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Thread: [Feature Request] - MS-DOS exporter?

  1. #1
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    [Feature Request] - MS-DOS exporter?

    Since Clickteam's engine is target for 2D games creation, I was wondering whether it would be possible to develop an MS-DOS exporter so the games could be played in native DOS environment?

    I think that this could be a very nice and unique feature if added to the engine, especially for retro game creators, as the games could be played in retro systems running say MS-DOS/Win9x along with other DOS games.

    And if we could build retro style installers for these DOS games that would be even better!

    Thoughts?

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    It's too niche of a feature, I don't think there would be enough demand for Clickteam to Develop and Maintain an exporter for a 4 Decade old and 2-3 Decade Discontinued Operating System.
    Not to mention the lack of Hardware Acceleration considering DOS does not support DirectX 8, 9 or 11 outside of Windows 98 supporting DirectX 9 which at that point why not just export to Windows?

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    You’re right regarding the probably low demand, though there were many spectacular DOS games back in the day where DirectX wasn’t even exist - pure pixel-art creations with rich General MIDI based music score and sound effects. I was just thinking that if Clickteam’s engine is mainly for 2D games creation, why not to give it the ability to export a game for native DOS environment? Especially where retro gaming made a comeback in recent years and more and more retro enthusiasts are building retro systems for enjoying the native gaming experience of the past.

    Think about it - you make a retro style 2D game, export it to MS-DOS version, copy it onto 3.5” floppy disks, and publish it with a physical manual and goodies in a nice big box like in the past! If this would be possible we could add a huge mojo for our games! Sure, you could always include a Windows version of the game in the box for those who wish to play it on Windows. I trust that many retro game creators would appreciate such exporter.

  4. #4
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    "Why not?"
    Because Fusion 2.5 doesn't export native code.

    Those old amazing dos games where optimized in ways Fusion couldn't be if there was a DOS exporter.
    It would basically be an Fusion app emulator, which as any emulator, would not only require way stronger hardware, but would also be limited by DOS limitations.
    So you wouldn't even get multi-core support, if it even works it would get less than 10 fps with a basic frame.
    It's like those raytracing for DOS experiments that people did recently, it can run of course, but don't expect to be nowhere near to "playable".

    For this same reason there old console exporters doesn't exist, and softwares that 'export' NES games for example, simply do it by using assembly language, of course they make it easier, but you would still need to use the language.
    If you want something similar, there's AMOS The Creator, an 1990 game making software made by one of the creators of Fusion, it's for AMIGA.
    Also, you could check Klik & Play, also made by Fusion creators back in 1994, this one looks more similar to current Fusion, it runs in 16-bit OS, can be run by DOSBOX, so I guess it would export something close to what you want.
    But I doubt you can even buy those anymore. Also, both of course will be way more limited than current Fusion.

    So there's simply no way of modern fusion to export DOS runtime, all the optimizations there's for Fusion are only compatible with modern platforms, those simply didn't existed back then.

    I like those old DOS games, there are many great games, like Flashback, King's Quest, Space Quest...
    If you want to simulate those styles, you can, it's not that hard, but exporting for that platform, forget about it, unless you learn how to make real DOS games, which would need you to also know exactly how old display hardwares work.
    Info about this is almost extinct on internet, but you can check this: http://gd.tuwien.ac.at/languages/c/p...own/advcw1.htm

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    Thanks for the info @NaitorStudios .

    Yes, I'm aware of AMOS by Francois Lionet. He develops now AMOS2 (now called AOZ Studio). Though, since I'm familiar with the Klik engine I just thought of a possible exporter that could export to native DOS, having all the DOS limitations present as well. That's the idea of making a DOS game. And since the engine can export applications to either Windows/Flash/HTML5/Android/MacOS/iOS where the creator don't need to migrate or to learn a whole new programming language or software, I believe that a DOS exporter can be done the same way.

    I'm also well aware of "Klik & Play", developed by both Francois Lionet and Yves Lamoureux. I grew on the translated Hebrew release, and you'd be amazed to find that the English versions are still popping-up from time to time on eBay. I'm also a computer games and software collector and gladly managed to find and buy both the floppy and CD releases of K&P in English recently, and some time ago I've also found "Click and Create" in a sealed big box! I have years of experience with the old engine, and with the first "The Games Factory" which shares the same principles (that also had a 16-bit version). However, the 16-bit application cannot export to native DOS, unfortunately. If it could I would have use it. The minumim for it or for its games to run is Windows 3.1. It can run in DOSBox, yes. But you'd need to install Win3.1 as well. I as mentioned above was looking for an exporter to make a native DOS application.

    I've simulated the style of games you mentioned - grew on them as well. Just wanted not only to make something similar, but also to be able to run it in native DOS.

  6. #6
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    Well, Fusion does export for lots of platforms, this is true, but if you look into that files, you will notice that every single one the game file and a wrapper, so it's just like having a rom and a emulator bundled.
    The available runtimes have many similarities, because they all have similar modern APIs, if you look into extension development you will see how hard this can be...
    Each extension need to have a new SDK created, every single extension need to be ported having a new file with the appropriate language.
    For DOS, if you want something that works in a decent speed, you would probably need extensions and objects made just for it because most couldn't be ported.
    So when using the exporter, you will have a almost blank objects list, everything would be different than you already know, so why not a new software instead?
    DOS don't really use sprites, they use lots of cleaver tricks to make the graphics work, so the way fusion works, the final file would be so big, DOS wouldn't be able to run.
    Pretty sure the old computer file system architecture can't handle well files that big...

    DOS doesn't have that much 'APIs', specially something that would be similar to how Fusion deals with stuff, so basically they would need to come up with a whole operating system and create APIs, and all of this for a really small amount of people and working for free... They are a small company, that is currently fighting piracy and porting games to consoles for surviving the problems of the mordern software development.
    If they don't make sufficient money, Clickteam would cease to exist. They have employees and bills to pay, they have to work in porting stuff for games that was released, also they need to work on Fusion 3, which is a completelly new software, totally different from the current and older softwares, that will work with native code dropping backward compatibility in order to bring even greater features.

    If this was easy, there would be HTML5, Flash or JAVA emulators for DOS...
    There are lots of incompatibilities, for example, 64 bit operating system can't nativaly run a 16-bit software on modern windows (there are emulators tho)
    Since you can't run, you most likely wouldn't be able to export it either...

    Maybe, with Fusion 3, this could be a bit closer to being possible, depeing on how they deal with exporters and stuff.
    And they really need to focus in getting things done and getting back money spent in the development.

    I don't think new exporters will ever be created for Fusion 2.5, becase I trully believe that Fusion 3 will get finished first.
    This is the reason why they have console porting services, because making it work on console isn't just like changing the exporter and pressing a button...
    It would profitable at this point...

  7. #7
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    Thanks @NaitorStudios for the info.

    I'm an IT guy I'm well aware that the 64bit architecture doesn't support 16bit applications. That is why 32bit operating system are still exists. Even Windows 10 has a 32bit version to support the specific 16bit applications that some people needs or want to run. However, most DOS games and applications must still run in an Emulator. And that is where DOSBox gets into the picture. It has a huge community as you probably already know.

    Now, all the things you mentioned about that Clickteam is a small company which needs to pay bills for their employees, to fight piracy, etc... This is well known and understandable, and we're all very appreciate every one of them! Or else we wouldn't have bought their software and tools. However, without us the customers who besides buying their products are also come-up with new ideas and feature requests to enrich the engine, they sure will not exist as the engine will remain still and won't evolve - it's a win-win scenario. I only raised up a possible feature request. Having it possible would only make the Clickteam's engine more popular among the games engine industry, as it's not likely that other game engines will ever make an MS-DOS exporter because they don't focus on 2D retro style games creation. So for Clickteam this could even be an extra point versus the competitors. But just to clarify something: I didn't asked for Clickteam to stop everything they're doing and to start working on my feature request. I just brought it up for their attention, and to also see what other members here think about it. Which is why you're reply is more than welcome.

    As for your saying that DOS doesn't use sprites - that's not accurate. DOS games does use sprites, yet back in the day developers used special technics to save disks space. For example, a single sprite that uses different color palettes. And thus presenting a whole new sprite without doubling the size of the sprite on disk. Consoles of that time also used the same technic.

    To summarize my point: DOSBox is well known and used nowadays to running DOS games and old applications, and the retro community who's using it grows every day. I think that even if an MS-DOS exporter won't be very popular at start, that would still be a start of something! And there are some who'd appreciate having it as an option without doubts. The way I see it, if Clickteam would have this feature available it will only increase their sales as DOS gaming maybe officially died long time ago, yet the retro community still enjoy its fruit to this day. And I also trust that many new customers will come later and increase the sales even more. It's exactly like the iOS and Android exporters - if they weren't that popular and the Clickteam's engine hadn't include exporters for these ports, many of Clickteam's customers would had go looking for another game creation engine elsewhere. So it's the fact that they exist which increased sales. Having more exporters available would only increase Clickteam's income.

  8. #8
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    Well, you can always pay for development, which of course will not be as cheap as buying a finished exporter.

    When I say DOS doesn't use sprites, I mean it don't use sprites the way Fusion does, it breaks the sprites in tiny pieces, Fusion stores each full sprite as a different image in DX9 and as a spritesheet on DX11.

    DOSBox is known and used, but not even close to smarphones and tablets.
    Also, Clickteam need the SDK for making an exporter, and as far as I know, DOS doesn't have one.
    Think about the PSP Vita exporter, that didn't ever got off beta, PSP Vita was a failure but I bet it had more users than DOXBox...
    Sony had two SDKs, one for indies and one for AAA companies, of course it would be too pricy for Clickteam to get the AAA SDK for a thing that they don't even know if it would be successful.
    Clickteam couldn't even get the audio to work properly with that SDK, so eventually they dropped it before even finishing the beta.

    Clickteam wouldn't make an new exporter right now even for a brand new successful platform, so I'm sure 2.5+ will not get any new exporters.
    This is why they have a porting service for new consoles, because it's way easier and cheeper for then to port this way.
    They are working on an improved HTML5 exporter tho, because the current has many flaws and limitations, but hmlt5 is simple and has lot of documentation available.

    If you really want your game running on DOS, you could ask if they could port it for a price, if they say they can't port it, don't hold your breath awaiting for this to come as an exporter...

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    I can categorically say there will not be a DOS exporter, this is something which would not be physically possible with MMF2, TGF2 or Fusion 2.5 - it is simply too old tech. For that matter, there hasn't been a single version of a Clickteam product that I'm aware of that even had this capability - even when we started it was based on Windows. Sorry, this just isn't an option.

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    Thanks @Simon for the reply. An official response is much appreciated.

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