Home > Ultima Worlds > Running Ultima VII: The Black Gate/Serpent Isle in Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7 Using DOSBox

Running Ultima VII: The Black Gate/Serpent Isle in Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7 Using DOSBox by Ganesh
Version 1.051

Introduction

Yes folks, its now possible to run Ultima VII in Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista and Windows 7! Thanks to the programmers of DOSBox, we can now bring back those good old memories of Ultima VII right to our Windows Desktop!

DOSBox emulates an Intel x86 PC, complete with sound, graphics, mouse, modem, etc., necessary for running many old DOS games that simply cannot be run on modern PCs and operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Linux and FreeBSD.

This means, we can play the Ultima games like old times, in a DOS window, or full screen! This guide focuses on getting the Ultima VIIs running under DOSBox. There is a separate guide to running Ultima Underworld and Ultima 8 here.

What You Need

  1. A copy of Ultima VII
  2. DOSBox (download the Windows Win32 installer here)

Setting up DOSBox

  1. Download and install DOSBox accepting all default options - just keep hitting Next.
  2. Go to Start > Programs > DOSBox-(XX) > Options > DOSBox (XX) Options to open up DOSBox.conf.

    Dosbox Configuration File
    Dosbox Configuration File

    This is the DOSBox configuration file. Here we will configure DOSBox to properly emulate Ultima VII's preferred environment.
  3. Search for and replace the following values in the file by going to Edit > Replace > Enter Text in 'Find what' and 'Replace With'. Note: If you have already altered DOSBox, you will need to reset it by going to Start > Programs > DOSBox-(XX) > Options > Reset Options.

      Find What ..Replace it with
    1 joysticktype=auto joysticktype=none
    2 ems=true ems=false
    3 umb=true umb=false
    4 cycles=auto cycles=12000
    5 output=surface output=ddraw

  4. We need to find out what is your desktop resolution. Go to Start > Control Panel > Display > Settings. Under "Screen Resolution", it will say XXXX by XXXX pixels. For most folks, it is either "1280 x 1024" or "1920 x 1024". Assuming "1280 x 1024", we need to remove the spaces and get 1280x1024.

    Find What ..Modify/Change the value to..
    fullresolution= fullresolution=1280x1024
    scaler= scaler=hq3x

    Remember to substitute 1280x1024 with your own display resolution.
  5. Now comes some DOS Stuff. At the end of the same file, we have to add some DOS commands to run Ultima VII automatically on starting up DOSBox.

    For this guide, we are going to assume that the Ultima VII: The Black Gate files are placed in a folder named "ULTIMA7" (note: keep to less than 8 characters for DOS compatibility). Serpent Isle is placed in a folder named "ULTIMA72". Both are in the C drive. So the DOS way to represent this folder would be

    C:\ULTIMA7 (for Black Gate)
    C:\ULTIMA72 (for Serpent Isle)

    If you had placed the games in a folder named GAMES, it would look like this

    C:\GAMES\ULTIMA7 (for Black Gate)
    C:\GAMES\ULTIMA72 (for Serpent Isle)

    To get DOSBox to recognize this folder, we have to ADD the following to the END of the DOSBox.conf file. That means, going all the way to the bottom of the file and putting the below lines:

    mount c: C:\ULTIMA7
    mount d: C:\ULTIMA72

    (Replace "C:\ULTIMA7" with another folder name if you are using a different folder, for Black Gate only)
    (Replace "C:\ULTIMA72" with another folder name if you are using a different folder, for Serpent Isle only)
  6. To increase the volume of the MIDI sound effects to be on level with the audio effects, ADD these lines. Even then, the Guardian's voice can boom much louder than the music. The second line lowers the sound effects volume to 65%.

    mixer fm +250
    mixer sb 65
  7. DOSBox now recognizes the two games as two separate drives. Note that all these are emulated, so your real C:\ULTIMA7 is now a C Drive and C:\ULTIMA72 is now a D Drive in DOSBox.
  8. Save the file and close. Run DOSBox. To access The Black Gate, type

    C: <Enter>

    Likewise, if you want to access The Serpent Isle folder, type

    D: <Enter>
  9. Configure each of the games by executing INSTALL at the prompt (for each game) and selecting Sound Blaster, 220h and IRQ 7 for DOSBox sound emulation to work properly.

    INSTALL <Enter>

  10. Now run the game and enjoy!

    ULTIMA7 (for Black Gate)

    SERPENT (for Serpent Isle)
  11. To switch it in full screen, press Alt+Enter together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1)

Where can I get Ultima VII: The Black Gate and the Serpent Isle Collection?
You will need to try Amazon or Ebay second hand purchases as these games are no longer in production. Perhaps GOG may get hold of the rights soon.

2)

The speed is too slow / fast! How can I make it run slower / faster?
Hit Ctrl+F11 to decrease the CPU cycle usage as it may be too high, or hit Ctrl+F12 to increase CPU Cycle. Do note that it is normal for Ultima VII to be sluggish at graphic heavy areas, such as Lord British's castle. In my 3GHz system, I had to bump it to 9000 cycles to get it up to normal speed. The cycles is shown on the window title bar.

3)

The Guardian voice is booming much louder than the sound effects!
This should not be a issue anymore as the command "mixer fm +350" (already in the above config) makes the MIDI sound effects in line with the Guardian voice.

4)

Why do this when Exult already solves this problem of running the game in modern operating systems?
Exult is an excellent project and I applaud their team for the hard work put in. But some of us (like me), prefer to play it in its true original form.

5)

The image looks quite blurish when I play the game on my LCD screen!
Try setting the scaler value in the DOSBOX.conf file to some other alternative value described here.

For those who are using CRTs displays, you will be able to enjoy the game in its original visuals by setting the scaler to none. However, some bigger CRTs such as 19 inch CRTs do not support 320 x 200 so you have to leave it at normal2x or hq2x.

The final alternative is to try Exult instead, which supports high resolutions but uses its own engine.

Errors? Omissions? Need Help? Know something? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

This document is Copyright(©) 2001-2010 by G.Ganesh. Comments have been enabled on Dec 21 to enable people to report any problems!

Last Updated 29th October 2010

22 comments RSS of last 10 posts

new post [ expand all ]


Unregistered Anonymous oink.
posted 1 week ago - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous Thanks to your great work!

I'm a linux user. You can use this tutorial with linux distributions, just change the output setting; don't use surface or opengl but ddraw even if it is not listed.
posted 7 Nov 2013 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous This seemed like a perfect way to fix this...not so much I still get the error D:\GATEWAY\pifmaker.eve abnormal programming termination. Chick have no idea what I am doing...help
posted 28 Aug 2013 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Admin Administrator Admin Look for a ultima7.pif or any other file with the extension PIF in the ultima7 folder. Delete it.
posted 28 Aug 2013 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous I have made all the changes as instructed but now when I run dosbox the window is just black then turns gray and says it is not responding. what is going on
posted 4 Feb 2013 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Admin Administrator Admin I just tried it again on a brand new dosbox installation and config on Windows 7 64 bit and it works...

If starting dosbox already gives an error, it is a problem with dosbox. Perhaps try the output=surface option?
posted 2 Mar 2013 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous the directions for editing the config file seemed easy enough as well as the mounting etc. i didn't find any info at all on this page on how to actually install the games onto my hard drive to begin with though....
any suggestions?
posted 28 Aug 2012 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Admin Administrator Admin no installation should be required. Just copy the whole folder to somewhere and point dosbox to there and run the game as instructed above.
posted 28 Aug 2012 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous I noticed something in the options of Black Gate, after you use the wizard to setup up U7, r-click on it, select Edit, on the Sound tab, not the submenus, there was a button that said, Activate Sound, that allowed me to use SBPro2 sound, before that I could only use the crappy Roland sound. I hope this helps.
posted 20 Jan 2012 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous The game works fine, but every time i press Alt+Enter, DOSBOX stops and closes.
posted 13 Nov 2011 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous I followed all these steps, and the game works great, however, now i have no sound. I've looked over your meathod several times, but i still get nothing. Any thing extra i can do?
posted 12 Sep 2011 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous actually, now, the guardians voice over is sub titled too, as if the program automatically goes to no sound by default
posted 12 Sep 2011 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous NEVERMIND! the game automatically turned all sound and stuff off by default, i turned it all back on
posted 12 Sep 2011 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous so I'm running windows 7 on 64 bit pc. I followed all the above instructions except for step 4 I couldn't manually enter numbers to change the resolution and I didn't see anything for scaler, hopefully that doesn't matter too much.

Now when I'm in dosbox and I type ultima7 in the c: it says "out of far memory program terminated by code.

when I try serpent in the d: I get an error message that says " serpent isle requires 1024000 bytes of extended memory! You only have 0 available."

I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, I hope someone can help me.
posted 31 Jul 2011 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Admin Administrator Admin it looks like a botched dosbox.conf. try deleting the whole copy of dosbox conf including the program files folder and reinstall.

For this specific issue, add the line
memsize=16
under the header [dosbox] in the conf file
posted 31 Jul 2011 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous I downloaded dosbox but for the life of me I can't seem to find out how to edit the dosbox config file.... then I read the post about mounting C: so I tried that... but was unable to mount C: is there anyone that can give me step by step guidance? I'm using windows xp and the most recent windows dosbox program. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.
posted 8 Sep 2010 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Admin Administrator Admin There should be a dosbox folder created in the Start menu. In it, should be a shortcut to your dosbox.conf file. Click it and notepad should open up with the contents of the file
posted 9 Sep 2010 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous I forgot to mention, my summary is based on "The Black Gate".
I remember back in the 80s, I used to be able to edit config files in DOS but I am now using Vista 64 bit. I have read many commends by people saying that it is impossible to run this, but it's not. My question to the people who posted their solution on this site- how do you edit the DosBox config file when it defaults to the "Z:" drive? I tried going to the root directory where my DOS Box program is saved but windows does not show and config file for this program under the "C:" drive. I remember the old DOS from years ago had a special Autoexec.bat and config file editor; however, we are now talking windows Vista 32 and 64 bit here. Can someone post a solution how to edit DOS Box without re-typing the same commands ever time before having to play Ultima 7? Hopefully, at least, people can understand how I was able to come up with a rough solution to get this program to work. Exult does not even work on Vista because it is looking for data files. Data files are not created until I run and save Ultima 7, which I can do with the process in my first commented solution.

THE MACHINE
posted 4 Sep 2010 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous In DOS Box, after you have mounted the "c" drive and once you are in the root directory c:\U7, type the following:

XMS=FALSE {PRESS ENTER}
EMS=FALSE {PRESS ENTER}
UMB=FALSE {PRESS ENTER}
JOYSTICKTYPE=NONE {PRESS ENTER}

FORE REGULAR GAME MODE JUST TYPE "ULTIMA7" AND PRESS ENTER.

NOW, FOR CHEAT, EDIT, AND DEBUG MODE, TYPE THE FOLLOWING:

ULTIMA7 ABCD[alt-255] {AND NOW HOLD THE ALT KEY DOWN WHILE PRESSING 255} AND THEN PRESS ENTER.

IF YOUR PROGRAM STILL DOES NOT WORK, GO BACK INTO WINDOWS AND SELECT ALL FILES IN A FOLDER CALLED "STATIC". COPY AND PASTE THESE FILES INTO THE MAIN C:\U7 ROOT DIRECTORY AND RE-TYPE THE ABOVE COMMANDS AGAIN.

YOU HAVE TO RE-TYPE THE COMMANDS BEFORE STARTING THE GAME EVERY TIME. IF I COULD FIGURE OUT HOW TO EDIT THE CONFIG FILE, I MIGHT BE ABLE TO PROGRAM IT SO IT DOES THIS AUTOMATICALLY WITHOUT HAVING TO TYPE IT EVERY TIME.

IT WORKED FOR ME. HOPEFULLY IT WORKS FOR ALL OF YOU.

CHEERS,

THE MACHINE
posted 4 Sep 2010 - Reply - Permanent Link
DP Unregistered Anonymous Many thanks! I've been itching to replay Serpent Isle for a long time now and was afraid that my Ultima Collection CD would no longer do me any good on current OSes.
posted 9 Jul 2009 - Reply - Permanent Link
Anthony (1 posts) Anthony Thank you so much, SI was one of my favorite games but i was only able to play it for a very short time with my oldest computer and its been sitting in a drawer ever since. Now i can finally play it:)
posted 6 Jul 2009 - Reply - Permanent Link
Claudia Unregistered Anonymous Awe, thank you so much! That's exactly what I was looking for. So it's the DOSBox.conf file where I can disable EMS. A hug and a kiss from a female game fanatic!
posted 14 Feb 2009 - Reply - Permanent Link


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