloaded, use MS Paint/Gimp to resize the image to 188×214 pixels and save as either a .jpg or .png. For this example i’ve used src.jpg

With your iDevice connected to your PC, use iExplorer to browse to apps/idos/iDOS.app/packages

Copy your SRC.PKG and src.jpg files to this location.

Whilst in this folder, drag a copy of one of the existing .CFG files to your PC desktop. In this example i’ve used DUKE.CFG.

Open the file with a text editor and change it to the following – (changing the pathname and .exe fie to suit your own if not using Stunt Car Racer.

#—————————————————–
# GamePad Key Bindings
#—————————————————–
[gamepad.keybinding]
button0=ATL,ALT
button1=CTRL,CTRL
button2=SPC,SPACE
button3=ENTR,ENTER
button4=ESC,ESC
button5=y,y

[start.iphone]
cycles=2500
cd \3drealms\SRC\SCR\SCR
car.EXE

[start.ipad]
cycles=3000
cd \3drealms\SCR\SCR\SCR
car.EXE
———————–

Save the file at SCR.CFG

Also, take a copy of GAME.plist (also dump a backup copy of the original somewhere for safe keeping).

Edit and add the following line before the end line –

dict>
ConfigFile
SCR.CFG
CoverImage
scr.jpg
PackageFile
scr.PKG
TargetFolder
3drealms/SCR
Title
SCR
UUID
supa1

———————

Again, you might need to exchange the word ‘SCR’ for your own game files.

Save the file and copy this and SCR.CFG back to your iDevice.

Restart iDOS.

Go to the My Collection area.

Yay, Stunt Car Racer has appeared. Click the box art to install.

20120227-153454.jpg

After installation the game will now show as available so click on it to start.

20120227-153553.jpg

Woohoo!

20120227-153626.jpg

20120227-153658.jpg

Virtual Keyboard, Virtual Joystick, Virtual D-Pad and touch screen mouse support. iDOS supports them all!

20120227-153724.jpg

20120227-153828.jpg

In landscape, full screen mode.

20120227-153907.jpg

Another HUGE bonus with iDOS is that it supports Bluetooth keyboards too. One feature i’ll be checking out a lot! Now, to find my X-Wing floppies πŸ™‚

Have fun and feel free to post any questions if you get stuck (this probably isn’ the best guide).

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12 responses to “Fun with iDos

  1. Totally agree. There’s so many classics out there that are still owned by companies who could easily develop apps for them (original content please, not revamped tripe). The masses are begging for them.

  2. Yep and it runs pretty well too, almost like a fast version of the C64 version. Of course, nothing beats the Amiga version, especially when linked with another A500. The first ‘Lan’ game I ever played.

  3. Can you please give me detailed instructions of how to edit and add game.plist file as I have tried to follow your instructions above but when I copy files to folder on iphone and start idos the book shelf is empty. If I transfer the original file back to the iphone everything is fine. Please help.

  4. Hey Leonard, apologise for the lack of response whilst on holiday. If the game doesn’t appear on the book shelf then you have not got the name of the files/folders written correctly in the .plist. I’m not sure if they are case sensitive so it might be best to check that they’re exactly alike. For example if your game is sCR.exe, then ensure the reference in the .plist is sCR.exe.

    What game(s) are you trying to import? I’ll have a go myself and post back detailed instructions and a copy of the .plist file.

    Kind regards

    StiGGy

  5. First, thanks for this guide; it got me on the right track. To those having problems:

    1) Use normal ZIP compression “strength;” iDOS cannot open files compressed to 7-zip’s “Ultra” compression. I used WinRAR to archive to the ZIP format, using “Normal” compression, and simply renamed the file from WL.ZIP to WL.PKG. Don’t worry about the amount of space the PKG takes up; you can delete it after successful installation.

    This was probably the only problem I was having, though I also did the following. I suspect both are unnecessary, but I’m not in the mood to check. πŸ™‚

    2) Nested the game in a directory within the archive. For example, I was installing the ’80s classic “Wasteland” to my wife’s iPad. So the WL.PKG archive, when opened in WinRAR (or any archiver that can open ZIP files) displays a “WL” directory. That directory contains the actual game files.

    3) Installed the game to the “3drealms” directory. Ultimately it wound up in “3drealms\WL\WL”

    There are a couple of typos in some critical areas of this instruction regarding the .CFG file and the .PLIST file. I’ll just show what worked for me.

    Again, the WL.PKG archive contains a subdirectory, named “WL” which contains the actual game files.

    Here’s the relevant section of WL.CFG:

    [start.iphone]
    cycles=1500
    cd \3drealms\WL\WL
    WL.EXE

    [start.ipad]
    cycles=2500
    cd \3drealms\WL\WL
    WL.EXE

    Here’s the relevant section of games.plist (and a little extra from the previous entry to show context). You don’t need to know XML / HTML to do this properly. Just copy everything between “” and “” from another entry and change the settings. the GUID (UUID key) can be anything:

    Kingdom of Kroz II
    UUID
    fb9907f2-e21d-11df-98cf-0800200c9a66

    ConfigFile
    WL.CFG
    CoverImage
    WL.JPG
    PackageFile
    WL.PKG
    TargetFolder
    3drealms/wl
    Title
    Wasteland
    UUID
    WASTELAND1

  6. Fantastic work my friend and thanks for posting. Great stuff indeed.

    Incidentally, do you have an official Apple Bluetooth keyboard and have you tried it with iDos when paired to your iPad? Would be great if you could use a proper keyboard for key intense games like F-19 etc.

    My own ipad Bluetooth keyboard is a 3rd party knockoff and doesn’t work with iDOS.

    Many thanks again and happy gaming!

    Kind regards

    StiGGy

  7. Wow, I put my e-mail where I should have put my user name. Brilliant maneuver. Please delete the @ and everything after it πŸ™‚ I blame three hours of putting together PKG files causing extreme mental exhaustion.Can you fix that, please?

  8. Eek…I know what you mean though, spent ages one night preparing classic C64 games for transfer to my iPad and may have started talking to myself and twitching πŸ™‚ shhh, tell no one πŸ˜‰

    I’ll hop on the ol netbook tonight and see if I can edit the post as the WordPress iPad app i’m using to type this on won’t let me edit the original name.

    Many thanks

    StiGGy

  9. I know this is an old post, but I stumbled across it today and was overjoyed to be able to get DOS games working on my iPad. iDOS works great, but I’m having trouble getting games setup to appear on the bookshelf (pkg files). Using iFunbox (or iExplorer) I can put games I’ve pre-setup on the “hard drive” and access them fine from the prompt, but I can’t seem to get to grips with the tutorial on adding icons to the bookshelf.

    My biggest issue is not being able to copy the pkg and cfg files I create to the right location on my iPad. While I can copy folders and files to the “Documents” subfolder of iDos, when I try to copy anything to the “packages” subfolder (in “iDos.app”) either nothing happens (iFunbox) or I get a “cannot read disk” error message (iExplorer).

    Is writing to that folder disabled on non-Jailbroken iDevices like my iPad 4? Has anyone else managed to add pkg files to iDos on a non-Jailbroken device (I’m running iOS 6.0.1 if that makes a difference).

    Regardless, thanks heaps for the tips and tutorials, and putting me on to this amazing app!

  10. Same as banjo banjo. Evrything work… I can copy files to Documents, but in the second option I can’t copy files to packages directory. No errors, even advice to overwrite, but then nothing is written there. (tried with ifunbox and iexplore. No luck. Using an iPad 2.

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