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Classic Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Bethesda Releases Daggerfall For Free 80

On Thursday, Bethesda announced that for the 15th anniversary of the Elder Scrolls series, they were releasing The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall for free. They aren't providing support for the game anymore, but they posted a detailed description of how to get the game running in DOSBox. Fans of the series can now easily relive the experience of getting completely lost in those enormous dungeons. Save often.
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Bethesda Releases Daggerfall For Free

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  • by Datamonstar ( 845886 ) on Friday July 10, 2009 @11:01PM (#28657347)
    ... well not really, since this game is soooo old, but still its a huge HUGE gameworld. Really. It's big. Can't wait to play it. It makes Oblivion look like Sesame Street.
    • Did they finally fix the bugs? :P
      I couldn't even play it because it just crashed over and over in the first dungeon so I gave up.
      I'd really been looking forward to it after playing Arena but ending up waiting until Morrowind to try another of their games.

      • SOME of the bugs were fixed, but unfortunately it will still a super buggy and sometimes unstable game. I'm glad to see them releasing it, but of course source would have been nice (so we could fix the bugs on it!) I loved this game at the same time. It was a little more hardcore than Oblivion in many ways. Big stuff would just kill you (no equal leveling) and if you were vampire you lasted pretty much NO time during the day. Climbing everything, as buggy as it was- was pretty awesome too. Some stuff however was just outright glitched. It was the type of thing that drove me initially CRAZY when I was 11 playing it, because I'd spend hours just walking sometimes to 'see what was out there' on some islands or whatever. This game proved that bigger isnt' always better, because its impossible to populate everything with interesting stuff.
    • Yes it is big, but most of it is just the same thing over and over again. It was quite monotonous at times, really.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Randomly generated HUGE isn't nearly as good as designed small. Back to Morrowind, folks.
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by Blublu ( 647618 )
        Because of the way Morrowind is designed, playing it feels like walking through a fancy database.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Clock Nova ( 549733 )

          I wish they'd release the source for that. That game is so poorly optimized it still drags on modern hardware. Add a few mods that include NPCs or lots of fancy scripts and -pow- . . . instant slideshow.

          Maybe in another 10 years. Sigh.

          • Actually, this game is already decently playable on a (amd) 486. And flies on a P200. What you're seeing is dosbox emulation overhead.

            I disagree with your "so poorly optimized" statement. This thing does 3d with texturized surfaces and large view distance, AI, and who knows what else, all in SOFTWARE. It even has realtime ambient lighting - and still runs fine on a 486! For me, Daggerfall has the most awesome sw engine I've ever seen.

      • Randomly generated HUGE isn't nearly as good as designed small.

        The solution is obviously to combine both approaches. That way a single game will satisfy both types of players. You don't even have to generate the non-designed content's details until they are visited. Provide some sort of in-character way to get from scene to scene with a minimum of unnecessary travel time and you've got the way every damned RPG that isn't fully-architected SHOULD be designed.

    • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Friday July 10, 2009 @11:58PM (#28657595) Homepage Journal
      I didn't play it when it came out, but I tried it today... and the interface is so sluggish as to be painful. My computer isn't totally up-to-date, but I'm pretty sure it can handle 486-level material pretty easily. It's very distracting, much less responsive than Ultima Underworld on a 386 (yes, I'm speaking from experience here). Don't think I'll be doing any more of it.
      • by sowth ( 748135 ) * on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:44AM (#28658121) Journal

        From what I understand, dosbox emulates the CPU as well. DOSemu [] should run it at your CPU's speed, but I haven't used it since Linux kernel 2.0.x days. Lately I have thought about getting some of my old DOS games going, but haven't put much effort into it. Though DOSemu seems broken on 2.6--I get "LOWRAM mmap: Invalid argument / Segmentation fault" It could be a permissions problem though...(haven't tried it as root yet) The page says it was last updated in 2007, so maybe it was updated to 2.6?

        This post from the Arch Linux forums may help: kernel 2.6.30 upgrade causes dosemu to segfault. [] It seems dosemu doesn't work with .30 but .31 version from git does work? Looks like they have a configuration suggestion too...

        Then again, you may have problems with speed. Quite a while back, I tried Syndicate Wars, and it ran at about 10x speed. Way too fast. I think DOSbox solved that by emulating the CPU, so everything the game sees works like it did on an old computer. Though since it is emulating, it takes many processing cycles to do on emulated processing cycle, which means your 2.0 GHz computer may only be able to run it at say (just a wild guess), the same speed as a 100 MHz machine. Probably not even that. So I don't see a 1996 game working too well.

        I would guess the easiest way would be to use an older computer and install FreeDOS or something on it. You know, that 900 MHz one collecting dust in your closet. Then you don't have to worry about emulating crap. ;-) But then you may still run into the super speed issue. This is partly why old computers had a "turbo" switch--some programs assumed the processor was at a specific speed. Some programs assumed the MIPS / clock speed was constant. 486 was below 1 MIPS/MHz, Pentium was about 2 MIPS/MHz, todays CPUs are probably much higher before you even get to the multiple cores. I think some just detect if it is a 486 or pentium and do their calculations. They don't know anything about newer CPUs, so it doesn't work...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sowth ( 748135 ) *

          This page [] has a chart of estimated speeds for a given host machine's CPU using DOSBox.

        • by makomk ( 752139 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @09:27AM (#28659375) Journal

          Though DOSemu seems broken on 2.6--I get "LOWRAM mmap: Invalid argument / Segmentation fault" It could be a permissions problem though...(haven't tried it as root yet)

          Recent kernels don't let you mmap the first 64k of address space by default for security reasons, and this breaks stuff like DOSemu. You probably need to "echo 0 > /proc/sys/vm/mmap_min_addr" as root.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          You guys need to get up to speed on your DOSBox knowledge.

          The more recent versions of DOSBox use a dynarec [] backend. This is way faster than the old backend and has the added benefit of not requiring you to mess around with cycle numbers for every game.

          • I see. That is basically JIT compilation, yes? Is there a noticable delay on startup? Maybe I'll try out the latest version to see how well it works. If DOSBox doesn't use something slow like the shared memory extensions in X for video which DOSemu uses, maybe it will be faster anyway.

            Thanks for the info.

            • There is no delay on startup. DOSBox has a wide variety of different ways of outputting its video, depending on your platform.

              Check it out, it's really fast now.

        • by Hatta ( 162192 ) *

          I've had good luck running protected mode games on my 1.13GHZ T23. Not Daggerfall, but Anvil of Dawn works great and it has similar requirements. I bet a 2GHZ system would work for Daggerfall.

          You will probably want to use the Dos32/a [] extender instead of Dos4GW. It improves just about anything it touches. There are other things to play with in the dosbox config. Try changing your output, try the dynamic core.

          I'd try that first before running it on bare metal.

        • Well... my original comment wasn't really clear, but what's wrong is the interface, not the processing speed - e.g., cutscenes are fine, but the whole swing-your-mouse-to-strike just doesn't seem to work well, and while it can rotate pretty effectively, moving forward is tediously slow.

          However, that's a really informative post. Thanks for the tip. I've had a hankering to drag up Wing Commander lately...
        • You don't need another computer to run this. DOSBox is really just a mini-VM .. which means a real will work just as well, once you install a suitable OS. You can use VirtualBox, VMWare, kvm, and all the rest.

      • I haven't played Daggerfall (yet) on DOSBox, but I have played other games and one of the things you may have to do is to fiddle with the CPU section of DOSBox.conf until you get it running at a reasonable speed.

        It probably won't help you much, but mine looks like this:

        # core -- CPU Core used in emulation: normal,simple,dynamic,auto.
        # auto switches from normal to dynamic if appropriate.
        # cycles -- Amount of instructions DOSBox tries to emulate each millisecond.
        # Setting this value too

        • With a modern machine, a good setting is:


          That way you don't have to manually adjust the cycles, and VGA games run quite smooth and fast.

    • I might actually start playing games on the thing...

      Please, some inspired iPhone hacker... take up the challenge!

  • Source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 10, 2009 @11:04PM (#28657359)

    You know what would be really cool?

    The source.

    Not to say I am ungrateful for the release ... it would just be really cool to be able to try to extend the game, breath some new life into it and such.

    • by Elshar ( 232380 )

      No kidding. I've always (Since Morrowind was announced, then released feeling me let down) felt that just updating the graphics on DF and fixing the annoying bugs (Like falling through the floor to your death, amongst others) would be so much better than any of the watered-down sequels. It seems as time goes on in the series it gets more and more simplified, to the point where I expect TES 5 to just be a hack and slash shooter somewhat equivalent to Hexen (Which was a good game in it's own right).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by keith_nt4 ( 612247 )

        By coincidence I've just spent more hours than I'd care to admit adding mods to Oblivion. Hopefully I won't get sick of that before I actually PLAY Oblivion.

        There are so many mods for oblivion to switch everything up, change the leveling system, the UI, the monsters, the mounts (like a flying dragon), the magic system, add lots of weapons/armor/accessories/towns/islands and everything else I don't think a console player would even recognize it. It does take some patience to set it all up (lets just say OBMM

        • I suggest you install the "unofficial patches" and just leave it at that. play the game as it was meant (with bugs fixed)!

          You can mod it all crazy after.

          • by Sancho ( 17056 ) *

            Do the unofficial patches fix the awful micromanagement required to level in a sane way? Because frankly, the first time I tried to play Oblivion, I gave up on it after getting to level 6 meant that I was no longer effective in combat at all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Elshar ( 232380 )

          I've played through all of Morrowind (Before the expansions), and Oblivion when it came out too. Unless you actually played all the way through DF before the other ones, I can see where you wouldn't really understand the differences.

          For me, the main difference was the randomly generated towns. They weren't completely random, but they were /different/ every time you started a new game and then stayed the same for that entire play through. Also, you randomly uncovered points of interest through conver

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You know what would be really really cool?

      Merging it with Quake source and making some kind of Quakkerfall.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Aliotroph ( 1297659 )

      Agreed. Drives me crazy how they don't release the source to these things. On the other hand, I suspect they really don't want to put in the work required to remove all the licensed code they probably used. DaggerXL [] appeared recently. It's a project to recreate the engine and game code from scratch. I'll be keeping an eye on it. A source release would probably help him along though. Getting the dungeons to render isn't too hard for him, but the AI and giant tangle of game logic sounds like a nightmare.

      • Getting the dungeons to render isn't too hard for him, but the AI and giant tangle of game logic sounds like a nightmare.

        It seems like starting entirely from scratch might be a mistake... isn't there any other program whose code could be reused? Seriously though, from what people have said the AI was shit anyway. It might not take much to get something equivalent to the original :)

        I think a lot of that is a mistake. Someday someone is going to make something like a graphical mud on which it's easy to build, and that's going to take off like crazy. Look how well Second Life is doing (all things considered), and their design to

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Aliotroph ( 1297659 )

          The AI really is basically non-existent. The trick is he wants to replicate the behaviour of the original game. Getting comparable AI won't be hard but he's going for a game that plays like the original.

          There are things he can use, but mostly for stuff like displaying the resources and cells. There are a few of these [] with code available.

          I'm surprised the easily moddable graphical MUD idea hasn't happened (to my knowledge). One of the biggest downsides of MMOs is the lack of user content. I don't want a

    • You know what would be really cool? The source.

      Yeah, but that would be tantamount to living up to their end of the copyright bargain (i.e. limited monopoly on distribution in exchange for eventually expanding the public domain with their creation).

      We can't have media companies doing that, now can we?

    • []

      Well on the way to being a usable replacement engine, built with modern tools, instead of some 10+ year old codebase.
  • by ElrondHubbard ( 13672 ) on Friday July 10, 2009 @11:15PM (#28657411)
    "-- for tomorrow, you sail for the kingdom... of Daggerfall." Many, many enjoyable hours I spent playing this game when I could (should) have been working on my thesis. Chief complaint: The repetitive dungeons, stitched together seemingly near-randomly from prefabbed bits and pieces that were repeated endlessly. Still, a great game.
    • by The_mad_linguist ( 1019680 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @12:12AM (#28657657)

      Halt! Ha-Halt! Halt! Halt! Halt! Ha-Halt! Halt! Halt! Halt! Halt! Ha-Halt! Halt! Halt! Hal-Ha-Halt! Halt! Halt!Halt! Ha-Halt!
      Halt!Halt! Ha-Halt! Halt! Halt! Ha-Halt! Halt! Halt! Halt! H-H-H-H-Halt! Halt! Ha-Halt! Halt! Halt! Hal-Ha-Halt! Halt! Halt!Halt! Haaaaaa-alt! Ha-Halt!

      Fun times indeed.

      • I just had a bout of uncontrollable laughter. Those guards really are ridiculous. They also don't affect your reputation unless they manage to catch you.

        • by WaXHeLL ( 452463 )

          Oh man... That reminds me of good old days of running around as a were-bear/were-wolf and just slaughting tons of 1hp randomly generated townsfolk in Daggerfall.

      • Ah, yes. One time I fell in the void in the city walls surrounded by guards. It lasted 15 minutes until I fell unconscious.

  • Someone at Bethesda must have found the old floppies laying around.

    I think this is a great idea, Bethesda release the very first one for free already so it is not surprising that they would release this one as well.

    However I highly doubt that anyone who has never played it before will get much enjoyment out of it. The graphics are terrible and the game is riddled with bugs. The real enjoyment will be the reminiscing of the good old days and seeing how much you remember.

    I will definately have to give this ga

  • by MrMista_B ( 891430 ) on Friday July 10, 2009 @11:46PM (#28657547)

    Someone set up a torrent!

    Because at 2.5k/sec, I think we're about to break their servers.

  • The game was so buggy it isn't worth free
    • Re:free (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @12:12AM (#28657655) Homepage Journal

      >>The game was so buggy it isn't worth free

      To be honest, it got better.

      After 40 patches or so.

      Honestly, it's better than either Morrowind or Oblivion. The sheer amount of twinkery you can do with the custom classes and magic item creation is just ridiculous and awesome.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WaXHeLL ( 452463 )

        The game was almost unplayable without patches.

        But after patches, it was great. It was like the ultimate free-form rpg possible.

        Custom classes (with some very unbalanced setups), Custom Spells, Custom Magical Items, etc.

        I think i spent so much time doing everything else, that I only got like 1/2 way into the main quest after like 200 hours of play.

  • How did I not get it on the front page []. :P Oh well. I wonder what Beth will do for their 20th Anniversary. . .
  • ...Didn't someone mod a dungeon from Daggerfall into Oblivion - Cybiades, something like that?

    Answer my own question.... Tesnexus []

    Not sure if it is actually a ported dungeon, but the textures would certainly indicate that to be the case.

    If that dungeon is any indication of the game proper, and not just a high level one...damn.
  • Why do so many DOSBox tutorials tell you that you have to mount the directory every time you just want to play the game?

    I set up my DOSBox.conf to have an autoexec section like this:

    # Lines in this section will be run at startup.

    mount C C:\Programs\DOSBox\C_DRIVE

    So now I just store all my DOS games in that C_DRIVE folder and they're right there when I open DOSBox. I also make batch files so that I don't have to cd to whatever directory and remember the executable name for the main EXE. I mean,

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Windows users can also make a shortcut to launch the game directly:

      Target: "C:\Program Files\DOSBox-0.73\dosbox.exe" c:\games\magic\magic.exe

      I still have my original manuals for Master of Magic, plus the 2" thick Prima Strategy Guide, chock full of tables and calculations. If ever a game needed to be open-sourced, this is the one, because I'd hate for anyone to have to re-code all those game rules again.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) *

      I go a step further and make a .sh file that runs the .bat with dosbox. Put that in my path and it might as well be a native game.

  • The only problem is, (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aronzak ( 1203098 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @09:43AM (#28659497)

    It's impossible to play and have a hope of finishing unless you're power gaming. None of the main classes actually seem like their made so you could play as them. Unless you already have detailed knowledge of the game, there's not much point in trying to finish it.

    That said, there's a feature in the latest patch that allows you to teleport to major areas in dungeons. Don't know how you could play without it. I mean, did anyone ever manage to survive an encounter with an ancient lich or an ancient vampire or a powerful daedra lord?

    Then there's also the issue of all the randomly generated dungeons looking like octopuses mating, and that there are way, way too many fetch the foo quests. "Please, I'll help you with your quest to rid Dagerfall of the vengeful spirit, but could you please fetch me my adamantium underpants? I think I left them in a nearby dungeon infested with monsters..."

    • by cgomezr ( 1074699 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @11:40AM (#28660449)

      I completed the game in its time, without any cheating or teleporting. And without even applying cheap character creation strategies like certain race-resistance combinations (I did choose the constraint not to wear leather and chain armour, but those are features and should be obvious by the second time you create a character). So yes, it is difficult, but definitely not impossible.

      People nowadays are too spoiled and used to easy games. The thing about ancient liches and vampires was fighting a lot of fights, clearing a lot of dungeons and collecting a lots of items and spells until you were experienced and equipped enough to fight them. And once you could do that, it felt like a truly epic fight. Not like in Oblivion, where enemies are just scaled so you can fight them.

      I advise everyone to play this game. In my opinion it is the best CRPG of all time (and I've played most known CRPG's since the times of Might and Magic I and Ultima I).

  • I always wanted to play daggerfall after it being hyped and hyped back in the day. I was always a big fan of Ultima and japanese RPGs and even enjoyed a good bit of eye of the beholder II. I never got to play daggerfall until years later I found it on some abandonware site. The first thing I noticed was how generic every NPC basically was. Even the story NPCs were about as flat as a cardboard cutout. Secondly the dungeouns were incredibly random and boring. For those of you that think that morrowind was lik

    • by MWoody ( 222806 )

      As far as I know, nothing in Daggerfall was randomly generated at runtime. It's as static as Morrowind or Oblivion, just less varied.

    • by Elshar ( 232380 )

      The randomly generated terrain they talk about in Oblivion is purely limited to vegetation. So, a hill that was in one game is still in another game. It'll always be a hill. But that tree or bunch of trees on the hill might be positioned differently, or they might not even be there at all on another game. There's really very little that is random about it at all. Even the "random" encounters always happen on the same spots with the same levelled critters attacking you with more or less the same equipment. E

      • by ZosX ( 517789 )

        That's interesting. I've been really wanting to try out Oblivion. Sooner or later I'll get around to it. I still feel a need to play all the way through Morrowind first, which I got a pretty late start on... (so much to do)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Whatever you do, forget the built-in design of Oblivion and install Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul, which makes the game feel a lot more traditional. High level bosses are no longer beatable at level 1, low level critters are no longer a threat at high levels.

          Which makes a lot more sense then Bethesda's design. Unfortunately, it doesn't fix Shivering Isles. So you may wish to go do Shivering Isles content first.
  • Totally Agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by popo ( 107611 ) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:27PM (#28662431) Homepage

    This game was actually challenging. These days game designers are so worried that you won't see 100% of their work, that they make the game easy.

    As a result, most games today are more "sandbox" than they are "game" and the whole thing just gets boring.

    I wish Bethesda would make another extremely challenging game. They need to stop worrying so much about easing players into a nice, unchallenging bath -- and give players more depth, more complexity and more challenge.

    Somewhere along the line, Bethesda concluded that console gamers are too stupid to play games like Daggerfall. This is what has ruined their more recent games. While they're still enjoyable -- they're not the kind of thing that drives you to know what's beyond the next mountain... and to spend a day figuring out how to equip yourself in order to get there...

  • This was one of the first PC RPG's that I played. I was amazed at how expansive everything was, how you could climb anything, and how you could make your character a variety of classes. The day and night effects were great too, as well as how you could kill anyone. I never played Oblivion, but thinking of all the great Dagger Fall memories, maybe I should go buy it?

    What do you old school Dagger Falls fans think of the newer Elder scrolls?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cgomezr ( 1074699 )

      Well, I'm one of those old school fans and I think Daggerfall was clearly the best game in the saga, and it has been getting worse since then.

      Morrowind (Elder Scrolls III) is a very good game, and definitely worth buying. It still has the flexibility and freedom that made Daggerfall great, as well as a complex plot with lots of factions that you can join. However, the world design philosophy is different. The dungeons are no longer so huge and randomly generated, all the map is crafted by hand. This means t

      • by pinkj ( 521155 )
        i agree with you on some points about Oblivion, but the critiques you have of it's gameplay have been taken care of in a number of mods. Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul [] mod has removed level scaling and brought back the original gameplay of Daggerfall amongst a lot more changes. i couldn't imagine playing Oblivion without the mod as it has made a decent game into a brilliant one.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."