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 Post subject: Sound fix for the GOG version of SC1 (solved!)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:06 am 
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ZEXy Beast

Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:39 pm
Posts: 4
I purchased the Star Control 1/2 bundle way back on GOG because I wanted to support FR/PP3. SC2 works great, but SC1...well, it's a little awkward. The game "works" great, but the sound effects are all wrong.

SC1 seems to use midi sound effects, and in the past 25-or-so years, the sounds those midi cues make seem to have changed drastically. The sound of ships getting hit is replaced with the sound of a steel drum (the musical Caribbean sounding one, not anything metallic). The sounds of weapons firing are replaced with a myriad of sounds, such as piano keys, wood blocks, or synth pads.

It's really silly, and I want to take SC1 seriously. But there's no information about how to do this from what I can find.

I've tried playing around with the settings in the config file, but I haven't been able to get the sound effects to change.

I've also tried looking for the Amiga version, but I haven't had much luck getting that up and running. And of course there's the Genesis version, but I want to play it on my computer and feel like I rightly paid for it. The Scenario creator would also be fun to play around with, which the Genesis version lacks.

Has anybody had any luck getting the sounds fixed on the GOG version? Or, does anybody know any other ways to play SC1?


Last edited by oaktea on Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:02 pm 
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Slylandro gasbags
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Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2015 10:16 pm
Posts: 1284
Location: Dallas, TX
Welcome to the Star Control Discussion Board, oaktea!

First of all, in regards to your inquiry and in anticipation of what other members may ask to narrow the field of helpful tips, when did you purchase the bundle? What version is it?

also

Have you tried fiddling with the settings to see which best performs with your sound hardware/software?

I myself am one of the few remaining sacred holders of the original Star Control 1 diskettes for PC, so I play using that, but I can relate to having sound issues, but mostly because of the speed at which the game played on my computer. I was able to resolve most of those problems by running the game using DosBox to slow the game down which also helped the sound somewhat, but that may not work for your situation.

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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:00 pm 
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Ilwrath spawn

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 361
The settings sound fine.

During lunch I tried googling the issue, but came up with naught.

There seems to be an issue with the sound effects. For some reason, the game loads the wrong sound table, or uses a preset sound sample table, instead of the custom one the game provides itself. Cheap soundcards had no possibility to use a custom sound table, and used a standardised preset one. (better ones had the standardised one, and a customizable one)
It may be that dosbox does not detect the use of a customized one and simply starts the standard one, for whatever reason.
Cannot look at dosbox settings now, but if I remember correctly, dosbos doesn't even provide the midi sound samples itself, but again refers to the soundcard modern systems carry along (and therefore has no setting in that direction)


also owner of original disc, but no device to read it... :/


Anyway, good luck oaktea.
If you find the solution, please be so kind to reply with your solution here again, for future reference.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:03 pm 
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Ilwrath spawn

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 361
With these ideas in mind, googled again, came up with a thread on GoG linking to other threads regarding bad midi quality:
https://www.gog.com/forum/general_archi ... _technical
alas, none visibly about jumbled sound tables...

edit:the links not, but a direct reply had:
By default Windows plays the MIDI messages using its own mediocre General MIDI synth (Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth). If the game uses General MIDI/Sound Canvas, then they are played more or less correctly by default, but you can improve that quite a lot with replacement General MIDI soundfonts (= better instruments).

And here we get the issue. SC 1 cannot set a customized Windows soundtable for MIDI, as SC1 cannot reach through to windows from within its Dosbox shell.
So, when the game says "soundfile Mycon victorry ditty", it translates to Midi sound file #16 (plus others, according to song), so windows plays its soundfile #16, which plays as "Mooo" (plus others, according to song).
Try setting the SC1 soundcard to something else, e.g. Adlib or Soundblaster (since I had a SB, it remained preferred soundcard to use in emulators). You might need to find out how to do that with GoG's setup though...


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:00 am 
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ZEXy Beast

Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:39 pm
Posts: 4
The Troglodyte wrote:
Welcome to the Star Control Discussion Board, oaktea!

First of all, in regards to your inquiry and in anticipation of what other members may ask to narrow the field of helpful tips, when did you purchase the bundle? What version is it?


Thanks! I've been around for a while, but couldn't remember the password or username variation that I used when I first signed up here.
Oak Tea is actually my character from StarCon RPG...if anyone remembers that from the turn of the millennium! lol

The version was purchased when they were still known as "Star Control 1 & 2" on GOG. Purchased them a few years ago, but I have the automatic updates turned on in GOG's Galaxy client.

The Troglodyte wrote:
Have you tried fiddling with the settings to see which best performs with your sound hardware/software?

I myself am one of the few remaining sacred holders of the original Star Control 1 diskettes for PC, so I play using that, but I can relate to having sound issues, but mostly because of the speed at which the game played on my computer. I was able to resolve most of those problems by running the game using DosBox to slow the game down which also helped the sound somewhat, but that may not work for your situation.


I am super envious of your owning of the original games.
The sound is a different issue though. I'm not hearing distorted or messed up sounds, I'm hearing musical notes instead of sound effects! :P-smf

***

krulle wrote:
With these ideas in mind, googled again, came up with a thread on GoG linking to other threads regarding bad midi quality:
https://www.gog.com/forum/general_archi ... _technical
alas, none visibly about jumbled sound tables...

edit:the links not, but a direct reply had:
By default Windows plays the MIDI messages using its own mediocre General MIDI synth (Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth). If the game uses General MIDI/Sound Canvas, then they are played more or less correctly by default, but you can improve that quite a lot with replacement General MIDI soundfonts (= better instruments).

And here we get the issue. SC 1 cannot set a customized Windows soundtable for MIDI, as SC1 cannot reach through to windows from within its Dosbox shell.
So, when the game says "soundfile Mycon victorry ditty", it translates to Midi sound file #16 (plus others, according to song), so windows plays its soundfile #16, which plays as "Mooo" (plus others, according to song).
Try setting the SC1 soundcard to something else, e.g. Adlib or Soundblaster (since I had a SB, it remained preferred soundcard to use in emulators). You might need to find out how to do that with GoG's setup though...


Yeah, I figured the problem was it incorrectly loading the MIDI banks in Windows...I've been having trouble figuring out how to get it to load something better, if I even have anywhere better.

Thanks for taking the time to look that up, by the way!

The pertinent section of the "Configuration" file seems to be here:
Code:
[sblaster]
# sbtype -- Type of sblaster to emulate:none,sb1,sb2,sbpro1,sbpro2,sb16.
# sbbase,irq,dma,hdma -- The IO/IRQ/DMA/High DMA address of the soundblaster.
# mixer -- Allow the soundblaster mixer to modify the DOSBox mixer.
# oplmode -- Type of OPL emulation: auto,cms,opl2,dualopl2,opl3.
#            On auto the mode is determined by sblaster type.
#            All OPL modes are 'Adlib', except for CMS.
# oplrate -- Sample rate of OPL music emulation.


sbtype=sb16
sbbase=220
irq=7
dma=1
hdma=5
mixer=true
oplmode=auto
oplrate=22050


I'm going to play around with this to see if anything changes.

Thanks for the advice everyone! I'll let you know if I can figure it out.

EDIT: Well, changing the sbtype to both "sb1" and "none" didn't discernibly change the sound...so maybe I'm not doing this properly, or the issue is somewhere else.
(Open .conf file in Notepad, edit the value, save and close the file, use the Launch Star Control shortcut to start the game...)


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:48 am 
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Ilwrath spawn

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 361
Soundblaster is not using midi, so that's not it then.
Soundblaster is also emulated within Dosbox.
General midi is not emulated, but passed through to windows (which SC1 within Dosbox cannot reach; SC1 tells Dosbox, and Dosbox tells Windows/Midi; but the instruments cannot be passed through).

If I remember correctly, there's a command line parameter for the .exe setting the sound to soundblaster. And that's what you'll need.


The configuration file you're showing is from Dosbox, not from SC1.
You'll still need to make SC1 use Soundblaster (or Adlib, which Soundblaster is backwards compatible to).

Is there a readme.txt in the SC directory?


Hmm, been searching the web for the SC1 readme.txt (haven't stumbled over it yet), but found this, which may be interesting for you as well:

As for SC1's EDIT.EXE (aka the scenario editor), I'll have to create a custom DosBOX config file because it seems GOG forgot that one (whoops).


NEW DOSBOX CONFIG FILE FOR SC1 SCENARIO EDITOR.

[I did not paste the rest, pretty big, but with the link you'll find it and can paste it yourself]
And with this I know you've only found the Dosbox setting for soundblaster. Which just tells Dosbox which parameters to use when emulating having a soundblaster present. You'll still need to tell SC1 to actually use SB instead of midi...


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:12 am 
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Ilwrath spawn

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 361
Going manually through the GoG forums; found this:
I always thought the PC version of SC1 doesn't have digital sounds (Amiga version does). There's plenty of choice for noise by MIDI instruments, though:
(command line parameters)

/S:mt32 Roland MT-32 or LAPC sound and music (SC1 Only)
/S:adlib Adlib sound and music
/S:cms CMS sound and music (SC1 Only)
/S:tandy Tandy 3-voice sound and music (SC1 Only)
/S:internal Internal speaker sound and music
/S:silent No sound and music


Looks like you'll need to change the command line parameters of the installed link. If there is a "/S:[xy]", change the [xy] to something like adlib, or tandy, or internal to test it. You might need a few tries until you hit one that works. (likely it's currently set to mt32, which is a midi, but before general midi (and standardised set of instruments.)
If the /S: is missing, add it behind the .exe (or.com), e.g. "SC.exe /S:adlib".


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:45 am 
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ZEXy Beast

Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:39 pm
Posts: 4
Thank you for all of your help! Sadly, I don't seem to understand where the command line info goes, despite reading the GOG forum posts.

I tried a few different sound options in another .conf file that gets called any time Star Control is launched, sticking them either immediately before "starcon.exe" and before the "c:".

Code:
[autoexec]
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount C ".."
c:
cls
starcon.exe
exit


Nothing changed the sound at all.

I also tried setting up the edit file, but I'm either bad at following instructions, or I just don't understand how the command line prompts are used/called :P-smf

I will keep at it!


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:19 am 
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Atum-ta the Sixth
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Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:09 am
Posts: 1280
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Command line parameters would come immediately after starcon.exe, separated by a space on the same line. For example, from Krulle's description:

starcon.exe /S:adlib

That should instruct the game to start using the adlib sound settings.

Hope this helps you get it working better.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to play SC1? Or, sound fix for GOG v
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:17 am 
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Ilwrath spawn

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 361
oaktea wrote:
I tried a few different sound options in another .conf file that gets called any time Star Control is launched, sticking them either immediately before "starcon.exe" and before the "c:".
Draxas already gave the answer I would've thought works.

Code:
[autoexec]
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount C ".."
c:
cls
starcon.exe /S:adlib
exit

I don't know if you remember DOS times.
the mount command is not DOS. It is an adaptation necessary for Dosbox.
C: means switching to drive "C:" (which has just been defined by the "mount" command. My Dosbox autorun commands usually are done with g:, g for game, to avoid the OS mixing up my system harddrive c: with the dosbox definition of "c:"...) (or O: for Masater of Orion2)
"cls" stands for "clear screen", you can easily remove that, that will not change anything, except allowing you to read whatever the OS/Dosbox wrote after the previous two commands.
"exit" just tells Dosbox it can end itself, thus exits from Dosbox.
If you want to read error messages, you can try:
Code:
[autoexec]
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount G ".."
g:
starcon.exe /S:adlib

To end dosbox afterwards, you need to enter "exit".
But this will allow you to read error messages from starcon.
Also allows you to test a bit around.

Executables of that time often had a commandline parameter to show you available options.
Thus before exiting dosbox, try
Code:
starcon.exe /help
starcon.exe /?
starcon.exe ?
starcon.exe /h
(these are the 4 most commonly used help requests, others may exist, and most programmers caused all of them to show the same information which may or may not be helpful)

At least one of these should give you a list of available options/parameters.
Then you can see which sound options actually exist.



EDIT:
Also, you're using windows? A desktop icon?
Can you tell us what the command line of the desktop icon leads to?
(right click the icon, and tell us what the "target" is, and the "start in")

I presume the "start in" reads something like "c:\program files\GoG.com\Star Control 1 and 2\" or similar.
And the "target" likely is something like "c:\program files\GoG.com\Star Control 1 and 2\dosbox.bat" -conf dosboxSC1_setup.conf -noconsole ...
The .conf file is the one where the batch execution is defined within -> the [autoexec] part cited above.

If you want to run the keys editor or the scenario editor, it's best to copy the .conf file (twice), rename the copies (e.g. dosboxSC1_keys.conf or dosboxSC1_edit.conf ) then edit the ..keys.conf to read in the autoexec part
Code:
[autoexec]
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount G .
g:
keys.exe
exit

and the ..edit.conf to read:
Code:
[autoexec]
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount G .
g:
edit.exe
exit
.

Then copy the desktop link twice (really copy, not creating a shortcut: grab the icon with the mouse, move it, press the <ctrl> button additionally, move slightly more to the place you want the new icon, and then let the mouse button go while keeping <ctrl> pressed).
Edit the names of the new desktop links to reflect the intention (keys, scenario editor), then right click the new icons, go to "properties" and in the "target", replace the "dosboxSC1_setup.conf" part with "dosboxSC1_keys.conf" or "dosboxSC1_edit.conf" accordingly.



Dang, I should set up my own Starcontrol 1 again. But then I'd still not use the GoG installation script, so I'd still run against other walls.
But at least I would not guess names of files blindly.


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